Noontime’s Boston Sports Notebook: Will Tom Brady Return?

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

It’s been just four days since the New England Patriots season concluded, but the setback to the Tennesse Titans doesn’t seem to be on the mind of many these days.

Instead, the biggest issue surrounding our beloved football team is the future of quarterback Tom Brady – will he really leave Boston as a free agent and sign with the Dallas CowboysLas Vegas Raiders or Los Angeles Chargers? Or will he stay in New England for one or two more seasons?

The speculation began quickly after the final whistle sounded last Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium as various reporters pressed the long-time signal-caller on his future with the team. Brady didn’t seem interested in discussing future plans. Instead, it appeared as if he wanted to go home and fall asleep. He also didn’t seem interested in reflecting on the entire 2019 season, too, which saw New England win eight-straight contests.

Will or will not, Tom Brady, return to New England will remain at the forefront of social media, blogs, websites, and media outlets going forward. But I have a hunch that Brady returns next season and concludes his career with the Patriots, not another team.

Watching Brady play for the Cowboys or Raiders would just seem strange in my opinion – I, along with other New England fans, would have a hard time seeing the six-time Super Bowl champion donning a different uniform.

I don’t know Brady – I have never covered any of his games, but have enjoyed watching him as both a fan and season ticket holder, and believe he will stick around the area and finish his impressive career as a Patriot, not a Cowboy or Charger. But for Brady to remain with the organization, New England is going to need to acquire some additional pieces on the offensive end so they can compete for a seventh championship next fall.

Brady, who just didn’t seem to have fun this season, needs help. And he certainly knows he can’t win games going forward with just Julian Edelman and James White. He needs receivers and tight ends that are accustomed to winning, but also those that are willing to commit to the process (also known as the ‘Patriot Way.’).

We’re still weeks (and months) away from finding out where Brady is headed, but again, I just have a feeling – yes, a feeling – that he returns for one or two more seasons and leads New England to their seventh (and maybe eighth) Super Bowl.

If Brady wins seven or eight Super Bowls then it will be really hard to say he is not the greatest ever to play football, right?

Noontime’s Quick Thoughts on some Boston sports news (and notes): 

  • The Boston Celtics have been really impressive and fun to watch this season – I think this team is destined for a deep postseason run.

    But after observing some of their previous starts against the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards, all I can say is the following: they need to play good basketball wire-to-wire, but also not allow mediocre teams dictate the pace of play following the opening tip.

    The Green and White host San Antonio this evening – the Spurs are currently eighth in the Western Conference – and should certainly provide the Celtics with a good test. But a win over the Spurs this evening followed by a victory tomorrow against the Philadelphia 76ers is a must for a team that didn’t play their best basketball against the Hawks and Wizards. Sure, they beat Atlanta (and the Chicago Bulls one night later), but if I am Brad Stevens, my message would be the following: we dictate the pace of play, not our opponent.

  • Could Alex Cora get suspended for 81 games or the entire 2020 season due to the latest report of the Boston Red Sox stealing signs during their 2018 World Series run?

    I think it is possible – do others?

    This is a bad look for the local nine that did not qualify for the postseason last year and has seemed to take a backseat to bolstering their roster this offseason, so they can compete with some of the best in the American League this season, including the New York Yankees.

  • In case you missed it, the Boston College men’s basketball team scored an impressive (and exciting) win last night over 18th ranked Virginia – hope Bob Whitney enjoyed watching this particular game.

    The win bumps the Eagles record to 9-6 overall and should provide the Maroon and Gold with momentum heading into upcoming contests against Georgia Tech and Syracuse University.

    Duke University remains the top team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) while the Eagles sit two spots below the Blue Devils with a 3-1 league record.


Stay connected with our Noontime Nation Boston Sports coverage on Twitter by following @NS_Boston

Around The Rim With Bob Whitney (Nov. 22, 2019)

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By Bob Whitney | @WhitneyBob

Bob Whitney is back from a short break for some thoughts on the New England (and national) college basketball landscape with a brand new edition of ‘Around the Rim.’ 

Opening Tap: 

A pair of Braintree High School (Mass.) standouts are making a difference for the Southern New Hampshire women’s basketball team.

First-year Adriana Timberlake has earned a spot in the starting lineup and is averaging 12.0 points per game, along with 2.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

Sophomore Jenna Roche has played an important role for the Penmen coming off the bench. Roche is averaging 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

Southern New Hampshire has won four-straight since dropping its initial contest of the season to Georgian Court. The Penmen visit Assumption College tomorrow (Saturday, November 23rd) with tip-off scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Manis, Holy Cross scored an exciting win against Boston College 

The Holy Cross women’s basketball team scored an impressive win earlier this month by defeating Boston College in its home-opener. The win was the Crusaders first over a Power 5 school since 2014.

