Follow Chris Elsberry live from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Follow Chris Elsberry live from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
The Connecticut Sun have decided to part ways with head coach Mike Thabault and his staff, it a press announcement just released by the team.
Here’s the release:
The Connecticut Sun announced today it will not be retaining head coach Mike Thibault or his assistant coaches for the 2013 season.
This is the first coaching change since the franchise relocated to Connecticut at the start of the 2003 season, and a search to replace Thibault is already underway. Assistant coaches Bernadette Mattox and Scott Hawk have also been released as part of this move.
“The decision to let Mike go was difficult based on our friendship and working relationship,” Connecticut Sun Vice President and General Manager Chris Sienko said. “Mike has had much success here in Connecticut over the past ten seasons. However, we felt it was time for a new voice and new direction for our players and our fans as we continue to try to capture that first, elusive title. We wish Mike and his family nothing but success and know our paths will cross again in the future.”
The only coach in the history of the Connecticut Sun, Thibault guided the team to 206-134 regular-season record and eight playoff appearances in 10 seasons. The Sun reached the WNBA Finals in 2004 and 2005, and the team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals five times. The 2012 team finished 25-9, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals with a sweep of the New York Liberty before losing to the Indiana Fever in three games. The Sun were eliminated from the playoffs on October 11th at Mohegan Sun Arena, falling 87-71 to the Fever.
“After much thought and consideration we have decided to make a coaching change with the hopes that this will allow us to achieve our ultimate goal of bringing a WNBA championship to Connecticut,” said team CEO Mitchell Etess. “We have the ultimate respect and appreciation for everything coach Thibault has done here, and he has played a huge part in establishing the Connecticut Sun as the model franchise in the league. However, our ultimate goal is the championship, and this change is made in with an eye to accomplishing just that.”
The Sun will begin formerly interviewing candidates immediately. However, there is no set timetable to name Thibault’s replacement.
“We are committed to bringing a WNBA championship to our loyal fans, who have given us tremendous support our first 10 seasons,” Sienko added. “We have several candidates in mind who we believe can help us accomplish that goal. Ultimately, we want to find the best fit for our athletes and this organization.”
With Maryland accepting an invitation to the Big Ten Conference and with Rutgers expected to accept an invitation tomorrow, what other college dominoes might fall as the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big East Conference look to replace their departing schools?
The Huskies had been mentioned many times as a possible addition to the ACC but were somewhat surprisingly left out when the conference announced last fall that Pittsburgh and Syracuse were joining. Both the Panthers and the Orange – after paying the Big East a $7.5 million buyout from the league — will begin ACC play in 2013-14.
The ACC announced back in February that it was revamping its basketball league into two seven-team divisions but when Notre Dame joined this September, it brought the total to 15 and there was talk that the Huskies might become the 16th team. However, the ACC said that it would not add a 16th member.
Maryland’s departure will leave the conference with 14 teams for basketball but only 13 for football – the Irish will maintain their Independent status – so it remains to be seen if the ACC might look at UConn to fill that void.
And if the ACC or Big Ten decides to call, the Huskies would certainly listen.
“We have been monitoring the ever-changing national college landscape for a while now and we’ll continue to do so,” a UConn spokesman said Monday. “There’s really nothing else to say at this time.”
With the Big Ten adding Rutgers and Maryland to extend its eastern boundries, it will be interesting to see if they go after UConn and possibly another Northeast school to bring its conference total to 14 teams. There are strong ties with Huskies athletic director Warde Manuel, who spent six years at Michigan as assistant AD from 1998-2005 and played two seasons of football for the Wolverines before a neck injury ended his career. He graduated from UM in 1990.
Next season, Houston, Memphis, Central Florida and SMU join the Big East as all-sports members and Boise State, San Diego State will join the conference in football only, bringing the total number of football schools to 12 and basketball to 16. Depending on when Rutgers buys out its Big East membership (after the 2012-13 or 2013-14 seasons?) The Big East will need to add another all-sports school to balance its football and basketball divisional alignment.
