Thursday, January 13, 2011

Things We Know About the '10-'11 Catamounts

As Conference play is beginning to get into full swing, it's time to get to know the Cats a little better. What do we know about them this season thus far?

1. The Cats can hang with most teams.
They led UConn at the half. They lost by 8 to MAAC favorite Fairfield on the road. And while we got smoked by BYU in Jimmer Fredette’s backyard, those of us watching the game know that it was a 12-point game with 10 minutes left. And while that hardly seems like something to take pride in for the Cats, that Glens Falls crowd was BYU crazy. The bottom line is, the boys of green and gold are certainly capable of winning the America East Conference Tournament, and maybe with some love of the tournament committee they could actually end up drawing a 14 or 15 seed. Then we will truly see if they can compete with anyone in the country.

2. They have the depth.
Evan Fjeld leads the team with 30.5 minutes per game. Freshman do-everything-man Brian Voelkel is second with 30.2 mpg. After that, seven other players average over 10 minutes a game, with Ben Crenca or Pat Bergmann being a solid fifth man to have coming off of your bench. The scoring is as socialist as Bernie Sanders, with four players averaging over 9 points a game, and that doesn't begin to measure the type of impact players like Voelkel have had on the team this year.

3. Coach Lonergan knows how to rebound (and so do his players).
After losing everyone but Fjeld from his starting lineup, Mike Lonergan has UVM in position to win the conference yet again. This cannot be overlooked. If you told any half-serious UVM fan last year that this season Marqus Blakely, Nick Vier, and Maurice Joseph will be gone, they would say there was no chance of winning the conference. Throw in the transfer of Garvey Young, and they would have said UVM basketball would need two years to rebuild, minimum. Yet, Lonergan has turned to Fjeld and sixth-man Joey Accaoui to handle the bulk of scoring, and welcomed the hugely increased roles of Brandon Bald and Simeon Marsalis. On top of that, he has a superb freshman class of Voelkel, Luke Apfeld, Sandro Carissimo and company who have contributed a great deal. The bottom line is that Lonergan knows how to get it done.
A huge concern for UVM after losing four starters had to be rebounding. Blakely was one of the best rebounders in the country (9.3 RPG), while Young (4.0 RPG) and Joseph (2.8 RPG) also chipped in on the glass. And yet, the Cats are 49th in the country with just under 39 boards a game. Their rebounding margin of +5 is also 49th in the country.

4. The future is bright.
Talking to a Maine Black Bears fan earlier today, I said that whatever happens this season is gravy. We went to the tournament last year. As I mentioned in point #3, UVM fans could not have had very high expectations heading into this season. The team lost too much talent and leadership to be hopeful. So whatever happens this season, the future looks bright. But perhaps the future is now…

Time to take care of business against UMBC this Saturday.

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