Daily Noontime (Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020)

By Matt Noonan

Welcome to Thursday, everyone!

As usual, I hope this blog post finds everyone doing well, staying safe, and thinking optimistically.

Before we get to some news and links, I just wanted to pass along a friendly reminder that Election Day is five days away so please make an effort to vote. No matter who you support, your voice matters, and you can visit Vote.org to learn more about how and where to vote.

Alright, let’s get to some news and links, beginning with Major League Baseball (MLB) which is currently investigating – well, more trying to understand exactly why Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgersrefused to comply‘ with league officials during his team’s championship celebration on Tuesday evening.

As for Turner’s teammates (and coaches), they returned safely to the City of Angles yesterday after testing negative for the coronavirus. And hopefully Turner (and his wife) will return to California soon – safely, of course! – but for now, he and his teammates, along with the organization remain “under fire” for their World Series celebration.

The Dodgers are currently the favorites heading into the 2021 season, according to a ‘way too early‘ power rankings from ESPN, while our hometown Boston Red Sox were picked 19th (ouch!). Yes, the Red Sox were not great this summer and fall, but hopefully things change for the better next season (fingers crossed!).

Let’s switch gears to basketball – the college basketball world, to be exact – where this year’s women’s basketball teams may look the same, both this season and next season, due to NCAA allowing student-athletes an extra year of eligibility. Yet, for student-athletes to receive this additional year, they must compete during the current academic school year.

The 2020-21 college basketball season begins next month and promises to be perhaps one of the strangest seasons.

We’ll be back for more later, but don’t forget to listen (and subscribe) to our Noontime Sports Podcast on Apple Podcast and Spotify!

Daily Noontime (Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020)

By Matt Noonan

Hello Tuesday – how are you?

From a quick look outside our window, Tuesday look rather gloomy and cloudy – that is in the Boston area, to be exact!

Let’s get to some news (and links), beginning with Major League Baseball (MLB) where the 30-team league “amassed an unprecedented $8.3 billion of debt from their various lender” this summer and fall. The league will also lose between $2.8-3 billion in operational losses, according to Rob Manfred, who conveyed the not-so-great news to Sportico yesterday.

A big reason for the debt was due to no fans in the stands, which is because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And if Manfred and the league does not have fans in the stands next season, which is certainly a possibility, especially in California and New York, then MLB could be face some additional challenges.

The 2020 MLB season could conclude either this evening or tomorrow in Texas – as of now, the Los Angeles Dodgers are one game away from winning their first Fall Classic since 1988. The Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-2, on Sunday in the fifth game of the World Series.

I am thinking the Dodgers will clinch the World Series this evening – just a gut feeling – but I could also see the Rays winning tonight to force a game seven tomorrow evening.

Let’s switch gears to college basketball where we learned yesterday that some early season contests and events that were initially scheduled to occur in Orlando, Florida next month, as well as in the beginning of December, will not happen. The main reason ESPN, which was scheduled to host these tournaments, pulled the plug was so everyone could stay safe and healthy.

ESPN’s public relations team released a statement on Twitter about the tournaments they were planning to host with the following message to their college basketball fans: “ESPN Events set out to create a protected environment for teams to participate in early-season events in Orlando. Based on certain challenges surrounding testing protocols, we opted to resume these tournaments during the 2021-22 season.”

Alright, that will conclude a short and to-the-point version of the ‘Daily Noontime,’ but we will be back with another blog post (or two) later today!

Basketball Notebook: Sheldon Announces Retirement From Tufts University

Bob Sheldon, who has coached the Tufts University men’s basketball team for three decades, announced his retirement Thursday. (PHOTO COURTESY: TuftsNow)

By Matt Noonan 

Prior to yesterday’s announcement from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) regarding an update on the upcoming winter sports season, which has been canceled, Bob Sheldon, who has guided the Tufts University men’s basketball team for the past 33 years, announced he will be stepping down effectively on Thursday, December 31, 2020. 

