True Grit: Vermont Coach John Becker Leads Catamounts To NCAA Tournament With His Arm In A Sling

Coach Vermont

Not since the glory days of T.J. Sorrentine and Taylor Coppenrath has this writer paid much attention to Vermont basketball, but you can’t help but give it up for Catamounts head coach John Becker for his heroic effort on Saturday.

With an automatic bid to the Big Dance on the line in the America East tournament final, he gutted through a freaking separated shoulder to lead Vermont to a 66-61 triumph over UMass Lowell.

If you’re looking for a Cinderella story to rally around, or a mid-major upstart to pick out of a hat to bust all your friends’ brackets, you could do worse than Vermont. ESPN’s bracketology projects the Catamounts to face off with might blue blood Kentucky in the Round of 64 as a 13th seed.

Quite the tall order to knock off the Wildcats, who boast an exceptional guard trio in Reed Sheppard, Rob Dillingham, and leading scorer Antonio Reeves. All of them will be first-round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft barring a miracle.

Whomever hits the hardwood to face Vermont, though, will almost certainly be out-toughed in the coaching department by John Becker. I love how he’s down to mix it up in the locker room to celebrate.

What a cool fashion statement by Becker there, with that nylon necklace. Pretty sweet feeling, even more so considering he had to cut down the nets with one freaking arm. LOL. That’s awesome.

The Catamounts have also lost just once this calendar year, so there’s that. In digging into some of their more advanced KenPom ratings, it’s clear that Vermont’s identity reflects that of their coach. They’re not backing down from anyone and will do whatever it takes to outlast the opponent.

Among 362 qualifying teams, this Catamounts squad ranks 324th in average offensive possession length. It’s the football equivalent of “ground and pound” or “taking the air out of the ball.” What’s more, their turnover rate is 11th-lowest in the country. Additionally, over 44% of their field goal attempts are from 3-point range. That’s the type of risk-reward style of offense where, if Vermont gets hot, they can beat anyone in the NCAA Tournament’s win-or-go-home format.

Whatever happens in the heat of March Madness, John Becker and the Catamounts gained more than a few new fans today I’m sure. Becker is building quite a legacy for himself to say the least.

Check out the full highlights vs UMass:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock