Monday, April 7, 2008

SHU, AAU Basketball and Playez Spring Fling

NEWS FLASH!!!!!!! NEWS FLASH!!!!!!! Just added

Just heard from two very reliable sources that this Bobby Gonzalez thing has legs to it. They informed me it was more that people know and understand. They also said info leaked to paper and other stff has happened all year and alot involved certain people going after the ADs job all year. Not sure about all of this but I wanted to mention it. One person went as far as saying Tim Welch would be considered for the position if Bobby is let go! All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HOPE THIS IS WRONG and MY SOURCES ARE NOT GETTING THE STORY RIGHT. I just cannot imagine this happening.

AAU Basketball

This is such a hard thing to write about because of the various types of people associated with AAU and Rec basketball. I really should not say AAU because most of the good teams are really just grassroots travel teams playing in 6 to 10 travel tournaments between April and August. So from this point on I will refer to these teams as Travel Teams. Before talking about the Playez Spring Fling, I need to address the different types of travel teams.

Local Teams with Local Players

These travel teams usually have a few Dads or Moms (yes Moms and they do GREAT JOBS)coaching. Each kids family has to pay a certain amount of money for the season and the kids do fund raisers to earn the rest of the money needed. These teams often play hard but have difficulty competing. And little do they know, they are often put in tournament brackets on courts no one is really watching. But it is a great experience for the kids that participate.

Regional Travel Teams

Team's from areas like Rockland County, Parts of Connecticut, Suburban NJ, and even NYC compete hard with out the players or funding that many others have, These teams seek sponsors and sometimes wealthy individuals will cover expenses for the various local and regional events they participate in. But again it is usually parents paying for the hotel and the kids pay for their own food.

Travel Teams That Charge

Big business for some teams. They get wealthy or middle class kids to play and charge a nice fee for participation. They often have a few true players on these teams but those kids do not pay to participate. It could be 12 kids and 10 are paying $2500 for the season to cover expenses for a few local events and maybe two tournaments. These programs also have 5 different teams in various age groups.

National Travel Teams

At any tournament you can tell who the national travel teams are. They are the teams with all the nice gear and matching sneakers on players and even in some cases on all the parents. It could be a wealthy ex player funding the program, or a sneaker company. But they are funded well. These teams even now have meal money for the kids that are recruited to these teams via home visits etc. In fact, some teams from California, NY, NJ, Chicago, and DC/VA have kids on the roster from a considerable distance. It is better now since a rule went into effect stating kids had to live within so many miles of where the team was headquartered. Prior to that teams had players flying in from the west coast, east coast, and in a few cases I hear kids came from other countries.

Elite National Travel Teams.

About 5 to 8 of these teams across the country. They get the best of the best and usually win in front of hundreds of college coaches during tournaments held during open recruitment periods. They have all that is mentioned above plus great travel and hotel accommodations. Money seems to just flow from these teams based on corporate sponsorships. A few local teams in this category would be: Metro Hawks (though the talent is down thus far this season), NY Gaucho's, DC Assault, DC Blue Devils, NJ Playez, Va. Squires, Boo Williams from Virginia, and Baltimore Select. I could have the NY Panthers and New heights from NYC on this list as well. Just not sure of talent this season. But New Heights is definitely a first class operation and the NY Panthers are run by a good guy ( I KNOW!!) but do not seem to have the number of teams others do.

So now that I have provided an overview, allow me to give additional information.

Travel Team Coaching and Player Development

People might disagree but the teaching and coaching by travel team coaches in many cases is better than what kids get at the high schools they attend. In fact, many of the coaches are also HS coaches. I have seen some horrible HS coaches just doing it for the pay. Especially In NYC public schools! But I have seen travel team coaches super organized. And in most cases it is no money to be made. It is really just about assisting kids with just a dash of ego attached. It was different years ago, but now players get better during summer months if they are not with an elite or hard working coach similar to those at St. Anthony, St. Benedicts, Rice, Mt. Vernon, Lincoln, Kennedy in NYC and NJ, St. Patrick's, Cardoza, Boys and Girls, and many of the Philly Schools.

I will say some of the guys coaching Travel Teams are developing even greater egos than ever before. And that is unfortunate. One coach from the NY Gauchos walked past me as I spoke with a NY Panther Coach at the Playez Spring Fling. As I tried to get his attention he walked right by us looked in our eyes and refused to even say hello. He was so caught up in coaching his travel team. I always liked this guy going back 12 years when I watched him coach young kids. Now he acts as if he is the man based on coaching at Rice HS as an Assistant and with The Gauchos. Sad guy if he thinks its about him now. Little does he know that many D1 coaches are paid to treat you like you are really important. I bring this up because this guy and others are VERY GOOD COACHES but now seem caught up in the hype! They will learn when it is way too late.

