Catching Up with Danny Lawson of Emmanuel College Men’s Basketball

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Danny Lawson (middle) was recently named earlier this month the third men’s basketball coach at Emmanuel College. (PHOTO CREDIT: David Le ’10/ Endicott College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

It was announced earlier this month that Danny Lawson had been named the third head coach of the Emmanuel College men’s basketball team.

Lawson arrives in Boston, Massachusetts after a successful assistant coaching stint last winter with the Endicott College men’s basketball team. He helped coach Kevin Bettencourt and the Gulls to a 19-9 record, as well as a return trip to the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship against Nichols College.

No stranger to New England basketball, Lawson played at Lexington High School before continuing his career at nearby Bentley University where he guided the Falcons to an impressive 101-27 record in four years, which included a number one and two national rankings, along with an NCAA Elite Eight appearance (2007) and an NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance (2005).

Since graduating Bentley, Lawson has enjoyed a great deal of success in the basketball world, working for numerous programs at all three levels in the college world, while assisting the Boston Celtics during their 2008 NBA Championship run.

Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Lawson to discuss his excitement for the upcoming season with the Emmanuel men’s basketball team.

What interested you in becoming the program’s third head coach? And just to confirm, this is your first-time head coaching position, right?

When the job opened up, I was very excited to apply. Being from the Boston area, I knew a little bit about the history of Emmanuel’s academics and how it is has really exploded as an institution within the last decade. To me, it represented a college with great leadership and continuity. Combined with a tremendous location in the city of Boston – we are next to Fenway Park – I felt it could be a great opportunity for student-athletes academically, athletically and socially. Also, it certainly has always been a goal of mine throughout my coaching career to run my own program.

What did you know prior to accepting to the head coaching position about the Emmanuel men’s basketball program? 

I knew the program was relatively new since the college went co-ed in 2001. The athletic administration structure and support was very evident and crucial for me (throughout the interview process). Also, the program enjoyed success in the early-to-mid 2000s, winning between 17-to-20 games each season. As I prepared for my interviews,  I saw the roster was filled with some talented and young student-athletes, which will be returning this upcoming season. Throughout the interview process I also gained a lot of valuable information about the character of our returning players that are eager to be successful.

You were an integral part of Endicott College’s run to the CCC Championship last winter, so what were some things you learned from that experience, whih will help you in your new role with the Saints? 

I got to work alongside three excellent coaches and close friends in Kevin Bettencourt, Luke Richards and Lance Greene. I have known all three coaches for quite some time – I grew up and played basketball with Kevin, competing on the same AAU team since seventh grade. All three coaches helped me gain an understanding of the D3 landscape, including what it takes to coach at this level to recruiting. I had only coached in Division 1 and 2 levels, so last year’s experience was really instrumental in gaining an understanding of D3 basketball, but also how to be successful at this level, too. The group of players I had a chance to coach at Endicott was a really special group that made my experience at Endicott a lot of fun.

It sounds cliche, but looking back to both your playing career (at Bentley) and other stops, both in college and with the Boston Celtics, who have been some of the coaches and people that have molded you into the coach you are today? 

Like most coaches, I’ve been molded by every coach that I have played and worked for, beginning with my high school coach at Lexington, Bob Farias. Coach Farias had a legendary hall of fame career – he was the best motivator and developer of confidence that I have ever experienced.

Certainly the biggest influence has been my father, Jay Lawson. It is indescribable how much of an impact he has made on my coaching career, specifically in teaching and leading players.

I was fortunate to work for Jim Ferry for seven seasons – he is the former head coach at Duquesne, LIU Brooklyn, Adelphi and Plymouth State. The various opportunities he provided helped me become the coach I am today.

Jack Perri, who I worked with at LIU-Brooklyn – he would eventually become the team’s head coach and lead them to the NCAA Tournament. Jack was one of my assistant coaches when I played at Bentley and is someone I consider a true mentor.

I also spent a great season learning under Steve Evans at LeMoyne College. Steve had a lot of success at LeMoyne from a recruiting and coaching – he is one of the best teachers of the zone defense.

Finally, my season with the Boston Celtics was about as great first basketball coaching experience. Learning and watching from guys like Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau, Danny Ainge, Mike Longabardi and Ryan McDonough, as well as the players really helped shape my daily work ethic and approach.

Speaking of the Celtics, you were a member of the team’s 17th championship run, so how much do you think about that experience and being able to celebrate a title with a group that certainly seemed to buy-in from the get-go? 

I was very fortunate to be a part of the Celtics organization during their 17th championship season. To say it was an unbelievable experience would probably be an understatement. One of the biggest things I took away from the experience was how important an unselfish mentality and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good of the team is to a program’s success. Boston’s big three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen only cared about winning. They became totally invested in the team’s success right from the start when the team began its season training in Italy. And they had a great veteran bench presence combined with some young talent, as well. They also had a high level coaching staff and management team, but it all just came together at the right time and at the right point in their careers. It was really special.

Are you a Celtics fan or root for another team? 

Yes, absolutely. I grew up here and have always been a Celtics fan.

What does a new coach need to do to get prepared for a new season with a new program? How will you use the next few weeks and months to make sure the team will be ready to go come mid-October? 

Obviously there are a million things you need to accomplish when you take over a new program, but my focus this summer is all about building relationships, beginning with the current players in our program. Additionally, I look forward to meeting and building relationships on campus with other coaches, administrators, faculty and staff, too. I’m currently working on hiring the rest of our coaching staff for the upcoming season, while building and fostering recruiting relationships, as well. I am also working on completing and finalizing our game and practice schedule, while establishing our program’s identity.

Talk about building relationships with your players – how important is to begin those relationships now? 

