Sunday, November 30, 2008

The NBA ....... I Loved It At One Time

My beloved National Basketball Association. The league that me and my friends from the Central Harlem community I grew up in loved since we were 10 years old. In fact, I still remember one of my childhood friends, Michael George, interviewing at The NY Post for the Knick Beat Writer Position. He was asked what made him a strong candidate for the position. He replied "Are you kidding? In addition to having experience writing sports, me and my friends from Harlem have lived and died with the Knicks and The NBA all our lives." He did a great job covering both the Knicks and Nets and also doing his part training Steven A. Smith to be what he is today lol.

Yes we loved the NBA. I still remember my Freshmen year in HS as a shy much slimmer person than I am now. After getting cut by the HS varsity team at Charles Evers Hughes HS in Manhattan, I dedicated my sports life to knowing the NBA backwards and forwards. I loved watching those local games on Channel 9, and when HBO first started I loved watching the games there as well. Yes HBO had the games for 1 season lol. I could tell you every players college and how they did prior to being drafted. At that time there were 9 rounds in the Draft, and even the guys chosen in the 9th round were celebrities for a brief time.

As a very young person dedicated to The NBA I was blessed to have what was than called a "G.O." card. That card, which kids received at all NY area high schools, was designed to get HS kids involved in attending sports events at a discounted price. Boy has that changed over the years thanks to Corporate involvement buying tickets that usually are not even used if the game is not an exciting one.

Well I used my card and went to almost every game for over 3 seasons. Always had the same thing to eat: Ice Cream Cup, Popcorn, and Coke. Loved watching Walt Bellemy and tricky Dick Barnett. Also was fascinated with Dick Van Arsdale and even Dave Duetz, a seldom used player that me and my friends swore we could beat in a game of one on one. Funny thing we did get that opportunity later that year in The Village on a rainy day. We were walking by the courts on 6th Avenue and who was there? Dave working on his game believe it or not. We went in to challenge him. He played us 1 against two and we never scored a basket. Just shows how good NBA Players really are. Also remember Earl Monroe joining Clde Fraser. What a backcourt! And these guys were visible all over NYC, and still are. Still remember summer leagues with The Knicks participating with Reed, Bradley, Stallworth, Bowman, Riordon, Cazzie, and even Emmitt Bryant and Hawthorne Wingo. Those NBA players at the time were easy to reach out and touch. Nate Archibald was really good at this. He was always around coaching kids and supporting charity causes. Still does believe it or not.

Boy those were the days. But The NBA seemed different than. Remember the NJ Nets first season and how proud we were of John Mathis (current Kennedy HS of NY Coach) playing at the Teaneck Armory. Remember Dr. J playing for the Virginia Squires and packing Rucker Park for games. He was un-believable as was the Connie Hawkins and others.

Yes the NBA at that time was a league we all could relate to. We loved the NBA because though the players were being paod, they seemed more sincere and pure. They seemed to love playing basketball and did it year round by also participating in summer leagues and off season all-star contests. The NBA? WE LOVED IT!!

What has happened? Yes it is more successful than ever before financially. David Stern has taken it to new heights after becoming the commissioner after either O'Brien or Kennedy if my memory is correct. But by doing this, it seems like it is just so commercial and controversial. Anyone remember the Spike Lee film about him growing up in Brooklyn as a New York Knick Fan? That was such a true picture of how it was to me. Now, I could not even tell you who is on The Knicks roster. Now I am sure many others can and most still love the game. But for me. it has just become such a business, which I understand, that I can not look at it as a pure sport as I did years ago.

Now this brings me to the players playing in the NBA. What happened to guys sticking together? What happened to loyalty? Charles Barkley, who to me has never really been the player folks made him out to be, gets on Labron James case about potentially playing in NY? How about the Stephon Marbury stuff going on? If the NBA wants to be so corporate I would advise Stephon to keep every dollor and do not accept a dollor less. It is not personal, it is just business, just like the NBA! I would come to every game and sit while enjoying the game. heck I might even bring a few snacks.

But if anyone has ever met Stephon, they would know he is really a nice person with alot of folks depending on him for support. He also is most likely hurting inside from not being on the court. And as wrong as he might be, so are the Knicks by the way they treated him before he participated in 1 practice. Sometimes those with smiles on their faces are the ones who are the worst people. Stephon needs all his money because the NBA, as a corporation, might do all they can to keep him from playing for another team.

