Posts Tagged ‘uvm women’s basketball’

Hard game, hard loss for UVM women

January 26, 2010

As college women’s basketball games go, Tuesday evening’s America East confrontation between Hartford and Vermont was a defensive fracas that undermined the offensive confidence on both sides.

Certainly neither offense had a good night, but that was due in large part to the defenses. It was scrappy, it was physical, it was tenacious and the referees were not about to make any brush or phantom calls.

On the Vermont side, the Catamounts found no open 3-point shots and underneath, the Hawks contested every pass, every rebound, every move. And Hartford found the going much the same at the other end of the court.

This was the kind of game that had to be decided by one defense bending just a bit; not breaking, but yielding at just the wrong time. Say, in the final minute or so of regulation.

That’s what happened, according to UVM coach Sharon Dawley, and Vermont was the team that mis-stepped, allowing “three slip-ups that we hadn’t had in the second half and that got us.”

“We gave (Diana) Delva too good of a look down low and I thought we gave ’21’ (Ilicia Mathis) two good drives,” Dawley said of the plays that led to Hartford’s last three baskets, including Delva’s rebound game-winner after Mathis went to the hoop.

Still, UVM nearly pulled out the tie. On an in-bounds from just over mid-court with 1.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Sofia Iwobi threaded a pass through — and off the hands of — a maze of defenders, giving May Kotsopoulis one final chance. Her lay-up bid, though, struck the rim on the way up. Game over.

Bottom line tonight: tough game, great effort, dismal offensive execution and some of the nastiest defense both ways.

The loss, the second of the AE season for UVM, puts the Catamounts in dire straits as far as the regular-season title and top seed for the conference tournament goes. Hartford is unbeaten and UVM must win at Hartford and get help from someone else.

In the long run, it might not matter who’s seeded No. 1. It didn’t last year, but it’s still an easier tournament path as the top seed. That path might now be closed to UVM.

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Bits and pieces …

January 20, 2010

A little bit of this, a little bit of that …

  • UVM’s and Shelburne’s Peter Lenes, a huge favorite of Ontario (Ca.) Reign fans, won the ECHL all-star skills competition for the 1-on-1 puck relay competition, beating former UNH standout Jacob Micflikier of the Florida Everblades by a stride. Lenes won the event Tuesday and was scheduled to play for the National Conference in the all-star game in Ontario on Wednesday.
  • Lenes isn’t the only ECHL all-star with Green Mountain ties. Former Norwich University standouts Nikita Kashirsky and Rick Cleaver were named to the American Conference squad.
  • Speaking of the Cadets, their freshman class has accounted for 46 of 77 Norwich goals this season, led by Kyle Thomas (11) and Blake Forkey (10). Eight freshmen forwards have contributed at least one goal for the second-ranked Cadets (12-0-3).
  • Middlebury hasn’t shown that kind of depth, but a mini-French Connection of sophomore Martin Drolet (8-14-22) and freshman Mathieu Dubuc (8-8-16) provide a nice 1-2 punch for the sixth-ranked Panthers (7-1-4). But the surprise of the year is senior goalie Max Kennedy, who’s 4-0-2 with a 1.22 goals against average and a .938 save percentage. Prior to this year, he had barely nine minutes of game time.
  • It’s that time of the year: Here comes Castleton. The Spartans opened the hockey season 1-5-1 overall and 0-4-1 in ECAC East. Since then, they’re 5-1-2 and 4-0-0. It’s getting to be a CSC tradition; start slowly, finish fast.
  • Chris Davidson is doing a nice job with the SMC men’s team, but here’s the reality: As long as St.  Michael’s remains a Division II school, the hockey team is unlikely to excel. No ECAC East or NCAA tournaments to offer as recruiting inducements. Wonder if with b-ball coach Tom O’Shea’s announced departure at season’s end if St. Michael’s will consider moving its athletic program to D-III. Unlikely, but a smart move if a viable league could be found, and forget about NESCAC.
  • As powerful as the UVM women’s basketball team was against America East opponents at Patrick Gym this season, the Catamounts went into Wednesday’s game at UMBC with one huge question mark: Are they anywhere near as good on the road as they are at home? They barely beat New Hampshire in Durham and had the luster taken off their first Top 25 ranking in nearly two decades at Boston University. At home, nothing but routs.
  • That big Marqus Blakely block against Hartford was impressive Tuesday, but Evan Fjeld’s behind-the-back pass for a Blakely jam topped that, if only because Blakely’s got a batch of highlight blocks and Fjeld’s pass was as surprising as it was spectacular.

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.”

Catamount women streak into Storrs

December 2, 2009

University of Vermont women’s basketball coach Sharon Dawley talked today about her team’s upcoming game with UConn, a juggernaut riding a 45-game winning streak. Here’s audio from the interview.

Dawley said this year’s UConn powerhouse is every bit as good — if not better — than last year’s that defeated Vermont 104-65 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament en route to a national title. The Huskies (5-0) have whipped their competition this season by an average margin of 43.8 points.

However, Dawley said her veteran-stacked squad, led by Courtnay Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulos, will be fearless in its approach to the contest, set for Thursday night at 7:30.

Vermont (4-0) has 22 votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top-25 coaches poll, which makes the Catamounts the 28th ranked team in the nation.

Could a respectable showing against UConn be enough to move the Cats into the top 25?

UVM women receive votes in national poll

November 18, 2009

For the first time in nearly a decade, the University of Vermont women’s basketball team is receiving votes in the latest USA Today/ESPN top-25 coaches’ poll, released Tuesday.

