Bryant Bulldogs: A humbling experience for Bryant in their first trip to Burlington.
Thursday night's ESPN U broadcasted matchup featured two of the top two teams in the America East. Bryant vs. Vermont. The rookie, and the vet. Jared Grasso and the Bulldogs have been making waves for months, and they came to Burlington with lofty expectations and a target on their back.
In the end, John Becker became the all-time winningest coach in Vermont history, and Bryant drove back down to Smithfield thinking.
It was a humbling experience, but it was one that shouldn't be a surprise. Bryant is an excellent squad, and will make waves come March, but University of Vermont is the decorated vet at the table. Vermont has been the conference regular season champions for the past six years, and 12 times since 2002. They've won the conference tournament 8 times in the same time span. They are as dominant as it gets.
When the newcomer comes knocking on their door, they aren't going to respond lightly. The box score reflects a 10 point loss, but it was never Bryant's game to win. They never led against the Catamounts, they turned over the ball 22 times, there were minute stretches with no points, things weren't happening in motion for the Bulldogs.
In the scoring department, the offense had it's moments. Earl Timberlake and Antwan Walker, the dynamic front court, each posted a double-double. SGB finished with 13 points, and Charles Pride collected 11 points with 8 rebounds. It would have been a different story if there were less turnovers committed and an improved effort at the three (4-of-21).
Wins in the America East won't come easy, but we will all be waiting for the rematch in Smithfield, on February 25th.