Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Calhoun Builds Another Winner

MARCH 4, 2020 | written by STEVE ULRICH
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1. Calhoun Builds Another Winner at USJ

photo by Steve McLaughlin, USJ Athletics
by Anthony Olivieri,
"It's the first day of March in Connecticut, and there's a line to see Jim Calhoun's team play for a championship. The fans, men and women, young and old, shuffle down a dimly lit hallway that leads to a dimly lit gym that houses the best team in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) -- a team that didn't exist two years ago.

Walk into that 350-person bandbox, past the ticket collectors at the foldout table and into the wooden bleachers that rise on one side, and you'll see why the University of Saint Joseph, formerly all women, started a men's basketball program during the 2018-19 academic year.

It wasn't for a berth in the Division III NCAA tournament, which is on the line today, and it wasn't for the 24-game winning streak, which started before Thanksgiving. Or the wins by double digits, which came in all but two games entering this one.

It was for the headliner who gets everyone in the door."

>> Situational Awareness: It stars the 77-year-old Calhoun, who guided the University of Connecticut to three national championships with a relentlessness that he aims at both players and referees. He's in the Basketball Hall of Fame, has more than 900 wins and has coached two rosters full of NBA players. Now he's here, at this West Hartford, Connecticut, school that needs a shot in the arm.

>> Why It Matters: Tickets for the GNAC title game rematch against in-state rival Albertus Magnus -- which beat USJ at home last year -- sell out in under two minutes. The elevated track above the court holds an overflow of donors and friends of Calhoun, including current UConn coach Dan Hurley. After Calhoun was hired by the school in 2017, months after its decision to admit men, St. Joe's literally had to buy men's basketballs. Now students line up an hour before the game just to get a glimpse of Calhoun's crew bouncing them.

>> Reality Check: Though he's now cancer-free, Calhoun has sought a respite during the second half of many games this year. As it turns out, this one is no different. With USJ leading by 14 points with 18 minutes left in the game, the headliner exits, stage right.

>> The Final Word: "Bottom line," Calhoun says with local news cameras in his face, "to watch the evolution of this school is what I thought about when I first got here. Can we help this school be [what] it can be? And certainly, we're working hard to do that."

Worth Your Time

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2.  NCAA Establishes Coronavirus Panel

The NCAA has established a COVID-19 advisory panel of leading medical, public health and epidemiology experts from their respective fields of study and NCAA member schools to guide its response to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline will lead the group, while UT-Dallas' Isaiah Swann, national SAAC member and DIII rep to the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport, will serve as one of the four college athlete liaisons.

>> The Big Picture: “The NCAA is committed to conducting its championships and events in a safe and responsible manner,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief operating officer. “Today we are planning to conduct our championships as planned, however, we are evaluating the COVID-19 situation daily and will make decisions accordingly.

>> Worth Noting: “We are actively monitoring COVID-19 in the United States and will make recommendations on competition based on the evolving medical protocols established by the CDC, NIH and state and local authorities,” said Hainline. “We are in daily contact with the CDC and are advising leadership on the Association’s response to this outbreak.” 

3.  Jostens Trophy Finalists

Rotary Club of Salem Announces Finalists for 2020 Jostens Trophy

The Rotary Club of Salem (Va.) announced the 20 finalists for the 23rd annual Jostens Trophy, awarded to the outstanding NCAA Division III men’s and women’s basketball players who excel on the court, in the classroom, and in the community.

WomenKate Balcom, Grove City; Shelby Boyle, Transylvania; Erica DeCandido, Tufts; Hannah Frazier, Wheaton, Ill.; Maddie Hasson, Bowdoin; Hallee Hoeppner, UW-Eau Claire; Sydney Kopp, DePauw; Paige Matijasich, Kenyon; Alexis Nall, Hanover; Kelly Williams, Randolph-Macon.

MenBen College, Whitworth; Spencer Cook, Stevens; Kena Gilmour, Hamilton; Kent Hanson, Carleton; Michael Jefferson, Transylvania; Conor Riordan, Simpson; Nate Schimonitz, Nebraska Wesleyan; Noah Valencia, Gallaudet; Tim Wendel, Crown; Tanner Youngberg, Northwestern.

The awards presentation is scheduled for March 26 in Salem.


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4.  About Last Night 

Softball on Apple iOS 13.3  Junior Hannah Duff walked one and fanned six in a no-hit performance as Muskingum edged Bluffton, 1-0.

  A pair of baseball coaching milestones were reached yesterday. Alvernia head coach Yogi Lutz earned his 900th career win as the Wolves defeated Finlandia, 16-4. Alvernia no-hit the Lions in the nightcap, 25-0, as Michael Simmerman twirled a gem, fanning 10. Rose-Hulman head men Jeff Jenkins picked up career win #800 as RHIT downed St. Joseph's (Maine), 3-1. His reaction.

  Saint Mary's, Minn. (2-2) knocked off No. 14 St. John Fisher, 11-4. Justin Weinberg and Kody Kiel each had four hits for the Cardinals, while Ryan Wolfe allowed just one run over seven innings of work.

5.  Rankings Lacrosse on Apple iOS 13.3

>> Welcome: Geneseo
>> Movers and Shakers: F&M (+2), W&L (+2), Colorado College (+2), Trinity (+2).
>> What We're Watching (WED-FRI): #4 Franklin & Marshall vs. #24 Messiah; #8 York vs. #21 Denison (WED).

>> Hello: Stevenson.
>> Upward Bound: York (+3), St. Lawrence (+3).
>> What We're Watching (WED-FRI): #1 Salisbury vs. #20 Stevens; #15 St. Lawrence vs. #19 Cortland; #9 York vs. #12 Gettysburg.

6.  Comings and Goings

7.  What College Sports CAN Be

Vermont senior Josh Speidel was a top recruit for the Catamounts, when a nearly fatal car accident left him in a coma. UVM still honored his scholarship. Last night, he got his first start and points on senior night. What college sports CAN be.
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