Posts Tagged ‘courtnay pilypaitis’

Bits and pieces, part 2 …

January 25, 2010

A few games ago, Vermont women’s basketball coach Sharon Dawley made a point of how senior Courtnay Pilypaitis was effectively distributing the ball among her teammates. As the Catamounts’ all-time assist leader, Pilypaitis has the numbers to back up Dawley’s statement.

Dawley called Pilypaitis’ play selfless, saying Pilypaitis could also score just about any time she wanted.

Fortunately for UVM, Pilypaitis recognized it was time to shoot, not pass, in Sunday’s game against Stony Brook. When the Catamounts were struggling to find their offensive rhythm, Pilypaitis went on the offensive with a drive to the hoop, two 3-pointers — one seemingly launched from Winooski — and a free throw to ignite another easy America East victory.

When Pilypaitis puts on that kind of show, it reminds opposing defenses that she’s far from a one-dimensional player and that opens up other opportunities. Pilypaitis, ready to pass or shoot and knowing when to do each, is a fearsome player, one UVM will need Tuesday against Hartford in the dispute over first place.

The outcome will no doubt be a prime factor in determining the top seed for the AE tournament and thus home court for the championship game.

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The UVM men’s hockey team stayed true to form this weekend: lose the opener, rebound with a stellar game in the rematch. That’s fine; it shows character, but it won’t propel the Catamounts up the Hockey East standings. Only a couple weekend sweeps will do that; like against Maine, which pulls into town Friday.

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How times have changed for UVM’s penalty killers. From allowing three goals in six chances in a home game against UMass and 13 goals in 37 chances over seven games, the Catamounts have a 12-game run in which they are 50-for-53 — 94.3 percent success rate — including Sunday’s 9-for-9 kill against UMass. Sunday’s effort was incredible given that UMass’ James Marcou and Casey Wellman are so dangerous when their team’s a man up; the Cats can attest to that, having yielded five goal to the two in two previous games this year.

Much credit is due the penalty killers, but it’s also due to the resurgence of goaltender Rob Madore, who was spectacular in Sunday’s 3-0 win. Madore missed a couple of days of practice due to a death in the family. Madore’s goals-against average is down to 2.60 and his save percentage is up to 91.0 after yielding two goals this weekend.

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No details of the violation were released, but UVM hockey coach Kevin Sneddon again held a player accountable for actions off the ice. Junior Jack Downing was suspended for three games — he’s now served two — for violation of the university’s student-athlete code of conduct. His seven goals and 15 points could have been helpful against UMass and this Friday against Maine, but violations call for punishment.

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A shocking weekend for the Middlebury College men’s hockey team: First, the Panthers lead New England College 4-2 after the second period Friday and give up five straight goals in the third to lose 7-4. Then St. Anselm pins a 4-0 loss on Middlebury on Saturday. The losses were the Panthers’ first of the league season.

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With two straight league losses after opening the America East season 5-0, the UVM men’s basketball team needs to regain control of its destiny. The Catamounts are fourth in the standings, behind Maine (5-1), Stony Brook (6-2) and Boston University (6-2) going into Wednesday’s game at New Hampshire.

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It’s the fuddy-duddy part of my nature, and colleges, high schools and pro teams feature some remarkable talent when it comes to performing the Star Spangled Banner, but I’m never thrilled with those who add their personal twists to the national anthem, whether it’s by holding high notes forever, taking twice the normal time to perform it or inserting cute little riffs.

For me, the national anthem has a steady, crisp pace and the same melody with no personal variations, no matter who is performing it; to me, anything else is “look at me” exhibitionism. And it’s not about “me” but “us.” Save that personal display for your other performances.

Even more annoying are those who can’t wait until the conclusion to applaud and cheer, or have to yell during it. Yes, that’s freedom of speech, but nothing says it’s mandatory it be exercised at that time. Show a little class and respect.

UVM women on track for strong NCAA seed

December 18, 2009

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.

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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.”

Canadian connection

November 12, 2009

For today’s Free Press, I wrote a feature on Courtnay Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulomay-courts, star players on the University of Vermont women’s basketball team. They are part of a pipeline gushing from Canada to the Catamounts. Here’s a few fun facts regarding the proud tradition of Canadian players shining for the UVM women’s basketball program:

  • 23 Canadians have continued their careers at UVM.
  • Canadians have led UVM in scoring 13 of the last 18 years.
  • Canadians have led UVM in rebounding 14 of the last 18 years.
  • Joann McKay of Kirkland, Quebec was UVM’s first Canadian standout. She graduated in 1988 with 1,833 points and 933 rebounds.
  • Karalyn Church (2000 graduate) of Guelph, Ontario is UVM’s all-time leading scorer
  • Sheri Turbull (1994) of Windsor, Ontario is UVM’s all-time leading rebounder
  • Lori Taylor (1998) of Markham, Ontario is UVM’s all-time assists leader. She also leads the Catamounts in 3-pointers, although Pilypaitis is only four treys away from breaking that record.
  • Dawn Cressman (2003) of Guelph, Ontario has the most games played
  • Christie Lauzon (2000) of London, Ontario owns the records for best 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage.
  • The only two UVM women’s players have their number retired: Church (#20) and Turnbull (#30).
  • Of the five Vermont players to claim America East player of the year awards, four of them are Canadians: Church twice, Turnbull twice, Pilypaitis.
  • UVM’s single-game scoring record is 40, achieved by Turnbull and Pilypaitis.
  • Kotsopoulos is the only UVM player to nab the America East defensive player of the year award.
  • There are six Canadians — all from Ontario — on this year’s Catamounts: Pilypaitis of Ottawa, Kotsopoulos of Waterloo, Kristine Lalonde of Sudbury, Lauren Wheeler of Ancaster, Lauren Buschmann of St.  Catherines, Kendra Seto of Oshawa.

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A few weeks ago, during UVM’s basketball Media Day at Patrick Gym, I asked UVM women’s basketball coach Sharon Dawley about the Catamounts’ Canadian flavor. Sitting three seats down from her at the podium, Maurice  Joseph proudly raised both arms in the air. Of course, we can’t forget about Montreal’s MoJo. David Hehn’s winning shot in the 2003 America East championship game is another example of Canadians doing special things for the Catamounts.