Monday, February 28, 2011

Beat-Up Cats Drop Regular Season Finale to Beat-Up Terriers

Boston University beat Vermont 66-64 in overtime on Sunday. The Terriers played without likely America East Player of the Year, John Holland. The Catamounts were without Brandon Bald, and senior leading-scorer Evan Fjeld left 10 minutes into the game with an apparent injury. Having missed the radio call of the game due to work, I cannot tell you anything about these two injuries. The UVM Athletics website somehow did not address Fjeld's injury whatsoever, and merely mentioned that Bald is banged up. It also did not address that Holland was out for the game. All of this I find very confusing.

In the postgame news conference, both Coach Lonergan and Joey Accaoui allude to not being at full strength, but they do not say what injuries Fjeld and Bald actually have. I am completely frustrated trying to figure out if Fjeld and Bald will be ready for the tournament. Without those two, every potential game in the America East tournament becomes a lot scarier. With those two, Vermont has to like their chances of advancing to the championship game in Burlington.

Which brings us back to the game yesterday. About the only bright spots for Vermont were Sandro Carissimo, who had a career high 17 points, and Brian Voelkel generally did his thing -- he had 12 points, 6 rebound, and 5 assists. Two freshmen led the way on senior day. The Cats were out-rebounded, out-hustled, and out-scored, and that is the bottom line.

This game may not be a preview of the America East championship at all. The two teams who seemed most likely to advance to that championship game, BU and UVM, are banged up. They will have to get healthy to have the mental and physical edge in the quarterfinals and semifinals. (On a side note, if I am a Maine fan, I'm liking my chances right now). I'm not discounting the fact that the Terriers beat the Catamounts twice this season, but I have a feeling if they play for a third time in Burlington, it will be a much different game. It's possible that it could be a tougher game, considering that Holland would probably be back in the lineup.

But Vermont has a lot of work to do before they get that far. They have lost two games in a row for the first time all season. They have not resembled the team that won 10 straight conference games from January 20-February 16. They are not playing lock down defense, and they are not rebounding the way they are capable of. Is this a team that peaked too soon? Have we already seen the best of the 2011 Catamounts? The conference tournament will shed light on those questions.

Vermont plays the winner of Binghamton and UMBC on Saturday afternoon, around 2:15. It's do-or-die time: here is to doing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why Tomorrow Sorta Matters

It's easy to look at tomorrow's game at home against Boston University as a throw away game: it will have no effect on the conference tournament. Or will it?

Vermont regular season finale cannot change the seeding of BU or UVM heading into the tournament -- BU is the 2 seed and Vermont is the 1 seed. But this game is important for two reasons:
1) This is Vermont's only game over a 13 day span, and it is also their only tune up for the conference tournament. The things that went wrong against Charleston will need to be addressed in tomorrow's game.
2) BU could gain a major mental edge over the Cats if they win at Patrick tomorrow and prove once and for all that they can win on the road (and more specifically, in Burlington). Of course, Vermont is 12-1 in home games this season. BU is currently 3-10 in road games (3-4 in conference). The Terriers have won 7 games in a row overall, however, including two straight on the road. There is something really strange about BU's road woes: I have never attended a game at Case gym, but from what I have heard, it is a soft place to play. People hardly show up, and if they do, they are not very loud. So why do they play better at home? I guess it just beats playing on the road -- the traveling, the fans actually showing up and cheering against you, etc. I digress.

Tomorrow is also a very special day for the three Catamount seniors: Evan Fjeld, Joey Accaoui, and Garrett Kissel. The three seniors are determined to be playing their second to last home game tomorrow, and the fans are likewise looking forward to the opportunity to send the off the right way, the way last year's seniors ended their careers in Burlington: by clinching a birth to the NCAA tournament.

Go Vermont Go Vermont Go!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Business Time

The America East tournament seeding is close to being cemented. While BU and Maine continue to duke it out for the 2 seed, UNH and Hartford play on Sunday to determine who gets the 6 seed. Regardless of what occurs in those games, BU and Maine will get matched up with either UNH or Hartford, and if they win they will play each other in the semis. However, that is all on the opposite side of the bracket that Vermont finds itself on as the 1 seed. Let's take a look at that side of the bracket, where matchups are already determined:

1. Vermont
to play the winner of
8. BInghamton/9. UMBC (though it seems like these seeds could switch if Binghamton loses its next two, but that is completely insignificant)
The winner of Vermont vs. Binghamton/UMBC plays the winner of:
4. Albany/5. Stony Brook

Is this all too confusing? Then find a bracket online. It's not difficult to understand.

