BANGOR — Seconds into Sunday’s exhibition game against Stonehill, University of Maine senior guard Maddy McVicar slipped and fell as she backpedaled into defensive position. McVicar popped right back up and was quickly  back where she was supposed to be. It may have been the only misstep McVicar made all game.

A redshirt senior, McVicar is the longest-serving player on the Black Bears roster. A role player her entire career at Maine, the Calais native is looking to expand that role this season as Maine looks for a third straight America East Conference title.

University of Maine’s Dor Saar, left, drives the ball around Stonehill’s Kelsey Shaw, center, as Saar’s teammate Fanny Wadling sets a screen Sunday in Bangor. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

“Be a little bit of everything. I guess last year my role was defense. This year, I kind of have to fill a couple more spots. Mainly just focus on my defense and hit open shots,” McVicar said after Maine’s 78-56 win.

With four newcomers on the Black Bears roster, McVicar is a known commodity for coach Amy Vachon.

“I think Maddy has seen a lot. She’s experienced a lot. She’s so athletic and can do a lot of different things. We’re trying to find that line between what will work and what won’t work. For her, I think she can become a really good defender for us,’ Vachon said.

A 5-foot-4 guard, McVicar started and played 12 minutes and one second in Sunday’s game. She didn’t take a shot, or grab a rebound. McVicar’s only contribution that shows up in the box score was a single assist, but her value was felt. The Black Bears were +7 with McVicar on the court.

That McVicar didn’t attempt a shot wasn’t a concern to either her or Vachon. While McVicar stepped into a position occupied last season by Parise Rossignol, who averaged 11.4 points per game and is now an assistant coach under Vachon. McVicar will be asked to do different things, however. Rossignol was a natural scorer with a smooth 3-point shot. Vachon isn’t looking for anybody to be a Rossignol clone. Offense can come from established scorers Blanca Millan, Fanny Wadling, and point guard Dor Saar.

“They’re different players and can bring different things,” Vachon said.

McVicar played in all 33 games last season for the Black Bears, starting three. She averaged a career-high 3.1 points per game. McVicar’s playing time has steadily increased season by season. In 2016-17, she played an average of just under three minutes per game. That more than doubled to 6.8 minutes per game in 2017-18, and doubled again last season, when McVicar played 13.5 minutes per game.

“It has a lot to do with just getting smarter. Every year you learn a little bit, and carry it over to the next year,” McVicar said.

In the offseason, McVicar focused on shooting. Last season, she was just 17 of 69 from 3-point range, and McVicar knows that has to improve. Throughout the summer, she shot.

“Getting up shots. That’s been a big thing for me. I have to hit the open shot. That’s going to make our team better,” McVicar said.

University of Maine head coach Amy Vachon instructs the team during a game against Stonewall on Sunday in Bangor. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

Added Vachon: “With her it’s just the consistency. She can be a really good shooter, it’s just being consistent with that. Last year, her percentage from three wasn’t great. We talked a lot this summer about making shots. It’s not anything about form or anything like that. It’s just getting in the gym and shooting.”

Defense was the focus for McVicar on Sunday. There were times McVicar passed up a shot that may have looked open but didn’t feel right. Early in the fourth quarter, McVicar was on the wing as the Black Bears were on the break. Taking a pass from Saar, McVicar had a look at a 3-pointer, but didn’t take the shot. Rather, she passed the ball back out, and the possession ended a few seconds later with a Millan layup.

“Take shots when they’re open. (McVicar) doesn’t have to create anything for herself. Dor, Fanny and Blanca will get a lot of attention. She can kind of be the beneficiary of that.”

A Bioengineering major, McVicar balances a rigorous academic load with basketball. A Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist in 2015 and 1,411 point scorer at Calais High School, McVicar called attending Maine “one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

Vachon has watched McVicar mature from what she called a goofy freshman into a fifth-year senior contributing to a team with lofty goals. Vachon expects big things from McVicar. Maine’s lone fifth-year senior keeps her goals simple.

“Be what my team needs me to be. Don’t try to do too much. I’m here to have fun, enjoy it, and try to win another (America East) championship,” McVicar said.

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