Bob Walsh heard some shouting at a recent Maine men’s basketball practice that warmed his heart.

The clamor was coming from his sophomore point guard, Aaron Calixte, and there was an unmistakable anger in that high-pitched voice.

“It was just transition defense, guys aren’t matching up right, and now he’s there screaming at guys because … we’re not doing it right,” said Walsh, the Black Bears’ second-year coach.

“He’s got a very calm demeanor, which is an advantage in a lot of ways because he keeps the composure of the team at the right level, but he’s not your typical quarterback barking out signals. I want Aaron to take more ownership at the defensive end.”

Calixte was the first recruit Walsh signed in the spring of 2014 and he’s becoming the leader of a young Maine team that will try to prolong its season Wednesday when it travels to Vermont for an America East quarterfinal. Calixte has scored in double figures in each of the past eight games, only to see his team lose all of them.

This has been a breakthrough season in many ways for the 5-foot-11 native of Stoughton, Massachusetts. He’s not only finding his voice but his shooting touch. Calixte is averaging 10.6 points and 2.8 assists while leading the team with 780 minutes played. In the biggest win of an up-and-down season for Maine (8-21), it was Calixte who delivered the biggest baskets, driving to the rim repeatedly late in an 81-79 upset of Albany. Calixte finished with 16 points and no turnovers in that Jan. 15 home game.

“That’s one of the biggest things about my game. I don’t need a lot of crossovers, a lot of different moves to get open,” Calixte said. “Once I get my first step down, I think it’s really hard for anyone to stay in front of me.”

The threat of that first step buys Calixte more room on the perimeter, and he’s taking better advantage this season. Calixte is shooting 43.8 percent from the field (up from 40.2 a year ago) and 36.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (26.4). If you foul him, he’s nearly automatic, shooting 87.7 percent from the free-throw line, including 19 of 19 in the past eight games.

It’s the kind of improvement Calixte expected of himself after Walsh lured him from Lee Academy with an unusual recruiting pitch.

“He told me that from Day One I’d have to work for my spot, every single year,” Calixte said. “He always says there will never be a time that I can relax and not compete in practice. So that’s something you usually don’t hear from coaches who tell you what you want to hear. And from that you can only get better.”

True to his word, Walsh removed Calixte from the starting lineup in four games early this season. Ryan Bernstein, a walk-on freshman, was simply outperforming Calixte, Walsh felt. Calixte admitted his confidence left him during an eight-game stretch in which he averaged only 5.8 points, bottoming out with 13 scoreless minutes in a loss to Dartmouth.

“It’s tough for me when I get down on myself. It’s hard for me to keep playing as well as I want to, taking shots that I want to take,” Calixte said. “I wasn’t where I should have been at the beginning of the year.”

Calixte snapped out of it with 22 points and six assists in a victory over Brown that ended Maine’s nonconference slate. He’s been at his best ever since, a stalwart on a team that saw its two leading scorers, Issac Vann and Kevin Little, miss significant time with injuries.

There is certainly room for improvement. Calixte still is prone to turnovers, averaging 2.8 per game, just as in his freshman season. Even during his eight-game stretch of double-digit scoring, he’s had 28 turnovers against 27 assists. Defensively, he’s dogged when guarding opposing ballhandlers but seems to lose focus at times when away from the ball.

Against Vermont (19-12), Calixte will need to be nearly perfect to give his team a shot at its first victory in Burlington in five years. The Catamounts drubbed the Black Bears twice this season, 90-72 and 85-68. Calixte had 23 points and seven assists in those games but also eight turnovers.

Maine will be without Little, a sophomore shooting guard who injured his foot in practice last month. Little committed to Maine a week after Calixte, a recruiting class of two that saw their freshman year end with a 3-27 record. The two have been roommates and have had plenty of time to bond. Their potential role in Maine basketball history was a favorite topic last winter.

“It kind of starts with us. We show that we’re invested and we’re ready to commit to something, I think the guys will follow behind us. Because we’re the first recruits and Coach Walsh believed in us and what we can do,” Little said.

“There’s a lot of pride just to know that in a few years when we’re at a championship level that we were the guys that were here when it started.”

When the Black Bears are champions, an incredulous reporter repeated to Little.

“When we’re at a championship level, yes,” he said.

If Little’s running mate Calixte spearheads an upset at Vermont, that confidence won’t seem misplaced.