Game 078: (1) Vermont 76, (5) Binghamton 65America East Semifinals
Sunday, March 6, 2005
Events Center - Binghamton, NY
A tried-and-true method for filling out Tournament brackets is to examine the mid-majors out there, and look at their offensive weaponry. Teams with one dominant scorer are usually first-round toast, as three-seeds apply a double-team and end up winning by 45 points (Weber State's Harold "The Show" Arceneaux
is the exception that proves the rule). Squads who play with Total Team Effort or system-ball are usually overwhelmed by superior opposition.
No, your real bracket-busters are a teams that have two scoring machines, one on the inside and one out on the perimeter. Two scoring bigs or a pair of scoring guards don't cut it - there are schemes for that. You want the inside-outside attack.
It also helps if they're seniors. That's why, despite their recent drops to Nevada
is so damn sexy. They've got T.J. Sorrentine
shooting bombs and Taylor Coppenrath down in the paint. And it's only a matter of fate that they're both seniors at the same time: Sorrentine was a redshirt as a junior after breaking a wrist.
Always-loquacious Catamount coach Tom Brennan realizes how good he has it with the two players he fondly calls "Butch and Sundance."
"Lou Gehrig died," he likes to say. "And I'm the luckiest person on the face of the earth."
Sorrentine's stock in trade is the three-pointer, most specifically the two treys in a row with a turnover sandwiched between, an instant run that has sped his team to countless America East victories. "They break people's backs if you make a tough one," he notes about his particular specialty.
The big, burly and lumbering Coppenrath may be outsized by many centers nationally, but he has the strong and nimble legs that usually nullify that disadvantage. When employee 22 checks in at the office, he spends most of the day whirling and bumping and up-and-undering.
"I'm the wrong person to ask about Coppenrath," Brennan says. "He has the best footwork of any big guy I've ever had."
And on this day, both of Vermont's twin turbines were both very much on. In front of a pro- Binghamton
crowd, the Catamounts used two carefully-timed spurts before and after halftime to eliminate their hosts. The two combined for 59 of the Cats' 76 tallies - Coppenrath dominated inside with 34 points (on blistering 12-for-15 shooting) and 12 rebounds, and Sorrentine nailed seven treys on the way to 25.
And so with theirs school-record 23rd win of the season, Vermont clinched a spot in its fourth consecutive America East title game. It will be held on Saturday morning at their house, as per the rules of the tourney. "Back to Patrick!"
their well-traveling fans chanted as time slipped away.
When one of their main engines fail, Air UVM can spin wildly out of control, even crash. Consider Vermont's February streak-snapping loss to Boston University
, a game in which Sorrentine went 2-for-16 (including 2-of-8 from the Land of Three). Coppenrath had 37 points, but there were no third options BU prevailed 61-55.
Should the Cats prevail over Northeastern
next weekend and go to the Dance for the third straight time, having both turbines in proper working order will be crucial. History is littered with two-man shows that sputtered when the bright lights came on. Western Michigan
guard Ben Reed's misfirings (despite teammate Mike Williams' big inside game) against Vanderbilt
in a 6-11 would-be upset last year come to mind.
That's why the machine crew - players like Germain Njila and David Hehn - should be ready to take over the controls, and for the Catamounts to keep their fingers far, far away from the "autopilot" switch.Photo Gallery (Games 078/079)