Monday, December 19, 2016

2016-2017 Basketball Blog!

Good Morning amateur basketball lovers on the East Coast.  Its that time again when I provide some coverage on high school and college basketball including whispers, things others refuse to discuss, underrated players, over rated programs and other news worthy of printing.

My sports background is simple. I played the game, coached the game, raised a HS Student Athlete who earned a D1 scholarship, and helped develop at least 100 D 1 players and a few Professionals in the NBA as well as international leagues,

I am far from an expert but certainly have strong opinions on the game we all love and adore. I cannot promise you will love all that I write, but I sure hope you will spread the word if you find it interesting.  

Today, Monday December 19th, is my starting time for this years blog. So in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 we are starting!

Well the college basketball season is off and running with quite a few pleasant surprises. Of course I am referring to colleges in NY, NJ, and sometimes Pa., and New England.  Lets start with Rutgers University. 

I really hated reading where the Linden NJ Boys HS Coach mentioned Eddie Jordan, the fired Rutgers  Coach as "Eddie Who" in comparison to the new RU Coach Steve Pikiell who is doing a great job thus far.  How uncharacteristic that was for a usually classy and great coach to say. Bob Hurley or Kevin Boyle  would never say such things even if they were true. 

Well, Rutgers is off to a great start and someone mentioned to me that they have not beat anyone. My response was  programs with excellent coaches win all the games they are supposed to win and never lose to little sisters of the poor or schools like FDU!  Sorry, but I had to get at least one dig in because FDU just might be the best in the NEC this year and I will not be able to clown them as much as I did in recent years. 

My take on RU is they are right where they want to be at this stage of the season. In past years they might have lost 3 of the games they actually won thus far. The remaining schedule is difficult but I can see them winning 7 more games at least and being invited to a post season tournament.  I think when Steve Pikiell was named Head Coach a few people were disappointed hoping for a higher profile coach. After 11 games I think everyone will agree the correct choice was made and he has a great staff including Karl Hobbs (ex GW HC), Brandin Knight (ex Pitt Asst), Jay Young (from Stony brook) and even keeping super recruiter Greg Vetrone who understands the ends and out of tri state basketball recruiting and has numerous contacts.   Looking good in Piscataway!  

Seton Hall has established itself as a top level if not top tier program nationally after winning the BE Title last season. With what might be the most loyal, smart, and insightful fan base in the Big East Conference if not the entire East Coast, this team is right where the school wants them to be at this point.  

Kevin Willard, and his outstanding staff has done a magnificent job of making Seton Hall a top notch program worthy of interest from many of the top HS players on the East Coast. With very talented guards and inside players who all seem destined to make money in the NBA or Internationally, this team is headed for the NCAA tournament and anything else could be a true let down. 

I am so excited about this weeks game against Rutgers.  Now this will be a game with meaning based on each teams record thus far. I sure hope the Governor even attends and they have to take the curtain down in the Prudential center based on fan interest in the game.  This is Rhode Island vs Providence! This is NC vs Duke! This is Army vs Navy in football!  At last the rivalry, though often great games over the years, mean something special! 

St. Johns is a program that needs healing fast. I am and will always be a Chris Mullin Fan. In fact I could be President of his fan club. But whats going on with loses to Delaware State and LIU?   What happened to the days when SJU chose who they wanted and did not have to recruit. SJU fired Norm Roberts who often had his hands tied getting kids into school unlike other coaches there. 

They fired  Steve Lavin who was  doing a credible job after rough start.  Enter my guy Chris Mullin who get super recruiter and childhood friend Barry Rohrssen to leave where he was to join him at SJU only to listen exclusively to the ex SJU Manager who was an Asst. at Iowa State before coming home to SJU.  Exit Coach Rohrssen and now you have the ex manager doing most of the Xs and Os in the time out huddles.  My question is will Chris Mullin walk away after this season?  Again, I am a fan and I am also a fan of SJU, SHU, and RU. I want them all to be strong programs!

FDU..........poor FDU who just might become a future power in NCAA D2  based on what we are currently seeing. I again say its not the Coaching Staff!  Its the schools commitment to the program. Put money into facilities, equipment, marketing and advertising and they will come based on close proximity to NYC.  

I do wonder whu they do not start out playing an easy D1 schedule. Oops I forgot. They are doing what the MEAC and SEAC conferences (southern Black colleges) do to earn guaranteed money for the program to exist.  I look so forward to attending a game at FDU and someone pointing out the President in attendance being supportive!  

However with all this said I did read somewhere that FDU is picked to win the NEC title and be in the NCAA.  Well, Dayton get ready. They will need at least 30 hotel rooms total for the team and supporting 30 fans. 

Manhattan College was such a tough team years ago and a true stepping stone job. The Coach, Steve Masiello,  attempted to leave for South Florida but had to return based on him not having his college defree as he stated he had. Thus he returns and recruits with every single kid he talks to feeling at the first chance he gets he is out of there. This makes his job so hard and one most schools would not enjoy being a part of. 

However Steve is a great motivator and good enough coach to keep the team competitive. Time will tell if they are moving in the right direction.  

Fordham is Fordham. Tough admission requirements and an old gym they continuously try to upgrade. Problem is you cannot put lipstick on a pig and think it will make the pig attractive. Fordham remains a great academic institution which really is important.   I happen to know the coach well and he is a very good coach and good person. Just a hard job recruiting kids to a campus on Fordham Road in the Bronx, which is not listed as a desirable NYC neighborhoods!  

HS Basketball

I start this section by saying to anyone who is reading this blog that NJ is now the top area for HS basketball in the NYC Tri State area.  Reason why is so many kids now travel to NJ for HS. I am not only talking private schools, I am also talking public schools because there are quite a few attending public schools as well.  

NYC is also hurting based on the large number of good NYC players enrolled at prep schools in New England, Va., etc.  Very few NJ players take the prep route,

In NJ The Patrick School is the team to beat loaded with players from NY, NJ. and who knows where else.  In fact I doubt anyone can beat them even on a bad shooting night. Nick Richards is so big and so good!  Plus they have so many others.

