MHERST - Barring a considerable change of mind between now and 7 p.m. Friday, Maurice Maxwell will be the starting point guard for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team when the 2005-06 season tips off against Hartford at the Mullins Center.
New coach Travis Ford entered the preseason hoping to keep Maxwell on the wing. Ford tried juniors Artie Bowers and Brandon Thomas as well as freshman Chris Lowe at point guard, hoping a clear starter would emerge.
But Maxwell, who averaged 11.4 points last year, mostly on the wing, approached Ford and asked for a chance to play the point.
'He came to me wanting to play the position and so far so good,' Ford said. 'Maurice is doing a great job in a position that's not his natural position. He needs to handle pressure a little better bringing the ball up the court and get us in an offense. What I like is that he's really looking to pass first. That's probably taken a few of his points away, but he's really looking to win.'
Maxwell had mostly positive results during Thursday's 96-55 exhibition win over Dowling, with seven points, seven assists, three steals and three turnovers.
'I know I have a lot to learn,' Maxwell said. 'I can't score out of it as well as I want to. I can't hit my teammates as well as I want to. I need to learn the offense a lot more. I know how to get my teammates better shots and I know when to get myself involved offensively. I feel comfortable, but I'm definitely not a finished product right now.'
The point guard must know everybody's responsibilities, unlike on the wing where Maxwell mostly was concerned about his own job.
'That was the biggest thing for me,' Maxwell said. 'I need to recognize when (the play) is wrong and when to pull it out. It goes past basketball intelligence. It's knowing the scheme and how a play is.'
He may eventually move back to wing, if Lowe emerges as the team's floor general.
But for now Maxwell is embracing his new role. 'I want to be the best point guard I can be,' he said.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. For more UMass coverage including a frequently updated UMass sports blog, go to www.dailyhampshiregazette.com/umsports.