On This Date In History: Friday, April 17th, 2020

OTDApril17th2020

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation

Welcome to Friday – we made it!

Hopefully, everyone is having a wonderful start to their morning (or afternoon or whenever you will be reading this) and looking forward to some snow in the forecast. Yes, snow will be arriving overnight here in Massachusetts, but luckily warmer weather will follow, which means better days are ahead, right?

In the meantime, take a work break or a reading break to enjoy a brand new ‘On This Date in History’ from your friends at NoontimeSports.com.


On This Date in History: April 17th, 2020 

1947: Jackie Robinson recorded his first major league hit with a bunt going toward third base. Robinson started the game at first base and batted second in the lineup for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Brooklyn won the game by defeating the Boston Braves, 12-6.

1951: Mickey Mantle made his major league debut with the New York Yankees and finished his team’s initial contest of the 1951 season with one RBI, one hit, and one run. New York won its opening day clash against the Boston Red Sox by a score of 5-0 and would go onto win the World Series months later against the New York Giants.

1972: Olavi Suomalainen won the 76th running of the Boston Marathon by finishing the 26.2-mile course in 2:15:39. Victor Manuel Mora finished second with a time of 2:15:57 while Jacinto Sabinal placed third with a time of 2:16:10.

Nina Kuscsik won the women’s race with a time of 3:10:26 while Elaine Pedersen finished second (3:20:25) and Kathrine Switzer placed third (3:29:51).

1987: Julius Erving, who was commonly known as Dr. J to many basketball fans, joined a pair of NBA greats (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419)) by reaching 30,000 points in a 115-111 setback to the Indiana Pacers. Erving, who netted 38 points in the setback to the Pacers on 17 of 31 shooting, would conclude his career with 30,026 points.

Erving spent his entire NBA career competing for the Philadelphia 76ers but did begin competing professionally in the ABA with the Virginia Squires and New York Nets.

1999: With the first pick in the NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Tim Couch, a quarterback that competed for Kentucky.

The Philadelphia Eagles, which had the second pick, selected Donovan McNabb from Syracuse while the Cincinnati Bengals selected Akili Smith, who played quarterback for Oregon. 

The New England Patriots selected center Damien Woody, who played locally at Boston College with the 17th pick.

On This Date In History: Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

OTDApr8th2020

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

Welcome to Wednesday, everyone!

As always, we hope everyone is doing well and staying safe.

It looks like it is going to be an indoor day from a quick glance outside the window, so stay inside and enjoy a brand new ‘On This Date in History’ for Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.


On This Date in History: Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

  • 1940: John Havlicek, who played 16 seasons for the Boston Celtics and won eight NBA titles with the Green and White, was born on this date in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Nicknamed “Hondo,” the small forward/shooting guard was named to both the NBA’s 35th and 50th Anniversary Teams.
  • 1943: The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Boston Bruins, 2-0, in the fourth game of the NHL‘s Stanley Cup to secure a series sweep of the Black and Gold. The game was held in the Boston Garden – that would be the original Garden for those keeping track at home. Detroit outscored Boston, 6-0, in the final two games of the series.
  • 2003: The Connecticut women’s basketball team defeated Tennessee in the NCAA Championship, capping their campaign with a 37-1 record (the Huskies’ lone setback of the 2002-03 season came against Villanova on Tuesday, March 11, 2003.). Diana Taurasi was named the Most Outstanding Player while earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team with Ann Strother. Tennesse was represented by Gwen Jackson and Kara Lawson.
  • 2012: The Detroit Tigers outlasted the Boston Red Sox, 13-12, in a thrilling eleven inning clash, which took almost five hours to be played. Nick Punto and Mike Aviles concluded the game with three RBI for the Sox, respectively, while Adrian Gonzalez smacked his first home run of the season.
  • 2014: The Connecticut women’s basketball team celebrated another NCAA Championship with a 79-58 win over Notre Dame. The Huskies’ victory came one day after the men’s team beat Kentucky in the championship by a score of 60-54. It was just the second time in NCAA history that the same school had won both the men’s and women’s tournaments after the school won both title games in 2004.

