Basketball Notebook: Sheldon Announces Retirement From Tufts University

Bob Sheldon, who has coached the Tufts University men’s basketball team for three decades, announced his retirement Thursday. (PHOTO COURTESY: TuftsNow)

By Matt Noonan 

Prior to yesterday’s announcement from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) regarding an update on the upcoming winter sports season, which has been canceled, Bob Sheldon, who has guided the Tufts University men’s basketball team for the past 33 years, announced he will be stepping down effectively on Thursday, December 31, 2020. 

Matt Malone, who has been an assistant under Sheldon for the past 15 years, will take over as the interim coach, according to Wednesday’s (Oct. 7) release from the Tufts University athletic department

Sheldon and the Jumbos matched a program record for wins (23) this past winter while capturing their first-ever NESCAC Tournament Championship by outlasting Colby College in double-overtime

“I was getting near the end of my career as it was, and then when Covid came up and the craziness with that, I just felt that it was time for me to go,” said Sheldon, via the Tufts athletic department story, which can be seen (and read) on the school’s athletic website. 

Sheldon noted he “went back and forth” with his decision to retire, but seems content with his choice to leave a program that he believes is in “a good spot going forward.” 

Prior to their season concluding earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tufts won a pair of NCAA D-III Tournament games in Medford, including a come-from-behind win over Western Connecticut in the opening round. 

Sheldon, who is the program’s all-time winningest coach, would have entered his team’s 2020-21 season as one of the Top 25 NCAA D-III winningest coaches after being named the NESCAC and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Northeast Region Coach of the Year in March. 

The 2020-21 NESCAC winter sports season has been canceled: As noted above, the NESCAC became the first New England D-III conference to cancel its upcoming winter sports season on Thursday, October 7, after postponing its fall season on Friday, July 10

While health and safety were stressed in yesterday’s release regarding the decision by the conference’s presidents, the NESCAC did note that some of their schools have made “significant modifications” to their current academic calendar, which would limit the number of games each program would be able to compete in.  

The NESCAC has made no announcement regarding spring sports – an update will most likely come in a few months – but the conference did say the league’s 11 schools could schedule non-conference games if they choose to. However, D3Sports.com has reported that some schools within the conference have already made decisions for its various winter sports programs, including Middlebury College, which announced yesterday that they “will not hold any athletic competitions during the winter season.” 

Elms College to join the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC): While it is uncertain if and when Elms College will resume athletic competition in the next few weeks or months, the athletic department did announce some exciting news earlier this week about joining the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) for the 2022-23 school year. 

The Blazers currently compete in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) and would join a former member of the eight-team league – that would be Dean College – which joined the GNAC as a full-time member at the start of the current academic year (2020-21)

Both Elms College basketball teams competed last winter in the NECC Tournament with the women’s squad advancing to the conference championship game against Mitchell College

The GNAC has welcomed a few new schools to its conference over the past few years, including Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts in 2017, and Colby-Sawyer in 2018. 

D3 Basketball: Men’s Basketball Top 10 Poll (Tuesday, March 17th, 2020)

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation

For the second time this month, the Tufts University men’s basketball team secured the top spot in our final New England D-III Men’s Basketball Top 10 Poll followed by Colby College and Springfield College.

The Jumbos, who captured their first-ever New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament title earlier this month, won a pair of NCAA Tournament games, including an exciting (and dramatic) opening-round win over Western Connecticut.

WPI secured the fourth position for the second time this month while Middlebury College switched positions with St. Joseph’s (Conn.). The Panthers advanced to this year’s NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid – they beat Westfield State in the opening round before falling to Brockport in the second round.

The Blue Jays of St. Joseph’s made their initial appearance in the ‘big dance’ under second-year coach Jim Calhoun, who guided the Blue and Yellow to the program’s first-ever Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship. Calhoun’s crew lost to Hobart in the opening round of the tournament, but the Blue Jays have a bright future – they will certainly be a team to watch in New England next winter.

Babson College secured the seventh position followed by Amherst CollegeNichols College, and Brandeis University.


New England D-III Basketball Men’s Top 10 Week 15 Poll| Monday, March 17th, 2020

1. Tufts University 23-6, 8-2 NESCAC Previously No. 1
2. Colby College 24-4, 8-2 NESCAC Previously No. 2
3. Springfield College 23-5, 11-1 NEWMAC Previously No. 3
4. WPI 20-8, 10-3 NEWMAC Previously No. 4
5. Middlebury College 21-6, 6-4 NESCAC Previously No. 6
6. St. Joseph’s (Conn.) 26-3, 11-0 GNAC Previously No. 5
7. Babson College 20-7, 10-4 NEWMAC Previously No. 7
8. Amherst College 18-8, 7-3 NESCAC Previously No. 8
9. Nichols College 21-9, 12-4 CCC Previously No. 9
10. Brandeis University 17-8, 9-5 UAA Previously No. 10 

ON THE RISE: Coast Guard Academy, New England College, and Western Connecticut 


Previous Polls: Preseason Poll |Week One| Week Two | Week ThreeWeek Four| Week Five |Week Six |Week Seven |Week Eight|Week Nine | Week Ten|Week 11|Week 12|Week 13Week 14 

Revisiting Some Exciting Moments From The NCAA D-III Basketball Tournament

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Today would have been the sectional finals for eight NCAA D-III women’s basketball teams. It would have also been a day of third-round men’s basketball action with eight teams vying for spots in next weekend’s quarterfinals.

