University of Maine junior forward Stephane Ingo was second in the America East Conference last season with 8.6 rebounds per game. Peter Buehner photo/University of Maine athletics

At 6-foot-9, University of Maine forward Stephane Ingo is big. At 200 pounds, the junior isn’t fight-for-every inch-of-space-under-the-basket big, but that’s exactly what Ingo does for the Black Bears, game after game.

“He’s still a slight guy. He just doesn’t put on weight, but he’s gotten a lot stronger,” said Richard Barron, Maine men’s basketball head coach. “He’s great defensively. He blocks shots, he rebounds.”

The Black Bears open the season Tuesday night at Virginia Tech. Maine’s home opener is Friday against UMaine-Farmington at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

The team’s captain for the second consecutive season, Ingo and his leadership will be key as Maine looks to improve on last winter’s 2-7 record in a season shut down after nine games because of coronavirus complications. Just five Black Bears return to the team, and some of the nine newcomers will be expected to contribute immediately.

Having nine new teammates, not to mention four new assistant coaches on Barron’s staff, isn’t a challenge as a captain, Ingo said. It’s an opportunity to welcome newcomers into a strong team culture he and the other returning players feel they’ve created.

“For me being a veteran, it’s exciting to see new guys come in who want to learn and buy into the system. It’s about keeping them on the right track and focused on our goals this season,” Ingo said.

“Steph leads by example. He’s not the loudest guy out there on the court, but everybody respects him because he walks the walk,” Barron said.

For Ingo, walking the walk means playing tight defense in the low post. Ingo averaged just over 2.5 blocks per game last season, including six in a 45-41 win over New Jersey Institute of Technology on Jan. 10. With a block in each of Maine’s first eight games last season, Ingo extended his streak of consecutive games swatting away a shot to 19. Ingo knows he’s not built to bang bodies with bigger players under the basket, and he knows he has attributes many opponents he faces do not.

“Basketball is all about using your advantages. It’s all about using my quickness and agility. Playing harder. Not letting them box me out,” Ingo said. “I can beat them off the dribble. In the post, I can face up to the basket. Defensively, I can use my speed to disrupt, my length to disrupt.”

Last season, Ingo’s 8.6 rebounds per game was second-best in the America East Conference, just behind leader Brandon Horvath of Maryland-Baltimore County (8.7). Ingo’s 10.6 points per game was second on the team to guard LeChaun DuHart (11.0). In a season of stops and starts, Ingo’s consistency was a bright spot for the Black Bears. He recorded four double-doubles in nine games,

Ingo was already a strong defensive player when he arrived in Orono. A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Ingo spent a prep year at Gould Academy in Bethel before coming to UMaine. After sitting out as a redshirt for the 2018-19 season, Ingo entered the starting lineup late in the 2019-20 season, starting the final 12 games. He started all nine of Maine’s games last season.

Ingo’s offensive game showed improvement last season. His shooting percentage went up to .447  from .403 the previous season. While the 3-pointer is still not a big piece of Ingo’s game, he improved there as well, raising his shooting percentage to .300 (3 for 10) from .237 (9 for 28) his first season.

“He’s evolved into a good offensive player. He’s good away from the basket, he’s a good passer. He’s starting to find 3-point range,” Barron said. “That’s really taken him to the next level.”

Ingo earned all-academic honors from the conference last season with his 3.663 GPA while majoring in finance and management. Barron said that intelligence comes through on the court, too. Barron calls it cerebral. Ingo calls it focused.

This season, with the entire team vaccinated (UMaine rules dictate students must be vaccinated to be on campus), the focus can be on basketball, not contact tracing.

“Getting back to a sense of normalcy is so important. That aspect helps you stay grounded and focused on playing basketball,” Ingo said. “It’s what we love doing.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: