Tag Archives: New England Basketball

New England Basketball Notebook: Harvard Shines In Season-Opener

Men's Basketball between the Harvard Crimson and the Columbia Lions

Bryce Aiken and the Harvard University men’s basketball team are motivated to return to the NCAA Tournament this upcoming season. (PHOTO COURTESY: David Dermer/Harvard Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @MattyNoonz11

For Harvard University, Tuesday’s 84-27 victory over MIT was an ideal way to begin a new season, but also an opportunity to gain some much-needed momentum heading into an important non-conference clash on Friday with Northeastern University.

Multiple Crimson players contributed on both ends of the floor against the Engineers, including first-year forward Chris Ledlum, who recorded his first collegiate double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Christian Juzang netted 12 points, while classmate Chris Lewis stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, seven rebounds, one assist, and one block.

Harvard’s 57-point victory margin matched the 1945-46 team, which established the mark with their win over Northeastern.

While it certainly was an impressive start to their 2019-20 campaign, Harvard, as well as their coach Tommy Amaker, know they have more work to do in order to accomplish their preseason goals. And one of those goals, according to senior guard Bryce Aiken, is to return to the NCAA Tournament, something the Crimson have not done since 2015.

Harvard has come close to returning to the ‘big dance,’ but has fallen short the past three seasons in the Ivy League tournament. Additionally, they saw their run toward a National Invitational Tournament (NIT) title conclude twice within the past two years, including this past March when they lost a heartbreaker in the second round to North Carolina State University.

But despite falling short of accomplishing past preseason goals or winning tournaments and championships, Aiken remains optimistic. He believes this year’s crew can “make history,” and from what fans witnessed the other evening against MIT, perhaps the senior guard believes this year’s squad is truly capable of not just winning an Ivy League conference tournament but challenging other teams from across the country for the ultimate prize, a national championship. 

“The biggest motivation for us as seniors (this year) is leaving with a bang, man,” said senior Bryce Aiken, who elected to return to campus for one more season after initially entering his name for the 2019 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft last April.

“We haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament, so that is the biggest motivating factor for us.”

Added Juzang, “It’s been three years of all of us (for) things you can look at and you can call motivation (from) the Ivy League championship games, the NC State game, and we could point to a bunch of different things, but I think the biggest thing is (we’re) internally driven, not getting pushed around by the expectations and whatnot.”

The expectations, as both the coaches and student-athletes know, is rather high for a team that is scheduled to face some stiff competition this month against Northeastern, University at Buffalo, and Texas A&M. Harvard could also face the University of Maryland this month, too – they would need to beat the Aggies of Texas A&M in the opening round of the Orlando Invitational, which is scheduled to commence on Thanksgiving Day.

Weeks after competing in the Orlando Tournament, Harvard will commence conference play in mid-to-late January against Dartmouth College before ending the month with a visit to the University of Pennsylvania, which opened its 2019-20 season with an 81-80 win over the University of AlabamaPenn lost to Harvard last March in the Ivy League semifinals but was picked second in the conference preseason poll.

Yet, before Harvard worries about Dartmouth, Penn, and other future foes, they will keep their focus on Northeastern, a team that beat the Crimson last November, thanks to a game-high 35 points by Jordan Rolland. Rolland will certainly be a player the Crimson will need to slow down in order to pick-up their second win of the season, but from a quick glance at this year’s roster, Harvard is loaded with talent to slow down their opponents’ top players, and will certainly receive a boost from an impressive and hard-working first-year class.

Amaker praised his freshman class, which was ranked 38th nationally, according to 247Sports.com. All five newcomers logged time on Tuesday against MIT and have seemed to adapt to the college game quite well it seems.

“I have been impressed with our first-years,” said Amaker during the team’s media day last Friday. “This is a tough-minded group. They are physical – you look at who they are (with their) bodies and (what) they are capable of taking in … they have been durable, but they have been very (impressive) with their durability, dependability, and then fitting in.

“Our future is good hands with this first-year class.”

No matter who is on the floor Friday and later this season – Aiken, Ludlum, Juzang, sophomore Noah Kirkwood or seniors Seth Towns and Henry Welsh – Harvard is expected to compete and play some impressive basketball that should translate into more wins and an exciting 2019-20 season.

News and Notes from New England: 

  • Andrew Fleming became the 31st player in the University of Maine men’s basketball program to net 1,000 points as the senior helped the Black Bears defeat Merrimack College, 84-64, on Wednesday evening. Fleming, who was named a preseason America East All-Conference honoree, recorded 37 points and 10 rebounds against the Warriors to go along with five assists and two blocks.
  • Keep your eyes on the Saint Anselm College women’s basketball team this weekend – the Hawks, who were picked to finish atop the Northeast-10 Conference will tip-off Saturday, November 9th against Bloomfield College at 6:30 p.m. After facing the Bears, the Hawks will cap their weekend with a late Sunday afternoon contest against the University of Bridgeport.

