SURVEYING the New Hampshire sports landscape:
• We’ll kick off this week’s column by sending congratulations to Coe-Brown Northwood Academy boys basketball coach Dave Smith, who collected career coaching victory No. 600 Monday night when Coe-Brown opened its season with a 63-41 victory over Bishop Brady.
Smith is in his 32nd season as Coe-Brown’s coach. He began his coaching career at Alton (now Prospect Mountain), where his teams qualified for postseason play in 12 of his 13 seasons.
Smith ranks fourth among NHIAA basketball coaches in terms of career victories, trailing Dan Parr (704), Gary Jenness (639) and John Fagula (624). Parr coached the Hopkinton, Portsmouth, and St. Thomas boys, and the Portsmouth girls; Jenness coached the Groveton boys and White Mountains girls; and Fagula served as the girls coach at Nashua (now Nashua South) and Londonderry.
• Goffstown and Bishop Guertin figure to be two of the top boys basketball teams in Division I this season, and those teams will meet in Nashua when the Division I season begins Friday.
BG has Dylan Santosuosso, a Second Team All-State selection last season, and added senior Nate Kane, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward who previously played for Nashua North. Junior point guard Robenson Baguidy will lead Goffstown.
“BG is really deep,” Alvirne coach Marty Edwards said. “They’re loaded and I think they’ll be a very entertaining team to watch this year. Kane moved over from North and they picked up a couple (former) South kids. They’re going to have a heck of a team.
“The Goffstown program has developed so well under coach (Ryan) Cowette. I think he has three starters coming back from last year, so they’ll be very good. I think all the coaches would agree that BG, Goffstown and Winnacunnet are the cream of the crop, and people will be very pleased with the level of play in that BG-Goffstown game Friday night.”
Edwards said Manchester Central and Pinkerton are two teams that could be much better than many expect.
“Provided they have everybody, Central will be very athletic and will surprise a lot of teams,” he said. “Pinkerton hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016, but they’re big and they can shoot. Dave (first-year coach Dave Chase) is going to walk in there and turn that whole thing around.”
• Former Manchester West standout Akok Akok returned to action for the first time in nearly 11 months Saturday, when he helped the University of Connecticut defeat Butler 72-60. Akok scored two points in six minutes, his first action since he ruptured the Achilles in his left leg against Memphis last year (Feb. 16).
Akok, a 6-foot-9 forward, enrolled at UConn in January 2019 and averaged 28 minutes, 5.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per contest in 25 games as a freshman.
Akok played one season at West — his sophomore year — before he transferred to Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut. He helped PSA win the 2018 National Prep Basketball Championship.
• Watching quarterback Taylor Heinicke’s performance for the Washington Football Team in Saturday’s playoff loss to Tampa Bay brought back memories of 2012, when Heinicke guided Old Dominion to a 64-61 triumph over UNH. All Heinicke did that day was complete 55 of 79 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. It was also a good day for UNH’s Andy Vailas, who connected on 23 of 38 pass attempts for 336 yards and five TDs. UNH had a 54-38 lead entering the fourth quarter of that contest.
• A bill has been introduced in New Hampshire that would remove the limit on the number of retail sportsbook locations in the state (currently capped at 10) and allow those sportsbooks to offer in-game wagering. The sportsbooks can be co-located with other commercial businesses.
• New coaches in NHIAA Division I girls basketball: Frank Girginis (Alvirne), Brian Duggan (Merrimack) and Natalie Wilson (Trinity). In addition, Spaulding has moved from Division II to Division I.
• The date for the University of New Hampshire football team’s opening game this spring has reportedly been moved up one day. According to FBSchedules.com, UNH will open the season against Albany on March 5 — a Friday — in Durham. Kickoff will be 7 p.m. The teams were originally scheduled to meet March 6.