Tag: College Basketball

Player Perspective: Marcus Azor (UMass Dartmouth)

Marcus Azor and the UMass Dartmouth men’s basketball team recently captured the 2021 Little East Conference (LEC) Championship. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kyle Prudhomme)

By NoontimeSports.com

Marcus Azor says he continues to replay his team’s Little East Conference (LEC) tournament championship win in his head.

“It has been replaying since the final buzzer went off,” said Azor, a junior guard from Brockton, Massachusetts, who led the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men’s basketball team to a 108-68 win on Thursday, March 4 against Keene State.

Azor, who finished his team’s final contest with 13 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, was named the LEC’s Most Outstanding Player after leading the Corsairs to an 8-2 record this winter. The junior guard averaged 21.0 points, eight rebounds, and five assists per game in back-to-back conference tournament games this month, and is already looking ahead to next season with hopes his team will continue its recent momentum once the 2021-22 season tips-off.

“I have no doubt in my mind that my teammates and I will be motivated next year to continue this momentum,” said Azor.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Marcus Azor to discuss his team’s first conference tournament title since 2009, as well as how the UMass Dartmouth men’s basketball team was able to improve from one game to the next.


Tell me about winning the LEC Championship earlier this month. Are you still replaying the game in your head? 

Yes, I am.

We were so close last season to winning the conference crown, but came up short (against Western Connecticut), so that loss provided us with extra motivation. Most of the 2019-20 team returned this winter, so we were confident that we could achieve our goal of winning the conference crown.

Cutting down the net is truly a moment I will never forget.

In addition to helping your team win the LEC title, you were also tabbed the Most Outstanding Player. What does this particular honor mean to you? 

I owe this honor to my teammates and coaches for challenging me every while giving me the confidence to play my game. Everyone played a huge role in the tournament, so the award could have gone to any member of the team.

All in all, this is truly a special honor to me.

Marcus Azor averaged 21.0 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in a pair of LEC Tournament games this month. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kyle Prudhomme)

You and the team had a successful shortened season, winning eight of 10 contests. How did you and the team improve from one game to the next? 

It always starts off with practice, we make each other work extremely hard, but also ask everyone to put forth their best effort in every drill so we can be more prepared for our next game. And after games conclude, we go over our mistakes through a film review with an emphasis on improving them in our next practice, so we will be better prepared for our next game.

What did you and the team learn from your two setbacks this winter against Eastern Connecticut and Keene State? How did those loses fuel an eventual title run?

Those losses were disappointing because we were leading throughout each contest. We learned that we shouldn’t get comfortable with any sort of lead and continue to be aggressive – we needed to attack when necessary, and I felt that we exhibited that approach in our championship game against Keene State.

With the season officially over, what will you be doing over the next few weeks and months to prepare for next season? And do you imagine you will enter next year’s campaign with additional motivation to continue your squad’s recent success as a senior? 

I’ll be resting the bumps and bruises from the season before returning to the gym to prepare for next season.

Everyone is determined to win the conference title again and make a lengthy run through in the 2022 NCAA D-III Tournament.

Noontime’s Black History Month: The 1966 Texas Western Miners

By Matt Noonan

The Texas Western Miners celebrate a 1966 NCAA Championship victory. (PHOTO COURTESY: University of Texas at El Paso Flowsheet student yearbook/blackpast.org)

Our Black History Month celebration on the men and women that have and continue to shape the world of sports returns – we’ll be posting a few times each week, including this evening where we are honoring the Texas Western Miners men’s basketball team, which captured 1966 NCAA D-I Championship.

The Miners were a team many of us learned about in the 2006 movie Glory Road – coach Don Haskins started five African American players, who led the squad to an exciting (and very impressive!) 72-65 victory over the University of Kentucky.

The Wildcats entered the final contest of the 1965-66 school year as the favorite.

Let’s learn a bit more about the Miners, who represented Texas Western College, which is now the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

Getting to know the Texas Western Miners:

  • Coached by Don Haskins, who was inducted into both the Basketball Hall of Fame and College Basketball Hall of Fame, led the Miners to their first and only championship with an upset win over Kentucky.

