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UMFK prepares to play NCAA March Madness contender

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 12:15 PM EST
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Fort Kent , Maine (WAGM) - The University of Maine Fort Kent men’s basketball team continues to prepare for a meeting with Division 1 Weber State on Saturday. Weber State is the favorite to win their division and a bid into the NCAA March Madness. Coach Tom Bird says he likes to play a tough first semester schedule, but admits this one could be a real challenge.

Tom Bird:” As much as I tell the guys every day that everybody wants to win every single game. Sometimes it’s about the experience. I didn’t quite know that they were going to be so good. They are probably going to win their conference and go to March Madness. I thought we would be a little bit better at this point so I thought it would a good test for us. A chance for us to see a higher level and play in a big arena. Kind of live the D1 Experience for one trip. Maybe it isn’t the best decision at this point, but it will be an experience they remember for the rest of their lives.”

Bird says that if Weber State makes it to the round of 16 his players will have quite a story to pass onto their children.

Bird:” A few years ago we went down and played Liberty and it was 28 20 at the half. They won a game that year at the NCAA Tournament. They beat Mississippi State and lost in the round of 32. We will be cheering for them to make March Madness and that will be something to look back on.”

UMFK always spends more time on the road than they do at home. He says that many of these long trips are a chance for players on his team to play close to home.

Bird:” I like to try a trip and get them a game in front of family and friends. That was the reason for that scheduling and we have Micah Petty a sophomore from Utah. This will be a homecoming game for him 10 or 15 minutes from his hometown.”

The veteran UMFK Coach also say that the trips are a great recruiting tool and a chance for his players to bond and see new places.

Bird:” We don’t have some of the recruiting tools that other schools have. Our trips and the experiences we have is on the top of the recruiting list that we are trying to sell.”

UMFK is very young this year with the majority of their roster made up of freshmen and sophomores. He said the tough first semester should help his squad when they start playing USCAA opponents.

Bird:” They are above our level, but you hope it pays off against the USCAA teams we play in second semester. Having 9 freshmen and sophomores is difficult at times.”

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