Tag Archives: Barbara Stevens

Around The Rim With Bob Whitney: Welcome Back College Hoops

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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!

First of all, check out the Noontime Sports Men and Women’s New England D-III Basketball Preseason Top 10 Polls: (Men’s Basketball | Women’s Basketball)

A few thoughts from the basketball polls.

  • 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 KrzyseskiRoy 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.

Keep shooting. See you next week!

Mass. College Hoops: Bentley’s Battista Earns NE-10 Woman Of The Year & NE-10 Outstanding Female Scholar-Athlete Awards

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Bentley University Sports Information Department, here’s last night’s release about Lauren Battista, who was named both the Northeast-10 Conference Woman of the Year and NE-10 Outstanding Female Scholar-Athlete:

     WALTHAM, Mass. – Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS), who led the Bentley University women’s basketball team to a 35-0 season and the NCAA Division II national championship, has added both the Northeast-10 Conference Woman of the Year and NE-10 Outstanding Female Scholar-Athlete awards to her already impressive list of honors.

The recent Bentley Summa Cum Laude graduate received both awards Monday night during the conference’s annual year-end banquet at the Essex Spa and Resort in Essex, Vt.

“Congratulations to Lauren for being named the NE-10 Woman of the Year and NE-10 Women’s Scholar Athlete of the Year,” said Bentley Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Barbara Stevens. “To be recognized by the member institutions of the NE-10 Conference for outstanding achievement on the court and in the classroom is a tremendous honor.  In a year full of outstanding accomplishments for Lauren, these NE-10 awards cap off a storybook season and an exceptional career.  We are extremely proud of her.”

Battista distinguished herself both on and off the court during her four years at Bentley.  Her senior year, which culminated with a come-from-behind 73-65 win over West Texas A&M in the national championship game, saw her recognized as the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division II Player of the Year, the Capital One NCAA Division II Academic All-America of the Year and the women’s basketball nominee for the Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards DII Woman of the Year.

The three-time WBCA All-America totaled a school-record 2,112 points while leading the Falcons to a four-year record of 124-11, including a remarkable 96-6 over the last three seasons and 93-6 in conference play (regular season and tournament). She earned All-Conference recognition four times, including three straight first-team nods, and was the conference’s Player of the Year in both 2012 and 2014. Her four straight NE-10 Championship Most Outstanding Player awards is unprecedented in conference history, in any sport.

“Since my team’s national championship victory, I have been approached by aspiring athletes, fellow students, faculty, alumni, and other fans who have showered me with praise and admiration for being a positive role model and ambassador for women’s college athletics,” said Battista.

The success carried over into the classroom with Battista graduating with a 3.96 GPA while majoring in both marketing and liberal studies. She earned Capital One Academic All-America honors three times, including first team recognition the last two years, and was the NE-10 Sport Excellence Scholar-Athlete for women’s basketball three times.

In the community, Battista has volunteered with Team IMPACT, Habitat for Humanity and Bentley’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).

“My roles as a scholar and as an athlete have defined critical components of my character, but my experience giving back to others has had the biggest influence on the person I am today,” said Battista. “Through my work with Team IMPACT, I have been able to foster a relationship with a young girl battling leukemia and her family. Her optimism and strength inspire me daily. The experience has taught me to be grateful for everything I have been blessed with in life and that no challenge is too big to overcome.”

As the NE-10 Woman of the Year, which was selected by the conference’s Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) Council, Battista will now be considered for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Mass. College Hoops: No. 1 Bentley Captures Fourth Straight NE-10 Championship

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Bentley University sports information department, here’s this afternoon’s release from the Falcons’ Northeast-10 Championship contest. Bentley won its fourth straight NE-10 Championship, while Lauren Battista eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her career. Here’s the release:

WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) tied her career-best with 29 points, eclipsing the 2,000-mark for her career in the process, and collected an unprecedented fourth consecutive Northeast-10 Conference Championship MVP award as Bentley University put on a sparkling offensive performance en route to its fourth straight NE-10 title, 99-76 over Adelphi University Sunday afternoon at the Dana Center.