    Texas Western started five African American players against a Kentucky program that did not integrate until the 1970-71 season. Tom Payne became the first African American to compete for coach Adolph Rupp. Payne would play just one season for the Blue and White before turning pro one year later where he spent one season with the Atlanta Hawks.
  • Prior to their 1966 NCAA Championship, the Miners made back-to-back appearances in the national postseason in 1963 and 1964. In 1964, they advanced to the the Sweet Sixteen, but lost to Kansas State. They did win, however, the Regional third place game against Creighton.
  • The Miners posted a 28-1 record during the 1965-66 season. Their only loss occurred at the end of the regular season against Seattle.

    Following their end of season setback to the Red Hawks, Texas Western rattled off five-straight wins, including a pair of overtime victories against Cincinnati and Kansas. Their win over the Jayhawks – an 81-80 victory in double-overtime – secured Texas Western a spot in the national semifinals against Utah.
  • The 1965-66 Texas Western Miners squad featured seven African American student-athletes: Bobby Joe Hill, Orsten Artis, Willie Worsley, Willie Cager, Nevil Shed, Harry Flournoy, and David Lattin.
  • As many historians and sports writers noted, the Texas Western victory over Kentucky opened the door for even more African American student-athletes to play sports at the collegiate level, not just basketball, but also football, track, baseball, and others, according to Dan Wetzel.

Articles and Links on the 1966 Texas Western Miners:

Noontime’s Small College Basketball Team of the Week (Feb. 1, 2021)

By NoontimeSports.com

Another week of small college basketball in the northeast is in the books, which means it is time to share this week’s Noontime Sports Team of the Week for Monday, February 1, 2021.

Similar to last week, our team is made-up of NCAA D-III student-athletes from the northeast, including one student the Liberty League (LL) in New York.

As noted last week, our teams will highlight student-athletes from our region that have either returned to the court or been playing for the past few weeks. Submissions for each team can be sent to our general email: NoontimeSports@gmail.com.


In case you missed it, here is our first Noontime Sports Small College Basketball Team of the Week from Monday, January 25, 2021.


Noontime’s Men’s Basketball Team of the Week (Feb. 1, 2021)

Shion Darby (Rhode Island College): Darby secured his initial Little East Conference (LEC) co-player of the week honor with Cory Muckle on Monday after leading the Anchormen to a 79-75 win over Eastern Connecticut this past weekend. The second-year guard tallied 23 points with eight assists, three rebounds, two blocks, and two steals in 39 of 40 minutes.

Dante Law (Rhode Island College): Law secured his second-straight LEC Rookie of the Week honor after scoring a game-high 26 points last Saturday in his team’s four-point win over Eastern Connecticut. The first-year guard from Taunton, Massachusetts connected on 10 of 15 field goals while tallying six boards and two steals.

Cory Muckle (Eastern Conn.): In his team’s lone contest of the week against Rhode Island College, Muckle led the Warriors with a double-double of 22 points and 16 rebounds to go with one steal. Muckle was tabbed a co-player of the week with RIC’s Shion Darby.

Jason Phelps (Clarkson): Phelps averaged 22 points, five assists, four rebounds, and one steal in a 1-1 week for the Golden Knights. Against Villa Maria last Wednesday, the senior from Tully, New York netted 26 points to go with two boards, five assists, and two steals before posting 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, and one block on Saturday against Bryant & Stratton.

Tyreice Woods (Eastern Conn.): Against Rhode Island College this past weekend, Woods produced 13 points on five of nine shooting to go with four assists, three rebounds, and one block.

Noontime’s Women’s Basketball Team of the Week (Feb. 1, 2021)

Jalen Cook (Plymouth State): Cook led the Panthers this past Saturday against Rhode Island College by scoring a game-high 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting to go with four rebounds. She connected on both free throw attempts and finished the game five of seven from beyond the arc.

Sophia Guerrier (Rhode Island College): Named this week’s Little East Conference (LEC) Player of the Week, Guerrier averaged 13 points, 9.5 rebounds and four assists in back-to-back games against Plymouth State and UMass Dartmouth. Against UMass Dartmouth, Guerrier posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds along with three assists and one steal before tallying 14 points, nine caroms, two steals, and two blocks against Plymouth State.

