ORONO, Maine — The basketball teams at the University of Maine are heading into the 2015-2016 season from opposite ends of the spectrum.

The Black Bear women’s squad, coming off a 23-9 campaign during which it won the America East regular-season title but lost in the league semifinals, is laden with proven seniors.

The UMaine men’s team, which struggled through a 3-27 season as they began the transition to a new coaching staff, is loaded with newcomers.

In spite of their differences, both hope to take the next step in their continued development this season.

The coaches and players gathered Friday afternoon to practice and talk about prospects for the season during a joint media day held at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Coach Richard Barron’s UMaine women, picked No. 2 in the preseason coaches poll, have plenty of motivation as they work to put their experience and cohesiveness to good use.

“Last year we did better and we accomplished a lot of things, but we didn’t do what we wanted to do,” said senior guard Sophie Weckstrom. “Our goal has been to win the championship every year and last year we got close, but not close enough.”

UMaine’s eight seniors, including first-team all-conference pick and co-defensive player of the year Liz Wood, have a final opportunity to put the program back on top of America East. They have high expectations and welcome the challenge of being a front-runner.

“I don’t think it’s pressure that makes us feel anxious or that we have to do something,” said senior Mikaela Gustafsson. “It’s really just for ourselves, knowing that we have a very high standard and trying to meet and exceed that every game and in practice.”

The Black Bear men, picked last in the AE coaches poll, look to make strides amidst coach Bob Walsh’s overhaul of the program. UMaine returns four of its top five scorers but has only two seniors and two juniors on the roster.

The underclass contingent consists of four sophomores and seven eligible freshmen.

“You’re not trying to change a way of thinking, you’re trying to establish a way of thinking,” Walsh said of this year’s dynamic with so many new players.

“It’s been really exciting, really refreshing and fun to start building this group into a team,” he added.

UMaine senior forward Till Gloger said adapting to a new coaching staff and a different way of practicing and playing made for a difficult 2014-2015 season, but not necessarily in terms of the basketball.

“As much as it was physically, it was mentally,” he said. “We have to bring it every day to be a championship program.”

Walsh views this year’s squad as not only more athletic and deeper, but more dynamic in how it plays the game.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...