Catching Up with Danny Lawson of Emmanuel College Men’s Basketball

ECMBBvsColby124
Danny Lawson (middle) was recently named earlier this month the third men’s basketball coach at Emmanuel College. (PHOTO CREDIT: David Le ’10/ Endicott College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

It was announced earlier this month that Danny Lawson had been named the third head coach of the Emmanuel College men’s basketball team.

Lawson arrives in Boston, Massachusetts after a successful assistant coaching stint last winter with the Endicott College men’s basketball team. He helped coach Kevin Bettencourt and the Gulls to a 19-9 record, as well as a return trip to the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship against Nichols College.

No stranger to New England basketball, Lawson played at Lexington High School before continuing his career at nearby Bentley University where he guided the Falcons to an impressive 101-27 record in four years, which included a number one and two national rankings, along with an NCAA Elite Eight appearance (2007) and an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance (2005).

Since graduating Bentley, Lawson has enjoyed a great deal of success in the basketball world, working for numerous programs at all three levels in the college world, while assisting the Boston Celtics during their 2008 NBA Championship run.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Lawson to discuss his excitement for the upcoming season with the Emmanuel men’s basketball team.

What interested you in becoming the program’s third head coach? And just to confirm, this is your first-time head coaching position, right?

When the job opened up, I was very excited to apply. Being from the Boston area, I knew a little bit about the history of Emmanuel’s academics and how it is has really exploded as an institution within the last decade. To me, it represented a college with great leadership and continuity. Combined with a tremendous location in the city of Boston – we are next to Fenway Park – I felt it could be a great opportunity for student-athletes academically, athletically and socially. Also, it certainly has always been a goal of mine throughout my coaching career to run my own program.

What did you know prior to accepting to the head coaching position about the Emmanuel men’s basketball program? 

I knew the program was relatively new since the college went co-ed in 2001. The athletic administration structure and support was very evident and crucial for me (throughout the interview process). Also, the program enjoyed success in the early-to-mid 2000s, winning between 17-to-20 games each season. As I prepared for my interviews,  I saw the roster was filled with some talented and young student-athletes, which will be returning this upcoming season. Throughout the interview process I also gained a lot of valuable information about the character of our returning players that are eager to be successful.

You were an integral part of Endicott College’s run to the CCC Championship last winter, so what were some things you learned from that experience, whih will help you in your new role with the Saints? 

I got to work alongside three excellent coaches and close friends in Kevin Bettencourt, Luke Richards and Lance Greene. I have known all three coaches for quite some time – I grew up and played basketball with Kevin, competing on the same AAU team since seventh grade. All three coaches helped me gain an understanding of the D3 landscape, including what it takes to coach at this level to recruiting. I had only coached in Division 1 and 2 levels, so last year’s experience was really instrumental in gaining an understanding of D3 basketball, but also how to be successful at this level, too. The group of players I had a chance to coach at Endicott was a really special group that made my experience at Endicott a lot of fun.

It sounds cliche, but looking back to both your playing career (at Bentley) and other stops, both in college and with the Boston Celtics, who have been some of the coaches and people that have molded you into the coach you are today? 

Like most coaches, I’ve been molded by every coach that I have played and worked for, beginning with my high school coach at Lexington, Bob Farias. Coach Farias had a legendary hall of fame career – he was the best motivator and developer of confidence that I have ever experienced.

Certainly the biggest influence has been my father, Jay Lawson. It is indescribable how much of an impact he has made on my coaching career, specifically in teaching and leading players.

I was fortunate to work for Jim Ferry for seven seasons – he is the former head coach at Duquesne, LIU Brooklyn, Adelphi and Plymouth State. The various opportunities he provided helped me become the coach I am today.

Jack Perri, who I worked with at LIU-Brooklyn – he would eventually become the team’s head coach and lead them to the NCAA Tournament. Jack was one of my assistant coaches when I played at Bentley and is someone I consider a true mentor.

I also spent a great season learning under Steve Evans at LeMoyne College. Steve had a lot of success at LeMoyne from a recruiting and coaching – he is one of the best teachers of the zone defense.

Finally, my season with the Boston Celtics was about as great first basketball coaching experience. Learning and watching from guys like Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau, Danny Ainge, Mike Longabardi and Ryan McDonough, as well as the players really helped shape my daily work ethic and approach.