Bentley, the season-long number one in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II coaches’ poll, ran its record to 29-0 and clinched the automatic berth into next weekend’s NCAA Division II East Regional. It was the second time in conference history a team has won four straight conference championships, with his year’s group of Falcons duplicating their predecessors from 1998-2001. All-time,  Bentley has 18 NE-10 titles to its credit, including 10 in the last 17 years.

“I’m very proud of the way our team performed today,” said 14-time NE-10 Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens after her 911th career win. “I was happy to see us play a spirited game.  In the first half, we had a lot of offensive weapons and were also doing a good job defensively.”

Battista was nothing short of sensational in her school record 127th career start as she hit 11 of 17 shots overall, including three of five from downtown, and all four of her free throws. In addition, she provided six assists, four rebounds and one steal, and turned the ball over just once in 31 minutes of action.

Bentley’s all-time leading scorer joined the 2,000-point club with an inside move at 6:19 of the first half, a basket that made it 50-23 at the time. She had 21 points by the break, helping the Falcons 64 points (a school record for a half) and a 27-point lead, and finished the game with 2,011 for her career.

“Lauren gave us a player of the year performance today and showed her tremendous versatility,” said Stevens. “She’s a distributor, a scorer and she was also asked to cover Sade Jackson. I’m so glad she’s on our side.”

Not to be overshadowed was the performance of senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/ Worcester Academy), who drilled five three-pointers en route to a 22-point afternoon, 15 of which came before intermission.

After the Panthers , the top seed out of the NE-10’s Southwest Division, jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead, Bentley embarked on a 28-5 blitzing of the visitors over a span of six-and-a-half minutes. That produced a 30-11 lead with more than 12 minutes still left on the first-half clock and Adelphi (22-7) never got closer than 17 again.

“Our team was very ready to play, but I think their first three possessions got our attention,” said Stevens.

That 28-5 began with a dozen unanswered points, a run that featured eight points by Crowell. She got it going with a three from the right wing, and later added a lay-up and another trifecta during the spurt.

By the time freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) scored with 12:29 to make it a 30-11 game, Bentley was shooting a ridiculous 81 percent, having put 13 of 16 shots through the basket.

Battista’s 2,000th came in the midst of an 18-6 run that made it a 59-27 game with 2:44 left until the break. The final points during that span came on a three-ball from grad student Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS), Bentley’s 23rd field goal in 31 attempts.

It was more of the same throughout the first eight minutes of the second half. Adelphi netted the first basket when play resumed, but Bentley followed with a 21-6 explosion that made it a 40-point game, 85-45.

Battista and Crowell were followed in the scoring column by Finn and Gemma, with 16 and 14, respectively. Finn added eight rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Gemma helped out with six boards.

Bentley also received six points and seven rebounds apiece from seniors Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) and Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS), with Bakolas also matching Battista’s six assists.

Senior guard Sade Jackson (Hackensack, N.J.) led Adelphi with 21 points and four assists, and classmate Jessica Kitrys (Parlin, N.J.) followed with 20 points. Both were plagued by turnovers (11 of the team’s 20) and fouls (four apiece).

Bentley shot 66 percent in the opening half, including 7-of-10 from three, and finished at .576 overall with 10 threes in 22 attempts. The Panthers were limited to 40 percent and were outrebounded by ten, 45-35.

The field for the NCAA Division II Championships will be announced during a selection show tonight at 10 pm athttp://www.ncaa.com/live/player?vid=2014/1345&date=2014/03/09.

Mass. College Hoops: Bentley’s Stevens Earns 900th Win & Battista Breaks Scoring Record

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Bentley University sports information department, here’s tonight’s release from today’s women’s basketball game. Bentley head coach Barbara Stevens earned her 900th win, while Lauren Battista became the all-time leading scorer in the storied program’s history:

WALTHAM, Mass. – History was made at the Dana Center Saturday afternoon as Bentley University’ Barbara Stevens became only the sixth women’s basketball coach in NCAA history to reach the 900-win plateau and Falcon senior All-America Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) became the all-time leading scorer in the storied program’s history.

The 98-82 Northeast-10 Conference win over Saint Anselm College, Bentley’s 18th without a loss this season, lifted Stevens, a 2006 inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, to 900-246 over 37 years, including 743-155 in 28 seasons with the Falcons. She’s the third fastest to reach 900, behind only Pat Summitt (Tennessee) and Tara VanDerveer (Stanford).

