On the road again

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The University of Vermont men’s basketball team participated in the College Basketball Invitational in March, which included a trip to Wisconsin-Green Bay for the first-round of the postseason tournament and a quarterfinal game at Oregon State.

The Catamounts pick up this season where they left off last — on the road.

Vermont plays its first 10 games away from Patrick Gym, starting with Friday night’s contest at Loyola of Maryland in Baltimore.

It’s not a great schedule for Catamount fans, who will not see their team at home until Dec. 13. Nor is it an ideal situation for a squad hoping to get the season off on the right foot. UVM’s  first six games — at  Loyola, at Buffalo, at Rutgers, at Providence, vs. Cornell, at Drexel — are testers.

The good news: Vermont is 31-18 on the road the last three years and went 10-5 away from Patrick Gym last season.

“It’s tough to win on the road in college basketball, that’s for sure,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said. “We’ve been a good road team in the past. Hopefully that will carry over.

“We have a fifth-year senior in Maurice Joseph, a player of the year in Marqus (Blakely); Evan (Fjeld), Nick (Vier), those are the guys who really have to step up and help us try to get some wins. Freshmen are going to have up and downs, but the veterans are going to be who we will have to depend on for this road trip.”

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This is the third straight season Vermont has played Loyola. UVM beat the Greyhounds 64-62 last year at Patrick Gym. The Catamounts fell 83-79 at Loyola in 2007.

Loyola brings back nine players and  five starters from a team that went 12-20 and finished eighth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last season. The Greyhounds’patsos key returners are guards Jamal Barney, who averaged 18.1 points a game, and Brett Harvey, who had the nation’s best free-throw-shooting percentage. Their big addition is 6-foot-10 forward Shane Walker, who sat out last year after transferring from University of Maryland. The Greyhounds tied for fifth in the MAAC coaches’ preseason poll.

Lonergan said he will stick with the same starting lineup he had the two preseason exhibitions: Blakely, Fjeld, Garvey Young, Joseph and Vier.

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Also on the line Friday is bragging rights: Lonergan and Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos (in photo above) were teammates and roommates at Catholic University.

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