Coaching a thousand games

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Emmanuel athletics file photo

Last Tuesday’s non-conference tilt between Emmanuel and Eastern Connecticut State wasn’t about the outcome, but a specific milestone for Saints head coach Andy Yosinoff, who recorded his 1,000th game on the sidelines.

Yosinoff, who is in his 39th season with the Saints, has won 750 contests, including a trio of games this season. He leads all active NCAA Division III women’s basketball coaches in victories, and has navigated the Saints to 18 NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the semifinals during the 2000-01 season. Additionally, Yosinoff’s program has captured 15 Great Northeast Athletic Conference championships, winning their most recent crown at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season against Suffolk.

“(This milestone) means that I’ve coached a lot of great kids over the years,” said Yosinoff. “Hundreds of my players have graduated from Emmanuel College and gone on to do great things after playing basketball, which is the most important thing to me. They’ve done great things in the community and are a part of great families, so getting to 1,000 (games) is more of a testament to supportive community around me at Emmanuel that have put me in a great position to succeed and for that I’m very thankful.”

Tuesday’s game was indeed a special moment for the tenured head coach; however, it certainly brought back memories of his first season with the Saints during the 1977-78 season.

Emmanuel concluded its campaign with a 4-6 ledger – the Saints were unable to play their 20-game schedule due to the Blizzard of ’78 – so once the season concluded, Yosinoff was determined to improve the program, beginning with recruiting, while changing the culture and mentality of athletics at the institution.

“(My first season) motivated me to go out and turn the program around by recruiting for the future. I wanted to change the culture and mentality of athletics at Emmanuel into much more of a winning atmosphere,” said Yosinoff. “I’d like to think that has become sort of my trademark as a coach that I really get after it as a recruiter and find great athletes from all over the country.”

Yosinoff’s determination paid off as he guided the Saints to their first winning season three years later, finishing the 1981-82 campaign with a 19-6 overall record. In 1985, Emmanuel captured the program’s initial title, claiming the MAIAW crown before advancing to the NCAA Tournament one year later during the 1985-86 school year.  

The Saints’ success certainly hasn’t come to a stop as the program tallied 357 wins over the past 15 seasons, averaging 24 victories per year. That includes the Saints’ trip to the Division III Final Four in 2002.

“My secret is hard work,” said Yosinoff. “The culture of my program is to basically outwork all of my competitors. From playing a unique style of full court pressing to fast breaking has complemented our success all of these years. That and finding players from all over the country during my recruiting process (has also helped).”

Yosinoff is optimistic about his 2015-16 team, despite a 3-2 start. Emmanuel lost to Babson in the 32nd Annual EC Invitational Championship, but rebounded with a pair of wins against Rhode Island College (57-51) and Skidmore (56-48). The Saints will host Brandeis on Tuesday, Nov. 24 before traveling to Amherst on Tuesday, Dec. 1 and Salem State on Thursday, Dec. 3.

Senior Sarah Higgins currently leads all players with 84 points; graduate student Lena Negri has tallied 45 points, while junior Jen Chalk has poured in 36 points. As a team, the Saints have compiled 324 points in five games, averaging 64.8 points per game.

“The potential of this group is probably the best I’ve had since the elite eight team in 2012,” said Yosinoff. “We have lots of depth and athletic ability. Sarah Higgins should be strongly considered for All-American this year, while Lena Negri is returning from an injury, so she will be a huge factor and give us a big lift as the season progresses.

“For underclassmen, sophomore guard Ryan Maynard has really stepped up. We have a strong core of first year players that will be the foundation for the next four years including Olivia Dalphonse, Alisha Fox, Maddie MacLaughlin and Mary McCarthy.”

The focus for Yosinoff remains on the current season, but when asked about joining an elite NCAA group of coaches that have registered 1,000 games or more on the sidelines, he responded, “It is extremely humbling to be a part of that fraternity. The names on this list are made up of some of the greatest coaches ever, people that I have looked up to during my career, including Pat Summit of Tennessee, Jody Conradt of Texas and Geno Auriemma of UConn. For a little guy from Providence, Rhode Island to be included in this group is a great feeling.”

News and Notes

  • The Daniel Webster men’s basketball team made headlines last week, rallying to defeat Nichols at home, 84-80. Led by junior Rondell Best, who tallied 21 of his 28 points in the second half, the Eagles overcame a 26-point first half deficit to defeat the Bison for the first time since 1996. One day later against Roger Williams, senior Ryan Gauthier became the 11th Eagle to reach the 1,000-points as he netted 17 points off the bench in a 68-66 setback to the Hawks.
  • It was a special week for Wheaton (Mass.) senior Kiley Shoemaker, who celebrated a pair of milestones. Against Newbury, Shoemaker established a single-game record with 24 rebounds as the Lyons defeated the Nighthawks, 74-58. On Sunday, she eclipsed the century mark in her team’s 73-60 win over RPI. She now has 1,010 points and now 113 points away from matching Jennifer Landry, who ranks 10th in program history with 1,123 points. Shoemaker will receive a basketball commemorating the milestone on Saturday, Dec. 5 when Wheaton hosts Coast Guard at 1 p.m.
  • Springfield men’s basketball coach Charlie Brock earned his 500th victory on the sidelines Saturday when the Pride defeated 12th ranked Trinity (Conn.), 80-69. As noted in the release, Brock becomes the 44th coach in the history of NCAA Division III men’s basketball to reach the 500 career win milestone.
  • Saturday’s 82-80 victory against Connecticut College was the Newbury men’s basketball teams’ initial win of the season. It was also the program’s first-ever victory against a NESCAC team, too. Junior Kenny Ramos and sophomore Jeduan Langston concluded the contest with 21 points, respectively. 

Five Games to Watch this Week

Bates at Southern Maine (MBB/Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m.): Don’t consider this the ‘Battle of Maine’ but both teams are off to great starts and will look to capture a victory before a short Thanksgiving break.

Lasell at Brandeis (MBB/Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m.): The Lasers are becoming an early sleeper pick, despite dropping a pair of two-point setbacks to Babson and Keene State. Brandeis has won three straight, so keep an eye on this game – or even attend it if you’re available.

Keene State at Endicott (WBB/Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 5 p.m.): Endicott will return to the court for the first time in over a week when they host an Owls squad that has won four straight.

Connecticut College at Suffolk (WBB/Sunday, Nov. 29 at 1 p.m.): The Rams have won three of four, but will enjoy a short break before returning to the court on Sunday. Can their early season momentum continue against the Camels, which have posted 81 points or more in their first two games of the season?

Colby at Regis (MBB/Sunday, Nov. 29 at 3 p.m.): After posting back-to-back wins against Emerson and Wentworth, the Pride will look to snap their two-game losing skid against a talented Mules squad that rebounded from an early-season heartbreaker against Staten Island last Friday. 

Matt Noonan

Matt Noonan is the head editor and founder of, a New England Division III college sports blog that covers basketball, football and lacrosse. Noonan's work has been featured on,, and, and has appeared in the Boston Globe, along with other digital and print outlets. No stranger to Division III, Noonan spent time as an Athletics Communications Assistant and Sports Information Assistant at MIT, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Wheaton College, and was recently an Associate Producer at Lax Sports Network where he oversaw a trio of weekly shows, while assisting producers, on-air talent, production assistants and directors with daily programming. Noonan graduated from Wheaton College in May 2010 -- Go Lyons! -- and currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts.