Category Archives: Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WACBA)

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 Brandon Linton (Nichols College Men’s Basketball)

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Brandon Linton was recently named the 20th men’s basketball coach in Nichols College program history. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nichols College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports

Last month, Nichols College announced the hiring of Brandon Linton, who becomes the 20th men’s basketball coach in program history.

Linton arrived at the Dudley, Massachusetts campus after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Army West Point where he helped the Cadets with numerous tasks, including scouting reports to working with the wing players at practice to assisting with in-game strategy.

Before assisting the Army West Point men’s basketball program, Linton spent time as an assistant at both his alma mater, Clarkson University, and Bowdoin College.

Coaching a program like Nichols certainly intrigued Linton, who is excited “to continue building on what has already been established” with the Nichols men’s basketball program.

“The chance to take over a program that represents excellence, both on and off of the basketball court was important to me,” said Linton when asked about becoming the new men’s basketball coach at Nichols. “Also, the growth potential of the program was equally intriguing, (as well).”

Nichols concluded its 2018-19 season with an impressive 28-3 mark. The Bison advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Tournament earlier this year, thanks to postseason victories against Amherst CollegeMiddlebury College, and Rowan University.

Additionally, Nichols also captured the 2019 Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title with a 105-90 victory over Gordon College.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Coach Linton to discuss his excitement for the upcoming season.

As a former Division III, men’s basketball player did you always want to coach or become a head coach at this particular level? 

Absolutely.  I had the great fortune to play for Adam Stockwell during my first three years at Clarkson. I remember sitting in his office as a freshman and sophomore, and him telling me that I would be a college basketball coach one day.  Prior to that, I had casually thought about the idea of it, but after (those conversations) I began to own that reality. Everything I’ve done since was aimed at this goal of becoming a Division III head coach.

What do you know about the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)? Are you excited to coach in a very competitive league? 

I’m extremely excited to coach in this league.  I know that it is made up of high-level coaches that have built some of the best and most competitive programs in New England.  The talent across the board is impressive and something that I notice has improved since my departure from Division III.  This is a conference that I believe should be a multiple bid league to the NCAA tournament (every season). I look forward to the challenge of being in that mix.

How did your experience with Army West Point shape you into the coach you are today? 

I couldn’t be more grateful for my time at Army.  The development that I was able to take part in both on and off of the basketball court was truly remarkable.  It is the preeminent leadership development institution in the world. From the faculty to the cadets and all the variety of guest speakers that came through West Point, it truly was a hub for leadership development.

Basketball-wise, being able to coach at the Division I level just provides an amazing amount of time that you get to spend coaching and teaching the game to your players.  We also fielded a junior varsity team at West Point, which allowed us as (to gain experience) being a head coach as assistants to the varsity. More than anything, being around the people day in and day out was the number one takeaway that I believe will shape me into the coach I am and hope to be.

Great coaches are great leaders. And great leaders are great people first.

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Coach Brandon Linton inherits a Nichols College men’s basketball team that finished the 2018-19 season with an impressive 28-3 record. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nichols College Athletics)

What are some of the biggest goals/objectives you (and the men’s basketball program) hope to accomplish between now and the team’s first practice? 

The biggest thing will be developing the framework for meaningful relationships with each other. That is from new staff to players and vice versa. It will also be amongst the current players as well. Acclimating the newcomers into the fold, while also continuing to develop even stronger bonds with your returning teammates (will be a must, as well). That will be our biggest focus prior to our first practice on October 15th.

A few quick-hitters, beginning with your all-time favorite memory of playing basketball. 

Without a doubt, it has to be back in 2008 when I was a part of Clarkson’s first-ever Liberty League (LL) championship. We advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a fourth-seed in our conference’s tournament, which made it even sweeter.

Legitimately, no one believed we could get it done because there was honestly no prior reason to think so, but only the individuals in our locker room believed (we could win a conference championship) and that’s all that mattered. It’s something that has stuck with me ever since (and proves what) the power of belief can accomplish.

Who was a player you idolized growing up? 

