The Bangor Daily News from Bangor, Maine on October 16, 1990 · 11
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The Bangor Daily News from Bangor, Maine · 11

Bangor, Maine
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 16, 1990
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All V COLLEGE SPORTS Jr st Bangor Daily News Tuesday October 16 1990 11 of SSirmaims s ctmmes BEN SIRMANS of the University of Maine football Bears Sirmans has succeeded on the field and off team has specialized in making the tough yardage despite having some tough obstacles in his path during his three seasons as a fullback for the Black (NEWS Photo by Tom Hindman) Maine hoop outlook ‘promising’ Keeling thinks this is year progress will start to show By Mike Dowd Of the NEWS Staff ORONO — Senior center and team captain Curtis Robertson surveyed the cluster of his University of Maine teammates idly dunking at one basket in the Memorial Gym during' the annual Black Bear basketball press day recently “It looks promising” said the 6-fopt-10 pivotman out of Mattan-awcook Academy in Lincoln “We’ve got a lot of new guys Once we have the chance to play together formally we’ll know more” Maine began to play together formally early Monday morning during the first NCAA-allowed practice of the season Thirteen players are now working under third-year head coach Rudy Keeling to end a streak of six straight losing campaigns Based on the appearance of the team Keeling is optimistic the turnaround he was hired to produce will begin to show up in the Bears’ win-loss record this season “Our talent level is up” said Keeling who carries a 20-36 record at Maine into the new season including last year’s 11-17 mark and fourth-place finish in the North Atlantic Conference “Our improvement hopefully won’t be as gradual as it was last year Hopefully we’ll be able to make a jump” Gendron By Larry Mahoney Of the NEWS Staff ORONO — He grew up in Berlin NH went on to be a defenseman and three-year captain at New England College (Hen-niker NH) and then coached Bellows Free Academy in St Albans Vt to four Division I state titles in his nine years there This week's TUESDAY Oct 16 Mm’i Socctc Bates at Maine 3:30 UM-Farmtogton at Maine Maritime 3:30 Husson at Southern Maine 330 Held Hockey: Southern Maine at UM-Farmlngton 4 pm WEDNESDAY Oct 17 Men’s Soccer St Joseph's at Unity 3:30 Women’a Soccer Bates at Colhy-Sawyer 3 pm Thomas at UM-Famiington 3:30 St Joseph’s at U-New England 3:30 Field Hockey: Bowdoin at Plymouth State 330 -THURSDAY Oct 18 Field Hockey: Southern Maine at Bates 3 pm FRIDAY Oct 19 Men's Soccer Bates at Maine Maritime 330Unity at UM-Machias 3 pm - --Women’s Term New England Championships at -Amherst Mass 9 am The Maine November 23 -at Central Florida Tournament Maine vs Liberty 4 pm Central Florida vs SE Louisiana 6 pm 24 - at Central Florida Tournament consolation championship 4 8 pm 27 - Northern Illinois Bangor 7:30 December 1 - at Falrleigh Dickinson 7:30 5 - at Loyola Chicago 7:30 9 - Connecticut Bancor 1 pm 12 - Drexel Bangor 7:30 15— BIW Classic at Portland vs Eastern Illinois 3 pm 23 - at Delaware 1 pm 29 — at Robert Morris 7:30 January: 2 - Southwest Texas Bangor 7:30 5 - New Hampshire Bangor 1 pm 7 - Texas-Pan Am Bangor 7:30 Keeling and assistants Fred Hill and Mike Jaskulski are basing their hopes for improvement to a large degree on seven newcomers including six true freshmen But Keeling stressed the nucleus of six returning veterans all of whom started at one time or another will be central to the team’s success “We’re looking at this as a wide open camp” said Keeling “I think we’ve got some experienced players who will be tough to beat out But we’ve got some young guys who will push them which is good” named Maine full-time assistant hockey coach His name is Dennis “Red” Gendron and he has replaced Bruce Crowder as the new fulltime assistant hockey coach at Maine The 32-year-old Gendron is excited about his new job “This is a great move personally and professionally for me” said Gendron “This is a great place to be with the amount of Maine college SATURDAY Oct 20 Football: Maine at UConn 1 pm U Mass-Boston at Maine Maritime 1:30 Williams at Colby 130 Bowdoin at Tufts 1:30 Trinity at Bales 1:30 Men's Soccer UM-Piesaue Isle at St Joseph's 3 pm Eastern Nazarene at UM-Farmington t pm Bowdoin at Colby 1 1 am Lyndon State a! U-New England 2 pm UMFort Kent at Husson 2 pm Women's Soccer Maine at Yale 4 pm Bates at Eastern Conn 2 pm UM-Farmington at Johnson State 1 pm Bowdoin at Plymouth State 11 am Colby at Salem State 330 Field Hockey: Maine at Northeastern f pm Bates at Gordon noon UM-Farmington at Framingham State 1 pm Bowdoin at Connecticut College 1 pm Colby at New England College 2 pm Men's Cross Country: Maine at NAC Championships TBA CBB-State Championships at Bales noon Women’s Cross Country: Maine at NAC Championships TBA MAIAW Championships at Colby TBA Women’s Tends: New EnglandChamplonships at Schedule 9 - at Boston College 7 pm 12 - Northeastern Bangor 1 pm 14 - Fairfield Bangor 7:30 20 - Hartford Bangor 1 pm 22 - at St Bonaventure 7:35 26 - at Vermont 2 pm 30 - at Boston University 