Home » Columns »Your Phil of Hoops » Currently Reading:

Rhode Island trip wasn’t the way Vermont hoped to start road stretch

November 19, 2013 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – This wasn’t how Vermont wanted or expected to start a long road stretch.  The Catamounts are at the beginning of a stretch where they play seven in a row and nine of ten away from Burlington, and there’s only one way to describe their two games in three nights in Rhode Island: bad.

Vermont certainly expected better than what they showed on both nights, even if they had come away 0-2.  This is a team that starts five seniors and brings another off the bench, and all of them won an America East championship on the road as sophomores.  There’s a reason they have been picked once again to win America East, and it’s not because Boston University has left for the Patriot League.  This is a team with good experience, and winning experience at that, to say nothing of having been on the road a lot.  They didn’t win conference championships with moral victories, and won’t take any despite Monday being better than Saturday night.

On Saturday night, Bryant blew out the Catamounts 87-64.  Simply put, it wasn’t pretty, as they never did enough to get back in the game after falling behind early, then Bryant blew it open in the second half.

“We were not very good in any phase of the game today,” head coach John Becker said after Saturday’s game.  “I’m obviously very disappointed with our effort.”

The effort was better on Monday, and Becker sounded a different tune.  But they were up against an even better team, one that got its starting point guard back (albeit in a reserve role on the evening), and offensive struggles didn’t help in their 70-49 loss at Providence that was never a ballgame after the first few minutes.

A big staple of the good Vermont teams, especially in recent years, is defense.  They haven’t been a team that’s going to put up 80-90 points a night, so they’ve had to play a slower-paced game and stop the other team to win, and they have often done that.  But thus far, that’s been a missing link for this team, as opponents are shooting 46 percent from the field against them.  They spent a lot of time on that in practice in between the two games because they weren’t good at that end on Saturday.

As if that’s not bad enough, the offense struggled, too.  They didn’t look like they had much of a game plan on Saturday night, and on Monday night they couldn’t buy a basket in the first half.  The upshot is that Becker thought the offense was run better on Monday night, but they just didn’t get the ball to go down.

“I thought our offense was good, we got to spots and we got good shots, we just didn’t make them,” said Becker.  “How many point-blank layups did we miss tonight?”

It hasn’t helped through all of this that the Catamounts are far from healthy.  Big man Ryan Pierson is out for about another month after suffering a broken ankle in the summer, forward Ethan O’Day is out for another month with a broken wrist, Brendan Kilpatrick is out longer after foot surgery and Harrison Taggart and Dre Wills are still day-to-day as well.  For that matter, Luke Apfeld, who has had three ACL injuries, is banged up but battled in both games, playing 25 minutes in each.

In fact, one can attribute some of the defensive struggles to the injuries as that has sapped a lot of Vermont’s depth.  They had nine healthy players available for both games, including walk-on Naasir Williams, who impressed at Bryant with ten points and two assists as a change-of-pace point guard.  Still, they feel like they can be better as currently constituted, and a couple of players come to mind in that respect as junior transfer Hector Harold hasn’t found his footing yet and senior Josh Elbaum needs to play better as he hasn’t earned the minutes to this point.

“It is what it is,” said Apfeld of the lack of depth.  “If you look at the box score, I think Providence only played seven guys.  We can’t use (injuries) as an excuse, we’ve got experience all across the board right now, and we really need to play better.”

They need to play better quickly, as this isn’t an easy road stretch.  Next up is Northeast Conference contender Wagner, then Duke, before three games in the Golden State Challenge in San Francisco that starts with Illinois State.  They end the stretch of nine in ten away from home at Ivy League favorite Harvard.  They didn’t start the stretch well, and now must work for it to end better.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2017

February 22, 2017 by

We touch on Player of the Year candidates, the wild ACC featuring a still-slumping Virginia team and a really hard-luck Clemson team, an SEC program where the bottom is falling out, the final weekend in the CAA and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 17, 2017

February 17, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with coaching news in the ACC, then go to a few recent games. A surging Big East team and an amazing rally in the Big 12 lead the discussion after that.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 8, 2017

February 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look at a marathon game from Tuesday night, which came just days after a wild Saturday. Then we have more on the SEC and Big 12, before one of Saturday’s big games leads us into talk about smaller conferences and television coverage.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 3, 2017

February 3, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look at the week two national title contenders had, as well as a surprise at the top of the Big Ten and a legendary coach returning. Along the way, we also look at a couple of bigger picture items.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we look at a wild week in college basketball that was highlighted by Tuesday night. We also talk about who will likely be the top team in the polls and look ahead to the weekend, which features one last flurry of non-conference games.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.