Eric Emmerling's NH College Notebook: Derry's King gains instant fame on ESPN's Top 10 Plays
Scott King's morning wakeup routine is similar to many sports fans. The Stony Brook University forward shuts off the alarm clock and turns on ESPN's SportsCenter. Last Sunday's telecast really opened his eyes.
While sitting on the edge of his dormitory bed and waking up, King watched a video of his alley-oop dunk earn a No. 5 rating on the popular daily feature, Top 10 Plays.
"It was definitely a cool feeling, seeing myself on national television," said King, a redshirt freshman from Derry, who played varsity hoops for two varsity seasons at Pinkerton of Derry before transferring to Holderness School. "I watch it every day and really never see anyone I know on the show."
King was already living a dream-come-true existence before his momentary national attention, having fulfilled his lifelong goal of playing NCAA Division I level basketball. He and University of New Hampshire sophomore Tommy McDonnell of Durham (Oyster River and Bridgton Academy) are the only native New Hampshire males on an American East Conference roster. King averages three points a game coming off the bench for the Seawolves (16-5), currently sitting atop the standings with a 7-1 conference mark.
The top 10 play episode King watched was a rerun of Saturday night's broadcast. His elbow-high monster dunk occurred in the first half of that afternoon's 79-69 victory over the University of Maine. He made a backdoor cut, leaped high and reached behind him to secure the pass, which provided the opportunity for a long windup to the emphatic slam dunk.
"As it happened I was just thinking, 'Throw it down with one hand.' I didn't realize I reached behind me until I saw the video after the game," said King, who thought he'd done something special simply because the coaching staff wanted him to take a look.
"It was the opposite of what usually happens," said the 6-foot-9 King with a laugh. "Usually the film we watch is just comprised of the mistakes we've made. You know, to take steps to improve you're game."
He missed the original Saturday night SportsCenter broadcast because he was out to eat with his parents. Incessant tweets and texts informed him of his celebrity status.
King redshirted his freshman year in order to ready himself for Division I play. He practiced with the team and worked hard in the weight room, adding bulk to his 210-pound frame.
"(Being redshirted) was a good decision. I'm getting used to playing at this level and loving it," said King. His playing time is increasing as the season progresses. He's presently shooting 42 percent from three-point land and owns the highest vertical leap on the team.
Take a look. Here's a link to a highlight video: http://www.goseawolves.org/sports/m-baskbl/recaps/012613aab.html.
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A MAINE GRANITE STATER: Danielle Walczak of Lee, who scored 1,199 points at Oyster River of Durham is doing well in the America East Conference. The sophomore has started every game at Maine, averaging 9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds a game while shooting 46 percent from the field.
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ROB PATERNOSTRO ONCE WORKED AT ESPN piecing together highlight reels for SportsCenter. Nowadays the former New Hampshire College (presently Southern New Hampshire University) point guard that helped the Penmen to three Division II elite eight tourney appearances from 1991-1995, earned January Coach of the Month honors in the British Basketball League.
Paternostro's team, the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders, went undefeated during the month and won the BBL Cup, a highly coveted single elimination tourney that takes place during the regular season of the 12-team league. The Riders are currently in first place of the BBL standings, known as the top men's professional league in the UK and drawing about 7,000 fans a night.
"We talk frequently," said longtime SNHU coach Stan Spirou who recruited Paternostro and knew he possessed the passion and basketball IQ to be a successful coach one day. "He said that it's hard to convince guys to play defense over there. I told him I spent four years trying to convince him of the very same thing. Why should he be surprised?"
Paternostro, the Penmen's all-time assist leader, was also named Coach of the Month in October and Coach of the Year in 2009 following his first season as the Riders coach. He entered the BBL in 2000 playing for Birmingham, and eventually becoming the Bullets player/coach.
There are several former SNHU players now coaching basketball. For example, Mark Yeaton (Bishop Brady of Concord), Lucas Croteau (Bow) and Miguel Gonzalez (Campbell of Litchfield) are coaching locally.
"They all say it's a rollercoaster ride," said Spirou with a laugh. "I tell them to keep looking in the mirror and enjoy their hair, because they won't have it long."
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FRESHMAN SPEEDSTER Dylan Lafond of Manchester (Central) finished 93rd in the NCAA Division II Men's Cross Country (10K) Championship last fall. He broke his Mount Olive College (NC) 3,000 meters school record with a time of 8 minutes 42.89 seconds in his first race of the spring semester.
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RIVIER UNIVERSITY had two players earn Great Northeast Conference Player of the Week honors. Terence Matatall, a junior from Danville (Timberlane of Plaistow) dominated volleyball play last week. The 6-foot-7 middle hitter posted a .420 hitting percentage while averaging 2.17 kill/set in three matches. Against MIT, he registered 12 kills on 15 attempts with no errors for a .800 hitting percentage and blocked 11 shots.
Classmate Tom Poitras of Bow averaged 20.7 points and 6 rebounds in three games to earn the basketball weekly honor. The 6-foot-5 forward banked in the go-ahead bucket in the final seconds in one game and recorded his first double-double of the season in another. Also, sophomore guard Deanna Purcell of Hudson (Alvirne) made the conference weekly honor roll for her stellar play.
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AT AMHERST COLLEGE, senior center Peter Kaasila of Plaistow (St. Mark's School, Southborough Mass.) tallied 23 points, a career high in a victory this week. He's averaging 12.9 points and 5.8 rebounds a game this season. Freshman teammate Connor Green of Bedford (Bishop Guertin of Nashua) is averaging about 19 minutes a game coming off the bench and contributing 10.3 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Eric Emmerling's New Hampshire College Notebook appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.