Men’s Basketball

Last year’s final defeat at the hands of Michigan State in the NCAA tournament, also marked an end to undoubtedly the greatest era in the history of Vermont basketball. Gone are Taylor Coppenrath, T.J. Sorrentine and Coach Tom Brennan. In their place are Martin Klimes, Mike Trimboli and first year head coach Mike Lonergan. After reaching the NCAA tournament three years in a row and upsetting Syracuse in the first round last year, this year’s team is faced with finding an identity of its own, while at the same time trying to maintain the impressive run of the past few years. The team is young, with seven incoming freshman, five of whom are on scholarship, and will rely heavily on the shoulders of captains Martin Klimes and Kyle Cieplicki. Klimes, a junior C/F, is the only returning starter from last year’s team, having averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Coach Lonergan will be looked upon to improve these numbers, while at the same time providing the intensity and effort that has made him a crowd favorite. Cieplicki is a redshirt sophomore guard who hails from one of Vermont’s finest basketball families, it is this basketball IQ that makes him such an exceptional asset to the team. Lonergan said of Cieplicki, “I’m hoping he’s our starting shooting guard.” Josh Duell, a sophomore forward who saw significant time last year, “will be a starter and he might even be our best player,” said Lonergan. The other lock for a starting position comes by way of Norwalk Connecticut, in freshman point guard Mike Trimboli. Lonergan spoke very highly of Trimboli saying, “I was pretty confident that freshman Mike Trimboli would start, but now he has mono.” He later went on to say, “I’ll be shocked if Martin and Josh as well as Mike and Kyle don’t start that first game.” The final starting position seems to be down to a two player battle between sophomore G/F Ryan Schneider and freshman Colin McIntosh, to which Lonergan said, “Colin McIntosh is a pretty talented freshman, but Ryan will get the edge at the beginning because he was on the team last year.” If McIntosh doesn’t get the starting nod, he will be “a 6th or 7th man right away.” The bench will be young and inexperienced, but will be led by high-flying sophomore guard Tim McCrory, transfer Chris Holm and a slew of freshmen. One of those freshmen is Jason Green a guard from storied Dematha High School in D.C. Lonergan is “hoping that Jason will be like a David Hehn player for us.” Hehn as many may remember was a guy that the team could count on to stop the opposing team’s best player as well as hit the big bucket when needed. Another key freshman will be big man Ryan Shields, who led the state of Connecticut in rebounding last year, but still needs to add muscle to his frame. Chris Holm has just started practicing after injuring his knee and Lonergan said, “I hope he stays motivated, he could play an important role for us. I just don’t know what to expect from a guy who’s been hurt since I got here.” The two will battle for playing time behind Duell and Klimes up front. Lonergan who normally likes to run and shoot the three ball, thought it would be “tough because we’re not real athletic.” But, one thing he will focus on is “to get the ball inside to Martin and Josh because they have experience.” Experience is one area that is lacking and as Lonergan said about the America East teams, “these other schools might not have great records, but they have just about everybody back.” This inexperience also may have contributed to some players not being “in good shape at all when we came back, it was kind of disappointing.” Despite the bad first impression Lonergan had nothing but praise for his new team saying, “they are good guys, good students, good people. I’m really happy about that.” He ended this sentence by saying, “but talent wins games.” This lack of talent and experience could spell trouble for the Catamounts. But despite those two obstacles, Lonergan “likes our team.” And for good reason. The talent and inexperience might not be a problem in the America East, which he called “wide open.” What he wants from the team is to “just get better and better and hopefully gel by February. Before February, the Cats have a tough non-conference schedule full of perennial NCAA and NIT contenders. Lonergan seems to thrive on such a tough schedule,” I’d rather play a really tough schedule and not worry about wins and losses this year and just try and get better for the conference tournament.” Once in the conference tournament Lonergan felt that UVM would have a distinct advantage because of “our intelligence and the fact that they’re used to winning, we’ve got great fans and a great home-court.”