Tracy McGrady. Unfortunately for me, my teammates and coaches, however, I played nothing like McGrady, but when I got to college, I really enjoyed watching Rajon Rondo when he first started playing for the Boston Celtics. I enjoyed watching Rondo as a student-athlete with the Celtics – he was a big part of their resurgence. I played the point for Clarkson and I really respected how he played that position. And that’s probably why my three-point percentage was what it was, too.

Finally, if you could coach any basketball player, both current or past, who would it be and why? 

Growing up in New York City, I was and still am a big fan of the New York Knicks. We’ve fallen on hard times for a good 15-20 years, however, as a kid, there were some awesome teams for me to follow.

I fell in love with basketball by watching John Starks play.  I would always wear his number (three) whenever I could in youth tournaments and recreational leagues.  The passion and swag that he played with was everything to me. He embodied what it meant to be a New Yorker, as well. He was hard-nosed, did whatever it took for the greater good of the team, and took the challenge of guarding the best players on the other team. He also jacked three-pointers, too, which was still a newer thing for the game during the 1990s.

John Starks is definitely someone I would love to coach.


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

WACBA Reveals 2018-19 All-Star Selections

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By WACBA Hoops | @WACBAHoops 

WORCESTER, Mass. – Nichols College senior Marcos Echevarria and Holy Cross junior Lauren Manis have repeated as the Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WACBA) Players of the Year, as revealed on Wednesday in Jen Toland’s weekly college column.

The announcement also features the annual All-Stars, Rookies of the Year and Coaches of the Year as voted upon by sports information directors or primary contacts from each of the nine NCAA schools in Worcester County, including Division I Holy Cross and Division II Assumption College, as well as members of the local media.

Echevarria claimed the hardware for the third consecutive year while it was also a threepeat for the Bison with first-year head coach Scott Faucher earning Coach of the Year accolades. Assumption’s Cal Connelly, meanwhile, became the second Greyhound in as many years to secure Rookie of the Year honors. For the women, Manis narrowly missed out on a perfect ballot while fellow Crusader Avery LaBarbera was named as the Rookie of the Year, and Worcester State’s Karen Tessmer was selected as the Coach of the Year.

Nichols’ DeAnte Bruton and Matt Morrow joined Echevarria on the first team, as did Anna Maria’s Mike Rapoza, Becker’s Kareem Davis, and Holy Cross’ Jehyve Floyd. The second team was comprised of Fitchburg State’s Nicholas Tracy, Worcester State’s Tyler Dion, Assumption’s Matthew Kelley, Clark’s Tyler Davern, and WPI’s Jake Wisniewski and Reid Walker.

Manis and LaBarbera along with Worcester State’s Brittany Herring, Assumption’s Morgan O’Donnell, Fitchburg State’s Angelina Marazzi, and Becker’s Adrianna Dowdy were named to the first team. Clark’s Ogechi Ezemma, Anna Maria’s Amber Wilson, Becker’s Cassidy Harrison, Fitchburg State’s Catherine Coppinger, as well as, Worcester State’s Catherine Sweeney and Kaitlyn Berkel landed on the second team.

This year’s Paul N. Johnson and Pat Oroszko Courage Award recipients will be announced at a later date.

WACBA (Worcester Area College Basketball Association) is an organization billed as “one of its kind in the country” featuring nine colleges, 18 programs plus sports information directors and media members to foster friendships and camaraderie along with promoting the GREAT GAME OF BASKETBALL throughout the TRADITION RICH Worcester County Area.

