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Thatcher Demko has ‘unspeakable amount of excitement’ for Frozen Four in Philadelphia

04.08.14 at 7:09 pm ET
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CHESTNUT HILL — Boston College standout freshman goalie Thatcher Demko is looking forward to heading to Philadelphia and taking on Union College in the NCAA Frozen Four national semifinal on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center.

“Unspeakable amount of excitement I think,” Demko said before hopping on a bus that would take the team to the airport and a flight for Philadelphia. “Everyone is just really excited to get out there. Looking forward to it.”

The Eagles, the No. 2 seed in the 16-team field, will play No. 3 seed Union College on Thursday night. The winner of that game will take on the winner of the No. 1 seed Minnesota and North Dakota in the national championship Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Boston College players and coaches, led by NCAA wins leader Jerry York, left campus Tuesday afternoon for the trip to Philadelphia and to begin preparations at Wells Fargo Center. One player who will be especially looking forward to the trip is Hobey Baker favorite Johnny Gaudreau, a junior and native of nearby Carneys Point, New Jersey.

“I know it’s his hometown so he’s going to owe some guys [dinner],” Demko said.

Even new men’s basketball coach got in on the act Tuesday during his introductory news conference, “Give my all of my best to Coach York and the BC hockey team as they set out to hang another banner in Conte Forum and win the national championship. You don’t have to be here long to know who ‘Johnny Hockey’ is and his quest to win the Hobey Baker Award.”

Demko is 16-4-3 in 23 games with BC this season with a 2.16 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .920 save percentage. The NHL Central Scouting Bureau has him ranked as the top draft-eligible goalie in this year’s NHL draft.

He is the likely starter Thursday against Union after making 18 saves in a 6-2 victory against Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 29 and 29 saves in a 4-3 victory against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in the quarterfinal round on March 30. Demko is a freshman who is trying to lead the Eagles to their sixth national title and fourth in seven years. The Eagles have won the NCAA championship in each of the even-numbered years since 2008.

Demko said Tuesday he’ll be relying on juniors like Gaudreau and senior Kevin Hayes and Patrick Brown to show the underclassmen how it’s done on the big stage.

“Absolutely. We have a lot of guys that have been through it,” Demko said. “Juniors and seniors have both won a national championship so that experience is huge for us. Their experience is coming down to the lower class guys and helping us out and getting us ready for it.”

Read More: Boston College, Frozen Four, Johnny Gaudreau, Johnny Hockey

Kentucky coach John Calipari dismisses rumor that he will join Lakers

04.08.14 at 8:12 am ET
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Just before tipoff for Monday’€™s national championship game between UConn and Kentucky, a former Wildcats standout announced that a coaching change was in the works.

Rex Chapman, who accumulated 1,073 points during just two seasons in a Kentucky uniform in the mid-1980s, said on Twitter Monday evening that Wildcats bench boss John Calipari will serve as the head coach of the Lakers next season.


Calipari addressed the rumor after his young Kentucky squad fell to UConn, 60-54, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“The Lakers have a coach,’€ Calipari said, referring to Mike D’€™Antoni, who is in his second year in Los Angeles. ‘€œKentucky has a basketball coach. I’ve got the best job in the country. I’€™m not going to even dignify that stuff.”

The Lakers denied having contact with Calipari, and Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said after Monday’€™s game that he was not concerned about the situation.

‘€œCal’€™s been great, he’€™s been a great ambassador for this program and he cares a lot about Kentucky,’€ Barnhart said. ‘€œSo clearly we love how he represents what we do. He looks great in blue. You live day to day with people and you trust what they do. For five years now, I think I know him fairly well. If there was anything I need to be concerned with, he and I have had conversations, and in those conversations he’€™s been very, very focused on this tournament. His total focus this season, especially this last month and a half, has been to get the team to a spot where we could compete for something like this. I think he’€™s done a marvelous job doing that.’€

Read More: John Calipari, Rex Chapman,

Ryan Anderson to transfer from Boston College

04.08.14 at 7:44 am ET
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Junior forward Ryan Anderson announced on Twitter Monday evening that he will transfer from Boston College after three years with the basketball program.


