Mass. College Hoops: Catching Up With Chris Bartley (WPI Basketball)

By Matt Noonan 

It’s been an exciting season for the WPI men’s basketball team, which is currently ranked fourth in the country, according to the latest D3Hoops.com poll.

Chris Bartley, who is in his 13th season with the Engineers, has guided the Crimson and Gray to a 17-1 overall mark, including a 7-0 record in NEWMAC play. Bartley’s crew, which hasn’t lost a regular season contest since falling to Castleton State in November, will look to continue its momentum on Saturday when they host Springfield College for a 3 p.m. tip.

We caught up with Coach Bartley earlier this afternoon to chat about his team’s next contest, but also the Engineers’ resiliency and defense, too.

On the team’s foundation: “I think we’ve always had tough kids. One of the things that’s been really important for us is trying to recruit tough kids and help them with their mental toughness, so we just approach everything by doing the best we can with what we have (each) year. The names change sometimes and the faces changed, but hopefully the foundation and the pillars of the program as far as the work ethic and guys that care about each other and hold each other accountable and play hard every night out.”

On identifying the team’s identity: “If you look at us statistically, we’re pretty good on defense. We kind of hold our own on the boards and when we’re playing well we’re playing a pretty good team defense and the guys play hard. Offensively, I think the biggest thing is that we’re a team that has to share the ball and we have to help each other score. When we struggled earlier against Wheaton and last night against Coast Guard and in the second half against Clark (because of ball movement), but for us to be successful we need to pass it to each other and we need to cut and screen. We’re not the type of team that has guys that’ll create their own shots because we really have to create shots for each other, but when we play the right way we’re pretty good.”

On the importance of team defense: “It always starts with our defense. Every single day starts with our defense and so does every meeting and film session, so it always starts there. (Against Wheaton), Agyei Gregory made some ridiculous shots. He made NBA type shots, but I thought Wheaton came out with a lot more enthusiasm than we did and typically when guys from the other team (knows they’re playing us), I find that (our opponent’s) kids shoot the ball better because they’re more focused. So, if you don’t bring equal intensity level and energy level and enthusiasm, which I didn’t think we did (from the start) that can happen. I think it is important to play through adversity, so I don’t take a lot of quick timeouts, but I think our guys are mature enough to play through stuff like that and I thought we did a good job in the second half of the first half of that game of getting back to our identity and making it a little more difficult for them. I thought we started sharing the ball (toward the end of the first half) and we started to play WPI basketball, which is what it’s all about for us.”

On the play of Ryan Kolb: “He plays exceptionally hard, he really plays hard. I was texting him this morning and was like, ‘Dude, you played really hard last night.’ And when your seniors and best players play really hard, it’s kind of filters down to everybody else. He’s got a lot of versatility in his game, but the biggest thing is he’s a really tough kid. He’s tough mentally, he’s tough physically, he’s a hard shell to crack emotionally because he doesn’t show a ton of emotion, but he’s playing like a senior should and a senior usually does.”

On Domenick Mastascusa and Ryan Kolb working together, as well as the impact of Sam Longwell: “(Kolb and Domenick have) been together now for three years, so they know when one is low (on defense) the other is usually coming high. They know where they’re going to be, too. We pretty much run motion offense, so having those guys in sync and working well together is huge. Some games, it is better for Ryan to be on the perimeter, while other games he needs to be down on the post, so it just depends on the matchup. I think Dom knows when he has a good matchup and goes to the spots where he can score and he’s been terrific for us.

“I think one of the keys to the whole thing has been Sam Longwell. He’s just (exhibits) consistency on both ends of the floor for every single practice and every single game, and he’s just been a rock for us and just has brought it from a leadership standpoint, talent standpoint and toughness standpoint. He often covers (our opponent’s) best player, too. He’s doing it on both ends of the court and he’s really had a special season so far.”

On the play of first-year guard Marcus Middleton: “What I have found with Marcus is he’s a really a good all around player, he’s got a really good understanding of what we’re trying to do and he’s got a lot of confidence in himself, both mental and physical toughness. I think our guys are pretty good when they get an opportunity because they try to take advantage of it and he’s one of those kids where we put him in there in some tough positions and he seems to come through every single time.”

On facing Springfield College on Saturday: “They’re a very mentally tough team. I think Sean Martin is one of the best point guards and one of the toughest kids in the region from what I’ve seen and I think Robbie Burke is the same. Tim Swenson gives them a dimension where he compliments those guys really, really well and he’s a beast in there. They also have a bunch of guys that can make shots from (beyond the arc), so they really have a nice balance and statistically they’re terrific, they do a nice job on defense by holding teams to a low field goal percentage and rebounding the ball well. They also take good care of the ball with Martin as their point guard because Charlie Brock’s teams always execute well. They’re a very, very formidable team, they do everything well, so you really have to be on top of your game to battle and we’ll have to be on Saturday in order to be a position to be successful.”

