#71 Vermont Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Vermont Catamounts
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #71
Conference Rank: #1 America East
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Vermont continued their domination of the America East last season by winning their fourth straight outright conference title. Last year the Catamounts went 14-2 in conference play and had hopes of winning an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2005, not counting their play-in 16 seed victory over Lamar in 2012. Those hopes will have to wait until this year though and Coach John Becker should again have his team in a position to win another conference title and be a dangerous team in March. However, replacing Anthony Lamb and his 16.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.2 blocks per game will not be an easy task.
2019-20 Record: 26-7, 14-2
Coach: John Becker
Coach Record: 219-91 at Vermont, 219-91 overall
Key Departed Players:
Anthony Lamb, Forward, 16.7 ppg
Everett Duncan, Guard, 9.0 ppg
Daniel Giddens, Center, 3.4 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Stef Smith, Senior, Guard, 14.2 ppg
Ben Shungu, Senior, Guard, 7.7 ppg
Ryan Davis, Junior, Forward, 9.5 ppg
Robin Duncan, Junior, Guard, 4.3 ppg
Bailey Patella, Senior, Forward, 3.7 ppg
Aaron Deloney, Sophomore, Guard, 3.6 ppg
Isaiah Powell, Junior, Forward, 2.6 ppg
Eric Beckett, Sophomore, Guard, 1.8 ppg
Duncan Demuth, Junior, Forward, 1.6 ppg
Key New Players:
Bernie Andre, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from Northern Arizona
Georges Lefebvre, Freshman, Forward
Justin Mazzulla, Senior, Guard, Transfer from George Washington
Tomas Murphy, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from Northeastern
The backcourt duo of Stef Smith and Ben Shungu has been waiting their turn. Smith has been a very good supplemental scorer throughout his Catamount career and last season averaged 14.2 points per game while knocking down 80 three-pointers at a 42.3 percent clip. Smith will continue put up big numbers during his senior season, but he will get the credit he deserves now. Shungu is also an experienced senior and the former walk-on averaged 7.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 2019-2020. Shengu may not do a ton of scoring, but he will do a lot of hard work on both ends of the floor. Robin Duncan is a big 6-5 point guard who averaged 4.3 points and 2.6 assists per game during his sophomore season. He still needs to be more consistent, but he has the talent for a breakout season. The frontcourt will be led by Ryan Davis, a 6-8 junior who averaged 9.5 points and 4.4 rebounds last year. Transfers Bernie Andre and Tomas Murphy will add some more size to the roster. At 6-6, Andre is not a massive presence in the paint, but he is a proven rebounder and tallied 11.2 points and 6.6 rebounds while at Northern Arizona last season. Murphy is coming off an injury filled season at Northeastern, but he is another experienced grad transfer who will give Coach Becker some quality options. The final transfer is Justin Mazzulla. He spent last season redshirting at Vermont after a couple productive seasons at George Washington. On paper, Vermont could take a little step back as they learn how to play without Lamb. However, they have the luxury of learning as they go since this is still the most talented team in the conference. By the time we get to February and March, expect Vermont to be firing on all cylinders and looking to do some damage in the postseason.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.5 (159th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.5 (4, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.8 (117, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.0 (5, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.1 (89, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.7 (210, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.8 (141, 3)
Rebound Margin: 4.4 (52, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.8 (111, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (31, 1)