The New Year has just begun, and while many are still recovering from their celebrations and parties, others, like myself, are asking their crystal ball about 2013.
2012 was an exciting year in sports, especially in the college sports world in Massachusetts. And below are my predictions and thoughts on what could occur over the next few months.
Boston College will win the Hockey East: The Eagles head coach just celebrated a major milestone this past weekend, as Jerry York scooped up win No. 925. He’s now the sole leader in wins in NCAA hockey, but the spotlight was quickly repositioned to his team. Boston College currently resides atop the Hockey East standings and is definitely the frontrunner to capture another conference crown in March. I’m confident that this crew can do it again, but if injuries occur, Boston University or New Hampshire might be the second or third best bets.
Babson College’s Conference Winning Streak Will Conclude: It’s very likely that the Beavers will once again win the NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) in February, but I also think their 68-game streak will be snapped, too. Smith College was the last team to defeat the Green and White in 2009, and ever since, Judy Blinstrub’s squad hasn’t dropped a single conference match. However, with the second half of the season set to tip-off tomorrow for most teams, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Pioneers (Smith) or Clark or Springfield beats Babson in January or February.
Jim O’Brien Leads Emerson College To A Winning Record: Last season, the former Boston College and Ohio State head coach guided the Lions to 7-19 campaign. This year, Emerson’s men’s basketball team is 4-5, and could possibly finish the season with a .500 record.
UMass Men’s Basketball Goes Dancing: I am very confident about the Minutemen, and believe they’ll earn a spot in the March Madness Tournament. They are the clear favorite in this area, and will certainly make the Bay State proud.
Tufts Softball Returns To The NCAA Championship: Against one of the best home run teams in the country last May, the Jumbos surrendered three long balls, which eliminated them from the championship. This season, I’m expecting the Powder Blue and White to return to the tournament. Although, I’m not sure if they’ll win it, but I certainly like their chances despite losing four valuable seniors.
Framingham State Football Three-Peat: They’ve won the MASCAC (Massachusetts State Athletic Conference) the past two years, and this fall, they’ll do it again. The Rams won’t be competing in the NEFC (New England Football Conference), but will still face some non-conference foes, which will prepare them for another shot at NCAA glory.
AIC Football Will Be The Team To Beat: They’re young, fast and now have two years of experience under their belt. The Yellow Jackets from American International College will certainly be the team to beat in the Northeast-10 Conference, I guarantee it.
What’re your predictions? Do you think another college or team or player will endure a great deal of success this year? Let us know by leaving a comment below or sending us an email (NoontimeSports@gmail.com).
Remember to follow Noontime Sports on Twitter (@NoontimeSports or @NoonSportsBlog).
Bobby Valentine has spiced things up in Florida! (Photo Credit: Boston Herald)
By Matt Noonan
It’s been a while since a dark, stormy cloud drifted over the city of Boston.
For the past few weeks, Bostonians and New Englanders have appeared aggravated and disgusted with their four major professional sports teams because they’ve either struggled or disengaged.
Yet, let’s take a step back and realize that these particular days will pass because Boston is still technically the “City of Champions,” especially since all four major sports teams have won at least one championship in the past 11-years, right?
So, without further ado, let’s take a stroll downtown and check in with the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox, who’re currently stealing the spotlight from the New England Patriots, who ended their season a few weeks ago in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Thoughts on the Sox: It’s way too early to deem the upcoming Boston Red Sox season a failure, especially since it’s only been two days of pitchers and catchers.
Manager Bobby Valentine has done a rather decent job with the club over the past few days, and appears eager to help everyone improve, especially Daisuke Matsuzaka, who according to the Boston Globe, played catch with his skipper on Monday. However, the highly touted pitcher isn’t expected to return the Fenway Park bump until midseason, as he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Carl Crawford seems focused and determined to improve his performance from last season, despite ending the year with 129 hits, 29 doubles, seven triples, 56 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Also, he struck out 104 times at the plate, too. Yet, similar to Matsuzaka, Valentine doesn’t want to push his leftfielder back into the lineup because he’s currently recovering from surgery on his left wrist.
Finally, a majority of the Sox position players have already arrived in Fort Myers, which is a hopeful sign that they’ve moved on from their chicken and beer rituals from last season. Boston is expected to conduct their first full team workouts on Thursday, and I’m sure after it concludes, we’ll have plenty to discuss around the water cooler in regards to David Ortizto Cody Rossto Jason Varitek.
The aging Boston Celtics: Literally two weeks ago, I was sitting in the TD Garden watching the Green and White face a Memphis Grizzlies squad that probably should have won this particular clash, especially because they’re younger, quicker, stronger and faster. Although, Kevin Garnett denied the Grizzlies of a much needed win by turning in 22 points and nine rebounds, which helped Boston escape with a 98-80 victory.
Although, ever since that particular day, Boston has endued a 2-6 slump, which includes two losses to a struggling Detroit Pistons team that’ll most likely miss the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Can Danny Ainge salvage the Boston Celtics season? (Photo Credit: Flickr)
The Celtics are a complete mess, and need something or someone to spark their offense and defense, but what exactly should they do?
