No. 23 Harvard Rallies Past St. Joes, 74-69

By Matt Noonan 

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Ending the calendar year with a victory was certainly something the Harvard University’s men’s basketball team wanted to do, as they rallied to beat St. Joe’s on Saturday afternoon, 74-69.

“What a gutsy win by our team against an outstanding basketball team,” said Harvard University head coach Tommy Amaker. “I told our kids that this is a preview of maybe something we’ll see a lot of [for the remainder of the season].”

The victory wasn’t exactly the prettiest, especially since Harvard relinquished a four point lead early in the first half, and allowed the Hawks to tally an 11-5 run, which eventually ballooned to a 14 point lead.

St. Joe’s finished the first 20-minute period by recording 19-of-24 shots from the field, which contained six three-pointers by sophomores C.J. Aiken and Langston Galloway, and junior Carl Jones, (22 points, five assists, and three rebounds).

“They’re an explosive offensive team,” said Amaker. “They’re extremely quick. They’re shifty with the ball, they’re crafty off the bounce, but then they obviously can make shots off the pass, and off the bounce, [as well as] get to the basket, [too]. They’re a handful. ”

Harvard recovered from their lackluster start, and ended the half by taking advantage of a few St. Joe’s miscues, a missed free throw by Galloway and travel by Aiken, which set up a dramatic three-point basket by senior co-captain Oliver McNally as the buzzer sounded.

The Crimson built off their dramatic first half ending immediately once the second half started, as junior Kyle Casey, (26 points, 10 rebounds), sparked a second half rally, which featured Harvard outscoring St. Joe’s, 36-21.

 

“Kyle was tremendous,” said Amaker. “He carried us offensively and was a presence for us, and he has the athleticism to make plays against a team like [St. Joe’s, who’s] very athletic. And we needed that.”

Casey recorded 17 points and seven rebounds in the second half, but his biggest moment of the contest came with two minutes remaining, as he secured a critical defensive rebound, which set up Curry’s go-ahead lay-up to secure Harvard’s second lead of the game, and eventually their 12th win.

“We’re a veteran team, and we’ve been in situations like that before,” said Casey, when asked to describe his team’s composure. “We knew that we had to really dig in, and just kind of grind this one out, and I think that’s what we do.”

Harvard will have very little time to enjoy this exciting victory, as they’ll head to Fordham on Tuesday, Jan. 3 for 7:00pm tip-off, while St. Joe’s will head to Duquesne on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

GAME NOTES:

* The Crimson have won 21 straight games at home, which is the ninth longest streak in the country

* Saturday’s meeting marked the second time the Crimson and Hawks met on a basketball court, and now, the series is tied, 1-1. The Hawks last beat the Crimson during the ’98-’99 season, 87-69. Harvard is now 19-36 against current Atlantic-10 teams.

* Finally, Harvard’s 12th victory of the season marked their 1,001st program win.

Harvard-Saint Joseph’s Sold Out

By NoontimeSports.com 

The Boston Globe reported Friday evening that Saturday’s non-conference tilt between Harvard University and Saint Joseph’s is sold out.

Harvard’s last victory came on Thursday against cross-town rival Boston College, while Saint Joseph’s is coming off 31 point victory against Morgan State.

Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00pm eastern, and for game updates, follow Noontime Sports on Twitter @NoontimeSports.

Fitchburg State Women’s Basketball Biggest Surprise of 11-12 Season

By Matt Noonan 

In case you haven’t heard, the Fitchburg State University women’s basketball team is on a roll.

They’re sporting a 10-0 record, and a major reason for their success this season is sophomore Amy Fahey, who leads the team with 265 points, and 13 blocks.

“She’s just flourished from one year to the next immensely, but there’s a lot of areas in the game where she can get better, and she knows that and we’ve talked about that extensively, and she needs to work on those things,” said Falcons head coach Walter Paschal, when asked to describe Fahey’s play this season.

Besides Fahey, the Falcons have also received help from sophomore Meaghan Secino, who has recorded 125 points, 20 assists, and 22 rebounds, and senior Rebecca Goreham, who leads the team with 140 rebounds.

Fitchburg State has earned impressive wins against non-conference foes, such as University of Massachusetts (Boston), Emerson College, Lasell, and Western New England, but will kick-off their 2012 slate with Anna Maria College before facing their first MASCAC, (Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference) foe, Bridgewater State on Saturday, Jan. 7.

