Tag Archives: Trisha Brown

Around The Rim With Bob Whitney: Welcome Back College Hoops

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Former Braintree High and Kimball Union star Nic Timberlake in action last year for Towson University. Timberlake is now a redshirt freshman for Towson this winter after last season’s injury-riddled campaign. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bob Whitney)

By Bob Whitney | @WhitneyBob

In case you haven’t noticed the 2019-20 college basketball season is off and running, highlighted by a nationally-televised doubleheader last evening featuring the top four teams in the men’s basketball preseason rankings: Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas.

For all of us veteran purists, it was hoop heaven, the talent was amazing but the quality of play was spotty at best given such a huge stage on opening night.

That aside, it is my pleasure to pen a weekly hoop column for the hard-working Matt Noonan and his many followers here at Noontime Sports.

I have covered one of the Power Five conferences – the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), to be exact – for the last eight seasons, but this year I will focus on a little bit of everything but the primary focus will remain on all that is happening in New England – and that is a lot!

First of all, check out the Noontime Sports Men and Women’s New England D-III Basketball Preseason Top 10 Polls: (Men’s Basketball | Women’s Basketball)

A few thoughts from the basketball polls.

  • No surprise that Amherst College is perched at the top of both rankings. They have been the gold-standard regionally and a regular participant in the NCAA D-III Tournaments for years.
  • Speaking of Amherst, the men’s program suffered a sudden jolt in September when legendary coach David Hixon (after 42 seasons at the helm) opted to take a non-health sabbatical to deal with some family issues. The big question is can the program move on without Hixon’s leadership?

    Those close to the program feel that with the elevation of trusted assistant Aaron Toomey, who played under Hixon and helped win NCAA titles in 2012 and 2013, the transition should be seamless.

  • A game to watch (and to gauge how Toomey and his squad are managing the transition) is on January 10 when New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rival Middlebury College travels to Amherst.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • There have been a number of rule changes introduced with the most important one being the extension of the 3-point arc from 17 inches to the international standard of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. Although testing of this change in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) last year found little change in shooting percentage, it was felt by the officiating honchos that it would alleviate congestion in the paint by forcing defenders to guard shooters further away from the basket. Stay tuned on this change.
  • All eyes will be pointing to Cambridge, Mass this season to see if the Harvard University celebrated senior class, led by awesome point guard Bryce Aiken, can finally win an Ivy League title, as well as earn an automatic tournament bid to the NCAA Tournament.

    Better yet, the Crimson will have some home-cooking help in March as this year’s conference tournament moves from the storied The Palestra to Lavietes Pavilion, March 14-15.

    The Ivy poo-bahs move to a conference tournament for men and women was a no-brainer – the atmosphere is pulsating and the quality of play is as good as it gets.

  • A shoutout to former Marquette University assistant Brett Nelson who assumes the reins at Holy Cross after Bill Carmody‘s decision to retire from the coaching ranks.
  • Did you know that we have a number of the top coaches in the women’s college game led by the legendary Barbara Stevens, who ranks fourth in wins among college coaches at Bentley University, Harvard’s Kathy Delaney-Smith, Stonehill College‘s Trisha Brown, Springfield College‘s Naomi Graves, and Babson College‘s Judy Blinstrub. If any of you have a daughter that may be destined to play at the college level the price of admission to catch one of these coaches in action will help with a final decision.
  • In my eight years following ACC men’s basketball, I had the privilege to hear firsthand from some of the great coaches in the game, including Coach Mike KrzyseskiRoy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, and Mike Brey. Buzz Williams was a real stitch in the press room. But most impressive among this elite group of coaches was the University of Virginia‘s, Tony Bennett.

    Obviously, Bennett’s run to the national title was the big news last year but most noteworthy was his recent decision to forego a well-deserved a big raise. Bennett felt that his family was blessed and thankful for what they have and felt that the money would be better spent in funding a program to help athletes transition to careers after basketball. Bennett is destined to be the voice of the ACC once Coach K and Roy retire.

A FINAL THOUGHT

Best wishes to Kristen McDonnell who left the Braintree high school girls basketball program after a ten-year run which included four D-1 state titles and a bunch of sectional crowns. McDonnell is seeking a new challenge as the Norwood high school boys head coach.

