The University of Vermont women’s basketball teams’ goal this season is two-pronged: Return to the NCAA tournament, and if it gets there, achieve a higher seed than the 16 the Catamounts received in March.
So far, so good.
ESPN’s Charlie Creme’s women’s basketball Bracketology — an early forecast for the 2010 tournament field — not only has the Catamounts dancing again, but has them as a No. 11 seed.
The recognition is well deserved. Vermont is off to an impressive 7-2 start — its only losses coming to No. 1 UConn and Oklahoma State of the Big 12 — and has received votes in the ESPN/USA Today top-25 poll for more than a month.
Creme’s Bracketology predicts Hartford as a No. 9 seed, which means for the first time in quite a few years, the America East Conference is poised to have two teams qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Vermont has key non-league games left against Providence, Nebraska, Dayton and Rhode Island. The Catamounts will need to clip a few of these opponents and fare extremely well in the America East regular season to — should they not win the AE tourney — qualify for an NCAA at-large bid.
In order to get to that point, the Cats need Courtnay Pilypaitis to get untracked. In the last two games, the senior point guard has gone 1-for-25 from the floor and mustered only eight points, arguably the worst slump of the superstar’s career.
UVM coach Sharon Dawley, whose team plays at Providence on Monday afternoon, thinks Pilypaitis will bounce back.
“If she has two of those games, she’s going to come out like gang busters against Providence,” Dawley said about Pilypaitis after she went 0-for-13 Sunday in a loss to Oklahoma State at Patrick Gym. “No, I’m not worried about it. It’s obviously an inopportune time; had it been an another opponent and she shot like that, we would have won. But I don’t think this kid will have a bad day like that again.”