Burlington’s Energizer Bunny Just Keeps Going and Going and Going
Onto the core rotation. Jack-of-all-trades swingman Bailey Patella will be looking to fill some of that senior leadership void within his role as he prepares for his final season in Burlington. The Lenox, Massachusetts native has slowly, but surely honed his game over the course of these past three years and will be looking to finish out his career in the green and gold with another America East league title to boot. Itâ€™s time to give Vermontâ€™s ultimate spark plug the recognition he deserves.
Despite appearing all in 33 games last year and 67 total throughout his career, Patella has strictly been deployed from the bench. His statistical outputs have improved every year, as he put up career highs in minutes (15.4), points (3.7) and rebounds (3.5) just a season ago. While there is a discussion to be had as to whether Patella will earn a starting nod this year, the coaching staff may determine that his energy and charisma off the bench is the best outcome for the team moving forward.
Going back to the 2018-19 season, Patella saw action in 21 games as a deep reserve. Yet despite the lack of minutes (7.6), Patella instantly became a fan-favorite with his tenacity and all out hustle every time he stepped foot on the court. Whether heâ€™s poking the ball away or slamming home a dunk, the dude constantly plays like his hair is on fire. Patella took his game up a notch last year, as it was clear that the game had slowed down for him and he was able to handle a larger workload. While his role off the bench might not alter too much, expect the coaching staff to lean on the soon to be senior for his leadership and energy in the coming months.
The reason Patella will expectedly be destined for a sixthman-esque role is the addition of incoming transfer forward Bernie Andre. With Anthony Lamb and Everett Duncan leaving, the Catamounts will need serious help to match their point production and after averaging 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds during his time at NAU, Andre fits the mold better as someone who can light up the stat sheet. Regardless, Patellaâ€™s fiery energy off the bench is a huge weapon for the Catâ€™s second unit. His willpower and intensity is seemingly unmatched. The question now becomes whether Patella has reached his ceiling or will the former Vermont Academy standout take it another level?
How Patella can Make an Impact
Itâ€™s pretty obvious that Patella is the type of player whose production isnâ€™t going to be found in the stat sheet. You wonâ€™t see the swingman dropping 20+ points or pulling down 15+ rebounds on any given night, but thatâ€™s perfectly fine. Patellaâ€™s hard-hat, lunch-pail mentality night in and night out is what sets him apart and has essentially made him the heart and soul of the team. His energy off the bench has caused quite the impact already, but where else can the heartbeat of Catamount country add value?
Continuing to emphasize his supporting role, Patella has a great opportunity to showcase his leadership and mentoring skills. Sophomore guard/forward Eric Beckett could potentially be the next man up to take the reins at SF next year. Likewise, incoming transfer Bernie Andre will likely endure a few hiccups along the way as he tries to learn John Beckerâ€™s system and philosophy. Through Patellaâ€™s guidance, both players have a great opportunity to help Vermont continue their winning dominance right now and in the years to come.
In terms of on court production, we covered how the stat sheet wonâ€™t tell the full story behind Patellaâ€™s nightly contributions, yet there are some facets of his game where the young swingman can start to stand out. Patella is one of the more athletic players on the team and possesses some serious bounce. Offensively itâ€™s a thrill to watch him soar through the paint, delivering monstrous and rim-rattling dunks, but that type of hop in his step has also allowed him to clean up the glass at a highly effective rate. Patella finished second on the team(behind only Ryan Davis) for most rebounds off the bench with 114 just a season ago.
Along with his natural athleticism, fearless work ethic and uncanny ability to seemingly win every 50/50 ball, Patella is the ultimate glue guy for the Catamounts. He saw a nice jump in production last year and will hopefully continue to rise to occasion once more as he embarks on his senior season. Whatâ€™s great about Patella is that he knows his role and runs it to perfection. Although unrelated to basketball, Patella also works with the King Street Center in a mentorship role with the youth. His attitude and community outreach involvement are a great reflection of who he is as a person, as he shines a bright light on the Catamount program as a whole.
Room for Improvement?
Without attempting to contradict myself, one specific area of need is likely Patellaâ€™s point production, but again that doesnâ€™t necessarily mean itâ€™s a concern. With Patella, he knows heâ€™s going to be surrounded with teammates who can score the rock, so it doesnâ€™t fall on him to be taking 10+ shots a night. In fact, the most attempts Patella took in a game last year was only seven and he averaged under three shots a game (2.7). Nonetheless, Patella still shot at a high rate, as he finished third on the team in field goal percentage with a 52% clip. With great players around him, Patella will likely continue to wait for his shot rather than try to create or force an opportunity. In an ideal situation thatâ€™s spot on with the Cats game plan, but it would be great to see Patella continue to develop his shooting skills – especially from beyond the arc.
