Category: New England Basketball

Are The Boston Celtics Destined For A Deep Postseason Run?

Can Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics win the franchise’s 18th NBA championship this spring? (PHOTO COURTESY: (AP Photo) 
SOURCE: Marcio Jose Sanchez/ WCVB.com)

By Matt Noonan

Earlier today, I asked a few fans and friends of our site (and social channels) a simple question: are the Boston Celtics capable of a deep postseason run?

And while I don’t think so, many believe the Green and White will either be eliminated in the opening round or sent home in rounds two (or three).

Unfortunately, the Boston Celtics are not equipped for a deep postseason run. And a major reason is their depth, but also their health.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker are good players, but they cannot carry the Celtics to 16 postseason victories.

Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and Daniel Theis could certainly help Boston win a series – perhaps it would be in seven games, not five or six – and the same could be said for Payton Pritchard, who has started twice this season.

Oh, let’s not forget Tristan Thompson, who has been so-so since arriving in Boston ahead of the 2020-21 season. Thompson currently leads the Green and White in rebounds per game (8.2).

Like many Boston sports fans, I am eager to see the Celtics win their 18th banner in franchise history – their 17th championship seems like years ago. Additionally, the 2007-08 team was much different than these current Celtics that lacks depth, as well as some leadership and accountability when needed.

Last night, Boston had a chance to gain some much-needed momentum heading into the final stretch. But unfortunately, a late rally, along with some missed chances allowed the first-place Brooklyn Nets to escape with a 109-104 victory.

Boston should have won last night’s meeting with Brooklyn, especially after taking down the second-best team in the Western Conference: the Phoenix Suns. But instead, I and other so-called “Green-teamers” are wondering if we will have to wait another year (or two or three!) to see this team truly compete for another banner.

As of this late afternoon, the Celtics sit in sixth place with 12 games remaining. They are currently in line to meet the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, a team they have beaten twice this season in three attempts. But as we all know, this potential match-up (or meeting) could change, pending how the next few weeks go.

Boston is slated to compete against five postseason teams over the next few weeks, including the New York Knicks, who have won nine of their last 10 outings. But before Boston worries about slowing down the Orange and Blue, they must find their grove against the Charlotte Hornets, who are currently in position for the NBA‘s play-in tournament.

A win tomorrow afternoon against Charlotte is just what Boston needs – in fact, 12 wins down the stretch would be great, but that is probably unlikely. However, if this Celtics squad can find ways to win games by not squandering opportunities and playing as a team instead of five individuals, then maybe – just maybe this particular group could surprise (or shock?) some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

It seems like ages ago when we celebrated a Boston sports championship – did one of those wins include quarterback Tom Brady? – so while I don’t believe this team is capable of a deep postseason run, I’ll remain optimistic like I always do for my hometown Celtics.

Player Perspective: Marcus Azor (UMass Dartmouth)

Marcus Azor and the UMass Dartmouth men’s basketball team recently captured the 2021 Little East Conference (LEC) Championship. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kyle Prudhomme)

By NoontimeSports.com

Marcus Azor says he continues to replay his team’s Little East Conference (LEC) tournament championship win in his head.

“It has been replaying since the final buzzer went off,” said Azor, a junior guard from Brockton, Massachusetts, who led the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men’s basketball team to a 108-68 win on Thursday, March 4 against Keene State.

Azor, who finished his team’s final contest with 13 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, was named the LEC’s Most Outstanding Player after leading the Corsairs to an 8-2 record this winter. The junior guard averaged 21.0 points, eight rebounds, and five assists per game in back-to-back conference tournament games this month, and is already looking ahead to next season with hopes his team will continue its recent momentum once the 2021-22 season tips-off.

“I have no doubt in my mind that my teammates and I will be motivated next year to continue this momentum,” said Azor.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Marcus Azor to discuss his team’s first conference tournament title since 2009, as well as how the UMass Dartmouth men’s basketball team was able to improve from one game to the next.


Tell me about winning the LEC Championship earlier this month. Are you still replaying the game in your head? 

Yes, I am.

We were so close last season to winning the conference crown, but came up short (against Western Connecticut), so that loss provided us with extra motivation. Most of the 2019-20 team returned this winter, so we were confident that we could achieve our goal of winning the conference crown.

Cutting down the net is truly a moment I will never forget.

In addition to helping your team win the LEC title, you were also tabbed the Most Outstanding Player. What does this particular honor mean to you? 

I owe this honor to my teammates and coaches for challenging me every while giving me the confidence to play my game. Everyone played a huge role in the tournament, so the award could have gone to any member of the team.

