Basketball Notebook: Sheldon Announces Retirement From Tufts University

Bob Sheldon, who has coached the Tufts University men’s basketball team for three decades, announced his retirement Thursday. (PHOTO COURTESY: TuftsNow)

By Matt Noonan 

Prior to yesterday’s announcement from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) regarding an update on the upcoming winter sports season, which has been canceled, Bob Sheldon, who has guided the Tufts University men’s basketball team for the past 33 years, announced he will be stepping down effectively on Thursday, December 31, 2020. 

Matt Malone, who has been an assistant under Sheldon for the past 15 years, will take over as the interim coach, according to Wednesday’s (Oct. 7) release from the Tufts University athletic department

Sheldon and the Jumbos matched a program record for wins (23) this past winter while capturing their first-ever NESCAC Tournament Championship by outlasting Colby College in double-overtime

“I was getting near the end of my career as it was, and then when Covid came up and the craziness with that, I just felt that it was time for me to go,” said Sheldon, via the Tufts athletic department story, which can be seen (and read) on the school’s athletic website. 

Sheldon noted he “went back and forth” with his decision to retire, but seems content with his choice to leave a program that he believes is in “a good spot going forward.” 

Prior to their season concluding earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tufts won a pair of NCAA D-III Tournament games in Medford, including a come-from-behind win over Western Connecticut in the opening round. 

Sheldon, who is the program’s all-time winningest coach, would have entered his team’s 2020-21 season as one of the Top 25 NCAA D-III winningest coaches after being named the NESCAC and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Northeast Region Coach of the Year in March. 

The 2020-21 NESCAC winter sports season has been canceled: As noted above, the NESCAC became the first New England D-III conference to cancel its upcoming winter sports season on Thursday, October 7, after postponing its fall season on Friday, July 10

While health and safety were stressed in yesterday’s release regarding the decision by the conference’s presidents, the NESCAC did note that some of their schools have made “significant modifications” to their current academic calendar, which would limit the number of games each program would be able to compete in.  

The NESCAC has made no announcement regarding spring sports – an update will most likely come in a few months – but the conference did say the league’s 11 schools could schedule non-conference games if they choose to. However, D3Sports.com has reported that some schools within the conference have already made decisions for its various winter sports programs, including Middlebury College, which announced yesterday that they “will not hold any athletic competitions during the winter season.” 

Elms College to join the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC): While it is uncertain if and when Elms College will resume athletic competition in the next few weeks or months, the athletic department did announce some exciting news earlier this week about joining the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) for the 2022-23 school year. 

The Blazers currently compete in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) and would join a former member of the eight-team league – that would be Dean College – which joined the GNAC as a full-time member at the start of the current academic year (2020-21)

Both Elms College basketball teams competed last winter in the NECC Tournament with the women’s squad advancing to the conference championship game against Mitchell College

The GNAC has welcomed a few new schools to its conference over the past few years, including Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts in 2017, and Colby-Sawyer in 2018. 

WACBA Women’s Basketball Postseason Awards (Tuesday, March 24th, 2020)

WACBABy NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation & @WACBAHoops 

Another season of college basketball in the Worcester area is in the books, which means it is time to unveil our end of season Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WACBA) Women’s Basketball awards for our coach, player, and rookie of the year.

Noontime Sports is excited to share our end of season WACBA honors for the seventh consecutive season after being the host site for the organization’s weekly honor rolls, which have appeared every Tuesday throughout the college basketball season. 

Fans of Worcester college basketball are encouraged to follow @WACBAHoops on Twitter for scores, news and more.


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Lauren Manis is one of just three active Division I players to record 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. (PHOTO COURTESY: Mark Seliger)

Women’s Player of the Year: Lauren Manis (Holy Cross | Sr. | Franklin, Mass.): Manis averaged 18.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game while shooting 46.3 percent from three-point range to posting 69 assists and 27 blocks. She led the Patriot League in scoring and three-point percentage, while also ranking fourth in Division I with 20 double-doubles and fifth in Division I with 344 total rebounds. Manis finished her impressive career with 2,020 career points and 1,188 career rebounds while becoming Holy Cross’ only player in history – men’s or women’s basketball – and one of just three active Division I players to record 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Additionally, she broke program and league records in career rebounding; her rebound total tied for second in single-season school history. She was named to the All-Patriot League first team, becoming one of just eight players in league history to be named to the first or second-team four times.  


