Rivier’s Merrill tops the early March news and notes

Here’s some Saturday tids and bits as we welcome in the month of March. Please don’t be a lion all month like you’ve been the last couple of years; show us some lamb pretty soon?

—- In case you missed it, earlier this week the Rivier University Board of Trustees passed a resolution to rename Raider Field – the rectangular turfed facility that is part of the school’s Athletics Pavillion on the hill high above campus that is currently undergoing a $4.5 million renovation – Joanne Merrill Field.

And fittingly so. Merrill has been the Raiders athletic director for an amazing 40 years, and is an immensely popular and respected figure not only on campus but in the entire city, and in intercollegiate circles as well. You will not find a nicer, more capable, distinguished athletic figure in the area, we promise you.

“Joanne Merrill’s distinguished career deserves nothing less than this honor,” school president Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, said. “Her dedication, vision, and enthusiasm for Rivier Athletics have been and continue to be a gift to the University and to the thousands of student athletes who have competed under her leadership.”

Merrill has guided the evolution of an athletic department that had a couple of sports for an all-women’s enrollment to a multi-sport, co-ed athletic program (Riv began men’s athletics in 1991).

The field and facility dedication will be in September and what the school has called “a fundraising initiative for the renaming of the field in Merrill’s honor” will get underway this month.

Congrats, Joanne, and you can stop blushing any minute now.

—- There is a reason in these high school tournaments you want to finish with as high a seed as possible. Just ask the Bishop Guertin High School girls basektball team, who begin their postseason tonight in the Division I quarters. The best team in the Cardinals’ bracket is fourth seed Manchester Memorial, whom BG beat 74-40 two months ago. Until the finals they avoid Bedford, a big rival; Pinkerton, the team they likely will face, and, most important, Portsmouth, which incredibly led Guertin by five with 1:40 to play two weeks ago on the seacoast before BG rallied and came away with a 61-51 overtime win.

— Why is Patriots owner Robert Kraft pleading not guilty when there is apparently a video that says otherwise? Some feel it’s because he can quite possibly beat the charge, according to the letter of the Florida law. Collegue Dave Brown, who covers the Patriots for the Concord Monitor on a freelance basis but is an attorney in Rhode Island, explained this on twitter the other day:

Kraft, he said, “is accused of violating Fl. Statute 797.07(5)(a)(1) which makes it a crime to ‘solicit, induce, entice, or procure another to commit prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.'”

The thinking, Brown explained, is that Kraft can argue he didn’t do that despite what any video may show. And the requesting a non-jury trial, Brown tweeted, gives Kraft a better chance for a judge to interpret the law than a jury, “because his innocence hinges on a sober and exact interpretation of the law.”

Interesting stuff.

—- Another thing you may have missed: The new Futures Collegiate League team in Westfield, Mass.has been named the Starfires. There was quite a turnout in Westfield a week ago for the announcement, which makes you feel the FCBL made the right choice in landing there.

— Couple of things on Jason Whitten leaving the ESPN Monday Night Football booth to return to play tight end for the Cowboys. One, he’s 37, so you wonder what is he thinking, going back to take all the physical punishment, risk more concussions, etc. Evidently the answer is, according to the Fort Worth Start-Telegram, he has a guarantee of no more than 25 snaps per game (he had been averaging 65 before he retired).

Two, we don’t feel he was as godawful in the booth as the popular opinion will tell you. He wasn’t great, but got better later in the season. Whitten was probably more suited to be on a network’s third or fourthSunday broadcast team to get his feet wet. That being said, however, what was ESPN thinking in reportedly passing over Kurt Warner for Whitten a year ago. If you’ve heard Warner in a couple of NFL Network games as well as Monday Night Football on Westwood One radio, he’s superb. Here’s your second chance, ESPN.

—- Great athletes make great coaches. Well, or at least great Junior Biddy coaches. Anyone notice who the winning girls coaches were in the Nashua Junior Biddy Basketball league? Why, none other than former standout Nashua athletes Aaron Dufoe and his trusty assistant, Nate Goulet. Dufoe, of course, was a top hoop player at Nashua and also at Rivier; Goulet a superb baseball player and former head Division I baseball coach and Division III (Daniel Webster College). They guided the Lakers over the Knicks in the finals. Tough to beat that duo, right?

— Just to make it easy for you with today’s local high school quarterfinal tourney slate: It’s BG girls hoop hosting Manchester Central at 5 p.m.; BG boys hockey at Concord, 6:45 p.m.; Merrimack boys hockey at Goffstown at 7 p.m. at Saint A’s Sullivan Arena, and Hollis Brooklline-Derryfield boys hockey at Belmont-Gilford at 5:15 p.m. in Laconia. It’s got to be one of the leanest local games for Winter Quarterfinal Saturday in a long time. Pick a game and have fun. Upset special? Merrimack over Goffstown has a chance.

—- Sorry, but 13 years, $330 million for an outfielder who hit .240 last year and stunk for two-thirds of the season? Don’t care what all the analytics and new fangled stats say. The Phillies will eventually regret it.

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or@Telegraph _TomK.