St. Anthony's might feel different because they always find a way

Of course Roselle Catholic is loaded with talent but to me a bit undisciplined.  In fact I honestly feel Nazreon Reid is not as athletic or in basketball shape as he was a freshmen when he ran the floor and was bouncy and active. Now he is just big with skills. Maybe its all the hair on his head. Maybe its just me expecting his coaches to have him in better basketball shape. Honestly?  Can someone say Oak Hill or Montverde next season to prepare for college and the NBA?  

Of course the NYC Schools all have good talent. The usual suspects will be in the PSAL race as will the CHSAA schools with Bishop Scanlan moving up and being part of the talented Bronx schools with St. Rays, and Hayes. In Queens, Malloy has good players and even has Greg Antony's Son who is a heck of a player and only a sophomore. Malloy and Christ The King are traditionally very good year in and year out! 

As we get deep into the HS season I will provide much more information on schools and players especially those who might be under the radar. 

Sleeper Team is my favorite HS team: Teaneck!  Teaneck lost in the Hoop Group Showcase ($13 to get in! what!) to Newark Eastside who really is a nice public school program coached by two guys with equal responsibility. I love the concept and have seen the two coaches go from screamers to excellent coaches along with the assistants who are also very good. 

Teaneck was coming off a live scrimmage vs St. Anthony  they won but against Newark Eastside they had to play without two of their best 3 players who had to sit out the game.  Watch out for this team at full strength including a developing 6 ft 10 senior who will get better as the season goes on.  

If you have any questions or concerns feel free to reach out to me at I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Special High School Basketball Edition

Primetime Shootout
Roselle Catholic HS, Roselle NJ
Saturday, February 7, 2015

The 2015 edition of the Primetime Shootout had a wonderful lineup of games on paper. Unlike many other tournaments, especially those start of the season showcase games, the games on the Primetime Schedule each year present to the average fans wonderful match-ups often bringing the best of the best to the Garden State to exhibit basketball skills that in many cases will take players to the NBA as well as make the HS teams they play for national household names. 

Interesting enough the first Primetime Shootout I attended was held in South Jersey at Ewing HS many years ago when my beloved Teaneck HS played and won its game against Bishop Loghlin HS of NYC and its legendary Coach Bob Leckie who would go on to eventually become a coach at St. Peters College.  Little did we know that Teaneck was introducing its own future legendary coach in Curtis March as well as the start of no less than 10 division 1 scholarship recruits over a 5 year period. I guess you could say much of what happened for Teaneck started with the Primetime Shootout! 

Years later the Primetime Shootout became so big the games had to be switched from HS and College type gyms to the Trenton Arena where we saw the real power house HS teams start coming in and competing against the best. It was at the Trenton Arena where we saw Lebron James and his HS basketball team hold off and beat Oak Hill which featured at the time none other than Camilla Anthony. 
So interesting how Lebron and his team were similar to the Jackson five. Lebron was Michael and the rest of his team was The Jackson five.  The arena was packed and all the games were special. The only event on the East Coast that was similar was the Slam Dunk at The Beach, which was held annually in Lewes Delaware and coordinated by the very colorful and super marketer Bobby Jacobs. Yes, the Primetime was special. 

Than it seemed something happened all over the country. Funding and sponsorships dried up and events of this magnitude were very hard to produce and present. What was once a super duper weekend event at an actual arena that brought in more money to the local economy in Trenton than most realize, had to go back to D 2, D3, and  HS gyms and based on limited seating and new demands from many HS coaches to bring their high profile teams to NJ, the event has relied on local teams who are still nationally ranked in many cases and full of outstanding talent.  Yes, believe it or not many HS teams have  all expenses paid and in some cases I have heard the coaches must get a kickback to participate and that often is done via them getting consultant money from tournament organizers. 

Please keep in mind all that I write is based on my personal observations and from what has been shared with me by many of my friends involved in coaching on various levels from AAU to HS to College.  What I write however is my thoughts and opinions. What I will say is the $12.00 I spent to attend the games yesterday was well worth every cent. In fact I would pay $30 to see such an event especially since some of the money goes to charity. Well, thats what I was told! 

The games were outstanding for the most part. Yes, 2 were blowouts, and 1 was a true preliminary game thrown in for local people to feel their team was playing. But 3 of the games were nothing short of terrific and well played! 

The Prelim Game

Plainfield beat Neptune 58 to 43 with Jaleal and Jachai Simmons staring and  showing great promise as players. Plainfield has history and tradition and I am sure in the future they will again become a force in NJ HS basketball. But for now they will be watching the action from way above as we get closer and closer to the NJ Finals.  

The Blowout Games

St. Anthony's vs Chester

I have no idea why HS Coaches do not learn from watching St. Anthony's that it all starts with discipline, respect,  commitment, competing every play, and defense. College coaches also need to look at the St. Anthony's model!  It's not hard to figure out why this school that struggles yearly to stay open continues to be not only a national basketball treasure, but a testimony to what happens when you buy into a system. 

Chester, a team with great tradition is experiencing a down year which explains why there was not bus loads of fans from Chester at the game. This is a HS team that has a legendary fan base including senior citizen clubs, moms, church groups and more. But they are young and the coaching staff was very impressive as they kept their cool knowing that next years team will be older, wiser, and more ready for games such as the one they played Saturday.

Marcus Mcduffie of St. Anthony's will have people smiling all over the state of Kansas when he arrives to suit up for Wichita State. He is some kind of special talent who Rutgers should have blocked the airports to get.  Jagan Mosely, yes he with the uncombed hair style that all the kids seem to be wearing, is the type of player who will not only be successful on the basketball court, he will be successful in life!  He is good enough as a junior to have many high D1 offers and wherever he attends he will make an impact. However,  I sure wish a kid like this, who I know has good grades just by observing him, would consider places like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Northwestern. Or if he does attend a place such as Seton Hall or Rutgers he would enroll in the honors college at The Hall or Rutgers College at RU. Special player and future leader in the same way Jerry Walker and Terry Dehare(sp) are in Jersey City! 

Oh yes St. Anthony's  won the game but the score is not even important at this point! 

