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Coach Lonergan: "Play Hard and See What Happens" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tomo   
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Rock stars -- That is what Mike Lonergan and his Catamounts are in Burlington after beating Boston University in the America East conference championship on Saturday and receiving an automatic bid to the Big Dance (fourth time in school history). Friday night they take their fame to the national stage, against the #1 ranked Syracuse Orange in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Can the Catamounts make history by beating the Orange, just as they did in 2005 (the last time they were in the dance)? Catamaniacs are betting their green and gold on it. Note: If you're a Vermont fan find your way to Buffalo for this game (do whatever necessary to get there). The team needs your support in the sea of orange that will be present.

Vermont Sports Network’s International contributor, Tomohide Katigiri ("Tomo") got a chance to catch up with Coach Lonergan for a few questions before the team took off to Buffalo to prepare for the Big Dance (earlier this afternoon).
Tomo: When do you guys leave for Buffalo? I would imagine you will enjoy flying after all of the bus rides you’ve had this season?

Coach L: We leave this afternoon at 3:30pm on an NCAA charter plane from Burlington to Buffalo.   It is exciting to fly considering all the long bus trips we had this year. We had 3 bus trips where we drove home all night from a game (Mount St. Mary's, Buffalo and UMBC). Those were brutal!

Tomo: How do you feel about the location (Buffalo, NY) and the #16 seed Vermont was given? How about being matched up against the #1 Syracuse Orange and coach Boeheim again?

Coach L:   I think we were a 14 or 15 seed that was moved to 16 because they (selection committee) wanted us matched up with Syracuse (for the storyline). That is just my guess.  All the experts had us as a 15 seed.  It is a difficult assignment playing one of the top 2 teams in the nation in their own backyard!  They have a Hall of Fame Coach and a star-studded roster.

Tomo:  We have some great shooters though (MoJo, Joey, Garvey, Nick).  Their shooting should be able to help beat the zone on Friday but what else does the team need to do to stay in this game?

Coach L: We have been one of the worst 3 pt shooting teams in the conference this season, which I didn’t expect, going into the season. We shot great from threes against Boston University so we really need that to carry over into this game. MoJo has really struggled lately with his threes so we need him to have a great shooting game. Garvey has been shooting well lately and Nick so that is a good sign. We can't just launch 3 pointers against Syracuse or we will get blown out.  We need to make sure Marqus and Evan get plenty of touches as well.

Tomo: Did former coach Tom Brennan talk to you after the BU game? Did he tell you the secret of how to beat the CUSE?

Coach L: I talk to Coach Brennan almost every day. The secret to beating Syracuse then was T.J. and Taylor! [Laughs]. We are just hoping to go out there Friday night and play hard and see what happens. This is a heck of a challenge. We are playing arguably the best team in the nation in front of a hostile crowd of Orange fans.  A number 1 seed has never been beaten by a 16 seed.  We will try our best, but it will take a perfect game to pull off what would be one of the most monumental upsets in sports history!

Tomo: Well, we hope to do pull off the monumental upset!  On that note, could you say a few words for Catamounts fans out there?

Coach L: The Catamount fans are terrific. I want to thank them for all their support over the years. Seeing them turn out in such great numbers at Hartford really helped us win and bring the championship game back to Patrick Gym. The crowd here on Saturday against BU was incredible. When BU cut our lead to 1 point and gained all the momentum our crowd wouldn't let us lose the lead. They were incredible! What an atmosphere that entire morning and afternoon.
It was an emotional day for a lot of reasons. We all wanted to win but we also were thinking of Evan and his mom. It was a long, hard week. I will never forget this season. This was a special year.

Tomo: Thank you Coach Lonergan! Catamount Nation will be rooting for you guys this Friday to upset Syracuse.
You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video
Catamounts TV spoke with Head Coach Mike Lonergan,
Simeon Marsalis and Pat Bergmann after the Cats first practice in Buffalo
for the NCAA tournament at Medaille College.  
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