PRESQUE ISLE, Me. (WAGM) - The UMPI Owls men's basketball team added 10 new players, including five freshman, to a squad which only returns three. With the infusion of new, young talent, the UMPI Owls are on a mission to prove that they don't just belong in the North Atlantic Conference, but they are the team to beat. The NAC preseason poll had them ranked fifth out eight teams.
"We come in as the underdogs, they already voted us as the fifth seed," sophomore guard, DeAndre Duncombe said. "We just got to just show them that we can compete."
Second year coach Dan Kane offers up a sincere thank you to the NAC for the lack of confidence.
"It was actually kind of a good thing," Kane said. "It really fired up our guys that want to come into the new conference make some noise prove to everyone that we're better than a fifth seed."
If Sophomore DeAndre Duncombe continues to play at the same level he did in the first two games, they make shake the underdog label sooner rather than later. He's averaged 22 points and 7 rebounds during their 2 and O start and was named NAC Player of the Week
"When I got into that rhythm it was good," Duncombe said. "The team's so supportive that they're always cheering you on, they're always behind your back, they're screaming your name when you hit a shot."
A big reason for the Owls early success, is their success from downtown. The Owls hit 25 threes in their first two games and Coach Kane says players go above and beyond to work on their craft.
"They're mostly natural shooters," Kane said. "But a lot of the guys are gym rats which is great because they'll get in the gym and shoot by themselves so we can spend more time on the team stuff in practice."
One emerging sharpshooter for the Owls is Presque Isle's own, Griffin Guerette. The freshman has knocked down a team high eight threes in his first two college games.
"It's a little nerve racking at first being in a college game but once you get in there you're fine and you just play." Guerrette said.
Kane said Guerrette was a little shy in the exhibition games, but he knew the smooth stroke from deep was there all along.
"He's a really good shooter, we want him taking shots," Kane said. "So it wasn't really much of a surprise but we're really happy it didn't take him too long to get back to his old ways."
Duncombe, Guerrette and company face a tough test this weekend. A win will certainly turn some heads within the NAC.
"Right now we're just focused on playing a really good team in Colby, which will be our first NESCAC game of the season," Kane said. "You know when you can win those games that can really earn some respect and get things going in the right direction."