Category Archives: New England Basketball

Catching Up With Laura Pierce (Fitchburg State Women’s Basketball)

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Laura Pierce, who competed and coached at Wheaton College, was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Fitchburg State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Laura Pierce was ready for that next step in her coaching journey.

She had gained valuable experience at both Wesleyan University and Wheaton College as an assistant for both women’s basketball programs but appeared eager – and ready – to become a head coach.

And that eagerness – and readiness, too – paid off as she was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University.

“I am excited to get to work with the young women to create a culture in which our program makes Fitchburg State proud on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Pierce in the press release announcing her hiring.

Pierce inherits a Falcons squad that finished 9-17 a year ago, including 2-10 against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) foes.

The Falcons did qualify for the MASCAC Tournament last winter but saw their bid for a conference crown conclude in the quarterfinals against Bridgewater State University.

Coaching in the MASCAC is something Pierce is very excited about – she described the conference as “really competitive,” while also noting that “you have to bring your best effort every (single) evening.”

Said Pierce, “My hope is that we enter the gym every day with the mindset of effort, focus, and attitude because it will help us be successful, both this upcoming season and in the future.”

Prior to becoming an assistant for both the Cardinals and Lyons, Pierce enjoyed an impressive career at Wheaton, tallying 622 points, 253 rebounds, 424 assists, and 68 steals in 100 games played. Pierce, who was a three-year captain, also attended “So You Want to be a Coach” Program at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida in April of 2015 before graduating from Wheaton one month later.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Pierce about her excitement for leading her own program, but also what she learned as both a student-athlete and assistant from Coach Melissa Hodgdon.

What excites you about coaching your own program?

Being able to teach the game I love while shaping these young women’s lives.

Coaching is about so much more than the X’s & O’s (on a chalkboard). It’s about building relationships and mentoring (your players) to become the best they can be, both on and off the court. I have had many coaches and mentors along the way that I have played for and coached with, and they have all have shaped me into the coach and person I am today.

I think the exciting thing about coaching your own program is having a vision and being able to shape that vision throughout the season. It’s all about the process and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s such an exciting time for the Fitchburg State women’s basketball program.

Do you feel your previous stops as an assistant at Wesleyan and Wheaton have prepared you for a successful first season with Fitchburg State?

Absolutely. Kate Mullen, who is the is the head coach of the Wesleyan women’s basketball team, took a chance on me – she hired me right after I graduated college (in May of 2015) and I will be forever grateful to her for providing me with my first collegiate coaching role.

Coach Mullen gave me the opportunity to coach and prepare to play against teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is one of the most competitive Division III women’s basketball conferences in the country. 

I am really fortunate that both Coach Mullen and Melissa Hodgdon gave me an opportunity to learn and grow as a young coach (these past few years). I consider them not just mentors, but great friends, as well.

Tell me about your experience learning and playing for Melissa Hodgdon. How did she help mold you into the current coach you are today? 

I honestly had never heard of Wheaton until Coach Hodgdon began recruiting me. But attending Wheaton and playing for her was the best decision I ever made.

Coach Hodgdon challenged me every day to become the best basketball player I could be so I could reach my highest potential on the court with hopes of leading the Lyons to a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship.

Her biggest impact though is she genuinely cares about each and every one of her players.

I missed my entire sophomore year with a knee injury, but that didn’t stop Coach Hodgdon from including me in team activities. She made sure I was included and kept me engaged throughout the entire season while allowing me to see the game from her perspective. And once my sophomore year concluded at Wheaton, I knew I wanted to become a collegiate basketball coach when I graduated, so I began gaining experience as an intern at the Duke University women’s basketball camp, along with several local camps, too, before I returned to campus for my senior year.

A few years after my final season with the Lyons, I returned to campus after completing my graduate assistantship program at Wesleyan – I knew (deep down that) I wanted to return to Wheaton and assist Coach Hodgdon, who established a program that meant so much to me, both as a student-athlete and assistant coach.

Being able to work (and learn) from Coach Hodgdon as an assistant was an amazing experience. She challenged me to become the best coach while giving me responsibilities that prepared me for my next step in my coaching journey.

Finally, what goals and objectives do you have for the team heading into the upcoming season?

We have a great group of young women returning this year as well as a couple of incoming first-year student-athletes that are excited to get to work. We’re going to focus on getting better every day, whether that be in the classroom, weight room, film room or on the court.

