Lots of stuff to discuss today. But I will do all I can to keep this short because game times are a few hours away. Lets start with a little college basketball before getting into the Prime Time Shootout which is scheduled for this weekend.
I have to give props to my guy Al Skinner. He is like the ever ready battery. He just keeps going and going and going. Al has done a remarkable job at Boston College of the ACC. Many thought Boston College would be an ACC doormat for a few years. Never happened that way because Al knows talent and is stubborn about it. No one can tell him a kid cannot play if he feels otherwise. He takes kids that are not even recruited in their home areas and makes them players and contributors. He does this while never ever kissing up to anyone or any organization. Al is the guy that went into ACC country and recruited a few kids who were not getting ACC looks and those kids became stars and good enough to be drafted into the NBA. Al is a winner!!
A bit more about Al. I have known Al for 20 plus years. He is a straight up guy who tells you like it is while remaining a friend. He took the long road to coaching stardom. I still remember Al, Bernard Tomilin, former Hofstra Great and current Old Westbury College Coach, and I driving up to the Boston Shootout 20 plus years ago. Al really wanted a college coaching job bad. On the way he called the Marist Coach numerous times seeking a spot on that staff. While we were there the call came and Al was hired as an Assistant at Marist. He went on to be a coach at Rhode Island and even turned the program around after being killed in the press for many years. He got it done so well that Boston College came calling. At BC he continued what was started and has made BC a great program with guys some have given up on.
Still remember a kid with the last name Roberts (Tony?) who was a top 50 player from RI or Conn. coming up to me and Al at the ABCD camp as we talked at the concession stand. He gave Al a huge hello and all Al did was say "hi Tony how you doing." As the kid walked off I said to Al "that was Tony Roberts and he seemed like he wants to talk to you." Al said it was illegal and besides he was not going to kiss up to alot of folks to get that kid. Also remember him taking John Oats from a HS in NJ (Don Bosco). Folks all said big John was horrible, etc. Glad I was one of the guys who said he would be fine. Because he has been a very good contributor at BC and will make good money in Europe.
So to AL Skinner, this diet coke I am drinking right now is to you. Lastly, wonder of he would come home and coach St, Johns if Norm leaves? ummmmmmmmmmmm!
Everyone says Paul Hewitt would be on a short list for St. Johns. I wonder? One thing for sure it looks like his teams are not doing as well in recent years. But when you recruit one and out kids with advisors in place this will happen. Paul just might be very interested in returning to the tri-state area right about now.
How about Tom Picora? A wonderful guy who I like very much. But with a 7 and 14 current record do you think he wishes he would have interviewed and accepted a job from SHU if it was offered two years ago? He was the one that EHU wanted according to many in the know. Now he is fighting to have a 500 record at Hofstra. Word was he was waiting for St. Johns to eventually open. If it does open is he the choice at this point coming off this season? Great guy who really is better than his record though. Next year will be a better one for him and Hofstra. But the next time he has some interest he will run to the meeting.
My buddy Bobby Holford had missed opportunities as well. I will talk about his story tomorrow. But he remains one of the best unemployed coaches on the scene. More later.
Great games tonight. St. Johns vs RU should be called the battle of the cellar. Both teams are really better than folks think, but they both have lots of room for improvement. What happens tonight is everyone's question. Will RU win it at home or will the SJU kids, who are tougher to me, come into Piscataway and take the game? I hate to predict because I can be a jinx. So lets just say it is so close it could end in a tie. SHU plays ND at the PRU Center. My first question is will ND Fans be louder than SHU Fans? This is a huge game for SHU and very winnable. Remember, SHU has a winning record and are playing at home. But we all know ND has played well this season. Great game in Newark, interesting game in Piscataway.
Duke vs NC from Chapel Hill. Yes the game is in ritzy and somewhat exclusive Chapel Hill. And if you have ever been to Durham, home of Duke, you would understand. But we all know that this is more than the number 2 and 3 teams in the nation playing. It's the game against the school down the road. It's the Hatfields and the McCoy's. I will definitely be watching this. And as a bonus, Dick Vitale will be doing the color unless John Celestine is a late sub for him lol. Just kidding. I think John has stepped his game up and doing a much better job. He does have a future in TV in my opinion.
Prime-Time Shootout is this week. games at Rutgers on Friday should be ok if you want to see great players in non competitive games. Saturday is a different story. Those games in Trenton NJ will be great. I look forward to watching while eating those great fries they serve. More on the event later.