Vermont has beaten every one of those teams twice. They have to like their chances to move on and host the championship game on March 12. Of course, as they say, the toughest thing to do in sports is beat a team 3 times. And that's exactly why they have to play the games, because anyone can win.

My humble predictions: Vermont gets a tough game from Binghamton, who beats UMBC in the play-in game. The Bearcats lose by somewhere around 10. I think Albany should handle Stony Brook without too much trouble, setting up a game that no Vermont fan wants to see on a neutral court (or any court for that matter): Vermont vs. Albany. While Vermont beat Albany by 12 at home and 9 on the road, neither game was all that close. But I hope I do not have to bring up the awful 2007 tournament, when Albany took down Vermont after losing to them twice in the regular season. In spite of that, Vermont will morph into "Business-Time" mode against Albany in Hartford, and move on to face Boston University in Burlington, for a chance to get to the NCAA tournament. And for that game, I offer no predictions. Just this video:

If you are a BU fan who actually reads this blog for some reason: expect me to stop posting this video when basketball no longer exists or I am no longer alive, whichever happens first. Wagers, anyone?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

So the Catamounts got their national TV game for ESPN's Bracketbusters bonanza. And they got absolutely shellacked by the College of Charleston, 85-70. 85-70, you say, that cannot be so bad, right? Oh no, it wasn't even close -- this was an absolute drubbing. Charleston used a 25-0 run en route to a 52-24 halftime lead. The Cats couldn't do anything right. Their defense looked completely lost, they could hardly get the ball across half court, and they burned through three timeouts well before the first half was over. One thing that the Catamounts should get credit for from their faithful is that they never gave up.

It was quite remarkable really. The Cats never put their heads down, they never got on one another about making bad plays; they stuck together and fought like they do when they're going on 25-0 runs. Okay, so maybe they haven't been on any of those, but you know what I mean. The Catamounts, as usual, are a classy team to get excited for. And that's about all you can ask for.

I'll spare you the gory details about how Andrew Goudelock somehow only managed 24 points, despite knocking down shot after shot in the huge first half spurt. I'll even ignore the fact that Vermont shot 32% from the floor, while Charleston shot 58% (they really did not execute a solid defensive gameplan at all). The fact is, aside from the horrid 25-0 run (I couldn't decide whether to turn the game off, pretend it wasn't happening, or cry), Vermont actually outscored the Cougars by 10. But, for some reason, you gotta count all the points in this silly game called basketball. Blasphemy.

Regardless, Vermont gets a bunch of time off before they play Boston University next Sunday. It's senior day for Evan Fjeld, Joey Accaoui, and Garrett Kissel, three guys who the program will miss dearly. Then the real season begins.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vermont-Charleston Clash Saturday on ESPN U

Vermont will play the College of Charleston on national television tomorrow at 5 PM ET. I personally cannot wait.

Charleston is led by Andrew Goudelock, who averages 23.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, and 3.9 RPG, and shoots an impressive 41.8% from 3-point range. Expect to see Brendan Bald matching up with Goudelock. Bald was mighty impressive in the win against Maine, limiting Gerald McLemore to 2 points and 0 field goals. Hopefully he can contribute that type of effort to Saturday's game, but it seems like Goudelock is not the type of player one defender can stop on his own. The whole team will have to be watching out for him all over the floor.

All in all, Saturday should be a lot of fun. ESPN was criticized when the pairings for tomorrow were released about a month ago -- Maine was soundly in first place and had already beaten Vermont. People wondered why Vermont should have gotten the nationally televised matchup against Charleston. The Catamounts have proven the critics wrong and made ESPN look like a bunch of geniuses (which they surely are not) by winning the past 10 games. Hopefully they can show the country the types of things they have been doing so well during that run.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cats Look Ahead to Last Two Games

As Coach Lonergan noted in his post game interview after beating Maine, the Cats can now enjoy their trip down to Charleston.

ESPN's Bracketbusters is a great thing for college basketball fans across the country. It can also be very helpful for mid-majors to have some agency in where they get seeded, should they be fortunate enough to play in the postseason (we'll get to that in a minute). But for some teams in the wrong circumstances, as the season is winding down, it can be a downright waste of time and energy when they have more important things to worry about. If Vermont had not clinched the America East title, they would have undoubtedly had their February 27th date with Boston University in the back of their minds heading into the matchup with Charleston. But now they can relax and focus on playing a good Charleston team on the road before they refocus on winning the America East tournament.

