The expectations for the Thomas men’s basketball team aren’t as high this season. Not withstanding how that might be a good thing, the excitement level might be higher for the Terriers this winter.

After being picked by the North Atlantic Conference coaches to finish first last season, Thomas was picked fifth this winter. The Terriers don’t have much size — junior Marquis Pollard is the only key player listed as taller than 6-foot-2, and he’s 6-4.

Thomas opened the season this weekend with two wins at the Charlie Ryan Classic, defeating the University of New England, 99-76, and the University of Maine at Machias, 115-111. The Terriers took 85 shots per game over the weekend.

“This is the way we need to play to be successful, I believe,” Thomas coach T.J. Maines said.

The Terriers have five players averaging in double figures, and four more averaging at least six points per game. Jarrad DeVaughn, last season’s leading scorer at 18.4 ppg, is out for the first semester because of a financial aid issue. So the only Thomas player who started both games this weekend was junior guard Franklin Salvador.

“We’re changing things up,” Maines said. “It’s not important who starts to me, it’s who finishes.”

Maines feels there considerable room for improvement at both ends of the floor. But he realizes it’s unrealistic to expect Thomas to run that much and play league-leading defense at the same time.

“If you play fast, you’re going to give up some points,” Maines said. “We’re extending the floor much more than what we did last year.”

Thomas is off until Nov. 30, when it plays the first of back-to-back games in Vermont against Green Mountain and Castleton. Thomas won’t have another practice until next week.

“We’ve already had 28 practices,” Maines said. “Their bodies need some rest.”

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While Thomas has had about a month’s worth of practices, the Colby women’s basketball team couldn’t get a practice in until Nov. 1. It’s a New England Small College Athletic Conference rule, according to Mules coach Julie Veilleux.

“Everybody starts mid-October, and we start Nov. 1 every year,” Veilleux said. “I don’t think it’s a bad/good thing. It’s just a lot less time to get a lot done.”

Colby trailed by 15 at halftime of its opener Friday against Bridgewater State, and ended up losing, 61-60. On Saturday, the Mules defeated UMaine-Fort Kent, 63-51. With three starters gone to graduation, including top scorers Jil Vaughan and Rachael Mack, the lineup is much different. Gabe Donahue, for example, averaged 9.2 minutes per game last winter, but started both games this weekend.

“We definitely have some players who were on the team last year, who didn’t really play a lot, and now they have that opportunity,” Veilleux said. “In terms of roles, it’s completely different, and a lot of roles are open.”

Mack and Vaughan are both six-footers, and while their absence has hurt Colby’s post game, Veilleux said the Mules actually match up better defensively with a lot of teams now, because few teams have a lot of height and the quickness level is more even.

Freshman Desi Smith leads the Mules with 13.5 points per game, while Diana Manduca is averaging 13.0 and Waterville graduate Jen Nale is at 10.0. Five players have between 14 and 23 field goal attempts.

“That will be somewhat a common theme,” Veilleux said. “Diana Manduca certainly is a force, but other people definitely could step up on different nights.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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