Author Archive

“On Campus” blog has new address

March 4, 2010

So, we’ve enhanced the look of the “On Campus” blog and integrated it with The Burlington Free Press’ web site. Here’s our new address: http://blogs.burlingtonfreepress.com/oncampus/

The links to the blog from our Web site haven’t changed, but you’ll want to update your bookmarks and RSS feed. Our new RSS feed: http://blogs.burlingtonfreepress.com/oncampus/feed/

Make sure to visit the blog often this weekend. I’ll be in Hartford for the America East basketball tournaments. Ted Ryan is heading to Lowell, Mass., to cover UVM’s final regular-season series, and then will join me in Hartford for Sunday’s semifinals. We’ll be blogging throughout.

And remember to follow my updates from the America East tournament on Twitter @ johnfantino

Fans pick Blakely, but will the coaches?

March 2, 2010

University of Vermont star Marqus Blakley was voted the America East Men’s Basketbball’s Fans’ Choice Player of the Year, the league announced today. Is that a good thing? Keep reading. Here’s the America East’s release:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — University of Vermont’s Marqus Blakely and the University of NewHamphire’s Alvin Abreu were recognized by America East on Tuesday for their respective accomplishments this season. Blakely was tabbed this season’s selection as the 2010 America East Men’s Basketball Fans’ Choice Player of the Year while Abreu was named 2010 America East Player of the Game.

Blakely (Metchuen, N.J./Metchuen), who ranked near the top of almost ever statistical category, receives the Fans’ Choice honor after being named America East’s Kevin Roberson Player of the Year in each of the past two seasons. He ranks second in scoring (17.4 ppg), second in rebounding (9.1 rpg), fourth in assists (3.7 apg) and leads the conference in both steals (2.6 spg) and blocks (1.9 bpg). The senior forward received just under 30 percent of over 3,500 votes in the final round. Stony Brook’s Tommy Brenton finished a close second, garnering 29 percent of the final tally.

Abreu (Lynn, Mass./Boys to Men (Ill.)), who ranks seventh among league leaders with 14.6 points per game, received the most Player of the Game honors during the season to garner the end-of-year award. He became the 27th Wildcat to score his 1,000 career point earlier this season, which came against Hartford on Feb. 6.The Player of the Game award was determined by tabulating award winners from the regular season. At the conclusion of each home game, a player was named the Player of the Game. Just one player was tabbed in non-conference games, while a player from each team was recognized during conference games. Hartford’s Joe Zeglinski and Binghamton’s Greer Wright were the other top recipients.

The league’s annual awards, including the all-conference teams, as well as Player, Rookie and Coach of the Year, will be announced at the championship awards banquet on Friday, March 5 at 4 p.m. in Hartford, site of the 2010 of the America East Men’s & Women’s Basketball Championship Presented By Newman’s Own.

It’s a nice accolade for Blakely. Unfortunately for him, it might also mean he will not win his third straight America East Player of the year. Inexplicably, the fans’ choice and Player of the Year have always been different players. I doubt that’s coincidence.

Player of the Year – along with several other all-conference accolades — are voted on by the league’s nine coaches. Well Blakely be the first to snag both awards in the same season. We’ll find out Friday.

Binghamton drops out of AE tourney

March 1, 2010

It’s official: The Binghamton University men’s basketball team will not play in the America East Conference tournament, the school announced tonight.

“With the controversy currently surrounding the program it is not appropriate we play in this year’s post-season,” Binhamton president Lois DeFleur said in a news release.

That means second-seeded Vermont will play eighth-place Maryland-Baltimore County — not New Hampshire — in the quarterfinal round Saturday night at 6 p.m. If the Catamounts advance, they will meet the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 3 Maine and No. 6 New Hampshire. Good draw for the Cats.

*****

The UVM women will take on No. 7 Albany in the first quarterfinal Friday, scheduled to tip off at noon. The Catamounts will likely meet No. 3 Boston University in the semifinals, a rematch of last year’s America East championship game.

Here’s the complete schedule for both tournaments, which will both take place at University of Hartford’s Chase Arena.

Cats might play UMBC instead of UNH

March 1, 2010

It is assumed the University of Vermont men’s basketball team, as the No. 2 seed, will play No. 7 New Hampshire in the quarterfinal round of the America East Conference tournament.

