The 2009-2010 Vermont Catamounts

How will the 2009-2010 Vermont Catamounts be remembered? There is no single event that stands out for the men’s basketball team when looking back on the season. Rather, a collection of memories add up to one of the most memorable seasons in UVM basketball history.

It was a season of highs and lows. The team’s performance varied on different nights, but when the game truly mattered, Vermont stepped up and played the best basketball they were capable of.

Vermont finished the season with a record of 25-10 (12-4). They were one win away from the regular season conference championship, and they accomplished the ultimate goal of winning the end of season conference tournament on their way to the fourth NCAA tournament bid in school history.

“I thought we had a great year to win 25 games at our level. I’ll never forget the season,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “I’m all about winning. I love to win more than anybody and I hate to lose. These guys taught me a lot this year, especially the last couple of weeks.”

Vermont led the NCAA in road victories this year, which is one of the most impressive feats of the season.

They beat quality teams all season, highlighted by a close win over Rutgers, who plays in argubaly the best conference in the country, the Big East.

Vermont only lost to Cornell by eight, and that was without Garvey Young, one of Vermont’s most important defensive players, in the lineup.

Among the highlights of the past season was the America East Championship game against Boston University. Vermont beat BU in front of a sold-out crowd and on national television.

The game itself had moments of joy and exhilaration, one being a vicious dunk by senior Marqus Blakely.

The real moment of raw emotion came after the final buzzer had sounded and the UVM crowd stormed the court.

Junior Evan Fjeld had endured a week that no young adult should ever have to endure.

His mother passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer just a few days before the championship game against BU.

Throughout the game ESPN, the channel broadcasting the game, panned to Fjeld’s father and made references towards the tragic events that took place earlier in the week.

If you were not a fan of Boston University, there was simply no way you were rooting against Fjeld and Vermont. After the final buzzer had sounded, ESPN panned to an image of Fjeld embracing his father.

The emotion that poured through the television screen and into the homes of the thousands who were watching was simply overwhelming.

The following day it was announced that Vermont would be a 16-seed playing the top-seeded Syracuse Orange in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

No 16-seed has ever beaten a number one seed in the history of the tournament, and it would have taken a miracle for Vermont to beat such a talented team. The Catamounts weren’t able to beat Syracuse, but they only trailed by 12 at halftime before eventually losing 79-56.

For the seniors, especially Blakely, this season closes the book on long and successful careers.

“I wish every teammate the best and hopefully they can get back here,” Blakely said.

Blakely ended his career as one of the best players in the history of Vermont basketball, and he will be sorely missed in the years to come.

All those who have seen Blakely play know that a talent of his caliber does not bless a small program like UVM often. What he was able to do for this university and community will never be forgotten.