Follow @WACBAHoops on Twitter | Regular Season Stats and Standings

 MEN‘S ALL-STARS

Player of the Year: Marcos Echevarria (Lynn, Mass.), Nichols (third consecutive)
Rookie of the Year: Cal Connelly (Rochester, N.H.), Assumption (back-to-back for Greyhounds)
Coach of the Year: Scott Faucher, Nichols (third consecutive for a Bison head coach)

First Team
Nichols College Marcos Echevarria*# Lynn, Mass. Sr.
Nichols College DeAnte Bruton*# New London, Conn. Jr.
Anna Maria Mike Rapoza*# Charlton, Mass Jr.
Becker College Kareem Davis^# Lowell, Mass. Sr.
Holy Cross Jehyve Floyd# Sayreville, N.J. Sr.
Nichols College Matt Morrow Leicester, Mass. So.
Second Team
Fitchburg State Nicholas Tracy Indianapolis, Ind. Jr.
Worcester State Tyler Dion Barre, Mass. Jr.
WPI Jake Wisniewski West Brookfield, Mass. Jr.
WPI Reid Walker Lithia, Fla. So.
Assumption College Matthew Kelly& No. Potomac, Md. So.
Clark University Tyler Davern Webster, Mass. So.

 WOMEN‘S ALL-STARS

Player of the Year: Lauren Manis (Franklin, Mass.), Holy Cross (back-to-back)
Rookie of the Year:
 Avery LaBarbera, Holy Cross
Coach of the Year: 
Karen Tessmer, Worcester State

First Team
Holy Cross Lauren Manis*# Franklin, Mass. Jr.
Worcester State Brittany Herring*# West Brookfield, Mass. Sr.
Assumption College Morgan O’Donnell# Easton, Mass. Sr.
Fitchburg State Angelina Marazzi& Manchester, N.H. Jr.
Holy Cross Avery LaBarbera Harrison, N.Y. Fr.
Becker College Adrianna Dowdy& East Haven, Conn. Sr.
Second Team
Clark University Ogechi Ezemma*& Hope Valley, R.I. Sr.
Anna Maria Amber Wilson New York, N.Y. So.
Becker College Cassidy Harrison*# Foxborough, Mass. Jr.
Worcester State Catherine Sweeney& Lowell, Mass. Jr.
Worcester State Kaitlyn Berkel Waterford, Conn. Sr.
Fitchburg State Catherine Coppinger Boston, Mass. Jr.

* 2017 First Team
^ 2017 Second Team
# 2018 First Team
& 2018 Second Team

WACBA Honor Roll: Women’s Basketball Week 15 (Feb. 26th)

WACBABy WACBA Hoops | @WACBAHoops 

WORCESTER – With another week of Worcester basketball in the books, it’s now time to unveil our latest Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WACBA) Women’s Basketball Honor Roll, which includes women’s player and rookie of the week.

Make sure to stay connected with @WACBAHoops today on Twitter for game results, news and more.

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Catherine Sweeney came close to averaging a triple-double in back-to-back conference tournament games last week. (PHOTO COURTESY: Worcester State Athletics)

WACBA Women’s Player of the Week: Catherine Sweeney (Worcester State | Jr. | Lowell, Mass.): Sweeney came close to averaging a triple-double in a pair of games last week by tallying 12.5 points, 18.5 rebounds, and eight assists. She recorded her third triple-double of the 2018-19 season during her team’s semifinal win over Framingham State last Thursday with 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 caroms before adding 21 rebounds, five points, five assists, and two blocks in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Championship against Westfield State. As of last Saturday, Sweeney has recorded three triple-doubles, which is the most by any Division III women’s basketball player this winter.

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Avery LaBarbera stuffed the stat sheet this past Saturday in her team’s exciting win over Bucknell University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Holy Cross Athletics)

WACBA Women’s Rookie of the Week: Avery LaBarbera (Holy Cross | Fr. | Harrison, N.Y.): LaBarbera had a stellar week in a 1-1 showing for the Crusaders, recording nine points and one steal in a setback to Army last Wednesday before tallying 16 points, two assists, one block and one steal in her team’s win over Bucknell University this past Saturday.

Cassidy Harrison (Becker College | Jr. | Foxborough, Mass.): Harrison led the Hawks into the finals of the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championships this past week by averaging 14.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.6 steals and 1.6 assists in three games. She had one of her best performances of the season last Tuesday against Newbury College when she scored 20 points with a career-high 10 steals, tying a Becker school record for steals. For her contributions last week, Harrison was named to the NECC All-Tournament Team.