Oddly I have spent time with David Stern. He seems like a wonderful man and happens to be from my beloved Teaneck, NJ, where I lived for many years. He and I use to talk Teaneck every time I saw him. Even at a NBA Christmas party many years ago. He saw me and came right over to discuss Teaneck HS and Hoops LOL. Yes the NBA is doing well financially. But I still think it has lost its ties to families it once had and become more of a glamour league, which is what they must want. NBA All Star Weekend is like the Super Bowl Weekend with parties, concerts and more. Just wonder if there are any folks who remember the times I described. Those times we lived and died by our local NBA teams? The Big East and ACC, they were just not that important.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Are You Kidding Me!

Here we go again. No excuses for the players or coaches at Rutgers University. How do they lose to Lehigh of The Patriot League? I am shocked! I really thought Rutgers with a veteran head coach hired to be an advisor/assistant coach, along with two stud recruits and a few others who were highly touted, along with a sophomore star in the making, with a big guy who could be NBA bound based on his D alone, and at least two seniors who really have better GAME THAN THEY HAVE SHOWN, WOULD TEAR UP THE MICKY MOUSE CUPCAKE PRESEASON SCHEDULE. Boy was I wrong. I honestly thought they would be undefeated heading into the North Carolina game and had an outside chance of sneaking into the top 25. Foolish me lol.

The players are not immune from blame on this. When will they step it up on the court? Coaches coach and players play. The first thing they all need to do is relax! The bigs play so robotic it looks like they do not belong in the BE. The guards are taking so many shots it sends a message that they have zero confidence in the big people on the team.

For Rosario to get that many shots must be for recruiting purposes. It must be to lure Cheeks to sign with the Scarlet Knights. Honestly I would be surprised if that would work. The days of kids saying "I am going to x university to help change the direction of the program" is over! And when kids did that years ago, trust me they were getting some extra perks including some high ticket items. Recruiting wise the Lehigh lost is worst than the St. Bonaventure loss based on athletic and league affiliation. Kids now will get serious peer pressure concerning Rutgers. Think most kids will step back after you lose to those type of teams. Teams without 1 player recruited by RU or any BE program. Most of the Lehigh kids would not have even been noticed by Rutgers in HS.

Yes this loss will hurt in more ways than one. What do I think needs to happen? New starting line-up that brings hunger. Start Farmer, Rosario, Chandler, with Inman. and Hamedy up front. 5 minutes in Greg E replaces Inman or Hamedy and Pettis or who ever replaces the other front court guy. Coburn comes in for Farmer, etc.

Next the coaches need a meeting with all Juniors and seniors only. The meeting needs to be a STRONG MOTIVATIONAL meeting if you know what I mean.

Next they need to meet separate with the younger players.

Than a team meeting with everyone followed by a practice designed to provide confidence as they re-define roles. Allow the big guys to play basketball and stop being scared to shoot from 15 feet. Especially JR Inman who is playing scared in fear of FHJ yanking him and burying him on the bench.

Chandler should not be forgotten, It seems to me as an outsider they have forgotten alot about this kid since Rosario arrived. It is the old what have you done for me lately look. I am sure it might not be as I described but it looks bad when one of your best players is losing minutes to guys who really should be role players getting spot duty. Does anyone actually feel Coburn and Pettis are better players than Chandler. Heck in HS Chandler was a better player than Rosario despite the McDonalds AA tag Rosario rightfully earned. Get him in that line-up and get him and Inman shots!

Well hopefully Rutgers can recover from what I think is a horrible loss. This can really impact recruiting and also harm attendance, which really needs a boast. The next few games are very important. I hope they do not eat too much turkey today and put alot of time into practice late today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why Go Away!!!!!

I continue to think about the way many of our local Metropolitan area kids are treated when they attend certain colleges and universities. It is the reason I continue to push for kids to stay local where they can receive family and friend support in times of academic and athletic crisis.

I also support the stay within 100 miles theory because of what area alumni support can do for players after they take the game sneakers off. Yes if you guessed I am still talking about the huge amount of kids going far away to college on the major and mid major level. I will never understand why a kid with choices would leave the area to attend any school other than Stanford, Duke, North Carolina, ND, etc. I even question why would a kid go to a great academic place like Rice University when he has multiple great academic universities located in his backyard including Penn and Princeton, both who could be NCAA bound if players decided to go there as folks like Brian Taylor and Bill Bradley did years ago at Princeton, and Bobby Willis, Tony Price (Father of AJ) and many others did at Penn. Yes there are great after basketball opportunities locally that kids need to take advantage of.

