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UMass’ Derrick Gordon first openly gay Div. 1 men’s college basketball player 04.09.14 at 10:11 am ET
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Derrick Gordon

Derrick Gordon

UMass guard Derrick Gordon announced in interviews with the media that were published Wednesday that he is gay, making him the first men’s college basketball player to come out.

Gordon, a sophomore from Plainfield, N.J., said he told his family, coaches and teammates at the end of March and first days of April. He noted that he was inspired by the Nets’ signing of Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player.

“I just didn’t want to hide anymore, in any way,” the 22-year-old told ESPN. “I didn’t want to have to lie or sneak. I’ve been waiting and watching for the last few months, wondering when a Division 1 player would come out, and finally I just said, ‘Why not me?’ ”

Gordon started all 33 games this past season — his first at UMass after transferring from Western Kentucky, and averaged 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds. However, he told Outsports.com that he considered walking away from the game because his teammates were treating him differently after rumors started to circulate about his homosexuality — which Gordon denied.

“That was probably the lowest point I was ever at,” he told Outsports. “I didn’t want to play basketball anymore. I just wanted to run and hide somewhere. I used to go back to my room and I’d just cry. There were nights when I would cry myself to sleep.

“Nobody should ever feel that way.”

After the Minutemen lost to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament on March 21, he decided to make his sexuality public.

“I just had a lot of time to myself, thinking, and I didn’t know what I was waiting for,” he said.

Gordon told coach Derek Kellogg in a phone conversation on March 30 and then talked to the team — with Kellogg by his side — on April 2. Gordon said the team was supportive, with one player telling him, “We got you; you’re one of us.”

“Before, I usually just kept to myself because I didn’t want to lie or be fake,” Gordon said. “But not anymore. I feel so good right now. It’s like this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

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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.

 

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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 CollegeInsider.com Tournament with wins over Cleveland State and Wright State before losing to VMI.

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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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BC basketball coaching search: Mike Hopkins, Mark Schmidt, Jim Christian reportedly on list of candidates 04.01.14 at 12:11 pm ET
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While other jobs get filled, Boston College continues its basketball coaching search.

The latest reports are that longtime Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski will be the next coach at Marquette, and former Oregon coach Ernie Kent is taking the Washington State job. That leaves BC and Wake Forest (said be pursuing Tulsa’s Danny Manning) with the two most high-profile openings.

National reports have BC kicking the tires on Saint Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt (a BC alumnus) and Ohio head coach Jim Christian (played at Boston University and then Rhode Island in the 1980s). Towson head coach Pat Skerry (from Medford and Tufts, and a former assistant at Northeastern, Rhode Island and Providence) also has attracted attention, along with Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore (BU alum who was a longtime assistant at UConn).

The Eagles also are said be interested in longtime Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, which would indicate a willingness to consider someone without head coaching experience. Hopkins, who played for the Orange from 1989-93, has served on Jim Boeheim‘s staff since 1995. He reportedly was on campus Saturday for an interview.

On that note, here are some other highly regarded assistants who might be worth a look from BC.

Chris Caputo, Miami – A New York native, Caputo is a 2002 graduate of Westfield State, where he was a reserve guard who captained the team his senior season. Caputo worked his way up from an unpaid administrative assistant to a valuable member of Jim Larranaga‘s staff first at George Mason and now at Miami (12 years in total). The 32-year-old has never been a head coach, but he has a reputation as a strong recruiter, especially in the Washington area.

Raphael Chillious, Washington – Chillious was an assistant to Jay Wright at Villanova in 2012-13 before rejoining Lorenzo Romar at Washington, where he had been an assistant from 2009-12. He was head coach at South Kent School in Connecticut from 2003-08 and is known for his ability to recruit New England prep schools. A native of Olney, Md., Chillious played at Lafayette, serving as captain as a senior in 1995-96.

Martin Ingelsby, Notre Dame So you want a coach with experience at an institution with academics similar to BC? How about Ingelsby, who has spent 11 seasons on Mike Brey‘s staff (the last five as an assistant coach after six as coordinator of basketball operations). Ingelsby, a point guard at Notre Dame from 1997-2001, works with the Irish guards and helps with national recruiting. A native of Berwyn, Pa., Ingelsby is the son of Tom Ingelsby, a guard on the Villanova team that lost to UCLA in the 1971 NCAA title game who went on to play briefly in the NBA and ABA.

Michael Lewis, Butler – Hired by current Celtics coach Brad Stevens in 2011, Lewis previously spent six seasons as an assistant at Eastern Illinois and one at Loyola (Ill.). A point guard for Bobby Knight at Indiana from 1997-2000, Lewis started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Knight at Texas Tech after a couple of years playing minor league and European professional basketball. A native of Jasper, Ind., Lewis might be better suited for a position in the Midwest.

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Celtics assistant Walter McCarty expresses interest in BC job 03.25.14 at 1:27 pm ET
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Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty is not hiding his interest in the Boston College coaching vacancy.

McCarty, a University of Kentucky product who played 7 1/2 of his 11 NBA seasons in Boston, joined the Celtics this season after serving as an assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville for three years (2007-10) and then working one year as a Pacers assistant under Jim O’Brien in 2010-11.

