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.

Daily Noontime – May 17, 2012

Kevin Garnett paced the Celtics with 27 points on Wednesday, which helped Boston earn a 2-1 series lead against Philadelphia! (Photo Credit: NY Daily News)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It’s Thursday, which means this particular week is slowly motoring along. Here are some news and headlines from the city of Boston!

* The Boston Celtics tallied 32 points in the second, and 29 in the third, as the Green and White captured Game No. 3 against the Philadelphia 76ers, 107-91. Kevin Garnett poured in 27 points, and finished with 13 rebounds, while Paul Pierce added 24 points, 12 rebounds and three steals.

* Boston now owns a 2-1 series lead, and will return to the hardwood on Friday when they attempt to earn a two-game lead against Philly.

* According to the New York Times — Rajon Rondo appeared more focused than ever during Wednesday’s shoot around, and told head coach Doc Rivers prior to tip-off that the third game of this particular series was necessary for Boston. Rondo finished the contest with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but recorded 17 points in the first half.

* The Boston Red Sox watched their five-game winning streak conclude on Wednesday in Tampa Bay, as the Rays scored twice — once in the second, and once in the sixth — to earn a 2-1 victory. Clay Buchholz lasted five innings, and yielded six hits, two earned runs, but fanned five batters.

* Boston and Tampa Bay will conclude their two-game series on Thursday — Felix Doubront opposes Matt Moore — first pitch is schedule for 7:10PM.

* Bobby Valentine told the media prior to their first game against the Rays that Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose rehab assignment ends on May 23, is not ready to join the Red Sox 

Daily Noontime – May 8, 2012

Felix Doubront helped Boston return to the winning ways on Monday, as the Sox defeated the Royals, 11-5! (Photo Credit: SB Nation)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Good Tuesday to everyone, and welcome into yet another edition of the Daily Noontime! Let’s kick-start the day with the news and headlines from the state of Massachusetts!

* Boston’s Felix Doubront halted the Red Sox five-game losing streak, as they defeated the Kansas City Royals on Monday, 11-5. Will Middlebrooks hit his second home run as a big leaguer, while Kelly Shoppach recorded his first triple of the season.

* The Red Sox are now 12-16, 8-6 on the road, and will attempt to double their current winning streak on Tuesday when Daniel Bard faces-off against Danny Duffy at 8:10pm.

* The Boston Celtics will attempt to conclude their first round series against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday — tip is scheduled for 8:00pm.

* Head coach Doc Rivers gave his team the day off on Monday, so the Green and White could catch a flight to Atlanta earlier than Tuesday. Paul PierceRay Allen and Avery Bradley needed that extra day to rest, as all three players are nursing an injury.

Daily Noontime – May 4, 2012

The Boston Celtics will welcome back Rajon Rondo to the lineup on Friday! (Photo Credit: LayupMag.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Happy Friday to everyone, and welcome into another outstanding edition of the Daily Noontime! Let’s jumpstart the final workday with some headlines and news from the city of Boston!

* The Boston Celtics will resume their first round NBA playoff series on Friday, as they welcome the Atlanta Hawks to the TD Garden for Game No. 3. 

* Rajon Rondo, who served a one-game suspension during Game No. 2, will return to the lineup. Ray Allen, who hasn’t played since the regular season, is optimistic about playing Friday, while head coach Doc Rivers hopes that Mickael Pietrus will be able to record his first playoff bucket in a Boston uniform.

* The Boston Red Sox will attempt to snap their two-game skid at Fenway Park on Friday when they welcome the Baltimore Orioles to Fenway Park for a 7:10pm first pitch – Jon Lester opposes Wei-Yin Chen.

* According to various reports on Thursday – Boston Bruins team president Cam Neely told the media that he thinks the team’s first round playoff loss to Washington should motivate them for future success.  

* Finally, the New England Patriots recently re-signed defensive lineman Gerard Warren and released wide receiver Tiquan Underwood.

Rivers On Celtics Playoffs, Rondo’s One-Game Suspension

Doc Rivers applauded Paul Pierce’s effort in Game No. 2 against the Atlanta Hawks! (Photo Credit: MassLive.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers joined Sports Radio WEEI 93.7FM/850AM on Thursday to talk about his team’s first round series against the Atlanta Hawks, and Rajon Rondo’s one-game suspension, too.

On the dynamic of Pierce-Rivers: “I don’t always just come out and say it. Paul [Pierce] knew it because we changed about four sets, all four sets were all Paul, and shoot around, and in the practice we went through our skeleton offense and we went through 10 plays and they were all Paul. So, I didn’t think I had to say a lot. When you do that it’s clear where the ball is going. Whenever I do something like that I think it’s more important that the other four [on the floor] know what the coach’s thought is and not Paul. Paul knows anyway, [and] thinking, ‘wow,’ this play’s for me, that play’s for me, this is nice. [Overall], I just thought it was really important that we worked on all this spacing, and everyone else knew it. The great part about Avery [Bradley] is Avery understands like who he is, and what he does for our team, and he doesn’t really want to handle the ball too much. He knows what he can and can’t do, so he embraced it whole heartedly, so it was easy to do.”

On the play of Pierce in Game No. 2: “Paul rarely talks about having a bad game, I thought that was interesting in between game one and two. He basically said, I have to play better, and I was telling our staff [that] I wasn’t sure what that was translate into because he didn’t do that very often.”

On the NBA Playoff pressure: “I don’t know if we like it or they like it, [but] they embrace it. It doesn’t bother them. I think maybe another way – and in some ways they look like they enjoy it at times. This team – I don’t know how good we are or what we’re going to do, but we do dumb things at times that gets us in trouble, and then we tend to play well when that happens. It’s just an interesting group of guys.”

On Rondo’s play in Game No. 3: “I don’t want him to try and do too much, and try and force himself on the game, just let it come to him. I was really happy after the [first game] we basically stated to him we’re going to get your back, and that’s what you should say, but that doesn’t mean [you’ll] always do it, and it happened. But, I was really happy going onto the bus; Rondo was staying outside the bus door waiting for every teammate, and to shake their hand and say, ‘thank you.’ [And] it was really cool to see him do that. He waited there for each guy and just shook his hand and said; ‘thank you,’ and you could tell that he was really emotional about it, so it was really nice. Adversity sometimes bonds and makes your team continue to grow, and I think we had a lot of that this year, so it’s been good.”         

On Rondo’s Game No. 2 Suspension: “Well, number one you protect him, and number two you talk to him, and just try to get him to understand [that] you can’t do it, number one, and go talk about it. Players more in this day in time tend not to want to talk when things happen [badly], and I try to always get my guys to do the exact opposite – go and talk, get it over with, say you’re sorry and let’s move on, and we’re probably not going to have you the next game.”

On Rondo’s Suspension – Teaching Moment: “I think anything like that has to be. That doesn’t mean it teaches him the point where he’ll never do it again. He’s an emotional kid, he really is, but I think each time you do it, it helps the next time that you may not do it.”

On the future of Rondo – No Big-3: “I don’t worry about it right now, but that is something in the future that Rondo’s growth will be important [for the future of the Celtics]. And especially because he is emotional, and his intensity is great, but when you’re the best player on the team, and at time he maybe the only one. He has to have that understanding that no matter what happens the one guy that we can’t lose is you, and so that is something he’ll have to understand further and better as the years go on.”