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.

Will The Celtics Re-Sign Ray Allen?

Do you think Ray Allen will join Miami for the 2012-13 season? (Photo Credit: CelticsTown.com)

By Matt Noonan 

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 Allen re-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 James and 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 Terry this 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 Garnett and 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.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Miami put on the full-court press on Thursday to persuade Allen to join the Red and Black. And as noted in Ethan J. Skolnick’s blog post, Allen could see more minutes in a Heat uniform, especially if Wade continues to be hampered by a knee injury. He also mentioned that LeBron posted a picture of the shooting guard in a Heat uniform on Twitter this past week, which obviously was designed through Photoshop, but stirred up excitement by the various South Beach supporters.

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. 

Shapiro: Boston Celtics Draft Preview

Would Royce White be the right piece for the Boston Celtics? (Photo Credit: IrishCentral.com)

By Lucas Shapiro 

Curious to see whom the Boston Celtics will pick tonight?

Aren’t we all?

How Boston picks tonight will be the first indication of what direction the Celtics will go in the potentially post Big Three era.

Here are ten guys that could be wearing a Celtics jersey at the end of the night:

Royce White, (Sophomore | Iowa State | 6’8″ Forward): Although Danny Ainge recently denied it, rumors have been swirling around the NBA that the Celtics had promised White they would draft him as the 21st pick. And for those not too familiar with White, Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com wrote an excellent piece yesterday portraying the 6’8″, 270-pound forward. He is arguably the most unique NBA draft prospect in years. His hero is John Lennon. He plays exactly like LeBron James. He has a fear of flying. Yet, what makes White so special is how he has overcome adversity to be where he is today. White did not play one minute at the University of Minnesota under Tubby Smith due to the fact he was arrested multiple times, (he also stole a computer). He ended up transferring to Iowa State where he learned the value of being honest and working hard. The product ended up carrying Iowa State to the second round of the NCAA tournament. White is a physical freak with a high skill level. He played point-forward for Iowa State, despite having the body of a power forward. He’d be an immediate impact for the Celtics because they might be losing Jeff Green and Brandon Bass this summer. They also do not have another ball-handler aside from Rajon Rondo, so White could be that guy for spurts of time. The Celtics will need to figure out how to help White with his anxiety issues and fear of flying, but there is a good chance that White could be an impact player for the Celtics right away.

Jared Sullinger, (Sophomore | Ohio State | 6’9″ Power Forward): Let’s get this straight: Jared Sullinger came back to Ohio State, improved his outside shot, improved his free-throw shooting, improved his shot-blocking, lost weight, and carried his team to the Final Four. Yet, for some miraculous reason he is a possibility for the Celtics in the 20’s, (Boston has picks 21 and 22). This is a guy, who was projected to be a Top-5 pick at the beginning of the year, has been knocked down due to bulging discs in his back. A few years ago, former Kansas forward Darrell Arthur fell in the draft due to concerns about his kidney. Yet, in his three years in the NBA, he has averaged 62 games played in per year, so the fact of the matter is that if Sullinger falls to the Celtics, he will be an absolute steal.

Fabricio de Melo, (Sophomore | Syracuse | 7’0″ Center): The Celtics desperately need size and it is unlikely that either Meyers Leonard or Tyler Zeller falls to them. Melo would be the next best 7-footer available. There are a lot of red flags surrounding Melo. He does not have good hands. He is very raw. He is not very intelligent. But one promising sign about Melo is that he improved drastically during two seasons with the Syracuse Orange. When he first walked onto the Syracuse campus, he could barely contribute. He would get lost in defensive rotations and had a hard time getting up and down the floor. So, he lost a great deal of weight before his sophomore year and looked like a completely different player. He made a major impact on the defensive end. It was apparent after he was ineligible for the NCAA tournament that Melo may have been Syracuse’s most important player this past season. He would be a long-term project for the Celtics, but he could fit in, even if he ends up being a guy that grabs a few rebounds, blocks a few shots, and gives a few fouls, which would pay big dividends for Boston.

Andrew Nicholson, (Senior | St. Bonaventure | 6’9″ Power Forward): Nicholson is relatively unknown to the casual basketball fan. He is a big man with a vast set of post moves, as well as deep range on his jump shot. The big problem with Nicholson is that he is 22-years-old, and still had a body that isn’t ready for the NBA. He was a decent post defender in college, but he only allowed 0.77 points per possession in post-up opportunities, which ranked in the 56th percentile in college basketball. At 6’9″ and 220 pound, Nicholson will need to bulk up if he wants to contribute on both ends of the floor in the NBA. He is not an upside pick, but Nicholson could boost the second unit’s scoring.

Moe Harkless, (Freshman | St. John’s | 6’8″ Forward): Harkless is a small forward with a power forward’s game. He has a great deal of potential and could be a sleeper pick for down the road. Think about how great of a pick-up James Posey was for the Celtics a few years back. Harkless could be a similar type of player. He needs to add some polish to his game, but the upside is there.

John Jenkins, (Junior | Vanderbilt | 6’4″ Shooting Guard): If Ray Allen does not return, the Celtics are desperately going to need some outside shooting. Jenkins is arguably the best catch-and-shoot player in the draft. Boston would be an excellent fit for Jenkins because he would not be asked to do anything else. He has some holes in his game, (lack of quickness), but he would always be paired with two of the best defensive guards in the league.

Should the Celtics trade up for Austin Rivers? (Photo Credit: CollegiateStandard.com)

Perry Jones, (Sophomore | Baylor | 6’11” Forward): It is unlikely that Jones will fall this far, but it is not out of the question. If he does land on the Celtics, Kevin Garnett might be the one player in the league that can teach him to play hard. In terms of talent alone, Jones is a Top-3 player in the draft.

Arnett Moultrie, (Junior | Mississippi State | 6’11” Power Forward/Center): The Celtics were the worst rebounding team in the NBA last year. Moultrie is a bit of an enigma in terms of upside, but he certainly can rebound. Would he be an upgrade over Greg Stiemsma? Probably not, but the Celtics are desperate for size.

Draymond Green, (Senior | Michigan State | 6’7″ Power Forward): Green does not have much upside, but the Celtics would know what they are getting. Green is a utility player. He could be like a combination of Marquis Daniels and Leon Powe for the Celtics. When they need rebounds, Green could grab them. When they need toughness, Green can bring the toughness. He would be a great complimentary player to a team that has enough stars already.

Austin Rivers, (Freshman | Duke | 6’4″ Shooting Guard): This is the pick that people do not like on the outside, but secretly want to see on the inside. Everyone wants to see Austin Rivers play for his father. Doc might be the only coach that could connect with him. Who knows what would happen if Austin Rivers is selected by Boston, but according to various rumors on Thursday, the Celtics will attempt to trade up for him. One thing is for sure: Rivers to Boston would make for an amazing HBO “Hard Knocks” series.

Daily Noontime – May 29, 2012

Miami’s Dwyane Wade and LeBron stole the show in Game No. 1, as the Heat defeated the Boston Celtics, 93-79! (Photo Credit: WBUR.org)

By NoontimeSports.com 

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 James and Dwyane Wade combined for 54 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and five blocks, while Kevin Garnett paced 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.

* After Monday’s contest concluded — Ray Allen told the media that he’s battling with his inner self to work hard and overcome the bone spurs in his ankle. He told WEEI’s Paul Flannery, “There’s nothing really to talk about. It’s like a battle within myself that I have to try and win. You always talk, if it was the playoffs would you play? It’s the playoffs.”

* 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 Bard opposes 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.