Despite coming off a 25 win season in which the Catamounts were 1 point away from reaching the NCAA Tournament, many publications, including this one, have other teams projected to win the America East. However, with star point guard Mike Trimboli back in the fold, and a quality head coach in Mike Lonergan, Vermont is not a team to take lightly. The third year head man took some time out to discuss the upcoming season with Collegehoops.net:
CHN) Based on what you saw last year and how close you came to the NCAA Tournament, what's the biggest improvement your team needs to get to the next level?
Mike Lonergan) I think we need to make plays down the stretch of big games. We had a great season but lost our last 2 games in the final seconds (AE Championship and NIT). Hopefully our past experiences will help us if we are fortunate enough to get that far this season.
CHN) Are you settled with your starting lineup? Expect any particular battles for the open spots?
ML) We are not sure what our lineup will look like going into the season. A lot will depend on the development of our freshmen post players, Evan Fjeld and Garrett Kissel.
CHN) It might be hard to pick out one, but who is the most talented player you've ever coached?
ML) John Gilchrist (Maryland 03-05) was probably the most talented player I have ever coached. If you are talking about at Vermont it would have to be Mike Trimboli, Joe Trapani or Marqus Blakely.
CHN) Talk about one or two guys that stand out as being underrated contributors to your team's success?
ML) Kyle Cieplicki is our unsung hero or our glue guy. He guards the best player and does the little things that help you win games. He is the best captain (3 year captain) I have ever had.
Chad Powlovich is also underrated. He is a walk-on but has averaged 9 minutes/game over the last 2 seasons. He gets our guys up in every practice and has contributed a lot in our games despite his limited minutes.
CHN) What do you think will be the hardest game on this year's schedule?
ML) Virginia. They have a tremendous team coming back. They should be one of the top teams in the nation this season. I am a big fan of Sean Singletary. It will be a great opportunity for our best player, point guard Mike Trimboli, to play against Sean.
CHN) Realistically, what should Vermont fans and the media expect from your team this year?
ML) We lost two 5th year senior starters in the post: first team all conference Chris Holm and 3rd team all conference Martin Klimes and Joe Trapani, the best freshman in our conference, transferred to BC. We will definitely miss those 3 guys. We were #1 in the nation in rebounding margin and Chris was 2nd in the nation in rebounding. We are very worried about our rebounding this year. Our post players are
inexperienced and unproven. Our guards are very good and have experience. Mike Trimboli is arguably the best player in the conference. We hope to be a much better team in February than we are in November.
CHN) Any last words on what to look for this year?
ML) Mike Trimboli was rookie of the year as a freshman and runner up for player of the year as a sophomore. We will need even more out of him this season and I think he is capable of delivering. Hopefully Marqus Blakely will continue his rapid development. Marqus is one of college basketball's top athletes.