It has been one year (and one day) since we lost Kobe Bryant to a helicopter accident, but his business legacy lives on. And that is a good thing!
For the first time since 1960, no former Major League Baseball (MLB) player was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the leading vote-getter on this year’s ballot – that would be Curt Schilling – has asked to be “removed from the writers’ ballot next year.”
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.
Hundely, who is no stranger to the New England D3 basketball world, arrives in Worcester after spending three seasons with the Keene State Owls. Keene State concluded its recent campaign 19-9 overall – the Owls advanced to the Little East Conference (LEC) Championship in February, but fell to Eastern Connecticut State, a program Hundley competed for as a student-athlete.
Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Hundley to discuss his first-ever head coaching position with the Lancers, as well as his outlook for team’s upcoming 2018-19 campaign.
What interested you in becoming the Worcester State men’s basketball coach?
Worcester State interested me for a number of different reasons. The first being that I know that the Worcester community has a rich and storied basketball history, but also being able to join a community like this one felt like an honor in itself. The investment Worcester State made in its athletic facilities was extremely appealing to me as well and will benefit our program in numerous ways.
Who have been some of your coaching icons over the years that have helped you, both as a player and assistant/associate coach over the years? Do you plan on consulting with them throughout the upcoming season?
I consider myself lucky to have worked with such a variety of coaches with unique coaching styles, dating back to my high school days. Ron Johnson, who is a local high school coaching legend in North Carolina, really sparked my interest in basketball. His attention to detail in coaching and teaching the game was extremely important in my development as a student-athlete, as well as a young coach.
Kevin Kehoe at Cheshire Academy was instrumental with providing me some college exposure, while finding the right college program for me, as well.
Bill Geitner, who I played for at Eastern Connecticut, is one of the best basketball minds I’ve ever worked with in my opinion. I learned so much from him and his sustained success proves how intelligent he is.
Sean Foster gave me my first coaching opportunity at Salve Regina – both he and Matt Adams set the tone that first year, which allowed me to realize that I wanted to pursue coaching as a career.
Aaron Galletta, who is the men’s basketball coach at Lasell College, is a great offensive coach that really helped me look at the game from a different perspective. He also allowed me to speak and have a platform to coach on the fly.
Lastly, Ryan Cain, who is the men’s basketball coach at Keene State– he certainly made a mark on my young coaching career. We both came to Keene State at the same time – it was his first-ever head coaching gig. We hit it off immediately and he really taught me how to recruit, which has become one of my biggest strengths. He truly empowered me, while allowing me to have a lot of responsibility and influence on the Owls’ program. We had a ton of success, especially during the postseasons, which was a testament to the level that we were able to play at, but also the work that we put in, too.
I plan to consult with all of my coaches during the upcoming season, but I see myself consulting Ryan quite frequently, especially in year number one.
What is the most important thing you need to concentrate on heading into your first season with the Lancers?
The most important thing for this season is to build a culture and camaraderie, both on and off the court, while creating a sense of pride for Worcester State basketball.
Do you have a certain basketball philosophy you plan to implement with the team/program? If so, what is it?
I am inheriting a team that gave up over 85 points per game last winter. I have been a part of, as well as learned from some of the best defensive coaches in our region, so our biggest goal (heading into the upcoming season) will be to significantly improve our defense.
What do the next few months look like from a new coaching perspective? How will you get both yourself and the team/program ready to go come mid-October?
I have already begun building relationships with returners and incoming recruits. They need to feel comfortable and confident in me – vise-versa. We will have numerous team activities and fundraisers planned in the fall before October 15th (our first practice day as a team) comes around. I plan to maintain constant communication with our strength and conditioning team to ensure that our team is physically ready to go, so that way we can spend more time on basketball and less on getting their bodies ready for a season. (Also), I will make sure (to use this time currently) to make sure I am well-prepared for my initial season as a head coach.
A few fun questions, beginning with your all-time favorite basketball player: who is it and why?
I was a big Kevin Garnett fan growing up. He was a tremendous teammate and played with passion that seemed to forced his teammates to play at his level.
How much of the NBA Finals have you been watching and who are you cheering for to win this year’s crown?
I’m not a fan of either team that played in this year’s NBA Finals. I really just like to see a good, competitive series. LeBron James is the best player of this generation and is fascinating to watch. On the other hand, the Warriors have the three of the most unique players on the planet in Steph Curry, Kevin Durrant and Draymond Green, who are just as entertaining to watch.
What is your all-time favorite basketball movie?
I’m not a big movie guy, but I really like a lot of the ESPN’s 30 for 30’s, along with their basketball documentaries, too. I see them as learning opportunities.
Finally, what was the greatest advice you were given as a young basketball player that has helped you become a successful student-athlete and coach?
I grew up Davidson, North Carolina and went to multiple sessions at Bob McKillop‘s Davidson Basketball Camp. He was very prominent at his camps and at times would talk to each camper individually. He always seemed to explain things very clearly and helped me improve my basketball IQ.
It’s the summertime, which means news can be incredibly slow, which is why Noontime Sports has decided to pose a few questions pertaining toward the various professional sports teams in Boston.
In this particular post, we decided to ask the question: Will Ray Allenre-sign with the Boston Celtics? And below we’ve provided a thoughtful answer.
I doubt it, but I hope my gut is wrong.
Ray Allen is one of the greatest deep shooters in NBA history and it’s certainly possible that a three-year, $9.3 million contract would intrigue the shooting guard to join forces with LeBron Jamesand Dwyane Wade.
Yet, if he wants more money, and what professional athlete doesn’t these days, he’d re-sign with the Celtics, a squad that could offer him more than the Heat.
When Boston acquired Jason Terrythis past week, many believed that particular acquisition marked the end of the Allen era in Massachusetts. However, if Allen really wants to win one more championship before retirement, then why wouldn’t he attempt to do it with Kevin Garnettand Paul Pierce? Wouldn’t that be the ideal storybook ending?
Allen, Garnett and Pierce most likely have one or two years remaining, so I personally believe it would be the wrong thing for him to leave Boston for the NBA’s “evil empire.”
Boston currently has enough cap room to not only re-sign him, but also add additional pieces that could help the veteran squad compete for Eastern Conference glory against Brooklyn, Indiana, Miami and New York.
All in all, I think there is a good chance that Allen will indeed ink his name on a contract that’ll provide him with a Miami uniform. Although, anything is possible, especially in the world of sports, so don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Expect Boston to produce a counterattack that could possibly persuade Allen to re-join the Green and White for one last title run before he makes his decision.
What’re your thoughts? Do you think Ray Allen will sign with the Heat or return to the Celtics? Feel free to send your thoughts to NoontimeSports@gmail.com or respond to us on Twitter @NoontimeSports or @NoonSportsBlog.
Happy Tuesday to everyone, and welcome into this Tuesday edition of the Daily Noontime! Let’s kickstart the four-day work week with some headlines and news from the city of Boston, and state of Massachusetts.
* Miami held Boston to 15 points in the third quarter and 18 in the fourth, as the Heat defeated the Celtics in Game No. 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 93-79. LeBron Jamesand Dwyane Wadecombined for 54 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and five blocks, while Kevin Garnettpaced the Celtics with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
* Miami and Boston will return to the hardwood on Wednesday for Game No. 2 at 8:30pm. With Monday’s win, the Heat currently lead the series, 1-0.
* The Boston Red Sox concluded their Memorial Day Weekend with a 7-4 victory against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. Felix Doubront earned his fifth win of the season on the bump, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia finished the contest 2-4 with two runs, a home run and an RBI.
* Boston is now 24-24, and will attempt to earn their 25th win of the season and 12th at home on Tuesday against Detroit — Daniel Bardopposes Justin Verlander— first pitch is scheduled for 7:10PM.
* Prior to Monday’s contests — the Red Sox continued their 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park by recognizing Trot Nixon. The original dirt dog sported his No. 7 home white jersey, and tossed the out the ceremonial first pitch.