One thing for sure. No less than 4 years after a kids playing career is over he could be forgotten at good ole large university with the big arena and boosters. Who helps that kid now after the lights in the gym has gone off? No boosters from Oklahoma or even alumni contacts in the tri-state area. Part of attending college, and I learned this from Ernie Loich of all people, is developing local contacts you will use upon graduation. remember everyone will not be in the NBA. And that's despite early super star status.

This brings me again, and I am so sorry if I am being redundant, to the great schools we have locally. If only Kids, Coaches, Advisors, and Parents would only open their eyes. Local Universities offer the best in most things academically. They play competitive basketball. They all have very good support, especially when they are winning. Alumni contacts? Out of this world!!!!! The guy or gal sitting near the top in the stands could just be the person who gets a players after basketball career on track. Trust me I know what happened with my son, kids I have worked with, and others I have heard about. I am sure folks have read my Iona College stories about almost 100 percent of the Iona basketball graduates being very successful in life via great alumni contacts.

So this leads me to a sore spot with me. I read either on NYCNJHOOPS or The Daily News on-line that ex Syracuse University standout Pearl Washington has just been named the Head Coach of The Thomas Jefferson HS Girls Basketball Team. Are you kidding me? One of the top HS players of all time! One of the top College Point Guards of all time (prior to NBA)! A great person! He is the girls coach at Jefferson? That's like Phil Sellers, who by the way attended Jefferson HS, coaching the girls team at Hackensack HS. If Phil wanted to coach at Rutgers, they would definitely find him a spot. But I hear he is pretty successful with what he does. I know Syracuse was there for Pearl when he was ill a few years back. But my understanding is he always expressed a desire to coach at Syracuse. Yet to this day it has not happened. I do not know Pearl, but did have an opportunity to coach him in a pro-am league years ago. He was nothing short of fantastic on and off the court. It just amazes me that Syracuse could not find a spot for him. In fact I wonder what alot of ex Syracuse players are doing? I would love to see the list. In fact it would be a great thing to see what kids from all schools are doing 3 years after graduation. That is how you tell the real deal!

In conclusion I again beg parents, guardians, coaches and advisors to look at the entire picture before sending kids 400 miles away and having them eat grilled cheese sandwiches for Thanksgiving as my kid did when he attended at a prominent big 10 university. And that's regardless of the fact they gave him alot of money to eat alone with on Thanksgiving.

As Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, "There Is No Place Like Home."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Todays Thoughts

So alot of folks do not enjoy me talking about their teams unless I am being positive and kissing butt. That's funny because those that know me understand that will never happen. I really do try not be over negative but sometimes I just have to comment on things as I see them. On my blog I will never have box scores, and game summaries straight from the associated press because I am not a reporter. Nor am I ever going to call kids on the phone to find out where they are thinking about attending college. Folks can get that stuff anywhere.

What I continue to attempt to do is say what alot of folks are hesitant to say for one reason or another. It is why I started my blog. And by the way I read at least 20 different boards weekly including the local college boards. And for those who think I was run off from the RU and SHU boards, that's funny. Never happened. Just figured it was easier to have my own personal forum where I could comment as I see fit. Maybe I can come back on those boards and do a Q and A on what I really know in a similar format to what I did with the SHU radio station a few years back.

I also want to say I enjoy reading the various blogs and articles by well respected writers from the tri-state area. but trust me there are many of us who know as much but do not have the forum to share our thoughts. A great example of this is the SHU Board on Rivals, Where HallDan and others put in hours upon hours of hard work to make it interesting. They also are at almost every HS event in the area. I can say similar stuff about the Rutgers folks on Scarlet Nation. They also know much more than folks give them credit for. Others also are great including BigEastBoards,, The Smokin Musket, Explorer Blog, NYCNJHOOPS.Com, and many others. Of course blogs at Kentucky where they also have a board just for recruiting, and other places are great as well. But if you compare what the blogs and message boards I mentioned are doing in comparison with others, there really is no comparison.

