Staff Writer

When her teammates at Maine Maritime Academy began practices for the 2011-12 season, Alexis Bennett was with them. For the first time in her college basketball career, Bennett, a junior, wasn’t still with the Mariners soccer team.

“It came down to how much my body can handle,” Bennett, of Freedom, said. “I came to Maine Maritime Academy to play basketball. … I haven’t really reached my potential as a basketball player.”

Focused completely on basketball, Bennett, a Mt. View High School graduate, is off to a strong start this season. Bennett started the Mariners’ first five games at point guard, averaging 11 points, five rebounds and two assists per game while leading MMA in court time, averaging 29 minutes per game. Bennett’s shooting percentage of .521 is fourth-best in the North Atlantic Conference.

“There’s three weeks of overlap with the sports,” Maine Maritime women’s basketball coach Craig Dagen said. “She didn’t miss that time.”

The Mariners are 2-3 heading into Friday’s conference game at Green Mountain College.

Last season, Bennett played in 19 games, starting five, and averaged 5.2 points and 2.1 rebounds. After two seasons as a shooting guard, Bennett made the move to point, her high school position, this season.

“She expressed an interest to make the change,” Dagen said. “It’s proved to be helpful to her. She’s just a better player with the ball in her hands. So far, so good. She’s playing well for us.”

Bennett returned to the point when playing in the summer league at Southern Maine Community College. The move coincided with her rehab for a broken wrist.

“I enjoy getting my teammates the ball,” the 5-foot-8 Bennett said. “Just the fact that I have control of the offense, I love that. I control if we go fast, if we slow down.”

Knowing when to slow it down and when to put the pedal to the floor is a work in progress, Dagen said.

“She constantly wants to go, go, go, and it can’t be fast all the time for us to be successful,” Dagen said.

Added Bennett: “It’s important to know the situation you’re in, when you need to slow down, when the team needs a breather, or when you need to pick it up.”

Bennett hopes to improve in the mental side of the game.

“I feel like basketball is 95 percent mental. You can be a great athlete, but if you’re not there (mentally), you won’t get what you should out of it.”

Against Division I Maine on Nov. 29, Bennett scored 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

“The one thing we all know is, she can score. Versus Maine, she was one of the few kids on our team who looked like she belonged out there,” Dagen said.

Offensively, Bennett’s strength is driving to the basket. She hopes to improve her outside shot this season, giving her a more complete game as she enters her senior year.

“My three-point shot, I’d like to improve,” Bennett said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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