AJ Dillon elected to forgo his senior season to pursue his “childhood dream” of competing in the NFL. And on Friday evening, Dillon’s dream of playing professional football came true as the Boston College halfback was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the 62nd pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The New London, Connecticut native, who was named an All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) first-teamer for the third-straight season, departs campus as the all-time leader in career rushing yards (4,382) and rushing touchdowns (38). He also etched his name in the record book as the leader in all-purpose yards (4,618) and total touchdowns (40).
Dillon was named the ACC Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year while finishing the 2019 season fourth in the country in rushing yards (1,685). He joins a Green Bay Packers squad that came within one game of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.
It’s been just four days since the New England Patriots season concluded, but the setback to the Tennesse Titans doesn’t seem to be on the mind of many these days.
Instead, the biggest issue surrounding our beloved football team is the future of quarterback Tom Brady – will he really leave Boston as a free agent and sign with the Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders or Los Angeles Chargers? Or will he stay in New England for one or two more seasons?
The speculation began quickly after the final whistle sounded last Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium as various reporters pressed the long-time signal-caller on his future with the team. Brady didn’t seem interested in discussing future plans. Instead, it appeared as if he wanted to go home and fall asleep. He also didn’t seem interested in reflecting on the entire 2019 season, too, which saw New England win eight-straight contests.
Will or will not, Tom Brady, return to New England will remain at the forefront of social media, blogs, websites, and media outlets going forward. But I have a hunch that Brady returns next season and concludes his career with the Patriots, not another team.
Watching Brady play for the Cowboys or Raiders would just seem strange in my opinion – I, along with other New England fans, would have a hard time seeing the six-time Super Bowl champion donning a different uniform.
I don’t know Brady – I have never covered any of his games, but have enjoyed watching him as both a fan and season ticket holder, and believe he will stick around the area and finish his impressive career as a Patriot, not a Cowboy or Charger. But for Brady to remain with the organization, New England is going to need to acquire some additional pieces on the offensive end so they can compete for a seventh championship next fall.
Brady, who just didn’t seem to have fun this season, needs help. And he certainly knows he can’t win games going forward with just Julian Edelman and James White. He needs receivers and tight ends that are accustomed to winning, but also those that are willing to commit to the process (also known as the ‘Patriot Way.’).
We’re still weeks (and months) away from finding out where Brady is headed, but again, I just have a feeling – yes, a feeling – that he returns for one or two more seasons and leads New England to their seventh (and maybe eighth) Super Bowl.
If Brady wins seven or eight Super Bowls then it will be really hard to say he is not the greatest ever to play football, right?
Noontime’s Quick Thoughts on some Boston sports news (and notes):
The Boston Celtics have been really impressive and fun to watch this season – I think this team is destined for a deep postseason run.
But after observing some of their previous starts against the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards, all I can say is the following: they need to play good basketball wire-to-wire, but also not allow mediocre teams dictate the pace of play following the opening tip.
The Green and White host San Antonio this evening – the Spurs are currently eighth in the Western Conference – and should certainly provide the Celtics with a good test. But a win over the Spurs this evening followed by a victory tomorrow against the Philadelphia 76ers is a must for a team that didn’t play their best basketball against the Hawks and Wizards. Sure, they beat Atlanta (and the Chicago Bulls one night later), but if I am Brad Stevens, my message would be the following: we dictate the pace of play, not our opponent.
Could Alex Cora get suspended for 81 games or the entire 2020 season due to the latest report of the Boston Red Sox stealing signs during their 2018 World Series run?
I think it is possible – do others?
This is a bad look for the local nine that did not qualify for the postseason last year and has seemed to take a backseat to bolstering their roster this offseason, so they can compete with some of the best in the American League this season, including the New York Yankees.
In case you missed it, the Boston College men’s basketball team scored an impressive (and exciting) win last night over 18th ranked Virginia – hope Bob Whitney enjoyed watching this particular game.
The win bumps the Eagles record to 9-6 overall and should provide the Maroon and Gold with momentum heading into upcoming contests against Georgia Tech and Syracuse University.
Duke University remains the top team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) while the Eagles sit two spots below the Blue Devils with a 3-1 league record.
Stay connected with our Noontime Nation Boston Sports coverage on Twitter by following @NS_Boston!
Some random thoughts after looking around at the local and national basketball landscape.
The Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC)/Big Ten Conference(B1G) Basketball Challenge is always at the top of my viewing list each year – I love channel surfing.
This year, the Big 10 Conference reigned supreme with some impressive showings by Maryland, Purdue, Ohio State, and Penn State.
Purdue absolutely dismantled Virginia and exposed the ‘Hoos offensive shortcomings while Ohio State throttled North Carolina. It’s early but Ohio State is looking like they have the horsepower to make a run to the Final Four next April.