The last time UVM received votes in a national top-25 poll was at the end of the 1999-2000 season, when the Catamounts won the America East Conference championship before falling to Tulane in the first round of the NCAA  tournament.

Vermont (2-0) is coming off a huge win at N.C. State, just the second time the program has beaten an ACC opponent. The Catamounts still have a long way to go to crack the top 25, considering 18 “others receiving votes” are in front of them.

The  Cats play at Boston College on Sunday.

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.

UVM basketball programming notes

November 2, 2009

Here’s your chance to ask UVM coach Mike Lonergan a question about this year’s Catamounts.

Tune in tonight for the first installment of his weekly radio show — the “Cats Den.” Lonergan will join UVM radio voice Rob Ryan for 30 minutes each Monday night at 7  on 96.7 DOT-FM and The Zone 960 AM. And it will be broadcast live each week at the Upper Deck Pub at the Windjammer in South Burlington.

Fans are encouraged to stop by and ask the coach a question in person. Or they can email Rob Ryan a question to ask the coach at robryan@967dotfm.com

UVM women’s basketball coach Sharon Dawley also has a show, broadcast Wednesday throughout the season at 9:30 a.m. on WVMT-620 AM.

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UVM’s men’s basketball teams have several television games this season, including:

— Quinnipiac at Vermont, noon Dec. 13 (NESN)

— Boston U at Vermont, 2 p.m. Jan. 17 (ESPNU)

— Vermont at Boston U, 7 p.m. Feb. 9 (Comcast Sports Net)

— Vermont at Stony Brook, 7 p.m. Feb. 24 (NESN)

Also, the Cats have a chance at getting a nationally televised game when they play in the ESPN BracketBusters in late February. Last year, their win over Buffalo was shown on ESPN2.

The UVM wonen’s team will be playing at least one game on television: Hartford at Vermont, 7 p.m. Jan. 26 (NESN)

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Another great way to track the Catamounts is following me on Twitter @johnfantino

UVM women start preseason schedule today

October 31, 2009

After spending the last couple weeks practicing and scrimmaging against each other, players on the University of Vermont women’s basketball team get to take on their first opponent this afternoon.

Vermont will play play host to Laval University from Quebec in its first preseason game, which is scheduled to tip off  at 1 at Patrick Gym. Here’s UVM’s release previewing the contest.

High praise for UVM hoops

October 28, 2009

The University of Vermont basketball teams will finish towards the top of the America East Conference standings, if the coaches’ predictions are accurate.

UVM’s women were picked first in the coaches’ preaseason poll for the second consecutive year while the Catamount men were tabbed second in the nine-team league. The America East revealed the polls during the league’s Media Day this afternoon in Hartford, which will be the site of this year’s league tournaments. Here’s the America East’s news release.

UVM’s women’s team, the defending America East champions, received five first-place votes and 61 points, edging Hartford (60). New Hampshire and Binghamton tied for third with 38 points apiece.

“It’s flattering to earn the top spot in the preseason poll an to be thought of this way by the other coaches,” UVM women’s coach Sharon Dawley said in a news release. “It was a thrill to win the championship last season, but it is time to put last season behind us. We will work hard and use the experience we gained to help  us get the same result.”

The Catamount men grabbed 56 points and one first-place vote, finishing behind Boston University, which took 64 points and eight first-place votes. Albany (43 points), Stony Brook (42) and New Hampshire 39) round out the top five.

Vermont seniors Courtnay Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulos landed on the all-conference team, as did Marqus Blakely, the men’s two-time defending player of the year and defensive player of the year.

Both UVM teams have preseason games at Patrick Gym this weekend, the women playing host to Laval on Saturday and the men facing Concordia on Sunday.

New guys show promise at Catamount Tip-Off

October 24, 2009

I stopped by the Catamount Tip-Off today, eager to scout this year’s University of Vermont basketball team during the preseason scrimmage — the newcomers, in particular.

The four freshmen on the Catamount men’s team look like they belong at the college level, a nice mix of athleticism and size that should help the Catamounts sooner rather than later.

Simeon Marsalis is a crafty, pass-first point guard, who will likely play behind Nick Vier and Joey Accaoui this winter but is  a player who gives the Cats depth. Forward Luke Apfeld is powerful, ultra-athletic, and is going to be a impact player as soon as he shakes the rust from spending the past year rehabbing a knee injury. Brendan Bald will be another crowd-pleaser, a player who isn’t shy about attacking the rim.

Based on the brief sample provided at Patrick Gym on Saturday, the player who seems most likely to get minutes right away was center Ben Crenca, a Rhode Islander who is every bit of his listed 6-foot-10, 260 pounds, and appears to have a nice touch in the paint.

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Joey Accaoui caught fire late and won the 3-point shooting contest, beating out Maurice Joseph, Kelli Hier and Courtnay Pilypaitis. Hier was the runner-up.

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Here’s a stunner: Marqus Blakely didn’t win the dunk contest. An even bigger shock: The victor was Pat Bergmann, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Burlington who spent pretty much all of last season on the bench.

Bergmann faced Blakely in the championship round, and the former Rice Memorial standout put the preasure on Vermont’s human air show. Bergmann stood on the foul line, back to the basket, and bounced the ball hard off the floor, caromming it high off the backboard. He turned, elevated and flushed it home hard — perfect timing, perfect execution.  Blakely had an encore planned — letting teammate Evan Fjeld go up for a routine dunk, then in mid-air, catching the ball at the bottom of the net and attempting to tomahawk it homebut missed all three of his attempts.