St. Benedict's vs Riverdale Baptist of Maryland

Riverdale Baptist is one of those HS household names.  LIke Chester, this is a down year for them as they put a number of younger players on the floor to compete. But watch out because they will be ready in a year or so especially since we all know they always find a way to enroll talented players.  

St. Benedict's is a very interesting team. Their loses are confusing based on the talent they have. They have a sophomore point guard from Delaware who is nothing short of exceptional. Yes, Travon Duval is that good. He passes, he defends, he scores, he jumps out the gym, and he is in control!  To me this is far from one of St. Benedict's better teams. But this young man attending school two hours plus away from his home sure has a lot of people excited. He just might be the best lead guard in the state of NJ. Heck he might be the best lead guard on the East Coast! Yes, that good and that impressive!  Nate Pierre Louis is also a pretty good player and a sophomore as well. Problem is he would be considered much better if people would shut up and allow him to just play. Often when friends and family continue to build up a player the expectations are so high it would take a 25 point, 10 rebound, 10 assist day to meet them.  Young man is good with very good upside so the next 2 years will be quite interesting. Great to see my neighbor in Pa. Angelo, a nice sophomore, get into the game and actually score a basket on the last play of the game. 

St. Benedict's won the game and the score certainly is not even worthy of reporting!

The Exciting Games

Linden vs Gill St. Bernard

Years ago I attended a St. Patricks game and saw a small kid on the layup line and immediately thought he was the mascot. He was around 5 ft 5 inches and 85 pounds with a face that made him seem to be around 12 years old.  Fast forward and now that young man has grown up to be Otis Livingston Jr. the son of Otis Livingston Sr. the ex pro football player and current TV Sportscaster. Young Otis to me is the best senior point guard in the state of NJ.  As I often said about Kyle Anderson, with this kid even me at my older age could score 10 points in a game. He is calm, cool and a joy to watch. In fact after Travon Duval, he might be the best lead guard in the entire state. What a player this guy is for Coach Phil Colicchio and the Linden Tigers. 

Side bar: Heard some folks in Linden did not want kids playing for this outstanding Coach. How crazy is that? Linden should be thanking the Lord High Above for bringing this guy to Linden! With his brothers including the famous Chef Brother of TV fame and owner of restaurants all over NYC, Vegas,  and other parts on the country, Coach Colicchio showed why he is an elite coach. He has the Bob Hurley trait which says if you do not commit to D and team you do not play! And play they did beating an outstanding well coached and talented Gill. St. Bernard tean featuring Tyrus Battle who could be the number 1 HS player in NY, NJ, and all of the East Coast even though he is just a junior!  

Otis Livingston who did everything except sell pizza from the concession stand and his teammates including  Joshua Carter and Quentin Dixon, son of the legendary Walleye Dixon of  "And 1"  and Rucker Park fame who despite his huge body is light on his feet with an outstanding outside shot, were a pleasure to watch perform. Loved the Linden fans and coaching staff including the trainer who had his motor cycle leather jacket on with Linden Tigers on the back as if that was an actual motor cycle club. 

Every now and than a special player emerges with such ability that it does not matter what he scores or even does because you can tell that player is exceptional.  Tyrus Battle is such a player. Looking at him you can see Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas on his chest in the future though I sure hope he will consider Rutgers and Seton Hall as well. But as one knowledgable fan said to me as I was leaving the gym "Some Schools Need Not Even Apply!"  This kid is long, athletic, can shoot, is strong and seems like a great citizen! He also, like his entire team, plays great team basketball which says to me Duke has to be in his top 5. I love the Gill program and if you have never seen the school you need to visit. Beautiful campus with great facilities including a wonderful state of the art gym. With a coach who was a highly recruited player out of NYC and a D1 college player, kids attending there are in good hands.  

What a game this was with the teams going back and forth. But in the end a combination of Battle still not in top game condition and Livingston being the super player he is was too much for Gill to overcome. By the way schools need to recruit this Livingston kid because he really is that good and makes everyone around him better, Where is Delaware, Hofstra, Monmouth, Lasalle, Penn, Harvard, Bucknell, LeHigh, Lafayette, Iona, Manhattan and others? Honestly if April rolls around and a place like Wake Forest or Providence has a scholarship still available they need to jump on him as well! 

Trenton Catholic vs Hudson Catholic

Well, needless to say the Catholic school won the game. Two well coached teams playing and competing with Trenton Catholic coming out on top. Coach Nick Mariniello really has become an outstanding coach and motivator as he takes Hudson Catholic closer and closer to where they were during the Mike O'Koren and Jim Sparnakle years. Unfortunately yesterday they ran into a wonderful team with a roster full of talented players including McDonald's All American Malachi Richardson. 

Malachi has grown to around 6 ft 6 and strong enough to really compete on the high D1 level. He is every bit as good as we thought he would be when we saw him as a freshmen at Trenton Catholic prior to him leaving to attend Roselle Catholic for one year prior to returning home. Now a senior and headed to Syracuse of The Atlantic Coast Conference ( so strange to say) he is ready for prime time. Joined by dynamic junior Myles Powell, dynamic PG Marcus Floyd, and 6 ft 9 freshmen Richmond Arirguzoh who one day just might be a top 15 recruit nationally, this team makes Parochial B in South Jersey very interesting and enough for me to drive down to see some games in the state playoffs.  

Hudson Catholic unfortunately will have to play against the St. Anthony mystique which gives the Friars a 10 point lead before the game even starts. But hopefully Nassir Barrino and company will be more ready to play when that day arrives. 

On Saturday they made a great comeback with Coach Mariniello leading the charge but Trenton Catholic had a bit too much going for them on this day! 

The Patrick School vs Ewing HS

What an interesting season thus far for Ewing HS and its Female Coach Shelley Dearden who does an outstanding job!  Ewing came into the game 16 and 0 but ran into what just might be the most talented team man for man in the entire tri-state area.  

