Young’s defense remedies cold offense

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University of Vermont men’s basketball guard Garvey Young has no points on 0-for-4 shooting and has fouled out of the Catamounts’ first two games.

Sophomore slump?

Just on the offensive end.

Young has made up for his offensive woes with lock-down defense, a big reason he cracked UVM’s starting lineup last season as a freshman and landed on the America East Conference all-rookie team. In the Catamounts’ win over Buffalo on Sunday, Young’s defense limited Rodney Pierce — the Bulls’ most dangerous scorer and a Mid-American Conference all-star — to five points.

“That’s the great thing about basketball,” Young said before practice today. “If you are not clicking on offense, basketball is a game where you can impact the game by playing hard on defense and getting rebounds.”

Young will have a bigger defensive assignment Sunday when Vermont plays at Rutgers, tasked with guarding Mike Rosario, an explosive guard UVM coach Mike Lonergan called the “college version of Allen Iverson.” Rosario, a rapid-fire shooter who also likes to attack the basket, scored 17 points to help Rutgers to a 74-67, season-opening victory over Marist on Saturday.

“I think Garvey will be up for that challenge,” Lonergan said. “He did a great job on the kid from Buffalo, Pierce, who is a tremendous player.”

Lonergan is also confident Young’s offense will come around sooner rather than later.

Young isn’t the only UVM player struggling to score. The Catamounts have made only 8 of 33 3-pointers (24 percent) in their first two games; they are shooting 33.6 percent from the field.

“We haven’t been shooting well as a team the first couple of games,” Young said. “I think  that we have to keep shooting and we’ll get out of this slump.”

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After a 79-66 loss at Loyola of Maryland in the season opener, Lonergan said the Catamounts hunkered down for a three-hour film session the day before the bounce-back win against Buffalo.

“I think that really helped us,” Lonergan said. “It didn’t help our shooting, but I think it pointed out to the guys that we didn’t play hard enough, and you never want to have that feeling.

“So I think now we got our confidence again,” Lonergan added. “We weren’t really tested in the exhibition games and I think that hurt us in the first game. But Buffalo was a pretty good test, and now each game is a little bit bigger test with these Big East opponents. So at least we know if we play hard, we should be able to compete with anyone on our schedule.”

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The Catamounts will kick off a six-games-in-10-days road swing with a home-cooked meal. The team will head to Marqus Blakely’s father’s home for dinner on Saturday evening. What’s on the menu?

“Everything,” Blakely said. “He said he started cooking this weekend, so there’s going to be a lot of food.”

Sunday’s game will be only the second homecoming for Blakely and Nick Vier. The Cats played at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, N.J., two years ago.

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