I really say this because people should not feel they are not getting good information because the message board or blog is not from a local newspaper or reporter. Many newspaper blogs and reporters such as Adam Z are outstanding. But if you read some of the blogs on line that cover college and HS basketball you will be pleasantly pleased. Unfortunately the only guy who has ever even acknowledged some blogs, including this one, is Dick "Hoops" Weiss of the NY Daily News. But that's ok and as most of us know, most guys and gals writing are just asking questions and many have zero knowledge of the real issues involving recruiting and college basketball. You would have to had experienced it or been around it for some time to understand. Also you would be surprised the amount of basketball people reading this and other blogs. I have even gotten messages via 3rd parties both pro and con about what I have written. I am sure others have as well.

In my last blog entry I even gave out a small hint about something that I hope folks picked up on. And it was not about who starts, but the type of basketball being played. Hope certain folks read it and get to a few recruits soon before they are eliminated. Here is another. Sometimes folks will keep you in the mix because they like you but have no interest with being with you for 4 years. Others just enjoy the wining and dining they receive from coaching staffs. It is a great thing to feel wanted. But as Al Skinner said to me many years ago "I have to work at identifying the kids that are really interested in attending Boston College." That way he could concentrate on "real targets" and not waste time hoping and dreaming.

So if folks want information, provocative thoughts, and strong opinions, they need to continue to read this blog, all the others I mentioned, plus many I did not, and they might just enjoy what they are reading despite a typo here and there and some misspelled names lol.

Monday, November 24, 2008

RU Loses and SHU Wins by LFHall lol

OK I am sure folks will really call me LFHall and other names after this post. But honestly ask me if I really care? I will always call it as I see it because I have no obligation to any coach or program. This leads me to my thoughts on the Rutgers loss yesterday.

First of all Mike Rosario, Corey Chandler, and Anthony Farmer are not, I repeat NOT, Allan Ray, Kyle Lowery, and Randy Foye! Trust me! Those three were a unique group of guards at Villanova. Rutgers needs to understand at this point the RU Guards are not the Villanova guards. And Jay Wright ran those 3 guard sets because he had NO ONE down low after Jason Fraser was injured. Rutgers has options, even if FHJ does not wish to acknowledge them at his time. OK gloves further off. Here is a run down of what I saw yesterday.

I saw a guard dominated offense AGAIN! Why would any decent front court recruit want to sign with a school where the guards are shoot first and pass second is beyond me. I never said it but I know two RU recruits, who have some interest in Rutgers, but are concerned with the shoot first, make plays second attitude of the Rutgers guards and the offense they run, which is similar to the offense run by Villanova during Randy Foye's senior year. It is a major concern, and trust me I know this for a fact. Now this does not mean they will stop considering RU, it only means it is a concern. But we all know how it could play out.

From what I saw it seemed the upfront players are borderline robotic. Yes I am a JR Inman fan but he seems scared to death to take an open jump shot. He must have hesitated 3 times. It seemed the one with the green light was the big fella who seemed to have lots of confidence taking shots. It is my assessment, and call it what you care to. I feel JR Inman needs to be in that starting line-up. OK he was disciplined for something he did last season. However he still is the best front court player on the RU roster, at least on offensive. His treatment, playing and role wise, will make a few folks wonder what has happened. A 3 year starter now on the bench playing 18 minutes behind two bigs who are far from being good scorers, and an un-proved sophomore who really should be coming off the bench? What is this about?

Think that was controversial? Check this out! Greg E is a nice player who is far from explosive. BUT HE GETS THE JOB DONE. Almost like a college version of Wes Unseld. I see folks love him and think he is the answer. I hope so but I would be stunned if he ever has a 20 point game at RU. But I would bet he has a 20 rebound game or 2 or 3 or 4. He is 6 ft 7 or maybe a shade under 6 ft 8, but he does do dirty work that others are not doing. Question is can you have two non scorers in your line-up upfront? Because the Big fella also is not a scorer despite him having that career scoring game against Delaware. But I do feel Harmedy will be in the NBA one day and have always said this from the first time I saw him. They would be a great two headed center with occassional minutes together on the court.

The guards? How do you take Corey Chandler out of your starting line-up? Honestly? This will be the second freshmen starter who received all BE freshmen honors to have a worst sophomore year than folks anticipated under FHJ. I feel alot of it has to do with minutes he gets on the court. What did he do? Was Pettis that good in the pre season? And this is no knock on Pettis. Just curious how this happened. I understand Inman based on the suspension. But Chandler was the star in waiting.

