Bouchard finds range for UMass Dartmouth
When John Genkos suffered a season-ending injury last fall, the men’s basketball team at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was minus a starting guard. But his void also created an opportunity for Tucker Bouchard (inset).
In his first college game, in mid-November, the 6-foot-2 freshman from Kingston poured in a career-high 26 points to carry the Corsairs to a 100-88 victory over Elms College.
That scintillating debut was just a hint of things to come.
Bouchard paces UMass Dartmouth (16-10) in scoring (15.5 points per game), assists (87) and steals (47). The fourth-leading scorer in the Little East Conference, he is a favorite to earn Rookie of the Year honors.
“We thought he was pretty good when we recruited him but he has played even better than I expected,” said Brian Baptiste , in his 30th season on the Corsair bench. “It’s been a long run for me and we’ve had some really good players come in as freshmen, but right now I’d have to say he’s up there with the best of them.”
Entering Friday night’s conference semifinal against Rhode Island College, Bouchard was logging 32.5 minutes per game — the fifth-highest total in the Little East, and first among first-year players.
In the regular-season finale last weekend, he torched Keene State for a career-high 34 points in a 96-95 defeat, draining 10 of his 16 shots from the floor and converting all 10 of his free-throw attempts. He earned his third Rookie of the Week of the season from the conference.
The Corsairs avenged that setback with a 81-68 victory over Keene in the Little East tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday night.
“I wasn’t expecting to be playing as well as I am right now and getting all this playing time as a freshman, but its been great and I’m having a fun time with it,” said Bouchard, who played for Silver Lake Regional High but was home-schooled.
“When John Genkos went down I saw that as an opportunity and I stepped up my game,’’ he said. “I definitely didn’t expect to score all those points in my first game.”
Bouchard starts at shooting guard, but often slides up to the front court during games. Although his 3-point range has improved this year (40 percent), he is at his best when he drives to the hole, or dishes off to big men in the paint.
As of Tuesday’s game, he had converted 15 straight free throws and had missed just one attempt in his last 27 over the previous four matches.
Bouchard handed out a season-high nine assists in a 90-80 win over Geneva on Dec. 30, and hauled in a career-high 10 rebounds in a 77-64 victory at Curry College in Milton on Jan. 16.
A liberal arts major with plans to become a teacher, Bouchard was fifth in the LEC in assists, fifth in free-throw percentage (82.4 percent), fifth in steals (1.8 per game), and sixth in 3-point percentage and minutes played.
“Tucker is the leading scorer on our team, and when he took John’s spot as a starter I never would have anticipated things like that,” said Baptiste. “He’s very athletic. He’s able to penetrate off the dribble and get into the lane. He’s athletic enough to jump over some smaller guards and has developed his three-point shooting quite a bit.
“He’s doing a lot of good things for our basketball team right now.”
Gibson sets records in 60-meter events
Rockland’s Terrence Gibson, a junior at Worcester State University, recorded the fastest times in Division 3 this season while competing in the 60- meter dash and 60-meter hurdles events at last weekend’s Division 3 New England championships held at MIT.
Gibson set new school, meet, and facility records in both events (8.02 seconds in the hurdles, 6.80 seconds in the 60), and his time in the hurdles was the ninth-fastest in Division 3 history.
“His top commitment has been in the weight room,” Matt Swett, associate head coach at Worcester State, said of Gibson’s performance.
“He came into the fall season stronger than he’s ever been. The stuff he’s accomplished in a few short years is very impressive,” he noted.
Named the Division 3 National Track Athlete of the Week by the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, Gibson also ran the third leg for the 4x400-meter relay team that placed second last weekend, helping Worcester State finish in eighth place overall.
Gibson, who won the Division 3 national title in the 60-meter hurdles last winter, has already qualified for the nationals in the 60 meters and the 60 meter hurdles this season.
He is 22d in the 200 meters (21.93) and will attempt to move up at this weekend’s New England Open championships.
The top 15 in each event are invited to the nationals, which will be held at the University of Nebraska on March 13-15.
Norwood’s Sweeney to join Holy Cross hall
Norwood High alum Jim Sweeney, one of the best hitters in Holy Cross history, will be inducted into the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame on May 3.
The 2001 Holy Cross graduate was the Patriot League Player of the Year in 1999 when he batted .448, the fourth-highest mark in the country. He also compiled a 5-4 record on the mound with a 3.80 earned-run-average, and his career batting average of .375 still ranks as the fifth all-time in Holy Cross history and the third all-time in the Patriot League.
Sweeney is a math teacher at Norwood High, where he is the varsity golf coach.John Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.