The reconstruction of UMaine men’s basketball is underway
Chris Markwood’s first game as a men’s basketball coach at the University of Maine is six months away, but some of his most important work is already underway.
The hiring of his first assistant coach, former Drexel University chief of staff Kevin O’Driscoll, was announced Tuesday, soon to be followed by a more personal step in his transition.
“It’s been busy but it’s been good,” said Markwood, the 2005 UMaine graduate who was named to lead the men’s basketball program at his alma mater on March 21. weekend and we’ll be there full time.
Markwood’s first few weeks at his new job were focused on hiring staff, getting to know returning players from UMaine, and recruiting to fill vacancies.
He’s tasked with rebuilding a UMaine men’s basketball team that was 6-23 this winter, with just three wins over Division I opponents. UMaine finished last or second-to-last among schools East on team offense each of the past five years, never averaging more than 62.4 points per game in any of those seasons.
“It’s been hectic trying to build a team and recruit, especially in the first two or three weeks of being with the returning players who are in Orono and spending as much time as possible with them to ensure that ‘they get to know me and vice versa,’ said Markwood, a former team captain at UMaine who was an assistant coach at Boston College last winter after previous stops at UMaine, Vermont and Northeastern — a resume of Division I coach spanning 16 years.
O’Driscoll adds considerable Division I coaching experience to the UMaine bench, with previous stops as an assistant starting in 1994 at Villanova – his alma mater – as well as Manhattan, Iona, Marist, James Madison and Drexel.
“He’s an extremely well-rounded coach and will have a positive impact on our program from day one,” Markwood said. “Most importantly, he is a high character person who has a great work ethic and will be a great resource on and off the court for myself, as well as our student-athletes.”
O’Driscoll has spent the past six seasons at Drexel, where he helped the Dragons win the 2021 Colonial Athletic Association Championship and secure an NCAA Tournament berth.
“I’ve known Chris for a long time and he’s been a big part of the success of many programs,” O’Driscoll said. “I look forward to partnering with Chris, along with the Maine Athletic Department and the surrounding Orono area, as we strive to create a great basketball program that the community and the State of Maine can be proud.”
A second assistant coach, believed to be former Wagner College assistant Pete Gash, is expected to join the Markwood team by the end of the month.
“We’re making a lot of progress there and then there are a few more spots to fill and I’m pretty far down the road with both as well,” Markwood said. “I just want to make sure I have the right guys in place, and I didn’t want to rush that aspect because getting a staff is one of the most important things to do.”
No official announcement has yet been made about new players joining the program besides Mr. Basketball 2022 from Maine, John Shea from Edward Little High School in Auburn, although two verbal commitments to UMaine have been reported on the portal. NCAA transfer.
Kellen Hynes, a native of Dartmouth, N.S., is set to move closer to home after spending two years at Montana State, where last winter the 6-foot-3 guard played 35 games as a as a second-year rookie for the Bobcats.
Gedi Juozapaitis, a 6-4 swingman from London, England, who prepared for Woodstock Academy in Connecticut before playing for two years at Division II Flagler College and the past two seasons at Georgia Southern, also reportedly joins the program.
“It’s an ongoing process, but it’s the same as with staff, trying to find young men who will be a perfect fit for our program and the community and who can continue to help move the program forward, and guys who will fit in well with the players we have back,” Markwood said.
Markwood expects all of its staff to be in place before its players gather on campus in July for summer school and off-season training, but roster spots and coaching hires could be confirmed before that.
“I can see that all the staff are made up by the end of May,” he said. “The recruiting aspect at this time of year goes pretty fast, but until it’s set in stone you don’t know everything. I’ve been around too long to assume things are done until until they actually are, but there are only a few scholarships left open and we’re pretty deep with a few young men for those, so I think it could go in the next two or three weeks along this same chronology.
Markwood has been thrilled with the reception he has received since being hired.
“A lot of people I spend a lot of time with on the road or who know me know how much school means to me and how much the state means to me,” said the South Portland High School graduate, who was named the state’s Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Maine Player of the Year in 2000 before beginning his college career at Notre Dame.
“We have a lot of work to do – we haven’t played a game yet – and there’s a lot going on which we need to keep working on and which I’m happy to tackle, but the reception has been excellent and explains why we are so excited to be up there.