We are also going to have this mindset of getting better (every single day). But our number one goal is always going to be to represent the Fitchburg State community with class and pride.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops

Catching Up With Sara Binkhorst (Wheaton Women’s Basketball)

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Sara Binkhorst was named the new Wheaton College women’s basketball coach last month. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brown University Athletics) 

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Sara Binkhorst is excited about her new job – she was recently named the new head coach of the Wheaton College women’s basketball program last month.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Binkhorst when asked about becoming the eighth head coach in program history.

“From the moment I stepped onto campus (as a candidate for the women’s basketball head coaching role) I was welcomed by the Wheaton community and the supportive (athletic) department, so I really am looking forward to all the things to come.”

Binkhorst arrives in Norton, Massachusetts after a successful four-year stint as an assistant coach with the Brown University women’s basketball program where she helped the Bears capture a pair of Ocean State Tip-Off Tournaments in 2017 and 2018 while assisting the squad to a spot in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament in 2017.

With Binkhorst, the Bears finished above.500 three times, including this past winter, while also competing in the 2017 Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) where they defeated the University of Maryland Baltimore County (81-75) in the opening round before falling to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (87-84).

Binkhorst speaks fondly of her time at Brown, including what she learned from head coach Sarah Behn, who welcomed her to the coaching staff a few months after she graduated Bowdoin College.

Said Binkhors, “I will always be grateful for Sarah Behn for taking a chance on me (as a recent college graduate) and developing me (into the coach I have become). Brown was an unbelievable experience and it definitely helped me prepare (myself) for what I am excited to do at Wheaton.”

Being able to coach the Lyons will certainly bring back some fond memories of competing for the Polar Bears from 2011-2015 for Binkhorst, who flourished under the direction of current Bowdoin head coach Adrienne Shibles. As a member of the Bowdoin women’s basketball program, Binkhorst earned a pair of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) first-team honors while also being named the New England Women’s Basketball Association (NEWBA) Player of the Year in 2015.

In 2015, Binkhorst guided the Polar Bears to the NCAA quarterfinals – she averaged 14.4 points and 3.1 assists per game that season – and also became the 14th player in program history to net 1,000 points in her final regular-season contest against Tufts University.

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“Brown was an unbelievable experience,” Binkhorst said when discussing her past four seasons as an assistant with the Bears women’s basketball team. (Photo Courtesy: Brown University Athletics)

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Binkhorst to discuss her excitement for coaching Division III basketball, as well as what she will be doing over the next few months to prepare the Lyons for a successful 2019-20 campaign.

On becoming a D-III coach: “I am a true believer in a Division III experience. I played at Bowdoin and had an unbelievable experience playing for one of the greatest coaches, Adrienne Shibles, so I am a firm believer in what Division III promotes between the balance of athletics and academics. I love Division III and wanted to get into coaching after I graduated from Bowdoin (in 2015), and was extremely fortunate that I landed at Brown. I learned so much from that experience, including how to recruit high-academic student-athletes, which is similar to the type of students I competed with at Bowdoin.

I (always) knew I wanted to become a head coach (after I graduated Bowdoin), and I wanted to return to the Division III world, (so landing at Wheaton is a dream come true).  It is an unbelievable school that competes in a really competitive Division III conferences – I think (the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) is one of the best in New England. Additionally, knowing the possibility of how to recruit regionally and nationally to a school like Wheaton is very exciting.

On competing in the NEWMAC: So, we competed against a few schools in the NEWMAC when I was playing for Bowdoin, but I have a great deal of respect for the conference and coaches. I feel really humbled and honored to be taking over a program to compete in the NEWMAC against some unbelievable coaches that have great traditions of success. I think the Wheaton program will continue to work hard to establish itself as one of the premier programs in the NEWMAC and we’ll obviously begin (this process) once we convene on campus this fall.

I am really looking forward to our first day of practice, being in the gym with our team and start competing, so we can (reach our goal) of becoming a championship program.

On preparations for the upcoming season: First and foremost, (the most important goal) is getting to know the women on our team. I have been able to have some great conversations with all the women on our team – I look forward to continuing (our dialogues) this summer, too – but I am really looking forward to getting to know our players and build relationships with them.

When everyone is on campus, I look forward to getting together and discussing the culture that we’re going to build collectively.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops

New England College Notebook: WNE Starts Women’s Ice Hockey, Nichols Names Linton Men’s Basketball Coach

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports

Just hours before the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues squared-off in the seventh game of the 2019 Stanley Cup FinalsWestern New England announced some exciting news that they would be adding women’s ice hockey, the school’s 20th varsity sport, during the 2020-21 school year.

