Back in October, when a reporter suggested to University of Maine men’s basketball coach Ted Woodward that he might be in for a rebuilding year, he frowned.

The coach said he was not using the R-word. And, in fact, these 2011-12 Black Bears had some talent.

“We have some pieces we have to mesh together,” he said.

Well, so far so good. Maine is off to a respectable 8-5 overall record, and 2-0 in America East — one of only two unbeaten league teams already (Stony Brook is 8-6, 3-0).

“I like a lot, and there’s a lot to work on,” Woodward said Monday. ” I like the way we’re sharing the ball on offense.”

Senior guard Gerald McLemore is leading as expected, with 20.5 points a game. Touted freshman guard Justin Edwards from Ontario is playing even better than advertised with 15.6 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.

Sophomore Alasdair Fraser, a 6-foot-7 forward from Scotland, is adding 14.2 points and 7.9 rebounds a game.

Senior point guard Andrew Rogers leads all Division I in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.36), with 61 assists and 14 turnovers.

“On defense, we’ve had good moments,” Woodward said. “We have to be more consistent there and rebounding remains a challenge.”

Maine has only 158 offensive rebounds, to its opponents’ 197 offensive boards.

America East has no dominant member this year. Stony Brook and Albany (10-7, 2-1) are the only other league teams with a winning record. The conference ranks between 28th and 30th among 32 conferences, according to various power rankings.

This could be the season the Black Bears go for it. This week will be telling as Maine plays host to rival Boston University (5-11, 1-1) on Wednesday night, and then hits the road Saturday against Albany, and Monday at Vermont (8-9, 2-1).

Freshman guard Stefano Mancini of Falmouth has not played for Maine this season and will likely red-shirt, retaining four years of eligibility. Mancini, a Falmouth High grad in 2010, played for New Hampton prep school last year.

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Maine hockey was last ranked in the national Division I poll when it was 20th on Oct. 31. The team received votes the next week and then dropped out completely.

The Black Bears (10-7-2, 7-6-1 in Hockey East) are back to receiving votes in the latest poll, which features three Hockey East schools, Boston College (fourth), Boston University (sixth) and Merrimack (seventh) in the top 10.

Merrimack (11-4-4, 7-3-2) will play host to Maine on Friday and Saturday. The Warriors are coming off a 4-2 loss at BU, and a 2-2 tie at BC last weekend.

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