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.

10-Games Boston Celtics Fans Can’t Miss in 2011-12

Does Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics have what it takes to win the NBA Championship in June of 2012?

By Matt Noonan 

The NBA Lockout is far from over. However, the league announced on Tuesday the 2011-12 regular season schedule, which hopefully is a sign of progress.

Although, despite the ongoing NBA drama, here’s 10 games that Boston Celtics fans will certainly want to circle on their calendars, especially if the season starts in November.

Boston at Miami (Nov. 16) – Seriously, who isn’t intrigued by this particular matchup? The newest version of the “Big-3” failed against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA championship this past June, plus, between the ongoing lockout and time apart, Miami should be pretty rusty for the aging Celtics legs.

Boston at Orlando (Nov. 17) – Boston-Orlando has turned into “can’t-miss” television, so, mark your calendars fans, as the Green and White will look win back-to-back games in Florida on this particular weekend in November.

Miami at Boston (Dec. 1) – This matchup should be more intense, especially since it will be at the Garden. Can you imagine the fans reactions when LeBron Jamesis introduced over the public address system? Should be interesting!

Boston at New York Knicks (Dec. 25) – Santa should deliver quite an exciting Christmas Day treat, especially if both teams are healthy. Although this time around, New York’s “Big-3,” (Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups) should know to how to play with one another, so let’s hope for an exciting holiday contest.

Dallas at Boston (Jan. 11) – The Mavericks won their first NBA championship in franchise history last season, so you can expect the Northeast championship tour to be somewhat exciting, especially against the Celtics.

Oklahoma City at Boston (Jan. 16) – This game will totally be worth watching, especially if the Green and White’s old friends, Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson remain with the Thunder. Yet, why did I write that particular sentence? Well, apparently Robinson wants to play football these days; yet, they’re somewhat in a lockout too, right?

Los Angles Lakers at Boston (Feb. 9) – The last time the Lakers invaded the Garden was when the Celtics watched Ray Allen hit his 2,561st three-pointer. Any chance he’ll break another record against Boston’s rival?

Chicago at Boston (Feb. 12) – Ever since their epic seven-game duel in the ’09 playoffs, Chicago has challenged Boston a great deal. Although with youth, talent and Tom Thibodeau on their side, Chicago should run away with this game, but let’s hope that’s not true.

Boston at Houston (Feb. 19) – Once upon a time, Kevin McHale played for the Celtics, but now, he’s the new head coach for the Houston Rockets, so this is another, “can’t-miss” television event. Hopefully The Office won’t be on that evening!

Boston at San Antonio (Mar. 25) – At this point, both teams should have locked up playoff spots, yet, playing in San Antonio can be challenging, especially for the Celtics, who are [38-40] all time against the Spurs.

NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat

The "Stars" will be shinning brightly in the Eastern Conference Finals, but really, who has the edge in this series?

By Matt Noonan

So, it’s Chicago (1) vs. Miami (2), which I guess is what we all wanted, right?

Didn’t we want to see Derrick Rose challenge LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? I guess, but maybe, we all wanted to see Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen take on the Bulls?

Either way, this series features the best and second best in the Eastern Conference standings, so make sure to pay attention to this particular series, which should feature a great deal of fireworks, electricity and lots of highlight reel moments.

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