I loved Ewing entering the gym to warm up with full warm-ups including warm up pants, something you rarely see these day which is baffling to me. Unfortunately Ewing and its star player Trey Lowe, who is headed to Temple University, got off to a slower than usual start because  St. Patrick's came to play, something they do not always do as evidenced by some of the losses they have.  Amazing the talent on this team including the best big player potential wise in New Jersey,  Nicholas Richardson,  the 6 ft 11 man child who is only a sophomore after transferring to The Patrick School from St. Mary's HS of  Long Island. 

Nicholas Richardson is what I Imagine Darryl Dawkins was as a HS player in Florida. This guy is mobile, skilled, athletic, understands the game, has a nice shooting touch, rebounds, blocks shots and best of all is very mean and intimidating!!!  Big time prospect is an understatement!  This guy is the real deal even though the Patrick School rarely runs plays through him on the box, a place where he is almost unstoppable. 

All I can say is the game was terrific and exciting as Ewing actually tied the game late only to have Mr. Richardson take over scoring 6 points in a row with pure strength and determination.  

What a entire day and evening I had watching some great basketball and talking to people who truly enjoy the game.  I really have to again say how wonderful this event is despite them not giving out awards of any type nor t shirts to participants as they did years ago. 

Come back and check this blog out again when there is a huge game or event. Looking forward to the games at Kean University this week! 

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

What A Friday Evening in Roselle, New Jersey

They came from far and near to see what was supposed to be an exceptional basketball game. From Bergen and Passaic Counties up north to Essex County and even Morris, Sumerset and yes Hudson County as well.  They all came to Roselle Catholic HS to see two of the best HS teams in America play for Garden State bragging rights, though I still feel The Patrick School or St. Patricks will make a statement on that very soon.

Driving in from NEPA I did not know what to expect except a good hard fought game.  Having heard from friends that Roselle Catholic had a gym with old school charm and character made me eager to enter the building and see for myself if it was a HS version of Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke or something similar. Well, it was not Duke but it sure was unique and old school gorgeous not to mention packed to the rafters. Even Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins and Charles Smith the ex Knick were in attendance.  There were even some serious VIPs from entertainment, business, and industry in the building that people failed to recognize.

Its always amazing when I see guys walk into HS events free by flashing credentials for a blog or website they  rarely post on. I saw this yesterday as I patiently went inside and purchased a ticket 3 minutes before they stopped selling tickets,  This was at 4 PM and the game started at 6!  Little did I know there were games all day long and entering the gym which was packed with over 2000 people I had an opportunity to see a nice Plainfield Team get beat by Rutgers Prep. The joke in the stands was that it's a shame to get beat on the basketball court by people you will also work for one day!  Ok-Ok horrible joke sorry.  

The first game had a super talented Life Center with numerous D1 players beat up on Bloomfield Tech. Nuff said!  Now it was time for the final game and the game everyone came to see. St. Anthony's, who has the absolute best family and friends support group I have seen in years, entered the court first along with 6 Assistant coaches with 3 more sitting behind the bench. Somtimes I wonder if certain people would pay to be an assistant there?  Next came Roselle Catholic with fatigue T shirts on representing the purpose of the games,  which was supporting our troops. What a great cause!

St. Anthony's took control and their fans were going berserk making the gym seem like it was in Jersey City. If you came in blindfolded you would think you were at a game in Jersey City right near the Holland Tunnel (smile).  It seemed St. Anthony's who will always be well coached,  play great defense,    play hard, and play with class, was there to win it. Roselle Catholic and its star player Isaiah Briscoe had a rough 1st Quarter keeping up with the St. Anthony intensity and desire to win. But in the 2nd quarter it was the the Briscoe show as he closed it out like the player he is, despite some flashes of immaturity similar to what another player who John Calapari sent packing years ago exhibited,  Briscoe has all the moves and you can tell hours and hours have been spent in gyms working on his game.  But he sure has a nose for getting into it on the court, something he needs to learn to channel before he meets up with the wrong people.

Interesting that the highly rated freshmen, 6 ft 9 Nazren Reid, did not enter till late  in the first half but in my opinion  the complexion of the game changed after he entered despite him not scoring one point. It was his presence and energy and many noticed.  Of course the second half became more Briscoe and Chris Silva who really will be a terrific College Player if his coach Frank Martin does not yell at him every time he does something wrong.  Great place,  but there over Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. Johns?  Well, it is a great campus with a big time arena with all the bells and whistles associated with a SEC program.  

Many felt the game was over with 2 minutes left but as Bob Hurley, who could be the best HS basketball coach in the history of the game,  yelled "THIS GAME IS NOT OVER"   And truth be told it was not till the final whistle sounded with St. Anthony's coming back again to within 3 points with a chance for a tie.  But despite Briscoe missing multiple free throws, something no star guard should ever do, Roselle Catholic held on for the win with Chis Silva being huge down the stretch.

Tid Bits

Markis McDuffie really is better than advertised.

Jagan Mosley is a star in the making

Taurean Thompson really is a very good player

Briscoe is better than advertised but with attitude that could be good or bad depending

Chris Silva is special

Roselle Catholic equals  Great Players, very little offensive sets, good defense, unselfish play, and despite it all well coached!

St. Anthony's equals tradition, very good players, consistent defense, hard work, great sets, patience on both offense and defense, and very well coached!

AAU and Travel Team guys seem to have a lot of say these days.  Saw Roselle Catholic players communicating with summer coaches during the game.

Lastly, to the young man I knew when he played for Teaneck HS and was a good little Player but better yet a wonderful young gentlemen.  Just because you now are an Assistant Coach at Teaneck  and with The Playaz, an organization I think the world of who are doing wonderful things, do not change who you were because you never know who knows who. Follow the lead of those you work with who always exhibit class while being humble.

Finally, saw a guy who has done so much for the Newark NJ community being unnecessarily hassled by a Roselle NY Police Officer inside the game. Was it really that important for them to attempt to embarrass him? . Maybe the game should have been at Kean University!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Exciting Basketball

I have to start with the huge game between nationally ranked St. Johns and soon to be ranked Seton Hall if they can hold off Villanova on Saturday at the Prudential Center. A great win by Seton Hall in an atmosphere that seemed to be electric as I watched from the emergency room of my local hospital.  