Anderson’€™s announcement came one day before newly tabbed head coach Jim Christian will have his introductory press conference.

During his junior season, Anderson, a Lakewood, Calif., native, was the second most productive player for the Eagles. In 32 starts this season, Anderson averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Anderson was second only to sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan, who averaged 18.5 points per game. Hanlan told the Boston Herald on Monday that he is roughly a week and a half away from making his decision about whether or not he will leave BC to enter the NBA draft.

Read More: Olivier Hanlan, Ryan Anderson,

Shabazz Napier leads UConn past Kentucky for NCAA title

04.08.14 at 6:27 am ET
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Point guard Shabazz Napier scored 22 points as UConn posted a 60-54 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA championship game Monday night in Arlington, Texas, to give the Huskies their second title in four seasons.

Napier, a Roxbury product, was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

Seventh-seeded UConn (32-8), which never trailed, took a 15-point lead in the first half. Kentucky (29-11) rallied to get within a point with 8:13 remaining, but the Huskies responded, pulling back ahead by a comfortable margin and not missing from the free throw line (10-for-10) to ice it.

It marked a quick return to power by UConn, which was banned from participating in last year’s tournament due to its poor academic rating.

“You’re looking at the hungry Huskies,” Napier said in a postgame interview on the court. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us.”

For more on the game, click here.


Jim Calhoun on D&C: UConn ‘will be victorious’ in NCAA title game

04.07.14 at 11:42 am ET
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Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Huskies’ trip to the NCAA title game. For the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

UConn will play Kentucky for the national championship Monday evening.

“The Huskies will be victorious tonight,” Calhoun said. “There are no guarantees in life, but I’€™ll tell you that’€™s what I believe. I believe, I don’€™t think, but I believe.”

Although Calhoun has not coached the team for two seasons, he remains involved with the program and understands what it needs to do to defeat Kentucky.

“My wife tells me I’€™m a bad fan when I sit in the stands because when I watch the game, I don’€™t stand up and cheer all the time. The reason being, [Bill] Parcells said once, ‘I see too much.’ Very simply, as I’€™m watching the game, I’€™m seeing, ‘Are we forcing them outside, are we protecting the paint?’

“In this particular game, we can kind of take some of the blueprint that we used against Michigan State and Florida, who has some big guys. Obviously Kentucky has a slew of big guys. [Julius] Randle … watching him up close and personal the last couple of games, he’€™s a big, physical man who goes to the rim.

“We’ve got to protect the paint — first thing I would like to have us do and I think we’€™re going to have to do is protect the paint. Secondly, if we’€™re keeping the ball at 30 feet as much as we’ve done the past couple of games against two teams with powerful centers, we’€™re in really good shape. If we then can get the rim against a big team and not have our shots deterred in our box, we’€™re in great, great shape. Once again, we cannot lose the battle of the paint.”

Calhoun, who recruited many of UConn’s current players, added: “I think we’ve utilized our talent as well as anybody — better than anybody in this tournament, certainly — as well as anybody in the country in the last couple of years.”

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Shabazz Napier, UConn stun No. 1 Florida, get Kentucky in title game Monday night

04.05.14 at 9:07 pm ET
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The pride of Boston’s Mission Hill has led his team to the ultimate game of the college basketball season.

Shabazz Napier had six assists and four steals while DeAndre Daniels scored a team-high 20 points to lead UConn to a 63-53 win over top-ranked Florida on Saturday night in the first of two national semifinal games at the Final Four at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Huskies will try for their fourth NCAA championship Monday night against another team that has found late-season rhythm, the Kentucky Wildcats, a 74-73 winner over Wisconsin in the other national semifinal Saturday night. Aaron Harrison’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds was the difference for John Calipari‘s team.

Napier, a Boston product who was recruited by Jim Calhoun, leads a team that is advancing to the national title game Monday night against the winner of the Kentucky-Wisconsin national semifinal.