Speaking of the ACC, Boston College is on a four-game losing spin and facing a rigorous conference road trip this Saturday at Norte Dame. A highly-touted freshman class must grow up in a hurry or the Eagles will once again reside in the ACC’s bottom quartile.
Save the date: current No. 1 Louisville will visit Conte Forum on Jan. 29. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m.
Carl Pierre, who played high school basketball at Boston College High School, is having an excellent season at UMass. The 2017 Catholic Conference MVP and two-time conference all-star selection is currently averaging 12 points per game.
Pierre and the Minutemen will visit Harvard on Saturday, December 7th with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. UMass will attempt to snap a four-game skid, which began prior to Thanksgiving with a 58-46 setback to Virginia. Harvard enters the non-conference clash at 4-4 – the Crimson have lost two-straight since beating Texas A&M last Thursday.
Newton North’s Ethan Wright has seen an uptick in playing time this season with the Princeton Tigers. The second-year guard has logged 93 minutes in six contests this season – he even started a game last month against Indiana. Wright has scored 13 points on 5 of 21 shooting, including 3 of 14 from beyond the arc. He has pulled down 13 rebounds, including two offensive caroms to go along with five assists and two blocks.
Wright and the Tigers sit at 1-6 and are scheduled to compete next Tuesday, December 10th against Monmouth. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.
Coach Trish Brown and the Stonehill College women’s basketball team are off to an impressive 6-2 start. Sure, their lone setbacks have come against Bentley and Molloy, but they have been fun to watch, especially in their last two contests against Assumption College and Franklin Pierce.
Emily Bramanti, who played locally for Westford Academy, credited all of her teammates in their most recent win against the Ravens for stepping-up and making plays when needed.
Bramanti concluded her team’s eighth contest with a team-high 16 points.
Stonehill hosts Saint Anselm College on Saturday before heading to Daytona Beach Florida two weeks later to compete in the Daytona Beach Shootout.
Finally, the Babson College men’s basketball team scored an exciting and impressive win last night over Amherst College. Frank Oftring, who grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts netted a career-high 30 points in the win to go along with 10 rebounds.
Babson’s Andrew Jaworski finished with 23 points with four of those points being recorded during the final 30 seconds of the second half.
Babson, which is 12-3 against the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) dating back to the 2016-17 season, will look to continue its early-season momentum this weekend when they compete in the New England Big 4 Challenge at Salem State University.
I’m getting ready to head back to warm and sunny Florida so I’ll be writing from the Sunshine State next week.
Bob Whitney is back from a short break for some thoughts on the New England (and national) college basketball landscape with a brand new edition of ‘Around the Rim.’
A pair of Braintree High School (Mass.) standouts are making a difference for the Southern New Hampshire women’s basketball team.
First-year Adriana Timberlake has earned a spot in the starting lineup and is averaging 12.0 points per game, along with 2.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
Sophomore Jenna Roche has played an important role for the Penmen coming off the bench. Roche is averaging 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Southern New Hampshire has won four-straight since dropping its initial contest of the season to Georgian Court. The Penmen visit Assumption College tomorrow (Saturday, November 23rd) with tip-off scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Manis, Holy Cross scored an exciting win against Boston College
The Holy Cross women’s basketball team scored an impressive win earlier this month by defeating Boston College in its home-opener. The win was the Crusaders first over a Power 5 school since 2014.
Holy Cross is led by senior forward Lauren Manis (Bishop Feehan). Manis, who is a three-time All-Patriot League selection, concluded the 2018-19 season second in the conference in scoring (16.8 points per game) and rebounding (11.1 per game).
Prior to her team’s initial game of the 2019-20 season, Manis checked-in fourth in program history with 844 career rebounds and 12th in career points (1,461)
Manis, who is a terrific role model for all those youngsters that aspire to play at the next level, has scored 53 points in three games and has pulled down 33 rebounds.
Holy Cross hosts Merrimack College on Saturday in Worcester with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.
Christian, Boston College off to a successful start:
Jim Christian‘s Boston College men’s squad has had a solid start marked by an important Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) win over Wake Forest University (77-70).
The Eagles hit a speed bump when they were torched at home, 100-85, by highly-regarded Belmont University team.
Christian has a slew of potential young talent that he is trying to integrate with veteran Nik Popovic.
The future looks bright at Conte Forum but this year they are likely to slug it out once again in the bottom quarter of the ACC – unless you are Duke University it is so very difficult to succeed with young talent in the country’s best college hoop conference.
While we are talking BC, why aren’t the Eagles and Ed Cooley‘s Providence College Friars playing this year?
Just Thinking 🤔:
If you get a chance, find a way to watch the University of Vermont‘s Anthony Lamb. He has the potential to be a player selected in next year’s NBA Draft. Lamb put on an offensive showcase recently scoring 30 points in a 61-55 loss to the University of Virginia.
