Catching Up with Danny Lawson of Emmanuel College Men’s Basketball

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Danny Lawson (middle) was recently named earlier this month the third men’s basketball coach at Emmanuel College. (PHOTO CREDIT: David Le ’10/ Endicott College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

It was announced earlier this month that Danny Lawson had been named the third head coach of the Emmanuel College men’s basketball team.

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.

Noontime’s NBA Playoff Predictions

Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will certainly be a team to watch in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. (PHOTO CREDIT: Sports Illustrated)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

The 2018 N.B.A. Playoffs officially begin tomorrow – yes, welcome to the postseason, basketball fans!

This is one of my favorite postseasons to follow – I do also enjoy playoff hockey as well, but playoff basketball is something I could watch all the time. So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the upcoming N.B.A. playoffs, enjoy!

Care to agree or disagree? Send me a tweet @MattNoonan11 and make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports’ basketball Twitter (@Noontime_Hoops) 


First Round (Eastern Conference) 

No. 1 Toronto vs. No. 8 Washington

Prediction: Toronto (Six Games)

No. 2 Boston vs. No. 7 Milwaukee 

Prediction: Boston (Seven Games)

No. 3 Philadelphia vs. No. 6 Mami 

Prediction: Philadelphia (Six Games)

No. 4 Cleveland vs. No. 5 Indiana 

Prediction: Cleveland (Six Games)


First Round (Western Conference)

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 8 Minnesota 

Prediction: Houston (Five Games)

No. 2 Golden State vs. No. 7 San Antonio 

Prediction: Golden State (Six Games)

No. 3 Portland vs. No. 6 New Orleans 

Prediction: Portland (Six Games)

No. 4 Oklahoma City vs. No. 5 Utah 

Prediction: Oklahoma City (Six Games)


Semifinals (Eastern Conference)

No. 1 Toronto vs. No. 4 Cleveland 

Prediction: No. 4 Cleveland (Six Games)

No. 2 Boston vs. No. 3 Philadelphia

Prediction: No. 3 Philadelphia (Six Games)


Semifinals (Western Conference

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 4 Oklahoma City

Prediction: No. 1 Houston (Six Games)

No. 2 Golden State vs. No. 3 Portland 

Prediction: No. 3 Portland (Seven Games)


Eastern Conference Finals 

No. 3 Philadelphia vs. No. 4 Cleveland 

Prediction: No. 4 Cleveland (Seven Games)


Western Conference Finals

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 3 Portland

Prediction: No. 1 Houston (Six Games)


N.B.A. Finals

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 4 Cleveland

No. 4 Cleveland (Seven Games)

Report: Kyrie Irving To Miss Remainder Of 2018 Regular Season & Postseason

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The Boston Celtics learned today (Weds., Apr. 5th) that Kyrie Irving won’t be returning for the remainder of the 2018 season. (PHOTO CREDIT: USA Today)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

According to multiple reports, including ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving‘s season has officially concluded – he will miss the remainder of the team’s regular season, as well as the postseason, too.

Irving recently had surgery on his left knee and won’t be returning to the hardwood until next season.

The news is not great for the Celtics, who currently occupy the second position in the Eastern Conference. The Toronto Raptors lead all teams in the East and recently defeated Boston by a score of 96-78.

Boston is scheduled to compete in four more games before the postseason begins, but without Irving, the Celtics will need their younger players to step-up, including Jaylen Brown and Jayson TatumAl Horford will also be expected to lead the Green and White in the postseason, as well.

As of this afternoon, the Raptors appear to be a lock for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Cleveland Cavaliers will most likely finish in third place.

If the postseason was to commence this afternoon or evening, the Celtics would face the seventh-seed Washington Wizards in the opening round.

Daily Noontime: Tuesday, June 27th

Russell Westbrook
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook was tabbed the NBA’s Most Valuable Player on Tuesday evening. (PHOTO CREDIT: Bleacher Report)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

It’s Tuesday – let’s dance!

Welcome into a brand new edition – well, technically a Tuesday edition – of the Daily Noontime on NoontimeSports.com.

Let’s get you ready for a great day, beginning with some news and notes from around the sports and entertainment world.

