And just like past years, it’s time to revisit some of our favorite stories from the past 12 months.
Yet, unlike past years, this year’s ‘year in review’ is made-up of a variety of stories from ‘Catching Up’ to features on the Amherst College and Endicott College football programs to Wheaton women’s basketball providing Coach Melissa Hodgdon with her 200th win as a head coach.
I also made sure to highlight a few podcasts from the past few months – yes, Noontime Sports the Podcast returned this summer and I am super excited to host the 16th episode, which will be posted later next week.
So, sit back, relax, and re-read or listen to some of our biggest posts from 2016, and have a wonderful and safe Happy New Year!
Lasell College senior Armin Omanovic has enjoyed an impressive start to his senior season, earning a pair of Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) honors – his most recent weekly accolade came last Monday, December 5th – while leading the team in points (244), trifectas (28) and free-throws converted (64).
Lasell heads into the holiday break 6-3 overall, but 3-0 in league play. The Lasers return to the court next month when they host Rivier in a GNAC clash on Thursday, January 5, 2017.
Before Omanovic departed campus to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, Noontime Sports caught up with the Wilkesboro, North Carolina native to discuss his team’s first half of the season.
Your team wrapped up the first half of play this past weekend against Amherst. Tell me about that particular contest and the fight your team displayed from the opening tip?
We knew that they were ranked number one in the country, but did not focus on that. Instead, we tried to come out and play our game because we knew if we played our game, we can beat any team in the country. Amherst jumped on us early with a big lead, but we chipped away at it and made it a game until the end. I was very proud of my teammates’ efforts.
It’s been an exciting start to the season – from your perspective, how has the team improved each day/week?
We come in every day with a focus to get better than we were the day before.
Your team claimed some impressive wins recently, including victories against Johnson & Wales and Keene State. How will those games help the team moving into GNAC play next month?
Its gives us a lot of confidence knowing that if we play the way we should, we can achieve our goals for the season.
What’s something unique or special that many fans don’t know about this particular Lasell squad?
We have a cast of characters on this team and I love it. Many people don’t know how truly close everyone is with each other and that’s what makes playing with them so fun. Win or lose, we still are a family.
It might sound cliché, but who taught you how to shoot a basketball?
I taught myself how to shoot a basketball. I use to wake up every morning before school when I was younger just to work on my jump shot.
What do you enjoy more: driving for a layup or shooting a three-pointer?
I like driving for a layup. Nothing is more satisfying than being a smaller guard and finishing against a tall defender.
Who has been a teammate – either past or current – that has helped you improve, both offensively and defensively?
Brent Cowles has helped me elevate my game over the past few years. We have been teammates before and he taught me all the facets of the game. Without him, I couldn’t be the player that I am today and I am truly grateful for it.
Through nine games this season, Armin Omanovic leads the Lasers in free-throws converted. (PHOTO CREDIT: Lasell College Athletics)
Did you have any family members or siblings that played basketball in college (or high school)?
No, I am the only one in my family that plays basketball, but they all love to watch.
Tell me about your major – how did you choose it and what do you hope to do with it?
I am an applied mathematics major with a minor in communication. My high school math teachers made such an impact on me that I decided I wanted to purse a similar career and help students the same way they helped me. My main goal is to open an orphanage for kids in Chicago and be able to show them that you can succeed no matter what obstacles you face.
Outside of basketball, what clubs/activities are you involved with on campus?
I have been involved with a special fundraiser back home with my best friend Christian Hurt, which is called Heal the Hurt. At the end of every year, we raise money for a young boy or girl or a group of children in need by hosting a charity basketball game. Attendees pay $5 at the door and the event features a lot of my former and current college teammates. We have raised over $10,000 over the last five years and continue to help children all over the world.
Favorite basketball player of all-time is …?
Favorite movie of all-time?
Remember the Titans
What was the last book you read for pleasure? And would you recommend it?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. And I would recommend it to everyone because it portrays essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, recognizing opportunities and most importantly, follow your dreams.
Steak and cheese sub.
Three songs you listen to on a game day?
“Déjà vu” by J. Cole
“I can” by Nas
“Love hate thing” by Wale
Finally, what do you love most about playing basketball at Lasell?
My teammates and coaching staff – they make playing basketball (at Lasell) so enjoyable. The love and support they have for each other is indescribable. I wouldn’t be half the basketball player without every single one of my teammates and coaches. The bonds I have with my teammates and coaches will never be broken and I am excited to see how the rest of the season plays out.