The exciting news of the school adding women’s ice hockey was shared by Matt LaBranche, Western New England’s Director of Athletics, Recreational Sport & Physical Education, who looking forward to seeing the team compete in 2020.

“Interest at the high school and youth levels has never been higher, and we are proud to be providing a new opportunity for those young women to pursue their passion in a highly competitive collegiate program,” said LaBranche in Wednesday’s press release about the women’s ice hockey team.

LaBranche also announced the hiring of Katie Zimmerman, who becomes the first head coach in the program’s history. Zimmerman previously served as an assistant at nearby Amherst College and has prior coaching experience with USA Hockey and SUNY Cortland.

Zimmerman also played Division III hockey for Hamilton College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

According to Wednesday’s release, Western New England will join 66 other colleges that sponsor women’s ice hockey at the Division III level.

Nichols College announced on Thursday that Brandon Linton has been named the 20th men’s basketball coach in program history.

Linton replaces Scott Faucher, who guided the Bison to 28-3 record this past winter, including an appearance in the NCAA Division III sectional finals (elite eight).

Faucher was recently named the new men’s basketball coach at Assumption College.

Linton arrives in Dudley after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Army West Point where he “was responsible for the development of scouting reports on opponents and managing the scout team,” along with additional duties, as well.

“Nichols College is a special institution that offers a world-class experience for our student-athletes both on and off of the court,” said Linton in Thursday’s release. “I cannot wait to begin the process of getting to know our current players and continuing to build on the foundation they have created.”

Linton is no stranger to Division III basketball as he played for Clarkson University in the Liberty League (LL) and spent time as an assistant under coach Tim Gilbride at Bowdoin College.

Finally, congratulations to former Babson College men’s ice hockey assistant coach Chris Zimmerman, who recently celebrated a Stanley Cup championship on Wednesday evening with the St. Louis Blues.

Zimmerman, who President and CEO of Business Operations for the Blues, played hockey at the University of Vermont in the Hockey East before pursuing his MBA at Babson.


Stay connected with our Noontime Sports coverage on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

March Madness Notebook: Previewing Three New England Matchups

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By Bob Whitney | @WhitneyBob

The March Madness field is set after the conclusion of last nights ‘first four’ contests.

In case you missed it Farleigh Dickinson, Belmont, Arizona State, and North Dakota State punched tickets to the big dance.

The tournament will start today with Louisville and Minnesota tipping-off in Des Moines, Iowa at 12:15 p.m.

Looking around New England there are three teams with high hopes to be one of the Cinderella teams. Here’s a close up look at the three teams and the first round matchups.


No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Yale: Yale picked up the Ivy League’s automatic bid with a decisive 97-85 win over arch rival Harvard in the conference championship final last weekend.

The Bulldogs are the real deal and could cause problems for LSU with a veteran lineup and an explosive offense led by Ivy League Player of Year Miye Oni, who enters today’s contest averaging 17.6 points per game. Oni is projected by many to be a second-round NBA draft pick and if the dynamic point guard is allowed to control tempo this game could result in a win for the Blue and White.

LSU is one of the country’s most athletic and talented squads and most deserving of the third seed, as well. However, there are questions and controversy surrounding the Tigers because they had a first-round flameout in the SEC tournament and their head coach Will Wade is embroiled in an FBI recruiting investigation.

LSU and Yale will meet in Jacksonville, Florida this afternoon where the Bulldogs will attempt to improve to 2-0 in the Sunshine State after rallying to beat Miami last December at the Hoophall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena.


No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Vermont: Gotta love the Catamounts who play in basketball-crazy Burlington, Vermont.

UVM is led by junior Anthony Lamb, who averages 21.4 points per game – expect Lamb to be a factor in his team’s early afternoon clash, as well as the team’s lockdown defense which may give the ‘Noles trouble in the opening minutes.

Florida State is playing excellent basketball having defeated Virginia is the ACC tournament before losing to Duke in the title game.

Many feel Leonard Hamilton’s squad has the length, athleticism, and skill to go all the way but will patience or lack thereof cause them to stumble under tournament pressure? Either way, I like the ‘Noles to win this contest but it won’t be easy.


No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Northeastern: Bill Cohen‘s Huskies punched their ticket to the big dance with a solid 82-74 takedown over Hofstra in the CAA title game last week.

