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 Lax RoundUp: Bates Upends Middlebury, MIT Tops Babson

D3 Lax RoundUp

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

The Bates men’s lacrosse team scored its 10th straight win of the season, as well as its seventh consecutive New England Small College Athletics Conference (NESCAC) victory this afternoon with a 15-12 win over Middlebury College.

Kyle Weber powered the Bobcats’ attack, netting five goals, while dishing out one assist on seven shots. Charlie Fay recorded recorded a hat trick and Mitchell Drake registered 14 stop.

Bates jumped out to a three-goal lead before extending its advantage to 11-4 at the break Middlebury countered in the third, netting seven consecutive goals to pull within one (12-11), but the Bobcats answered with three tallies in the final session to secure the win.

The Bobcats return to the field next on Tuesday, April 18 when they visit Tufts University for a 7:00 p.m. face-off.

The Jumbos extended its winning streak to 11 games by defeating Hamilton College, 18-6. Danny Murphy paced the Powder Blue and White with five goals and four assists, while Robert Treiber deflected six shots.

Tufts visits Amherst College next Saturday with face-off scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

MIT overcame a three-goal deficit at the break to defeat Babson College in Cambridge by a score of 13-10. Jack Kelly netted four goals for the Engineers, while Graham Davis finished with three goals and three assists.

The win bumps the Engineers to 2-0 in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play, while the Beavers fall to 0-2.

Ben Farrell netted five goals, including the game-clincher with 17 seconds remaining in the final stanza to lift Johnson & Wales past Emmanuel College, 11-10. Farrell netted a pair in the third and fourth stanzas, along with his initial strike in the second quarter, while Bradley Morris deflected 10 shots to improve to 8-2 between the pipes.

Johnson & Wales currently currently occupies the top spot in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC), while Lasell College sits below them at 2-0 in league play. The Lasers defeated Albertus Magnus by a score of 21-7, while Mount Ida edged Dean College, 10-6.

Lasell and Johnson & Wales will meet against each other on Tuesday, April 11th in Newton, Massachusetts with face-off scheduled for 4 p.m.

For more updates on New England Division III lacrosse, make sure to follow us on Twitter (@NoontimeSports) and become a fan on Facebook, too! 

Thursday’s Conference Tournament Scoreboard

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Worcester State scored an exciting win on Thursday, defeating top-seed Fitchburg State in the MASCAC Semifinals. (PHOTO CREDIT: Worcester State Athletics/Matt Wright)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Another busy evening of conference tournament basketball is in the books, and below are the results (with links to their box score, courtesy D3Hoops.com).

Albertus Magnus 108, Mount Ida 68 (MBB) 

Lasell 68, Johnson & Wales 61 (MBB) 

Worcester State 71, Fitchburg State 68 (MBB) 

Salem State 69, Bridgewater State 68 (MBB) 

Southern Vermont 82, Wheelock 71 (MBB) 

Becker 64, Lesley 62 (MBB) 

Endicott 84, Eastern Nazarene 66 (MBB) 

Nichols 83, Wentworth 74 (MBB) 

Saint Joseph’s (Maine) 91, Johnson & Wales 90 (2OT) (WBB) 

Emmanuel 74, Norwich 67 (WBB) 

Elms 63, Becker 61 (WBB) 

Regis 66, Wheelock 45 (WBB)

Framingham State 60, MCLA 59 (WBB)

Westfield State 97, Bridgewater State 95 (2OT) (WBB)  

Univ. of New England 75, Eastern Nazarene 59 (WBB) 

Western New England 44, Roger Williams (WBB) 

New England D3 Lax Notebook: Catching Up With Trevor Craven (Becker College)

The Becker College men's lacrosse team will have a new head coach next spring as it was announced that Trevor Craven will guide the Hawks in June. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)
The Becker College men’s lacrosse team will have a new head coach next spring as it was announced that Trevor Craven will guide the Hawks in June.
(Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Last month, Becker College Director of Athletics Frank Millerick announced the hiring of Trevor Craven as the head coach of the men’s lacrosse program.

Craven, who grew up in Weymouth, Massachusetts and competed for the UMass Boston men’s lacrosse team as a student-athlete, comes to Becker following a six-year stint as the Emmanuel College men’s lacrosse assistant coach.

NoontimeSports.com caught up with the Hawks’ new head coach to discuss the role and goals for the program heading into the 2017 season.

 What intrigued you about this position?

