#64 Vermont Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview


Vermont Catamounts


2017-2018 Overall Rank: #64

Conference Rank: #1 America East

Vermont Logo
Vermont dominated the America East last season. They went 16-0 and then cruised through the conference tournament and earned a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Catamounts ended up losing 80-70, but they had a superb season. The scary thing for the rest of the America East is that Vermont returns their top four scorers and could be even better this year. Anthony Lamb is the team’s top returning scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. The 6-6 sophomore had a superb freshman campaign and is an offensive threat from everywhere on the floor. Barring a sophomore slump, Lamb should improve on his 12.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game and compete for first team All-America East accolades.
2016-17 Record: 29-6, 16-0
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Becker
Coach Record: 139-69 at Vermont, 139-69 overall
Who’s Out:
Kurt Steidl is the biggest loss for Vermont. The 6-6 forward started 34 games as a senior and averaged 7.9 points and 4.3 rebounds. He also ranked second on the team with 58 made three-pointers. Steidl was a bit less productive during his senior season as others emerged in the frontcourt, but his leadership and versatility will be missed. Darren Payen, Dre Wills and Josh Hearlihy were regular contributors last season. Payen, a 6-8 forward, was very productive in limited minutes during his senior season. He averaged just 12.0 minutes per game, but scored 6.7 points per game. Wills averaged 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in a somewhat disappointing senior year.
Who’s In:
Coach John Becker adds four incoming freshmen, two redshirt freshman and one transfer. Samuel Dingba comes to Vermont from Quinnipiac where he was a part-time starter as a sophomore two years ago. The 6-5 forward will at least add some depth and play solid defense. Incoming freshman Bailey Patella is another 6-5 forward who will help replace Steidl. Ra Kpedi will add size to the frontcourt. Skyler Nash, Ben Shungu and Stef Smith are the newcomers on the perimeter. Nash was a great get for the Catamounts and the big 6-6 guard has the potential to be a dangerous scorer off the bench. Smith will battle for minutes as a backup point guard. He could be the starter next season so Coach Becker may want to find some minutes for Smith as a freshman if possible.
Who to Watch:
Lamb may have been the surprise player on the team last season, but Vermont has three other proven scorers returning. Payton Henson, a 6-8 senior, was right behind Lamb in the scoring and rebounding departments, averaging 11.5 points and 5.3 rebounds on the year. Like Lamb, he is a forward who can stretch the floor with his shooting ability every once in a while. Trae Bell-Haynes is the leader of the backcourt after averaging 11.2 points and 3.9 assists. He is a great leader on the floor and very good at scoring around the basket. Ernie Duncan is the better shooter on the team. He connected on 39.9 percent of his three-point attempts. Lamb, Henson, Bell-Haynes and Duncan should again be the top four scorers on the team. The potential issue is on the other side of the floor. The departed players were good defenders and Coach Becker needs to make sure his new contributors are up to the task on the defensive end of the floor.
Final Projection:
Vermont also needs to find a fifth starter. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways Coach Becker could go. Lamb could slide over to the three spot and open up space for Drew Urquhart to enter the starting five. Urquhart averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in just 13.6 minutes of action per game. He has a lot of potential but does need to stay out of foul trouble, which could be a big problem if the minutes start getting closer to 25 per game. Backup point guard Cam Ward and Everett Duncan are also back this year. However, if Vermont wants to put their best five on the floor, they will need to play bigger and have Urquhart on the floor. Of course, the newcomers will have plenty to say about that very soon. There should be plenty of depth on this team, and it could end up being a huge plus to this group compared to last season, but at this point it is mostly unproven. But with those top four players, few teams in the America East will have a realistic shot at knocking Vermont off their perch atop the conference pecking order. Anything but another trip to the NCAA Tournament would be a disappointment.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Trae Bell-Haynes, Senior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Ernie Duncan, Junior, Guard, 8.7 points per game
Anthony Lamb, Sophomore, Forward, 12.8 points per game
Payton Henson, Senior, Forward, 11.5 points per game
Drew Urquhart, Senior, Forward, 4.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.5 (170th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.1 (11, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.4 (9, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.3 (94, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (249, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.4 (93, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.0 (177, 6)
Rebound Margin: 3.6 (69, 3)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (160, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (34, 2)