Around The Rim with Bob Whitney

Around The Rim Whitney Social

By Bob Whitney 

Some random thoughts after looking around at the local and national basketball landscape.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)/Big Ten Conference (B1G) Basketball Challenge is always at the top of my viewing list each year – I love channel surfing.

This year, the Big 10 Conference reigned supreme with some impressive showings by Maryland, Purdue, Ohio State, and Penn State.

Purdue absolutely dismantled Virginia and exposed the ‘Hoos offensive shortcomings while Ohio State throttled North Carolina. It’s early but Ohio State is looking like they have the horsepower to make a run to the Final Four next April.

Speaking of the ACC, Boston College is on a four-game losing spin and facing a rigorous conference road trip this Saturday at Norte Dame. A highly-touted freshman class must grow up in a hurry or the Eagles will once again reside in the ACC’s bottom quartile.

Save the date: current No. 1 Louisville will visit Conte Forum on Jan. 29. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m.

Carl Pierre, who played high school basketball at Boston College High School, is having an excellent season at UMass. The 2017 Catholic Conference MVP and two-time conference all-star selection is currently averaging 12 points per game.

Pierre and the Minutemen will visit Harvard on Saturday, December 7th with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. UMass will attempt to snap a four-game skid, which began prior to Thanksgiving with a 58-46 setback to Virginia. Harvard enters the non-conference clash at 4-4 – the Crimson have lost two-straight since beating Texas A&M last Thursday. 

Newton North’s Ethan Wright has seen an uptick in playing time this season with the Princeton Tigers. The second-year guard has logged 93 minutes in six contests this season – he even started a game last month against Indiana. Wright has scored 13 points on 5 of 21 shooting, including 3 of 14 from beyond the arc. He has pulled down 13 rebounds, including two offensive caroms to go along with five assists and two blocks.

Wright and the Tigers sit at 1-6 and are scheduled to compete next Tuesday, December 10th against Monmouth. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Coach Trish Brown and the Stonehill College women’s basketball team are off to an impressive 6-2 start. Sure, their lone setbacks have come against Bentley and Molloy, but they have been fun to watch, especially in their last two contests against Assumption College and Franklin Pierce.

Emily Bramanti, who played locally for Westford Academy, credited all of her teammates in their most recent win against the Ravens for stepping-up and making plays when needed.

“That is just the greatness of our team is that any night anybody can step-up and play, so it’s really exciting to see how far we can get going,” she said following the Skyhawks’ 68-59 win over the Ravens.

Bramanti concluded her team’s eighth contest with a team-high 16 points.

Stonehill hosts Saint Anselm College on Saturday before heading to Daytona Beach Florida two weeks later to compete in the Daytona Beach Shootout.

Finally, the Babson College men’s basketball team scored an exciting and impressive win last night over Amherst CollegeFrank Oftring, who grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts netted a career-high 30 points in the win to go along with 10 rebounds.

Babson’s Andrew Jaworski finished with 23 points with four of those points being recorded during the final 30 seconds of the second half.

Babson, which is 12-3 against the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) dating back to the 2016-17 season, will look to continue its early-season momentum this weekend when they compete in the New England Big 4 Challenge at Salem State University.

I’m getting ready to head back to warm and sunny Florida so I’ll be writing from the Sunshine State next week.

KEEP SHOOTING, Everyone!

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.

Daily Noontime – December 2, 2011

Vince Young tossed 4 INTs on Thursday, as the Eagles lost to the Seahawks, 31-14! (Photo Credit: Bleeding Green Nation)

Good day to all, and welcome into another tremendous and stupendous edition of the Daily Noontime! Here’s some headlines and news to kick-start your day, enjoy! 

Headlines:

* Against the Seattle on Thursday, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Vince Young tossed four interceptions, as the Seahawks won, 31-14.

* According to a ProFootballTalk.com report — DeSean Jackson is unhappy with reporters asking him if he’s “unhappy.”

* On Thursday, the Boston Red Sox announced that Bobby Valentine will be their manager for the upcoming season.

* Valentine was asked on Thursday by the Boston media if it’s possible that the Red Sox could possibly consider inviting Bill Buckner to be a coach on his staff, and the answer… it’s possible.

* After a disappointing [6-6] season, Texas A&M fired head coach Mike Sherman.

* President Obama’s fundraising basketball game was postponed due to the NBA lockout coming to an end.

Games to Watch: 

* Detroit at Buffalo (NHL) – 7:00pm eastern 

* No. 9 Florida at No. 3 Syracuse (NCAA Basketball) – 7:00pm eastern 

* UCLA at No. 9 Oregon (NCAA Football) – 8:00pm eastern 

* Philadelphia at Anaheim (NHL) – 10:00pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Anyone else have the moves like Wes Welker

Daily Noontime – September 1, 2011!

Did Obama plan to spoil the opening night of the NFL season?

Happy Thursday to everyone, but also, it’s September 1st, wahoo! Yep, that means, 2011 is almost over! OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but really, let’s kick-off the day with some headlines and news! 

Headlines: 

* Apparently, President Obama’s speech to the Nation could conflict with the first NFL game of the 2011 season between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.

* More news has been released on the latest Madden video game, but this time, it’s about the “franchise mode.”

* According to various reports, Texas A&M is planning to lave the Big 12 Conference next July (2012) and hopefully join the SEC.

* Due to Hurricane Irene, the UConn-Fordham game will be played Saturday at noon, which will still be somewhat exciting, right?

* Houston Texans running back Arian Foster admitted after his recent MRI that he’s “fine” and appears ready to play week one against the Indianapolis Colts.

* More information is being revealed about the LSU football team, as well as recent bar fight, which could result in more arrests and various players suspended.

Games to Watch: 

* New York Yankees at Boston (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern 

* New York Giants at New England (NFL Preseason) – 7:30pm eastern 

* Philadelphia at New York Jets (NFL Preseason) – 7:30pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Please don’t try this at home! 


Daily Noontime – August 31, 2011

Penn State will play both quarterbacks this weekend against Indiana State, which could be interpreted as a good and bad decision!

Happy “Hump Day” y’all and welcome into the middle of the week Daily Noontime! Here’s the headlines, news and more! 

Headlines: 

* Believe it or not, the NFL is slowly in the process of beginning to pay for ex-players health issues, which certainly is a serious situation.

* The brand new “Madden ’12” hit stores on Tuesday and certainly various gamers have enjoyed it thus far, but also feel there’s some glitches too.

* The New York Yankees earned an important win on Tuesday at Fenway Park, as they beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-2. Now, the Bronx Bombers are a half-a-game behind in the AL East standings.

* Apparently some believe that Texas A&M shouldn’t leave the Big 12, but what’s the upside for staying? Should they join the SEC Conference?

* According to head coach Joe Paterno, both Penn State quarterbacks will play against Indiana State this weekend, which is an interesting move, right?

* A variety of NBA All-Stars drew a large crowd for a pick-up summer league game in Baltimore on Tuesday at Morgan State University and yes, LeBron James was in attendance.

Games to Watch: 

* Minnesota at Chicago White Sox (MLB) – 2:05pm eastern 

* New York Yankees at Boston (MLB) – 7:00pm eastern 

* Washington at Atlanta (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Loads of  video gamers flooded Game Stop in North Buffalo, New York on Monday evening, so they could snag a copy of Madden ’12.