Daily Noontime: Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

DNMarch31st2020

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Welcome to Tuesday, everyone – how is everyone doing?

From a quick glance outside the window, it appears as if the sun is shining, which is something positive to report, right?

Yes, it will be a bit cold today, so if you do wander out of your home, condo or apartment (or wherever you’re hunkering down these days), please bundle up and wear an extra hat.

And now, let’s get to some news (and links) to start your day!


Noontime’s Headlines for Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 


Noontime’s Recent Links!


On this Date in History 

  • 1973: Bobby Orr becomes the first player in NHL history to record 100 points in four-straight seasons.
  • 1990: Joe Sakic becomes the youngest player in NHL history to record 100 points when he scored a goal in a 3-2 loss to the Hartford Whalers.
  • 1994: The Chicago White Sox assigned former NBA (and Chicago Bulls) superstar Michael Jordan to their Class AA affiliate the Birmingham Barons.
  • 1997: Arizona beat Kentucky, 84-79 (OT), in the 59th NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship to secure the program’s first national title.
  • 2002: The University of Connecticut women’s basketball captured the 21st NCAA Championship – the Huskies beat Oklahoma, 82-70, and finished their season 39-0.
  • 2002: Andre Agassi won his 700th career match by beating Roger Federer in the Nasdaq-100 Open in Florida.

Around The Rim With Bob Whitney: Welcome Back College Hoops

20181106_223717

Former Braintree High and Kimball Union star Nic Timberlake in action last year for Towson University. Timberlake is now a redshirt freshman for Towson this winter after last season’s injury-riddled campaign. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bob Whitney)

By Bob Whitney | @WhitneyBob

In case you haven’t noticed the 2019-20 college basketball season is off and running, highlighted by a nationally-televised doubleheader last evening featuring the top four teams in the men’s basketball preseason rankings: Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas.

For all of us veteran purists, it was hoop heaven, the talent was amazing but the quality of play was spotty at best given such a huge stage on opening night.

That aside, it is my pleasure to pen a weekly hoop column for the hard-working Matt Noonan and his many followers here at Noontime Sports.

I have covered one of the Power Five conferences – the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), to be exact – for the last eight seasons, but this year I will focus on a little bit of everything but the primary focus will remain on all that is happening in New England – and that is a lot!

First of all, check out the Noontime Sports Men and Women’s New England D-III Basketball Preseason Top 10 Polls: (Men’s Basketball | Women’s Basketball)

A few thoughts from the basketball polls.

  • No surprise that Amherst College is perched at the top of both rankings. They have been the gold-standard regionally and a regular participant in the NCAA D-III Tournaments for years.
  • Speaking of Amherst, the men’s program suffered a sudden jolt in September when legendary coach David Hixon (after 42 seasons at the helm) opted to take a non-health sabbatical to deal with some family issues. The big question is can the program move on without Hixon’s leadership?

    Those close to the program feel that with the elevation of trusted assistant Aaron Toomey, who played under Hixon and helped win NCAA titles in 2012 and 2013, the transition should be seamless.

  • A game to watch (and to gauge how Toomey and his squad are managing the transition) is on January 10 when New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rival Middlebury College travels to Amherst.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • There have been a number of rule changes introduced with the most important one being the extension of the 3-point arc from 17 inches to the international standard of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. Although testing of this change in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) last year found little change in shooting percentage, it was felt by the officiating honchos that it would alleviate congestion in the paint by forcing defenders to guard shooters further away from the basket. Stay tuned on this change.
  • All eyes will be pointing to Cambridge, Mass this season to see if the Harvard University celebrated senior class, led by awesome point guard Bryce Aiken, can finally win an Ivy League title, as well as earn an automatic tournament bid to the NCAA Tournament.

