Time To Go, Ted Woodward

The University of Maine men’s basketball team lost on Thursday, at home, to UMass-Lowell by a final score of 74-62.  It’s a fitting defeat, actually, since there was concern earlier this season that Maine would have to forfeit a game against the America East newcomers because of their new status as a Division I opponent. 

The loss was Maine’s fifth in a row and was completely illustrative of everything that’s wrong with the men’s basketball program.  Maine was outshot, outrebounded, and outscored 45-29 in the second half.  The loss dropped Maine to an overall record of 3-15 on the season and an equally futile 1-5 in conference.  With Thursday’s defeat, Maine also fell to a national ranking of 341 out of 351 Division I schools according to Ken Pomeroy’s well-respected college basketball power rankings

While the men’s basketball team admittedly has a history of being not-very-good, these are new lows in futility.  It’s time for there to be accountability for their overall lack of competitiveness, and that accountability starts at the top.  Yes, at the end of this season, Coach Ted Woodward should resign.

Woodward is now in his tenth season as coach of the men’s basketball team.  In that time, including this season, the team’s overall record is 95-159 (37.4% winning percentage) and 51-87 (36.9%) in America East.  Maine has had exactly one winning season (2009-10) during Woodward’s tenure and has seen their win total decline in each of the last four seasons.  The level of patience shown for Woodward by the athletic department is admirable, however alumni, supporters, and fans eventually deserve to see sustained competitiveness.

I was high on Woodward and the men’s basketball program in 2010.  Despite a too-early exit from the America East conference tournament at the end of the 2010 season, it looked as though the program had turned a corner.  The following season, Maine started brightly, both in and out of conference.  Things turned, however, in the second half of the conference schedule and after another early conference tournament exit, the program has seemingly never recovered.  Barring a major turnaround in the next few weeks, Maine is headed for its first single-digit win season in five years and the third of Woodward’s tenure.

We all know that Maine will never be a basketball school.  After all, hockey will always come first.  That doesn’t mean we should accept a men’s basketball team that is uncompetitive more often than not.  Dr. John Giannini took Maine to the conference tournament final when he was Maine’s head coach.  So did Rudy Keeling.  There’s no reason to think the right coach can’t do that again, particularly in the traditionally weak America East.  After a decade of mediocrity-at-best, Ted Woodward has proven to not be that coach.

The Maine athletic department has, in the recent past, proven itself capable of making a coaching change when a team is not competitive.  Even Maine’s favorite basketball daughter, Cindy Blodgett, was not exempt from accountability for her team’s results.  She was relieved of her duties as women’s hoops coach in 2011 after a 4-25 season that brought her overall record at the helm to 24-94. 

Like Blodgett, Woodward should be held accountable for his team’s results.  He should also be given the opportunity to step down in lieu of being dismissed.  There is no questioning Woodward’s loyalty, service, and dedication to the University of Maine and its basketball program.  Dating back to his time on the bench as an assistant coach under Giannini, he has been a fixture on the sidelines for the better part of two decades.  He’s earned the right to say, “it’s time for the program to turn the page and I will not be part of the next chapter.” 

The timing for this move is also right.  Maine’s new Director of Athletics, Karlton Creech, should have the chance to make his mark on Black Bear Nation right away, and what better place to start than with the men’s basketball program?  After all, Creech comes to UMaine from the University of North Carolina, one of the great college basketball schools in the history of NCAA athletics.  Creech understands as well as anyone what a strong basketball program can do for a university’s exposure and image.

Ted Woodward has served the University of Maine well.  It’s not easy to coach, recruit, and win at a cold-weather school where basketball will never be first fiddle.  We fill the steins to Coach Woodward and to his efforts.  We also fill the steins to what we hope will be his ability to recognize that it’s time for a new day to dawn on UMaine men’s basketball.

Photo courtesy www.wmebsports.com

4 Responses to “ Time To Go, Ted Woodward ”

  1. Finally someone sums up what I've been feeling all year. Woodward has had some great recruits come through this program, but his coaching and season results leave a lot to be desired. I really hope Creech sees an opportunity to make his mark on the University in his first year here.

  2. Thanks for reading! This was a tough one to write. I love college basketball and it's frustrating as a UMaine alum. I'd love to see the team make the NCAAs at least once.

    Fill The Steins!!!

  3. All you need to know to: zero, that's right, ZERO wins in the month of March for Woodward. If that doesn't say it all then I don't know what will. WAY too much talent over the years to accept this consistent losing. There are simply no more excuses.

  4. Can we duplicate the genius it took to land Dr. Gianinni at the low salary that Black Bear basketball coaches make? the Black Bears need a master of team chemistry to dirrect the team. I like the potential that Gloger, Mackey, Colonel, and Beal have shown – flashes of potential stardom. I think the chemistry just hasn't worked.

    By the way, what do you get from the season wherre Maine was nearly perfect in the first half, then lost every conference game after that. I think that the team must have had a very predictable way of playing that the other teams got hip to, and our team never could get past that one dimension. That sounds like flawed coaching and a sign that a new coach should have been hired back then

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