We all know the final score and who did what. What I thought was great is the outstanding game atmosphere. On TV it seemed like at least 15,000 people similar to what Seton Hall often drew back in the days of Ramos, Bryant, Morton, Salley, Green, Advent,  and others (please excuse the spelling of some names) . I think it might have been right after the Mountain Arena bomb that did not work with SHU even losing  to Columbia in a home game at the Hockey Arena.  

Well, I always wanted to see SHU, SJU, and RU excel and have true natural rivalries that meant something other than just a win. SJU and SHU seem headed in the right direction but there still remains a question of how SJU will bounce back and what will SHU do if  VU beats them badly at home? If they can win more than they lose both SHU and SJU are headed for a possible NCAA Birth or at least a NIT birth.  Heading out to buy snacks for the huge game tomorrow.  

Rutgers is still  finding its way  but is 8 and 6 despite losing to Big 10 foe Northwestern.  Northwestern is the team they should always circle on the schedule as a must win along with a few others because we already know its about 4 or 5 teams they have almost zero chance of beating till the program improves in most areas. No need to again say all that I think they need.  I will say the coaches they have are fine and with the correct support facility and program wise the improvement will come sooner than later. Hard to even compete with what those other schools are showing to potential players. 

HS basketball was great on Monday evening in Paterson NJ. Hats off to the NJ Playaz Organization for putting on the Jingle Bells Jubilee and making all of the games competitive ones as opposed to matching schools who recruit from 10 states against local HSs who compete with players from the town. I think the Hoop Group, which is still a great organization, needs to change it up next season and get the great match ups with power teams going against power teams and good players matched with good players. $13 is a lot of money to see Roselle Catholic with 25 D1 players at the school (smile) matched up with Blair Academy who has a few good D3 players and two big future role players on the high D1 level.  The Playaz tournament had some great talent and wonderful match ups.  They even had decent concessions and gave out real meaningful trophy's

Loved watching Teaneck HS who I will see again Sunday in the New Years Jump-off at the same location, Paterson Charter School (the old Paterson Catholic) against East Orange who seems to have a pretty good team this year. I cannot wait till the well coached Teaneck Squad matures next season, though they could still win the Bergen Jamboree. Next year they could be a special bunch led by top 5 sophomore guard Deondre Washington and Top 5 freshmen guard Ja'Quaye James, who just happens to have a very famous hip hop Uncle.  Life Center might just be the 2nd most talented team in NJ man for man. Well,  maybe 3rd because The Paterson School is loaded also. Life Center is coached by Never Nervous Pervis, the ex Louisville Star and he has at least 4 high major players on the roster but the record despite beating a very young Teaneck in the consolation game, is nowhere near what it should be. Being an ex great player is not all thats needed to be a great coach. But in time this team could be rolling. How much time? I wonder! 

Paterson Eastside gave all it could against a very talented and well coached Hudson Catholic who seems to be jelling early in the season. Paterson Eastside could still possibly win the North group 4 championship based on some very good talent. Unfortunately it seems people in the stands realize how talented the players are but the players and coaches seem to not know.  Shakur Juiston is a beast who does not realize it. Every high major program between Connecticut and Virginia should watch him. If this kid goes to JUCO he could end up at Kentucky, UNLV, NC State, etc. Yes,  that much natural ability but so unselfish it makes the average fan scream. This young man needs to stop being afraid to be a star! If it does not come out in HS it certainly will come out in college. You cannot go by his stats you have to watch him perform.  Hudson Catholic has a few D1 players as well and seems to have quietly snuck up on everyone and if people blink this could be a future program on the same level nationally as St. Anthony's, Roselle Catholic, St. Benedict's, and the team that I feel just might be the best in NJ, The Paterson School. 

Speaking of St. Antony's they play a huge game Friday evening against Roselle Catholic at Roselle Catholic. Game time is 6 PM and I hope to be there by 4ish to secure a ticket.  Two things for sure are St. Anthony's will not back down and they will play defense! Roselle Catholic? They have the best player in the state and at least 6 or 7 others we will be watching on TV one day. 

If you have any comments feel free to contact me on this page or at

Monday, December 29, 2014

A very interesting weekend in local HS and College Hoops around NJ

HS Basketball

We had an opportunity to attend the Playaz Basketball Club Jingle Bells Jubilee at Paterson Charter HS on Saturday Evening.  Paterson Charter is the old Paterson Catholic HS and the games on Saturday were just as exciting as they were when Tim Thomas and Donald Hand led the Cougars into battle many years ago. In fact some of the same fans were in attendance for the games which really were so great we are going back today for the championship. Well, we really need to see a certain player play again because I want to make sure he is what I think he is, The Best Big Player in NY, NJ, or Pennsylvania and he does not attend a private or Catholic HS. More on him later!  

First game I saw was Life Center which is not a NJHSAA sanctioned program against Hudson Catholic HS . Interesting to see Pervis Ellison coaching Life Center.  You folks remember him. The ex NCAA National Championship MVP at Louisville! Or was he the National College Player of the Year? Well, he was very good and had a decent NBA run as well.  Hudson Catholic was coached by Nick Mariniello who has turned into an exceptional coach after many years learning on the job at various schools.  Guy gets his players to compete, runs great offenses, and defenses, wins, and gets kids into college all while looking like a movie star on the sidelines.

Well the game went back and forth with at least 7 or more D1 caliber players on the court. Hudson Catholic won the game despite Life Center having a roster full of D 1 players including Never Nervous Pervis, as they called him years ago, Son Malik Ellison, a 6 ft 6 Sr. guard who could give Isaiah Briscoe a run on the court based on size and ability. This young man has all the tools which is why many super high majors are recruiting him as they did his sister who also plays the game.  SHU, RU, and others need to be all over this young man. Life center has at least 4 other potential big-time recruits as well including a point guard, Traci Carter,  being wooed by the local high major teams after de-committing from The University of Delaware, where he is actually from.  Back to Malik Ellison!  I am really not convinced he is not the best point guard in the state of NJ,  though he currently plays out of position.  Cannot wait till tonight when he plays the consolation game against Teaneck and their great sophomore guard Leandre Washington who also is projected as a high major recruit.

Hudson Catholic also has some terrific players including 6 ft 8 Sammy Friday who could be a mid major or a high major depending on how hard he competes. When he gets after it he looks terrific and when he watches he looks like a good MAAC player at best.  Which Sammy will show tonight against a player with great potential but lacking consistency.   Yes,  I an talking about Shakur Juiston a 6 ft 7 Guard Forward with nice skills and ability.  This kid was nothing short of terrific and if he has grades and could be more consistent he could  go anywhere in America based on what he did on Saturday evening. He was so good I HAVE TO GO BACK TONIGHT to see if he really is as good as he looked or was his performance a one time thing.   I walked out of the gym super impressed at this Paterson Eastside Senior who dunked off the rebound, dunked in traffic, hit the open J, passed very well, understood the game, blocked shots, and sold food at the concession stand at halftime. Tonight will definitely tell the entire story! was his performance something that can be repeated? 

Shout out to Teaneck HS who did a great job despite being so young. I am telling anyone who listens that Teaneck HS will be a state and regional power next season and that does not mean they will not be very good the remainder of this season.  But with super talented guards like sophomore sensation Leondre Washington and Freshmen sensation Ja'Quaye James,   Teaneck has a very bright future and seem very well coached by veteran coach Jerome Smart.  One note is the freshmen needs to stop whining and complaining to the Refs during games!  Calls will not be changed!

Lastly on the organizer Jim Solmon,  and the entire hosting organization. It’s a pleasure supporting a program that does so much for so many people without a lot of corporate sponsors.  This program has sent hundreds of kids to college as well as acted as a conduit for higher education via tournaments and events for many years. A huge thank you also for keeping the price of admission so reasonable at a time others are charging $13 or more for games that are far from competitive. I saw great games on Saturday and was able to stop and eat on the way home.  And thanks for having actual FREE PROGRAMS though we need magnifying glasses to read them (smile).  

College Basketball

Seton Hall won easily over Maine in the type of game that would have been much more of a struggle for past Seton Hall Teams.  Now those with amnesia need to refer back to losses to FDU and similar schools, schools they should never ever lose to never mind winning by a few points.  The win over Maine is supposed to be what happens when a Big East team goes against a team from a lower conference on the East Coast.  In fact it should happen against most lower level conference teams that do not have Wichita State or Gonzaga on the front of the uniforms.  SHU is showing better consistency than they have shown in many years.  The real tests will be St. Johns and Villanova, and not just based on the final outcome, but by the teams approach to the game and level of competitiveness. 

St. Johns destroyed Tulane University just as they should based on all the great talent they did flips and tricks to get on campus.  The days of the local products dominating the roster is officially over with so many kids signing on from places a plane ride away. They really have become a national team by the way they recruit. I know they have worn sneakers for a great cause in the past, but now it seems they also need to wear sneakers for all the running across the country they do to convince players as only they can do to attend SJU.  Right now looking at their schedule it seems they are undefeated.  But the same source, Rivals, had Seton Hall undefeated last week and they had a few losses.  Again the SHU game will be a wonderful test for both teams!

Rutgers wins by a single point at Monmouth! I am telling anyone willing to listen that Monmouth is a true sleeping giant in college basketball on the East Coast.  No way should a Big 10 school win by 1 at Monmouth. Those are the easy games before they play Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, and others who are a hard out every singe night. Those programs put so much money in the basketball programs with private jets, private charters, wonderful facilities, and in many case unlimited recruitment budgets.  Eddie Jordan will only be super successful if he gets the resources. He has a good staff in place including a barracuda recruiter who will get them in doors not only in the USA but also in Europe as well.  I still believe RU will be a wonderful program after recovering from years of program abuse from the inside via a meddling AD and coaches not prepared to handle the stress of big-time basketball at the time.  

FDU info is up!!! They are 4 and 6 after losing the big game to St. Peters on December 23.   I did not see that great CPA James Brown at the Teaneck HS Basketball Game Saturday night to get the full story (smile).  Next 3 games on the road before facing powerful St. Francis of Brooklyn coached by one of the true great people in the game despite being the hardest job, yes even harder that FDU, in the country based on location, campus, and facilities. That’s a home game so I might sneak and purchase a ticket for this one to see just how far they have come as a program.

Back to Monmouth and what a great job that could be!  I really hope the guys there get it together in the near future but that building needs to be ¾ filled every games with winning basketball.  Ditto The University of Delaware, which has a class act coach in Monte Ross but the folks there are still waiting for the next Mike Brey.  Honestly I would bet sometimes Mike Brey wishes he was still there as opposed to the pressure of winning at ND.  But to me these are the two best mid major jobs on the East Coast based on facilities and more!

A bit of a struggle thus far for a great guy in John Dunn over at St. Peters University. But if they know what I know they will get him to sign an extension because he does it with smoking mirrors on a campus two or three blocks long with a big HS gym. In fact maybe  FDU needs to get their coach signed for a few extra years because it sure is not a reflection on him when he has little to work with budget or support wise.  I still wonder if the FDU President knows they have a D1 basketball team? 

Fordham with a super classy staff  really needs more time than 2 more years.  Tom Picora (sp) is one of the best people you will ever meet coaching  college basketball  At a school that frowns on junior college transfers and requires far above average grades to be admitted, they do a great job and worthy of a new 5 year contract from the new AD who hopefully understands the challenges. John Wooden would have had a difficult time. Ditto all the current super star college coaches earning a million dollars plus a year.

Manhattan according to many is the best 4 and 7 team in America. They play extremely hard and do it for 40 minutes a game with no time off to relax.  This is the team people hate to play because they will compete every day and every minute.  No doubt the respect the coach has despite the negative and unnecessary PR from thus past summer.  Manhattan along with Iona remains sexy places to attend if you love playing or watching great basketball. 

Rider 6 and 6 with mirrors lol. Horrible non D1 facilities but very good coaching and hard working student athletes make things work out.  And remember they had a 1st round draft choice to the NBA a few years back meaning he learned to play better after signing with Rider. By the way what happened to the new facility?

