More On Lonergan, Eye Problems and Guard Play
I'll post some of the highlights from today's media availability throughout the day tomorrow, but I had a few more items I wanted to mention about Vermont and its coach, Mike Lonergan.
Let's start with Lonergan, who grew up in Bowie and said he's followed Maryland basketball his entire life. Though he is a graduate of Catholic University -- where he would later become the head coach -- Lonergan said all four of his sisters went to Maryland. He also said he wore a Maryland basketball shirt at Vermont's practice on Wednesday to get his players thinking about their next opponent.
Though he coached at Maryland's staff for just one season (2005), Lonergan said he had been involved with the program long before then. Lonergan's best friend, Jimmy Patsos, was a long-time assistant coach on Williams's staff, and Lonergan said he frequently would accompany Patsos to team events, including some NCAA tournament trips.
"When I was coaching at Catholic U at the end of the season every year when we'd be done and Maryland went to the NCAAs and stuff, Gary allowed his assistants to take their wives on the charter to travel, and Jimmy wasn't married so I actually got to always go with Maryland," Lonergan said. "I would always go with them to the NCAAs and I would go to all their practices."
Lonergan said he appreciates Williams allowing Vermont to play the Terps because the Catamounts are trying to emphasize recruiting in the D.C. area. Two players currently on the Vermont roster have ties to the region. Freshman forward Jordan Clarke is from Rockville and went to Good Counsel, while freshman guard Garvey Young is a native of the District and attended Georgetown Prep. Brendan Bald, a shooting guard out of Severna Park, has signed on as a member of Vermont's 2009 recruiting class.
"The real reason I like to do it, and I'm thankful Gary lets us do it cause you usually don't like to play your friends, but for us, it's a big thing cause we're really trying to recruit that area," Lonergan said. "We're way up here in Vermont. The only reason we play Loyola is Jimmy does a good job of getting the game on TV. So playing Maryland, Loyola and George Mason has really kind of kept our name down there and it allows us to recruit that area."
Other Vermont tidbits:
Junior guard Maurice Joseph, who sat out last season after transfering from Michigan State, started off slow but is starting to come around. A 6-foot-4 guard, Joseph missed a few weeks of practice in the fall while recovering from shoulder surgery and was, in Lonergan's words, "really rusty" during the team's exhibition game. Then, a few days before the season opener againstheal the scratched retina, but then he had an allergic reaction to the prescription.
"So in the first half and second half (against George Mason), his eyes were all watery and he couldn't play," Lonergan said. "I kept asking him if he was sure he couldn't play, and it was probably my fault. I kept asking him if he could play and he finally went in there. We threw the ball to him and it hit him right in the chest because he couldn't see, so it was a costly turnover. He just couldn't play."
Joseph got a new prescription before Vermont's next game and proceeded to score 17 points against Yale on Tuesday night. According to Lonergan, Joseph wore goggles while at Michigan State because he had a history of getting poked in the eyes there, as well. Lonergan said he has tried to talk Joseph into wearing goggles again, but Joseph says the glare bothers him too much to do so.
As for Vermont's point guard position, Lonergan has been alternating between 5-foot-10 sophomore Joey Accaoui and 6-foot-1 sophomore Nick Vier. Accaoui got the start against George Mason, Lonergan said, because he is the better shooter of the two players. Accoui hit both shots he took from the field, but he turned the ball over five times, which was more than Lonergan would prefer. Vier, who Lonergan said is the better defender, started against Yale and will start once again tomorrow night against the Terps.
And then there's 6-foot-1 senior guard Mike Trimboli, who no longer plays the point on a full-time basis because he led the America East conference in turnovers last season. Trimboli, however, has recorded seven assists in each of Vermont's first two games.
"Trimboli we like off the ball," Lonergan said. "It's kind of similar to with Greivis (Vasqez). Mike led the conference in turnovers last year and is still averaging four turnovers a game so far. I think if he doesn't have the ball all the time we can get some better shots for him. He's still gonna play some point guard for us, but we feel Nick and Joey will get everybody involved."
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