This time of the year in college basketball two things are happening at the same time. The first, of course, is the tournament, and the other is coaching changes throughout the country. In America East, one coaching change has already been made. The Maine Black Bears have announced a former player will become their new head coach. Chris Markwood becomes the 23rd head coach of the program. It will be his first head coaching job. Markwood has some knowledge of the landscape he is getting involved with since he is a graduate of the school in 2005. He also was an assistant to the program as well.
A native of the state, he was captain of the Black Bears during his time with the program. Once his playing days ended, Markwood turned to coaching. He has been an assistant coach for several schools in the northeast over the past 16 seasons. His journey got started in Maine where he was an assistant for five years. He has also had stops in Vermont, Northeastern, and Boston College where he helped first-year head coach Earl Grant guide them to a nine-win improvement over a season ago. During his coaching career, Markwood has been a part of six 21+ win seasons, four regular-season conference titles, three conference tournament championships, and five postseason berths including three trips to the NCAA tournament.
The time spent in America East should serve him well as he takes over a program that has struggled on the court in recent years. The 2021-22 team finished 6-23 overall and 3-15 in conference play. They missed the league postseason playoff which signaled to the director of athletics, Ken Ralph, a change was necessary. The Black Bears will return 10 players to next year’s team. Sophomore guard, Sam Ihekwoaba, may be the best of the returnees for next season. He averaged six points a game off the bench for the Black Bears. He had four double-figure scoring games during the regular season in America East.
The biggest obstacle Markwood is facing is recruiting players to Orono, Maine. This is not a hot spot for high school players looking to continue their basketball careers in college. Changing the culture of the program is a must if Maine is going to contend in America East. As an assistant, he has recruited and helped 25 players to be named all-conference selections, one was named Player of the Year, one Rookie of the Year, and three Defensive Players of the Year. In his remarks, after being named head coach. Markwood said all the right things. He is excited to be back in his home state with the program that got him started in the game. He is looking forward to leading this team to new heights. There is no question that he and his staff have a lot of work ahead of them in the spring and summer months. Hopefully, Maine has found their guy in Chris Markwood.
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