UMass’s Walt Bell Seems Optimistic For A College Football Season


Walt Bell, who is entering his second season with the UMass football team, appears optimistic for a college football season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

By Matt Noonan 

As we continue to inch closer to July and August, the thought of college football seems to be on the minds of many these days, including the University of Massachusetts‘ Walt Bell.

Bell, who is entering his second season as the head coach of the Minutemen, seems optimistic for a season to occur this fall, despite so many questions swirling around the health and safety of both coaches and student-athletes.

“Every single day, you can start to see that snowball of positivity start to roll,” Bell said when speaking with Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle. “I know there will be football. I know in the majority of the country, there’s going to be football.”

Indeed, there will be football games played somewhere this fall, but will they occur in states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, which have been impacted by the coronavirus (Covid-19), remains an unknown? 

Bell did say that games will be played in Florida and Georgia, which certainly seems likely, especially after hearing Governor Ron DeSantis tell reporters last month that high school football fans “should absolutely assume” a season will happen later this year.

As of now, Bell and the Minutemen will keep their focus on staying connected through Zoom and FaceTime while thinking optimistically about the team’s season-opener against the University of Connecticut.

Daily Noontime: Friday, April 3rd, 2020


By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

We have made it to Friday – yay!

I hope you are somewhat excited for the weekend – sure, Saturdays feel like Mondays and Sundays feel like Wednesdays, but at least we can take a break from our home offices and enjoy time with our family, right?

Let’s kick off a new weekend with the ‘Daily Noontime.’ As usual, be well and stay safe, everyone, and we’ll chat with you again next week – I promise!

Noontime’s Daily Headlines for Friday, April 3rd, 2020 

On this Date in History:

  • Birthday: Today is actor and comedian Eddie Murphy‘s birthday.
  • 1991: Bo Jackson signed a one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox after the Kansas City Royals released the 28-year-old outfielder.
  • 2000: Ken Griffey Jr. made his debut with his hometown Cincinnati Reds. The game was unfortunately postponed to the following day due to rain in the sixth inning.
  • 2006: Billy Donovan led the Florida men’s basketball team to its first-ever NCAA Championship with a 73-57 win over UCLA.
  • 2007: Candace Parker was named the Most Outstanding Player after leading the Tennessee women’s basketball team past Rutgers in the 26th NCAA Championship. The win against Rutgers provided the Volunteers with their seventh national title in program history.

Daily Noontime: Wednesday, March 25th, 2020


By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Welcome to Wednesday, everyone!

I hope you are ALL doing well, staying safe and of course, keeping a smile on your face – we will get through this time together, I promise.

Let’s kick off the day with a brand new ‘Daily Noontime’ – again, remember to smile and think positively, friends.

Noontime’s Headlines for Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 

  • As mentioned yesterday in our midday ‘Daily Noontime,’ Tom Brady was officially introduced as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers via a phone conference, not an in-person press conference due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). And shortly after Brady was introduced as the newest member of the Buccaneers, the team produced a video on their YouTube channel that broke down/provided some insight on the greatest quarterback (ever!).
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told members of the media in yesterday’s phone call – well, the team’s phone conference with the press, to be exact – that he never thought Brady would leave the New England Patriots.

    “We had him ranked No. 1,” Arians said in yesterday’s call with the media. “If it happened, we would make a concerted effort and we did.”

  • With a slew of key members of the 20019 Patriots team gone to free agency, the organization is expected to receive four compensatory draft picks in 2021, which is good news, right?
  • According to the Boston Globe, ushers at the TD Garden have been laid off, due to the coronavirus. These part-time employees received a letter about the layoffs, as noted in the USA Today, and could be eligible for unemployment benefits.

    This is awful news to hear (and learn about), so we hope things do work out for these men and women during these unusual, but very tough times.

  • Finally, the NFL Network has been “forced to temporarily pull its live programing” due to an order by California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has ordered the state’s residents to stay home due to the coronavirus. Like us here in Massachusetts, California is allowing those that work jobs that are deemed essential to continue working, while others are asked to work from home.

On This Date in History

  • 1947: Holy Cross men’s basketball won the ninth NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship – the Crusaders beat Oklahoma, 58-47, to secure the program’s first victory in the title game.
  • 1971: The Boston Patriots became the New England Patriots.
  • 1972: Bobby Hull becomes the second NHL skaters to score 600 goals.
  • 1972: UCLA captured the 34th NCAAMen’s Basketball Championship with an 81-76 win over Florida. The victory provided the Bruins with their sixth-straight title, while Bill Walton was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
  • 1982: Wayne Gretzky becomes the first NHL skaters to score 200 points in a season.

March Madness Notebook: Previewing Three New England Matchups

NS March Madness 2019

By Bob Whitney | @WhitneyBob

The March Madness field is set after the conclusion of last nights ‘first four’ contests.

In case you missed it Farleigh Dickinson, Belmont, Arizona State, and North Dakota State punched tickets to the big dance.

The tournament will start today with Louisville and Minnesota tipping-off in Des Moines, Iowa at 12:15 p.m.

Looking around New England there are three teams with high hopes to be one of the Cinderella teams. Here’s a close up look at the three teams and the first round matchups.

No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Yale: Yale picked up the Ivy League’s automatic bid with a decisive 97-85 win over arch rival Harvard in the conference championship final last weekend.

The Bulldogs are the real deal and could cause problems for LSU with a veteran lineup and an explosive offense led by Ivy League Player of Year Miye Oni, who enters today’s contest averaging 17.6 points per game. Oni is projected by many to be a second-round NBA draft pick and if the dynamic point guard is allowed to control tempo this game could result in a win for the Blue and White.

LSU is one of the country’s most athletic and talented squads and most deserving of the third seed, as well. However, there are questions and controversy surrounding the Tigers because they had a first-round flameout in the SEC tournament and their head coach Will Wade is embroiled in an FBI recruiting investigation.

LSU and Yale will meet in Jacksonville, Florida this afternoon where the Bulldogs will attempt to improve to 2-0 in the Sunshine State after rallying to beat Miami last December at the Hoophall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena.

No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Vermont: Gotta love the Catamounts who play in basketball-crazy Burlington, Vermont.

UVM is led by junior Anthony Lamb, who averages 21.4 points per game – expect Lamb to be a factor in his team’s early afternoon clash, as well as the team’s lockdown defense which may give the ‘Noles trouble in the opening minutes.

Florida State is playing excellent basketball having defeated Virginia is the ACC tournament before losing to Duke in the title game.

Many feel Leonard Hamilton’s squad has the length, athleticism, and skill to go all the way but will patience or lack thereof cause them to stumble under tournament pressure? Either way, I like the ‘Noles to win this contest but it won’t be easy.

No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Northeastern: Bill Cohen‘s Huskies punched their ticket to the big dance with a solid 82-74 takedown over Hofstra in the CAA title game last week.

Northeastern’s explosive point guard Vasa Pusica led the way with 21 points on seven three-pointers. The Huskies are one of the country’s top three-point shooting teams and if they can adjust to the change in elevation in Salt Lake City then it may cause the Jayhawks some trouble.

This past season hasn’t been one of Bill Self’s better teams which saw its record of 14 Big 12 Conference regular-season titles come to an end. Injuries have plagued Kansas and as a result, Self has been forced to play a bunch of first-year players.

The Huskies with Pusica at the controls will make life difficult for one of college basketball’s elite programs but in the end, I like Kansas.

Stay connected with our Noontime Sports New England basketball coverage on Twitter @Noontime_Hoops 

Kilpatrick: College Softball World Series Reflections

The Roll Tide didn't roll past the Gators this past weekend, as Alabama ended its World Series run on Sunday.

By Stacey Kilpatrick 

My father must be joking.

Such was the phrase ringing in my head upon hearing him ask me, “Aren’t you tired of watching college softball?” I held my head in my hands as I shrugged at the remark while watching No. 2 Alabama was face a 9-2 deficit against No. 4 Florida in the elimination game Sunday night.

I have been obsessed with the sport of softball for the three weeks that ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU have been broadcasting the Women’s College World Series.  So obsessed, in fact, that I will not go out with you to the bar. I will schedule my other game coverage around Alabama.  I have been content to plop myself down on my futon and leave only to grab some Gatorade and a tuna sandwich.

This past Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were the double-elimination rounds. Eight teams were whittled down to four and four down to the final two for the championship.

Alabama, Baylor, Arizona State and Florida all won their opening games to start out (1-0) over California, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Missouri, respectively. But here it was, Sunday night at 9:35 p.m., a smile long-gone from my face, as Alabama was trailing Florida by seven runs with its final three outs left against Gator freshman pitcher Hannah Rogers.

With Whitney Larsen at the plate, Rogers made a mistake and saw Larsen triple down the right field line to score Jennifer Fenton and get ‘Bama across for its first run of game 2.  Earlier in the inning, Jackie Traina walked putting runners at the corners for the Crimson Tide. Jazlyn Lunceford struck out, Cassie Reilly-Boccia singled to center field, and Keima Davis, pinch running for Traina, advanced to second as Larsen came home for a 9-2 score.

Perhaps a little momentum could go a long way for Alabama.

The Tide’s Kaila Hunt reached on a fielder’s choice, forcing Reilly-Boccia for the second out. With Davis advancing to third, Alabama faced its final out.  Florida’s Hanna Rogers turned Alabama’s Kendall Dawson into Gator bait with a strikeout as Florida won.

All Alabama needed to do was beat Florida to secure their spot in the championship. The Crimson Tide beat Cal 1-0 on Thursday and Baylor 3-0 on Friday, going 2-0.  Florida lost 6-5 on an Arizona State walk-off Friday night and was one loss away from being eliminated from the tournament.

Sunday was ‘Bama’s day to toss the Gators and move ahead. But instead, they themselves were demoralized in game 1, losing 16-2, forcing the ‘if necessary’ where Alabama was ultimately taken out of contention.

It was never a day for optimism for Tide fans, as Alabama faced an 11-0 deficit in the first inning of Game 1, the most runs ever scored in the first inning of a Women’s College World Series game.

Alabama senior pitcher Kelsi Dunne probably gave the best performance of her career Thursday night in her win over Cal, but on Sunday she played her worst, and freshman Traina couldn’t help either. The Gators smacked a home run, walked to score several runs with the bases juiced and for good measure, Brittany Schutte hit a grand slam to all but seal Alabama’s fate.

‘Bama’s two runs came from homers by Lunceford and Larsen, but Alabama played uncharacteristically poor softball.

Six runs were the most the Crimson Tide had allowed in a game all year, and Sunday they gave up 16 to Florida in the first game of the day. Dunne, Traina and freshman Lauren Sewell each pitched and combined for 4.0 innings while allowing eight hits, eight walks and merely struck out two with 29 batters faced.  Florida senior Stephanie Brombacher threw 5.0 innings, allowed three hits, two runs, zero walks and earned seven strikeouts while facing 18 batters.

An SEC team is still in this, as Florida, the 2009 runner-ups to the University of Washington Huskies, are seeking their first (and the SEC’s first) WCWS title.

No. 1 Arizona State University, boasting 58 victories and backed behind freshman star, Dallas Escobedo, is chasing their second chance to hold the trophy after doing so in 2008.

Monday night at 8 p.m. ET will be a pitcher’s duel, between, most likely, freshmen Rogers and Escobedo.

Either the Gators will chomp their way to a historical victory or the ASU Devils will raise their pitchforks high in the Oklahoma City air.

You best believe that I will be stuck on my futon for the next two, possibly three days.