BANGOR, Maine — Sophomore guard Kevin Little enjoys the opportunity to play in a free-flowing system implemented by University of Maine men’s basketball coach Bob Walsh.
The sophomore guard has been the catalyst for the Black Bears’ quick-striking attack, averaging 14.5 points per game heading into Wednesday’s 7 p.m. America East Conference opener against Vermont at the Cross Insurance Center.
“It fits what I like to do: Get out and run, play fast, get shots, play in the open court,” the 6-footer from Wyandanch, New York, said Tuesday.
Little is the most aggressive offensive player on a UMaine squad that is putting up 74.8 points per game. The America East All-Rookie pick is quick off the dribble and can get shots off from outside, even with a defender in his face.
“He’s absolutely fearless, he plays with a ton of confidence, and that’s the way we want our team to play,” Walsh said.
“Everybody has confidence in Kevin’s ability to make plays, and there’s an intelligence level and a maturity level that comes along with that, that’s starting to grow,” he added.
Little leads UMaine in several statistical categories, including minutes played (27.4 per game), field goals (68), field-goal attempts (175), 3-pointers (32), 3-point tries (87), assists (36) and steals (17).
He chose UMaine over the likes of Akron and Florida International because he wanted to have an immediate role and aid in the program’s resurgence.
“It was a chance to start everything out new and have me be a big part of it,” Little said.
Last season, he ranked third in America East play with 15.2 ppg.
In his last four games, Little is averaging 20.1 points.
“If I see him in a game making plays, knocking down shots, it kind of motivates me to do the same exact thing,” said classmate Aaron Calixte.
Walsh said Little has continued to demonstrate improvement in key areas.
“He’s really starting to mature into an everyday player in practice, a guy who’s completely bought-in defensively,” Walsh said. “I think you can say his maturity level has coincided a little bit with this team hopefully maturing.”
Last month, America East released results of a player survey in which Little was named the “Most Underrated Player.” Little downplayed the nod, instead professing his commitment to helping the team win.
“I think people recognize Kevin’s talent and what he did as a freshman … but it’s a little bit under the radar until we get our program where it needs to be,” Walsh said.
As UMaine begins league play, Little will continue trying to set an aggressive offensive tone, especially in the clutch.
“Some people get nervous and say, ‘If I miss this one, we lose.’ I don’t look at it that way. If I get a chance to step up and make it count for my team, I look for those moments,” Little said.