Posts Tagged ‘nick vier’

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.

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Getting Vier back on point

February 1, 2010

University of Vermont men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan was satisfied with Joey Accaoui’s performance during his eight-game stint as starting point guard.

But he opted to return Nick Vier to the starting role Saturday for a couple of reasons.

In order to have a successful stretch run, the Catamounts need Vier, who has been in a “funk” this season, to regain his confidence and reach his potential. Vier took a step in that direction during UVM’s runaway win over Albany on Saturday at Patrick Gym.

“Nick played one of his better games this year,” Lonergan said. “He didn’t shoot well, but he played the way we need him to play: Put defensive pressure on (Albany’s) point guard the entire game and set the tone for us defensively, which allowed Garvey (Young) to get up on his man. For the first time in a while, we didn’t allow another team’s best players to hurt us.”

Under the weight of heavy expectations, Vier’s play has been erratic this winter and he tumbled out of the starting lineup at the beginning of January.

“Joey has done a good job, but for us to reach our goals, I think we really have to have Nick be our point guard,” Lonergan said. “Joey will play minutes at the point. Joey struggles getting good shots from the point-guard position. It’s easier for him to get open shots when he plays off the ball. He got some good shots from playing on the wing (against Albany). I think it worked well.”

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The Catamounts learned today they will face Fairfield in the ESPNU BracketBusters’ series. The game will take place either Feb. 19 or Feb. 20 at Patrick Gym.

Vermont was one of 98 teams selected to play in the BracketBusters event, designed to give mid-major programs publicity. The Catamounts’ game against Fairfield is not one of the 11 ESPN has scheduled to televise. It’s safe to assume the Cats fell out of consideration for a TV game after their three-game losing streak.

Fairfield has a 15-7 record and is in third place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with an 8-4 mark.

Accaoui Catamounts’ point guard?

December 2, 2009

I’m back in Burlington for the first time since the day before the University of Vermont men’s basketball team played at Rutgers. Heck, I’m worn out just traveling and writing, so I can imagine how exhausted the Catamounts are after playing six games in 10 days.

One player showed no signs of fatigue during Tuesday’s grind-it-out, 63-58 victory at Dartmouth: Junior guard Joey Accaoui, who splashed in a career-high 17 points.

After the game, UVM coach Mike Lonergan hinted at the possibility of Accaoui becoming the Catamounts’ primary point guard.

“Late in the game I thought he was tremendous,” Lonergan said about Accaoui. “We might think about giving him a look to be our point guard; we just have to figure out what our best lineup is. He kept his composure, he took the ball to the basket, he made the right decisions and he’s a terrific free-throw shooter.”

It’s hard to tell if Lonergan is ready to move Accaoui to the point, or if he is simply putting a charge in senior Nick Vier, who has been the starting — although inconsistent — point guard in every game this season.

When asked about the possibility, Accaoui did his best to defuse any talk of a point-guard controversy.

“I just go out there and try to play my game. That’s my job to come off the bench and bring energy at the guard position,” Accaoui said. “Nick is a great player and we are going to need him to play well for us to win, so I’m not really worried about that. I think he’ll be back and playing well soon. I just keep playing my role, that’s to get on the floor and stay aggressive.”

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Remember to follow my UVM basketball updates on Twitter.

Vier on point for strong senior season

November 7, 2009

nickvierUniversity of Vermont men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan wasn’t thrilled about his team’s performance in a 73-44 preseason win over St. Micheal’s today at Patrick Gym — “I thought we’d be a little bit sharper” — but he lauded the play of point guard Nick Vier.

It’s a good sign, because Vier will be a big key to the Catamounts’ success this winter. Vier played 21 minutes, scoring 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting and draining both of his 3-point attempts.

No longer playing in Mike Trimboli’s shadow, Vier will be called on to run the point this season for the Catamounts. Joey Accaoui isn’t a natural fit for the position; freshman Simeon Marsalis is but still needs to develop. That leaves Vier, who possesses all the tools to be a standout: Speed, quickness, strong ball-handling, accurate shooting, defensive tenacity.

“We just need Nick to be solid this year and cut down some of the silly turnovers,” Lonergan said. “Nick has been playing well and I expect he’ll have a great senior season.”

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The biggest difference  between UVM, picked second in the America East Conference coaches’ preseason poll, and St. Michael’s, tabbed 14th in the 15-team Northeast-10 Conference, is talent.

Other notable discrepancies are size and muscle: The Catamounts outscored the Purple Knights 46-16 in the paint.

“They have some big bodies,” SMC coach Tom O’Shea said. “Our guys were trying, but when you have 3, 4, 5 more inches, 30 more pounds, it’s tough.”

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Hope the hometown crowd (attendance 2,598) enjoyed today’s game because the Catamounts won’t play another game in Patrick Gym until Dec. 13.

Vermont plays its first 10 games of the regular season on the road, opening Friday night at Loyola in Baltimore.

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Tips-ins: Here’s the box score of today’s game and the story that will appear in Sunday’s Free Press … Rookie Luke Apfeld sat at the end of the bench in a shirt and tie, out indefinitely with a knee injury. … Vermont is 10-0 in preseason games under Lonergan. … It doesn’t get any easier for St. Michael’s, which plays at Boston College on Sunday. … The UVM women’s team also wrapped up its preseason schedule today at Patrick Gym, collecting a 90-73 win over Franklin Pierce, a NCAA Division II program. … Follow my coverage of UVM hoops on Twitter @johnfantino.