LIU is 4 and 7 and that’s about right considering the honeymoon is over and they cannot sneak up on anyone else. I still say the new gym should be called Ray Haskins Field house or Arena based on him taking the Blackbirds to the NCAA and NIT two consecutive years in a row before he was let go in a true unfair way by people who schemed on him. Place was rocking with fans with applications for admission at an all-time high during his time there coaching.

This brings me to the unfair treatment of many coaches. Now we all know there is a lot of cheating going on across the board with players getting paid through an outside source with the coach acting as if he has no idea.  We all know about the transcript stuff at many places. We all know about the Mickey Mouse courses many kids take often completing 4 or 5 years with 25 true credits only to return to the streets or neighborhoods they left as stars without a degree. We all know about the illegal payments by boosters while kids are on campus. So much going on yet if the program is winning no one cares.  So with that said I still look at guys like Gary Waters at Rutgers, Louis Orr at SHU, Ray Haskins at LIU, and current guys like Tom Picora at Fordham, Eddie Jordan at RU, and yes even Kevin Willard at SHU. Oh these guys could have or could do some minor things but not on the scale as others. Yet they are expected to win right away. And in the cases of the first 3 mentioned it has taken years to recover from them departing.  I say all this to say people need to be patient with coaches and not expect an NCAA championship this year. Not at SJU, not at Seton Hall, and yes not at FDU.  Look for improvements and hold the marketing people accountable for butts in the seats just as you hold coaches accountable for wins and losses.  More on this next time!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Today starts the official 2014-2015 version of LFBallonhoops, a basketball blog covering HS and College Basketball in NJ, NY, and even on occasion Northeast Pennsylvania.  This blog is considered by many controversial and extremely opinionated. Truth be told those who believe that are absolutely correct and its something we pride ourselves on. 

This year we are fortunate to have secrete eyes on players, coaches, boosters, supporters and even parents from Pennsylvania to Connecticut. Please note we love telling it like it is and are more interested in the story behind the box score than just reporting who won or lost. This is a blog that will highlight the good, the bad, and even the ugly of HS and College Basketball. Please be aware of the hidden messages and hints as we talk about all thats happening we feel might be of interest to you. 

A huge part of this blog will always be talking about the skills and abilities of many players others give zero or no credit to. Players who just might be better players in college than they were in HS. Players like Ronald Roberts who had a great career at St. Joe's of Philly after St. Johns had him de-comit from his athletic scholarship. Is it only us or could SJU, SHU, and RU not have benefitted from the player he turned out to be.  

Before getting into the meat and potatoes of todays blog please note we are more and more surprised at the large number of foreign players now paying HS basketball in the United States especially the state of New Jersey! Who is paying the tab? Where do they live? How did they get here? Now we sure are not anti providing opportunities but just how serious and how much money is involved when we see so many international players being recruited so that a team can win a HS championship? Amazing  how the  best HS player in America for n2014-15  is actually from Australia and he signed with LSU. LSU? Ummmmmm! Very interesting that they beat out Kentucky and other heavy hitters in many different kind of ways.   

Speaking of Kentucky we need to say we certainly are John Calipari fans. You see he is only doing what the rules as they are written allow him to do. He is smart enough to know how to work the system. We are also fans of him as a person based on the many great deeds he has done for so many away from basketball. Even as the Head Coach at UMass he bussed in young non basketball playing children for special college days to learn about the college experience. This guy, though a true win at all costs guy, has done a lot of good things that many have no idea about!

This season we will talk more about the slick not caring coaches as well as street agents, basketball crooks, and get over artists. We will even give hints about who is cheating and who is getting what for families and friends without saying names. You just have to figure out, and it will not be hard, who is who in the posting.  AAU and Travel team influences? We have it covered and truth be told some who you might think are bad are actually outstanding and some you feel are great are really up to no good. 

So stay tuned and hopefully we can have something for you once or twice a week schedule and news permitting. 

Hoop Group Tipoff  

Before getting into the actual information regarding the games that were held at West Orange HS over the past weekend I have to again ask how or why do they charge $12 and $13 dollars for tickets to a HS  basketball event!  This HS basketball thing is now a huge business and folks are really getting very wealthy. Why be a Doctor or Attorney when you can do basketball stuff and get rich. 

Also interesting that Mike Rice has gotten a second chance getting an opportunity to be a Hoop Group Executive and thats a great thing. I wonder if he is cursing, and throwing balls at little kids as they workout with him.  Interesting how so many who dogged him were  hugging him at the event. Some folks are so phony! But Mike did not seem to have a care in the world and will most likely be back on the college scene very soon screaming and yelling at a place that will not care. 

One of the people who shares information with us was in attendance on Saturday and said the turnout was less than great. The one team that totally impressed him was Gil St. Bernard who actually played without their  best player. Our person feels Gil St. Bernard could be the second best HS Team in NJ. 

On Sunday

Same cast of characters but different year. $13 admission wow!  

Watched the Patrick School who had uniforms with St. Patrick's on the front. St Pats or The Patrick School was  huge with  a few African players. But than again Bergen Catholic has an Italian import Pier Oliva as well and he really is a nice player Watch for him to be a very good college player at St. Joseph's University in time. So many were saying he is overrated and soft, etc. Well,  what we saw was a guy extremely skilled with great basketball IQ.  He actually made every player on his team better by being on the court.  Seems to me Teaneck will not have an easy time winning the Bergen Jamboree. 

Interesting at the game the same Hounds and street agents out in force. Wow do they ever retire? Deals and more taking place with many D1 coaches in attendance getting earfuls from want to be coaches or basketball hustlers. 

Interesting how the African players  on St. Patricks were smiling and happy at opportunities they are getting while home grown kids take so much for granted They seems so happy to be a part of something so organized and good.  

Holland Mack ex Paramus Catholic and D1 College player at either LeHigh or Bucknell  is the current Paramus Catholic Coach. Nice kid but trying too hard to fit in with  guys who  could not care less about him or his program.  When he wins in the future they will embrace him inviting him into their circle. Good luck to him! 

