#111 Vermont Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Vermont Catamounts

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #111
Conference Rank: #2 America East

Vermont Team Page#111 Vermont Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Vermont Basketball Tickets

Vermont is coming off of another solid season despite the lack of experience on their roster. They went 20-14 overall, with a 12-4 mark in America East play. That was not good enough to win the conference title with Albany dominating the league, but it was enough to get into the CBI. And the Catamounts made the most of that opportunity, beating Hofstra and Radford before falling to Louisiana-Monroe in the semifinals. This year it should again be Vermont, Albany and Stony Brook battling for the conference’s automatic NCAA spot. The knock on Vermont heading into last season was a lack of senior leadership and that means this group has a lot of talent returning.  

2014-15 Record: 20-14, 12-4
2014-15 Postseason: CBI
Coach: John Becker
Coach Record: 87-49 at Vermont, 87-49 overall

Who’s Out:
Hector Harold was the lone senior starter in 2014-2015. The 6-7 forward averaged 8.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game and did provide some of that senior leadership that Vermont needed down the stretch last season.  Zach McRoberts, a 6-6 forward, was another player who stepped up late for the Catamounts. He was playing his best basketball during the CBI. However, McRoberts opted to leave the program and head closer to home after averaging 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds as a freshman. Brendan Kilpatrick is transferring after an injury filled career at Vermont. In 21 games last season he averaged 3.6 points per contest. Ryan Pierson joined Harold as the only other senior on the roster who saw somewhat regular game action. The big 6-10 senior averaged only 10.3 minutes per game, but he was a big body for Coach John Becker to bring in when needed.  

Who’s In:
Last year Coach Becker brought in a superb group of freshmen. The cream of that crop was supposed to be Ernie Duncan, but the shooting guard only played in four games before a back injury ended his season. He did get a medical redshirt and will give his freshman season another try in 2015-2016. Duncan is a very good talent, but he is a little behind the rest of last year’s guard heavy class now. Ernie’s brother, Everett Duncan, is the lone incoming freshman who will suit up for the Catamounts this year. Everett, at 6-6, brings much more size to the table than his brother. On a team that will likely play smaller this year compared to last year since there is so much talent on the perimeter, having a big wing could make a huge difference. But there is some size coming in too. Darren Payen, a 6-8, 217 pound transfer from Hofstra, should at least be able to fill that Pierson role as a big man off of the bench. However, unlike Pierson, Payen can block quite a few shots.

Who to Watch:
Despite all of the hype of last year’s recruiting class, Trae Bell-Haynes was the only one of them who was a regular starter as a freshman. Bell-Haynes stepped right into the starting point guard role and averaged 8.8 points and 3.5 assists. He is a more than capable shooter, but did not look for his shot too much last year. Instead he would drive the lane and either get to the free-throw line or find a teammate. Not surprisingly, Bell-Haynes committed 3.1 turnovers per game. The year in the system and the invaluable starting experience should keep that number down this year. Junior Dre Wills will start beside Bell-Haynes again this season. Wills is only 6-1, but averaged nearly one block per game. He also easily led the team with nearly two steals per contest. His defensive skills are a big reason why the Catamounts ranked first in the conference, and in the top 15 in the nation, in both scoring defense and field-goal defense. While it is his defense that keeps him on the floor, Wills was second on the team with 9.3 points per game and led the squad with 4.8 rebounds. Kurt Steidl, a 6-6 forward, led the team with 57 three-pointers and can stretch out the defense whether he plays at the small forward or power forward spot. Ethan O’Day is the new senior leader of the Catamounts and he has also been the most productive player on the team. The 6-9 forward averaged a team high 12.4 points per game and added 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. He is a presence in the paint on both ends of the floor and this can be a potent offense when Vermont works through their big man.

Final Projection:
Last season Vermont made just 5.4 three-pointers per game, ranking sixth in the America East and 268th in Division I basketball. That is not a bad thing, but there should be a few more three’s this year. Cam Ward and Brandon Hatton, both part of that 2014 recruiting class, are ready to see bigger roles and shooting is a big part of what they do. Ward saw the most playing time as a freshman, averaging 6.3 points per game, while Hatton averaged 3.9. If one of them can be a consistent starter and the other a shooter off the bench, with the Duncan brothers and sophomores like Drew Urquhart and David Urso, Coach Becker will have plenty of options and more than enough talent on the roster to reach another NCAA Tournament. But both Albany and Stony Brook will have something to say about that.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Trae Bell-Haynes, Sophomore, Guard, 8.8 points per game
Cam Ward, Sophomore, Guard, 6.3 points per game
Dre Wills, Junior, Guard, 9.3 points per game
Kurt Steidl, Junior, Forward, 8.2 points per game
Ethan O’Day, Senior, Forward, 12.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.0 (184th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.2 (15, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.1 (33, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.6 (12, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.4 (268, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.5 (122, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.2 (170, 4)
Rebound Margin: 1.5 (126, 4)
Assists Per Game: 13.1 (132, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (221, 5)


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