At Wheaton College: You Can Play (VIDEO)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Noontime Sports is proud to unveil the Wheaton College athletics’ You Can Play Project video, which was published on their YouTube channel this afternoon. The video was directed by Noontime Sports’ Matt Noonan, who is an alum.

Noonan worked along side Devon Soucier, a member of the women’s lacrosse team, as well as her teammates and head coach Emily Kiablick.

As noted in the athletic department’s release, “You Can Play’s mission is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success. You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.”

Wheaton became the first NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) school to join the project, but is one of many institutions from across the country, along with NHL and minor league hockey teams that produced a video.

For more information on the You Can Play Project — HOP HERE

Mass. College Soccer: Wheaton’s Finkelstein Commits To Real Boston Rams

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Wheaton College sports information department, here’s this afternoon’s release about Luke Finkelstein, who committed to play for the Real Boston Rams of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL) this spring:

NORTON, Mass. – Wheaton College sophomore midfielder Luke Finkelstein (Peabody, Mass./Peabody) has committed to play for the Real Boston Rams of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL) this spring.

Finkelstein joins the Rams after a standout second-year campaign with the Lyons. Finkelstein earned National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Division III All-New England South second team honors and New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) All-Conference second team accolades. The sophomore midfielder notched 12 points in 19 games played (all starts) and finished second overall among all midfielders in the NEWMAC with eight assists.

“The professionalism from the club has been great. I’m very motivated and ready for the season to start,” said Finkelstein of joining Real Boston. “I just want to help the club go as far as we can. I’m looking to improve as a player and help promote the club in any way I can.”

As a freshman, Finkelstein was tabbed as the NEWMAC Rookie of the Year and also garnered All-Conference second team accolades. Finkelstein has started in all 38 games he has appeared in over two seasons compiling three goals and 15 assists for 21 points. Finkelstein is currently three assists shy of cracking Wheaton’s top-10 list for helpers in a career.

“Finkelstein is a quality player,” said Real Boston head coach Jim Costa. “He has a great attitude, hard work ethic, and is good on and off the ball.”

The Real Boston Rams open the 2013 PDL season at home on May 11th against CFC Azul. For the full schedule and more information on the Real Boston Rams visit: www.bostonrams.com.

Mass. College Hoops: Bridgewater State 62, Wheaton College 50

By Brian Willwerth 

NORTON, MA – Bridgewater State is above .500 for the first time since winning its opener. Wheaton College is undefeated no more.

In a defensive battle that was sluggish throughout, the Bears (3-2) defeated the Lyons, 62-50, on Saturday afternoon at Emerson Gymnasium. Michael Lofton led the way offensively with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

“It was a rock fight. It wasn’t aesthetic basketball,” said Bears’ head coach Joe Farroba. “In some cases it was good defense, and it same cases it might have been poor shot selection.”

He won’t get any argument there. Bridgewater State shot just 28% from the field. Wheaton was just 36%. The teams combined to go 6-for-29 from three-point range. But one area where Bridgewater State had a big advantage was on the offensive glass. The Bears had 17 offensive rebounds to eight for the Lyons. They also got to the line three times as often, too. Farroba said both of those were keys.

Once the Bears took the lead 18-16 with about eight minutes remaining in the first half, they never trailed the rest of the way. They jumped out to an eight-point advantage early in the second half, but the Lyons were able to cut the margin to two, as they switched to a zone defense that started to cause problems for the visitors. But the Bears never did relinquish the lead.

“The kid I brought off the bench, [Diijon Reid] hit those 3’s, and that helped,” said Farroba of Wheaton’s zone defense. “That made them blink in terms of what they’re going to do strategy-wise.”

Ryan Clinesmith led Wheaton with 18 points.

I thought he [Clinesmith] really stood out in the second half,” said Wheaton head coach Brian Walmsley, whose team dropped to 5-1.

“Unfortunately he got two quick fouls in the first half and we sat him, [but] then he came back with a lot of energy [and] that was a big difference in the game, having him sit 15 minutes worth.”

Bridgewater State travels to Anna Maria on Tuesday night, while Wheaton will host Gordon, also on Tuesday.

Mass. College Hoops: Saturday Afternoon Notes

By NoontimeSports.com

Here are some highlights and notes from the college basketball world in Massachusetts from this afternoon.

* Bentley University women’s basketball head coach Barbara Stevens earned her 700th win with the Falcons against Southern New Hampshire, 52-42 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Stevens, who is in her 27th season with the Falcons, now has a record of 700-153 on the bench and is the 11th women’s basketball coach to reach this historic plateau at one institution.