Not so fast.

There’s a chance the Catamounts’ quarterfinal opponent will be Maryland-Baltimore County, the eighth-place team in the nine-team league. UVM coach Mike Lonergan said before practice today that he was told the tournament bracket is not yet official.

Pete Thamel of the New York Times reported on his Twitter page this afternoon, “the America East and Binghamton are deciding if Bearcats should play in conference tournament.”

If fifth-place Binghamton doesn’t participate, there’s a possibility the tournament’s play-in game would be eliminated and seeds re-organized.

With that scenario, top-seeded Stony Brook would play last-place Albany in the the quarterfinals.

“I don’t think it’s a good situation because we are trying to prepare for whoever we play on  Saturday and we have practice (today),” Lonergan said. “We are just going to work on shooting and work on our offense and different things. Because you don’t want to waste time preparing for UNH and then all of sudden you are playing UMBC. Hopefully that decision will be made in the next couple hours and we can move on and speed up our game preparation.”

The America East has yet to announce the official match-ups of the men’s or women’s basketball tournament on  its Web site.

Gracious farewell

March 1, 2010

Photo by Shane Bufano

When Marqus Blakely — UVM’s strong, tough and poised basketball standout — has tears gushing from his eyes, you know it’s a poignant moment.

A week after sending off the UVM women’s star-studded senior class, the Catamount men’s program bade farewell to one of its brightest stars Sunday at Patrick Gym.

Blakely has more than 1,800 points and 1,000 rebounds. He has 156 dunks. And he’s on the brink of win his third consecutive America East Conference player of the year award. No wonder the sold-out crowd of 3,266 belted out a long ovation during a “Senior Day” ceremony to show their appreciation.

The feeling was mutual.

Shane Bufano snapped some great photos of the scene. Here’s the emotional comments from Blakely, some of his teammates and his coach after Vermont wrapped up a  22-win regular season by beating Binghamton at Patrick Gym:

Senior forward Marqus Blakely: “It didn’t really hit me until 10 minutes before the game, and I realized that all my family is here, friends, fans; literally everyone was here to see the seniors. Hopefully we will be able to come back here and play in the championship game here, but if not, it’s really been a great four years here. I wouldn’t change anything about it. Vermont is a great place, especially being a student-athlete. I just want to say thank you to all the fans, my family and friends.”

Senior guard Maurice Joseph: “It was very emotional for me. You think back at your journey, you think about the path that you took to get to this very point. Starting out at Michigan State, you think back at all the lessons coach (Tom) Izzo taught me. You think back at the transfer process, and coach (Mike) Lonergan taking a chance on me and allowing me to come here and do a lot of good things in my career. All these things go through your mind. Your family is here, your friends are here. It’s just an emotional day and I’m just happy we got a win.”

Head coach Mike Lonergan: “We have great fans. I’ve been here five years and we’ve sold out every ‘Senior Day.’ I told our guys that’s really something you should appreciate, it doesn’t happen in many places. No matter what our record is or who the opposing team is, 3,266 (fans) are here. It makes it really fun to coach here and it makes rewarding to be a player at Vermont.

“Those three seniors are special. I’m hard on them because I want to get a lot of them, I really do. I want them to leave here with no regrets.

“We get good kids here in every sport. It’s really fun to coach true student-athletes. This is a special place, so hopefully we can keep this season going.”

Sophomore guard Garvey Young: “I definitely felt a sense of pride and a sense of family with these guys to play my heart out and send them out on a good note. It was definitely motivational just seeing the support from the fans, the emotion, and just the love in the atmosphere.”

America East tourney coming into focus

February 27, 2010

Crash course: The University of Vermont men’s basketball team will lock up the No. 2 seed for the America East tournament with a win over Binghamton on Sunday. A loss Sunday and a Maine win over Boston U on  would drop the Catamounts to the third seed.

With one game remaining in the regular season, here’s what the America East tournament, which kicks off next week in Hartford, looks like:


Men’s Bracket
First Round – Thursday, March 4 (Free Live Video at http://www.AmericaEast.tv)
Game 1 – ^No. 8 seed vs. %No. 9 seed, 30 minutes following conclusion of prior game (approx. 8:15 p.m.)