In terms of seeding for any postseason tournament the Catamounts find themselves in (the regular season title clinches an NIT birth if they do not go to the NCAA tournament), this Charleston game is a big one. Since it is on the road and Charleston is rated slightly higher in most bracket projections, it will not hurt Vermont that much if they lose a tight one. It will, however, help them out a lot if they can win this game. A win could move Vermont up to a coveted 14 seed should they go to the NCAA tournament. I'm about to get way ahead of ourselves, but bear with me: if Vermont runs the table and wins the next five games, including the three in the America East tournament, they would sit at 27-5, their RPI would likely be in the 60's and UVM could find themselves back on the 13 line in the NCAA tournament. Now that is a LONG ways away. But one can dream.

For now, I guess we just gotta enjoy playing on ESPNU this Saturday in Charleston.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

10th Straight Win Clinches Title Outright

My favorite part of this photo: "Maine Pride" in the top right hand corner.

The Catamounts did it. They did it on the road. They did it in style. They wrapped up their first outright regular season conference title since the 2006-2007 season.

Vermont got their revenge on the Black Bears, the only team to beat them at home this year, by taking control in the second half and winning, 73-57. The Black Bears, of course, had beaten Vermont in Burlington, 72-58. So the Cats turned the tables, and then some. Top performers were Evan Fjeld (19 points on 9-13 shooting), Brendan Bald (17 points on 6-8 shooting), and Brian Voelkel added a signature Voelkel night, with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Matt Glass scored 11 and did a great job watching Troy Barnies for most of the night. Sandro Carissimo added 5 assists to Vermont's 22 total assists, the team's season-high. The Cats managed to shoot 59.6% from the field, also a season-high.

It's been a truly amazing season for the Catamounts. It's hard to say enough about how unselfish, hard-working, and exciting this team really is. They have now won 10 straight games and have a chance to be even better than last year's team. Really, this team has a chance to be as good as the 2004-2005 team. I know that last sentence sounds crazy, but it is true. The work is certainly not over, not in the least. They need to take care of business in their last two regular season games, and then in the conference tournament. That is no small task. But there is something very special about the way this team clicks. No player is bigger than the team, and that has turned Vermont into one of the three hottest teams in Division I right now.

According to my humble calculations, Vermont now owns the third longest win streak in the country at 10 straight wins. George Mason has 12 straight, Texas has 11, and Vermont has 10. Not bad company. The win against Maine also tied Vermont with Belmont for the second most road wins this year (also standing at 10 in a row).

So enjoy this one tonight Catamounts and Catamount fans. Tomorrow, we all go back to work.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

UVM Travels to Maine Eyeing Top Seed

When you're playing the way the Catamounts are, it might be difficult to remember the last time you lost. Or maybe not. It was less than a month ago (January 18th) that Maine came to Burlington and pounded Vermont, 72-58. Since that game, Maine is 3-4. Since that game, Vermont is 9-0.

Maine did a number of things that game that they haven't been doing much of lately -- namely, they played defense. Over their four game losing streak, the Black Bears have given up nearly 80 points a game. The Cats have to like their chances against this deflated Maine team; they are playing a lot better, while Maine is playing a lot worse. Vermont has the outright conference title to play for, while Maine must be feeling pressure to not drop even more spots in the standings (they are currently sitting in third place).

Is there anyone better than Coach Lonergan to explain what went wrong the last time these two teams matched up? Nope, so here that is:

So there you have it. They didn't do much right. Carissimo has grown up a lot since that game and Voelkel has emerged as an even more reliable distributor. Fjeld missed some bunnies that he will hopefully make this time around. Another thing Coach Lonergan did not mention is that Luke Apfeld did a heck of a job guarding Troy Barnies, but fouled out in only 15 minutes of playing time. With Apfeld out of the game, Barnies easily put up the numbers that Maine fans are accustomed to (14 points, 9 rebounds). Expect to see Apfeld on the interior being physical with Barnies. Hopefully the touch fouls are not being called this time around.

This is obviously a very important game for Vermont. You have to anticipate Boston University will win its next two games, meaning if Vermont loses, the BU matchup at the end of the season will be for all the marbles. And though it is in Burlington, it would be nice to wrap up the top seed before February 27th.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Catamounts Climb to #19 in Mid-Major Top 25

Vermont has gone from unranked two weeks ago, to #23 a week ago, and today they rose to #19 in's Mid Major Top 25. Fairfield, who the Cats lost to before conference play started, occupies the spot above Vermont. The College of Charleston, who Vermont plays on Saturday, is #15. Topping the poll for the second straight week is St. Mary's, with 29 of the possible 31 first-place votes.