Got to see a little college basketball on Saturday, watching Sacred Heart rally from a 24-point second half deficit to beat Yale in overtime, 85-82 and then seeing Fairfield somehow win despite itself, hanging to nip Central Connecticut 64-63 in overtime, while making 19 turnovers.
Some quick thoughts:
Shane Gibson is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season for the Pioneers. The senior had 29 points against the Bulldogs, shooting 11 of 21 from the floor. He hit from the outside (three 3-pointers) and constantly attacked the basket, driving the lane to score. For fun, he threw in a block and six rebounds in 38 minutes. I don’t know how good SHU’s going to be this season, but Gibson is going to be worth the price of admission every night.
I don’t know why he didn’t start, but center Justin Swidowski came off the bench to score 17 points, grab four rebounds and make two steals in 23 minutes. Also, Louis Montes added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes. PG Phil Gaetano (6 assists) looks like a scrapper and Nick Greenbacker did some things (he has to do a lot more, through) in his 17 minutes.
Thay Yale win was head coach Dave Bike’s 1,000th game as head coach. I started covering Bike and the Pioneers in November of 1982 when I started working at the Fairfield Citizen-News, so that means I’ve probably been around for 600, 700 of those games.
Man, I’m old.
SHU plays tonight at Rutgers
As for Fairfield …
You would think after three seasons that Derek Needham would be a little more careful with the ball, especially now that Desmond Wade is running the point. Nope. Needham committed seven turnovers, making one mistake after the other. Hello, Derek! You can’t drive into traffic, get surrounded by three defenders and expect to make a pass. Take it all the way to the basket!! That being said, Needham fought through leg cramps (again, Gatorade and bananas before the game) and managed 18 points.
I though the new center, Josip Mikulic (say that three times real fast) did some good things with 12 points and eight rebounds. If he could give the Stags those kids of numbers on a nightly basis … wow. Yes, the kid needs to get used to the speed and the athleticism of the Division I college game but there’s potential there. Lots of potential. I saw it and Stags coach Sydney Johnson’s eyes were lighting up as we talked about it after the game. “There’s something there,” Johnson said.
I know Wade is the point guard now but that’s no excuse not to shoot the ball. Wade only took two shots and didn’t score (4 turnovers, 4 assists) battling foul trouble all night. (he fouled out after playing just 22 minutes). Not a very good first game at all.
And why is Colin Nickerson only taking four shots. I have never in my life seen a player pass up as many shots as Nickerson does. There are times when he’s WIDE OPEN and he passes the ball away. I tweeted during the game that Nickerson should be taking at least 10 shots a game – he’s probably the best pure shooter on the team – and if he doesn’t, Johnson should either bench him, or spank him. Against CCSU, he took four shots – four – and made two. He did make all four of his free throws and score 10 points but the kid could be a 15- or 17-point scorer every night. It’s you senior year, Colin, wake up and smell the basket.
It was nice to see Keith Matthews attack the basket. He took 14 shots (holy cow!) making six and finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds. Whatever you drinking, Keith, make sure you give some of it to Maurice Barrow, who only took seven shots and scored seven points in 35 minutes. He also had seven rebounds but this guy should be a double-double machine.
Fairfield plays tonight at Virginia in the Preseason NIT.
Finally, I wrote about the Connecticut 6 tournament for today. For some reason, I simply could not find the attendance for the 2011 event at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Thanks to Fairfield SID Jack Jones, who looked it up (I don’t know where) and found that 3,477 showed up that day.
So, for the four CT 6 Classics, attendances were:
2009 – Arena at Harbor Yard – 3,106
2010 – Mohegan Sun Arena – 3,829
2011 – Mohegan Sun Arena – 3,477
2012 – Chase Family Arena, Univ. of Hartford – 3,186
There’s a lot of rumors flying around that Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena will be named as the host site for the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball East Region championship, replacing the Soverign Bank Arena in Trenton N.J., which was stripped of the event by the NCAA due to its regulations on legalized sports gambling in New Jersey.
Fairfield athletic director Gene Doris told me in a text message that the NCAA Administration Committee hasn’t decided yet but was meeting this afternoon. The NCAA told Doris that a decision would be made by 5 p.m. today.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence and Philadelphia were the other sites in the running of the Regional.