Saturday marks the final day of the NCAA Division III regular season. So, in honor of the 11th week of college football here in New England, I present 11 Games to Watch in Week 11.
Trinity at Wesleyan: The Bantams flexed their muscles a few weeks ago, proving they’re the team to beat in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with a convincing win over Middlebury. Can they finish their campaign unbeaten? It won’t be easy, but expect a big day from sophomore tailback Max Chipouras, who will lead the Bantams to a conference crown. Prediction: Trinity 27, Wesleyan 20
Williams at Amherst: This is the biggest D3 game in the country tomorrow, hands down. Williams has shown improvement under first-year head coach Mark Raymond, and I think this is the game they finally break through. Prediction: Williams 20, Amherst 14
The Bobcats’ defense held the Polar Bears to just one score last weekend, so expect the unit to have another big day against Hamilton. (Photo Credit: Bates College Athletics/Brian Foley)
Hamilton at Bates: Winners of two-straight, the Bobcats will look to cap their 2016 campaign with a season-finale win over the Continentals of Hamilton. Bates’ defense was impressive last week, holding Bowdoin to just one score, while tallying three interceptions and two sacks. Prediction: Bates 21, Hamilton 7
Tufts at Middlebury: Jay Civetti’s squad has enjoyed another impressive season, winning six of seven contests thus far. The Jumbos have a chance to share the NESCAC crown with a win – they would also need Wesleyan to defeat Trinity. I think Chance Brady caps his impressive career with the Powder Blue and White by scoring the game-winning touchdown to send Tufts past Middlebury for the second-straight season. Prediction: Tufts 31, Middlebury 24
Husson at Mount Ida: The Eagles provided an early season scare to perhaps the best team in the East Region – that would be Alfred. Since then, Coach Gabby Price’s squad has been on a roll, winning eight-straight contests. Can they make it nine in a row? It won’t be easy, especially against an up and coming Mount Ida squad, but look for halfback John Smith and quarterback Cory Brandon to lead the Eagles to their ninth-straight victory. Prediction: Husson 27, Mount Ida 14
Castleton at Norwich: The annual Maple Sap Bucket Trophy is on the line. The Spartans have won the last two meetings, but I think this year the Cadets will find a way to secure the coveted trophy for the first time since 2013. Prediction: Norwich 21, Castleton 17
Endicott at Curry: For the second-straight season, Coach Kevin DeWall’s Gulls have a chance to end their campaign at 5-5. Don’t expect this clash with the Colonels to be easy – last season both teams needed four extra sessions to determine the eventual winner. Let’s go with a late touchdown by the Gulls to send Endicott past Curry on the road. Prediction: Endicott 28, Curry 21
Coast Guard Academy at Western New England: Can the Bears slow down the Golden Bears? It’s possible, but expect Western New England to finish their season with a win, along with some additional momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament. Prediction: WNE 30, CGA 14
Expect another big day from Salve Regina halfback Sam Pascale. (Photo Credit: Salve Regina Athletics)
Salve Regina at Maine Maritime Academy: Despite a disappointing outcome last week, the Seahawks can cap their season by finishing undefeated on the road. Halfback Sam Pascale will be guide the ground attack – and his squad – to their eight win of the season. Prediction: Salve Regina 28. MMA 14
Mass. Maritime Academy at Bridgewater State: The Bears clinched the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown last weekend with an impressive road win over Framingham State. Expect this squad – now winners of seven-straight – to cap their regular season campaign with not only an eight consecutive win, but also winners of the Annual Cranberry Bowl, too. Prediction: Bridgewater State 28, MMA 14
St. Lawrence at WPI: Last weekend, the Engineers engineered a dramatic comeback to defeat Rochester on the road. Can they cap their respective campaign with a win over St. Lawrence? It won’t be easy, but how about a last minute field goal to send WPI past the Saints? Prediction: WPI 30, St. Lawrence 28
Earlier today, we released our first-ever Noontime Sports Men’s Basketball Top 10 Poll with Amherst College, Babson College and Tufts University earning the top three spots. Keene State and Middlebury College checked-in at fourth and fifth, respectively.
Here is our our preseason poll, which you may have seen on Facebook and Twitter this morning:
After our initial preseason poll was released, our guy – the editor/founder of NoontimeSports.com, Matt Noonan – broke down the ten teams that made our list.