Marqus Blakely has had more dominant performances in his career — his 30-point, 20-rebound, six-block, five-steal eye-popper two seasons ago against Hartford comes to mind — but never has UVM’s high-flier scored more points (32) than in the Catamounts’ 80-77 win over Quinnipiac.
UVM coach Mike Lonergan utilized a mismatch.
“We didn’t start Ben (Crenca) today because he was a little under the weather. I was worried about that because we were on a roll, but he hadn’t practiced. I really wanted to go to Marqus inside. His assists have been up when he’s on the wing but he’s really ineffective scoring. We thought, since (Quinnipiac) didn’t have a shot blocker, we can really pound the ball inside.”
Mission accomplished. Just listen to what Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore had to say about UVM’s superstar.
“Blakely is such a unique guy to play at this level,” Moore said. “What we were conflicted with all game is when to double team him when he has it and when not to? The risk you run when you do it is you are playing 4 on 3 off the ball, and he’s a real good passer, too, which makes him probably the dominant player at this level in New England.”
When Quinnipiac converged on Blakely late, Catamount sharpshooters Maurice Joseph and Garvey Young connected, helping the Cats overcome a deficit in the closing minutes.
“What I like about our team, Garvey is guarding the best player on the other team, so he’s got to exert a lot of energy, hasn’t really scored, and all of a sudden he scored five straight points for us when we really needed them. That 3 was huge,” Lonergan said. “It’s nice to see different guys step up. That was a good team win for us, and I’m really happy for our guys. Our guards made some plays because of Marqus drawing so much attention, that really opened things up finally for MoJo and Garvey to get wide-open 3s.”
With UVM clinging to a 2-point lead with less than 30 seconds remaining, point guard Nick Vier slipped and fell, turning the ball over and giving Quinnipiac a chance to tie, or win.
On the Bobcats’ ensuing possession, James Feldeine slipped and fell on the same exact spot of the floor, just in front of Quinnipiac’s bench.
Lonergan pinpointed the reason for the slick floor: During timeouts, Quinnipiac’s entire team huddles on the floor while Moore draws up a play, the players sweating.
“I think the floor is wet because the NCAA allows teams to go out there with their little mini chairs, and those players are sweating,” Lonergan said. “So they either have to have managers, or we have to provide somebody to wipe the floor up. The benches on the court — I’m not a big fan of — definitely affected the game with the moisture on the court.”
The attendance for Sunday’s home opener: 2,558.
There’s no good reason why — with the Catamounts on a five-game winning streak and with only two home games on the non-league schedule — there isn’t close to a sellout (3,266) during Sunday’s game against Delaware at Patrick Gym.
Tags: uvm men's basketball