AUGUSTA — The University of Maine at Augusta men’s basketball team is a lot like the women’s squad — small with a lot of outside shooting and strong team unity.

It remains to be seen how far that combination will take the Moose. So far this season they’re 1-2 following Wednesday night’s loss to Central Maine Community College. One thing the men have that the women don’t is a lot of players.

“We’ve added a few pieces that are going to be really important, especially in the guard and small forward area,” UMA coach Jim Ford said. “But we still are a team that’s made up of guards and small forwards.”

The Moose led Vermont Tech late in their season opener but, when its shooting went cold, VT’s size took over and the team overtook the Moose.

“They turned the game physically on us,” Ford said.

Lack of size also hurt the Moose in the loss to CMCC where they were out-rebounded 39-20 and went to the free throw line 11 fewer times. They’re also playing a matchup zone which is a work in progress.

“This team can score,” Ford said. “The question will be whether we can keep our opponents off the boards.”

The good news is the Moose return two of their top scorers in Lawrence High graduate Dustin Simpson-Bragg and Messalonskee grad Justin Holmes. Holmes, a senior who scored 36 points in a win against St. Joseph’s of Vermont, scored a team-high 22 against CMCC.

“We were down 15 in the first half and we battled back and everyone hit shots,” Holmes said of the St. Joseph’s game. “It was an exciting game.”

Simpson-Bragg, a 6-foot-4 junior, is the team’s leading returning scorer.

“He has found the outside shot,” Ford said. “He’s beginning to blossom as a double threat because if you come out to close out on him, he’s going to go right by you with his quickness and athleticism.”

The Moose also benefited from two transfers — junior guards Sheveran Hardy and Quinn Mitchell II — both from Connecticut who played for CMCC last season. Both started Wednesday with Hardy scoring 21 points to go with six steals and four assists. Noah Thompson of Yuma, Arizona, was the team’s fifth starter while freshman Israel Brown of Ridgeway, New Jersey scored seven points off the bench.

Ford is carrying 15 players this season, including several from central Maine, and all 15 played Wednesday. The bench produced just nine points, although that’s expected to change as the players settle into their roles. Winslow graduate Nathan Martin, a 6-3 sophomore, is one who is expected to contribute soon.

“He’s a second-chance machine,” Holmes said. “No one gets second chance opportunities like Nate Martin.”

Waterville grad Justin Jabar, a 6-4 freshman who didn’t play last season, is also expected to contribute.

“This is his first year in and he’s doing real well,” Holmes said.

The Moose struggled last season, finishing 5-20 overall and 4-10 in Yankee Small College Conference play. With added depth, two strong returning scorers in Simpson-Bragg and Holmes, and a pair of valuable transfers, they figure to improve this year.

“We’ve got a lot of shooters,” Holmes said. “We don’t have much size but what (we) don’t have in height (we) make up in hustle. What’s big is the team as a unit. It’s one group. Everything’s fun to be around.”

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