Speaking of the Celtics, you were a member of the team’s 17th championship run, so how much do you think about that experience and being able to celebrate a title with a group that certainly seemed to buy-in from the get-go? 

I was very fortunate to be a part of the Celtics organization during their 17th championship season. To say it was an unbelievable experience would probably be an understatement. One of the biggest things I took away from the experience was how important an unselfish mentality and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of the team is to a program’s success. Boston’s big three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen only cared about winning. They became totally invested in the team’s success right from the start when the team began its season training in Italy. And they had a great veteran bench presence combined with some young talent, as well. They also had a high level coaching staff and management team, but it all just came together at the right time and at the right point in their careers. It was really special.

Are you a Celtics fan or root for another team? 

Yes, absolutely. I grew up here and have always been a Celtics fan.

What does a new coach need to do to get prepared for a new season with a new program? How will you use the next few weeks and months to make sure the team will be ready to go come mid-October? 

Obviously there are a million things you need to accomplish when you take over a new program, but my focus this summer is all about building relationships, beginning with the current players in our program. Additionally, I look forward to meeting and building relationships on campus with other coaches, administrators, faculty and staff, too. I’m currently working on hiring the rest of our coaching staff for the upcoming season, while building and fostering recruiting relationships, as well. I am also working on completing and finalizing our game and practice schedule, while establishing our program’s identity.

Talk about building relationships with your players – how important is to begin those relationships now? 

It’s huge (and) has definitely been a primary focus for me the last two weeks. I have been able to meet with about half the team in-person, while conversing multiple times by phone or text with others. We need to build that mutual trust and respect on both sides, and then we can get on the court.

 

What is your all-time favorite basketball (or sports) movie?  

“Above the Rim” is definitely my favorite. I like others, as well, including “Blue Chips,” “Hoop Dreams” and more.  “Above The Rim” was ahead of its time with Kyle Lee Watson, Tommy Shepard, Birdie, and a lot of great actors and characters.

Finally, when you were growing up, who was a player or two that you idled? What did you like about their game? 

Like most people my age, I was a big Michael Jordan guy growing up. Also, Larry Bird, too. I loved their skill packages and competitiveness, as well as Bird’s passing ability, too.

Introducing Noontime Soccer On Twitter

NS SoccerBy NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports)

Just in time for the World Cup, which begins tomorrow, Noontime Sports has launched a brand new Twitter handle (@NoontimeSoccer), which we highly recommend that you follow … NOW!

Noontime Soccer becomes the newest sports specific Twitter handle that we have launched this year – earlier in the year we unveiled Noontime Baseball, Basketball, Football and Lacrosse.

Noontime Lacrosse launched a few years earlier under another name, but was rebranded prior to the start of the college and high school seasons this spring.

Similar to the other sports specific handles, we will be sharing and producing various soccer content seen on the handle with the goal of keeping you updated on the college and high school world in New England this fall. We also plan to promote some content about the World Cup and other soccer news through the account as well.

So, make sure to follow our brand new Twitter handle now, especially if you’re a soccer fan!

D3 Lacrosse: Final Noontime Top 10 Women’s Lax Poll (Wednesday, May 30th)

NS LAX TOP 10 POLL

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Mother Nature extended the NCAA Division 3 Women’s Lacrosse season an extra day and fans were treated to an exciting final contest between Gettysburg College and Middlebury College on Monday morning at Kerr Stadium in Salem, Virginia.

Middlebury stormed back to close the gap from a five-goal deficit to two, but Gettysburg managed to halt the rally with its defense to secure its second-straight national crown. Prior to facing Gettysburg in the national championship, Middlebury defeated TCNJ in the semifinals last Saturday.

The Panthers enjoyed an exciting postseason run, which began with a late-second half surge to beat Bowdoin College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) finals before knocking-off Babson CollegeIllinois Wesleyan and York College (Pa.). Middlebury will graduate some key players from this year’s squad, but will certainly be back in the mix next season.

Amherst College provided some serious challenges to this year’s national champion – in fact, it almost appeared as if the Mammoths were going to beat Gettysburg and advance to the national semifinals. Unfortunately, that did not happen, but this young squad will certainly be a team to keep an eye on next spring.