Vermont typically likes to dictate their wings around the arc and use ball reversals to set up that corner attempt. Everett Duncan ran this to perfection just a season ago. Itâ€™s highly unlikely that Patella will even sniff Duncanâ€™s three-point production from last year, but Patella will definitely receive his fairshare of open looks from beyond the arc this year. After only taking 37 three-point attempts at a 27% rate, Patella would do well to focus a good portion of his offseason training working on his long-range shooting. As much as Patella may try to find a better look, heâ€™s got to be able to connect if the shot is there.
A case could similarly be made around Patellaâ€™s assist rate. Despite primarily playing second fiddle to his peers in terms of scoring, Patella only managed 0.5 assists from a season ago. With capable shooters around him, it would make sense that Patella should see a better assist rate. On the flip side of the coin, Patella is likely the 4th or even 5th scoring option and the ball might not touch his hands or if it does heâ€™s either looking to shoot or reset the offense. As someone who isnâ€™t a main point of emphasis on the offensive end, it isnâ€™t likely these assist numbers will drastically increase, however, continuing to master the drive-and-kick passing could become a phenomenal weapon for Patella offensively.
The game slowed down for Patella last year and realistically another season under his belt should only continue to help with his on-court development. While there is plenty of room for improvement, there arenâ€™t any areas in need of pressing attention. Itâ€™s tough to envision Patella earning over 20 minutes a game without that scoring play-maker ability, but steady improvement across all facets of his game will give him those consistent minutes as a prominent member of the second unit.
From a statistical standpoint thereâ€™s a few benchmarks Patella should be looking for. First, continue to shoot a highly effective rate, especially from beyond the arc. A 30% clip from deep seems attainable and a solid individual goal. Likewise, as someone who takes pride in doing the dirty work, Patella should set the bar high for his blocks and steals numbers. Patella averaged just under one steal a game last year and with those long active arms he should be able to poke quite a few more away next year. As for his blocks, Patella nearly had more blocks (13) than assists (18) last year and just might be able to top it next year. Without trying to bring his assist rate down, it would be quite the niche statline for some like Patella to average more blocks than assists.
In terms of individual awards and accolades, Patella doesnâ€™t have much to his name though that could potentially change this year. If Patella continues to elevate his game like he did a year ago, he should find himself in contention for the America East Sixthman of the Year award race. His lack of scoring might hold him back, but the hustle and intensity on both ends of the court should help Patella earn his fair share of looks before itâ€™s all said and done. Funny enough, Patellaâ€™s biggest competition for the award could possibly even come from his own teammates, as on paper Vermont boasts one of the deepest teams in America East.
In a way this is a cop out, but team success is greater than its individual counterpart, especially for someone in Patellaâ€™s role as that primary glue guy. Going 4/4 in America East regular season titles would be a phenomenal accomplishment and something very few players can say no matter what conference or division level they play in. As much as Patella would love to add a sixthman of the year award to his trophy case, heâ€™ll gladly take a backseat to any and all individual achievements for the teams success and chance at returning to the NCAA Tournament.
Even if he doesnâ€™t crack the 20+ minutes per game average next year, expect to see plenty of Patella. Thereâ€™s a good chance that everything comes together for Patella during his senior campaign, but his role off the bench should more or less stay the same. John Becker wonâ€™t be depending on Patella to carry the team from a scoring perspective, though you can certainly expect the Cats to rely on Patella for a shot of adrenaline when they need it most.
Obviously nothing is set in stone – especially in July, but Patella could find himself amongst the starting line-up should Andre succumb to any injuries or has trouble learning the system. The two could split time early on as the coaching staff works through various line-ups, though John Becker would ideally prefer to use the offseason and exhibition games to determine his top rotation. In all likelihood the majority of Patellaâ€™s minutes will come off the bench, as he seems better suited to excel with the second unit.
Lastly, while this is a roster preview about Bailey Patella, there absolutely has to be a shout out to the biggest supporter in Catamount country, Tony Patella. No one out works Bailey on the court and no one out works Tony off the court. I hope and pray Vermont is allowed to have fans in the arena next year because I need to see Tony Patella fire up the crowd at Patrick Gym one last time.
2021 Statistical Predictions
- 17.8 minutes per game
- 4.1 points per game
- 4.0 rebounds per game
- 0.7 assists per game