    Senior Shannon Ryan will be one of many student-athletes to watch on the Hawks this winter. Ryan recorded a double-double of 29 points and 18 rebounds last weekend against Bishop’s University.

  • WPI, which secured the fourth spot in our New England D-III Men’s Basketball Top 10 Preseason Poll, tips-off its season against ninth-ranked Brandeis University on Friday. Both teams are two squads to watch this winter – the Engineers were picked to capture the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), while Brandeis is expected to continue its success from last year under second-year coach Jean Bain.
  • Finally, make sure to read Bob Whitney‘s first column, Around The Rim – I am very excited to have Bob join our team this winter to produce some additional basketball content. Bob has covered the college and high school game for years and will be a great addition to our Noontime Sports staff.

Catching Up With Laura Pierce (Fitchburg State Women’s Basketball)

WB_PierceHC

Laura Pierce, who competed and coached at Wheaton College, was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Fitchburg State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Laura Pierce was ready for that next step in her coaching journey.

She had gained valuable experience at both Wesleyan University and Wheaton College as an assistant for both women’s basketball programs but appeared eager – and ready – to become a head coach.

And that eagerness – and readiness, too – paid off as she was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University.

“I am excited to get to work with the young women to create a culture in which our program makes Fitchburg State proud on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Pierce in the press release announcing her hiring.

Pierce inherits a Falcons squad that finished 9-17 a year ago, including 2-10 against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) foes.

The Falcons did qualify for the MASCAC Tournament last winter but saw their bid for a conference crown conclude in the quarterfinals against Bridgewater State University.

Coaching in the MASCAC is something Pierce is very excited about – she described the conference as “really competitive,” while also noting that “you have to bring your best effort every (single) evening.”

Said Pierce, “My hope is that we enter the gym every day with the mindset of effort, focus, and attitude because it will help us be successful, both this upcoming season and in the future.”

Prior to becoming an assistant for both the Cardinals and Lyons, Pierce enjoyed an impressive career at Wheaton, tallying 622 points, 253 rebounds, 424 assists, and 68 steals in 100 games played. Pierce, who was a three-year captain, also attended “So You Want to be a Coach” Program at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida in April of 2015 before graduating from Wheaton one month later.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Pierce about her excitement for leading her own program, but also what she learned as both a student-athlete and assistant from Coach Melissa Hodgdon.

What excites you about coaching your own program?

Being able to teach the game I love while shaping these young women’s lives.

Coaching is about so much more than the X’s & O’s (on a chalkboard). It’s about building relationships and mentoring (your players) to become the best they can be, both on and off the court. I have had many coaches and mentors along the way that I have played for and coached with, and they have all have shaped me into the coach and person I am today.

I think the exciting thing about coaching your own program is having a vision and being able to shape that vision throughout the season. It’s all about the process and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s such an exciting time for the Fitchburg State women’s basketball program.

Do you feel your previous stops as an assistant at Wesleyan and Wheaton have prepared you for a successful first season with Fitchburg State?

Absolutely. Kate Mullen, who is the is the head coach of the Wesleyan women’s basketball team, took a chance on me – she hired me right after I graduated college (in May of 2015) and I will be forever grateful to her for providing me with my first collegiate coaching role.

Coach Mullen gave me the opportunity to coach and prepare to play against teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is one of the most competitive Division III women’s basketball conferences in the country. 

I am really fortunate that both Coach Mullen and Melissa Hodgdon gave me an opportunity to learn and grow as a young coach (these past few years). I consider them not just mentors, but great friends, as well.

Tell me about your experience learning and playing for Melissa Hodgdon. How did she help mold you into the current coach you are today? 

I honestly had never heard of Wheaton until Coach Hodgdon began recruiting me. But attending Wheaton and playing for her was the best decision I ever made.

Coach Hodgdon challenged me every day to become the best basketball player I could be so I could reach my highest potential on the court with hopes of leading the Lyons to a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship.

Her biggest impact though is she genuinely cares about each and every one of her players.

I missed my entire sophomore year with a knee injury, but that didn’t stop Coach Hodgdon from including me in team activities. She made sure I was included and kept me engaged throughout the entire season while allowing me to see the game from her perspective. And once my sophomore year concluded at Wheaton, I knew I wanted to become a collegiate basketball coach when I graduated, so I began gaining experience as an intern at the Duke University women’s basketball camp, along with several local camps, too, before I returned to campus for my senior year.

A few years after my final season with the Lyons, I returned to campus after completing my graduate assistantship program at Wesleyan – I knew (deep down that) I wanted to return to Wheaton and assist Coach Hodgdon, who established a program that meant so much to me, both as a student-athlete and assistant coach.

