Men’s Hoop Cats Picked First In America East Preseason All-Conference Poll

The University of Vermont, which won its first America East men’s basketball title last March, has been chosen by the conference coaches to repeat as champions. The conference preseason poll was announced today at America East Men’s Basketball Media Day in Boston. It marked the first time in the history of the conference that the Catamounts (21-12 in 2002-03) have been tabbed first by the leagues coaches in the preseason. In 12 of the last 13 seasons, Vermont also has either equaled or exceeded the expectations of the coaches in their preseason poll. UVM received four first-place votes and 74 points to edge defending regular season champion Boston University (two first-place votes) and Northeastern (four first-place votes), each with 72 points. The three were followed by Hartford (50 points), Stony Brook (46), Binghamton (45), Maine (40), conference newcomer Maryland, Baltimore County (20), Albany (16) and New Hampshire (15). “The single hardest task in sports is to repeat as champions and we have no experience at what it takes to do so,” commented Vermont coach Tom Brennan, the dean of America East coaches entering his 18th season. “Yet I am excited as ever since I feel we have the core to again be successful.” Leading that core are juniors Taylor Coppenrath (West Barnet, Vt.) and T.J. Sorrentine (Pawtucket, R.I.), who were both named to the America East Preseason All-Conference team. Coppenrath, a 6-foot-9 forward, last season led the conference in scoring (20.1 ppg) and was named the Kevin Roberson America East Player of the Year. Sorrentine in 2001-02 was the conferences scoring leader (18.8 ppg) and the America East Player of the Year. The 5-foot-11 point guard returns to the Catamount lineup at full strength after missing all of last season with wrist injuries. Rashad Bell of Boston University, Nick Billings of Binghamton, Jerell Parker of Hartford and Northeastern’s Jose Juan Barea joined Coppenrath and Sorrentine on the preseason all-conference team. Vermont opens the regular season, Monday November 17th at Nevada in the Preseason National Invitational Tournament (10:00pm eastern; Radio: WVMT 620 AM; Internet: Communications