Former Trinity star, SNHU's Madol impressive in hoop debut after time off
The redshirt freshman made his college debut for Southern New Hampshire University five days ago, ending a layoff of more than a year since he played his last competitive game.
The former Manchester Memorial/Trinity High School star had to sit out all of last season as a partial academic qualifier and missed the first four games of this season because of knee surgery and a two-game suspension for playing in a non-sanctioned summer league game. He was cleared to play right before Thanksgiving and finally got to play his first college game Tuesday in Rindge against Franklin Pierce University.
Madol entered the game at 13:16 of the first half and scored his first basket 32 seconds later on a put back of his own miss.
"It felt like I hadn't played forever," Madol said after finishing with a relatively full stat line of eight points, five rebounds, three assists, one block and two turnovers in 24 minutes.
He was 3-for-7 from the field, 2-for-4 on 3-point attempts, and it was his putback right after getting into the game that reminded Penmen coach Stan Spirou of why he was so excited when he was able to land Madol. Madol missed an off-balance drive, but was right back up in the air, beating everyone else for the tip-in.
"That quick jump ability is not something you see a lot at this level," Spirou said.
Spirou thinks Madol's knee is still about 70 percent, so he said he would not try to ask the 6-foot-5 swingman to play too many minutes.
"By the second semester, hopefully he'll get stronger," Spirou said. "But for not playing for almost a year and a half, he did some good things. There are some positive signs."
Madol said it was tough sitting out last year and it was just as difficult missing the beginning of this season. He said he tried not to do too much when he finally got his chance to play.
"I was just trying to play within myself," Madol said. "It felt good. I got the butterflies out of the way."
Madol said his role is to help distribute the ball, make some shots, defend and rebound. Spirou has a different take.
"He's a scorer," Spirou said. "Offensively, he's got a skill package very few kids at this level possess."
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LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME: Kelly Higgins has been focused on one major issue as he settles into his new role as athletics director at St. Anselm: Find a new division for the men's and women's hockey teams.
Higgins confirmed that he has indeed had talks with Atlantic Hockey commissioner Bob DeGregorio about joining that Division I conference, but quickly added that he has been working with the ECAC to find a way that would allow the St. Anselm hockey programs to drop down to Division III.
As it stands now, St. Anselm is part of the Northeast-10 Conference in Division II across the board, but the hockey programs are also part of the ECAC in a division mixed with Division III programs.
Since Division III does not grant athletic scholarships, Higgins said the St. Anselm hockey teams cannot give athletic scholarships if it wants to compete in the ECAC conferences it is are currently part of. However, since the NCAA does not allow programs to drop down a division to compete in its tournaments, the Hawks also have no postseason opportunities. Consider it the worst of both worlds.
"We can't exist at Division II if we want postseason opportunities for our kids," Higgins said. "It's hard to recruit people here."
The most obvious difference between Division I and Division III is the amount of resources involved. Division I programs can dole out as many as 18 scholarships and most have a full-time head coach and one or two full-time assistants. UNH has a combination of five full-time or part-time coaches and a director of operations.
Division III, on the other hand, requires no scholarships and the staffing could remain intact.
Rev. Jonathan DeFelice, the St. Anselm president, has never shown an inclination to support anywhere close to a team's limit in athletic scholarships in any sport other than basketball, but he is stepping down at the end of this academic year.
Higgins said he hopes to present the school's trustees with a report sometime next semester.
"They are going to have to make some choices," Higgins said. "I'm just exploring our options right now."
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THE BEYOND THE BORDERS SPOTLIGHT SHINES ON: Kristine Brammer of Littleton. The junior forward is making the most of her opportunity to start for the Norwich University women's basketball team. Brammer ranks among the league leaders in rebounding the GNAC, averaging 9.5 rebounds per game going into the weekend. She had a breakout game on the boards in last week's loss to Colby-Sawyer, grabbing 17 rebounds. She was also averaging 6.8 points for the Cadets, who opened with the season with three straight wins before their setback to Colby-Sawyer.
Jim Fennell's New Hampshire College Notebook appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at email@example.com.,/I.