Vermont Division I Preview
Division I basketball in the state of Vermont has been about two teams over the last three years with Rice and Burlington meeting in the three straight state finals. Rice took the title in ’07, Burlington in ’08, and Rice scored the upset last year, snapping Burlington’s 47 game winning streak.
Burlington enters the 09-10 season looking for retribution. They will once again be led by six-foot-five do-it-all guard Joe OShea who is not only the state’s best player but also now able to focus solely on his senior season with his recruitment out of the way after signing with Holy Cross.
Unlike years past, this season won’t just be about two teams as Burlington will have to take on several worthy adversaries. Essex, South Burlington, and Mount Anthony will be series contenders while Rutland, Mount Mansfield, Spaulding, and CVU are all lurking in the shadows.
Demir Smajovic, a six-foot-three shooting guard who can dunk with ease and drain threes all night leads Essex. Smajovic is a versatile and talented player with scholarship level tools, and if he puts it all together on a consistent basis, Essex will be difficult to beat. He will get a lot of help from highly touted junior Ben Ferris who should also have a big year.
South Burlington returns four starters in guards Eric Dubuque, Mark Mallory, and Tyler Kaczor, with six-foot-seven junior Josh Varney anchoring the middle. Dubuque can put points on the board in a hurry while Kaczor is another good shooter. Mallory provides the steady floor general every good team needs while Varney should be able to physically dominant the paint.
Kyle Callanan and six-foot-eight Clayton Palmer give Mount Anthony a fine nucleus as the lefty point guard is coming off another productive summer competing at the highest level with the Albany City Rocks, while Palmer is a rugged and productive low post player capable of putting up big numbers.
Juniors Troy Davin and Alex Snyder will make Rutland a contender for the next two years while Mt. Mansfield has their big three with six-foot-eight Eric Suder, well rounded guard Connor Leland, and solid three-man Tom Lacy.
The defending champions lost Jon Goldberg, Nick Meunier, and company to graduation and will now focus on rebuilding. Freshmen Marcus Willingham and Casey Tipson make them contenders, but not until next year.
Ultimately, there will be lots of intriguing story lines this year in Vermont. Joe O’Shea will be looking to punctuate his tremendous career with another title while Essex and South Burlington have both been pointing to 2009-2010 to be there year. Kyle Callanan would love to take MAU to the finals after getting stopped in the semi’s on the last two tries, while the state’s top juniors of Tullar, Donnelly, Davin, Ferris, and Varney are all looking to prove themselves capable of leading their respective teams to big things.
Anything could happen this year in the Green Mountain State and the locals should benefit from great games night in and night out!!