This position offers me a chance to lead a program that has great potential. I have followed the program from afar because of their former ties to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). I see potential to take this program to the next level. The academics at the school are very good and I can’t even keep track of the number of awards and ‘best of lists’ the school is on.

Tell me about your experience at Emmanuel – how did you assist Coach McWilliams in turning the Saints into a conference champion the past three seasons?

We literally had to build everything from the ground up at Emmanuel. Brendan McWilliams had a vision that was clear and to the point, and he worked to convince the administration to do lots of things to assist the program. Brendan worked extremely hard to build this program – I just followed his lead – but after two years of explaining our program’s goals and initiatives, as well as what the institution could offer from an academic perspective, we started attracting players that bought into our system and ran with it.

How did Coach McWilliams help you improve as a coach?

Coach McWilliams taught me so much over the last six seasons. It’s easy to point at the X’s and O’s, but he taught me more about how to be an effective coach. He taught me the humility and professionalism that goes along with being a professional coach. It’s easy to just show up and roll the balls out and say ‘do it,’ but he took time to show me the right way to do things. He taught me that the right way isn’t always the easy way and that the team always comes first.

What sort of offensive and defensive styles do you hope to implement with the Hawks?

I am a defensive guy, so I would like to implement some of the things that we used at Emmanuel. We got lucky and recruited a great group of defenders early on, so our defense was always a little more advanced than our offense. Hopefully I can make a similar transition with Becker. As for our offense, I have a style in mind that I want to implement. Everyone wants to run an attack similar to Tufts, so the offense will be a work in progress with an end goal in mind.

What goals and objectives do you hope to accomplish as the head coach of the Becker men’s lacrosse team?

We want to compete at the highest level possible. At Emmanuel, we set out to build a competitive program that could compete against the best teams in Division III, and the squad is in a better place than it was in year one. At Becker, we want to win the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) – that is our first goal. We also want to position ourselves for a Pool B bid for the NCAA Tournament. And finally – speaking collectively as team – we want to get better everyday and make sure we prepare our student-athletes to win lacrosse games, but also in life. Wins and losses will happen, but one of my biggest goals for the program is preparing these student-athletes for future success beyond the lacrosse field.

New England D3 Lax Notebook: NCAA Tournament First Round Predictions

Jarred Sausville and the New England College men's lacrosse team begin NCAA Tournament play on Wednesday against St. Lawrence. (Photo Credit: New England College Athletics)
Jarred Sausville and the New England College men’s lacrosse team begin NCAA Tournament play on Wednesday against St. Lawrence. (Photo Credit: New England College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

Ah, the NCAA Division III Lacrosse Tournament has returned – in fact, it starts tomorrow, so why not dish out a few predictions?

Below are my picks for six games that feature New England teams – let me know if you agree, disagree or want to chat #d3lax on Twitter (@MattNoonan11).

RPI over Amherst: Defense wins championships, right? RPI has a defense that has limited opponents to roughly seven goals per game, so slowing down the Amherst attack will be key for an Engineers victory.

Middlebury over Springfield: The Panthers won the last meeting by defeating the Pride, 10-8. Middlebury also outshot Springfield, 52-21, including 18-2 in the second quarter, so expect the Blue and White attack to guide the Panthers to an early lead, as well as the unit’s 13th victory of the 2016 season.

New England College over St. Lawrence: How about an upset? New England College’s attack is averaging close to 16 goals per game and posted 17 goals or more in a pair of NAC tournament games. Can their offensive output continue against the Saints? Let’s find out!

Keene State over Montclair State: The Owls soared past Eastern Connecticut State in the Little East Conference championship, while the Red Hawks cruised to a Skyline Conference title by defeating Stockton, 13-6. Expect both attacks to highlight this particular contest with Keene’s offense managing to muster one (or two) additional goals.

Western New England over SUNY Cortland: Winners of 11 straight, including the CCC Championship, the Golden Bears enter the tournament on a roll. Can anyone slow down a unit that hasn’t lost since the end of March? Not sure, but I don’t think the Red Dragons will stop WNE’s pursuit of 12 straight wins.

Tufts over Emmanuel:Is this the year the Saints beat the Jumbos? Never say never, but Tufts is peaking at the right time. The Jumbos captured their seventh straight NESCAC crown on Sunday, while Emmanuel won its third-straight GNAC title. Emmanuel should keep pace with Tufts, however, the Powder and Blue will prevail.