The Playez Spring Fling

A few people do not like the organizer of this event. And by few it could only be 1-3 people. Why? Only they know! Because Stevie Wonder again has spoken to me about what he has seen while observing this guy. I for one think the organizer has done more for kids in NJ than 50 HS Coaches combined. Is he a friend of mine? Yes he is but we do not socialize. All I know is the facts and nothing but the facts. This guy cares about all the kids that come through the Playez basketball program and even more who do not. He is not attempting to get a coaching job out of the deal, nor is he trying to get rich. He is one of the guys who goes out and raises money for his programs through dinners, tournaments, and even selling hotdog's at Hoop Group Events years ago. I love going to his events and PAYING MY $10 because I know it is a great cause. I also will always be in his corner because I have personally had him in my corner during rough mental times. There is so much more to him than what meets the eye. He should be getting special awards from the Gov. of NJ for his work with youth. I think he and his entire staff should be commended for the work they do with kids in NJ, Delaware, and Pa.

My Thoughts on the Tournament

I traveled to Rutgers Saturday morning, paid my $10, and watched very little basketball because it was not set up for watching as much as it was set up for playing. No programs (I have spoken to the organizer about this) made it difficult to know who was who. Luckily I knew some of the kids.

games were all over the place and the teams seemed balanced. I was really impressed with the DC Assault program that had strong teams from the 15's on up. They were uniformed and sneakered down from the players to the coaches. And they ran stuff! The Playez have a similar type program and looked equally impressive.

I only stayed for a few hours and even left late because I needed to see a buddies 6 ft 9 Freshmen son play for DC Assault. And yes he can ball!!! A future top 20 kid at the least with development. But before leaving here are a few observations:

New York City teams are very weak for national type programs. Metro hawks (ex Riverside) has really feel off from what I saw. NY Panthers had nice players but no one that special like years ago. Did not see new Heights play but hey looked impressive standing around as did a young Dingle Lightening team. What I think is happening, and Robert White who does NYCNJHOOPS and more pointed this out to me, is there are so many teams in NYC the talent per team is watered down. This could be good and bad. Good because more kids get to play. But bad because they are less competitive.

NJ Playez also seem to have a team in New England called the New England Playez. same uniforms, etc.

Saw Lloyd Daniel's, ex playground, HS, and College legend had a team in the tournament. This guy is a genius when it comes to basketball. Just watching him was great and it made me wonder why more folks do not get involved after their playing days are done.

Tom Konchalski was in the house with a briefcase. Never saw him with one in the past. I thought it was a laptop but he informed me it was not. Tom still does it by hand.

Still love the guys who never played a game of basketball running around as talent evaluators. One said to me in the bathroom he was running the event with the organizer and doing player evaluations for ESPN. Go figure lolol!

John Carroll, ex SHU Asst. was also there. same great guy with a great personality.

Saw alot of NJ players during my short stay. Some are a bit overrated but have time to develop. One kid in particular I could not wait to see. . But again the guys evaluating need to have a better understanding. Where are the ex coaches and players when it comes to this?

In a few days I will post my AAU article again. It questions if AAU is good or bad. I heard a rumor on Saturday that the NCAA and NBA would be taking this over. Stay tuned!


John said...

LF, you have all sorts of wonderful comments after the first bit. It will be impossible to focus on what you wrote because the first bit is - to put it as neutrally as possible - astonishing.

At this point, I believe it seems likely that all the forces involved are in motion and engaged - all we non-players can do is sit and watch the train wreck and see what happens.

There is nothing left to do but pray for wisdom and patience.

darrenmaloney said...

1. On Bobby G....just ridiculous, but not surprising. Bobby needs to get over himself. They celebrated his leaving the MAAC Conference because he wore EVERYONE down. Just exhausted everyone and had no allies left. Apparently done the same at SHU in record time...or did he?
If he survives this he needs some serious counseling. Talk to mentors, people outside hoops and perhaps a psychologist. He is too good a coach to self destruct like this. Should sit with Tranghese as well. Not my favorite guy, but when he sours on a coach, the end is near. He has seen a lot come and go.
There are a lot of coaches out there wackier than BG and a lot less talented that have survived the business and been very successful. They never had Joe Quinlin as there boss either! That is the problem.
All that being said I believe BG is being royally screwed by JQ and SHU. This is small time, classless stuff that NOBODY deserves. Change of coaches or not, they have damaged their program greatly. SHU is a school that needs EVERY edge they can get to compete in the BE. They need to support their coach every single day in a big way until the day they let him go. There should NEVER be silence or negativity. You keep things in the family ..always.All they are showing is that JQ and SHU are small-time. They are ruining every bit of tradition they have built over the years. Forget about how BG can you allow your AD to behave in this manner? How Quinlin is handling this is THE story ... not BG and his transgressions.

darrenmaloney said...