Being able to work (and learn) from Coach Hodgdon as an assistant was an amazing experience. She challenged me to become the best coach while giving me responsibilities that prepared me for my next step in my coaching journey.

Finally, what goals and objectives do you have for the team heading into the upcoming season?

We have a great group of young women returning this year as well as a couple of incoming first-year student-athletes that are excited to get to work. We’re going to focus on getting better every day, whether that be in the classroom, weight room, film room or on the court.

We are also going to have this mindset of getting better (every single day). But our number one goal is always going to be to represent the Fitchburg State community with class and pride.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops

D3 Hoops: Tuesday Night Conference Scoreboard

NS CONF TOURN SCOREBOARD 2019

By NoontimeSports.com| @NoontimeSports & @NoontimeHoops 

The road to the 2019 NCAA Division III men and women’s basketball tournaments continued this afternoon and evening with a slew of local conference match-ups. Below are the outcomes from today’s quarterfinal contests.

As always, stay connected with our New England basketball coverage by following @Noontime_Hoops on Twitter! 

Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) | Men’s Basketball 

  • Roger Williams 102, University of New England 87
  • Gordon College 94, Wentworth 77
  • Western New England 70, Endicott 65

Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) | Women’s Basketball 

  • Curry College 64, Roger Williams 61
  • Western New England 64, Salve Regina 52
  • University of New England 64, Gordon College 39

Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) | Men’s Basketball 

  • St. Joseph’s (Conn.) 95, Suffolk 84
  • St. Joseph’s (Maine) 83, Johnson & Wales 80
  • Emmanuel College 90, Colby-Sawyer 83
  • Albertus Magnus 99, Lasell College 79

Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) | Women’s Basketball 

  • Suffolk 68, Anna Maria 58
  • Emmanuel College 61, Colby-Sawyer 39
  • Albertus Magnus 82, Regis College 74
  • St. Joseph’s (Maine) 99, Johnson & Wales 75

Little East Conference (LEC) | Men’s Basketball 

  • UMass Dartmouth 83, Plymouth State 65
  • Western Conn. 97, UMass Boston 77

Little East Conference (LEC) | Women’s Basketball 

  • Rhode Island College 66, UMass Boston 44
  • Southern Maine 63, Castleton 40

Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) | Men’s Basketball 

  • Bridgewater State 101, Framingham State 84
  • Fitchburg State 67, Worcester State 55

Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) | Women’s Basketball 

  • Framingham State 70, Salem State 47
  • Bridgewater State 89, Fitchburg State 68

New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) | Men’s Basketball 

  • Newbury College 96, Dean College 90
  • Mitchell College 64, Southern Vermont 53

New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) | Women’s Basketball 

  • Mitchell College 66, Elms College 49
  • Becker College 57, Newbury College 49
  • Eastern Nazarene 70, Dean College 66
  • New England College 85, Southern Vermont 85

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) | Men’s Basketball 

  • WPI 70, Babson 66

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) | Women’s Basketball 

  • MIT 76, Emerson College 58
  • Smith College 75, Wellesley College 38
  • Springfield College 66, Clark University 44

Noontime Sports New England D3 Men’s Basketball Top 10 (Jan. 1st)

NS HOOPS MBB TOP 10

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @Noontime_Hoops 

Happy New Year, New England D3 Hoops fans!

Let’s kick-off the new year with our fifth poll of the 2018-19 season, which once again finds Williams College in the top spot followed by Hamilton College (second) and MIT (third).

Movers: We had some movement, beginning with Hamilton and MIT moving-up, while Gordon College and Babson College also moved-up one spot, respectively.

Newcomers: Amherst College checked-in 10th overall after scoring its third-straight win over Hunter College. The Mammoths, who currently stand at 8-1 overall, will attempt to continue its current momentum on Wednesday against Keystone before facing Trinity College on Friday.


Noontime Sports D3 New England Men’s Basketball Poll | Jan. 1st, 2019 

1. Williams College

11-0, 0-0 NESCAC Previously: No. 1 
2. Hamilton College   11-0, 0-0 NESCAC Previously No. 3
3. MIT  10-1, 0-0 NEWMAC Previously: No. 4
4. Nichols College  10-1, 3-0 CCC Previously: No. 2
5. Middlebury College 9-3, 0-0 NESCAC Previously No. 7 
6. Endicott College 8-3, 1-1 CCC Previously: No. 6
7. WPI  9-2, 0-0 NEWMAC Previously: No. 5 
8. Babson College 7-4, 0-0 NEWMAC Previously: No. 9 
9. Gordon College 11-1, 3-0 CCC Previously: No. 10 
10. Amherst College 8-1, 0-0 NESCAC Previously: Not Ranked

On The Rise: Albertus Magnus, Brandeis University, Coast Guard Academy, Colby College, Eastern Conn., Wesleyan University and Wheaton College 


Previous Polls: Preseason | Week One | Week Two | Week ThreeWeek Four


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage by following @Noontime_Hoops on Twitter Today! 