It’s huge (and) has definitely been a primary focus for me the last two weeks. I have been able to meet with about half the team in-person, while conversing multiple times by phone or text with others. We need to build that mutual trust and respect on both sides, and then we can get on the court.

 

What is your all-time favorite basketball (or sports) movie?  

“Above the Rim” is definitely my favorite. I like others, as well, including “Blue Chips,” “Hoop Dreams” and more.  “Above The Rim” was ahead of its time with Kyle Lee Watson, Tommy Shepard, Birdie, and a lot of great actors and characters.

Finally, when you were growing up, who was a player or two that you idled? What did you like about their game? 

Like most people my age, I was a big Michael Jordan guy growing up. Also, Larry Bird, too. I loved their skill packages and competitiveness, as well as Bird’s passing ability, too.

D3 Football: WNE Unveils Its 2018 Schedule

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Western New England unveiled its 2018 schedule. (PHOTO CREDIT: Rachael Margossian | WNE Athletics)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)

The Western New England Golden Bears recently unveiled its 2018 schedule, which includes five home dates, as well as their annual rivalry game with Springfield College.

WNE will visit the Pride in week one on Friday, August 31st with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Last season, the Pride defeated the Golden Bears in the Fifth Annual Pynchon Saw Game. Quarterback Anthony Service concluded the contest with 235 passing yards – he also rushed for a team-high 49 yards.

The Golden Bears will host their initial home game of the 2018 season one week later when they entertain Westfield State on Saturday, September 8 before making the trek to Husson University on Saturday, September 15th. The Eagles lost to the Golden Bears last season by a touchdown, but did lead at the break by two scores (14-0). Husson was the lone New England squad to advance to the second round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Tournament last fall.

WNE will close out the month of September with back-to-back games against Anna Maria College and Salve Regina.

The Golden Bears will compete in a trio of conference contests in October, including a pair of home games against Curry College and University of New England before closing out its regular season slate with games against Endicott College and Becker College in November.

WNE concluded its 2017 campaign 8-3 overall and 5-0 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). The Golden Bears captured the inaugural CCC title with back-to-back wins over Curry and Salve Regina to secure the crown before advancing to the opening round of the NCAA Tournament against Delaware Valley.

D3 Football: UNE Football Unveils 2018 Schedule

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(PHOTO COURTESY: UNE Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Earlier today, the University of New England athletic department unveiled its first-ever varsity football schedule, which will see the Nor’easters compete in five home games next fall, beginning with a September 8th clash against Husson University.

Prior to welcoming the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) champions to Biddeford, Maine, the Nor’easters will make the trek to New London, Connecticut where they’ll compete against Coast Guard Academy in their first-ever varsity contest on Thursday, August 30th.

Two weeks after their first-ever varsity tilt, the Nor’easters will head to Hampden-Sydney for a week three meeting before enjoying a bye week prior to their initial Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) game against Nichols College, which will take place on Saturday, September 29th in Dudley, Massachusetts. One week later, the Nor’easter will entertain Curry College on Saturday, October 6th, which will be their first home conference game in program history.

Weeks after their final CCC meeting against Becker College on Saturday, November 3rd, UNE will conclude its regular season slate with a home date against Alvernia on Saturday, November 10th.

The first round of the 2018 NCAA Division III Tournament will begin a week later on Saturday, November 17th.

VIDEO: WNE’s Anthony Service Joins In The (D3FB) Huddle

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

After leading his team to victory last Saturday, while also shattering the Western New England football program’s record for touchdown passes, senior quarterback Anthony Service joined In the (D3FB) Huddle to discuss the Golden Bears’ season thus far, while also providing some insight on this weekend’s marquee match-up against Salve Regina.

Stay connected with In the (D3FB) Huddle on Facebook and Twitter throughout the remainder of the NCAA Division III Football season. Also, make sure to follow co-host Frank Rossi on Twitter (@FrankRossi).

New England Hockey Notebook: Endicott Picked To Capture Comm. Coast Conf.

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John Carricato and the Endicott College men’s ice hockey team were picked to capture the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) this winter. (Photo Credit: David Le ’10)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

One year after securing the first-ever Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title, the Endicott College men’s ice hockey team was picked to capture their second consecutive  conference crown this winter, according to this afternoon’s release.

The Gulls collected nine first-place votes for 99 points, while Salve Regina (78 points) earned one first-place vote – the Seahawks checked-in third on the preseason poll. University of New England tallied 85 points for a second-place projection, while Nichols College (74 points) and Curry College (55 points) rounded out the top five.

Wentworth Institute of Technology and Johnson & Wales were tied for sixth in the poll, while Western New England, Suffolk University and Becker College checked-in eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

Last season, the Gulls made their initial appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament after defeating University of New England in the conference tournament finals by a score of 5-4. The Gulls defeated Hobart, 4-3, in the opening round, but fell to Trinity College in the second round, 2-1 (OT).

Endicott completed its second season with a program-best 24 wins, which included a 12-game winning streak, spanning January to March. The Gulls never lost a game in February, winning seven games, including a conference tournament quarterfinal clash against Western New England.

In addition to winning 24 games one year ago, the Gulls concluded their 2016-17 campaign in the top 10 in multiple statistical categories, including first in scoring offense (4.83 goals per game) and scoring margin (2.87).

Additionally, Endicott was one of the top power play teams in the country. They were third on the power play (28.1 percent, 43/153) and 12th in penalty kill (86.5 percent, 147/170).

Endicott begins its season next Friday, October 27th when they host Plymouth State at 7 p.m. Following their season-opener against the Panthers, Endicott will visit Wentworth on Thursday, November 2nd for a 7 p.m. face-off before entertaining the Leopards on Saturday, November 4th at 2 p.m.