Just watching I had to wonder  why would anyone attend some of these High Schools who are almost like store front schools with great teams? What about the HS experience? 

Bergen Catholic still only 2 or so players of color. Oh well!!! 

Nicholas Richards St Patrick's sophomore has great upside and will be a extremely high level recruit in the furure. Everyone will want that kid who is about 6 ft 8 or 6 ft 9 with toughness and skills!
Watched Newark Eastside ve St. Anthony's.  Newark Eastside is a pretty good HS academically believe it or  not. The team has tradition and the coaches are really doing a nice job. But whats up with the horrible uniforms and appearance taking the court like a rec. team at the local Y with 55 year old men with any old sweats on. Where were the team sneakers and warm-up shirts? Horrible look for some great kids who played so hard in a loss. Of course St. Anthony;s who had 16 players dressed, looked like the top level program they are.   St Anthony;s will always be a great program because they always will play hard and play defense not to mention they are well taught and even better coached.   One question I do have is does Bob Hurley ever sincerely smile at anyone?  Marquis McDuffie  heading to Wichita State. Special. player but on past St. Anthony teams would have been a great role guy but still D1 bound.   

Watched the 1st half of Roselle Catholic vs Blair Academy. Now everyone knows Blair is a ritzy residential boarding school that costs around $40,000 to attend. Their teams are always good and well coached This year they have two good players up front with one signing with Villanova and the other with Notre Dame. Now thats two big-time recruits! Unfortunately the opponent this day was Roselle Catholic led by national top 5 player Isaiah Briscoe and what a player he is. Well worth all the effort Kentucky put into recruiting him. Well worth all they did to get him!!!  This guy is really the next big thing from the Garden State! We would have loved seeing him play with the super Freshmen on his team but due to injury  the freshmen did not play but watching him walk you know he is gifted.   Roselle number 5 or 6  nationally but uniformed like they are number 10000. What's up with  that?  Chris Silver who signed with South Carolina is pretty good and makes me wonder how he was allowed to get away from local high D1 teams? 

NJ Top HS Teams (based on first few games 

1. Roselle Catholic
2. The Patrick School
3..Gil St. Bernard
4. St. Anthony's 
5. Pope John XXiii
6. Trenton Catholic
7. Hudson Catholic
8. Linden
9. Ewing
10 Patterson Eastside

College Information

The college season has been here for a few weeks and some things never change. Tried to get information on FDU from Rivals site and FDU is the only D1 team where the schedule and information is not posted. Did they drop basketball and not send me a notice? Are they now D2? Are they quietly closing down without letting us know? Well, thank God all the other programs have information showing. And yes we plan on attending an FDU game this season as well as many other college games in the area. 

St. Johns seems to be the best team in the area and all they have done to get players seems to be paying off. They are currently 11 and 0 and just might be NCAA bound with players from all over the country. Looking forward to some great battles this year as well as many more great HS players being persuaded to attend school there. Great start and again the hard work has paid off!  

Seton Hall University has a special thing going on. They have only lost two games and one was expected based on it being an away game in the Midwest in a packed arena. But here is where it gets tricky. How will they recover from the Georgia loss? I do feel they will be just fine and with so many young players the future is extremely bright. Now its about preparation and  mental toughness!

Rutgers really has a ways to go but I am sure they can get there with Eddie Jordan.  So much to put inn order from practice facilities to a better arena environment that will attract a certain type basketball recruit. St. Peters loss cannot happen in the future because those are the games a Big 10 team is supposed to win. St. Francis Pa.!  Not supposed to happen! Lots of work to be done here across the board.  Maybe they should not charge folks for tickets this season to start developing a great fan base.  

St. Peters is 4 and 7 and who knows what the  future will hold for them. Not much of a campus especially when kids visit places like Siena, Albany, Binghamton, Manhattan, Fordham, and more. Even FDU is huge in comparison. I still remember the great teams at the Jersey City Armory prior to them building a gym.  Waiting for the huge St. Peters vs FDU game! 

Monmouth is interesting at 5 and 5 and a coaching staff more athletically talented  than the current team led by HC King Rice. Heck of a name King Rice!  Well,  will the King lead them to the promised land? Time will tell but we all know that many hugh D1 Assistants from all over America are watching this program carefully because it could one day be a Gonzaga type program based on facilities, area attractions including beaches, and a potentially large fan base. Guys are drooling for this job! Hope it all comes together for them out in Long Branch! 

NJIT has turned it around as maybe the only independent program in America. The coach needs to get a medal  or at the least an interview for the next mid major opening. Playing in a 1200 seat gym and with kids taking real classes they are really over achieving and moving in he right direction. 

Binghamton made more of a situation than it needed to do years ago and just might never recover as a basketball program. The Coaches should never have been fired years ago!  Not sure if they even care but it was an on the rise program years ago. 

Fordham with a wonderful coaching staff has a hard job. Recruiting kids to Fordham Road and playing in a facility that they attempt to make seem like a version of the Philly Palestra or Cameron Indoor Stadium  but really just an older gym with some renovations. Yet they continue to get kids who want great basketball and great academics. Currently 3 and 6 with a very young team including many international players. But losing to The University of Massachusetts LOWELL? 

Iona really has a very good coaching staff and they seem to get it done year after year after year. Without a doubt this could be a premier program with a larger campus and premier facilities. Someone will eventually snatch the coach up for a higher level program. I would not be surprised if he interviewed for SJU if Steve Lavin ever left. 

Manhattan has a coach who I have watched since he played for  the Gaucho Junior Team many years ago. he always had that swagger. But what happened to the great hair style from years ago? OK thats another post! Manhattan is 4 and 7 and I would bet young Steve as he was called years ago has dreams or nightmares about life in South Florida. He just might be in Riverdale a few more years and that could be a blessing to him and Manhattan College

Please know we have not covered all the area teams and will be adding the others at a later date along with more information on FDU (smile).  The season is now in full swing as is the HS season with so many great games coming up. Lots of recruitment talk and observations from HS events and college games coming your way soon. Stay tuned!

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