Mass. College Hoops: Talking NEWMAC Basketball With John Cabral (PODCAST)

Noontime Sports The Podcast

By NoontimeSports.com 

Noontime Sports The Podcast returned this afternoon as host Matt Noonan welcomed John Cabral to the show to discuss the current state of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), along with this weekend’s slate.

For more information on the NEWMAC Conference — HOP HERE

Mass. College Hockey: Five Games To Watch This Weekend (Jan. 31-Feb. 2)

By NoontimeSports.com 

The first weekend of February is upon us, which means conference tournaments are right around the corner. Yet, before we worry about seeding, let’s dish out our five college hockey games to watch this weekend.

Men’s Ice Hockey:

Bentley at Mercyhurst (Fri. 7:05 p.m./Sat 7:05 p.m.) – First place in Atlantic Hockey is on the line this weekend. The Falcons, who’re two points behind Mercyhurst, will attempt to pick up two critical road victories. So far this season, Bentley is 7-6-2 on the road. As noted in this weekend’s preview, the Falcons’ power play unit is second in the country to St. Lawrence. Last weekend, they netted two power play goals, improving their percentage to 28.1 (27-for-96). As usual, keep an eye on Brett Gensler, who leads the unit in points (16 goals, 19 assists).

Amherst at No. 11 Trinity (Sat. 7:30 p.m.) – Since falling to Williams at Frozen Fenway, the Bantams have been on a roll, winning six straight contests, including two tilts last weekend against Connecticut College and Tufts University. They’ll look to extend their winning streak to seven on Saturday when they host Amherst, a squad they lost to earlier this season, 3-1. The Lord Jeffs return to conference play following a 3-1 setback to Lake Forest last Saturday. Amherst does own the third best NESCAC mark of 7-3, while Trinity is 8-2. The Bantams are currently the number one squad in the NESCAC in scoring offense (4.56), while Amherst is second in scoring defense (2.38 goals yielded), thanks to goaltender Dave Cunningham, who’s logged 774:36 minutes between the pipes.

Women’s Ice Hockey:

No. 3/5 Harvard at No. 9/9 Quinnipiac (Sat. 4 p.m.) – The Crimson will look to extend their current four-game winning streak to six by the end of the weekend (their first contest features a trip to Princeton on Friday evening). Harvard’s 2-0 win last Friday over Union was their 600th win, which is the most wins among Boston-area schools, according to this weekend’s preview. Miye D’Oench leads the Crimson with 19 points (11 goals, eight assists), while Hillary Crowe and Samantha Reber are tied for second with 17 points, respectively.

Providence at No. 7 Boston College (Sat. 2 p.m.) – The Eagles have won 12 of 13 contests (no losses, one tie in their last 13 games) and will look to keep their momentum going against a Friars squad that’s 2-2 in their last four contests. Andie Anastos, a fist-year forward, has recorded at least one point in her team’s last five outings. So far this season, she’s registered 11 goals and 14 assists.

Williams at Bowdoin (Fri. 7 p.m./ Sat. 3 p.m.) – The Ephs will look to extend their current winning streak to six games as they travel to Maine for an important conference series with the Polar Bears. First-year netminder Margaret Draper has been quite impressive this season, as she recently earned her third shut out when Williams blanked Colby last Saturday, 4-0. Meghan Gillis, Williams’ head coach, was quite pleased with her team’s effort against the Mules, but hopes her squad will continue to generate additional scoring chances in front of their opponent’s cage. Williams ranks second in scoring offense in the NESCAC and is averaging 3.50 goals per game.

Mass. College Hoops: Wheaton Prepares For Its Final Stretch

By Matt Noonan

Wheaton College women’s basketball head coach Melissa Hodgdon is all about taking it one day at a time.

“We really just take it one game at a time,” said Hodgdon, who’s guided the Lyons to a 15-4 overall mark this season. “We’re 1-0 today and everyday our goal is to get better.”

The message of getting better will indeed be echoed this evening when the Lyons return to Emerson Gymnasium to prepare for Clark University, their first of six remaining foes.

Wheaton, which is currently in third place in the NEWMAC, won its first 12 contests before falling to MIT earlier this month, 60-59. And since their loss to the Engineers, Wheaton has won three of six contests (all three of those wins were second meetings, which secured season sweeps).

Yet, while Hodgdon was pleased with her team’s effort last night, a 77-58 victory over Emerson, she certainly believes the month of January helped the squad prepare for its final stretch.

“It’s always good to get a win, but sometimes you learn more from losses,” said Hodgdon.

“The Smith game was a great basketball game. It was a phenomenal basketball game to watch and I’ve obviously watched it 100 times since we’ve played it, but you get to see things (from a different angle) and I’ve learned things (from it, too).”

The lessons from the Smith-Wheaton game will definitely be used down the stretch, but so will the squad’s team play from last night, a key factor in their win over the Lions.