2. I'm too exhausted and infuriated about whats happening at SHU to go off on the leader of the Playaz. But as you say LF....facts are facts and there are plenty. He is no good. Horrible role model and the only thing that the Gov of NJ should do is launch an investigation into his "nonprofit" organization and a review of his tax returns (if there are any).
Bad guy surrounded by more bad guys and BAD BAD BAD for kids and the whole hs and college basketball scene.

darrenmaloney said...

3. Ok last thing. It isn't my blog (although I'm thinking of doing one).
Congrats to Jim Engels on landing the NJ Tech job. Really good guy who has certainly paid his dues. He will get it done. Nice to see the powers to be do their homework and make a great choice and perfect fit. Now support him and watch what happens!! coach on the market is Jim O'Brien. Not even close. As good as it gets. Great guy and great coach.

LFBall said...

Hopefully Gonzo will survive. Darren, I love your posts. Please continue to leave them often. I for one would read your blog daily because I know you have alot to say. Plus what you say is both interesting and entertaining.

John thanks again for all your imput.

I also know Jimmy. Good guy who will have to work very hard to get it done at NJIT.

Lastly. Did you really see me at RU Darren?

Richard said...

Cool to see you haven't dropped "off the face..." LF. And, always interesting to read your insights on AAU and traveling team ball. ALWAYS.
In fact, many of us are still waiting for the "expose". Your voice would be respected by many. In fact, I'd be happy to help with any aspects of such cause: gmail me if you'd like an editor/researcher, etc.
That said, one problem I've always noticed (and it may be just me): you've always played all sides of the fence. In a perfect world, that is a great thing, especially when one has the power to do so. You R all about metro hoops/playez, and that is noble in sooo many ways...BUT, many have used you, and your non-aligned feelings, against you, and, you know it. In fact, your "non-aligned" feelings seem to end up being your undoing, since you always speak your mind and back your kids, so, when all is said and done, you end up NOT being non-aligned after all.
Your opinions on hirings, race, recruiting, the players/student-athletes, the BIZ, the behind the scenes, etc? They ALL become your own undoing when it comes to pop opinion. But hey, I AGREE WITH YOU!!!!! In fact, I do that myself: never going with "the flow" or following pop (or kiss arses on bulletin boards) general "accepted" opinion.
So, more power to you LF, and good to see you and happy to read your blog. Call me a new customer...sort of speak. ;)
You've made the right choice leaving the bulletin board world and starting your own blog. In fact, it's something I've thought of myself. Sadly, my previoius XP, as well as my general health, have worn me down over time, and the energy is generally lacking now. But the entertainment aspect of events such as those of very recent times always end up being a great "pick me up" if you know what I mean bro.
Best of luck and keep up the good work.


LFBall said...


Thanks for the great comments. I have so much to share and say somtimes I just wait for the right opportunity. So much right with HS and College basketball. However there is so much wrong as well.

In regards to me being neutral and on the fench about certain issues is so far from the truth. If anything I say how I feel regardless of my feelings towards programs or individuals. The only thing I continue to stress is I am not Pro any college team but very pro certain individuals.

I love the job the Hurleys do. I love the job Boyle does. I love what Mo Hicks does although he seems nowhere as involved as the guys previously mentioned. I also love what Camino does at Mt. Vernon.

On the players side, I am very loyal to kids I know and have worked with. That does not mean I do not call it as I see it. But my past relationship dictate me being supportive and loyal.

AAU wise. I am hardly on the fench. But because I know alot of stuff about many of the guys running programs I am in a better position to say who I think is good as well as do a true evaluation. So when I say Jim Solman and Gary Charles are very good for kids and the game, trust me I know!! When I say certain coaches at the Gauchos, and Metro hawks have become full of themselves and starting to act a bit too egocentric, I know what I am saying.

As far as college coaches. I have know all three local high major coaches for between 10 to 25 years. I have watched them at wwork. They have much more good about them than bad. Yet all 3 need to make some adjustments.

Thanks agin for your WONDERFUL words and lets stay in touch and maybe work on somthing together.

John said...


After the key SHU announcements and the BG interviews, it seems like the train wreck has been averted for now. Looking forward very much to your thoughts on that.

I went through your details on how the the AAU programs work - very interesting. Thank you for sharing the information.

LFBall said...

My pleasure. Just glad folks are enjoing it as much as I am.

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