Sure, we don’t know who would have extended their respective season an additional day or week, but the opening weekend of the 2020 NCAA D-III Basketball Tournaments did produce some exciting outcomes and finishes, as well as some dramatic moments, which I have highlighted below. 

Here are a few moments that I will remember from the opening weekend of both NCAA Tournaments, enjoy!

Tufts’ epic comeback against Western Connecticut. Trailing the Colonials by 21 points at the break, Tufts leaned on Luke Rogers and Carson Cohen to lead the Jumbos past Western Connecticut in an exciting opening round contest last Friday, March 6th in Medford, Massachusetts.

Rogers led the Jumbos with a double-double of 16 rebounds and 15 points while Cohen chipped in 14 points, including two three-pointers.

The win prompted an enormous celebration, which would continue the following day when Tufts beat RPI, 75-66, to secure a date with the College of Brockport in the third round.

Smith College advances to its first-ever “Sweet 16.” The Pioneers entered the postseason with some serious momentum – they scored three-straight wins in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament and had not lost a game since early February. That momentum carried the Pioneers to not just one, but two postseason wins last weekend over No. 20 DeSales (81-72) and SUNY New Paltz (62-60).

Their win over SUNY New Paltz was highlighted by a late 10-0 run during the final minutes of the fourth quarter, which was capped by a go-ahead and eventual game-winning basket by Amelia Clairmont.

Jim Calhoun makes his initial NCAA D-III Tournament debut. After leading the University of Saint Joseph’s (Conn.) to its initial Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) title in just its second season as a varsity program, coach Jim Calhoun earned his first trip to the NCAA D-III Tournament. But unfortunately, the Blue Jays’ appearance in the tournament didn’t last long as Hobart defeated the Blue and Gold, 78-74, in the opening round.

The setback to the Statesmen concluded an impressive second season by the Blue Jays, which was highlighted by a 25-game winning streak that stretched from late November to early March. Additionally, the 2019-20 season included an impressive milestone for Calhoun, his 900th win in January.

Eastern Connecticut’s defense highlighted its opening-round win. It was the Warriors’ defense that helped Eastern Connecticut top St. John Fisher, 60-43, in the opening round and score its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2015.

St. John Fisher was limited to 13 points or less in each frame, including seven points in the second quarter.

The 43 points were the lowest total Eastern Connecticut had surrendered “in 18 years of NCAA Division III competition.”

Williams College returns to its first NCAA D-III “Sweet 16” in seven years. The Ephs were a team to watch this season – they won 20 of 28 contests and came within a few baskets of advancing to the 2020 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship last month. But despite losing in the NESCAC semifinals to Tufts University, the Ephs were able to bounce back as an at-large bid to this year’s “big dance” and win back-to-back contests against Albright College and Ithaca College.

Williams trailed Ithaca, 16-14, after opening quarter before outscoring the hosts in the final three sessions to secure a 69-61 win, along with a spot in the NCAA D-III “Sweet 16” for the first time in seven seasons. Maggie Meehan led the Ephs with 18 points on 7 of 17 shooting while Mikaela Topper added 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Setting The Stage For The First Day of the NCAA D3 Men’s Basketball Tournament

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Jake Ross and the Springfield College men’s basketball team will open the 2020 NCAA D-III Tournament at home against SUNY Canton. (PHOTO COURTESY: Springfield College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

We’re just one day away from the start of the 2020 NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Tournament, which means its time to highlight a few things you need to know about this year’s postseason while also sharing some predictions, too.

Which New England teams will be competing in this year’s NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Tournament? 

  • This year, there are 13 teams from our region that will begin their respective quests to Atlanta, Georgia tomorrow, including two teams that will be host sites for both the first and second rounds.
  • The teams competing in this year’s tournament are the following: Babson College, Coast Guard Academy, Middlebury College, Westfield State, Tufts University, Western Connecticut, New England College, WPI, Springfield College, University of Saint Joseph’s (Conn.), Nichols College, and Colby College.

What are the first-round matchups, times and locations? 

