Click HERE for the original article - written by Morning Sentinel Staff Writer David Dyer
WATERVILLE, Maine – Thomas men's basketball coach Geoff Hensley is in an enviable situation.
His team enters the holiday break with a 5-3 record, including a four-game win streak. The Terriers boast a young but talented squad that includes perhaps the best forward in the North Atlantic Conference in senior Carlos Gonzalez, who is averaging a double-double (13.1 points, 10.5 rebounds) per game.
The only issue for Hensley and Thomas is the holiday break busting up the momentum. After beating the University of Maine at Farmington 74-58 on Dec. 9, Thomas doesn't play another game until Dec. 30 at the James Naismith Tournament in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Though the break isn't timely, Hensley has no issues sending his players home for the holidays.
"It's a major bummer, I'm a basketball coach, I want to be in the gym with my guys, going to practice, going to games," Hensley said. "But halfway through the season, they need a little bit of a break, where they can just get outside the gym, just let their bodies recover, and mentally recover as well. Basketball is such a long season. They start their preseason — their strength and conditioning workouts — in September. Then official practice starts in October, and they're not done until pretty much the end of February or early March, which is a really long season."
There's no question that the offense is clicking on all cylinders so far. Aside from Gonzalez' play in the post, Thomas has received offensive production from John Morgan — a senior forward who transferred from Southern Maine Community College — who is averaging 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. The production of the forwards has opened up shots for sophomore guard Zach Mackinnon, who leads the team with 13.5 points per game.
In the game against the Beavers, the offensive production was fast and furious. The Terriers jumped out to a 41-28 lead in the first half. Gonzalez scored a game-high 18 points, but Mackinnon and freshman forward Angel Gonzalez each added 16 points for the Terriers in the contest.
"Our guys came out ready to play, especially on the defensive end," Hensley said. "We held (UMF) to shooting perhaps a below-average percentage for what they're accustomed to. I thought it started on the defensive end for us, which led to some good baskets on the offensive end. Farmington is always tough. We knew they were going to rally back in the second half. I think they got (the lead) down to four or five points…..It was a great game and I was really pleased with my guys' effort and focus for the full 40 minutes."
There will be no easing back into the season for Thomas after the break. The Naismith Tournament is hosted by Springfield College, which was ranked 23rd in the d3hoops.com national rankings as of last week. The Pride will be just one of the non-conference opponents the Terriers will face in the tournament.
"We have (Springfield) in the first round," Hensley said. "Depending on if we win or lose, we have Fitchburg State or Wesleyan, who are two very good teams down in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Those will be two very good tests for us when we come back. As soon as that's over, we continue with conference play, and every conference game means a lot, and every conference game is a battle."
The Beavers will have a shot at revenge on their rivals in the not-too-distant future. Thomas and UMF will meet again in Waterville on Jan. 13.