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.

Harvard, Yale Set To Renew Rivalry At Fenway Park

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Members of Fenway Sports Management pose with both Harvard and Yale Football captains, and Coach Tim Murphy on Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)

Harvard University and Yale University are set to renew their historic football rivalry later this fall at historic Fenway Park as the 135th playing of “The Game” is scheduled for Saturday, November 17th.

Both teams meet in the final week of the regular season annually, but this year’s game will mark the first time “The Game” will be played on the same playing surface as the Boston Red Sox.

“This year, it is our distinct privilege to host what is arguably one of the most celebrated rivalries and marry one of college football’s most classic games with one of America’s most classic venues,” said Fenway Sports Management Managing Director Mark Lev.

Harvard is no stranger to Fenway Park – in fact, the baseball team was the first athletic program to compete at the historic ballpark 106 years ago when the Crimson faced the Red Sox on a rainy-snowy day. The game marked the first-ever contest at Fenway Park.

Additionally, Harvard’s George “Iron” Davis, who pitched for the Boston Braves, was the first-ever ballplayer to toss a no-hitter at Fenway Park on September 9, 1914. Six years later, the Crimson baseball team beat the Bulldogs at the park by a score of 6-3, thanks to pitcher Babe Felton, who quarterbacked the Harvard football team earlier in the school year.

Yale currently leads the all-time football series (67-59-8), but has tied the Crimson eight times over the past 134 years, including in 1968 when Harvard rallied to even the score at 29-29. Those eight ties, according to Harvard Athletic Director Bob Scalise, are considered wins around the Cambridge campus.

“We think (this game at Fenway Park) will be a terrific experience for our student-athletes and fans,” said Scalise.

“We hope that this rendition of ‘The Game’ will be an instant classic to add to the rivalry and rich tradition,” he added.

This year’s contest certainly has a special meaning to Harvard coach Tim Murphy, who grew up in Kingston, Massachusetts and idolized Rico Petrocelli, who played shortstop for the Red Sox for 13 seasons.

“It’s such an iconic place whether we come here for Red Sox games or concerts it’s always an amazing experience,” said Murphy. “I think it is going to be a great event for any of the alumni fans or players who were involved (with this rivalry).”

Added Harvard captain Zach Miller, “To be able to (have the game played) here (is) awesome, it’s so amazing for us.”

Miller said he and his team had a chance to watch Brown University and Dartmouth College compete at Fenway Park last season under the lights on a chilly Friday evening in November. Harvard-Yale will most likely be an afternoon game, however, the start time of this year’s game has yet to be announced.

“It was very cool (seeing Brown-Dartmouth) on tv and just knowing we were going to be playing there next year was very cool,” said Miller, who was elected the program’s 145th captain. “Just the opportunity to be at Fenway, this historical park, our team – it’s huge for Harvard football, Yale football and this rivalry. It means a lot to us.”

Similar to Miller, Yale captain Kyle Mullen is also excited about competing this fall at Fenway Park. “I’m really excited for the game,” said Mullen, who hails from New Jersey and roots for the New York Mets, not the Red Sox.

Yale captured last year’s meeting, defeating Harvard, 24-3, in New Haven, Connecticut. Mullen, who plays defensive end for the Bulldogs, recorded a trio of solo stops in the win, including a pair of tackles for a loss of six yards.

The senior captain of the Bulldogs said he was looking forward to beating the Crimson at Harvard Stadium this fall, but said Fenway Park works for him as well.

“I was looking forward to beating Harvard at their home stadium, but I guess I will have to settle for this,” he said with a big smile.

Both Harvard and Yale will begin their respective seasons on Saturday, September 15th with the Crimson hosting San Diego and Bulldogs visiting Holy Cross.

New England Football: Harvard,Yale Set To Meet At Fenway Park In 2018

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Fenway Park will host next year’s Harvard-Yale Football game. (PHOTO CREDIT: MLB.com).

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

Fenway Park will be the site of next year’s Harvard-Yale football game – it was announced this morning via a press release that the two schools would meet  at the home of the Boston Red Sox next November.

2018 will mark the 135th Playing of “The Game” between Harvard and Yale – the two schools first met in 1875 with the Crimson claiming a 4-0 victory.

Next year’s contest will be the first time “The Game” will be played at a location other than Harvard Stadium or the Yale Bowl since 1912.

Yale captured this year’s meeting against the Crimson, thanks to quarterback Kurt Rawlings and halfback Zane Dudek, who both scored one touchdown in a 24-3 victory.

The Bulldogs, who won nine of 10 games this fall, earned their first outright Ivy League crown since securing the title in 1980. Yale’s lone loss of the season came against Dartmouth in October, but the Eli’s managed to rebound from the setback by winning their final six contests.

Fenway Park was the home to a trio of collegiate football contests this fall, including Brown-Dartmouth, which took place earlier this month on Friday, November 10th. The Big Green defeated the Bears, 33-10.

Additionally, the ball park hosted three high school football games this month, including Everett-Masconomet. Boston College High School, Catholic Memorial, Hingham and Scituate also competed at Fenway Park prior to Thanksgiving.

New England College Hockey: Predicting D3 Contests At Frozen Fenway

Will UMass Boston men's ice compete for a second time in program history at Frozen Fenway?  (Photo Credit: UMass Boston)
Will UMass Boston men’s ice compete for a second time in program history at Frozen Fenway? (Photo Credit: UMass Boston)

By Matt Noonan 

A few thoughts – or ideas – on possible Division III hockey contests that could take place in January (2017) at Frozen Fenway …

* I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another round of Babson College and Norwich University. Both teams competed at the historic ballpark in 2012 and 2014, and this game is always a ‘must-see’ contest. Plus, Babson head coach Jamie Rice is an avid Red Sox fan, so you know he would love to lead his Beavers out of the Boston dugout.

* UMass Boston is another team that should skate at the historic ballpark – the Beacons made their Frozen Fenway debut two years ago when they competed against Salem State. Perhaps we see round two of Vikings-Beacons or maybe UMass Boston skates against Suffolk University or Wentworth Institute of Technology? I am sure the Rams or Leopards would love an opportunity to play a game at Fenway Park.

* It would be great to see at least one – perhaps two – women’s Division III games. Why not pit Amherst College against Middlebury College or have Endicott College take on Plymouth State? If Norwich men’s ice hockey competes against Babson, then invite the women’s team to play either before or after against Castleton State.

* A pair of teams represented the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) two years ago with Williams College skating against Trinity College. There should definitely be a NESCAC game at Fenway – again, it could be a men or women’s contest.

* How about a Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) game – heck, it is the first year the conference is sponsoring hockey, so why not? Maybe Curry College plays Becker College or Endicott College faces-off against Salve Regina?

New England College Hockey: Frozen Fenway Returns In 2017

Frozen Fenway will return in January 2017. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)
Frozen Fenway will return in January 2017. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

The City of Boston and Fenway Sports Management (FSM) announced earlier today that Fenway Park would become Frozen Fenway this January, beginning Wednesday, January 4, 2017. Frozen Fenway will conclude Monday, January 16, 2017 and will feature a pair of Hockey East double-headers on January 7 and 14, along with additional college and high school hockey games.

Frozen Fenway will also feature a public skating day for City of Boston residents, too.

“Outdoor hockey is quickly becoming a staple on Boston’s winter sports calendar and we look forward to joining with the Hockey East and the City of Boston to build on that tradition by bringing some of the most accomplished and talented collegiate teams in the country to compete on the ice at Fenway Park,” Boston Red Sox President Sam Kennedy said in a statement.

As noted in the Hockey East release, Boston University will face-off against University of Massachusetts, while Boston College takes on Providence College – both contests will take place Saturday, January 7. One week later – Saturday, January 14, 2017 – Northeastern University will skate against University of New Hampshire, while University of Maine competes against University of Connecticut.

“Hockey East and our schools could not be more excited to take the ice once again at Fenway Park,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said in the conference release. “Once Frozen Fenway 2017 is complete all twelve Hockey East schools will have played an outdoor game at Fenway Park, creating once-in-a-lifetime memories for the players, students, alumni and fans.”

Additional details, including other contests and events will be announced in the coming months. Fans can visit RedSox.com for more information on Frozen Fenway.