It's funny that two or three weeks ago a Maine fan was bragging about being in the Mid Major Top 25; I told him all that stuff is worthless and what matters is who wins the conference tournament. While this is true, I think I forgot how good it feels to be ranked in this poll, especially considering it is the only poll Vermont can really hope to be ranked in.

So for now, we will cherish being one of the 19 best mid-major programs in the country, hope to ascend higher this week with wins over Maine and Charleston, and wait for the inevitable do-or-die nature of March to make it all moot.

America East Spotlights Fjeld, Accaoui

The America East All-Access website posted an "On Campus at the U" special highlighting the contributions of UVM seniors Joey Accaoui and Evan Fjeld to the Catamount's basketball program.

The two seniors discuss the past, the present, and, of course, Fjeld's well-publicized mustache.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cats Keep Rolling, Clinch Share of America East

The Cats clinched at least a share of the America East regular season crown on Sunday in Burlington. Vermont took down Binghamton 60-51 in front of the hometown faithful. If BU loses in its next three games, or Vermont wins one of its two remaining games (@Maine, and vs. BU), then Vermont claims the title outright. It is the fifth time since 2002 that the Catamounts have clinched at least a share of first place in the conference. Ironically, in only one season in which they have finished in first place have they gone on to win the conference tournament, doing so in 2005. Here is hoping that they can rewrite that trend on March 12.

Brian Voelkel turned in another outstanding performance, scoring 12 points, pulling down 13 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. Vermont's ridiculous freshman gets a little more ridiculous each time he plays.

Evan Fjeld scored 14 points and Brendan Bald added 12. Vermont got Joey Accaoui back from his hand injury and he was able to score 5 points in 20 minutes of play.

The boys in green and gold again rode their defense to the victory, holding Binghamton to under 35% from the field, including 25.9% in the second half. Ouch. Perhaps more remarkably, other than a garbage-time field goal for the Bearcats, they did not score in the last 9 minutes of the game. The game was tied at 49 with 8:42 seconds to go. The Cats shut it down after that, outscoring Binghamton 11-0 over the next 8:39. That is some good defense.

The Catamounts have proven time and time again that they can beat the teams they should beat. Every one of their losses can be defended. But at the same time, they have not yet beaten a team that makes you think: now, that's a great win. They will get their chance in the last three games of the regular season, taking on third place Maine, the Southern Conference's College of Charleston, and then second place Boston University. The next three games will really tell us a lot about this team that is now 21-5 and ranked 78th in RPI. It's finally time to see what these Cats are made of.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is America East a Two-Horse Race?

That odor you may smell is Maine's season going up in smoke. The Black Bears lost their fourth straight at Stony Brook, 81-79 in OT, dropping to third place in America East. While Maine is not even technically out of contention for first place, they have absolutely no momentum, and you have to wonder if they could end up falling even farther. It would be unlikely. As Dan King points out, Maine needs to win 2 out of 3 and fourth place Stony Brook will remain in fourth place even if they win out.

Coupled with Maine's struggles, Boston University's stellar play of late begs the question: Is America East a two-horse race between BU and UVM? BU has won four of five (and they are playing now against Hartford at home), the last three of which were in dominant fashion. If Vermont loses either against Binghamton tomorrow at home, or against Maine Wednesday on the road, the final game of the year between BU and Vermont could be for the regular season championship. It would require BU winning its next three games, but it seems like it could happen. If Vermont takes care of business against Binghamton and Maine, they win the regular season title outright.

It's starting to feel like the rematch of last year's America East Conference Championship is inevitable. It will be played exactly a month from today. Seems way too far away, doesn't it?

Friday, February 11, 2011

America East All-Conference Picks

As America East conference play winds down, we are starting to get a better picture of who might be honored at the end of the season.

These are my personal picks:

First Team
Evan Fjeld, UVM
John Holland, BU
Chris De La Rosa, UMBC (pictured)
Troy Barnies, Maine
Tim Ambrose, UAlbany

I'm tempted to take Barnies off the First Team list based on his recent performance against Hartford, but that's probably not fair. He's still 7th in scoring (14.2), 4th in rebounding (7.7), and 2nd in FG% (.531). De La Rosa jumps out at me as the player of the year so far, leading the conference in assists (6.7, a full TWO assists more a game than the second-place Brian Voelkel), he's also second in points (16.8), and he even found his way onto the rebounding top 20 (at 19th, with 4.4 boards a game) despite being 5'10". Holland (19.0 ppg, 5.6 RPG) and Ambrose (16.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 3.4 APG) should also get a number of first place votes for player of the year.