The Arena at Harbor Yard/Webster Bank Arena has hosted four previous NCAA women’s tournament events. In 2004, 2008 and 2012, it hosted first-and second-round games. In 2006, it hosted the East Region championship.
While at the Arena today to see the new $3.5-million center hung scoreboard being worked on, WBA vice president of operation Charlie Dowd told me that the building was awating final word on the NCAA’s decision from Fairfield.
Craig Breslow will be hosting his fifth annual “First Pitch Celebrity Gala” as part of his Strike 3 Foundation, benefiting pediatric cancer research, next Saturday, Novemver 17 at the Hilton Hotel in Stamford.
The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and features live entertainment, and both live and silent auctions. The event dress is cocktail Attire
I caught up with Breslow recently at the Fairfield County Sports Commission Hall of Fame dinner in Greenwich and he said that he’s expecting upwards of 600 people at the gala.
“Everything’s going well. We’ve grown incredibly fast,” he said. “Every time we’ve put on an event, we’ve created greater interest, we raise more money, we get a bigger crowd. A lot more people across the country are familiar with our organization and that’s partly because I’ve spent time on two different coasts in the last 12 months, but everything’s great, we’re just gearing up for the event at the Hilton.”
According to the Strike 3 Foundation website, celebrity guests scheduled to appear include Bobby Valentine (former MLB player and MLB manager), Karl Ravech (host of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter) and many more.
“I’ve got current teammates, past teammates,” Breslow said. “Some of the guys from the (Oakland) A’s, Andrew Carignan, Jerry Blevins and Sean Doolittle …Josh Collmenter from Arizona … Mike Zagurski, Andrew Bailey and Rich Hill from the Red Sox … we’ve also got Harold Reynolds, Peter Gammons, John Flaherty, a whole slew of on-air personalitiles, Suzyn Waldman’s with us every year, we’ve got an incredible auction and some surprise musical guests.”
A limited number of tickets ($275) are available.
University of Bridgeport women’s basketball coach Stephanie Del Preore will receive the “Donate Life Champion Award” on November 11 after the Purple Knights game against St. Michael’s College at 4 p.m.
Congrats to Coach Del Preore.
Here’s the official release from the UB Sports Information Department.
Bridgeport, Conn.-University of Bridgeport head women’s basketball coach Stephanie Del Preore has been selected to receive a Donate Life Champion Award by Donate Life America and Donate Life Connecticut for her outstanding support for organ, eye and tissue donation in organizing UB’s annual “Donate Life” games to honor her late father who passed away in 2002 after a courageous battle with liver and kidney disease. Del Preore, who is one of approximately 60 people from all over the country to be selected as Donate Life Champions, will receive her award on Sunday, November 11, 2012 following her team’s game versus St. Michael’s (Vt.) College that begins at 4:00 p.m. and prior to the tip-off of the Bridgeport men’s basketball game versus Southern Connecticut State University that is slated for a 6:00 p.m. start.
In a letter to Coach Del Preore informing her of this award, Donate Life Connecticut Director Kari Mull said, “You have been selected to receive this award because of your desire to honor your father’s memory and the donor who extended his life through organ donation. Donate Life Connecticut has felt thankful for our partnership in presenting a Donate Life Day at University of Bridgeport for the past two seasons. We are especially grateful to you and your leadership, inspiring your team members and colleagues to extend donation awareness to more and more people every year.”
Stated coach Del Preore. “I’m so honored to receive this award, but it’s not just about me, it’s about the entire University of Bridgeport community that has been so supportive of our “Donate Life” games. I really share this award with the many people on campus that have helped out. I always said that when I became a head coach I was going to do something to honor my father, my hero and my inspiration and with a lot of help from many people that dream of mine became a reality.”
More than 115,000 American are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, including more than 1,280 in the state of Connecticut. For more information on the Donate Life program and how to register to be an organ and tissue donor, please visit the Donate Life Connecticut website at www.ctorganandtissuedonation.org.