Jordan Moretti (UMass Dartmouth): The Johnston, Rhode Island native came close to tallying a triple-double last Wednesday when the Corsairs hosted Rhode Island College in their first contest of the 2020-21 school year. Moretti stuffed the stat sheet with 10 rebounds, nine points, and five steals in 40 minutes. She connected on three of four freebies.

Kelly Walsh (Babson College): In a pair of games this past weekend against Fisher College, Walsh averaged 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. In her team’s initial game of the 2020-21 school year, Walsh scored a game-high 20 points on seven of nine shooting to go with seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals before stuffing the stat sheet on Sunday with 11 points, four assists, and three rebounds.

Brooke Young (Rhode Island College): In a pair of games last week, Young averaged 12.5 points and three rebounds as the Anchorwomen scored back-to-back wins against Plymouth State and UMass Dartmouth. Against the Corsairs last Wednesday, Young tallied 13 points on 5 of 15 shooting to go with five rebounds, three assists, and one steal before posting 13 points, two steals, one carom, and one assist on Saturday against the Panthers.

Daily Noontime: Monday, February 1, 2021

By NoontimeSports.com

Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome to the first day of February!

We’re expecting a nor’easter to arrive in our neighborhood shortly, so please make sure your car is parked on the correct side of the street as we certainly don’t want complaints of parking tickets flooding our email inbox tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.

Yet, before the snow, rain, and slush arrive, allow us to kickstart the day with a brand new Daily Noontime for Monday, February 1, 2021.

As usual, be well, stay safe, hold the line, and smile – we’re almost there!


Monday’s Headlines & Links (February 1, 2021)

  • Let’s start the day with perhaps the biggest news blast (and update) in our email this morning: Theo Epstein, who guided both the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs to World Series victories as en executive for both ball clubs, has joined Arctos Sports Partners, which is a firm that buys minority shares of pro clubs.

    Today’s announcement comes just one day after an SB Nation shared an interesting post (and read) from The Athletic, which asked the following question: who should be the next Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner?

    As we all know, Rob Manfred is the current MLB Commissioner, but putting Theo Epstein in charge may not be a bad idea as the sport could certainly use his help with being just as innovative as the other professional leagues.
  • Welcome to Super Bowl week, which promises to be quite different due to the coronavirus pandemic. But as one sports writer – Jay Mariottiwonders (and writes), is reaching the championship game a win for the National Football League (NFL) or perhaps a sign that our country has turned a blind eye to this deadly virus?
  • College basketball conference championships are on the horizon, which seems crazy, right? But as one west coast reporter write, the Pac-12 is not planning to cancel its conference tournament next month.

    Similar to NCAA D-I college football, the college basketball season has not been pretty – we have seen a lot of starts and stops, along with some programs calling it quits, but don’t be surprised if you see some teams or conferences pull the plug on their respective postseason.
  • The Los Angeles Rams apparently have a new quarterback for the 2021 season as they sent Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Matthew Stafford. But prior to acquiring Matthew Stafford late Saturday evening, the Rams tried to trade for Aaron Rodgers, but the Green Bay Packers said, “no way!”

Monday’s Podcast Alert 🚨

  • Today on the Noontime Sports Podcast, Matt Noonan welcomes Scottie Rodgers, who is the director of communications with the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.

    Noonan and Rodgers discuss how the sports communication world has changed due to the pandemic, including how Zoom press conferences could be part of the “new normal.” Rodgers also discussed his role (and involvement) with the Racial and Social Justice Initiative Planning Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
  • You can listen to today’s interview, as well as past shows by visiting our Anchor page!

We’ll be back with more later today, but for now, be well, stay safe, and smile, everyone!

Daily Noontime: Tuesday, January 26, 2021

By Matt Noonan

Welcome to Tuesday, everyone!

The sun is shining here in Boston, which makes me think that today is going to be an awesome day for everyone, so let’s get after it and have some fun!

The Daily Noontime is back – yes, I am pumped to bring it back and highlight some stories from the sports, tech, and innovation world, so you have something to read (and consume) every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Let’s get after it with today’s Daily Noontime for Tuesday, January 26, 2021 – be well, stay safe, and please hold the line!


Tuesday’s Headlines (Jan. 26, 2021)

In case you missed it (ICYMI): We unveiled our Small College Basketball Team of the Week yesterday – all 10 student-athletes recently competed for the first time this winter last Saturday.