The UVM men’s basketball team was unstoppable in the 2019-20 season and preparing for another trip to the NCAA tournament. The COVID-19 pandemic sent the sports world to a screeching halt. Fast forward five months later and the team is back on campus in Burlington.
By NCAA rule, The Vermont men’s and women’s Basketball teams are the only two UVM teams permitted to participate in formal team practice. The teams began activity on July 20 after all student- athletes met the state-mandated quarantine requirements.
All activities require daily symptom monitoring, regular COVID-19 testing and a phased return to training beginning with small-group, non-contact activity.
UVM men’s basketball head coach John Becker spoke with Local 22/44 about the upcoming season.
“I’m trying to emphasize to the guys just control what we can control. That’s following the protocols, following the guidelines doing the best we can to be smart and to be safe. Whatever the doctors say we can do when we get on the court we’re gonna do the best of our ability and work as hard as we can” said Becker.
With the departure of Anthony Lamb, Everett Duncan and Daniel Giddens there’s a lot of room for some younger guys to step up and take over. Three student-athletes in particular had standout seasons last year.
“Stef Smith looks really really good as does Benny Shungu. Like you said, Ryan Davis has come back in really great shape so the three of those guys have come back in great shape. They look like they could start a season tomorrow” said Becker.
Becker noted that a handful of guys really stepped things up last season and will only continue to get better this year.
Three transfer students are joining the program. Tomas Murphy, Justin Mazzulla, and Bernie Andre. Coach Becker added that all three have looked really good but the team isn’t allowed to fully practice so the team is focused on skill work and shooting. “I think we’re gonna have a lot of flexibility with all the talent we’re potentially gonna have this year” noted Becker.
The Catamounts aren’t rushing things and are following NCAA and Vermont guidelines. “There’s been no decisions made. The NCAA came out this week and said by mid-September they’re going to have a plan for the season. I know the conference is working on a plan with the committee. Everyone is trying to figure this out and make the best decisions with the information we have” said Becker.
The NCAA and America East Conference should be providing more information regarding the college basketball season in September.