Had its 15-point second half lead in the America East final last March held, you might have noticed that Vermont was playing its best basketball of the season. Heading into that fateful day in Stony Brook, the Catamounts had won seven straight and had scored at least 1 point per possession in 10 consecutive outings.
But while the focus – rightfully so given their history – was squarely on the Seawolves on that Saturday morning eight months ago, Vermont’s impressive performance, and the fact that they were there in the firstplace, were no fluke. And it also highlights just how amazing Jameel Warney’s 43-point effort in the Stony Brook comeback was that day.
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Even if there are large, shiny trophies involved, early-season college basketball games at the mid-major level are not exactly the life or death struggles they become in March, where it’s winner take all and loser go home (or to the CIT if you’re lucky).
But Sunday’s 77-71 loss to Buffalo in the finals of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena stung a little more than the usual November fare for Vermont, and not just because they are a proud, successful program who is used to winning.
Unfortunately, after the Catamounts (2-3) raced to an early lead with hot shooting (its biggest eight at 21-13), John Becker and his team saw the Ghosts of Mistakes Past haunt them all the way to the end. And they know going forward, they will need to exorcise them if they want to unseat Albany and hold off fellow contenders Stony Brook and upstart New Hampshire in America East.
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – There’s no time for what could have beens for college basketball coaches and teams, but there has to be at least a moment or two where Chris Casey and Niagara fans wonder the last couple of seasons.
Part of that isn’t reasonable, but consider this partial list of players who started their careers at Niagara and are still eligible to be playing with them starting with Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, both at Hofstra, and both first-team preseason All-CAA picks for the Pride, who are also picked to win the conference. It wouldn’t be their first regular-season title, of course, Niagara won the MAAC regular season three years ago before Joe Mihalich left to go to Hofstra and took Green and Tanksley with him.
That team (which went 19-14, 13-5 in the MAAC) also included then-freshman T.J. Cline, who showed plenty of potential and has blossomed into a stud … at Richmond of the Atlantic-10, a big man who can hold his own inside and step out to hit shots as well. That doesn’t take into account, Tahjere McCall, who played decent minutes as a freshman and now starts at Tennessee State.
Vermont remained perfect on Long Island with an 85-81 victory at Hofstra Wednesday evening in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational tournament. The Catamounts placed five players in double figures in the balanced attack.
UMBC is the only team that hasn’t opened up America East play, but before the Retrievers do tomorrow at UMass Lowell, here is a breakdown of whose stock is up and down after the holiday break. Continue reading →