As Hodgdon said, “(This group) can pick each other up. Last night, (Rebecca Arnone) got in foul trouble, so (we received help from) Alyssa Almario, Laura Pierce and (Kirsten Ferrari). I feel like we’re pretty well balanced, but its just having that mentality that it’s not one person because they’re all capable of doing it.”

With a pair of practices lined up before their second meeting with the Cougars, Hodgdon will focus on using the additional time to help the Lyons improve, while also adhering to their 1-0 philosophy.

“I know Clark will come in here and they have to win, but we have to win and it’s kind of like play the best that day and that day is the championship game,” said Hodgdon. “I feel like we’re in a good spot health-wise, mentally and physically to go in and give them our best shot.”

Mass. College Hoops: Catching Up With Chris Bartley (WPI Basketball)

By Matt Noonan 

It’s been an exciting season for the WPI men’s basketball team, which is currently ranked fourth in the country, according to the latest D3Hoops.com poll.

Chris Bartley, who is in his 13th season with the Engineers, has guided the Crimson and Gray to a 17-1 overall mark, including a 7-0 record in NEWMAC play. Bartley’s crew, which hasn’t lost a regular season contest since falling to Castleton State in November, will look to continue its momentum on Saturday when they host Springfield College for a 3 p.m. tip.

We caught up with Coach Bartley earlier this afternoon to chat about his team’s next contest, but also the Engineers’ resiliency and defense, too.

On the team’s foundation: “I think we’ve always had tough kids. One of the things that’s been really important for us is trying to recruit tough kids and help them with their mental toughness, so we just approach everything by doing the best we can with what we have (each) year. The names change sometimes and the faces changed, but hopefully the foundation and the pillars of the program as far as the work ethic and guys that care about each other and hold each other accountable and play hard every night out.”

On identifying the team’s identity: “If you look at us statistically, we’re pretty good on defense. We kind of hold our own on the boards and when we’re playing well we’re playing a pretty good team defense and the guys play hard. Offensively, I think the biggest thing is that we’re a team that has to share the ball and we have to help each other score. When we struggled earlier against Wheaton and last night against Coast Guard and in the second half against Clark (because of ball movement), but for us to be successful we need to pass it to each other and we need to cut and screen. We’re not the type of team that has guys that’ll create their own shots because we really have to create shots for each other, but when we play the right way we’re pretty good.”

On the importance of team defense: “It always starts with our defense. Every single day starts with our defense and so does every meeting and film session, so it always starts there. (Against Wheaton), Agyei Gregory made some ridiculous shots. He made NBA type shots, but I thought Wheaton came out with a lot more enthusiasm than we did and typically when guys from the other team (knows they’re playing us), I find that (our opponent’s) kids shoot the ball better because they’re more focused. So, if you don’t bring equal intensity level and energy level and enthusiasm, which I didn’t think we did (from the start) that can happen. I think it is important to play through adversity, so I don’t take a lot of quick timeouts, but I think our guys are mature enough to play through stuff like that and I thought we did a good job in the second half of the first half of that game of getting back to our identity and making it a little more difficult for them. I thought we started sharing the ball (toward the end of the first half) and we started to play WPI basketball, which is what it’s all about for us.”

On the play of Ryan Kolb: “He plays exceptionally hard, he really plays hard. I was texting him this morning and was like, ‘Dude, you played really hard last night.’ And when your seniors and best players play really hard, it’s kind of filters down to everybody else. He’s got a lot of versatility in his game, but the biggest thing is he’s a really tough kid. He’s tough mentally, he’s tough physically, he’s a hard shell to crack emotionally because he doesn’t show a ton of emotion, but he’s playing like a senior should and a senior usually does.”

On Domenick Mastascusa and Ryan Kolb working together, as well as the impact of Sam Longwell: “(Kolb and Domenick have) been together now for three years, so they know when one is low (on defense) the other is usually coming high. They know where they’re going to be, too. We pretty much run motion offense, so having those guys in sync and working well together is huge. Some games, it is better for Ryan to be on the perimeter, while other games he needs to be down on the post, so it just depends on the matchup. I think Dom knows when he has a good matchup and goes to the spots where he can score and he’s been terrific for us.

“I think one of the keys to the whole thing has been Sam Longwell. He’s just (exhibits) consistency on both ends of the floor for every single practice and every single game, and he’s just been a rock for us and just has brought it from a leadership standpoint, talent standpoint and toughness standpoint. He often covers (our opponent’s) best player, too. He’s doing it on both ends of the court and he’s really had a special season so far.”

On the play of first-year guard Marcus Middleton: “What I have found with Marcus is he’s a really a good all around player, he’s got a really good understanding of what we’re trying to do and he’s got a lot of confidence in himself, both mental and physical toughness. I think our guys are pretty good when they get an opportunity because they try to take advantage of it and he’s one of those kids where we put him in there in some tough positions and he seems to come through every single time.”