Second Team
Brian Voelkel, UVM
Logan Aronhalt, UAlbany
Mahamoud Jabbi, Binghamton
Tyrone Conley, UNH
Morgan Sabia, Hartford

Maybe part of the reason I left Barnies on the First Team is because I have no idea who would move up. It would probably be Voelkel, but I'm self-conscious about doing that on a UVM blog. Voelkel is leading the league in Rebounding (9.8), he's second in both steals (1.7) and assists (4.7), and every Vermont fan (and most America East fans by now) knows his overall impact to the team is immeasurable. Aronhalt has been great as Ambrose's sidekick (14.7 PPG), and Sabia is a do-everything guy for Hartford who has very similar numbers to Barnies (14.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG). Maybe Sabia will work his way onto the First Team. I'm guessing Voelkel probably won't.

Did I snub anyone? Arguments could be made for Joe Zeglinski (Hartford), Milton Burton (Hartford), Bryan Dougher (Stony Brook), Gerald McLemore (Maine), and Dane DiLiegro (UNH), among others. But I feel pretty comfortable with these ten guys. So I guess we'll consider those last five "honorable mention," or the Third Team All-Conference.

We will see how my picks match up with those that matter at the end of the season.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Maine Loses Third In a Row

Even as a Vermont fan, this is hard to watch. Joe Zeglinski went off for 33 points in Maine's rough visit to Hartford on Thursday night. The same Joe Zeglinski that Vermont limited to 5 points on 1-11 shooting from the field last week. No other Hartford player had over 8 points.

The problem for Maine may not have been their defense. Zeglinski is streaky, so his torrid shooting from outside (7-14 from 3-point range) can be explained away. The fact that Troy Barnies only shot the ball 5 times is a problem for the Black Bears. Maine also seemed to lack passion on the floor, as they have the past three games. They are falling fast and will be under a lot of pressure to beat Vermont if they want to win the America East regular season crown (something they have never done).

The America East standings now look as follows:

Vermont 11-2
Maine 8-4
Boston U 8-4
Albany 5-7
Hartford 5-6
Stony Brook 5-7
New Hampshire 5-8
UMBC 4-8
Binghamton 3-8

If Vermont beats Binghamton at home on Sunday, the game against Maine next Wednesday will be for the America East title outright. Let's get it done, Cats.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Catamounts Get 8th Straight Win

Vermont downed UMBC 80-67 Wednesday night.

Brandon Bald and Brian Voelkel each had 19 points for the Catamounts, who improved to 11-2 in America East play with the win. The Cats improved to 20-5 overall, the first time they have started a season with a record like that since the 2004-2005 season. I think they had a pretty good team that year. Just ask Gerry McNamara.

The 67 points UMBC scored were the most Vermont has given up since losing to Maine at home (when Maine scored 72 points). The Cats had held their opponents to the following point totals over the previous seven games: 53, 52, 51, 54, 49, 47, 42. So needless to say, the 67 points put up by the Retrievers were somewhat surprising.

In fact, UMBC outscored Vermont 44-35 in the second half; Vermont held a 45-23 lead at the half. This was the first time in recent memory that Vermont played a better first half than second half. But you simply gotta love getting W's.

UVM went back to pounding the glass -- they out-rebounded UMBC 41-30. Voelkel had 10 of those, while Evan Fjeld and Matt Glass pulled down 7 boards.

All five UVM starters were in double figures: Bald and Voelkel with 19, Fjeld with 11, Glass with 13, and Sandro Carissimo with 10. Eight players checked into the game off the bench for UVM, and this happened early and often. Josh Elbaum and Garrett Kissel checked into the game within the first five minutes. Simeon Marsalis checked into the game seemingly at the first possible opportunity. Coach Lonergan is reinforcing the fact that this team is at least ten players deep, but possibly even eleven or twelve players can expect minutes for this Catamount squad down the stretch.

One more down, three conference games to go.

Down The Stretch

The next two games could be unexpectedly pivotal for the Vermont basketball team. Why are games against America East cellar-dwellers UMBC and Binghamton so big? Because the last two conference games of the year are against he only teams Vermont has lost to in conference: Boston University and Maine. These two games against UMBC and Binghamton are major stepping stones toward UVM locking up an automatic postseason birth (in the NIT) and the #1 seed in the conference tournament. If they win these next two games, they will sit at 12-2 in conference, and the Maine game in Orono will be played for the America East title (assuming Maine can also win 3 of 4 against Stony Brook, UNH, Albany, and Hartford). They get currently third-place BU at home for the last game of the year, which could prove to be huge depending on what happens in the next couple weeks.