Rounding out the top five positions is Trinity College, Bowdoin and Wesleyan University – all three teams appeared in this year’s national tournament. Bowdoin and Wesleyan were not easy outs in the playoffs, so expect both teams to be back in the mix next year for both a NESCAC and national crown.

As always, stay connected with @Noontime_Lax on Twitter for lacrosse news, notes, scores and more!

Women’s D3 New England Top 10 Poll | Weds. May 30th, 2018 

1. Middlebury College

20-3, 9-1 NESCAC

2. Amherst College 

17-3, 9-1 NESCAC

3. Trinity College 

13-7, 6-4 NESCAC

4. Bowdoin College 

14-6, 6-4 NESCAC

5. Wesleyan University

12-7, 6-4 NESCAC

6. Tufts University 

13-5, 8-2 NESCAC

7. Babson College  

13-8, 7-1 NEWMAC

8.  Springfield College 

15-7, 7-1 NEWMAC

9.  Endicott College 

14-4, 8-0 CCC

10. Westfield State 

18-3, 7-0 MASCAC

ON THE RISE: Castleton (11-7, 7-0 NAC), Johnson & Wales (17-3, 10-0 GNAC), Plymouth State (14-0, 6-0 LEC)

D3 Lacrosse: Final Noontime Top 10 Men’s Lax Poll (Wednesday, May 30th)

NS LAX TOP 10 POLL

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

The 2018 NCAA Division 3 Men’s Lacrosse season officially concluded this past weekend with Wesleyan University winning its first-ever national title with an 8-6 win over Salisbury University at Gillette Stadium.

With the two-goal win, the Cardinals secured the top spot in our final Noontime Sports New England D3 Men’s Lacrosse Top 10 Poll. Wesleyan began the season as a top team in our poll, but was forced to share the top position with New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) foes Amherst College and Tufts University. The Jumbos secured the second position in our final poll, while the Mammoths slid into the third spot.

Springfield College, which captured this year’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown, checked-in fourth overall, while Williams College rounded out the top five, checking-in fifth overall.

Conn. College and Coast Guard Academy – two teams we watched more closely this season – secured the sixth and sevenths positions, respectively. We expect both teams to be back in the mix next spring, despite some key graduation departures.

As always, you can stay connected with @Noontime_Lax on Twitter for lacrosse news, notes, scores and more!

Men’s D3 New England Top 10 Poll | Weds. May 30th, 2018 

1. Wesleyan University 

19-3, 10-1 NESCAC

2. Tufts University 

18-2, 9-1 NESCAC

3. Amherst College 

15-4, 9-1 NESCAC

4. Springfield College 

13-6, 6-1 NEWMAC 
5. Williams College 

9-8, 6-4 NESCAC

6. Conn. College 

10-6, 5-5 NESCAC

7. Coast Guard Academy 

14-4, 6-1 NEWMAC

8. Middlebury College 

9-7, 5-5 NESCAC

9. Bowdoin College 

8-7, 4-6 NESCAC

10.   Western New England 

13-7, 8-0 CCC

ON THE RISE: Babson College (9-7, 6-1 NEWMAC), Bates College (8-8, 4-6 NESCAC), Johnson & Wales (9-12, 5-4 GNAC), Keene State (12-5, 7-0 LEC) and New England College (16-5, 7-0 NAC)

Additional D3 Sports Coverage To Be Produced Through NoontimeSports.com

NSBACKTWIT

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)

As we slowly close the book on the 2017-18 school year – well, the past nine to 10 months of coverage, to be exact – I thought this would be a good time to dish out some exciting new content news for Noontime Sports!

As seen in our Twitter poll below, it appears you, the fans and friends of our blog, would like to see some additional D3 coverage that includes some non-New England schools. And yes, I oblige!

So, starting in late-June/early-July, we will begin our preseason football coverage with getting to know some non-New England squads, while still continuing to produce blogs and podcasts on teams from our New England/Northeast region.

We may also sprinkle in some soccer coverage, too, so make sure to stay connected with us on social media as we begin the next phase of our content creation journey!

Finally, be on the lookout for some high school coverage going forward, too. We will aim to have some postseason tournament coverage on the site over the next few weeks in Massachusetts as local teams begin their quest for winning the ultimate prize: a state championship.

As always, make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and SnapChat!