It’s hard to pinpoint some of the best storylines of 2021 when it comes to New England small college basketball, but there have been a few, including two conference championship celebrations in March.
The biggest storyline has been the return to the court — like so many schools, teams, and student-athletes that did not compete this past winter due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been an exciting few weeks for so many that can finally play and practice again.
Here are a few storylines from the current year worth revisiting — yes, there are quite a few, but these are a few that we will certainly remember next year and beyond.
UMass Dartmouth wins the Little East Conference (LEC) crown: After losing to Eastern Connecticut in overtime in late February, the Corsairs rebounded with three straight wins, including a pair of conference tournament victories over Keene State College (108-68) and Rhode Island College (93-89).
UMass Dartmouth’s impressive victory over the Owls helped the Blue and Gold clinch their first conference crown since 2009.
Marcus Azor was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player — the Brockton, Massachusetts native averaged 21.0 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in two postseason contests.
Babson College competes against Harvard University: For the first time since 1996, the Beavers competed against the Crimson in an exhibition contest.
Harvard used a late rally in the second half to defeat Babson, 74-64 — the Green and White led the Crimson, 37-34, at the break.
Babson’s Spencer Cline led all players with 17 points on 6 of 17 shooting, including five of nine from beyond the arc, while Nate Amado recorded a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Harvard leads the all-time series, 6-1, with Babson’s last win coming in 1991.
Jim Calhoun departs the University of Saint Joseph: Following his team’s third contest of the 2021-22 season, coach Jim Calhoun announced his retirement from the University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) men’s basketball program.
“It’s just the right time,” he said in a statement last month regarding his departure.
The former Division I bench boss with the University of Connecticut guided the Blue Jays to a 47-17 record in three-plus seasons, which included a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship last year to go with a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Calhoun was the program’s first-ever coach — he was succeeded by Glen Miller, who guided the Blue Jays to an exciting 75-62 win over Tufts University two days after the announcement.
Other stories from 2021:
- Bridgewater State men’s basketball coach Joe Farroba wins his 400th game.
- UMass Boston hosts the first-ever Black Coaches Classic — the Beacons lost their match-up to Brandies University while Tufts defeated Lesley University, 99-76.
- The Springfield College women’s basketball team has been a squad to watch this winter — currently, the Pride boast an impressive 10-0 record.
- Fans of New England small college women’s basketball should keep their eyes on Roger Williams — the Hawks enter the holiday break with an 8-0 record. On the men’s side, Clark University has enjoyed a nice start to its season, winning nine-straight contests.