Matt Malone, who has been an assistant under Sheldon for the past 15 years, will take over as the interim coach, according to Wednesday’s (Oct. 7) release from the Tufts University athletic department

Sheldon and the Jumbos matched a program record for wins (23) this past winter while capturing their first-ever NESCAC Tournament Championship by outlasting Colby College in double-overtime

“I was getting near the end of my career as it was, and then when Covid came up and the craziness with that, I just felt that it was time for me to go,” said Sheldon, via the Tufts athletic department story, which can be seen (and read) on the school’s athletic website. 

Sheldon noted he “went back and forth” with his decision to retire, but seems content with his choice to leave a program that he believes is in “a good spot going forward.” 

Prior to their season concluding earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tufts won a pair of NCAA D-III Tournament games in Medford, including a come-from-behind win over Western Connecticut in the opening round. 

Sheldon, who is the program’s all-time winningest coach, would have entered his team’s 2020-21 season as one of the Top 25 NCAA D-III winningest coaches after being named the NESCAC and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Northeast Region Coach of the Year in March. 

The 2020-21 NESCAC winter sports season has been canceled: As noted above, the NESCAC became the first New England D-III conference to cancel its upcoming winter sports season on Thursday, October 7, after postponing its fall season on Friday, July 10

While health and safety were stressed in yesterday’s release regarding the decision by the conference’s presidents, the NESCAC did note that some of their schools have made “significant modifications” to their current academic calendar, which would limit the number of games each program would be able to compete in.  

The NESCAC has made no announcement regarding spring sports – an update will most likely come in a few months – but the conference did say the league’s 11 schools could schedule non-conference games if they choose to. However, D3Sports.com has reported that some schools within the conference have already made decisions for its various winter sports programs, including Middlebury College, which announced yesterday that they “will not hold any athletic competitions during the winter season.” 

Elms College to join the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC): While it is uncertain if and when Elms College will resume athletic competition in the next few weeks or months, the athletic department did announce some exciting news earlier this week about joining the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) for the 2022-23 school year. 

The Blazers currently compete in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) and would join a former member of the eight-team league – that would be Dean College – which joined the GNAC as a full-time member at the start of the current academic year (2020-21)

Both Elms College basketball teams competed last winter in the NECC Tournament with the women’s squad advancing to the conference championship game against Mitchell College

The GNAC has welcomed a few new schools to its conference over the past few years, including Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts in 2017, and Colby-Sawyer in 2018. 

Daily Noontime (Friday, Oct. 9, 2020)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Welcome to Friday, everyone! 

And welcome to a three-day weekend, too – anyone taking a four-day weekend? 

Anywho, we have a lot to get to this morning, beginning with former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady who appeared to lose track of downs last night during his new team’s (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) setback to the Chicago Bears

Brady attempted to lead the Bucs on a game-winning drive, but his team’s final series of the contest concluded with an incomplete pass on fourth down. The Bears took over and claimed a 20-19 victory, but for some reason, Brady thought his team had an extra down – fifth down

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have won three of five contests this year and will look to bounce back next Sunday, October 18 against the Green Bay Packers

Sticking with football, the National Football League (NFL) announced last night some changes to its current schedule, both for games this week and next week. Here are the new dates/times for games: 

  • Denver Broncos at New England Patriots on Monday, October 12 at 5 p.m. (the game was originally scheduled for Sunday, October 11 at 4:25 p.m.)
  • Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, October 13 at 7 p.m. (the game was originally scheduled for Sunday, October 11 at 1 p.m., but had to be moved due to the Titans having more members of the organization, including players, testing positive.)

As of this morning, neither the Patriots nor Titans have recorded any new positive tests, which means we should be good for these new dates, but if anything changes then things will get a bit messy. This is the beauty of playing football during a pandemic, right? 

Switching gears from football to basketball, Tufts University‘s Bob Sheldon announced he is retiring after an impressive three decades with the Jumbos.

Sheldon, who is one of the top 25 winningest coaches in NCAA D-III men’s basketball, guided the Powder Blue and White to its first-ever New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship in March when Tufts outlasted Colby College in double-overtime.

