Since this has turned out to be America East week here at The Mid-Majority (four of the last five 100 Games Project tilts have been from that particular league), it's only fitting that an AE guy is the recipient of our regular weekly honor.
Big, burly Taylor Copppenrath of the Vermont
Catamounts has received quite a bit of attention nationally, from media and NBA scouts alike. But do you know about his roommate who serves as team captain? The guy who gets T-Copp most of his post feeds? The fellow fifth-year senior who makes up the other half of the highest-scoring tandem in Division I? Five-foot-ten point guard T.J. Sorrentine is that man, and he is our ninth Mid-Majority Baller Of The Week.
It's difficult for a team to excel at any level as a simple one-man show, and Vermont's secret for America East success is their inside-outside attack. In last Wednesday's 75-60 win at Northeastern
, the Catamounts were able to pull away once Sorrentine started hitting treys (4-for-9, 14 points total) in the second half; this pulled NU's defense out to the perimeter, freeing up Coppenrath to go one-on-one down low and dominate. In last Sunday's 89-45 thrashing of Hartford
, he tallied 22 pennies and 6 dimes. Saturday's home squeaker over Maine
saw him shoot more (20 shots) and dish less (3 assists). T.J.'s stat line is rarely the same thing twice
as he modifies his approach depending on what the team needs on a particular day, getting into the cracks and crevices of the game like spray-foam insulation.
Sorrentine hails from Pawtucket, R.I., and was the Rhode Island High School Player of the Year in 2000 in his senior season at St. Raphael's Academy (a season which also produced a state title). Despite breaking both of his wrists that summer, the honors continued as he was named America East freshman of the year in 2000-01. He followed that with league player of the year during his sophomore campaign. He again broke both wrists after a bad fall in a preseason scrimmage, and was forced to redshirt his junior year, but he fought back again
to return for the 2003-04 season. T.J. then took the team on his shoulders during the conference tourney's opening rounds while Coppenrath was injured, and Vermont made the NCAA Tournament for the second straight time.
"T.J.'s hip-hop with the hat on backwards and Taylor is country as the day is long," Catamount coach Tom Brennan told the Blue Ribbon Yearbook last summer. Like that song with Nelly and Tim McGraw, that combination works out sometimes. Enjoy it while you can.
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