Posts Tagged ‘maurice joseph’

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.”

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Hoop Cats’ fans: Let’s say goodbye again.

February 28, 2010

They rose with the united voice of 3,000, saying goodbye to the seniors of the University of Vermont men’s basketball team at Patrick Gym on Sunday afternoon, but they didn’t mean it; at least, not with all their hearts.

Oh, they appreciated all the wins and spectacular moments, the effort and the hard work this UVM threesome has given them, but, really, the 3,000 were expressing their love with just a bit something held back.

Like the hope this wasn’t the last time Marqus Blakely, Maurice Joseph and Nick Vier tormented opposing teams at Patrick Gym.

It was an emotional few minutes as Vier, Joseph and finally Blakely were called to center court, parents in tow, to receive the adulation of the 3,000 one more time. Joseph tapped his heart, waving to the fans in appreciation, and Vier acknowledged the moment with a salute to both sets of bleachers, but the most touching scene was Blakely’s mother gently reaching up to wipe the tears from her son’s face.

Still, as much as the 3,000 genuinely bid thank you, everyone present knew everyone was thinking , “One more time!”

Such as in the championship game of the America East tournament.

That’s not entirely in Vermont’s hands, but neither is it impossible. Stony Brook has the top seed and home court for the finals if it advances. That’s something UVM can’t control; as the No. 2 seed, the Catamounts will be in the opposite bracket for the quarterfinals and the semifinals, assuming they advance, and Stony Brook cannot be one of those opponents.

So some other team must take out the Seawolves on the first weekend, opening the door for one final reunion of Blakely, Joseph and Vier with the adoring Patrick denizens. Message to the 3,000: root as hard for whoever plays Stony Brook as you root for UVM.

Sunday, against Binghamton, first Vier, then Joseph departed late in UVM’s win to standing ovations. Blakely was the last to leave the floor, and he stooped to kiss the Catamount logo at mid-court.

It was a genuine gesture, but believe this: He would love to have the opportunity to do that one more time, just as the 3,000 sincerely hope Sunday wasn’t the Patrick farewell for him, Joseph or Vier.

High praise for Catamounts

January 20, 2010

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.”

*****

Here’s my game story and Tweets from UVM’s win over Hartford. Be sure to pick up Thursday’s Free Press for a preview of the Catamounts’ home game against Stony Brook.

MoJo brings energy to UVM

January 17, 2010

That’s the headline for a story about University of Vermont basketball senior Maurice Joseph that appears in today’s Free Press.

Joseph — affectionately known as MoJo — is averaging more than 18 points in UVM’s first three America East games, and his shots again need to be on the mark today when the Catamounts take on Boston U at Patrick Gym in a battle of the top two teams in the league.

As good as MoJo has been with his 3-point shooting this winter, UVM coach Mike Lonergan said he’s been encouraging the senior guard to drive the basket — which in turn, will get him to the foul line, where he’s as automatic as anyone this side of Mike Trimboli.

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Today’s 2 p.m. game will be nationally televised on ESPU. It’s a good time for the cameras to roll, considering the three most electrifying players — BU’s John Holland and Corey Lowe, and UVM’s Marqus Blakely — in the league will be on the floor.

BU (70.4) and Vermont (68.9) lead the America East in scoring average.

****

One of the reasons Vermont has won 10 of their last 11 games is rebounding. Over the last five games, the Cats have out-rebounded their opponents by an average of 11.8 per contest. They are 10-0 this season when holding a rebounding edge.

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You can never have enough highlights of Marqus Blakely. In case you missed it, here’s the America East On Campus’ feature on UVM’s senior star: