Semester break usually entails a string of quiet days practicing on campus in Standish for the St. Joseph’s College men’s basketball team.

This year the Monks will head to North Carolina to play Division I Davidson College on Dec. 30.

Davidson advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2008 NCAA tournament.

“It’s something both programs always talked about,” said St. Joseph’s Coach Rob Sanicola. “At the end of the day, it’s not tennis. It’s not golf. It’s still a team sport.

“They’re going to be more athletic and more physical than the Division III teams we see, but that’s going to be invaluable for us going into our conference play.”

The program won’t earn a gate guarantee, but will be assisted financially by Davidson to help cover travel costs. Details are still being worked out.

“There was a time it was a negative (for a Division I program) to play a (Division III team),” said Monks Athletic Director Brian Curtin. “But it’s becoming more and more prevalent. And Rob’s really good at allowing his network to give a great experience to the student-athletes. This will be valuable beyond basketball.”

The Monks, who are off to a 4-1 start, have two conference games before facing Davidson: tonight’s 7:30 game against Johnson & Wales (3-3) and a game Saturday at Suffolk (3-6).

That leaves 19 days to prepare for the Wildcats.

“I know it’s on (the St. Joseph’s players’) minds. They’re excited about going down there,” said Sanicola.

“As a kid you dream about playing at the highest level you can. We’re excited but we’re just taking it one game at a time.”

The Monks actually have played Davidson twice previously, in 1990 and 1992, but that was nearly 20 years ago in a different era. Davidson made the NCAA tournament just once between 1971 and 1997.

The relationship between the two programs has roots in a connection between former Monks Coach Rick Simonds and Davidson Coach Bob McKillop.

Simonds took a sabbatical leave from St. Joseph’s in 1992 to be an assistant coach at Davidson, and the Wildcats’ first scheduled game that season was against the Monks.

“(St. Joseph’s) played extremely well. I was proud as heck and scared to death at the same time,” said Simonds, whose Davidson team didn’t pull away until late in the secnd half.

The Monks used to play Division I opponents regularly, but haven’t since the 1992-93 season.

In 1985 the Monks got on the map when they were trailing Florida State by six with three minutes to play, sparked by All-American Jeff Creech. They eventually lost, 88-72.

“It was just a terrific game,” said Simonds. “I remember the coach shook my hand and said, ‘First of all, don’t ever call me again for another game. And No. 11 (Creech) could start for me tomorrow morning.’ It was absolutely true.”

This time around Sanicola is hoping his team gains valuable experience on and off the court. The team plans to arrive Dec. 28 and stay for a couple of days after the game.

“Our kids are going to be together on the road during a time of the season when it can get pretty long,” said Sanicola. “There’s no other time in the season when you have your guys together with no distractions for a week. I think that will be invaluable.”

UNIVERSITY OF MAINE

The men’s basketball team (2-5) plays at the University of Massachusetts tonight at the Mullins Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

Guard Raheem Singleton is the Black Bears’ leading scorer at 11.3 per game.

America East named freshman guard Ashleigh Roberts women’s basketball rookie of the week after a two solid games last week. Roberts had eight points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal in a 126-63 loss to Kansas, and nine points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in a 79-69 loss at Holy Cross.

The Maine women are 1-6 heading into games at Pennsylvania and Penn State this weekend.

BOWDOIN COLLEGE

Sophomore Michael Gale received the NCAA Division III men’s soccer Elite 88 award, which recognizes outstanding students who have reached the NCAA championship.

Gale, who plans to major in biochemistry, has a 3.925 grade-point average. He was presented with the award at the Division III men’s soccer national banquet last week in San Antonio.

The award is given to the student with the highest GPA participating at the finals in each of the NCAA’s 88 championships.

Junior Jill Henrikson of Bath was named Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association player of the week after leading the Polar Bears (4-1) with 18 points in a 63-51 win over Southern Maine and 16 points in a 70-64 win over 20th-ranked Colby.

Saturday’s men’s basketball game against Colby has been moved to 4 p.m., following the women’s 2 p.m. game against Maine Maritime. The men’s game originally was scheduled for 7 p.m.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE

The wrestling team finished second among 10 teams at the Ted Reese Invitational last weekend at the Costello Sports Complex in Gorham.

Eight wrestlers placed in the top four in their respective weight classes to score 76.5 points.

Plymouth State was the team winner with 118 points, and Trinity College finished third with 63.5 points.

Three Huskies finished first in their divisions: Billy Cole in the 133-pound class, Logan Russell of Bath at 149 pounds and Travis Spencer of Waldo at 197 pounds.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND

Junior Marcus Winn came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points for the Nor’easters in a 76-62 loss to Husson over the weekend at the 43rd annual Paul Bunyan Tournament.

Winn was named to the all-tournament team along with senior Chas Rentrope, who put up 13 points.

Winn made five 3-pointers and was 8 of 10 from the free-throw line.

SOUTHERN MAINE CC

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are 6-5 this season. Next up for both: games at rival Central Maine Community College on Dec. 15. The women play at 6 p.m. and the men follow at 8.

 

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]