Quarterfinals – Saturday, March 6
Game 2 – No. 1 Stony Brook vs. Winner Game 1, 12:05 p.m.
Game 3 – No. 4 Boston U. vs. No. 5 Binghamton, 30 minutes following conclusion of prior game
Game 4 – !No. 2 seed vs. #No. 7 seed, 6:05 p.m.
Game 5 – *No. 3 seed vs. $No. 6 seed, 30 minutes following conclusion of prior game

Semifinals – Sunday, March 7
Game 6 – Winner Game 2 vs Winner Game 3, 5:04 p.m. (TV TBA, Free Live Video at http://www.AmericaEast.tv)
Game 7 – Winner Game 4 vs Winner Game 5, 7:34 p.m. (TV TBA, Free Live Video at http://www.AmericaEast.tv)

Final – Saturday, March 13
Game 8 – Winner Game 6 vs Winner Game 7, 12:02 p.m. (ESPN 2)

^ Albany will be No. 8 seed with win at Hartford,
UMBC will be No. 8 seed with Albany loss at Hartford
% Albany will be No 9 seed with a loss at Hartford
UMBC will be No. 9 seed with an Albany win at Hartford
! Vermont will be No. 2 seed with win vs. Binghamton
Maine will be No. 2 seed with win at Boston U. AND a Vermont loss to Binghamton
# UNH will be No. 7 seed with loss vs. Stony Brook Sunday OR a Hartford win vs. Albany
Hartford will be No. 7 seed with loss vs. Albany AND a New Hampshire win vs. Stony Brook
* Maine will be No. 3 seed with loss at Boston U. Saturday OR a Vermont win vs. Binghamton
Vermont will be No. 3 seed with loss vs. Binghamton AND a Maine win at Boston U.
$ Hartford will be No. 6 seed with win vs. Albany
UNH will be No. 6 seed with win vs. Stony Brook AND a Hartford loss to Albany.

Cats’ non-league game has value

February 20, 2010

The University of Vermont’s involvement in the ESPU Bracketbuster’s today has no bearing on the America East Conference standings and the final result, in the grand scheme of things, is of little importance. But here’s a few reasons to care about the UVM men’s basketball team’s 2 p.m. contest against Fairfield …

  • This game offers fans another chance to see the Cats at home. That might not sound like much, but the Cats have played 19 of their 28 games this season on the road.
  • Fairfield is the real deal. The Stags, 18-8 overall, are tied for second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Freshman point guard Derek Needham, the team’s leader in scoring (16.1 ppg) and assists (143), is a strong candidate for the MAAC rookie of the year. Fairfield lost 69-67 to mighty Siena two weeks ago.
  • A win today would boost the Cats’ RPI, a factor in determining postseason seedings. “If we are able to reach our goals and win our league, or even go to the NIT or another postseason tournament, it will help our RPI because Fairfield is having a great season,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said.
  • There might only be two chances left to watch Marqus Blakely play in Patrick Gym. Three, max.

Cats survive foul fest

February 16, 2010

Here’s a few leftovers from Sunday’s UVM-New Hampshire bash, which was as physical as an NFL game and took as long to play as an MLB playoff game. My watch had the contest lasting 2 hours, 45 minutes. That’s what 64 personal fouls will do.

The Cats gutted out an overtime win in a rough-and-tumble affair that had the flow of a glacier. There were seven disqualifications and three UNH  intentional fouls were called. Vermont took 55 foul shots and sank 40, both program records.

“The referees earned their pay,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said. “I think there could have been another 20 foul shots (for UVM). I think Marqus gets fouled almost every play. I thought Garvey (Young) took a couple good hits. I thought the officiating was good. I liked that crew. It’s a hard game to referee. New Hampshire is hard to ref. But it’s to our benefit when they call it. At New Hampshire, if you look at the film, there wasn’t a whole lot of fouls called and that’s not good for us.”

In New Hampshire’s 75-56 win over UVM last month, each team was assessed 21 personal fouls.

UNH coach Bill Herrion wasn’t pleased with the discrepancy of the calls Sunday; his team went 20-for-32 from the line. “You want to get me arrested if I say what I really want to say?” he joked before the post-game news conference.

“We are playing good basketball, we really are. I really like my team, I like the way we are playing. You look at the stat sheet and the first thing that jumps at me is, you go on the road against a team that is fighting for first place in this league and a team that has been a measuring–stick program in this league for a number of years that everyone is trying to catch in front of a packed house. And you get outscored by 20 from the free-throw line and you lose in overtime,” said Herrion, who was hit with an early technical. “That to me is really disappointing. It’s really disappointing. I’ll leave it at that.”

****

New Hampshire went 11-for-18 from 3-point range in its home win over Vermont last month.  The Wildcats were 2-for-14 with the 3-ball Sunday. The reason for the discrepancy: Vermont’s perimeter defense was more energetic and effective the second time around.

Just ask Tyrone Conley, the pride of Burlington who settled for seven points on 2-for-8 shooting after racking up 21 points in the first meeting against Vermont.

“They gave a little extra attention to me this time, guarded me a little harder and tried to keep the ball out of my hands,” Conley said. “It’s always nice to come home and play in front of a home-town crowd. Unfortunately, I didn’t play all that well.”

Conley, a junior, has combined for 22 points on 5-for-22 shooting in three homecoming games at Patrick Gym.

****

Sunday’s win over UNH came five days after Vermont overcame a four-point, last-minute deficit to nip Boston University on the road.

“We are winning close games this year and I give our guys a lot of credit,” Lonergan said. “Most of it is (successful) foul shooting. It’s also unselfishness on our team, where no one is trying to make a big play or be the hero. Guys are trying to execute what we call in the timeout.”

Crenca sidelined with knee injury (updated)

February 10, 2010

Ben Crenca, freshman on the University of Vermont men’s basketball team, missed Tuesday’s game at Boston University because of a knee injury.

Here’s the official statement from Grant Wilson, UVM’s athletic trainer: “Ben Crenc sustained a knee injury during practice over the weekend. Diagnostic tests are being done to confirm the specific nature of the injury. He is out indefinitely.”

UVM sports information associate Ben Dickie said a diagnosis will come next week at the earliest. Vermont plays host to New Hampshire on Sunday.

Crenca, a 6-foot-10 center, is averaging 10.5 minutes, 3.5 points and 2.9 rebounds this season. He has been in the starting lineup six times.

This is the Catamounts’  first significant injury since sophomore guard Garvey Young was sidelined for four games in November.

Update: Crenca will miss the rest of the season — and maybe more.

Here’s an updated release from Wilson: “Ben Crenca sustained an ACL tear of the right knee.  He is out for the remainder of the season.”

UVM coach Mike Lonergan said he won’t know for sure until after Crenca’s surgery, but he doubts Crenca will be ready to play at the start of next season.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this is a huge loss for us,” Lonergan said. “He’s been playing great. To have a guy as big as he is be a presence on the offensive and defensive ends, and be a great rebounder. He gave us a lot of depth inside. Now were are going to have to get a lot more out of some of the other guys on the bench. It’s definitely a big loss for us and I feel really bad for Ben.”

UVM’s basketball game moved to today

February 5, 2010

Because of the snow storm forecasted to rock the Mid-Atlantic region this weekend, the University of Vermont men’s basketball team will play at Maryland-Baltimore County this afternoon at 3 p.m.

The game was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.

The Catamounts bused to Baltimore on Thursday afternoon after learning their Friday flight was canceled. The team will drive back after the game, escaping the brunt of the storm.

“I didn’t find out until quarter of 11 that we were going to play at 3,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said by phone. “We just turned  our practice into a shoot around. We rushed our walk-through, and now we are trying to watch some film.”

The game can be heard live on 96.7 DOT FM, The Zone 960 AM and WSTJ 1320 AM (Randolph), and on the internet at www.UVMathletics.com with the audio stream provided by SportsJuice.com.

Vermont (16-8) is in second place in the America East Conference at 7-3. UMBC (2-20 overall, 1-8 AE)  is in eighth place.

UVM defeated UMBC 73-58 in its America East opener on Jan. 2 at Patrick Gym.

“We just have to handle it in a mature way and be ready to play because this is a dangerous game,” Lonergan said. “UMBC’s record isn’t good, but I’ve never seen a team with so many close losses. They’ve had a week to prepare for us.”

Both teams are coming off wins over Maine.