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February 07. 2014 10:18PM

City Sports: SNHU-St. Anselm rivalry gets national exposure


Brett Sellingham, of BST, left, and former Central player Mike Stys were integral in setting up the Sam Carey Classic charity basketball game. JOSH GIBNEY/UNION LEADER  

Growing up in Greater Manchester and playing for Manchester High School Central, Mike Stys always knew the men’s basketball rivalry between Southern New Hampshire University and St. Anselm College was something special.

“Manchester is lucky to have two of the best Division II programs in the country, both rich with winning traditions,” said Stys. “You look what coaches (Stan) Spirou and (Keith) Dickson have built, and very few programs can match what they’ve already accomplished to this point. For me, it’s great to be part of the rivalry.”

The rivalry is one reason today’s 11:30 a.m. tip-off at St. A’s Stoutenburgh Gym in Goffstown is being televised by the CBS Sports Network (Channel 856 in HD on Comcast).

“For the last several years, the NCAA has had a partnership with CBS Sports Network where they air a package of Division II men’s and women’s basketball games,” said Greg Royce, director of Athletics Communications for SNHU. “This game was selected because of the city rivalry and the fact it’s the defending NE-10 regular season champ (St. Anselm) against last year’s NE-10 tournament champ (SNHU).”

Stys said the atmosphere today will be “electric.”

“The gym will be packed,” he said. “The game is being televised, and you know the intensity level will be high on both sides.”

On Nov. 20, the Hawks handed the Penmen an 88-65 setback at the SNHU Fieldhouse. St. Anselm overcame a 40-23 halftime deficit, scoring 65 points in the second half.

“Give credit to St. Anselm for battling back,” said Stys. “They have one of the best shooting teams in the league, if not the best. We played a solid first half in that game, and then we just got complacent and lost our focus.”

In the Northeast Division, the Hawks (11-4) are in second place, trailing leader Franklin Pierce (11-3). St. Michael’s (9-5) is third, followed by SNHU (8-7) and Bentley (8-7). The Penmen play all four of those other teams down the stretch,

“The sky is the limit for us,” said Stys. “As long as we stay focused and buckle down, we have a chance to win any game.”

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TWO MONTHS ago, Southern New Hampshire University women’s basketball head coach Karen Pinkos was singing the praises of former Manchester Memorial High standout Amra Elezovic.

“She puts us at a different level,” said Pinkos. “She’s a talent, the total package on offense who has the ability to score inside and outside.”

Today Elezovic is not a member of the Penmen.

Last week, Pinkos released a brief statement that read: “Amra Elezovic is no longer a member of the women’s basketball team due to a violation of team policies. The program will have no further comment on the situation.”

Turmoil has followed Elezovic since her playing days at Memorial.

Under head coach Jack Quirk, who is now the boys’ head coach at Memorial, Elezovic led the Crusaders to consecutive Final Four appearances in the Division I tournament during her junior and senior seasons. But at times Elezovic displayed frustration on the court, prompting coach Quirk to bench her on a few occasions.

In November, Pinkos said she saw Elezovic’s demonstrations of frustration as a good thing.

“Her frustration is misunderstood,” Pinkos said at the time. “I think I know her enough by now to say Amra is a very competitive player who wants to win. She’s also a basketball junkie. She watches the NBA, and keeps track of just about every team and score in our own league. She has love and passion for the game, and to me that’s everything you want from a player.”

A 5-foot, 11-inch swing player, Elezovic started her college career at UMass Lowell but transferred to Division II SNHU after her freshman season, UMass Lowell’s last before making the jump to Division I.

She made an immediate impact with the Lady Penmen, averaging 18 points and six rebounds in her first 12 games, with SNHU going 5-7. Since she played in her last game, a 75-62 loss at Southern Connecticut on Jan. 8, the Lady Penmen have gone 2-5.

Attempts to reach Elezovic for comment were unsuccessful.

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IF YOU’RE a regular at city high school girls’ basketball games and/or Saturday boys’ hockey games, you probably noticed something new last month: admission fees.

“We started doing it after January first because we need to generate more revenue,” Chris Donovan, first-year director of athletics for the city’s public schools, said of his department’s collection of the fees. “We had a revenue shortfall last year, and we’re trying to close the gap.”

Last year the city charged for admission only to football and boys’ basketball games. Admission fee is $2 for students and $3 for adults for football, hockey and basketball games.

“In hockey, we’re only going to charge admission for Saturday games and any game between two city teams played on a weekday,” Donovan said. “Those are the hockey games where we’re seeing our highest attendance.”

Donovan explained that when the city charges an admission fee, he has to hire ticket collectors, ticket sellers and at least one police officer.

Nothing is official yet, but Donovan said the school district is discussing charging for admission to baseball games played this spring at Gill Stadium.

"City Sports" is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at jhabib@unionleader.com.


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