    Better yet, the Crimson will have some home-cooking help in March as this year’s conference tournament moves from the storied The Palestra to Lavietes Pavilion, March 14-15.

    The Ivy poo-bahs move to a conference tournament for men and women was a no-brainer – the atmosphere is pulsating and the quality of play is as good as it gets.

  • A shoutout to former Marquette University assistant Brett Nelson who assumes the reins at Holy Cross after Bill Carmody‘s decision to retire from the coaching ranks.
  • Did you know that we have a number of the top coaches in the women’s college game led by the legendary Barbara Stevens, who ranks fourth in wins among college coaches at Bentley University, Harvard’s Kathy Delaney-Smith, Stonehill College‘s Trisha Brown, Springfield College‘s Naomi Graves, and Babson College‘s Judy Blinstrub. If any of you have a daughter that may be destined to play at the college level the price of admission to catch one of these coaches in action will help with a final decision.
  • In my eight years following ACC men’s basketball, I had the privilege to hear firsthand from some of the great coaches in the game, including Coach Mike KrzyseskiRoy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, and Mike Brey. Buzz Williams was a real stitch in the press room. But most impressive among this elite group of coaches was the University of Virginia‘s, Tony Bennett.

    Obviously, Bennett’s run to the national title was the big news last year but most noteworthy was his recent decision to forego a well-deserved a big raise. Bennett felt that his family was blessed and thankful for what they have and felt that the money would be better spent in funding a program to help athletes transition to careers after basketball. Bennett is destined to be the voice of the ACC once Coach K and Roy retire.

A FINAL THOUGHT

Best wishes to Kristen McDonnell who left the Braintree high school girls basketball program after a ten-year run which included four D-1 state titles and a bunch of sectional crowns. McDonnell is seeking a new challenge as the Norwood high school boys head coach.

Keep shooting. See you next week!

NCAA March Madness: Final Four Wrap Up

By Brian Willwerth

We started with 68 teams.We are down to two.

Gone are the Jayhawks, Patriots, Terriers, Sycamores and Orange.  All that remain are two groups of dogs: a burly bunch of bulldogs from Butler, and a hungry group of huskies from Connecticut. Butler and UConn clinched their spots in the title game Saturday night by defeating VCU and Kentucky, respectively.

We’ll start with the nightcap: a coaching matchup between Jim Calhoun and John Calipari.  The Huskies held on for a 56-55 win. Both teams struggled from the floor. The Wildcats shot just [33%] for the game, while Connecticut was just [1-for-12] from behind the arc.

Still, you can’t talk about a UConn victory without mentioning Kemba Walker. He led both teams in scoring with 18 points, while adding six rebounds and seven assists. Still, the Huskies had to hold their breath as a three-point attempt by Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins in the closing seconds fell short. Shabazz Napier iced the game with two free-throws at the other end.  Brandon Knight led the Wildcats with 17 points.

This is Connecticut’s third trip to the final.  The last two times the Huskies were there [1999 and 2004] they won the national championship.

Their opponent will be the team that nearly won it all last year. Butler ended VCU’s “Cinderella run” with a 70-62 victory over the Rams. After weathering an early barrage of three-pointers, the Bulldogs were able to cool off the Rams’ hot outside shooters with the type of defense Butler has become known for.  Butler also controlled the glass, out-rebounding VCU, 48-32.

Offensively, the Bulldogs relied heavily on Shelvin Mack, who finished with a team-high, 24 points.  VCU’s Jamie Skeen led all scorers with 27. Butler took a six-point lead into the locker room. The game would stay tight for much of the second half. It wasn’t until the three-minute mark that Butler was able to open up a 7-point lead, a deficit the Rams could not recover from.

Butler returns to the title game for the second straight year. Who could forget the Bulldogs’ appearance in last year’s title game: that last-second heave that bounced off the rim that would’ve beaten Duke.

So it all comes down to Monday night: Bulldogs and Huskies for the national championship.  It should be one heck of a dogfight.