If healthy these Catamounts will continue to dominate the America East and could be a real sleeper in March Madness.
Unfortunately, Lamb and the Catamounts will make just one trip to Massachusetts when they visit UMass Lowell in late February.
Virginia, the defending NCAA men’s champ, is off to an impressive start with Mamadi Diakite and Kihei Clark, who were the heroes of last year’s epic NCAA tournament run.
The Hoosiers, who are under the direction of coach Tony Bennett, have traditionally led all D-I programs in most of the key defensive categories. Their defense (and impressive play) will be on display tomorrow when they compete against UMass in The Hall of Fame Tip Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
UMass enters Saturday’s contest, which is scheduled to commence at 12 p.m, with an impressive 5-0 mark. The Minutemen are off to their best start since the 2013-14 season.
Have a great Thanksgiving….. Keep shooting! – Bob Whitney
Former Braintree High and Kimball Union star Nic Timberlake in action last year for Towson University. Timberlake is now a redshirt freshman for Towson this winter after last season’s injury-riddled campaign. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bob Whitney)
By Bob Whitney | @WhitneyBob
In case you haven’t noticed the 2019-20 college basketball season is off and running, highlighted by a nationally-televised doubleheader last evening featuring the top four teams in the men’s basketball preseason rankings: Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas.
For all of us veteran purists, it was hoop heaven, the talent was amazing but the quality of play was spotty at best given such a huge stage on opening night.
That aside, it is my pleasure to pen a weekly hoop column for the hard-working Matt Noonan and his many followers here at Noontime Sports.
I have covered one of the Power Five conferences – the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), to be exact – for the last eight seasons, but this year I will focus on a little bit of everything but the primary focus will remain on all that is happening in New England – and that is a lot!
No surprise that Amherst College is perched at the top of both rankings. They have been the gold-standard regionally and a regular participant in the NCAA D-III Tournaments for years.
Speaking of Amherst, the men’s program suffered a sudden jolt in September when legendary coach David Hixon (after 42 seasons at the helm) opted to take a non-health sabbatical to deal with some family issues. The big question is can the program move on without Hixon’s leadership?
Those close to the program feel that with the elevation of trusted assistant Aaron Toomey, who played under Hixon and helped win NCAA titles in 2012 and 2013, the transition should be seamless.
A game to watch (and to gauge how Toomey and his squad are managing the transition) is on January 10 when New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rival Middlebury College travels to Amherst.
ODDS AND ENDS
There have been a number of rule changes introduced with the most important one being the extension of the 3-point arc from 17 inches to the international standard of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. Although testing of this change in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) last year found little change in shooting percentage, it was felt by the officiating honchos that it would alleviate congestion in the paint by forcing defenders to guard shooters further away from the basket. Stay tuned on this change.
All eyes will be pointing to Cambridge, Mass this season to see if the Harvard University celebrated senior class, led by awesome point guard Bryce Aiken, can finally win an Ivy League title, as well as earn an automatic tournament bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Better yet, the Crimson will have some home-cooking help in March as this year’s conference tournament moves from the storied The Palestra to Lavietes Pavilion, March 14-15.
The Ivy poo-bahs move to a conference tournament for men and women was a no-brainer – the atmosphere is pulsating and the quality of play is as good as it gets.
A shoutout to former Marquette University assistant Brett Nelson who assumes the reins at Holy Cross after Bill Carmody‘s decision to retire from the coaching ranks.
Did you know that we have a number of the top coaches in the women’s college game led by the legendary Barbara Stevens, who ranks fourth in wins among college coaches at Bentley University, Harvard’s Kathy Delaney-Smith, Stonehill College‘s Trisha Brown, Springfield College‘s Naomi Graves, and Babson College‘s Judy Blinstrub. If any of you have a daughter that may be destined to play at the college level the price of admission to catch one of these coaches in action will help with a final decision.
In my eight years following ACC men’s basketball, I had the privilege to hear firsthand from some of the great coaches in the game, including Coach Mike Krzyseski, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, and Mike Brey. Buzz Williams was a real stitch in the press room. But most impressive among this elite group of coaches was the University of Virginia‘s, Tony Bennett.
Obviously, Bennett’s run to the national title was the big news last year but most noteworthy was his recent decision to forego a well-deserved a big raise. Bennett felt that his family was blessed and thankful for what they have and felt that the money would be better spent in funding a program to help athletes transition to careers after basketball. Bennett is destined to be the voice of the ACC once Coach K and Roy retire.
A FINAL THOUGHT
Best wishes to Kristen McDonnell who left the Braintree high school girls basketball program after a ten-year run which included four D-1 state titles and a bunch of sectional crowns. McDonnell is seeking a new challenge as the Norwood high school boys head coach.