Holy Cross is led by senior forward Lauren Manis (Bishop Feehan). Manis, who is a three-time All-Patriot League selection, concluded the 2018-19 season second in the conference in scoring (16.8 points per game) and rebounding (11.1 per game).

Prior to her team’s initial game of the 2019-20 season, Manis checked-in fourth in program history with 844 career rebounds and 12th in career points (1,461)

Manis, who is a terrific role model for all those youngsters that aspire to play at the next level, has scored 53 points in three games and has pulled down 33 rebounds.

Holy Cross hosts Merrimack College on Saturday in Worcester with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.

Christian, Boston College off to a successful start: 

Jim Christian‘s Boston College men’s squad has had a solid start marked by an important Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) win over Wake Forest University (77-70).

The Eagles hit a speed bump when they were torched at home, 100-85, by highly-regarded Belmont University team.

Christian has a slew of potential young talent that he is trying to integrate with veteran Nik Popovic.

The future looks bright at Conte Forum but this year they are likely to slug it out once again in the bottom quarter of the ACC – unless you are Duke University it is so very difficult to succeed with young talent in the country’s best college hoop conference.

While we are talking BC, why aren’t the Eagles and Ed Cooley‘s Providence College Friars playing this year?

Just Thinking 🤔: 

If you get a chance, find a way to watch the University of Vermont‘s Anthony Lamb. He has the potential to be a player selected in next year’s NBA DraftLamb put on an offensive showcase recently scoring 30 points in a 61-55 loss to the University of Virginia

If healthy these Catamounts will continue to dominate the America East and could be a real sleeper in March Madness.

Unfortunately, Lamb and the Catamounts will make just one trip to Massachusetts when they visit UMass Lowell in late February.

National Thoughts: 

Virginia, the defending NCAA men’s champ, is off to an impressive start with Mamadi Diakite and Kihei Clark,  who were the heroes of last year’s epic NCAA tournament run.

The Hoosiers, who are under the direction of coach Tony Bennett, have traditionally led all D-I programs in most of the key defensive categories. Their defense (and impressive play) will be on display tomorrow when they compete against UMass in The Hall of Fame Tip Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

UMass enters Saturday’s contest, which is scheduled to commence at 12 p.m, with an impressive 5-0 mark. The Minutemen are off to their best start since the 2013-14 season.

Have a great Thanksgiving….. Keep shooting! – Bob Whitney 

Mass. High Schools: Needham Football 2019 Season Preview

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Needham High School football coach Doug Kopsco directs his players through a practice drill. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

For Doug Kopsco, his first season as the head coach of the Needham High School football team seemed to go pretty well.

Kopsco’s Rockets posted a winning record of 7-4 last fall, which included a postseason win over Newton North in the quarterfinals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) D1 South playoffs and an exciting one-point victory over archrival Wellesley on Thanksgiving Day.

Heading into his second season with his alma mater’s football program, Kopsco appears more relaxed. In fact, he seems to be enjoying his new role with the Rockets, who are expected to once again contend for a Bay State Conference (BSC) Herget title this fall. 

“Really at the end of the day, it isn’t about x’s and o’s. It is about the culture, it is about the kids and it is about the family enviornment,” said Kopsco, who was previously a coordinator for the Rockets football program before taking over for coach Dave Duffy last season.

“It’s one thing to preach it and talk about it, but it is another thing to invite that environment and share that environment, and get the kids involved with creating that culture. And I think these guys did a great job of that this year.”

Kopsco says what has made this season’s preseason so much fun has been the competition – there seems to be multiple positions up for grabs due to some graduation losses, especially on the offense.

“We have a ton of competition this year,” said Kopsco.

“Last year, I think we knew (who our starters would be), and that’s both gratifying and exciting … but this year, all spots are open, so everyone is working hard, everyone is pushing each other and there is no kind of gimme spots.”


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Needham’s 2019 Football Season Outlook

Needham’s 2018 SeasonThe Rockets enjoyed a successful first season under coach Doug Kopsco, winning five of seven regular-season contests along with one postseason game, too.

Their run toward an MIAA D1 South championship concluded in the semifinals with a 35-32 loss to Catholic Memorial, but Needham would close the season on a high note by defeating Wellesley, 14-13, on Thanksgiving Day.

Key DepaturesThe Rockets graduated some key pieces from last year’s offense, including tight end Matt Smith, who will be competing for Duke University this fall.

Jack Murmes, who was also a tight end, will be playing for Assumption College this season, while quarterback Charlie Ogletree will be suiting up for Bentley University.

Players to WatchTyler Reid returns for his final season – the senior tri-captain will be spotted in the backfield at halfback and is someone Kopsco will certainly rely on this season.

