Brian Jenkins

A successful reign as king of the America East is coming to an end. After four years of leading his team to success year after year, senior Mike Trimboli is approaching the end of his illustrious career.

Trimboli has been a dominating presence in AE men’s basketball from the moment his sneakers hit the court. His efforts have given Vermont basketball more national recognition, adding to the Catamounts’ 2005 upset of No. 4 Syracuse University in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

His freshman season was highlighted by Vermont’s 66-59 upset of Binghamton University in the semifinals of the AE championships in 2006. He was named America East Rookie of the Year while averaging 14 points per game and leading the conference in assists. In 2006, Binghamton secured the No. 2 seed in the tournament and was expected to roll over the sixth-seeded Catamounts. Led by Trimboli, the Catamounts shocked the Binghamton home crowd and secured a place in the finals.

“It’s been a fun rivalry,” Trimboli said. “We weren’t supposed to beat them my freshman year. I think that’s when the rivalry really got going.”

It may have been more of a rivalry on paper if not for the domination by Vermont. Following the upset in 2006, Trimboli and the Catamounts beat the Bearcats five consecutive times, up until this season when Binghamton won in overtime at home.

“You know, [former Bearcat standout] Mike Gordon was a good friend of mine when we were playing together,” he said. “It’s a competitive rivalry, with a great fan base.”

Undoubtedly, Vermont has one of the more rabid fan bases in the conference, rivaled only by Binghamton and Albany, and throughout his four years that has been the most important thing.

“It has been an amazing experience,” he said. “We have the greatest fans in the conference, they always make it feel like I’m family.”

Trimboli led Vermont to two AE finals and one semifinal so far, as well as an NIT bid after the Catamounts secured the regular season title in 2007. His efforts have made Vermont a perennial contender and have given him a reputation of delivering.

“We were supposed to be in a rebuilding year when I first came after losing so many seniors,” Trimboli said. “But I tried to make that year a reloading one and we ended up competing for the title.”

This year Vermont gained a share of the regular season title and the No. 2 seed in the AE championships this weekend. Trimboli leads his team, averaging 16 points per game this season, his second best points per game average in a season, only behind his 17.9 points per game last year.

Vermont is set to collide with Albany in the quarterfinals, pitting the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds in a possibly epic clash. The two teams split their two regular season games, the road team winning both games. Albany is only the second AE team to beat Vermont this season, alongside Binghamton.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Trimboli said. “[Albany has] the home crowd and they are a tough team, but if we can win, then it will show us we can beat any team. It’s probably the hardest quarterfinal in the tournament, but it will be a good test for us.”

Due to Vermont’s success in recent years, the Catamounts have gotten quality non-conference schedules and with it the opportunity to play higher caliber programs from big-time conferences. One of those was during Trimboli’s sophomore season when Vermont traveled to then 14th-ranked Boston College and upset them, 77-63. Trimboli led the team in the stunner with 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

“That used to be my favorite moment, beating BC when they were ranked,” he said. “Now, though, I have to say it was Senior Night. Going out there, people showed their appreciation, and it meant the world to me to be with my mom having the crowd standing and clapping.”

Vermont defeated Stony Brook Feb. 15 on Senior Night, 69-64, in overtime led by none other than Trimboli, who scored 25 points.

Upon graduation, it seems like Mike’s days of basketball are not over.

“I love basketball so much,” he said. “I want to stay around it as long as possible. Maybe play for a couple years, maybe coaching. It’s been such a big part of my life and I want to give back to it.”

“It’s been an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change it in a second,” Trimboli said. “It’s been a pleasure to play here. I want to thank all my friends, family and fans for the support, coming to games, even when it’s far away and just showing me support all the way.”