FORT KENT, Me (WAGM) - The UMFK men's basketball team is already holding practices and playing exhibition games. Last weekend the Bengals took part in a tourney Fredericton and the team won two of three to start the season on the right foot.
The UMFK men's basketball team has started the season sooner than in years past.
"Well it is nice. The last couple of years I've been coaching volleyball so the month of October was previously busy for me doing both sports. We were able to start with preseason conditioning three times a week at 6:00AM the first week they got here to school," said head coach Tom Bird.
The early start has helped the Bengals chip away at their goal of making the USCAA playoffs after falling just short the past two seasons.
"No I don't feel like the last two years we've reached the level that we could of. Two years in a row one spot away from the national tournament," Bird explained.
A big change for this year is the offense the Bengals are running to suit the style of their team. The players bought in and are already seeing a difference on the court.
"We're best in transition and we've shown that the last two years. When we get out in transition we're tough to guard. In the half court we're trying to run a dribble drive offense this year, a little more freedom for the guys. We've got guys that can beat people off the dribble, some fairly good shooters, and obviously we have Joe inside," Bird said.
"We played as a team, I think all these guys are really together. We want to play together, we want to win together, we like being around each other which makes it fun. It's about winning but it's about having fun too," added senior Rosevelt Smith.
The team got rid of some bad habits over the summer and were dedicated to improving.
"Spent a lot of the summer really refining our game. We actually stayed here in Fort Kent and worked on our diets and really took care of the things we hadn't in the past and we have big expectations this year," explained senior Joe McCloskey.
"I worked hard this summer to come back and lead these guys, lead this team to like we say USCAA champion or bust," Smith added.
McCloskey is from Howland and the only player from Maine listed on the roster. He takes it upon himself to help bring the team together and get used to life in Maine.
"I like to bring them into my family too and give them a home away from home. They teach me a lot and I try to teach them a lot. We ultimately are brothers at the end of the day," McCloskey said.