UMBC comes into tonight's game having won 4 of their last 7, including last week's upset at Maine. The win streak started when they beat BU at home on January 20. Prior to that BU game, their record was a paltry 1-17. Led by the heroics of Siena transfer and America East POY candidate Chris De La Rosa, UMBC has became a formidable foe. 5 foot 10 inch De La Rosa is averaging 16.7 points per game, 6.7 APG, and an incredible 4.5 RPG. In the first meeting between the two teams, Vermont used a 56-21 advantage in the second half to dominate the UMBC Retrievers. In the last few minutes it seemed as though UMBC gave up: they took terrible shots, did not pass the ball much, and watched as Vermont scored at will. They will be motivated to take their best shot at Vermont tonight, so the Cats better be ready.

Binghamton's story is completely the opposite. The Bearcats surprised America East by winning their first three games of conference play. They surprised themselves by losing the next eight games. They do not play until the travel to Burlington to take on the Catamounts Sunday, so they will be riding that eight game losing streak coming into hostile territory. But they will also have had an eight-day layoff to prepare for the Cats, which could make it another interesting test for UVM.

And of course, the game that has not been discussed thus far is the ESPN Brackbuster matchup against the College of Charleston on February 19. Vermont got the best matchup out of any America East team, and got the only nationally televised game awarded to the conference. It is a tough matchup for Vermont, particularly on the road. Charleston has the fourth leading scorer in the country, Andrew Goudelock (23.8 PPG, 41.8% from 3-point range). The cougars rank 40th in the country in team points per game (76.3) and 17th in field goal pct. (48%). Georgetown and Charleston are the only two teams this season who have beaten Coastal Carolina. To put it mildly, Charleston has a good NCAA tournament resume. That game should be a true test for Vermont. It will also go a long way toward deciding NCAA tournament seeding, should Vermont be fortunate enough to make it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Matt Glass Stonewalls URI Player (2009)

I just found this video tonight. Matt Glass is getting some respect on this blog.

Apologies for the soundtrack.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Matt Glass Interview

Redshirt junior Matt Glass shows off the hustle.

Matt Glass transfered home to the University of Vermont after the 2008-2009 school year. He spent his first two seasons of eligibility playing at the University of Massachusetts. Hailing from Underhill Center, VT, Glass attended Mount Mansfield Union High School and was Vermont's Mr. Basketball (an award given to the state's most outstanding player) in 2005 and 2006. He became the first junior to win the award in fifteen years. Glass sat out the 2009-2010 season due to his transfer status, but he is eligible to play for the Catamounts this season and next. Glass is averaging 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds a game for Vermont. He was nice enough to sit down and answer some of the questions I had for him.

FTPL: How would you compare your experience at UMass to your experience at UVM? Do you think there is a considerable difference between the competition in the Atlantic 10 and America East?

Glass: I am very fortunate because I have had great experiences both at UMass and at UVM. My time at UMass was wonderful and taught me a lot, and now I am definitely having a great experience at UVM. I think that the Atlantic 10 and the America East are two very different leagues. The Atlantic 10 is a much faster league with a lot of athletic, up-tempo teams. The America East doesn't have quite as many athletes, and has more teams that play in the half-court and execute.

FTPL: What were some of the main factors that influenced your transfer to UVM? How hard was it to make that decision knowing that you would have to sit out a year?

Glass: I definitely wanted to find a school that I would be comfortable at, play a larger role, and be part of a winning tradition. I found all of that in UVM. It was difficult knowing that I would have to sit out for a whole year but I was able to learn so much in that year and I think it has helped me to become a better player.

FTPL: Most of the preseason rankings I saw projected you guys to finish in the middle of the pack this season. This probably was not unfair considering you guys lost four starters from last year's team. What has made your basketball team so successful this season? Do preseason rankings like that provide inspiration for yourself and the team, or do you hardly pay attention to stuff like that?

Glass: As a team we definitely try to not pay too much attention to stuff like that, but it definitely motivated us. The coaches made it clear that they were not satisfied with this being a rebuilding year and we went to work. During the pre-season we saw that we had a lot of question marks but we knew that if we committed ourselves to working hard and playing as a team we could surprise some people. I think our unselfishness and our chemistry has helped us to be so successful. We all get along so well and are willing to work so hard for the guy next to us, it seems to be translating onto the court.