7:30 February: - 2 - at New Hampshire 1 pm 6 - at Furman 7:30 9 - Boston University Bangor f pm 16 - at Rhode Island 7:30 19 - at Northeastern 7 pm 23 - at Hartford 7:45 March: 2 - Vermont Orono 1pm 5 - NAC Tournament first round TBA 7 - NAC Tournament semifinals TBA- 9 - NAC Tournament championship TBA The veterans besides Robertson include 6-3 junior swingman Derrick Hodge the team’s leading returning scorer (131 ppg) 6-8 redshirt freshman forward Francois Bouchard who is now healthy after missing all but four games last year with a stress fracture in his foot 5-11 junior point guard Marty Higgins a two-year starter 6-8 sophomore forward Dan Hillman and 6-5 junior forward Shelton Kerry The newcomers expected to make an immediate impact are 6-4 sophomore forward Rossie Kearson a transfer from Alcorn enthusiasm surrounding the hockey program and it’s great for someone who is really serious about being a hockey coach” Gendron said there was “no hesitation” in looking into the job “I had been looking into becoming a college hockey coach but for a variety of reasons it schedules Amherst Mass 9 am Volleyball: Bates UM-Presque Isle at Williams Invitational to am Bowdoin at Amherst 1 pm SUNDAY OcL 21 Football: MCI Postgrads at Springfield 1:30 Men's Soccer Maine at Hartford 1 pm UM-Presque Isle at U-New England 2 pm UM-Machias at UM-Farmington 2 pm Women's Soccer Maine at Hartford 1030 am U-New England at Thomas 1 pm Golf: New England Championships at New Seabury Mass TBA Women's Tennis: New England Championships at Amherst Mass 9 am Volleybilt UM-Farmington at Atlantic Union 1 pm MONDAY Oct 22 Golf: New England Championships at New Seabury Mass TBA Women’s Soccer Husson at UM-Farmington 330 By Mike Dowd Of the NEWS Staff ORONO — Ben Sirmans got the ball and knew immediately something was wrong It was - fourth-and-goal on the Rhode Island l-yard line Maine trailed 10-3 in the third quarter and Sir— ' mans running left on a reverse from the right wing saw the blocking disintegrate in front of him The hole that was supposed to be there wasn’t “The play wasn’t there so everything just became instinctive” Sirmans said recalling the moment His instinct told the 5-foot-9 204-pound junior to cut back against the grain His instinct also told him to lower his left shoulder His instinct as usual was right Sirmans bounced off one Rhode Island tackier hopped sideways to retain his balance and pogoed off his left leg into the end zone for the touchdown The play typified Sirmans’ success Saturday He blasted through the URI defense for a career-high 109 yards on a career-high 20 carries scoring two TDs to help power the Bears to a 24-17 win their first of the sea-1 son But in a larger sense the play typified Sirmans’ life in gen- eral and his career at Maine in particular both of which have seen him get the job done despite things never seeming to go easily for him Consider: A “borderline” student at Montclair Immaculate Conception High Sirmans grew up in a tough neighborhood in East Orange NJ His widowed mother Ophelia worked as a beautician to support four children He was an All-State football and track star but his grades coupled with his scoring the NCAA minimum State who will be eligible second semester 6-6 freshman forward Kenny Barnes a former All-Maine player at Limestone High and 6-foot freshmen point guards Deonte Hursey and Kevin Terrell Also expected to contribute are 6-6 freshman forward Ed Jones 6-7 freshman forward Tim Dennis and 6-3 freshman forward Greg McClaire Donald Taylor considered Maine’s top recruit this year is enrolled in the University’s Onward Program after failing to meet minimum SAT scores and will not be eligible to play or practice this year Andy Liebert a guard on last year’s team has transferred to Indiana University at Purdue University in Fort Wayne Ind a Division II school Keeling believes the team is stronger in the frontcourt thanks to the new additions but there are still questions about finding perimeter shooters as camp unfolds On paper Maine’s biggest problem will be replacing the scoring provided by graduated small forward Dean Smith who led the NAC last year by averaging 20 points per game “I think hopefully we’ll make up for Dean’s scoring by having everyone else pick up their scoring” Keeling said “I think we’ll be more balanced” didn’t happen” said Gendron “At one time I was offered a position but it wasn’t financially appropriate for my family (wife Janet and daughters Katelin and Allison) A lot of programs don’t pay assistants particularly well Here at Maine I expect to work real hard I won’t get rich but we’ll be compensated reasonably well That’s one big key “The other big key is that with the amount of success they’ve had this is a great place to work” said Gendron “It’s a lot easier to recruit at Maine than it is at a lot of other places because of their success” Besides his success at Bellows Free Academy Gendron has been very involved in USA Hockey formerly the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States He has coached US Select-168 teams three times Select-178 twice and Select-18s once He was the head coach for the 16s and 