Perhaps I should re-think my America East Conference men’s basketball predictions, a column that appeared in the Free Press a couple weeks ago and claimed Boston University should finish first in the regular-season standings.
After the University’s of Vermont’s 78-58 pummeling of the Terriers on Sunday afternoon at sold-out Patrick Gym, the Catamounts — picked to finish second in the coaches’ preseason poll and by me — look like the team to beat. Of course, 75 percent of the league schedule remains.
Two of the reasons UVM has won six games in a row and 11 of their last 12: Depth and balance.
“Their depth really hurts us, and we don’t have depth,” BU first-year coach Patrick Chambers said. “(UVM’s) role players really stepped up and did a good job.”
Consider this stat from the UVM-BU game: Seven Catamounts scored in the opening 12 minutes to help build a 24-3 lead, and Marqus Blakely wasn’t one of them.
Blakely, UVM’s leading scorer, had only 11 points while Maurice Joseph, the team’s best shooter, finished 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
Enter Garvey Young, who netted a season-high 14 points and is looking more and more comfortable on the offensive end each game. Freshman Brendan Bald (seven points on 3-for-4 shooting) is also gaining confidence.
UVM coach Mike Lonergan and his staff have done and nice job developing young players and getting them plenty of minutes throughout the season. Having such a deep bench will help the Cats overcome injuries and poor shooting performances, a luxury few if any other teams in the America East enjoy.
Sunday, Vermont’s reserves outscored BU’s 22-5.
“At halftime, Marqus had one rebound and didn’t have a lot of points. but best thing, he didn’t have any fouls,” Lonergan said. “Then you can kind of turn him loose at the second half. Marqus has done a great job this year of not getting in foul trouble.
“Nick (Vier) got in foul trouble or he would have played more minutes. We are a three-headed monster at point guard. Even Simeon (Marsalis) is giving us some pretty good minutes. In the first half, he pushed the ball and I thought that tired (BU) out.”
Follow my coverage of UVM basketball, including updates during games, on Twitter @johnfantino
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