FTPL: You guys have a really talented group of freshmen, many of whom contribute quite a lot to the team (Voelkel, Carissimo, and Apfeld in particular). What has made their transition to the collegiate level so smooth?

Glass: We can't say enough about our freshmen. It is very rare in college basketball to find freshmen that are so ready to play, but these guys are certainly the exception. They are beyond their years in how they handle pressure and perform night in and night out. I think their transitions were so smooth just because they are so mature for their age. The basketball season can be very draining mentally and physically, and these guys came in with the right attitude from day one.

FTPL: Last question: what is your favorite thing about living in Vermont?

Glass: The best part about living in Vermont has to be the people. Everyone is so laid-back and kind it makes it easy to enjoy living here.

UVM Basketball, From the Parking Lot would like to give a special thanks to Matt Glass for being kind enough to answer these questions, and to Ben Dickie for arranging the interview. Bring it home boys.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Super Sunday!

It is a great day to be a fan of UVM basketball. First, UVM dominated Stony Brook, 65-42, for their seventh straight win. During the game, Evan Fjeld scored his 1,000 career point for Vermont, a great achievement for Vermont's senior captain. After all that was done, Maine got beaten at home by... UMBC? The same UMBC team that has won 5 games all year (though, to give them credit, they have won 4 out of 7. I'm not exactly looking forward to Vermont's trip down there Wednesday). Vermont now holds a 1.5 game edge over Maine in the America East standings, with Boston University lingering 2.5 games back.

UVM rode 19 points from Brandon Bald and 10 assists from Brian Voelkel to the victory. According to, at one point, Voelkel had 1 assist and 5 turnovers. He finished with 10 assists and 5 turnovers.

It was the third straight game Vermont held its opponent to less than 50 points. The defense seems to be firing on all cylinders, something you gotta love as a Cats fan.

One thing is becoming very clear in America East: the top seed will be a more coveted spot than usual heading into the conference tournament. Here is why: the first two rounds of the tournament are played at a neutral site, this year in Hartford. There are clearly three good teams in America East (UVM, Maine, and BU), while the rest seem decidedly mediocre. The top seed would play the #8 seed, and if they won, would play the winner of the #4 seed vs. the #5 seed. So if the standings held up, Vermont would play UMBC in the first round and Albany in the second round. Maine and BU would have to play each other in the semifinals, and Vermont would host the winner the following Saturday.

While it's a long way away, you see how important it is to land the top seed, considering that the top three teams are the biggest threats in the conference. Vermont could avoid playing Maine or BU until the conference championship, which would be at their place to boot.

Enjoy the Super Bowl. My pick: Packers 31-Steelers 24 (but only because I could never pick the Steelers to win).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

UVM a 14 seed in Lunardi, RealTimeRPI Projections

Oddly enough, Vermont moved from off the board to a #14 seed in Joe Lunardi's February 4th projections. The seed matches Vermont's projected seed at The jump makes some sense, considering Vermont's RPI is 80, compared to Maine's RPI of 144. Yet, Maine has wins against Penn State and Massachusetts, while Vermont's marquee wins include...Yale? Siena? When Maine was still being projected in Lunardi's bracket, they were rated a #16 seed that would play in the First Four. Essentially, they would be one of the four worst teams in the bracket, according to Lunardi. So it's curious that Vermont garnered a #14 seed, but we will take it.

Interestingly enough, both brackets have Vermont playing Purdue in the first round.

As I have already pointed out in a previous post, bracket projections are a total crap-shoot, particularly for mid-major-one-bid conferences, and particularly when those projections are being made in early February.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vermont Continues Streak(s) at Hartford, Gains First Place Outright

Vermont won its sixth game in a row against Hartford on Thursday night, 61-47, marking the eleventh time in a row Vermont beat Hartford. The win improved Vermont to 9-2 in conference, moving them a half game ahead of Maine in the America East standings.

The things I love about this win:
-The Cats were lead by freshman Sandro Carissimo, who ended up with 14 points. Brian Voelkel contributed 12 rebounds to the victory. Luke Apfeld played some big minutes and went 6-6 from the free throw line, leading the team, which finished 21-23 from the free throw line. This power trio of freshmen continue to produce for the Cats.
-The team was without senior sixth-man Joey Accaoui and his outside shooting, but still managed to knock down 4 of 10 from range.
-All five UVM starters (Carissimo, Evan Fjeld, Matt Glass, Brendan Bald, and Voelkel) had at least 8 points, reinforcing the fact that the team has a consistent, balanced offense.
-The Cats allowed less than 50 points for the second straight game, limiting Hartford to 32.4% shooting on the night, almost identical numbers to the win against UNH on Monday. Consistency at defense is becoming a trademark of this team, making them considerably fun to watch.