All in all, this is truly a special honor to me.

Marcus Azor averaged 21.0 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in a pair of LEC Tournament games this month. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kyle Prudhomme)

You and the team had a successful shortened season, winning eight of 10 contests. How did you and the team improve from one game to the next? 

It always starts off with practice, we make each other work extremely hard, but also ask everyone to put forth their best effort in every drill so we can be more prepared for our next game. And after games conclude, we go over our mistakes through a film review with an emphasis on improving them in our next practice, so we will be better prepared for our next game.

What did you and the team learn from your two setbacks this winter against Eastern Connecticut and Keene State? How did those loses fuel an eventual title run?

Those losses were disappointing because we were leading throughout each contest. We learned that we shouldn’t get comfortable with any sort of lead and continue to be aggressive – we needed to attack when necessary, and I felt that we exhibited that approach in our championship game against Keene State.

With the season officially over, what will you be doing over the next few weeks and months to prepare for next season? And do you imagine you will enter next year’s campaign with additional motivation to continue your squad’s recent success as a senior? 

I’ll be resting the bumps and bruises from the season before returning to the gym to prepare for next season.

Everyone is determined to win the conference title again and make a lengthy run through in the 2022 NCAA D-III Tournament.

Noontime’s Small College Basketball Team of the Week (Feb. 1, 2021)

By NoontimeSports.com

Another week of small college basketball in the northeast is in the books, which means it is time to share this week’s Noontime Sports Team of the Week for Monday, February 1, 2021.

Similar to last week, our team is made-up of NCAA D-III student-athletes from the northeast, including one student the Liberty League (LL) in New York.

As noted last week, our teams will highlight student-athletes from our region that have either returned to the court or been playing for the past few weeks. Submissions for each team can be sent to our general email: NoontimeSports@gmail.com.


In case you missed it, here is our first Noontime Sports Small College Basketball Team of the Week from Monday, January 25, 2021.


Noontime’s Men’s Basketball Team of the Week (Feb. 1, 2021)

Shion Darby (Rhode Island College): Darby secured his initial Little East Conference (LEC) co-player of the week honor with Cory Muckle on Monday after leading the Anchormen to a 79-75 win over Eastern Connecticut this past weekend. The second-year guard tallied 23 points with eight assists, three rebounds, two blocks, and two steals in 39 of 40 minutes.

Dante Law (Rhode Island College): Law secured his second-straight LEC Rookie of the Week honor after scoring a game-high 26 points last Saturday in his team’s four-point win over Eastern Connecticut. The first-year guard from Taunton, Massachusetts connected on 10 of 15 field goals while tallying six boards and two steals.

Cory Muckle (Eastern Conn.): In his team’s lone contest of the week against Rhode Island College, Muckle led the Warriors with a double-double of 22 points and 16 rebounds to go with one steal. Muckle was tabbed a co-player of the week with RIC’s Shion Darby.

Jason Phelps (Clarkson): Phelps averaged 22 points, five assists, four rebounds, and one steal in a 1-1 week for the Golden Knights. Against Villa Maria last Wednesday, the senior from Tully, New York netted 26 points to go with two boards, five assists, and two steals before posting 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, and one block on Saturday against Bryant & Stratton.

Tyreice Woods (Eastern Conn.): Against Rhode Island College this past weekend, Woods produced 13 points on five of nine shooting to go with four assists, three rebounds, and one block.

Noontime’s Women’s Basketball Team of the Week (Feb. 1, 2021)

Jalen Cook (Plymouth State): Cook led the Panthers this past Saturday against Rhode Island College by scoring a game-high 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting to go with four rebounds. She connected on both free throw attempts and finished the game five of seven from beyond the arc.

Sophia Guerrier (Rhode Island College): Named this week’s Little East Conference (LEC) Player of the Week, Guerrier averaged 13 points, 9.5 rebounds and four assists in back-to-back games against Plymouth State and UMass Dartmouth. Against UMass Dartmouth, Guerrier posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds along with three assists and one steal before tallying 14 points, nine caroms, two steals, and two blocks against Plymouth State.

Jordan Moretti (UMass Dartmouth): The Johnston, Rhode Island native came close to tallying a triple-double last Wednesday when the Corsairs hosted Rhode Island College in their first contest of the 2020-21 school year. Moretti stuffed the stat sheet with 10 rebounds, nine points, and five steals in 40 minutes. She connected on three of four freebies.

Kelly Walsh (Babson College): In a pair of games this past weekend against Fisher College, Walsh averaged 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. In her team’s initial game of the 2020-21 school year, Walsh scored a game-high 20 points on seven of nine shooting to go with seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals before stuffing the stat sheet on Sunday with 11 points, four assists, and three rebounds.

