New Zealand Under-16 national team point guard Rongomai Timson, who signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Maine on a basketball scholarship, had a change of heart.
“She didn’t come. Things just didn’t work out,” said University of Maine women’s head coach Amy Vachon, who wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons for Timson’s decision.
Timson led Life Preparatory Academy of Wichita, Kansas, to a Heartland Christian Athletic Association 3A championship last season. She was chosen to the HCAA all-star team.
Timson was one of two players to sign an NLI with UMaine for this season along with Doga Alper, a 5-foot-10 guard from Istanbul, Turkey.
UMaine does have one of the league’s top point guards in sophomore Dor Saar, the reigning America East Rookie of the Year. Saar had a team-high 93 assists in 32 games (2.9 apg) and also averaged 5.6 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Vachon said she and her staff have options for a backup point guard.
“Maddy [McVicar], Sierra [Tapley] and Tanesha [Sutton] can all play point guard. We can do it by committee if we need to,” said Vachon, who last season guided the Black Bears to their first America East tournament championship since 2004.
It was her first full season as the head coach after taking over for Richard Barron, who went on medical leave midway through the 2016-17 season and who in March was named the head coach of the UMaine men’s basketball team.
The Black Bears went 23-10 last season and won the America East regular-season title with a 13-3 record. UMaine had been picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll.
Vachon was named the league Coach of the Year.
The Black Bears also lost shooting guard Julie Brosseau as she transferred to the University of Utah.
But All-America East first-teamer and all-defensive team selection Blanca Millan, second-team choice Sutton and Sixth Player of the Year winner Parise Rossignol of Van Buren will join forward Fanny Wadling to headline a quality returning corps.
“We had a good group coming back, and we’re hoping to have people come off the bench and contribute. Everybody came back in really good shape,” Vachon said.
The Black Bears, who lost to nationally ranked Texas 83-54 in the first round of the NCAA tournament, are looking forward to making another run for a conference title and NCAA berth.
“We’re playing a lot of real good teams along the way,” said Vachon, who last Friday night was inducted into the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame.
Among the teams on UMaine’s nonconference schedule are Duke, North Carolina, Wisconsin-Green Bay and North Carolina State.
The Black Bears play an exhibition game Nov. 3 against Division II Stonehill College at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
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