“This was a tremendous opportunity to reflect on a career that I’ve been so blessed to have,” said Stevens, who was able to reach 900 on the day her program was having its annual alumni day. “It’s not about me, but all the tremendous players and assistant coaches we’ve had.”

Battista, a two-time WBCA All-America and Capital One Academic All-America® who now has 1,804 points, entered the game needing 17 points to eclipse Kelly Barker (1,800 from 1997-2001) for the top spot on the list and she got it done in a first half that ended with the nation’s number one-ranked Division II team up 22, 58-36.

“Lauren has done everything we’ve asked, and has done so within the framework of our offensive system,” praised Stevens. “She is one of the best we’ve ever had.”

The milestone points came on a turn-around jumper in the paint with 1:06 left on the first-half clock. Battista, who began the day third on Bentley’s all-time scoring list, tied number two Alison Fay ’84 at 1,792 with a three-point play with 5:55 left. She scored five unanswered in a stretch of 58 seconds to pull within three of Barker with 2:49 til intermission and got within one with a lay-up with 1:27 left, that basket giving the Falcons their first 50-point first-half of the season.

Battista totaled 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and also provided three assists and two rebounds before exiting the game for good with 10:19 to play and Bentley up 26 at 85-59.

“This was a tremendous accomplishment for Lauren, but she and the rest of the team know they have more to achieve,” said Stevens.

Grad student Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) led Bentley with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists as she enjoyed an outstanding shooting day, as did most of the Falcons. Finn made seven of eight overall, including four three-pointers, and was perfect on three free throw attempts.

Junior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) added 15 points off the bench, freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Milton HS) helped out with 12 points and six rebounds, and senior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) missed only one shot during a 11-point, six-rebound effort.

Bentley took the lead for good with a 19-6 first-half run that made it a 27-14 game with 9:39 left. Brugliera got things started, hitting a three from the top of the key to break an 8-8 tie and following with a fast-break lay-up.

A 15-8 run over the first four minutes of the second half produced Bentley’s biggest lead, 73-44. At that juncture, Stevens’ club was shooting a ridiculous 69 percent, 25 of 36, with 10 three-pointers.

In its most productive offensive game of the season, Bentley finished with season-bests in points, points in a half, field goal percentage (.614) and three-point accuracy (.524). Saint Anselm (10-9, 6-8 NE-10) became the first team to exceed 68 points against the Falcon D this season and finished with a .443 field goal percentage.

Freshman guard Candace Andrews (Boston, Mass.) led four double-figure scorers for Saint Anselm, finishing with 20 points before fouling out.

Bentley, 13-0 in conference play, continues to lead the Northeast-10’s Northeast Division by four-and-a-half games. The Falcons are back on the Dana Center court Wednesday with a 5:30 pm game against The College of Saint Rose.

Mass. College Hoops: No. 1 Bentley 77, No. 21 Adelphi 66

By Brian Willwerth 

WALTHAM, Mass. – This was a matchup between the top two teams in the Northeast-10, both of whom are ranked nationally.

No. 1 Bentley had four players in double-figures – three of them with double-doubles – as the Falcons were able to hold off No. 21 Adelphi on Wednesday night, 77-66.

“It was a good win,” said Bentley head coach Barbara Stevens. “I told our team before the game that it was a measuring stick to see where we both are (at this point of the season).”

Lauren Battista was Bentley’s leading scorer with 19 points. The Falcons got double-doubles from Jacqui Brugliera (13 points and 14 rebounds), Courtney Finn (13 points and 13 rebounds) and Christiana Bakolas (16 points and 10 rebounds.)

The Falcons dominated in the paint, outscoring the Panthers, 38-26. Bentley also held a 20-7 advantage in points off turnovers and a 20-5 edge in second-chance points.

“We felt like we had an advantage over them with our post-player depth,” said Stevens. “When we had some matchup mismatches, I think we took advantage.”

Adelphi’s Sade Jackson led all scorers with 20, while Jessica Kitrys added 16 for the visitors.

For Stevens, this was career win No. 897. Her team is now 15-0 on the season, and will travel to American International on Saturday.

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