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Becker College first-year Natasha Pacheco concluded her first season with the Hawks by averaging 11.7 rebounds per game with 8.3 points, 3.3 assists and 1.9 steals. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brian Foley)

Women’s Rookie of the Year: Natasha Pacheco (Becker | Fr.| Fairfax, Va.): Pacheco’s rookie season with the Hawks was extraordinary, as she was voted New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Rookie of the Year. Pacheco averaged 11.7 rebounds per game with 8.3 points, 3.3 assists and 1.9 steals for the Hawks and was named WACBA Rookie of the Week three times as well as NECC Rookie of the Week on three occasions. The first-year player was further voted All-NECC, and her rebounding numbers were the most by a rookie player in Becker history. Overall, Pacheco led the Hawks in rebounding, assists, field goal percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio. Pacheco is the third Hawk ever to be recognized as NECC Rookie of the Year, joining teammate Cassidy Harrison (after the 2016-2017 season) and former Becker great Tatiana Mojica (after the 2010-2011 season).


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Coach Karen Tessmer guided the Worcester State women’s basketball team to its second-straight MASCAC Tournament Championship this winter. (PHOTO COURTESY: Worcester State Athletics)

Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year: Karen Tessmer (Worcester State): Despite graduating four elite-level seniors from one year ago, coach Karen Tessmer still managed to lead the Worcester State women’s basketball team to the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) tournament finals for the second straight season. The Lancers finished one win shy of matching three former teams that won 20 contests but did score two impressive postseason wins over Fitchburg State University and Westfield State.


Fans of Worcester college basketball are encouraged to follow @WACBAHoops on Twitter for scores, news and more. 

D3 Basketball: Noontime’s Saturday Conference Tournament Predictions

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Welcome to the championship Saturday!

Before we officially tip-off a busy day of New England D-III basketball, I think it is time I dish out some predictions for who will win their respective conference tournament title this afternoon (or early evening).

And after today’s games conclude, we’ll turn our attention to another busy slate of championship games tomorrow.

So, without further ado, here are today’s predictions for ten championship games – enjoy the action, everyone!

Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC): Endicott over Nichols. The Gulls have some serious momentum on their side following Thursday’s dramatic win over Wentworth Institute of Technology. 

Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC): Endicott over the University of New England. I didn’t think the Gulls would beat Roger Williams earlier this week, but that road win provided them a home date (and a home town crowd this afternoon, too) for an important match-up with the Nor’easters.

Great Northeastern Athletic Conference (GNAC): Emmanuel College over Saint Joseph’s College. For the second-straight season, the Saints will find a way to beat the Monks and win their 17th conference crown.

Little East Conference (LEC): Western Connecticut over UMass Dartmouth. The Colonials looked pretty good the other night against UMass Boston and should continue their impressive play against the Corsairs.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Westfield State over Worcester State. I picked against the Owls on Thursday – I thought Salem State was going to spoil their run to the NCAA Tournament, so today I’ll go with the Blue and White over the Lancers.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Worcester State over Framingham State. The Lancers enter the final game of the MASCAC playoffs with some serious momentum following their win over Westfield State on Thursday.

New England Collegiate Conference (NECC): New England College over Mitchell. The Pilgrims’ offense produced 92 points the other night against Dean College and will dominate the Mariners defense this afternoon.

New England Collegiate Conference (NECC): Eastern Nazarene over New England College. The Lions are seeking their 22nd win of the 2019-20 season, which they will get against the Pilgrims.

North Atlantic Conference (NAC): Maine-Farmington over SUNY Canton. Terion Moss will continue his impressive play again this afternoon and guide the Beavers to both a conference championship, as well as a first-round appearance in next week’s NCAA Tournament.

North Atlantic Conference (NAC): Husson over Maine-Farmington. The Eagles soared to victory last night over NVU-Lydon and will do it again today against Maine-Farmington.

Middlebury Secures Top Spot In Second NCAA D-III Northeast Regional Rankings

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By NoontimeSports.com| @NoontimeNation

The Middlebury College men’s basketball team secured the top spot in this week’s NCAA D-III Northeast Regional Rankings after placing second one week ago.

Middlebury, which has won 20 of 24 contests this season, will begin its pursuit of a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament crown this Saturday, February 22nd when they visit Trinity College for a 3 p.m. tip-off. The Bantams of Trinity, which are the fourth seed in the 2020 NESCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament, did not appear on this week’s list.

Springfield College, which is currently the top team in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), checked-in second while WPITufts University, and Colby College rounded out the top five. Tuft was the top team last week in the initial Northeast Regional Rankings of the current season.

Babson College secured the sixth position, St. Joseph’s (Conn.) placed seventh while Amherst CollegeBrandeis University, and Albertus Magnus rounded out the top ten positions, checking in eighth, ninth, and tenth, respectively.