 

D3 Hoops: 10 Games To Watch (Dec. 28-Dec. 31st)

NS 10 GAMES TO WATCH HOOPS

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @Noontime_Hoops 

It’s FRIDAY, which means … (drum roll please) … it is NOW time for a brand new edition of 10 Games to Watch this weekend in New England D3 Hoops!

Yes, it has been a few weeks since our last 10 Games to Watch, but entering this weekend’s contests, we have predicted 12 of 20 contests correctly (two posts), so let’s see how we do this weekend. (Last time we made predictions, we finished 5-5.

As always, stay connected with @NoontimeSports and @Noontime_Hoops on Twitter for updates, scores and more!


Men’s Basketball 

Nichols College vs. Eastern Conn. (Saturday, Dec. 29th at 3 p.m.): The Bison enter the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic as the team to beat. Nichols has won nine-straight and should find a way to pick-up their 10th victory against the Warriors. The winner of this match-up will face either host Springfield College or Salisbury University on Sunday. PREDICTION: Nichols College

Endicott College vs. Colby-Sawyer (Saturday, Dec. 29th at 5 p.m.): This game certainly has potential to be a high-scoring affair. Keep an eye on Endicott’s Keith Brown and Colby-Sawer’s Patrick Coffey as both players should provide their respective unit with a boost on the offensive end. PREDICTION: Endicott College 

Salem State vs. Thomas College (Saturday, Dec. 29th at 7 p.m.): The Vikings scored an exciting win over Endicott earlier this month to provide the Blue and Orange with some momentum heading into their holiday tournament. Expect that momentum from their three-point win to continue against the Terriers. PREDICTION: Salem State 

WPI vs. Maryville (TN) (Saturday, Dec. 29th at 7 p.m.): It’s been a few weeks since we last saw these Engineers in action – they scored an 86-71 win over Husson University in their last outing. Sure, the game feels like ages ago, but one should expect coach Chris Bartley‘s squad will be ready for this particular contest, along with a potential championship contest, too, at this weekend’s Tampa Bay Shootout. PREDICTION: WPI 

Emmanuel College vs. St. Joseph’s (Maine) (Sunday, Dec. 30th at 3 p.m.): This early season GNAC clash has potential for an exciting finish as both teams enter the Catholic Classic Tournament with some momentum. The Saints have won four-straight, while the Monks haven’t lost since falling to Tufts University last month. Both teams will be in action Saturday with St. Joseph’s facing Rivier University, while Emmanuel will take on Regis College. PREDICTION: St. Joseph’s (Maine) 


Women’s Basketball

Trinity College vs. Lehman (Friday, Dec. 28th at 2 p.m.): The Bantams enter the CUNYAC Coaches v. Cancer Tournament with some momentum, which they earned earlier this month by defeating both Connecticut College and Stevens. As of this morning, four players on the Trinity roster, including Courtney Erickson, are averaging 10 points or more. PREDICTION: Trinity College 

TCNJ at MIT (Saturday, Dec. 29th at 2 p.m.): This will be a good test for the Engineers, who will resume NEWMAC play one week later when they visit Smith College. MIT has been rather successful this month, but so have the Lions of TCNJ, who enter the non-conference clash on a six-game winning streak. MIT is averaging 72.9 points per game, while TCNJ’s offense averages 66.5 points. PREDICTION: MIT 

Babson College vs. Salve Regina (Sunday, Dec. 30th at 1 p.m.): Babson will host the Judy Pearson ’85 Memorial Tournament on Sunday and Monday – we expect them to find a way past the Seahawks to secure a championship match-up against the winner of St. Lawrence-UMass Dartmouth. Babson enters the two-day tournament on a five-game winning streak. PREDICTION: Babson College 

UMass Dartmouth vs. St. Lawrence (Sunday, Dec. 30th at 3 p.m.): As noted above, this will be one of four games taking place at Babson College on Sunday and Monday, but this is certainly an enticing match-up. Since falling to Bowdoin College, the Corsairs have rebounded with two important wins over Keene State and Johnson & Wales. PREDICTION: UMass Dartmouth 

Bates College vs. Springfield College (Monday, Dec. 31st at 1 p.m.): The Pride will attempt to defend their Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic championship when they host the Bobcats of Bates College on the first day of their holiday tournament. The winner of this match-up will face either Newbury College or Vassar College on Tuesday. PREDICTION: Springfield College 

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