The win provided a bitter bookend for the Gators, whose last lost was on Dec. 2 to the Huskies. Since then, the Gators won a school-record 30 straight games.

The Gators raced out to a 16-4 lead and contained Napier for most of the first half. But the Huskies used an 11-0 run to help wipe out the deficit. A 21-6 run to end the first half gave them a 25-22 lead at the break. The Huskies never relinquished the lead in the second half, en route to their 31st win of the season. Napier and Ryan Boatright combined for 25 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

The Huskies are advancing to their fourth national title game since winning their first national championship in 1999. They are 3-0 in their previous three trips to the Monday night game. UConn was beaten by Michigan State in the national semifinal in 2009.

The improbable run for the No. 7 seed in the East began with an overtime win over Saint Joseph’s in the second round. UConn then stunned No. 2 Villanova before dispatching Iowa State and then Michigan State in the East Regional final at Madison Square Garden last weekend.

Read More: Connecticut Huskies, Final Four, Florida Gators,

Jim Christian ‘tremendously excited and humbled’ to take over as Boston College coach

04.04.14 at 9:02 am ET
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Boston College announced Thursday that Jim Christian would be the school’s new basketball coach, and the 49-year-old expressed an eagerness to begin rebuilding the program.

“I am obviously tremendously excited and humbled to be able to take over a program with the tradition and history of Boston College,” Christian said in a conference call. “If you look at the great coaches and success that they have had before me, it is a situation where you wake up every day and you just can’t wait to get to work.

“I can’t wait to get up there, meet our players and spend as much time getting to know them as I possibly can; and just go attack the things that we want. Again, I am just truly excited and grateful for the opportunity that Brad Bates and Father [William] Leahy have given me and I am going to make them proud.”

After spending the last two seasons at Ohio University and 12 years as a head coach, Christian makes his return to the city in which he began his college playing career. Christian played two seasons at Boston University (1983-85) before transferring to Rhode Island and helping the Rams reach the Sweet 16 of the 1988 NCAA tournament. He takes over a team that struggled to break through the past four seasons under Steve Donahue.

“I always look at programs historically and not just where they’re at right now,” Christian said. “I think if you look at Boston College historically and the things they have accomplished, it excites you. Any coach wants to have his chance to compete against the very best. Obviously the ACC is the very best. For me, growing up in New York, going to school in Boston and graduating from Rhode Island, it is just kind of in my roots. These things come down to fits and you have to find a job that you think is just a great fit for you. There is no doubt in my mind that Boston College is a tremendous fit.”

BC has received some criticism for a lack of a high-profile candidate during its coaching search, but Bates, who became BC’s athletic director in 2012 after 10 years at Miami (Ohio), is confident he has the right leader.

“I had the benefit of watching Jim when we both worked in the MAC, so he has always been on my list as someone that I had a high regard for,” Bates said. “During the process, he not only validated my impressions of him but he far surpassed them.

“In terms of characteristics, this sport is about recruiting and coaching. You have to get talented athletes that fit your institution and you have to develop them and coach them. Boston College has core values that you need in your coaches. We are about integrity. There has to be a development of our intellectual young men. You need a coach and a staff that can flat-out recruit and develop those kids with their coaching. Beyond that, we want to win. We wanted someone with championships and postseason appearances. Someone with New England roots was important. Someone with energy and passion and at the end of the day someone who is in this for the right reasons and who genuinely cares about his students. He was obviously right up there in the first round of interviews and after the second round he shot right up to the top.”

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Reports: BC tabs Ohio’s Jim Christian as basketball coach

04.03.14 at 2:01 pm ET
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Boston College has hired Jim Christian as basketball coach, according to multiple reports.

The 49-year-old Christian, who reportedly interviewed earlier in the week and returned to Chestnut Hill on Wednesday, has a 236-152 career record in 12 seasons at Ohio (2012-14), TCU (2008-12) and Kent State (2002-08).