Keep shooting. See you next week!

Mass. College Hoops: Bentley 66, Stonehill College 50

Bentley jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, as the Falcons soared past Stonehill on Saturday! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)

Bentley jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, as the Falcons soared past Stonehill on Saturday! (Photo Credit: Brian Willwerth)

By Brian Willwerth 

WALTHAM, MA – This matchup of unbeatens turned into one of those two-games-in-one contests. The difference: Bentley’s first half was bigger than Stonehill’s second half.

The No.2 Falcons took over sole possession of first place in the Northeast-10 Conference with a 66-50 victory over the Skyhawks on Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.

The first-half numbers were mind-boggling in favor of the home team. Bentley delivered the knockout punch by going on a 30-0 run. The Falcons held Stonehill scoreless for nearly 15 minutes. Bentley shot 52% from the field to 12% for Stonehill. The Falcons also held dominating advantages in the paint, off the bench, and points off turnovers. The score was 49-11 at halftime.

“I saw terrific defensive effort, which gave us momentum at the offensive end,” said Bentley head coach Barbara Stevens of her team’s first half performance.   “Our intensity was very, very good.”

“I thought Bentley did a great job taking us out of our offensive schemes,” said Stonehill head coach Trisha Brown. “You can see, mentally, we definitely broke down in the first half.”

In the second half, you could pretty much flip the stats around. It was Stonehill, which played better, shooting 50% from the field. The Skyhawks outscored the Falcons by 22 in the second stanza, too.

“It was almost like, it was a script. I talked about every single possible pitfall that we could face in the second half,” said Stevens.

“I said ‘we do not want to come back into this locker room feeling like a great first half was wasted’ and really that’s what happened.”

But the 38-point halftime deficit was just too much for Stonehill to overcome.

Bentley had three players in double figures: Lauren Battista (13 points), Courtney Finn and Christiana Bakolas (10 each). Stonehill got 14 points from Tori Faieta.

The rematch between these two teams comes on February 23, but in the meantime, Bentley plays at Dowling on Tuesday night, while Stonehill doesn’t take the court again until Dec. 29, against Georgian Court University.

Catching Up With Barbara Stevens (Bentley University Women’s Basketball)

Barbara Stevens' squad is off to a 6-0 start, but can they keep their perfect mark intact against Stonehill College on Saturday? (Photo Credit: Bentley University Athletics)

Barbara Stevens’ squad is off to a 6-0 start, but can they keep their perfect mark intact against Stonehill College on Saturday? (Photo Credit: Bentley University Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Earlier this week, Noontime Sports caught up with Bentley University’s women’s basketball head coach Barbara Stevens, who recently earned her 700th win with the Falcons.

Stevens, who has amassed over 800 wins in her career, has guided her squad to a 6-0 mark, as well as a 5-0 record in the Northeast-10 Conference.

On Saturday, the Falcons will welcome Stonehill College to their home court for an important matchup against the 8-0 Skyhawks, which is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m.

Below is our conversation with Stevens on her historic win, as well as the season thus far.

Last weekend, you earned your 700th win as the head coach at Bentley. Can you describe the emotions you experienced after the final buzzer sounded?

“I hate to make it sound like it wasn’t anything, but honestly it really wasn’t. I never go into any games thinking this game is more meaningful than any other. It truly is all about the team and our progress and that’s really all we were focusing on [Saturday], and that honestly is all that we continue to focus on. I’m not one that likes to see what numbers are being accumulated, I don’t even know to be perfectly honest where we are in terms of those types of things, but honestly there’s so much involved in this game that requires teamwork and many people executing what you want to execute in order for things to go well. It is really not about me, it has never been and nor will it ever be.”

Two years ago, you earned your 800th win as a head coach, so did last weekend’s victory have any similarities to the win against C.W. Post?

“I hate to diminish it, but I never even really thought about it. After the game [on Saturday] the Southern New Hampshire folks were gracious enough to make an announcement and their coach gave me the game ball, but up until that point it really was not even a thought in my mind. Our players when we went back into the locker room after the game put up a sign that they had made, and it was great. I appreciate everyone’s attention and everyone’s recognition of that achievement, but honestly that’s not where I am when it comes to stuff like that.”

Looking back on your 27 years as a head coach with the Falcons, what has been the key to all your success? Your team has averaged roughly 26-27 wins per season, so what’s the secret formula?

“I wish I could bottle up the magic formula because then I’d sell it, but honestly I don’t know other than that we try to recruit obviously good players, but good character kids too. We don’t have to babysit, we don’t have to worry about them, so  instead we can worry about the things we need to worry about. [We target] young women that you know are going to be self-motivated and want the same goals that we want, and I think that makes it easy for us as coaches. Obviously being here as long as I have been here there are certain things that we do and certain standards that we want to adhere to and that really hasn’t changed as much as the times and styles and what’s in vogue. Ultimately there gets to be kind of a baseline of what I expect out of our players, and I think the one thing I always try to put ahead of everything else is that the ultimate goal is to get these young women to graduate from Bentley and go onto a successful career.”

Your junior class has experienced a lot of success over the past two seasons. This year, they’ve been key to your team’s perfect mark, too. Can you talk about recruiting some of these players, as well as how they’ve made an impact on your team?

“The recruiting of our current junior class, which includes Lauren Battista, Jacqui Brugliera and Christiana Bakolas was probably one of the biggest reasons why we have experienced this upsurge of success over the last few years. I think that Lauren, Jacqui and Christiana are all quality people. They pay attention to everything they are supposed to do on and off the court. They’re great students and they want to be good at everything they do, so having those three as not only leaders in your program, but also the best achievers in the sense of what they bring every night is really good. It has helped us establish a mentality that we are going to be successful at what we do because they work at it, but also because they are committed to it. They want to be good and they are not afraid of hard work.

“When you don’t have to search for someone to have to step up every day when you walk into practice, there there is consistency of effort, which helps. It [also] sets a great tone for each class that comes in afterward, but we had that prior to them coming, too. We had kids who knew what hard work was going to result in, and so even those three as freshmen learned that they had that stuff, they had those qualities within them, but even they understand how we do things when they came in as players.”

Talk about the season thus far. Do you feel you’re squad is off to a good start?

“Record wise, yes. Quality of play, no. I think we can be much better. We’ve had glimpses of what I would consider to be acceptable play in what we’re looking for in every game, but we haven’t put a 40-minute performance together yet. And that is me [because] I am one that will walk in after a win and start picking on them for the things that went wrong because its just kind of how I am. I think we set a particular standard of excellence here that is very difficult for our teams to really reach, but at the same time I do feel we made some progress [against Franklin Pierce on Tuesday]. It really is kind of more about us and the progress we’re making that I really focus on as opposed to [looking ahead to Saturday]. I know we have a big game with Stonehill College coming up, it is still December, so we’ve got a long way to go, so I am not disappointed in where we are by any means, but my thing is lets improve every day, lets get better every day, lets not take steps backwards. I think there was maybe a mistake in feeling on everyone’s part including my own because of which we had coming back after last year’s successes that it would be like riding a bike, but we’ve had some initial struggles, we haven’t clicked like we liked, we’ve had some days where I think we haven’t practiced the way we need to practice to achieve our goals, so I would call us a work in progress and hopefully [we can get] going pretty quickly, but I do think [Tuesday] was a step in the right direction.”

Finally, looking ahead to Saturday’s game against Stonehill College, what’re the keys to victory?

“Well, I have tremendous respect for what Stonehill is doing this year. They were a team that was very, very young last year, and they’re still young. There are a lot of sophomores on that team, but last year I think they had some growing pains in terms of just youth and inexperience, which reflected on their record, but this year they’re obviously [exhibiting] one more year of being able to play together and understanding Coach Trisha Brown’s system. They’re good, they execute well, they have the ability to score in every position, and they play defense, so they’ll have us scouted down to what we have for breakfast. So, it will be a game [where] both teams will kind of know what the other team is trying to do, but at the same time it is going to comedown to obviously execution, adjustments that will be made during the game, and I think defense is going to be something we’re going to be harping on our kids for our preparation, as well as just letting our players have the ability to do what they do. We’ve been having issues sometimes with spacing on the floor and I think we’ve just got to improve on that and make sure that we’re doing the things we need to win the game.”