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"We had one of the best classes to ever attend UVM in my opinion.
We all worked very hard and played the best we could every day.
-Taylor Coppenrath, Former Univ. of Vermont Basketball Star
 VTSN Partner:
Q&A with Head Coach Mike Lonergan PDF Print E-mail
Written by VT Sports Network News Feed   
Friday, 31 October 2008

2008-09 Vermont Men's Basketball - Season Outlook

Q&A with Head Coach Mike Lonergan

What are your expectations for the team for the upcoming season?
If we stay healthy I expect us to be in the top half of the America East and hopefully in the top three come tournament time. We have some weaknesses, but we also have a great group of guys that are very motivated to compete for the America East Championship again this season.

The team returns a lot of experienced players, including eight who have started in the past. How do you think this will help this season?
I think our experience will really help us. We have depth at most positions which should allow us to overcome foul trouble and injuries, unlike last season when we weren't as deep.

What do you think will be the team's strengths and weaknesses this year?
Our biggest weakness is that we still don't have a proven center like Chris Holm on our roster. We also have had a propensity to turn the ball over. Our biggest strength is our experience. We return a three-year starter at point guard and the best player in the league in Marqus Blakely. We are also hoping to get major contributions from Maurice Joseph and our newcomers. I expect many of the returning players will be improved, especially Evan Fjeld, whose freshman season was plagued by injuries.

You have another challenging schedule on tap this season, how do you think this prepares the team for America East play?
I think we play one of the toughest non-conference schedules of any Division I program in the country and this year might be our most challenging ever. I really think being tested early helps toughen up our team and prepares us for the rigors of conference play. It is also great for recruiting. We want high-level student-athletes and part of the reason they come here is because they know we will have a great schedule every year.

How much of an advantage is it to play in front of the home crowd fans at Patrick Gym?
I think it is a great advantage playing in front of the greatest fans in the America East. Our fans are very loyal and supportive and we love to play at home. Part of the reason I came to UVM is because of the terrific support from the fans that our program receives and I think the fan support played a part in our players' decisions to come to UVM as well.

Maurice Joseph will see his first action in a Catamount uniform this season after transferring from Michigan State. What kind of impact can he have this year?
I still am learning about Maurice as a player. He has not been healthy much since he got here so I really am not totally familiar with his game yet. I know he is a great person and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to coach him. He was elected co-captain, along with Mike Trimboli, by his teammates which is a great testament to the respect and admiration they have for him. I know Maurice played for a great program and a demanding coach that emphasizes defense just like I do, so I think it will be an easy adjustment for him as a player. He is a terrific leader, has great enthusiasm for the game and for life which is infectious. I can't say enough good things about "MoJo."

What can the fans expect to see from the freshmen class this season?
Garvey is an excellent defender who will fight for playing time immediately. He gives us a wing defender with size and athleticism to match up with some of the top scorers in the conference. Jordan has the size, strength and athleticism to contribute immediately. He just needs to adjust to the higher level of competition at the college level. I expect great things from Jordan right away. Greg is a tough, hard-nosed young man with that tremendous Vermont work ethic who will give us depth at the guard position. Pat Bergmann has really improved and added weight and muscle to his frame after redshirting last season. Pat has a chance to be in our rotation this season if he works hard on the court and in the weight room.

Who do you see stepping up this season or making the most improvement from last year?
I think Evan Fjeld will be our most improved player. He had a lot of bad luck his freshman year with mono, a broken hand and a foot injury. If he is healthy I expect him to double his stats and have a great season. I also think Mike Trimboli will step it up this year and have a great senior season.

Marqus Blakely had a big sophomore season, becoming the first player to earn America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season. Do you think he can match or exceed his numbers from last year?
I don't think Marqus will have bigger numbers than last year. I don't think we need that from him. I think we need him to continue to improve his defense and stay out of foul trouble. It is also extremely important to our success that he improves his free throw shooting.

Mike Trimboli enters his senior year seventh all-time in Vermont history in scoring and third in assists. What does he need to do this year to help lead the Catamounts to the NCAA Tournament?
The numbers are nice and Mike should be proud of them but I would like to see him lead us to the NCAA Tournament. He has the chance to leave quite a legacy behind, but it is important that we reach the postseason this year for Mike to be thought of as one of the all-time great players in UVM history. I am excited about Mike's senior year, I really think this will be his best season yet.

What are your thoughts on earning a home game in the ESPNU BracketBusters series this season?
I am very happy we were chosen to host a BracketBusters series game this season. I am happy for our players and our fans. I think this will be the best home schedule in the history of UVM basketball and part of the reason why is that we will have a home BracketBusters game. Last year we played eight of our first nine games on the road. Between that and the injuries it was very difficult to get any momentum going with our team. This year, although our schedule is extremely difficult, we will have a good amount of home games. If we can play well it will be possible to get on a nice roll going into the second half of the season. Last year our best win came at UNC-Wilmington as part of the BracketBusters series so our guys are proud to be chosen for it again, especially playing at home. It shows how highly regarded our basketball program is at UVM.

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