Odahri Hibberts returns for his final season – he will be lining up in the slot and at cornerback on defense.

Ryan Villa is back for his final season with the Rockets and will be playing offensive tackle and guard.

Filling the holes on defenseWith just two student-athletes returning on defense with starting experience, Kopsco and his staff will be looking for some new additions this fall to fill all three levels.

“We have on defense have two kids coming back that have starting experience, so it is all wide open,” said Kopsco, “but we have (had holes to fill on defense from previous seasons) and honestly, we ended up with some of our better defenses.”

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Upcoming ScrimmageNeedham will compete against Wayland (the game will be held at Weston) on Friday, August 30th. Kopsco is excited for his team to compete against another squad prior to their initial game of the 2019 season on Friday, September 6th at Natick.

Said Kopsco, “They are always super well-prepared, great coaching staff, and it is a wonderful time to test out where we are at this point of the season … it is a wonderful opportunity to see how much we have taken in so far.”

A challenging opening monthNeedham will certainly be tested in the first few weeks of the season when they compete against Natick (week one) and Tewksbury (week two) and Newton North (week three).

Tewksbury advanced to the MIAA D3 Super Bowl – they lost to Springfield Central at Gillette Stadium – but are expected to once again be a team to beat in Merrimack Valley Conference (MVC).

“We’re excited (about our upcoming games),” said Kopsco. “Natick’s awesome, great coaches and super-well prepared. This is going to be a super-competitive game. We won last year, but they won the year before, so I think it is a good chance to see how we can come out of the gates as a team and a family, and hopefully, we come out on top.

“(Tewksbury) is a great team. This is just a great team. They are very versatile on offense, they give you a lot of different looks, they can do a lot of different things to you, so we just need to (make sure) we’re prepared, ask good questions during the week and we need to make sure everyone knows their assignments.”

Coach Dave Duffy returns to the sidelinesAfter announcing his retirement last summer following a very impressive 19-years of coaching the Rockets, coach Dave Duffy has returned to Needham to help his former squad continue its recent success.

Kopsco is very excited to have his former coach back on the sidelines – he is certainly eager to learn more from him as the season progresses.

“We were very fortunate this year” to have coach Duffy back, explained Kopsco, who played fullback and linebacker for the Rockets before returning to the program as a defensive coordinator.

“I didn’t want to hound him too much, but I really always wanted to work with Roy Johan and Dave Duffy. I am still learning from both of them, (but) they are amazing coaches with 35 years of varsity experience between the two of them alone, so we’re really going to lean on them heavily this year to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.”


Needham’s 2019 Schedule

  • Friday, September 6th – at Natick, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 13th – vs. Tewksbury, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 20th – vs. Newton North, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, September 27th – at Weymouth, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, October 4th – at Braintree, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, October 18th – vs. Milton, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, October 25th – vs. Walpole, 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 28th – at Wellesley, 10 a.m.

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Stay connected with our New England football coverage on Twitter at @Noontime_FB

Catching Up With Laura Pierce (Fitchburg State Women’s Basketball)

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Laura Pierce, who competed and coached at Wheaton College, was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Fitchburg State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Laura Pierce was ready for that next step in her coaching journey.

She had gained valuable experience at both Wesleyan University and Wheaton College as an assistant for both women’s basketball programs but appeared eager – and ready – to become a head coach.

And that eagerness – and readiness, too – paid off as she was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University.

“I am excited to get to work with the young women to create a culture in which our program makes Fitchburg State proud on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Pierce in the press release announcing her hiring.

Pierce inherits a Falcons squad that finished 9-17 a year ago, including 2-10 against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) foes.

The Falcons did qualify for the MASCAC Tournament last winter but saw their bid for a conference crown conclude in the quarterfinals against Bridgewater State University.

Coaching in the MASCAC is something Pierce is very excited about – she described the conference as “really competitive,” while also noting that “you have to bring your best effort every (single) evening.”

Said Pierce, “My hope is that we enter the gym every day with the mindset of effort, focus, and attitude because it will help us be successful, both this upcoming season and in the future.”

Prior to becoming an assistant for both the Cardinals and Lyons, Pierce enjoyed an impressive career at Wheaton, tallying 622 points, 253 rebounds, 424 assists, and 68 steals in 100 games played. Pierce, who was a three-year captain, also attended “So You Want to be a Coach” Program at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida in April of 2015 before graduating from Wheaton one month later.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Pierce about her excitement for leading her own program, but also what she learned as both a student-athlete and assistant from Coach Melissa Hodgdon.

What excites you about coaching your own program?

Being able to teach the game I love while shaping these young women’s lives.

