There’s bracketology. Then, there’s hairology.
The NCAA has too many rules. Head coaches micromanage. It’s one of the last avenues of creativity for players.
The streak is officially at 20 – the longest in the nation. Monday night, the Vermont Catamounts destroyed the UNH Wildcats, 74-41 , in their America East conference tournament semi-finals, setting up a Saturday morning final with rival Albany and their coach, Will Brown, the Bill Belichick of America East, the bane of Vermont’s existence.
It’s winner take all. The winner dances. The loser plays on in a far lesser dance, albeit in torment, wondering what could have been.
Against UNH, Vermont’s hero was once again true freshman Anthony Lamb. Lamb, out of Rochester, came in with high hair – and higher expectations. While the hair has been trimmed a bit into a mohawk, Lamb has met all expectations on the floor – and then some. He can play tough inside – and he can knock down a 3 with regularity. He hit six trifectas against UNH. Lamb also played stellar defense against UNH’s formidable inside players. Lamb has come a way during his first year. He’s much improved at staying away from silly fouls and letting the game come to him. In post-game interviews following the UNH demolition, Lamb was refreshingly humble, expressing gratitude for being a part of such a wonderful team.
Now, the Catamounts turn their attention to their personal Darth Vader, Brown, and his Great Danes. No, Brown, the dean of America East coaches, will not go quietly into the night. Brown will wrangle hundreds of rowdy Dane faithful to make the trek to Burlington for the final. Frankly, I could see the man making the rounds at last call to scrounge together an energetic environment. Brown is a competitor.
After letting last year’s final slip away to Stony Brook, the Cats want this bad. Also, worth noting, the Cats haven’t danced in five years. It has been 12 since Tom Brennan danced on the sidelines. Will Brown often references TB’s dancing.
The Cats have beaten Albany twice this season – but those games mean nada at this juncture. The Danes are hitting their stride. They lost their two regular season games to Stony Book, and they just dismantled the Seawolves on their home court in front of an unfriendly 4,000 plus.
Will Brown is a heck of a coach. He will have a solid game plan. The Catamounts are talented, well-coached, mature and deep. They’re also famished to be the last team standing.
It should be quite a game on Saturday morning at 11 am.