17s once each “There will be an adjustment (to coaching at the college level) but having the opportunity to work with great players at the 700 on his SAT scared pff every school except Mairierwhich decided to take a chance on him “If Maine hadn’t offered me a scholarship I don’t think there’s any way I would have gone to college” said Sirmans an edu-cation major who is more than holding his own academically Football at Maine didn’t go quite the way Sirmans expected either He was recruited by former Maine coach Tim Murphy to play fullback but was pressed into service as a tailback replac- ing an injured Carl Smith in the seventh game of his freshman season at Connecticut t Sirmans’ first run from scrimmage went for a touchdown It was enough to give the young back a taste of success and raise his hopes for glory but When Smith returned to the lineup two weeks later Sirmans was relegated to blocking back which has been his role for the most part ever since “It doesn’t bother me” said Sirmans who rushed for 418 yards ahd scored eight TDs in between throwing blocks on last year’s 9-3 playoff team “I’ve always done whatever it takes to ‘ help the team win It goes back to my high school coach (John Finnegan) who taught me no matter how tough a situation is you have to play the cards you’re dealt” Adapting to life in rural Maine after a city upbringing wasn’t easy for Sirmans either He considered transferring after his freshman year “I wasn’t used to the atmosphere and I wanted to be closer to home and be around more black people” Sirmans said “It wasn’t anything against white people it was just what I was used to The reason I stayed was when coach Murphy left coach MAINE CENTER and team captain Curtis Robertson shown here in action last year in a game against Northeastern is one of six veterans leading the Black Bear basketball team through preseason workouts which opened in Orono Monday (NEWS Photo by Scott Haskell) national level will certainly help me” said Gendron Gendron is a creative coach who admits that he is “always interested in trying new things “And this is an outstanding environment for that” said Gendron “Here there is such a great emphasis on the game and doing well People are interested in finding better ways to do things” He has found the players to be very receptive “When a high school coach comes in to coach at this level it would be very easy for anyone to say ‘What does this guy know?” said Gendron “But these guys have made me feel very welcome” “They have outstanding kids here and they are very eager to learn” added Gendron “All of them aspire to play at the next level in the NHL or the pros somewhere and they are very receptive to any sort of coaching you can give them to help them improve” Gendron who has worked at the Maine hockey schools on sev- t (Tom) Lichtenberg talked to me about growing up He said sometimes when things get tough you’ve got to be tough and deal with them” Sirmans stayed and got tough especially on the football field “The Uiing that makes Ben" such a good back is his body lean” said UM running backs' coach Bob Wilder “He’s got a hard body and he’s short but it’s his lean that makes him hard to tackle He’s always lower than the guy trying to tackle him He’s also got great balance He’s always moving forward” After witnessing Sirmans’ performance against his Rams URI coach Bob Griffin paid tribute to his tenacity “He moves the chains” Griffin said “When you need the tough yards he gets them That touchdown was a good run but I remember a few times on third-and-3 when he got the yards He keeps the chains moving” Sirmans’ career performance Saturday opened the eyes of Maine head coach Kirk Ferentz who realizes his fullback can do more than block “We’re just happy to have a guy like Ben who’s not only a great blocker but a great running threat” Ferentz said Whether Sirmans’ success Saturday translates into more carries will depend on opposing defenses Sirmans shrugs at the notion ' “I wanted to get 1000 yards back at the beginning of the season but after the first game I could see that wasn’t going to happen I feel now I’ve just got to do whatever it takes to help us win” he said And is he happy he stayed at Maine? “Definitely” Sirmans said eral occasions also said he and his family like the area and that the people “who have bent over backwards to be kind to us” Maine tri-captains Scott Pel-lerin and Martin Robitaille have been impressed by the hew coach “I think he’s going to work out great” said Pellerin “He makes guys work hard and acknowledges guys who do work hard He gives them positive reinforcement He’s also got some new drills and new ideas The guys really like him” - “He’s going to help us out a lot” said Robitaille “He knows what he’s talking about” Gendron who taught economics and history at Bellows Free Academy will monitor the academics as well handling his on-ice coaching duties and recruiting He is bilingual and Robitaille said that will be valuable when Maine tries to recruit French-speaking players “He can be more detailed on explaining what goes on at Maine” said Robitaille

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