The things that scare me about this win:
-UVM turned the ball over 16 times, with Carissimo and Voelkel, who have been splitting time at the point, accounting for half of those turnovers. Simeon Marsalis played 14 minutes but failed to record a point or an assist. Someone needs to emerge as a reliable point guard option for this team, and right now Carissimo's scoring has been encouraging, but he has yet to reassure Coach Lonergan that he is the right man for the job.
-This was not a pretty basketball game. Both teams shot rather poorly, and if it wasn't for UVM's success at the free throw line, this would have been a nail-biter. And playing Hartford should not be a nail-biter for Vermont.

All in all, tack up another W for the Cats, who take on Stony Brook at home on Sunday. The game is at 1 pm ET, so you'll be able to catch the big game in Dallas with plenty of time to spare.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BU Pounds Maine, Vermont Claims Share of First Place

As if the Boston University Terriers owed the Vermont Catamounts a favor.

But that's what they gave the Cats Tuesday night, beating Maine 88-78 in Boston. Maine's loss means they are now tied for first place with UVM at 8-2 in the conference. It also means BU has emerged as a legitimate contender in America East, improving to 6-4, despite being perhaps the toughest team in the conference to really figure out. They have especially struggled on the road. On Janurary 9th, of course, BU beat UVM in Boston. BU's next seven games went like this (note: the commentary provided is without any amount of research concerning what actually happened in the game, in other words, it is a pure gut reaction to the result):

@ Albany, W 70-67

(Commentary: A decent road win. Albany is a tough place to play. This is also their only road win of the year).

@UMBC, L 67-71

(Bad Loss. UMBC is 3-19 overall and 2-7 in conference. But hey, you can't win them all on the road. Or any).

vs. Stony Brook, W 67-62

(A team they should beat at home, and they did).

@Hartford, L, 55-59

(Maine also lost to Hartford. Despite UVM's dominance over Hartford, I guess this isn't a terrible loss, but it proves BU struggles on the road).

vs. Binghamton, W 71-66

(Not much to say here, again, a team they should beat at home).

@New Hampshire, L 48-60

(Bad loss. And scoring 48 points shows just how bad BU is on the road).

We shall see which BU team shows up for the rest of America East play, but considering four out of their next five games are at home versus the likes of UMBC, Hartford, Albany, and Canisius (out-of-conference), it is entirely possible that they will get on a roll down the stretch in America East and compete with UVM and Maine for first place.

Looking ahead, Vermont's last three games of the regular season will be pivotal: they play Maine in Orono, the College of Charleston on Bracketbuster Saturday, and then they host Boston University to close out the season. The first and last games could be a big factor in where they are seeded for the conference tournament.

For now, Cats fans can rest assured that their team is back atop the America East standings. It feels so right.

UVM Gets It Done Against UNH

Vermont got it done in an unconventional fashion on Monday night in Burlington, beating New Hampshire 63-49. Evan Fjeld was held to 9 points, the first time since the loss to Boston University that he scored under 10 points (when he also had 9), and his second lowest point total of the year (5 vs. BYU, also a loss). Brian Voelkel was held to a mere 7 boards, only 3 below his average, but only the fourth time this season he had 7 or less rebounds. The previous three times he had 7 or fewer rebounds, the Cats lost (@UConn, vs. BYU, and @Fairfield). Yet, Vermont was able to procure their fifth straight victory by playing good defense.

Vermont was also out-rebounded 35-31, a rare occurrence this year for the Cats. Fortunately, the team defended well, limiting UNH to 33% shooting from the field, including a meager 4-24 from three-point land.

Joey Accaoui led the team with 16 points, Voelkel was the only other Catamount in double figures with 11, and Luke Apfeld continued to emerge as an offensive threat, adding 8 points.

Vermont continues to prove that they can win in a variety of ways, like any championship contender should be able to do. And like most championship teams, Vermont has gotten it done on defense. In UVM's five game win streak, they have limited opponents to an average just over 50 points a game. It marked the fourth time this year Vermont gave up less than 50 points.

Vermont moved to 8-2 in America East play. 8-1 Maine travels to Boston tonight to try and retain sole possession of first place. I guess it's time to be a Terriers fan for the evening. But just for the evening. Bleh.