With Lamb Back And New Transfers, A Strong Outlook For UVM Men's Basketball Season
Over the past 11 seasons of men's collegiate basketball, only eight Division I schools have won at least 20 games. Among that select group of teams is the University of Vermont.
The past three seasons have been particularly remarkable for the Catamounts; they've gone 83-21 overall in that time, with an America East conference record of 45-3. The team lost to Florida State in the opening round of last year's NCAA tournament — their second NCAA tournament appearance within three years.
The centerpiece of this run of success? Now-senior Anthony Lamb, a 6-foot-6 power forward and tenacious rebounder.
Lamb tested the waters of leaving school after his junior season, and the feedback he received from workouts with several National Basketball Association teams was clear: his professional future, whether in the NBA or overseas, will be facing the basket at small forward.
To that end, Lamb has spent hours working on his perimeter game — long-range shooting, ball handling and defending in space.
"I've grown a lot," Lamb said. "I've taken all the lessons that have been bestowed upon me and I'm really trying to take myself to the next level. I want to balance myself overall so I can be the best basketball player and best leader for my team."
"I've taken all the lessons that have been bestowed upon me and I'm really trying to take myself to the next level. I want to balance myself overall so I can be the best basketball player and best leader for my team." — Anthony Lamb, UVM senior
A number of players from last year's team are back, along with new faces like transfer Daniel Giddens, a 6-foot-11 graduate student that fans can expect to see play at the low post. Another option for that position is 6-foot-8 sophomore Ryan Davis, who was dogged by injuries last year but has been looking strong this preseason. Davis turned in a 17-point performance in Saturday's exhibition game against Brown University.
"There is a feeling that we'll be a pretty deep team and that we'll play maybe 10, 11 guys," said UVM head coach John Becker, now in his ninth season. "We haven't been as deep in recent years and wearing down opponents and bringing in waves of guys is a good way to play.
"But if the top seven guys separate themselves, maybe we won't be so deep. If that happens the other guys are going to have to play at a higher level to get into the rotation."
Vermont was the unanimous pick in the preseason coaches' poll to win its fourth consecutive America East regular season title, and the Catamounts' non-conference schedule is once again loaded with perennial powers.
UVM plays at defending national champion Virginia, Cincinnati and St. John's. The Cats have road games against mid-majors Bucknell and Yale, with home games against Lipscomb and North Carolina-Greensboro.
"We're in a really good spot, everyone is buying in. The next phase is going out and putting it all together on the court." — Head Coach John Becker, UVM Men's Basketball
"Defensively, I think potentially this could be our best defensive team because of our size, length and athleticism," Becker said. "We're in a really good spot, everyone is buying in. The next phase is going out and putting it all together on the court."
The program recently retired the jersey numbers of two former standout players from the class of 2005: #11 T.J. Sorrentine and #22 Taylor Coppenrath. A ceremony was held Saturday ahead of UVM's exhibition victory over Brown (where Sorrentine now serves as associate head coach).
The Catamounts' first regular season game is on the road at St. Bonaventure University on Friday, Nov. 8 — but before that, they'll face off in another exhibition game at Patrick Gymnasium against St. Michael's College, now under the direction of head coach Eric Eaton. That game is Sunday at 4 p.m.