Brooke Young (Rhode Island College): In a pair of games last week, Young averaged 12.5 points and three rebounds as the Anchorwomen scored back-to-back wins against Plymouth State and UMass Dartmouth. Against the Corsairs last Wednesday, Young tallied 13 points on 5 of 15 shooting to go with five rebounds, three assists, and one steal before posting 13 points, two steals, one carom, and one assist on Saturday against the Panthers.

Noontime’s Small College Basketball Team of The Week (Jan. 25, 2021)

By NoontimeSports.com

The first official weekend of New England small college basketball (Division II and III) is in the books, which means it is time to unveil our first-ever Noontime Sports Team of the Week.

This week’s team is made-up of Little East Conference (LEC) student-athletes that competed last Saturday.

Our weekly team of the week will be unveiled every Monday – it will also include other student-athletes from other schools and conferences, pending they compete later this winter.


Noontime’s Men’s Basketball Team of the Week (Jan. 25, 2021)

Jake Ashworth (UMass Dartmouth): The Fairhaven, Massachusetts native enjoyed a very successful start to his final season with the Corsairs by scoring a game-high 23 points on 7 of 16 shooting to go with three assists, three steals, and one rebounds as UMass Dartmouth topped Castleton University in its season-opener.

Shion Darby (Rhode Island College): Against Keene State last Saturday, Darby netted 19 points while registering six rebounds and five assists.

Jeff Hunter (Keene State): This week’s LEC Player of the Week paced the Owls on Saturday against Rhode Island by netting 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, including 10 defensive caroms, two assists, and one steal.

Mason Jean-Baptiste (Keene State): Against Rhode Island last weekend, Jean-Baptiste scored 16 points on 5 of 8 shooting while stuffing the stat sheet with seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

Dante Law (Rhode Island College): In his debut with the Anchormen against Keene State, the Taunton, Massachusetts native led Rhode Island with 22 points on 7 of 14 shooting while tallying five rebounds, one block, and one steal. Law was tabbed this week’s LEC Rookie of the Week.

Noontime’s Women’s Basketball Team of the Week (Jan. 25, 2021)

Rylee Burgess (Keene State): Tabbed this week’s LEC Rookie of the Week, Burgess registered 10 rebounds, nine points, two steals, and one assist against Rhode Island.

Maci Dorantes (Rhode Island College): Dorantes netted a game-high 15 points on 6 of 14 to go with two rebounds and two steals as the Anchorwomen edged the Owls in their season-opener.

Sophia Guerrier (Rhode Island College): In her team’s first conference clash of the 2020-21 season, Guerrier posted 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals in Rhode Island’s four-point win against Keene State.

Michelle LaBonte (Keene State): LaBonte was one of three student-athletes to register 10 rebounds last Saturday to go with three points, one assist, and one steal.

Brooke Young (Rhode Island College): This week’s LEC Player of the Week recorded a double-double in her team’s first win against Keene State with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Young also recorded two assists in her team’s four-point victory.

RIC Tops Keene State In Season-Opener, 51-47

By Matt Noonan

RIC women’s basketball won its season-opener against Keene State. (PHOTO COURTESY: RIC Athletics)

The first New England D-III women’s basketball game of the 2020-21 school year is in the books as Rhode Island College topped Keene State, 51-47.

With the win, the Anchorwomen improve to 1-0 overall and 1-0 against Little East Conference (LEC) foes while the Owls dip to 0-1 (0-1).

RIC’s Maci Dorantes led all scorers with 15 points – she converted 6 of 14 field goals while tallying two rebounds and two steals. Brooke Young and Sophia Guerrier combined for 21 points while Arianna Hebert led Keene State with 10 points on 3 of 6 shoot.

Rhode Island raced out to a 12-8 lead, which would increase to 24-17 at the break. Keene State would keep things close throughout the second half – the Red and White netted 30 points during the final 20 minutes – but could not snatch the lead from the Anchorwomen, who led the entire contest.

Saturday’s matchup between RIC and Keene State marked the beginning of a short and abbreviated LEC season – it was also the first time a member of the conference competed on the hardwood since March 7, 2020 when Eastern Connecticut lost to Messiah in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.

Rhode Island will seek its second-straight win next Wednesday, January 27 when they host UMass Dartmouth for a 6 p.m. match-up. Keene State will also compete against the Corsairs next week – they will visit UMass Dartmouth on Saturday, January 30 for a 12 p.m. tip-off.