On facing Springfield College on Saturday: “They’re a very mentally tough team. I think Sean Martin is one of the best point guards and one of the toughest kids in the region from what I’ve seen and I think Robbie Burke is the same. Tim Swenson gives them a dimension where he compliments those guys really, really well and he’s a beast in there. They also have a bunch of guys that can make shots from (beyond the arc), so they really have a nice balance and statistically they’re terrific, they do a nice job on defense by holding teams to a low field goal percentage and rebounding the ball well. They also take good care of the ball with Martin as their point guard because Charlie Brock’s teams always execute well. They’re a very, very formidable team, they do everything well, so you really have to be on top of your game to battle and we’ll have to be on Saturday in order to be a position to be successful.”

Mass. College Hoops: Clarks’ Phillips Earns Win No. 400 Win As Cougars Beat Babson

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Clark University sports information department, here’s this evening’s release about men’s basketball head coach Paul Phillips, who earned his 400th win on the sidelines. The Cougars defeated Babson College, 71-70, and earned their first conference victory:

Worcester, Mass. – Clark University held off a furious second half rally to knock off a high-flying Babson College squad, 71-70, and in the process gave head coach Paul Phillips his 400th career coaching victory on Wednesday evening in New England Women’s And Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) men’s basketball action at a raucous Kneller Athletic Center.

The win for the Cougars gives them their first win in league play (1-6) and also makes Phillips the winningest coach in men’s basketball history at Clark with 234 wins, surpassing the legendary Wally Halas who guided the Scarlet and White from 1984-87.

Phillips’ tenure has spanned 16 seasons over two stints and have included five trips to the NCAA Tournament, a pair of Elite Eight appearances and three NEWMAC Coach of the Year Awards.

“I’m thrilled to get 400, because it puts me in the company with Wally Halas, and things like that, but its more about this team, and us getting our first NEWMAC win, and certainly earning it,” said Phillips.

Clark (10-8) came out on fire, scoring 46 points in the first 20 minutes – a total that surpassed the entire output in last year’s NEWMAC Tournament Quarterfinal loss to the Beavers (52-34).

Andrew Musler (Belmont, Mass.) was the catalyst, scoring 12 points on aggressive drives and some long range shooting that helped the Cougars lead by 14 at 46-32 at halftime.

After a scoreless first three minutes of the second half, Babson (13-5, 4-3 NEWMAC) cut into the lead as John Wickey (Manchester, N.H.) and Joey Flannery (Acton, Mass.) began to assert themselves with interior baskets and deep three-pointers.

Clark ran off seven straight to push its lead to its peak at 17 on free throws from Lamar Berk (Saint Augustine, Fla.), a fast break finish from David Mercier (Milford, Mass.) and a clutch three-pointer from Musler. When the dust cleared, the Cougars seemed to be in control with a 65-48 lead with less than nine minutes to play.

The Beavers, however, got hot, trimming the lead down to one in less than five minutes on an impressive 16-0 burst. Flannery was dominant during the run, scoring on two free throws, a strong inside finish, a steal and fast break layup and a smooth elbow jumper.

Clark aided the Babson run by committing five turnovers and when they gave away the ball again on a Travis Sheldon (Woodstock, N.Y.) steal, Wickey drilled a three-pointer that capped the run and made the score 65-64 with 3:53 to go.

The Scarlet and White answered back with consecutive three-pointers by Musler and Gubitose to give Clark some breathing room at 71-64 at 1:37.

Wickey connected on a three-pointer of his own and a Matt Palazini (Franklin, Mass.) free throw had Babson within three at 71-68 with less than a minute to play.

The Cougars committed another turnover and two Kenny Ross (Furlong, Pa.) free throws made the score 71-70 with 17 seconds left.

Another Clark turnover – this time a steal by Ross gave the Beavers the last shot and a chance for the win. Flannery got the ball at the top of the key and drove towards the rim but lost the ball. It deflected off a Cougar, giving the Beavers possession with 4.5 seconds to go.

An inbounds pass came to Flannery and his strong drive to the right resulted in an angled shot that banked off the glass hit the rim and spun out as time expired giving the Cougars and Phillips the historic victory.

Clark shot 44 percent from the field, held a 37-36 edge in rebounds, made ten three-pointers and outscored the Babson bench, 28-8.

The Beavers, meanwhile, had a 24-20 advantage on points in the paint, forced 19 turnovers and scored 25 points on those Cougar miscues.

Flannery and Wickey were fantastic for Babson, scoring 23 points each and combining for 16 rebounds on 17-for-32 shooting. Wickey was 4-for-7 from behind the arc, while Flannery added five steals.

Musler led the Clark attack with 18 points and ten rebounds on 7-for-13 shooting, while Mercier tossed in a career best 12 points to go along with four rebounds and three blocks.

Nicholas DaPrato (Marshfield, Mass.) added ten points, five rebounds and three steals and both Gubitose and Tyler Huffman (East Hartford, Conn.) chipped in with eight.

“I can’t be any prouder, you know I think me getting my 400th kind of overshadowed what the kids got done tonight,” said Phillips. “That’s not what you want as a coach. You want the kids to get the glory.”