After his team fell 78-66 on Tuesday night at Patrick Gym, University of Hartford coach Dan Leibovitz showered the University of Vermont men’s basketball team with praise.
“They just have guys who have gotten better over their careers here. Marqus Blakely, as good as he is, he’s come back with a different dimension in passing the ball. They have balance. He’s someone you have to think about doubling. We started off playing him single coverage, but when you go to double him you really pick your poison,” Leibovitz said. “(Joey) Accaoui has gotten more and more confident. (Evan) Fjeld moves really well without the ball. Garvey Young, Maurice Joseph. They all know how to play around him and with him very well.
“And I think this is one of the better defensive teams that Mike (Lonergan) has had.”
Taking advantage of the single coverage, Blakely scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. It seems Blakely always has monster performances against the Hawks. Remember in a 2008 game against Hartford at Patrick Gym when he had 30 points, 20 rebounds, six blocks and five steals?
I asked Leibovitz if Hartford has match-up problems with Blakely?
“Who does Blakely not give match-up problems with?” he answered. “We tried everything. … He’s a special player; he’s a guy who comes along not too often.”
The Catamounts were on the verge of posting another blowout win, but Hartford’s Joe Zeglinski poured in 4 3-pointers and 20 points, and the Hawks pulled down several offensive rebounds in the second half.
“Zeglinski’s a good player and hit some tough shots,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said. “What really hurt us, it seemed like 6 or 8 possessions in a row, they got an offensive rebound. So you play good ‘D’ for 20 or 30 seconds and then they got another possession. It’s hard to rebound with long 3s; a couple of them were air balls or bricks. That kind of wore us out.
“But I thought we did a good job at the end.”
UVM senior guard Maurice Joseph had a season-low three points and played only 24 minutes. Feeling ill, he left the game for a six-minute stretch of the second half.
“He had class and didn’t eat a pre-game meal, so he felt a little dizzy,” Lonergan said. “He says he didn’t eat enough before the game. But he’s fine.
“We’ve got to get him shooting the ball better. He’s been our most consistent shooter all year, but the last two games he was 2-for-12 from 3s.”