Coaching is about so much more than the X’s & O’s (on a chalkboard). It’s about building relationships and mentoring (your players) to become the best they can be, both on and off the court. I have had many coaches and mentors along the way that I have played for and coached with, and they have all have shaped me into the coach and person I am today.

I think the exciting thing about coaching your own program is having a vision and being able to shape that vision throughout the season. It’s all about the process and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s such an exciting time for the Fitchburg State women’s basketball program.

Do you feel your previous stops as an assistant at Wesleyan and Wheaton have prepared you for a successful first season with Fitchburg State?

Absolutely. Kate Mullen, who is the is the head coach of the Wesleyan women’s basketball team, took a chance on me – she hired me right after I graduated college (in May of 2015) and I will be forever grateful to her for providing me with my first collegiate coaching role.

Coach Mullen gave me the opportunity to coach and prepare to play against teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is one of the most competitive Division III women’s basketball conferences in the country. 

I am really fortunate that both Coach Mullen and Melissa Hodgdon gave me an opportunity to learn and grow as a young coach (these past few years). I consider them not just mentors, but great friends, as well.

Tell me about your experience learning and playing for Melissa Hodgdon. How did she help mold you into the current coach you are today? 

I honestly had never heard of Wheaton until Coach Hodgdon began recruiting me. But attending Wheaton and playing for her was the best decision I ever made.

Coach Hodgdon challenged me every day to become the best basketball player I could be so I could reach my highest potential on the court with hopes of leading the Lyons to a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship.

Her biggest impact though is she genuinely cares about each and every one of her players.

I missed my entire sophomore year with a knee injury, but that didn’t stop Coach Hodgdon from including me in team activities. She made sure I was included and kept me engaged throughout the entire season while allowing me to see the game from her perspective. And once my sophomore year concluded at Wheaton, I knew I wanted to become a collegiate basketball coach when I graduated, so I began gaining experience as an intern at the Duke University women’s basketball camp, along with several local camps, too, before I returned to campus for my senior year.

A few years after my final season with the Lyons, I returned to campus after completing my graduate assistantship program at Wesleyan – I knew (deep down that) I wanted to return to Wheaton and assist Coach Hodgdon, who established a program that meant so much to me, both as a student-athlete and assistant coach.

Being able to work (and learn) from Coach Hodgdon as an assistant was an amazing experience. She challenged me to become the best coach while giving me responsibilities that prepared me for my next step in my coaching journey.

Finally, what goals and objectives do you have for the team heading into the upcoming season?

We have a great group of young women returning this year as well as a couple of incoming first-year student-athletes that are excited to get to work. We’re going to focus on getting better every day, whether that be in the classroom, weight room, film room or on the court.

We are also going to have this mindset of getting better (every single day). But our number one goal is always going to be to represent the Fitchburg State community with class and pride.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops

D3 Lacrosse: Batty Tabbed Babson College Men’s Lacrosse Coach

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Rocky Batty, a former volunteer coach at Boston University and high school coach at Wellesley, was recently named the new Babson College men’s lacrosse coach. (PHOTO CREDIT: Noontime Sports)

By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11 

Rocky Batty is returning to the Wellesley area.

The former Wellesley High School boy’s lacrosse coach was recently named the new men’s lacrosse coach at Babson College, taking over for Brendan Gorman, who spent nine seasons at Babson Park before resigning this past May.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity,” Batty said in Wednesday’s release via the Babson athletics website.

“Babson is a special place and I wouldn’t be here without the support of my family, my friends, former players and coaches, and all of the great lacrosse people I’ve been lucky to be around through the years. I’m also very thankful to coach Al Brown for giving me my first stick, introducing me to lacrosse, and instilling in me passion and respect for this great game.”

Batty spent this past season as a volunteer coach with the Boston University men’s lacrosse team, assisting head coach Ryan Polley and the Terriers to an appearance in the Patriot League semifinals. He was involved in all facets of the program, including the squad’s face-off unit where he helped rising sophomore Sean Christman go 34-of-49 in his final two contests against Duke University and Loyola Maryland.

Prior to joining the Terriers, Batty oversaw the Wellesley boy’s lacrosse program, coaching the Raiders for 10 seasons (2008-2017). The Raiders concluded their 2011 regular season undefeated, while the 2012 squad advanced to the MIAA East Division 2 finals. Batty concluded his time in Wellesley with a record of 148-63.

Prior to coaching the Raiders, he oversaw the Brookline High School boy’s lacrosse team from 1999-2006.

According to Wednesday’s release from Boston University, Batty becomes the program’s second coach to accept a head coaching role with another program. Drew Kelleher, a former assistant for the Terriers, will begin his fourth season this upcoming school year with Manhattan.


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