Massachusetts College Basketball – WPI Men’s Basketball Biggest Surprise of 11-12 Season

By Matt Noonan 

Over the past few months, one of the biggest stories in Division III college basketball has been the play of freshman guard Marco Coppola, and his Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) men’s basketball team.

The Engineers will finish the calendar year with an afternoon matinee against St. Joseph’s (Maine) before welcoming their first NEWMAC, (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) opponent, the U.S. Coast Guard to Harrington Auditorium.

WPI currently is sporting an 8-2 record, and has earned impressive wins against Elms College, Salem State, and Fitchburg State. They’ve also recorded 100 points or more in three contests, as well as average 82.9 points per game.

Coppola leads the team with 173 points, 42 assists, and 15 steals, while junior forward Matt Carr ranks second in scoring, (157), but leads the squad with 78 rebounds, (24 offensive, 54 defensive).

What We’ve Learned About The Boston Celtics In 2011

After a tumultuous 2011, what exactly did we learn about the Boston Celtics? (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Over the past 12 months, we’ve learned a lot about the Boston Celtics.

They’re no longer the top dog or a team that’s feared. Instead, they’re a veteran team that’s most likely going to finish the current season with at least 25 to 28 wins, and somehow squeak their way into the playoffs.

They’ll probably earn a few postseason victories too, but then lose to the younger and more athletic units, which include Chicago, Miami and New York, which is expected, right?

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen have all aged, so don’t expect their tiresome legs to cruise to one more championship series, especially this season. However, it’s possible, yet highly doubtful that Boston will see a repeat of Bill Russell’s Celtics from 1969, but again, don’t hold your breath.

So, what exactly have we learned from this past year?

Could it be that team president Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to wheel and deal?

Perhaps Ainge’s decision to trade Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City could be the eventual downfall of Boston’s basketball team?

And finally, maybe the Green and White should have traded point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas or Detroit for various veterans?

Ok… take a deep breath because I, Matt Noonan have a few thoughts and ideas in regards to all these questions stated above.

Ainge Likes to Wheel and Deal: Any owner, president or manager for a particular team or organization is always going to contemplate the question — how can I improve my team?

In the case of Ainge, he wants to win. However, I think it’s fair to say that he’s a gambler, as well as someone who’s all-in, especially at the blackjack table. Yet, adding players like Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Carlos Arroyo, Troy Murphy and Rasheed Wallace didn’t exactly help Boston win their 18th championship banner, but instead, create aggravation and frustration for the past few years.

Celtics fans need to understand that Ainge is going to gamble. He’ll win and lose various trades and acquisitions, as well as do whatever it takes to help his team succeed every night, and contend for a championship.

Saying Good Bye to Kendrick and Nate: It’s hard to believe, but many Bostonians still think Ainge shouldn’t have pulled the trigger last February to release Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson because they would have helped the Celtics defeat the Miami Heat in May.

 

Yet, how do these fans or followers know that Perkins and Robinson were the answer?

Boston managed to win 15 of their final 27 contest, but relied heavily on Allen, Garnett and Pierce because Green and Krstic, who were the players that Boston and Oklahoma swapped, didn’t exactly comprehend Doc Rivers’ playbook.

The Celtics bench, which Ainge rebuilt after the trade, couldn’t compliment the starters play, which was obviously frustrating. However, let’s admit that Ainge once again gambled, and came up short, again.

Perkins, Robinson, and the Thunder reached the Western Conference Finals, but lost to the Dallas Mavericks, 4-1.

So, once again, I don’t think it’s fair to state that Ainge’s decision to trade Perkins and Robinson was the demise of the 2010-2011 Celtics or future teams, but once again, another gamble that he felt would improve Boston’s chances.

In Rondo, We Trust:  Say what you want about Rondo, but seriously, he’s the future of Boston basketball, and if the Celtics are going to continue their winning ways or at least attempt to remain competitive in the near future, then he’s going to be Ainge’s building block.

Boston will eventually be forced to replace Allen, Garnett and Pierce, which means Rondo will have to play his best basketball every night, as well as imitate his Game 3 performance against the Heat from this past May, which was when he dislocated his elbow.

 

If Rondo can be more aggressive, attack the rim, and keep his wits about himself, then expect the Celtics to succeed. However, if his old, immature ways return, then assume that Boston will be forced to rebuild once their current squad walks off into the sun.

I think Rondo can be a great asset for the Celtics, especially in the near future. But, I also think many will certainly ponder the question — what if Ainge had pulled the trigger, and acquired Chris Paul?