Finally, New England College joined the list, checking in 11th overall with an 18-6 overall record. The Pilgrims, who compete in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC), have won seven-straight contests and will wrap up their 2019-20 regular season slate this evening when they host Eastern Nazarene College at 7 p.m.

New England Basketball Weekend Watch (Friday, Jan. 17th)

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Happy Friday, everyone – hope you are all staying warm on this bone-chilly (and windy) day in Boston.

Did I hear there was some snow in the forecast for tomorrow? When does the warm weather arrive?

Well, while we anxiously wait for temperatures that we had a week ago, let’s dish out a brand new ‘New England Basketball: Weekend Watch’ with some thoughts on a few local D-III games.


Colby College at Middlebury College (Friday, Jan. 17th at 7 p.m.): A battle between our top two teams in this week’s Noontime Top 10 Men’s Basketball Poll.

The Mules of Colby enter the contest riding an impressive 13-game winning streak – they extended that streak last weekend with back-to-back wins over Connecticut College and Trinity College. Sam Jefferson is one of two players in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) averaging 22.8 points per game – he will certainly be a player to watch on Friday evening, as well as someone the Panthers will need to locate when he is on the court.

As for the Panthers, they enter this marquee matchup with a 15-1 mark – they lost last weekend to Amherst College but rebounded the following day with a one-point win over Hamilton College. Tommy Eastman highlighted the Blue and White’s win over the Continentals – similar to Jefferson, he will also be a player to watch in this contest.

Noontime’s Prediction: I think the Panthers’ win over Hamilton provided them with some momentum that not only helped them against Albertus Magnus earlier this week but should assist them to make a few more plays than Colby, especially down the stretch. Middlebury will beat Colby, 81-78. 

Tufts University at Amherst College (Saturday, January 18th at 3 p.m.): It may be too early to call this a ‘must-win’ game for both teams, but as two of the top three women’s basketball teams in the NESCAC, this is a VERY important contest.

Since falling to Emmanuel College last month, the Mammoths have won 11-straight – they will attempt to make it 12-straight wins when they host Bates College this evening with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.

Amherst’s Madeline Eck was named the conference’s player of the week on Monday – she entered the week averaging 15.6 points per game. The senior guard, who has played and started in all 15 games this season, has converted 72.1 percent of her free throws while averaging seven caroms per contest.

First-year coach Jill Pace has enjoyed a very successful start with the Jumbos, who enter this weekend riding a 14-game winning streak. Before Tufts visits Amherst on Saturday, they will travel to Hamilton on Friday for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

Tufts opened conference play last week with a 78-60 win over Wesleyan University – it was a game that featured a double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds by Erica DeCandido. DeCandido will be a player to watch on the Powder Blue and White against the Mammoths on Saturday.

Noontime’s Prediction: This will be a good test for both teams, but Amherst has been impressive since falling to the Saints and should find a way to beat the Jumbos on their home court by a score of 63-57. 


Time for some ‘extra picks’ for the weekend! 

MBB: Tufts (MBB) over Hamilton (Jan. 17th): After falling to Suffolk University earlier this week, the Jumbos will find a way to bounce back against the Continentals before hosting the Mammoths on Saturday afternoon.

MBB: Emmanuel College over Lasell University (Jan. 18th): Coach Danny Lawson and the Saints should continue their recent momentum at home against the Lasers and score their first conference win of 2020.

WBB: Smith College over Emerson College (Jan. 18th): The Pioneers scored an impressive road win earlier this week against the Ephs of Williams College and should be able to continue that momentum on the other side of the state against the Lions.

MBB: Endicott College over Roger Williams (Jan. 18th): The Gulls have rebounded nicely since falling to Nichols College earlier this month with back-to-back wins over Curry College and Gordon College. Look for a big game on Saturday from Keith Brown and Jalen Echevarria.

WBB: Rhode Island College over UMass Boston (Jan. 18th): RIC appears to be the team to beat in the Little East Conference (LEC) – they enter Saturday’s match-up riding an 11-game winning streak. RIC’s Willcia McBorrough will be the player to watch in this contest.

WBB: Westfield State over Bridgewater State (Jan. 18th): After surrendering 101 points to Framingham State last weekend, the Owls have rebounded with some important conference wins over Fitchburg State and Worcester State. Look for Blue and White to extend their current winning streak to three games on Saturday.

WBB: Eastern Nazarene at Mitchell College (Jan. 18th): The Lions appear to be the team to beat (and watch) in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) – this has the making of a potential postseason preview.


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