Northeastern’s explosive point guard Vasa Pusica led the way with 21 points on seven three-pointers. The Huskies are one of the country’s top three-point shooting teams and if they can adjust to the change in elevation in Salt Lake City then it may cause the Jayhawks some trouble.

This past season hasn’t been one of Bill Self’s better teams which saw its record of 14 Big 12 Conference regular-season titles come to an end. Injuries have plagued Kansas and as a result, Self has been forced to play a bunch of first-year players.

The Huskies with Pusica at the controls will make life difficult for one of college basketball’s elite programs but in the end, I like Kansas.


Stay connected with our Noontime Sports New England basketball coverage on Twitter @Noontime_Hoops 

D3 Hoops: The 2018-19 All-Noontime Women’s Basketball Team

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @Noontime_Hoops 

Another exciting season of New England D3 basketball has concluded, which means it is time to unveil our end of the year All-Noontime Teams, along with our Coach, Rookie, and Player of the Year, too.

This year’s All-Noontime Team was assembled by our Noontime Basketball committee, which is made up of coaches, media members, and athletic communication directors.

As always, make sure to stay connected with our Noontime Sports basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops. 


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For the second-straight season, Bowdoin College women’s basketball coach Adrienne Shibles guided the Polar Bears to an NCAA “Final Four” appearance. (PHOTO COURTESY: CIPhotography.com/Bowdoin College Athletics)

Coach of the Year: Adrienne Shibles (Bowdoin College): Shibles guided the Polar Bears to the program’s second perfect regular season, along with a repeat appearance in the NCAA Division III “Final Four.” Bowdoin occupied the top spot in multiple polls this winter, including D3Hoops.com and WBCA, and matched the school record for wins (31) in a single-season. Shibles was recently named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division III Coach of the Year.


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Abby Kelly guided the Polar Bears to its second perfect season in program history this winter. PHOTO COURTESY (CIPhotography.com/Bowdoin College Athletics)

Player of the Year: Abby Kelly (Bowdoin College): The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and D3Hoops.com Northeast Player of the Year guided the Polar Bears back to the NCAA “Final Four” for the second-straight season after averaging 15.4 points per game in 33 contests. Kelly connected on 76.8 percent of her free throws while averaging 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest. Kelly became the 15th player in program history this winter to reach 1,000 points when she netted a game-high 27 points in a 72-59 win over Colby College in January.


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Caleigh Ryan became the second Wesleyan University women’s basketball player to earn NESCAC Rookie of the Year. PHOTO COURTESY: Steve McLaughlin/Wesleyan University Athletics)

Rookie of the Year: Caleigh Ryan (Wesleyan University): Ryan became the second Cardinal in program history to be named NESCAC Rookie of the Year after averaging 10.6 points per game in 25 contests, along with 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists. The New York, New York native posted double-figures in 12 contests, including 22 points in her team’s regular-season finale against Bowdoin. Ryan also helped Wesleyan qualify for the NESCASC Tournament for the second-straight winter with the Cardinals earning a trip to Amherst College.


All-Noontime Women’s Basketball First Team 

Madeline Eck  Amherst College  Rye, N.Y. 
Abby Kelly  Bowdoin College  Bombay, N.Y.
Kelsi McNamara Saint Joseph’s College West Newbury, Mass.
Jac Knapp Tufts University  Westfield, N.J.
Nakira Examond  UMass Dartmouth New Bedford, Mass.

All-Noontime Women’s Basketball Second Team 

Hannah Fox  Amherst College  Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
Maddie Hasson  Bowdoin College South Portland, Maine
Yuleska Ramirez-Tejeda Emmanuel College  South Boston, Mass.
Lauren Bondi Smith College  Burnaby, BC, Can.
Erica DeCandido  Tufts University North Wales, Pa.

All-Noontime Women’s Basketball Third Team 

Payton Ouimette Babson College  Medfield, Mass.
Taylor Choate Bowdoin College  Nashua, N.H.
Emily Pratt  Endicott College  Gardner, Mass.
Kenzie Worcester Husson University  Washburn, Maine
Kennedy Guest-Pritchett Smith College  Fairburn, Ga.

All-Noontime Women’s Basketball Rookie Team 

Keagan Dunbar Colby College Middlebury, Vt.
Peyton Perine Curry College  Fairfax, Va.
Christina Antonakakis MIT Holmdel, N.J.
Amina Wiley Mitchell College New Rochelle, N.Y.
Caleigh Ryan  Wesleyan University New York, N.Y. 
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