KU Opens Season Tonight

Vermont faces the nation's preseason top-ranked team, Kansas, in the 2004-05 season opener for both teams.

This is the second time is six years Vermont has opened the season against the number one team in the nation- they began the 1999-2000 season at top-ranked UConn. Vermont's last game was a loss in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament to eventual national champion Connecticut 70-53. The Catamounts are coming off a 22-9 season where they finished 15-3 in the America East Conference en route to their second straight league title.

Head coach Tom Brennan has announced he will retire from Vermont at the end of this season. Overall, Brennan is 291-345 as he starts his 24th season as a head coach.

Kansas and Vermont are both the preseason favorites to win their respective leagues with KU in the Big 12 and Vermont the America East Conference.

"The nervous thing is that we don't have anything on tape except for the last few games of last year," said Kansas head coach Bill Self. "We have enough stuff from last year, but if they change a lot of stuff, we will be on the fly."

A KU victory would give the Jayhawks 13 wins in their last 14 season-opening games and mark Kansas' 32nd straight home-opening win. KU is coming off a 6-0 exhibition season this fall.

Vermont returns four starters from last season which includes two-time conference player of the year Taylor Coppenrath. The 6-9 forward has a 20.1 career scoring average including 24.1 in 2003-04.

The UVM-KU contest features three players, Wayne Simien and Keith Langford of Kansas and Vermont's Coppenrath, who are on both the John Wooden Award Preseason All-American Team and the Naismith Award Preseason Top 50.

"Coppenrath is a potential first round draft pick," offered Self. "The game is in slow motion to him, he never gets in a hurry. He is really, really good. He would be a first team all-leaguer in our league."

Coppernrath, along with sophomore guard T.J. Sorrentine, are the highest scoring tandem in the nation entering 2004-05. The duo averaged 38.9 points per game last season.

"Sorrentine is very quick, heady, kind of a Steve Nash type guard that can shoot it. He will be one of the better guards we play against this year," acknowledged Self.

DirecTV will be showing tonight's game on Channel 782 as a part of the ESPN Full Court package.


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