Hugs: Secret to Catamounts’ Recent Success?

Vermont’s 86-71 home win against Binghamton University last week was the Cats’ 18th of the season, second most in school history. Their 11 conference wins tie the school record. Every week, UVM players earn distinctions in and out of the America East Conference. Sophomore T.J. Sorrentine was named to the NABC, all-District I, first team, the only non-Big East player among the five. “It’s a great honor to be on there with four Big East players,” said Sorrentine, shortly after chipping in 37 points against Binghamton. UVM was ranked fourth in the pre-season coaches poll. The Cats currently have a one-game cushion over second-place Boston University. What has helped the Cats play so well? It could be the hugs. After this year’s worst offensive performance by the team in its 45-61 loss to Albany, Coach Tom Brennan seemed to think his team needed an extra boost. “Get over here, you need a hug, I know you need a hug,” he announced to Sorrentine. “He fought it a little bit, but he accepted it, and I think the difference tonight was the hug,” said Brennan after the win over Binghamton. Sorrentine scored 37 points, and has gone 25-for-38 (66%) from three-point range in his past three games at Patrick Gym. The guard often takes the weight of his team’s fate on his shoulders. “We have high standards for that young man, and he has a lot for himself,” said Brennan. Senior co-captain Trevor Gaines and Freshman Taylor Coppenrath both performed a “double-double” against Binghamton. Gaines scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Coppenrath added 11 points and 12 rebounds. As UVM prepares to play its last three games of the season before the America East Championships, the team realizes that there is still work to be done. “We need to prove we can play on the road,” remarked Sorrentine. Five of UVM’s six losses have been on the road. Another matter to keep in mind is the youth of this team. “The only thing that scares me is that we’re just so young, I can see that the minutes are really taking their toll on them,” said Brennan. Despite their fatigue, the freshmen have been reliable throughout the season as noted by Brennan: ” Hehn and Goia both did good jobs for us. We only have a chance to win this thing if the freshmen help us. And it’s really hard to rely on freshmen to gain something of this magnitude.”