A look ahead at UVM’s basketball season

Eribert Volaj, Sports editor

The America East Conference announced the 2017-18 schedule for men’s basketball Aug. 22.

The Catamounts will start their title defense Jan. 4, traveling to the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Afterward, the defending champions will play three home games at Patrick Gym. They host the University of Maryland Baltimore County Jan. 6, Stony Brook University Jan. 13 and the University of Maine Jan. 15.

Other games to watch out for include a rematch of last year’s title game against the University at Albany Jan. 24 and a game against Binghamton University Feb. 21.

Last season was a historic one for Vermont, who held the nation’s longest winning streak with 21 wins while setting a program record with 29 total wins.

Three of those wins occurred during the America East Tournament, as the Catamounts went on to win the conference title. This year’s tournament will take place in early March, with the quarter finals starting March 3.

The season will kick off with two exhibitions against Concordia University, Oct. 29 and St. Michael’s College Nov. 4.

These two games should provide an opportunity for the recently-announced signees, whom Becker announced in July.

First-year forwards Ra Kpedi and Bailey Patella and guards Skyler Nash and Stef Smith were announced as the new signings, and they will join 12 returning members from last season’s record-breaking squad.

Smith comes from the same high school – Bill Crothers Secondary in Markham, Ontario – as last year’s America East Player of the Year senior Trae Bell-Haynes, and is the school’s all-time top scorer, according to UVM athletics.

“I think all of these kids are really good, and they’re going to push our returners,” coach John Becker said, according to a July 19 UVM athletics article. “We are going to need them to have significant roles on this year’s team.”

The regular season will open with a Nov. 12 trip to the University of Kentucky. The Wildcats are one of the most successful teams in NCAA history, having won the Championship eight times.

Shortly afterward, Vermont will participate in the Islands of Bahamas Showcase, which will take place from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19. The tournament will feature eight schools, including Iona College, James Madison University and Weber State University, according to UVM athletics.

Other noticeable games include visits to Ivy League contenders Harvard University Jan. 2 and Dartmouth College Jan. 10.

The tickets for the games will go on sale, Oct. 2, and the home games will be televised on ESPN3 and the watchESPN app.