By Jim Stout
Jim Todd, who played at Fitchburg State and coached the Salem State men's team through the 1995-96 season, was named head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday. He replaces ex-Boston Celtics star Chris Ford, who was fired.
Todd, 47, had been an assistant coach under Ford since leaving Salem and going with him to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 1996-97 season. Ford lives in Lynnfield, Mass., which is near Salem on Boston's north shore. Todd coached at perennial MASCAC power Salem for nine years.
Todd said he would not have accepted the Clippers job on an interim basis without the approval of Ford.
"I asked Chris what he wanted me to do and he told me to do it," said Todd.
"Chris is the one who brought me in and my loyalty is to him. I told him flat out that if he didn't want me to take it that I wouldn't."
Ford even recommended that Todd use his agent, Lonnie Cooper, to negotiate a contract with Los Angeles vice president Elgin Baylor. "I didn't have an agent," said Todd.
"It wasn't like we were blindsided," Todd, added. "We surmised something could happen. We lost a bunch of games, like 16 of 18, and weren't playing that well. Then we had to deal with two real bad games, the 114-68 loss to Phoenix and a 31-point loss to Golden State the night before."
Earlier this season, Todd was the acting coach of the Clippers in victories over Sacramento and Golden State, when Ford was unable to coach because of back spasms.
Todd compiled a record of 192-57 (.771) at Salem, including a 110-10 mark in the MASCAC. He was named Division III coach of the year in New England after a 26-2 season in 1990. Todd also worked as an assistant earlier in his career at Marist, where he coached Rik Smits.
Ford had one additional tie to Division III basketball. His son, Chris, played from 1996-98 at Western Connecticut State after beginning his career at Hartford.
BATES' MURPHY HITS CENTURY MARK: Junior forward Kate McLaughlin was one of four Bates players to score in double figures as the Bobcats lifted coach Jim Murphy (Bates '69) to his 100th career win, 85-58, over Hamilton Feb. 4.
McLaughlin led all scorers with 25 points, team-high for the third consecutive game while Lisa Golobski had a career-high 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Emily King added 14 points, while sophomore center Lisa Dulude had 10, most coming from beyond 15 feet. Sophomore guard Sarah Williamson recorded seven assists and seven steals without committing a turnover.
With the victory, Murphy joins George Wigton, men's basketball coach from 1966 to 1986, as the only hoops coaches at Bates to reach 100 wins. Murphy accomplished the feat in six fewer years than Wigton.
REMEMBER SOUTHERN MAINE: By most accounts, the Little East Conference women's basketball schedule is made-to-order for those who seek the dramatic.
Western Connecticut State and Southern Maine, whose first-place battles over the last seven years have become the LEC's signature trademark, are set to play on the final day of the regular season in Gorham, Maine.
With five conference games remaining, Western (13-5, 7-2) is in first place. Southern Maine (16-3, 6-3) is in second, one game back. This will be the first time the two settle their differences on the final day.
Don't count on a winner-take-all finale just yet, though. There is one major complication -- Eastern Connecticut.
Never far from the fray yet traditionally a couple of points short, Eastern could easily spoil it all. The Warriors are presently tied for first with Western at 7-2 (13-5 overall). They also get to play Southern Maine and Western at home after losing to both earlier in the season on the road.
Western, meanwhile, has to go to both Willimantic and Gorham in hopes of clinching its first LEC regular-season title since 1993-94 and playing host to the conference Final Four Feb. 25-26.
Being able to host the conference semifinals and final has become even more important this season. With the NCAA naming a majority of its Division III tournament teams via automatic qualifiers, the second-place finisher in the Little East is expected to be out of luck this season.
"We're in a position to be able to control our own destiny," said Western coach Jody Rajcula, "so that's good. But so is Eastern, and you have to like their schedule. We're just going to have to go in there and beat them, and then take care of the rest of our games."
Western put itself in a potentially precarious position last Saturday after losing in overtime at Plymouth State. Despite being upset the previous week by UMass-Dartmouth, Western could have held leads of one game on Eastern and two on Southern Maine by beating Plymouth.
It didn't happen, though, which is so often the case on the road for all Little East teams. That's why these next four days will be watched so closely.
While Southern Maine and Eastern are playing tomorrow in Willimantic, Western will be at UMass-Boston.
"The mood of the team is good," said Rajcula, "and we still have the one-game lead on Southern Maine and have beaten Eastern at home so we're in good shape that way. I'm sending (assistant coach) Rachael McGrath to scout Eastern again Saturday, even though we've seen them once and have them on tape. We need every advantage we can get."
TRINITY SWEEPS WEEKEND PAIR: Junior guard Jackie Siscone hit a school-record nine three-pointers and scored 29 points to lead the Trinity women to a 75-50 win against Middlebury in a NESCAC game Feb. 4.
Siscone converted 10 of 15 field goal attempts and nine of 12 from three-point range to set a Trinity single-game record with nine three-pointers. Siscone broke the previous mark held by B. J. Toolan and Kate Leonard. She finished with a career-high 29 points and three assists.
The Bantams then turned around Saturday afternoon behind the 19 points of Siscone and beat Williams 67-55. Trinity won its sixth consecutive game in a row to improved to 15-3, 4-1 in the conference.
Williams, which brought the wrong uniforms and played the game in Trinity's practice jerseys, falls to 12-6.
Trinity scored 12 of the game's first 14 points and went on to take an early 20-13 lead against Williams. The Bantams then scored 15 unanswered points to take a 35-13 lead with 1:18 remaining in the first half.