Catamounts eager to face Delaware

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Photo courtesy of Brian Jenkins/UVM

In addition to garnering its sixth consecutive victory and generating more momentum before the America East schedule begins in a couple weeks, the University of Vermont men’s basketball team has extra incentive to beat Delaware on Sunday afternoon at Patrick Gym. Consider:

The 1 p.m. contest will be just the second time this season the Catamounts have played at home.

Also, Delaware is an old America East rival and holds a 19-8 edge in the all-time series with UVM. The Blue Hens now play in the Colonial Athletic Association.

But perhaps the biggest reason UVM gets psyched up for these kinds of games is, well, junior forward Evan Fjeld says it best: “We measure ourselves against those CAA and A-10 teams. We want to be considered in their class, not as a low Division I but as a mid major. I think we do well against those teams, and we have another chance to prove it on Sunday.”

In the past few seasons, Vermont has had quality wins against CAA competition, beating UNC-Wilmington, Delaware and Towson. The Catamounts have also had close losses to George Mason, including an overtime defeat last year at Patrick Gym.

UVM coach Mike Lonergan said beating CAA and Atlantic 10 competition bolsters the stature of Vermont’s program and aids recruiting.

“Lot of times when we are recruiting these kids, they have CAA and even A-10 offers,” Lonergan said. “We try to convince them we are as good as those teams. We draw well, you can have a better experience here and you are going to be in the top 2 or 3 of our conference every year. Not all those teams can say that to their recruits. But we’ve got to prove it, so it’s nice when we are able to beat CAA teams.  We want to get CAA-level recruits to come to the  University of Vermont and that’s why we try to schedule these teams. This is a great opportunity to play at home.”

Vermont has beaten Delaware two the past three years, both wins coming on the road. The Catamounts clubbed the Blue Hens last season, 78-63.

Delaware is 2-7 this season, its wins coming against Penn and Hampton. The Blue Hens lost to Virginia Tech in overtime.

“They have a lot of talent,” Lonergan said. “They are struggling record-wise, but they are playing a tough schedule, a lot of road games. They definitely have CAA talent.”

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