Here is the schedule for tomorrow’s (Friday, March 6th) first-round schedule:

  • WPI vs. Yeshiva University, 1 p.m. (at Johns Hopkins)
  • New England College vs. RPI, 3:30 p.m. (at Tufts University)
  • Colby College vs. Christopher Newport, 4 p.m. (at Stevens Inst. of Technology)
  • Middlebury College vs. Westfield State, 4 p.m. (at Brockport)
  • Babson College vs. Ithaca College, 5 p.m. (at Swarthmore College)
  • Univ. of Saint Joseph’s (Conn.) vs. Hobart, 5 p.m. (at Springfield College)
  • Western Connecticut at Tufts University, 6 p.m.
  • Coast Guard Academy at Brockport, 6:30 p.m.
  • Nichols College at Stevens Inst. of Technology, 6:30 p.m.
  • SUNY Canton at Springfield College, 7:30 p.m.

Which teams could advance to Saturday’s (March 7th) second round? 

  • Colby College: The Mules face a real tough test tomorrow against a talented Christopher Newport squad. The Captains will certainly challenge Colby from the opening tip, but if the Mules play the way they did against Tufts, as well as against Amherst College and Bates College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament then I think they will be able to squeak out a first-round win.
  • Middlebury College: The Panthers haven’t played a game since late February, but this isn’t the first time they have had to wait to hear the committee announce their name on ‘Selection Monday.’ The Panthers should be able to beat Westfield State and then find a way to beat either Brockport or Coast Guard Academy in the second round.
  • Springfield College: The Pride of Springfield are equipped and ready to go on a very deep run this month. They should be able to top SUNY Canton on the opening day of the tournament. But can they turn around one day later and beat the University of Saint Joseph’s (Conn.), which is the favorite in their first-round matchup? I think they can.
  • Tufts University: The Jumbos enter the postseason riding some serious momentum, thanks to an exciting double-overtime win on Sunday in the NESCAC Championship. Their momentum will be tested immediately against a talented Western Connecticut squad, which enters the postseason on a seven-game winning streak. If they can beat the Colonials, they will most likely have to beat an RPI squad, which should beat New England College in their opening-round matchup.
  • University of Saint Joseph’s (Conn.): Jim Calhoun and the Blue Jays could be a real tough out. They have not dropped a game since falling to Tufts last November and proved they are a resilient bunch, especially this past weekend against Albertus Magnus in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship. The Blue Jays should be able to beat Hobart, but will certainly be tested against Springfield in the second round.

What first-round match-up will I be watching? 

  • WPI vs. Yeshiva. The Engineers face a real tough test in the opening round. And if they are able to beat the Maccabees, who have not dropped a game since falling to Occidental College last November, they will most likely face Johns Hopkins, which is the favorite in their opening round match-up.For WPI to be victorious tomorrow, they will need to play the way they did against Babson last Friday. They will also need big games from Garrett StephensonColin McNamara, and Kahleb Downing.

First-Round Predictions! 

  • Ithaca College over Babson College
  • Brockport over Coast Guard Academy
  • Middlebury College over Westfield State
  • Tufts University over Western Connecticut
  • RPI over New England College
  • Yeshiva University over WPI
  • Springfield College over SUNY Canton
  • St. Joseph (Conn.) over Hobart
  • Stevens Inst. of Technology over Nichols College
  • Colby College over Christopher Newport

Stefan Thompson is “looking forward” to coaching against Jim Calhoun

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Jim Calhoun will be making his first-ever NCAA D-III Tournament appearance on Friday. (PHOTO COURTESY: Univ. of St. Joseph’s (Conn.) Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

In just two days, the Hobart men’s basketball team will tip-off against the University of Saint Joseph’s (Conn.) in the opening round of the 2020 NCAA D-III Tournament. And the team’s head coach, Stefan Thompson, seems excited for his Statesmen to compete against Jim Calhoun‘s squad, which enters the national postseason riding an impressive 25-game winning streak. 

“As a coach, I am looking forward to it,” Thompson said, via Joe Sager of D3Hoops.com. “I know he is a competitor and that’s why he’s still in the industry and able to sustain such a great career.”

Calhoun has never coached in the D-III Tournament but has plenty of experience coaching in the postseason with both Northeastern University and the University of Connecticut. He won three national championships with the Huskies of UConn while guiding Northeastern to five March Madness appearances, including a pair of second-round contests in 1981 and 1982.

Last season, Calhoun and the Blue Jays came close to making their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance but lost to Albertus Magnus in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament.

This season, the Blue Jays erased the memories of their 2019 conference tournament championship setback by beating the Falcons in the 2020 GNAC title game this past Sunday.

USJ, which is in its second season as a varsity program, only has one junior on its roster. A majority of the team is first-years and sophomores, who have turned the Blue and Gold into a team to watch over the past few weeks in both Connecticut and New England.

The winner of Friday’s match-up will advance to Saturday’s second-round against the winner of Springfield College and SUNY Canton.