“I’m very interested,” McCarty told the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett. “I want to be highly considered. I love the city. I have great ties in the city. I have a great foundation here, especially with recruiting.

“If you look at Louisville’s 2013 national championship team, four of those five starters were my guys. So I’m very confident in my ability to coach and lead a program. I think that I’m ready.”

Added McCarty: “This city loves basketball, and that’€™s a great university. I think the people in the area and the students can be re-engaged with the basketball program. There’€™s a good fan base. It just needs to be revived and be resurrected with the right person in place who can re-engage the community, who can engage the fan base and bring them back together.

“And it also has to be a person who can bring players to campus who will be a part of not just the program, but the community. I think if you bring the right type of players here and put a good product on the floor, you can do that.”

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Harvard’s tourney run ends vs. Michigan State 03.22.14 at 11:29 pm ET
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Harvard rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to take a two-point lead with just over seven minutes to play, but fourth-seeded Michigan State recovered and ended the Crimson’s season with a 80-73 decision Saturday night in an NCAA tournament game in Spokane, Wash.

Branden Dawson scored 26 points on 12-of-15 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds for the Spartans (28-8), who advance to play the winner of Sunday’s Virginia-Memphis game in next week’s East Regional semifinals. Gary Harris added 18 points and five assists, and he hit a pair of big 3-pointers down the stretch.

Wesley Saunders scored 22 points for 12th-seeded Harvard (27-5). Brandyn Curry came off the bench to score 12 points, Steve Moundou-Missi had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Siyani Chambers contributed 10 points and four assists.

The Crimson trailed by 12 at the half and then 16 at 49-33 after a Dawson dunk 2 1/2 minutes into the second period, and it appeared they would not be able to keep up with the talented Spartans, a popular pick to win the tournament. It was again a 16-point margin at 52-36 with under 16 minutes remaining when Harvard started its comeback with a pair of Curry 3-pointers. That began a 19-3 run that was capped by a Saunders steal and dunk that tied the game at 55 with nine minutes to play.

Harris hit a trey to put the Spartans back up by three, but Harvard kept up the pressure and grabbed the lead at 62-60 on a 3-pointer from the corner by Laurent Rivard with just over seven minutes left.

Travis Trice had the answer for Michigan State on its ensuing possession, hitting a 3-pointer that put his team ahead to stay. Harris hit a trey with 5:37 left to cap an 8-0 run, and Michigan State was back in control with a 68-62 lead. Harvard could get no closer than four the rest of the way, and Michigan State hit 7-of-8 free throws in the final minute to put the game out of reach.

After surviving the scare, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was highly complimentary of his counterpart and good friend, Tommy Amaker.

“He did a heck of a job with that team,” Izzo said in a TNT on-court interview after the game. “I told my guys in four huddles, ‘They are not going to quit, man. I know this guy.’ Give him a lot of credit. We did some goofy things, but boy, the way they came back, they played so hard, they got their hands in passing lanes. I give a lot of credit to Harvard.”

Harvard was coming of an upset of fifth-seeded Cincinnati on Thursday, its second-ever NCAA tournament victory — and second in two years. Michigan State, meanwhile, is making its 12th Sweet 16 appearance in the last 17 years.

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UMass routed by Tennessee in NCAA tournament 03.21.14 at 5:37 pm ET
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UMass’ first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1998 was a short one, as the sixth-seeded Minutemen were routed by Tennessee, 86-67, on Friday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C.

Tennessee (23-12), an 11th seed that knocked off Iowa in a first-round game, advances to play 14th-seeded Mercer, which shocked third-seeded Duke, 78-71, in the day’s opening game.

Jarnell Stokes scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Volunteers, who shot 53 percent. Jordan McRae contributed 21 points, Josh Richardson had 15 points and five assists, and Jeronne Maymon had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Maxie Esho and Chaz Williams scored 12 points apiece for UMass (24-9), which shot 42 percent.

UMass scored the game’s first basket (a Derrick Gordon jumper), but it was the only lead the Minutemen would have. Tennessee’s lead reached double digits eight minutes into the game, and the Vols led by 19 at the break, 41-22.

UMass opened the second half with a quick 6-0 run and later closed the gap to 10 at 46-36 with 14:21 left after a Sampson Carter 3-pointer. Tennessee responded with a 9-2 run, and UMass never threatened again.

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Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun reportedly interested in BC opening 03.21.14 at 2:20 pm ET
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Jim Calhoun, who won three national championships at UConn before stepping away in 2012, is interested in the Boston College vacancy, according to multiple reports.

However, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarwoski reports that “the interest isn’t mutual.”

 

A Braintree native who attended American International College and coached at Northeastern from 1972-86, Calhoun spent 26 seasons at UConn, winning titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011. He was replaced by Kevin Ollie after having some health issues, including breaking a hip in a bicycle accident after the 2011-12 season. His career record is 873-380.

Now a special assistant to UConn athletic director Warde Manuel, the 71-year-old Calhoun said recently that he is in good health, and while he declined comment about BC, he told ESPN on Friday: “I would not be opposed to talking to anyone about basketball.”

BC announced Tuesday that Steve Donahue would not return for a fifth season.

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