Following the team’s exciting win over the Mules, the Jumbos advanced to the NCAA D-III Tournament one week later and scored a pair of wins over RPI and Western Connecticut to secure a date in the “NCAA Sweet 16” against Brockport

Tufts’ third postseason contest against Brockport was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Staying in NCAA D-III, the NESCAC Presidents “unanimously” decided to cancel the upcoming winter sports season, which includes conference championships. Schools within the conference could schedule non-conference games “at their discretion,” as noted in yesterday’s release. 

We’ll be back for more later, but in the meantime make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube – have a great day, everyone! 

Noontime’s Senior Salute: Packy Witkowski (Coast Guard Academy)

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Coast Guard Academy senior Packy Witkowski, who is from Melrose, Massachusetts, averaged a career-best 17.7 points this past season with the Bears. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Packy Witkowski has always been a player to watch on the Coast Guard Academy men’s basketball team, but perhaps this was a season both he and fans of the program will remember the most.

The Melrose, Massachusetts native, who played high school basketball at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut, averaged a career-best 17.7 points per game. He scored a career-high 477 points in 27 contests to go with 120 rebounds, 34 assists, 20 steals, and five blocks.

Witkowski registered 20 points or more in nine games this past winter while sinking a season-best 33 points on 12 of 21 shooting in his team’s 80-69 win over Merchant Marine Academy. He scored 10 points or more in 21 contests while averaging 17.6 points for the Bears in three New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament games.

The senior guard concludes an impressive four-year run with the Bears, which saw him record 1,518 points in 93 games to go with 502 rebounds, 150 assists, 61 steals, and 15 blocks.

We recently spoke with Witkowski to discuss his final season with the Bears, as well as his future plans with the Coast Guard beyond graduation.


What will you remember most about your senior year with the Bears? 

It’s hard to narrow down to a single event from this past season, but I would say our team’s journey is what I will remember the most.

From starting out in Anchorage, Alaska to finishing in Brockport, New York, it was a journey made by a group of brothers. We did not start well but we kept at it. By the end, we were operating on all cylinders when we needed it most and founds a way through. This culminated in winning three road playoff games in five days to become NEWMAC Tournament Champions to earning an automatic bid into the NCAA D-III Tournament.

The journey was special and an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Looking back on the 2019-20 season, what game (or games) will you remember most? Why these particular games? 

Our NEWMAC Championship game against WPI. To be down 24 points at the break and comeback and win was nothing short of incredible. I am very grateful to have been part of a win like that, but more importantly, on a team that was so resilient. It is difficult to put that one game into words but that is a memory that will bond us forever.

What have you enjoyed most about competing for the Coast Guard Academy men’s basketball team (and program) these past four years? 

Being able to compete (on a daily basis), but really just being a part of this team for four years. Having that competitive outlet and support network from the team and coaching staff has made my experience here at the Coast Guard Academy that much more rewarding and worthwhile. Having the privilege to go to the Academy and represent it while playing a sport that I love has truly been amazing. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I have been afforded and the experiences I have had during my time both here at the Academy and on this team.

Once you officially graduate later this spring, do you plan (or hope) to stay involved with your sport in some capacity? Any interest in coaching in the future? 

I will always love this game and do what I can to keep up with the team going forward. I can see myself getting involved in coaching to some degree down the road because I am passionate about helping and developing others. Coaching would allow me to continue that passion after graduation.

Tell me about your major. How did you choose it? Also, what are your future plans beyond graduation? 

I am finishing up my degree in civil engineering. I have always wanted to have a technical background that would allow me to develop real-world problem-solving skills and that is exactly what this major has provided me.

I believe studying civil engineering has set me up for future success, beginning as an officer with the Coast Guard. School has always been something that has meant a lot to me and I have worked really hard to be successful at it while balancing both my military and basketball commitments.

I will be serving aboard USCGC Reliance as a Deck Watch Officer in June and am very excited to begin my career with the Coast Guard. Beyond that, I am working towards making my dream of being a Coast Guard aviator come true, as well.