Angelina Marazzi (Fitchburg State | Jr. | Manchester, N.H.): Marazzi netted a game-best 27 points, five rebounds and one assist in a setback to Bridgewater State in the MASCAC quarterfinals last Tuesday evening for the Falcons.

Morgan O’Donnell (Assumption College | Sr. | Easton, Mass.): O’Donnell averaged 24.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in a 1-1 week for the Hounds. She started with 14 points, six rebounds and one block in a 16-point win over Franklin Pierce, before going off for 35 points, 12 boards and three blocks in a tough 82-80 loss to Stonehill College this past weekend.

Megan Swords (Holy Cross | Jr. | Glen Rock, N.J.): Swords averaged double figures in a 1-1 week for the Crusaders. In a loss to Army last Wednesday, she recorded 10 points, four rebounds, and one steal before adding 11 points and eight caroms in a Holy Cross win over Bucknell University.


Stay connected with WACBA Hoops on Twitter by following @WACBAHoops Today!

 

WACBA Honor Roll: Men’s Basketball Week 15 (Feb. 26th)

 WACBABy WACBA Hoops | @WACBAHoops 

WORCESTER – With another week of Worcester basketball in the books, it’s now time to unveil our latest Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WACBA) Men’s Basketball Honor Roll, which includes our men’s player and rookie of the week.

Make sure to stay connected with @WACBAHoops today on Twitter for game results, news and more.

Roger Williams and Nichols College

Echevarria averaged 26.0 points in back-to-back Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament games last week. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nichols College Athletics)

WACBA Men’s Co-Player of the Week: Marcos Echevarria (Nichols College | Sr. | Lynn, Mass.): Echevarria averaged 26.0 points in back-to-back Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament games as the Bison became the fourth team in conference history to capture its third-straight league title. The Lynn, Massachusetts native scored 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting in a come-from-behind win over Western New England last Thursday in the semifinals before stuffing the stat sheet with 31 points, nine assists, and five rebounds in a 105-90 championship win over Gordon College last Saturday at the Hart Center. Echevarria drained seven trifectas to become the all-time leading scorers in the CCC with 2,240 points.

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WACBA Men’s Co-Player of the Week: Jehyve Floyd (Holy Cross | Sr. | Sayreville, N.J.): Floyd averaged 17.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.5 blocked shots last week while hitting 88.2 percent of his field goal attempts (15 of 17). He posted 18 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocked shots against Boston University before tallying 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and two steals in the 73-71 win at Lehigh University. Against Lehigh, Floyd converted a three-point play with 41.9 seconds left to give the Crusaders the lead for good.

Roger Williams and Nichols College

Jaekwon Spencer posted career-highs in both points (15) and rebounds (10) in a come-from-behind win over Western New England last Thursday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Nichols College Athletics)

WACBA Men’s Rookie of the Week: Jaekwon Spencer (Nichols College | Fr. | Bristol, Conn.): Against the Golden Bears, Spencer came off the bench and posted career-highs in both points (15) and rebounds (10) to help the Bison rally from a 19-point deficit to advance to the conference championship. The Bristol, Connecticut native was a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe, while also recording a blocked shot. He played seven minutes against the Fighting Scots in the CCC Championship and picked up three points, two rebounds, two steals, and one assist in seven minutes.

Colin McNamara (WPI | Soph. | Arlington, Mass.): McNamara led the Engineers in scoring last week while sinking the game-winning bucket with no time left to edge MIT, 55-53, in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) semifinals last Thursday. The sophomore shared game-high honors with 20 points at Babson before doing the same with 13 at MIT. McNamara finished the week with 16 points in a NEWMAC championship setback to Emerson College last Saturday.

Nicholas Tracy (Fitchburg State | Jr. | Indianapolis, Ind.): Averaged 12 points, 4.5 rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals per contest in two games for the Falcons. He posted 11 points, seven boards, six assists and one steal in a 67-55 victory over Worcester State on Tuesday before adding 13 points, two caroms, two assists and one steal in a 78-72 setback to Westfield State on Thursday.


Stay connected with WACBA Hoops on Twitter by following @WACBAHoops Today! 

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