A native of Bethpage, N.Y., Christian played at St. Dominic High School under Ralph Willard (who went on to coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross and now is a Louisville assistant). Christian started his college playing career at Boston University in 1983 — recruited by Rick Pitino, although Pitino exited as coach before Christian’s first season — and transferred to Rhode Island for his final two seasons, helping the Tom Penders-coached Rams to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 as a senior in 1988.

After a year playing with the Sydney City Comets of the Australian Basketball Association, Christian served as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky (1990-92, ’94-95), Saint Francis (’92-94), Miami (’95-96), Pittsburgh (’96-99) before joining Kent State in 2001.

After one year as an assistant with the Golden Flashes, Christian was promoted to head coach to replace Stan Heath, who left for Arkansas. Christian proceeded to win at least 20 games in six straight seasons, making NCAA tournament appearances and winning MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2006 and ’08. He also made three NIT appearances, although Kent State lost its opener each of the five times it reached the postseason.

He parlayed that success into the head coaching job at TCU, where he went just 56-73 in four seasons. In his fourth season with the Horned Frogs, Christian guided the team to its first winning record (18-15) in seven years and a berth in the College Basketball Invitational.

Christian resigned at TCU and returned to the MAC in 2012 as coach at Ohio. In his first season, the Bobcats won a share of the league’s regular-season title for the first time since 1994 and played in the NIT. This season, Ohio went 25-11 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Tournament with wins over Cleveland State and Wright State before losing to VMI.

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Maurice Watson Jr. to transfer from Boston University basketball team

04.03.14 at 8:53 am ET
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Just a few weeks after a disappointing end to the team’€™s season, the Boston University men’€™s basketball team will lose one of its most important players.

BU coach Joe Jones confirmed Wednesday that Maurice Watson Jr. will transfer from the school.

In his second season with the Terriers, Watson was named to the All-Patriot League first team. Watson led the team offensively with 13.3 points and 7.1 assists per game. According to Jones, Watson, who will need to sit out a season due to NCAA transfer regulations, wanted to play at a higher level.

“I think the big thing is we love Mo,” Jones said. “He had a tremendous impact on the program. We loved him. We just want the best for him. I think it would be great to have him stay. We would love for him to stay. But we also want what is best for him.”

Jones added that junior forwards James Kennedy and Malik Thomas also will transfer. Thomas, who averaged 5.8 points and four rebounds per game, will graduate this year but has a year of eligibility left and consequently can play immediately next season for whichever school to which he transfers. Jones said that Kennedy, who did not play during the 2013-14 season because of injury, was looking to transfer to a school where he would get more playing time.

Read More: James Kennedy, Malik Thomas, Maurice Watson Jr.,

BC basketball coaching search: Mark Schmidt no longer in running, Mike Hopkins reportedly out as well

04.02.14 at 10:42 am ET
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The Boston College basketball coaching search appears to be nearing a conclusion, as St. Bonaventure announced that Mark Schmidt would be staying at the upstate New York school, and multiple reports indicated that Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins no longer is a candidate.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported that BC informed Hopkins on Tuesday that the Eagles were moving in a different direction with their coaching search. Hopkins reportedly interviewed at BC over the weekend.

Schmidt’s decision to remain at St. Bonaventure for his eighth season was announced by the school Tuesday afternoon.

“We are thrilled that Mark has decided to continue as the head coach of our men’s basketball program,’€ St. Bonaventure athletic director Steve Watson said in a statement. “He has done a remarkable job of building the program. We hope Mark will be our coach for a long time, and to that end, we have started discussions about an extension of our commitment to him.”

Said Schmidt: “It is an honor to be the head coach at St. Bonaventure. This is a fantastic university with passionate fans in a community my family and I are proud to call home.”

That leaves Ohio’s Jim Christian as the leading candidate, at least based on what’s surfaced in the media over the past week. Christian, who previously held head coaching positions at TCU and Kent State, is a New York native played at Boston University and Rhode Island in the 1980s.

Joe Dooley, a former Kansas assistant who just completed his first season at Florida Gulf Coast, has seen his name associated with the BC opening in the last 24 hours, but he said Tuesday that it was news to him, as he’s had no contact with the Eagles.

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