Reading’s Smotrycz soaks up game day
A rollicking sellout crowd of 12,721 filled Crisler Arena. ESPN’s College GameDay basketball crew was on hand. Michigan then went out and upended sixth-ranked Ohio State, its heated archrival, 56-51, last Saturday afternoon.
Just the kind of atmosphere and experience that Evan Smotrycz signed up for when he made his commitment to the Wolverines in 2009.
“The Ohio State game was the kind of game we probably wouldn’t have won last year,’’ said Smotrycz, a 6-foot-9-inch, 235-pound sophomore from Reading.
“This year, we have everyone back except for Darius [Morris, now with the Los Angeles Lakers], and we’re winning the close ones.’’
Michigan (21-7 overall, 10-4 Big Ten) appears headed to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season after a 12-year drought. Smotrycz, who played three seasons at Reading High before prepping two years at New Hampton, is averaging 7.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. He has started 18 of 28 games while shooting 46 percent from the field (41 percent on 3-pointers).
As a freshman, he received the Wolverines’ Sixth Man Award after starting 24 of 35 games, averaging 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
“I don’t think I would have seen a lot of time as a freshman if I hadn’t put in the time in New Hampshire,’’ said Smotrycz. “Going up there was one of the best decisions I ever made. Living away from home taught me a lot about personal responsibility.’’
In Smotrycz’s recruitment by John Beilein, part of the sell was a chance to join a young team and help restore the glory days of Michigan basketball. Smotrycz embraced the challenge.
“I wanted to push myself and play at the very highest level possible,’’ he said. “I love the intensity of the Big 10 and the fact it leads the country in attendance.’’
He has aspirations to play at the next level, but knows that there is work ahead. “Realistically, I have to improve every aspect of my game,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, he loves the atmosphere of Big 10 basketball, the rivalries, and the raucous student sections, especially when the GameDay crew shows up.
“It was a real fun, cool experience,“ he said. “The Ohio State game was what I signed up for when I came to Michigan.’’
Salem State coach lands 500th victory
Salem State men’s hockey coach BillO’Neill recorded his 500th career victory in an 8-2 win over Framingham State at Rockett Arena on Feb. 18.
O’Neill is the fifth active coach, and just the seventh in Division 3 history, to reach 500 wins. In his 31 seasons, the St. John’s Prep grad is 500-310-54 overall, including two final four appearances, six NCAA tournament bids, three ECAC East playoff titles, and 20 MASCAC championships.
“I’m just proud and honored to be coaching at Salem State University,’’ O’Neill said. “It’s a privilege to coach so many young men over the years, including my son, Andrew, who is my assistant coach this year and my brother, John, who played for me earlier in the ’80s.’’
Salem (14-8-3) will host a MASCAC semifinal on Tuesday night. . . .
Frank Fodera Jr. was unstoppable on the mat his senior season at Winchester High in 2007, racking up a perfect 50-0 mark, capping a magnificent wrestling career in which he compiled a 157-12 record at 215 pounds and was an All-American his final season.
Last night, before the All-State finals at Salem High, the North Reading resident was inducted into the Massachusetts Interscholastic Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“It was a special time in my life, and I’m honored to be recognized by my peers,’’ said Fodera, the Globe’s Wrestler of the Year as a senior. He was twice voted the outstanding wrestler at the all-state meet, one of only five athletes to accomplish the task. As a junior in 1996, he stunned the then-undefeated New England champion, Chris Sweatman, at the all-state meet. “This award will forever remind me of my happy memories as a high school wrestler.’’
Fodera, principal of East Coast Developments, Inc., has also given back to the Winchester program, donating project management and construction services and working in collaboration with local organizations and parents who raised $40,000 for a much-needed renovation of the high school wrestling room.
Fitchburg State sophomore forward Amy Fahey of Wilmington has been named the 2011-12 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year after a season in which she led the league in both scoring (23.5 points) and rebounding (9.7) and ranked third in the league in both field goal percentage (.510) and free throw percentage (.788). Westfield State University freshman guard Jen Ashton of Beverly was named the MASCAC Rookie of the Year after averaging 15.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game while leading the conference in both steals (4.8) and assists (4.6). She was named to the all-conference second team, along with Salem State junior guard Bridget Dullea of Peabody. Framingham State junior guard TyroneFigueroa (Revere) and Salem State junior forward Nathan Simpson of Lowell were named to the men’s all-MASCAC second team. . . . Rowell’s Nicki Wurdeman (Triton Regional) is the career scoring leader for the women’s basketball program at Babson (1,974 points). The 6-1 senior is averaging 18.2 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Beavers (23-2), ranked 17th in Division 3. Babson hosted Wellesley in a NEWMAC semifinal yesterday. . . . For the second week in a row, UMass-Boston freshman center Kirsten Morrison of North Reading was named the NEWBA Rookie of the Week, averaging 21.7 points and 10 rebounds in a 2-1 week for the Beacons.Rich Fahey can be reached at email@example.com.