Should team president Danny Ainge create a blockbuster move or keep the roster intact?
What would Red Auerbach do? OK, that maybe the wrong thing to ask, but really, what would the former coach do in this particular situation?
It’s hard to determine what will happen over the next few weeks, but it’s pretty certain that a change is needed, especially if Boston plans to contend for some hardware in June.
The Bruins need to score goals: Similar to the Celtics, the Bruins are struggling.
They’ve lost two of their last three contests, and registered a goose egg (zero) on the scoreboard for the sixth time this season this past Sunday when the Minnesota Wild blanked them, 2-0 on national television.
However, Boston can salvage their current six-game road trip with wins in St. Louis, Buffalo and Ottawa, which might turn some frowns upside down.
Various reports on Tuesday and Wednesday confirmed that Nathan Hortonis expected to remain sidelined, while Rich Peverleycontinues to be hampered by a knee injury. Also, Shawn Thorntonhas been battling an illness, which could prevent him from playing against the Blues on Wednesday.
Although, despite the various injuries, as well as bumps and bruises I think, Patrice Bergeronsummed it up perfectly when he told the media that his teammates aren’t expecting the front office to locate a “savior” to assist the Bruins, who’re currently on par to snag the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
I don’t think a drastic change is necessary for this particular squad. What Boston needs to do is focus on scoring the first goal, and capitalizing on it. They also need Tim Thomasto keep his mind on hockey, not politics or social media.
The Bruins will be fine, but I’m not ruling out a potential trade that could help Boston in May and June.
Instead of combining four teams into one blog, we’ve decided to separate each squad, and provide four individual posts, which will focus thoroughly on that one team.
So, we’ve decided to kick off this four part series with the New England Patriots, who’re technically two wins away from earning their fourth Super Bowl trophy in 10 years.
Here are some thoughts and analysis on the local pigskin squad, enjoy.
Reflecting On The Past Year: It’s been a rather interesting season for the Patriots, who not only earned their third AFC East championship crown in the past four years, but also, the top seed in the AFC Conference, too.
Tom Bradyexperienced one his better seasons as a quarterback. He tossed 39 touchdowns and recorded 5,235 yards through the air, as well as helped second year tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandezbecome elite stars.
Both tight ends combined for 2,237 yards and 24 touchdowns in 16 games.
However, the biggest weakness for New England was their defense, which yielded 342 points, and 6,577 yards. They also allowed opponents to average 6.2 yards per play, as well as tally 370 first downs and 26 touchdowns.
Yet, the Patriots front seven and secondary did combine for 23 interceptions and 40 sacks.
Biggest Disappointment From The Past Year: During the 2011 season, New England did not defeat a team with a winning record.
They lost to the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, who managed to tally nine wins or more, as well as secure a spot in the postseason, too.
However, against Dallas, Denver, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, New England earned wins, but they weren’t exactly “special” or “great,” especially since all these teams finished the season with roughly eight wins or less.
It’s indeed rather shocking that their opponents didn’t have great records, but earning the top spot in the conference against underachieving squads isn’t exactly something to feel great about, right?
Who knows how the rest of the season will play out, but certainly, Patriots fans will always remember this particular squad as the team that didn’t defeat any true “winners.”
Playoff Success: No Patriots blog would be complete without providing a few intriguing statistics from their past playoff tilt against the Denver Broncos, but also noting that their most recent victory snapped a two-game playoff-losing streak, which dated back to their last win against the San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship in 2008.
Against the Broncos, Brady completed 26-of-34 passes for 363 yards, and six touchdowns. He tossed five of his six scores in the first half, while his opponent, Tim Tebow, struggled immensely, as well as finished 9-of-26 for 136 yards. He didn’t register a single touchdown or interception, but did manage to get sacked five times.
New England will face a daunting task on Sunday when they welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Gillette Stadium, who defeated the Patriots during the 2009 playoffs, 33-14.
Closing Thought: The New England Patriots finally won their first playoff game in four years, but now, they need to use that momentum to carry them to Indianapolis, Indiana for Super Bowl XLVI.
Yet, do they have what it takes to win their fourth championship in 10 years? Um… I think so, (yes, I am a tad bit unsure).
New England isn’t exactly the flashiest squad in the NFL. Their defense was horrendous, but their offense was stupendous, and yes, I know that rhymed.
However, if they do manage to reach the NFL title match, it will certainly prove to teams like Philadelphia that you don’t need loads of talent to win championships.
The Patriots have always been about teamwork and hard work. They’re not self-centered players. They want to win a championship, as well as continue their modern day 21st century dynasty.
So, in conclusion, I am going to display my “hometown optimism” by saying, they’ll end this current season by celebrating on the same fake grass that Peyton Manning defeated them on November 15, 2009, with a Vince Lombardi championship trophy.
Fans Take: What are your thoughts or “two cents” on the current Patriots squad? Do you think they have what it takes to reach the Super Bowl and win? If so, post your thoughts below, as well as on our Facebook page, too.