SMCC looks ahead to next year
Seawolves regroup after losing in conference tournament
By Michael Hoffer
The Southern Maine Community College men's and women's basketball teams aren't used to being idle at the beginning of March, but in surprising fashion, that's exactly what happened this winter.
Both Seawolves teams were sent packing in the Yankee Small College Conference tournament (the men lost at home in the quarterfinals, the women fell in the final game) and failed to qualify for the national tournament.
Even if the wake of that disappointment, there was plenty to hail in 2008-09.
The men's team, led by a breakout season by the often unstoppable Coleman Findlay, had its way with just about everyone for much of the winter, but down the stretch, SMCC struggled and dropped to third in the standings, necessitating a quarterfinal round game against the University of Maine-Augusta.
Despite a valiant effort (and 26 points and nine boards from Findlay), the Seawolves were eliminated 87-84, ending their year at 16-11.
"The season was both challenging and promising," said SMCC coach Matt Richards. "We had several key injuries in the second half of the season which affected our end result. However, from that, I got to see how our players could adjust to adversity and that will be one of our strengths for next season. It looks like we're going to have our top nine back, so the experience they got this year will really help us. We'll add a couple key recruits and I think we'll be very talented next year along with having a full season of experience under our belts."
Findlay (who averaged 20.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game) was named a USCAA Division II All-American.
After a slow start, the women sizzled in conference play and entered the tournament as the top seed. Behind the dominance of YSCC Player of the Year Sonya O'Tash (16.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.8 steals per game) and her all-conference cohorts Rachel Del Camp (12.4 ppg, 9.6 rpg) and Darcey Webster (8.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.6 spg), the Seawolves had to like their chances.
They got past the University of Maine-Augusta 79-75 in the semifinals, but couldn't beat rival Central Maine CC for a third time, losing 59-49 in the championship game.
"CM was the better team that day," said Seawolves second-year coach Becky Roak. "It's hard to beat a good team three times in a season."
SMCC finished 18-10 (15-1 in the conference).
Roak was selected Coach of the Year.
"I was honored to be Coach of the Year, but I need to give all the credit to the ladies," Roak said. "They played hard for me. I couldn't ask for much more out of them. It was an enjoyable group to coach and even though Sonya will be missed next season, I have the rest of them back."
The Seawolves have tasted plenty of success in recent seasons, even with a small roster. With plenty of returning talent, SMCC has to be on the short list of favorites in 2009-2010.
"It's been a successful year recruiting local kids and if they all pan out, we should only see good things happening here with the women's program," Roak said.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org