A conversation with University of New Hampshire athletic director Marty Scarano that took place during dinner at last weekend’s NCAA hockey Northeast Regional:
(Note: He had some sort of fish stuffed with crab, and I had my usual salad and skipped dessert).
RB: You’ve already submitted a bid to host a regional at SNHU Arena for the NCAA Division I tournament in 2021. Are you confident you’ll get it?
MS: Yes. There’s no reason not to be confident. We know what it takes. It’s not unlike the football playoffs — the FCS playoffs, which we’re really well-practiced at and know what it takes. In this case the partnership has to be strong between the building and the host institution. They’re like an intermediary between the NCAA, so the way our deal is we don’t have a lot of financial exposure (because) the arena picks it up. I don’t want to say it’s a no-brainer for UNH, but it’s a good situation for us.
RB: When you hired Mike Souza to replace Dick Umile as the school’s men’s hockey coach what did you feel had to change to get the program back to where it once was in terms of competing at the national level?
MS: For me to say a lot of things had to change is not the appropriate way of explaining it because Coach Umile’s a legacy coach and he’s had a great career, so it wasn’t as if the model was broken, but Mike had to put his fingerprints on it, which he has. We’re probably looking at different types of individuals. We’re in Europe a lot. You’re going to see Europeans playing for UNH going forward. We have to get in step with hockey today, so we’re trying to find those couple of high-end kids, but we really want to build the program on the kids who are going to commit to three years anyway, right? Some of the programs who will remain nameless have committed to those one-and-done and two-and-done kids and your culture suffers. The people who have kind of lived and died by that are kind of dying. A lot of them are not in this tournament. It’s all about parity now. There are a lot of hockey players and you have to figure out what you want your program to be.
RB: How about the Whittemore Center? Is change needed there?
MS: A lot of change. It’s a great building, but it needs to be modernized. I call it Whitt 2.0, for lack of a better term. We know we need to change the ice surface out because it’s failing, but simultaneously we want to reduce the width, because everyone is going to go to NHL ice. There’s going to be no Olympic sheets 20 years from now.
RB: Some of us still think of the Whittemore Center as a fairly new building, but how about changes to the facility that will help with recruiting? Is it lacking anything?
MS: We don’t have a players’ lounge, which is a necessity for hockey. Everyone has (a players lounge). Believe it or not when you’re recruiting a kid and they’re looking around those things are important. We’ve talked about tearing the whole infrastructure underneath apart and rebuilding it to satisfy a hockey program today. We’re talking in the neighborhood of 12 to 13 million dolars that we need to get the Whitt up to 2.0. We have a lot of work to do in the Whitt.
RB: When will you get an answer about the 2021 regional returning to Manchester?
MS: I think we’ll find out at the summer meeting, which is in June I believe. We know it keeps our program in the national limelight. Of course we want to be in going forward.
New rules that have been implemented for the 2019 Minor League Baseball season:
Pitchers must face a minimum of three batters: At the Triple-A and Double-A levels, the starting pitcher or any substitute pitcher will be required to pitch to a minimum of three consecutive batters, including the batter then at bat (or any substitute batter), until those batters are put out or reach first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the starting pitcher or substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher.
Extra-innings runner on second base revision: At all levels of Minor League Baseball, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. If the last batter of the previous inning was the pitcher, the player to occupy second base to start the following inning will be the player in the batting order before the pitcher’s spot in the lineup.
Visits to the pitcher’s mound: Visits by coaches and position players will be limited based on the classification level. Triple-A teams will be allowed five visits per team (down from six), Double-A teams will be allowed seven visits per team (down from eight) and Single-A teams will be allowed nine visits per team (down from 10) and there will not be a limit on mound visits for Short Season and Rookie-level clubs. For any extra-innings played, each club shall be entitled to one additional non-pitching change mound visit per inning.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are expected to announce their roster for the 2019 season today. Among those who could start the season in Manchester are infielder Nash Knight, who played all nine positions in one game with the Class-A Dunedin Blue Jays last season; infielder Kacy Clemens (Roger’s son); and shortstop Kevin Smith, who, according to MLB.com, is the No. 7 prospect in Toronto’s organization.
Bedford’s Grant Lavigne will begin the season with Class A Asheville of the South Atlantic League. MLB.com has Lavigne rated as Colorado’s top prospected among position players.
Lavigne hit .350 with six home runs and 38 RBIs in 59 games (206 at-bats) with the Rookie League Grand Junction Rockies last season. He was Colorado’s second selection in the 2018 draft and was picked in the Competitive Balance A stage right before the start of the second round.