Preseason Preview: Vermont


(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 17-18 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We take a break from high major opponents to preview one of the best low majors in the country, as well as a dangerous trap game for Marquette, the Catamounts of Vermont.

Team: Vermont Catamounts
16-17 Record: 29-6 (16-0 America East)
Postseason?: Earned a 13 seed as the AQer from the America East. Gave 4 seeded Purdue a little trouble before losing by 10.
16-17 KenPom: 63
Date: 12/5/17
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center
Coach: John Becker (7th Season)
Projected KenPom Range: 50-100
Projected Conference Finish: 1/9 in America East

Departures from 16-17
Kurt Steidl: Starting Wing: 28.7 mpg, 7.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.6 bpg, 0.6 tpg, .414 FG%, .395 3P% (Graduated)
Dre Willis: 1st Man off the Bench: 19.5 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .614 FG%, .000 3P% (Graduated)
Darryn Payren: 4th Man off the Bench: 12.0 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.7 bpg, 0.9 tpg, .701 FG%, .000 3P% (Graduated)
Josh Hearlihy: 5th Man off the Bench: 10.0 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.7 tpg, .432 FG%, .316 3P% (Graduate transferred to Seattle)
Kian Dalyrimple: Benchwarmer: Did not appear in any games (Transferred, destination unknown)
31% of scoring, 34% of rebounding, 25% of assists, 39% of steals, 44% of blocks, 28% of 3PM

Everett Duncan: Backup SG (returns from Redshirt)
Skyler Nash: 3-star SG, ranked # 419 overall by 247Sports
Ra Kpedi: 3-star PF, ranked #565 overall by 247Sports
Bailey Patella: 2-star SF, ranked #87 SF by ESPN
Samuel Dingba: Transfer PF from Quinnipiac
Stefan Smith: 2-star PG, unranked
Ben Shungu: Walk on PG

Probable Starters:
PG: Tre Bell-Haynes: 6-2 180 lb SR: 27.6 mpg, 11.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.8 tpg, .483 FG%, .345 3P%
SG: Cam Ward: 6-2 170 lb SR: 14.8 mpg, 3.9 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.9 tpg, .352 FG%, .319 3P%
SF: Ernie Duncan: 6-3 190 lb RSJR:28.1 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.8 tpg, .397 FG%, .399 3P%
PF: Anthony Lamb: 6-6 227 lb SO: 22.5 mpg, 12.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.2 bpg, 2.0 tpg, .512 FG%, .413 3P%
C: Payton Henson: 6-8 215 lb RSSR: 26.6 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.3 tpg, .516 FG%, .319 3P%

Probable Bench:
Drew Urquhart: 6-8 219 lb SR SF
Everett Duncan: 6-6 190 lb RSSO SG
Skyler Nash: 6-6 215 lb FR SG
Ra Kpedi: 6-9 220 lb FR PF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Bailey Patella: 6-5 185 lb FR SF
Samuel Dingba: 6-5 205 lb RSJR PF
Nate Rohrer: 6-7 215 lb RSSR SF RSSR SF
Stefan Smith: 6-1 170 lb FR PG
David Urso: 6-2 200 lb SR SG
Ben Shungu: 6-2 200 lb RSFR PG
Josh Speidel: 6-7 210 lb RSFR PF (Injured)


• Vermont had an incredible season last year. In the non-conference season, Vermont went 10-5 losing 4 games to high major opponents and 1 to Northeastern by a slim two point margin. They then proceeded to demolish the America East to the tune of 19 straight wins. A perfect conference season and an America East tournament championship. Not only did they have a perfect conference record but only 5 of those 19 wins were by single digits and only two were single possession victories. The Catamounts were dominant and set an America East record for total wins in a season, by two wins. With most of their production returning, they could be even better this season, which should make their high major opponents nervous.
• Vermont relies on disciplined basketball. That means keeping turnovers low and only taking high percentage looks. They accomplish this by playing at a molasses slow pace (NOTE: Molasses slow is still a tick faster than Badger slow). Marquette excelled when they could speed opponents which will be difficult against an experienced Catamount crew.
• It’s hard to pick out any one star for Vermont as they rely on a balanced attack, but the player with the most star potential is rising sophomore Anthony Lamb. The Rochester native was one of four finalists for Mr. Basketball in New York before arriving in Burlington. He made his presence known immediately, scoring 23 points and landing 9 rebounds in his first game as a Catamount. From there, he led the team in points, rebounds, blocks, and 3P%…. all in a measly 22.5 minutes per game! If he takes the next step, as true freshmen often do when becoming sophomores, he could become a force for Vermont.
• Vermont’s recruiting class doesn’t look like a ton on paper but Coach Becker is known for taking low ranked players and turning them into mid-major stars. The prize of this class is Chicago native Skylar Nash. Originally a member of the 2016 class, Nash took a postgraduate year to work on his game. He has great size for a SG standing at 6-6 and he used that to bully smaller guards in high school. The other one is big man Ra Kpedi. It may be a stereotype but the best description for Kpedi is high motor. He has no range to his shooting but he can rip down rebounds and score putback buckets at a high level. Neither Nash, Kpedi, nor the other new additions should have to play immediately, allowing them to develop slowly.

This game makes me nervous in the same way that Belmont made me nervous two seasons ago. Vermont is a very good team, filled with experienced upperclassmen, who are used to winning most of their games. They will play with discipline and poise and give Marquette a true test in the non-conference season. There’s also the dreaded trap game mentality as Marquette could be looking ahead to their matchup with the hated Badgers. Still, despite challenging multiple high majors in every year of Becker’s tenure, Vermont has yet to breakthrough, losing every single time. It’s a back and forth game but Marquette pulls it out by 5.

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Categories: Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


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