The Passing of the Torch

When Mike Lonergan was offered the chance to be the head coach of UVM Men’s basketball team, he took it. He simply could not give up the opportunity to finally have his own Division I team. Mike Lonergan was announced to be the successor to UVM legend Tom Brennan on February 26th, 2005. After attending Catholic U and varsity-lettering in basketball, he decided to, years later, Coach the Cardinals. He led Catholic University to the 2001 NCAA Division III National Championship. He also showed Catholic U seven consecutive NCAA Division III championship appearances and chalked up a 251-88 overall record during his 12-year career. He was the only coach in the nation who had completed the seven year run from 1998-2004. For this, he was honored at the 2004 Final Four NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) Champions Luncheon. Not only did he carry the Catholic U Cardinals to nine of the eleven NCAA appearances, but he graduated one-hundred percent of his players while doing so. He spent his last season as the Assistant Coach for the powerful University of Maryland basketball program. There he helped carry the Terrapins to reach the NIT semifinals. It’s apparent that Coach Lonergan knows a thing or two about good basketball. When asked what steps it would take to move from Assistant Coach of the University of Maryland to Head Coach of a team on the rise like UVM, he replied, “I think coaching is coaching, it involves a lot of the same things.” Although his thoughts are with the stars who graduated, he recognizes that his team has little experience in big game play and that a lot of work needs to be done to rebuild this program. He also acknowledged that you rarely find Division I chemistry like that of the starters in last year’s squad. But Coach Lonergan does not plan to win the NCAA tournament this year. This is simply unrealistic. He rather strives to have his team build a strong foundation for future players and a huge realm of confidence. He is currently extremely busy recruiting what he feels are strong players that could change the face of Vermont basketball. Even during his interview, his assistant coaches were packing up their equipment to go scout players from fine basketball schools in Connecticut. Many think of Mike Lonergan as taking over for the basketball team, however, it is an entirely new group of rising stars on the court, in addition to a completely new coaching staff. He chose five fresh coaches whom he trusts and works well with. They have a lot of diverse experience from various basketball schools in the country. John Sanow from University of Indiana-PA, Hajj Turner who played for Louisville, and Matt Hahn directly from Maryland. His strength and conditioning coach, Paul Goodman, comes from the University of Wisconsin. The collected experience of this lineup should make for a mastermind of coaching. The team is still in the earliest phases of the season and many players still need to prove themselves. “Tom Brennan is a tough act to follow, off and on the court,” remarked Lonergan, “he has such a good personality and worked hard to make things so much easier for me and my family.” Lonergan’s entire family has just moved to Burlington where he feels everyone is extremely nice and welcoming. His wife even left her prestigious legacy at Catholic University coaching women’s basketball, to come support her husband on his new conquest. The Lonergan family has adjusted very nicely and Mike himself even feels that the “people up here are genuinely nice.” Among his prestigious coaching background, he also served as a spokesman for the America Cancer Society’s Coaches versus Cancer program, makes sure to volunteer with the Special Olympics, and not to mention he was also a member of the CU Alcohol Awareness Advisory Committee.