Make no mistake about it, Vermont Head Coach Mike Lonergan wants to beat the Mount.
The Catamount head coach is a former Maryland assistant and Catholic head coach - and grew up in the DC Area and attended Archbishop Carroll HS, before heading to Catholic for his collegiate career. Lonergan won a Division III national championship while coaching at Catholic.
His wife Maggie Meagher Lonergan played at the Mount and was an assistant to former Mount Women's head coach Bill Sheahan. As a player she helped lead the Mount to back-to-back NEC titles and to the NCAA tournament in 1994. As a coach, she was an assistant to Sheahan until the time of his resignation in 1998. At that point, there were many who believed that Lonergan might in fact be the replacement for Sheahan. Instead, the Mount hired another former player Vanessa Blair as its head coach. Meagher Lonergan went on to eventually be the head coach at Catholic, where it is believed that her and her husband were the only two spouses to coach a school's basketball programs at the same time.
In addition, Lonergan's brother John attended Mt. St. Mary's. So it won't be an unknown outfit that the Coach has to face on Wednesday night.
How many hard feelings were there over Meagher Lonergan not getting the Mount job? We'll never know the full answer to that. But word was that there was certainly disappointment. Couple that with the close family ties to the University and the Area - and you can be certain that Wednesday's game isn't just your run of the mill out of conferece game for Lonergan.
The Catamounts meanwhile bring an efficient offense to Knott Arena. They are 8-5 on the season, 0-1 against common opponents to the Mount. They lost their season opener at Loyola by 13 - a team the Mount beat by 19. But Vermont has played better of late - and did beat Rutgers earlier in the year. In addition, they have a win over Quinnipiac (whom many view as the top contender to the Mount in the NEC).
Marqus Blakely is the Catamounts top performer. He averages better than 18 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game. He isn't big. But at 6-5, 6-6 - he is a force that the Mount must find a way to contain.
The other thing the Mount must do is defend Maurice Joseph. The senior averages 14 points a game and knocks down better than 40% of his three pointers.
Evan Fjeld, a 6-8 junior, has also shown an ability to capitalize inside if given the opportunity. The Mount must do its best to limit his output.
The Mount enters having dropped six in a row, including the game at Boston U (the preseason America East favorite) last time out. There were several positives in that game for the Mount, against a team that is similar in ability to Vermont. Still the Mount must find a way to continue to be effective offensively. Seniors Jeremy Goode and Kelly Beidler and junior Jean Cajou all had efficient offensive games but must find a way to improve on that performance.
I'm looking for the good that happened at BU to carryover in this game against Vermont. If that happens the Mount's six-game losing streak could come to an end. Mike Lonergan will do everything he can to keep the losing streak going. It's probably a coin flip type game. One that each squad would win five times if they played ten games. I'm calling heads and saying the game turns up positive for the Mount. Let's say 74-70 at the ARCC.
ACC Stats say Mount by 2
RaffNotes - I fixed the mistake in the third paragraph. Vanessa Blair was hired instead of Meagher Lonergan. Vanessa Branch as originally stated went to school with me, and is now the Orbit Gum girl, and has appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean as well as afternoon Soap Opera Port Charles - as Mary Margaret 'Paige' Barrington Smith. Her latest work is in the role of Lorraine in Feed the Fish. Just in case you wondering.