We begin with Russell Westbrook, who was named the NBA’s most valuable player last night at the league’s inaugural award show. Westbrook enjoyed an amazing and historic season by tallying 42 triple-doubles.

As noted in an ESPN report, Westbrook became the second player in league history behind Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double. Robertson recorded 41 triple-doubles during the 1961-62 season.

Crazy to think it took a few decades to break that record, but it happened, folks!

While Westbrook’s triple-double performance this season was quite impressive, one should wonder if any of these seven NBA records will ever be broken?

My guess is that no one will match or beat Bill Russell‘s 11 championships, but that’s just my ‘two-cents.’

Speaking of Russell, the former Boston Celtic was honored – he was presented the lifetime achievement award.

After Russell received the special honor, he announced (jokingly!) that he would ‘kick your ass’ to the following players: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and David Robinson.

Good news, Boston Red Sox fans: the local nine is back in the win column! Last night, Chris Sale and Mitch Moreland led the way for the Sox as they beat Minnesota, 4-1.

Sale concluded the game with nine strikeouts, which bumped his total to 155 strikeouts (thus far).

Last season, Sale tallied 233 strikeouts in 32 games with the Chicago White Sox, so he is certainly on pace to match his total from a year ago. Sale retired a career-best 274 batters in 2015, but I am not sure he will reach that total this season.

As noted in a Variety.com, Spider-Man: Homecoming has dominated the social media landscape recently, accounting for 113,000 new conversations last week. That’s nuts!

I am not the biggest comic book guy, but did enjoy the Spider-Man movies from a few years ago – you know, the ones with Tobey Maguire, but I do plan on seeing this film when it opens on Friday, July 7th.

Finally, and this should not come as a total surprise (or shock), but Tom Brady was voted number one in NFL Network‘s annual top 100 players in the NFL. The New England Patriots quarterback beat-out Von Miller (Denver Broncos) and Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons) for the top spot in this year’s poll.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone! And be kind and good to all!

Noonan: The Celtics Exceeded Expectations, But Are On The Path To Contend For ‘Banner No. 18’

NBA: Boston Celtics at Detroit Pistons
Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics are close to becoming title contenders for the next few seasons. (PHOTO CREDIT: CSNNE.com)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

As we all know, the Boston Celtics overachieved this season, taking that ‘so-called’ next-step with an impressive Game 7 win earlier this week against the Washington Wizards to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Players like Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley and yes, Kelly Olynyk, have made impressive contributions for the Green and White over the past few weeks.

However, we all know this crew is not ready to contend with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Instead, we, the Celtics fans, have witnessed another brick being added to the foundation. Danny Ainge’s process is slowly coming to fruition, which means the Green and White are inching closer to their ultimate goal of ‘banner number 18.’

It will come, I promise, but it won’t be this season. Maybe it will be next season or the year after, but the Celtics, who certainly exceeded expectations this spring, have proven they deserve a spot at the ‘big boys’ table with Cleveland, Golden State and San Antonio.

And while the outcome of this current series certainly favors the Cavaliers – yes, Cleveland dominated the opening game last night, downing the Celtics, 117-104 – Boston must at-least show some fight to keep the excitement on Causeway Street going into next season.

What the Celtics do following the Cleveland series is an unknown. Yes, there have been speculation, thoughts, tweets and opinions about the Green and White dealing their number one pick or perhaps luring Paul George or Gordon Hayward to Boston, but nothing is official.

If I were Danny Ainge, I would consider trading the top pick or perhaps selecting Markelle Fultz (Washington) or Lonzo Ball (UCLA). I would also be open to welcoming drafting Josh Johnson (Kansas) or Jayson Tatum (Duke) to Boston, too.

For now, just like many of you, I am going to enjoy this current run by the C’s. Yes, it maybe painful at time – who doesn’t want to see Thomas and his teammates defeat ‘The King’ and last year’s champions, but in the back of my mind – like many – I know this is just the beginning of what should be an exciting few years of Celtics basketball.

The future is promising, Green and White fans, so enjoy the remainder of the series and get set for what should be an exciting offseason.