ORONO — Steve Abbott, athletic director at the University of Maine, confirmed that two candidates have visited the campus in the last week to interview for the women’s basketball head coaching position.

“Yes, the search is progressing rapidly. We’ve talked to a number of good candidates. Right now we are focused on a handful of the applicants and it’s possible that this could be concluded as early as next week,” said Abbott.

According to a source close to the situation those candidates are believed to be Richard Barron, an assistant at North Carolina State, and Rick Reeves, head coach at Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C. The pair are believed to be finalists for the job.

The position opened in late March when Maine fired former playing legend Cindy Blodgett after four sub-.500 seasons, including a 4-25 record this past season.

Abbott said last week the committee’s list of candidates was down to a small pool of about six candidates, and confirmed today that the committee is close to making a hire.

Barron, 42, according to his bio on the N.C. State website, is considered one of the top recruiters in the country. He was the associate coach at Baylor in Texas for two seasons and the head coach at Princeton University for six years, leading the team to the Ivy League title in 2005-06.

At Baylor he was the staff’s recruiting coordinator and brought in Brittney Griner, the nation’s top-ranked player.

Reeves led Gardner-Webb (23-11) to its first NCAA tournament appearance this season after winning the Big South Championship.

The team lost to No. 11-ranked Miami in the opening round, but accomplished a first: back-to-back 20-win seasons.

Reeves, 53, has been head coach there for seven seasons.

Calls to the offices of both Barron and Reeves were not returned.