* Northeastern University’s women’s basketball team earned their third consecutive victory against NJIT, 59-45. The Huskies are 4-2 overall, and now 2-2 away from the Matthews Arena.

* Boston University’s men’s basketball team extended its current winning streak to two, as they kicked-off their current road trip with a 74-66 victory at St. Peter’s. Next up for the Terriers is a trip to Coastal Carolina on Thursday, Dec. 6.

* Boston University’s women’s basketball team earned their first victory against a rank squad, as the Terriers defeated No. 17/15 St. John’s, 66-49. Chantell Alford led all scorers with 22 points. She also chipped in six rebounds and three assists in her team’s fifth victory of the season, too.

* Harvard evened its record at 3-3 with a 73-64 win against Fordham at home. Wesley Saunders scored 17 points, while Jonah Travis came off the bench and netted 16 points. The Crimson will travel to Chestnut Hill on Tuesday to face Boston College, a squad that is coming off a victory against Penn State.

* Stonehill College’s women’s basketball team kept its perfect mark intact with a 56-50 victory against Saint Michael’s. Wellesley’s own Mary Louise Dixon netted a game-high 17 points, while Amy Pelletier added 11 points off the bench.

* Assumption College’s women’s basketball team sustained its first setback of the season, as Adelphi defeated the visiting Hounds, 66-58.

* WPI’s men’s basketball team needed an extra session to squeak out their seventh consecutive victory, as the Engineers defeated Husson, 89-85 in overtime. Sam Longwell led all scorers with 25 points, while Marco Coppola added 24.

* Bridgewater State handed Wheaton College its first loss, as the Bears defeated the Lyons in Norton, 62-50. Michael Lofton paced Bridgewater with 20 points, while Ryan Clinesmith led Wheaton with 18 points.

* Babson College’s women’s basketball team earned its 66th straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) victory, 63-43 against Mount Holyoke College at Staake Gymnasium. Sarah Collins led the Beavers with her sixth consecutive double-double, finishing with 21 points and 11 rebounds in her team’s sixth win of the season.

*  WPI earned its first NEWMAC victory, as they defeated MIT, 68-56 in Worcester. Kelly Morgan sank four three-pointers in the second half en route to a career-high 18-point day. Morgan, as well as Theresa Logan, discussed their team’s third win of the season above.

* Smith College earned its second NEWMAC win, as they defeated Wheaton, 70-46. Paulina Solis led the Pioneers with 16 points, while Devon Quattrocchi added 14 points, six rebounds and five steals.

* The Tufts University women’s basketball team began the month of December with a 73-51 victory against Regis College. The Jumbos have now won six consecutive games, and remain the top squad in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).

* Finally, Emmanuel College kept its perfect mark intact with a 62-50 victory against Middlebury College in Boston. The Saints are now 6-0 overall, 4-0 at home and 2-0 on the road.

Didn’t see your team featured on our afternoon roundup? Send us an email to NoontimeSports@gmail.com or notify us on Twitter (@NoontimeSports or @NoonSportsBlog).

Mass. College Hoops: Wheaton Women’s Season Preview (LINK)

By Matt Noonan 

Courtesy of Wheaton College women’s basketball head coach Melissa Hodgdon, here is a link to the team’s 2012-13 preview, which was released today — HOP HERE.

The Lyons are coming off a 9-16 season, and will attempt to begin their new campaign with a win on Thursday, Nov. 15 at Roger Williams. 

Also, we’ve provided a video interview with Hodgdon from the Wheaton Lyons YouTube page.

Mass. College Soccer: Updated NCAA Soccer Brackets

By NoontimeSports.com 

The Div. II and III NCAA soccer tournaments kicked off last weekend, and some Massachusetts teams managed to advance to this weekend’s third round.

Here is a look at the remaining squads in each division.

Div. II Men’s Soccer

* UMass Lowell earned back-to-back wins against Post and LIU Post in the first and second round, which earned them a date with Northeast-10 Conference foe Southern New Hampshire on Friday, Nov. 16 in the third round.

Div. III Men’s Soccer

* Following a first round bye, Amherst College defeated Dickinson, 4-0. The Lord Jeffs will remain at home for their third round matchup against Swarthmore College on Saturday, Nov. 17.

* Brandies University and Williams College will tangle in the third round in Amherst on Nov. 17, too, and the winner will meet Amherst or Swarthmore in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Div. III Women’s Soccer

* Brandies University earned a spot in the third round following wins against Lasell and Union. The Judges will face-off against SUNY Cortland on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Ithaca, New York.

* MIT will take on Messiah on Saturday, Nov. 17 in Grantham, Pennsylvania. The Engineers first two wins came against Haverford and TCNJ.

* Wheaton College will face Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Lyons secured a spot in the third round with wins against Westfield State and Williams College.