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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rivier, Daniel Webster basketball set for its annual Midnight Madness

NASHUA – It’s college basketball madness that doesn’t occur in March.

No, this madness occurs in November – 12:01 a.m. this Friday, as a matter of fact, at Rivier University’s Muldoon Fitness Center. ...

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NASHUA – It’s college basketball madness that doesn’t occur in March.

No, this madness occurs in November – 12:01 a.m. this Friday, as a matter of fact, at Rivier University’s Muldoon Fitness Center.

A men’s basketball game that was born out of a scheduling conversation between Rivier coach Dave Morissette and Daniel Webster College coach Dave Faucher enters its second chapter with the two teams opening up.

It was a packed house last year at the Vagge Gym, and now it’s Rivier’s turn to host at the 400-seat capacity Muldoon.

“It’s probably second to nothing in the area,” Faucher said. “The intensity and the enthusiasm for it was fantastic. I said to Dave right before tipoff ‘We’ve already won.’ It was definitely an exciting night.”

Was it what they expected?

“It was more,” Faucher said. “I didn’t know what to expect. When they played the National Anthem and all the students started singing it, I was saying to myself ‘This is really something else.’”

Of course, the result wasn’t what Faucher and the Eagles wanted, as the Raiders ended up winning 68-62 on their way to a 10-15 season. The Eagles finished 11-15.

“It was a lot of fun last year,” Morissette said. “We really enjoyed it. I guess it’s a lot of fun when you win. We really didn’t know what to expect.

“It’s a great way to start the season. A lot of people want to copy that, I’ve gotten a lot of calls from coaches and schools. But I tell them, you’ve got to do it with a local school. You don’t want teams on the road after a game at 3 or 4 in the morning. This is a perfect fit.”

The Muldoon is a little smaller than the Vagge Gym, only allowing a capacity of 400 fans. One hundred tickets were allotted to Daniel Webster College, and fans can get Rivier ticket info by contacting Sports Information Director Anthony Perry at the athletic department at 897-8760 or

Perry said late last week that the school is expecting to hold some tickets for sale at the door, but the game is expected to be sold out.

There will be signs directing fans where to park, Perry said. Parking near the Muldoon Center has always been sparse, but there is extra parking behind nearby Sylvia Trotter Hall, Perry said.

The other thing to keep in mind: This could be a very loud event. In the Muldoon, as Morissette said, “Ten people could sound like 100.”

“That gym will be the loudest place ever,” Faucher said. “Maybe this can break some sound records.”

Taking stock

The next question is, how do these two teams shape up? The Raiders had terrible shooting woes last year, but will be buoyed by the return of Nashua’s Jake Nelson, just about back from his second knee injury in two years. Nelson, a 5-foot-11 junior out of Nashua South, was cleared to play about five weeks ago, and is just getting the rust off and rounding into shape.

“I think that last year, we didn’t shoot the ball well,” Morissette said. “We had problems getting up the floor and getting easy baskets. Defensively we were fine. We only gave up 58 points a game last year. We just couldn’t score.”

For the Raiders, it all revolves around 6-5 senior Tom Poitras, one of three returning starters. The others are 5-11 senior point guard Shawn Gareau and 6-1 guard Nick Walch out of Dedham. It’s important, Morissette said, that the Raiders hit from the outside and loosen up the double teams on Poitras, the former Bow High School standout.

“He can go inside, outside, and is a good leader,” Morissette said. “We have good senior leadership and a lot of good young guys.”

Young is the key word – there are six freshmen and five sophomores on this team.

As for the Eagles, Faucher says “It’s a new team, really.” The mainstay back is 6-3 senior Daris Crosby, the team’s leading scorer from a year ago at 13.4 points a game. Also back is Nashua High School North alum Ryan Gauthier, now a sophomore, who averaged nine points a game a year ago.

Faucher is counting on three players who are older who have come in to resume their college education: Sophomore Kevin Perez (6-0) and 6-4 freshman Ray Farmer, both out of North, and 6-5 Eric Webster, who arrived from California. Webster no doubt will draw heavy Poitras duty in this game.

“The big concern is Poitras, because he’s so experienced,” Faucher said. “I feel our starters can play with anybody. It’s how we develop the depth behind them that will determine our success.”

Still on top

Speaking of success, as expected, the Rivier women’s volleyball team is NCAA bound again, garnering their fifth Great Northeast Athletic Conference title with a 3-1 win over Emmanuel at the Muldoon this past weekend.

The Raiders won 25-19, 25-21, 19-25, and 25-17 to raise their record to 26-8 overall, and they went 14-0 (combined regular season and tournament) in the conference. They lost just that one game to the Saints in the tourney. It’s their fifth GNAC title since 2003 and second in the last three years. They’ll begin NCAA Regional play this Friday and Saturday.

Senior Nicole Peacock was named the tourney MVP and with good reason. She had 17 kills on 25 attacks in the clinching game, with just one error, a .640 hitting percentage. She also had six blocks and two service aces. Sophomore Emily O’Reilly had 47 assists and 14 digs in that game, while Jessica Amiral had 22 digs. O’Reilly and Jessica Amiral joined Peacock on the All-Tourney team.