Lets look at Rosario now. All I will say is he plays the game the correct way. He deserves his accolades and honors! Love his game and he is somewhat UN-SELFISH.

Farmer is Mr. Steady and will help much more than he will hurt. He does need to concentrate on just making plays and not as much on scoring. This brings me to who I feel should be the starters at Rutgers.

Harmedy N'dayesp / Greg E (Either one), JR Inman, Corey Chandler, Mike Rosario, and Anthony Farmer. The first big off the bench should be Greg Encheque or Harmedy (sp), and Pettis should follow. Coburn should spell Farmer and that would be a great rotation.

Playing wise. Kids still need to be less mechanical. I again think JR is scared to play lose. I agree with FHJ that JR took far too many jumpers last season but give me a break, he has to take an open shot to develop the confidence needed for the Big East Season.

I know folks will kill me but I am just not impressed with what I saw. Honest question? The way RU looked would it be a close game if they played last years version of St. Benedicts? When I watched a few other college teams on TV yesterday it was as if I was watching a different level. The athleticism, toughness, aggressive and hard play and more was displayed and the big guys got up and down the court.

In conclusion I will say the pre BE season can fool you and make you think a team and its players are better than they really are. The teams RU played thus far had very little up-front power. The loss to the Bonnies will hopefully be a wake-up call.

SHU Wins

Well Stix Mitchell plays and the outcome for the Hall is different. Yes he made a difference. Wonder what might have happened if they had him for the game against Memphis.

Xavier beats Virginia Tech by 1 point and than goes on to defeat a loaded Memphis team in the final. SHU beats Virginia Tech, who had lost to Xavier by 1 point. Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm? Makes you wonder.

I honestly think this SHU team is very good and next season if not this season, we might see some magic in South Orange and Newark.

I know many people will say I am just a SHU Fan and that is such a sad thing. Because as I continue to say, I just really love college basketball. I am a fan who just happens to feel SHU is further along this season and even next season than all the other local teams.

Back to the big win. Great momentum heading into the next few games!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Now What?

Ok Rutgers Wins and Seton Hall Loses. What happens next?

Rutgers got a big win playing with two Freshmen in the starting line-up. Looks like Mike Rosario is the real deal, which everyone thought he would be. Hitting 3's, making plays, getting it done. Greg E is rebounding like a veteran and doing a good job. The early schedule is designed just for what is happening. Games to provide confidence for younger players. I really feel when Rutgers hits the BE portion of the schedule they will have added confidence and a winning attitude. But will they be prepared for the BE? There are different theories on the type of schedule Rutgers has played to date. They are supposed to beat Delaware, although I thought the game would be more competitive. They were supposed to beat Robert Morris, and the other low-mid major team they played. Heck I think they should win every game leading up to the North Carolina game.

But what does this do? It gives some fans a false sense of how good the Rutgers team really is. Expectations could be super high and when you start playing teams with bigger and stronger players and defenders your season could turn completely around. But this is a young team and the early schedule is exactly what is needed to give those young kids confidence. Now next season a schedule like this will not be the ticket.

SHU Loses

Yes The Hall loses to a nationally ranked team with a full roster of players who will play for money one day either in the NBA or over seas. Memphis is a team that has a payroll and basketball budget that is most likely 10 times what Seton Hall has. Plus Coach Cal has the ability to do stuff his way with zero interference from his AD or anyone else. Kids at Memphis are there for one thing and one thing only, TO PLAY BASKETBALL! No need for a Robin Cunningham at Memphis. Just keep them eligible until they are finished playing.

I do feel Coach Cal cares about his players more than I and others have given him credit for. He has always been open about assisting young kids and when he was at UMass thought nothing of taking time to speak with youth groups and donated money to many great causes. But we have to face facts. Schools like Memphis, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Uconn are on a different level than most other college basketball programs financially and resource wise.

So losing to this team is far from a huge thing. In fact SHU did a great job with 7 players. I honestly think the game would have been closer if The Hall had a day to rest between games. From what I saw it seemed like SHU was mentally tired more than anything else. Turnovers, bad shots, forced shots, etc. 7 players against a nationally ranked team is a hard road for any D1 program.

Lastly I like the way Bobby Gonzalez was encouraging his players. It is the same way I feel Fred Hill treats his kids. Prepare for the future by encouraging the troops!

St. Johns Loses Anthony Mason Jr.

Bad break for St. Johns. But it is the type of thing that could pull them together and allow a new star to emerge. I have a feeling that St. Johns will surprise folks this season. I for one am pulling for Norm Roberts to have an exceptional year and great recruiting class. If St. Johns is good, everyone benefits locally.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Local College Happenings

Seton Hall Wins!

Ask me if I am surprised? NO! I really feel the Hall has very good talent and very good coaching which often leads to wins. Will they beat Memphis? Not sure. But one thing for sure they will not enter the game feeling they cannot win. And that is so important.

When a local college team has local tri-state players who have game, they can be a hard out for most college teams. Seton Hall is no different. They have a large number of local and TOUGH players who feel they should win every game. This is why I am so high on them, especially next season. Folks have called me names for being so high on this team including one Internet poster calling me LFHall lol. But again those who know me will tell those who do not, I call it as I see it.

Again a great win for Seton Hall. Now if they can upset Memphis......Wow. That would mean the local teams are of to a good start with RU being undefeated also and St. Johns having only 1 defeat. But the Memphis game will be tough. Just hope folks do not flip if it is a loss. Remember it is a very long season.

Michigan over UCLA

Great story! John Baeline (sp) is a great system coach how always keeps his teams in every game. This guy has to be one of the best in the country. Bob McKillip is on that list as well. But to make a coach really great they have to be able to recruit players who will help them seriously compete for a national championship. This is why Roy Williams, Coach K, Slick Rick, and others stand out from the pack.

Rutgers Thus Far

2 and 0 heading into more games they should win. And yes I feel if they are 12 and 0 going into the BE season they have a chance to be ranked in the top 25. I said a chance! But again I warn this early season schedule can help the young kids on the RU team but I question if it will prepare the team for the rigors of BE play. Just a question, that's all. If I was the RU Coach, I would have the exact same schedule to help the young guys adjust. And just do all that is possible in practice and games to prepare for the BE season.

Momo to Virginia Tech

Seems Momo went where he was loved as opposed to just wanted. he should have a great career there. And if it does not work out, he can transfer back to the Big East or A10 since VT is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami Recruiting

I know the weather is great in Miami, and Luke the Rapper looks out for the players on the football and basketball teams, but what happened to players wanting to play in front of large crowds, and being part of nationally respected programs. maybe I am missing something here. But maybe it is just another case of a staff outworking everyone else and making players feel Miami is the only place for them. Heck what do I know lol. Beautiful women and laying on the beach could be quite tempting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And We Are Off!!!!!

To another season of the days of our lives in College basketball. Excited? You bet!
It is such a great time of the year for many of us. High School Basketball and College Basketball are here and it looks like an interesting season at the least.

Lets start today with the most interesting but unnecessary story hitting the local Internet boards. Yes it is the big fight between Bobby Gonzalez and Adam Z, the great HS and College Writer. Funny, I would bet both are really good and decent people who would get along well if they gave it a chance. I have never met Adam, but I love reading what he writes and find his stories most interesting. Adam keep up the great work!

But now lets talk Bobby. One of the most misunderstood guys ever to coach college basketball. But let me AGAIN tell you he is a great guy who is deeply loyal and cares about his kids as much if not more than MANY WHO GET BETTER CREDIT. BOBBY REALLY WOULD DO ANYTHING TO HELP PEOPLE, AND HE HAS. Coaching wise he is very good despite what some are trying to say. This guy can coach and folks should not get it twisted. Does he have a chip on his shoulder? YES! And let me tell you why. Unlike many others, he did not have connections to land him a Big East job when he came to NYC. He worked his ass off with junior HS kids, coached in dingy gyms in the South Bronx and manhattan. Walked the streets of Harlem, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and more because all he wanted to do was coach. He paid his dues more than 90 percent of the others coaching college basketball. What folks are really seeing is his passion for the game.

How do I know so much about him? I know because I was there in the beginning. When he came from Binghamton looking to get involved on the NYC scene. I went to games with him, debated him, and much more. Do we hang out? Never! But would he be there for me and thousands of others in NYC? YES! This guy has a temper and is so competitive that it often is taken wrong. Now this still does not change my feeling that he leans toward hiring guys he can control lol. But alot of folks do the same.

Back to his feud with Adam Z. If he cursed at Adam he was dead wrong. If he threatened Adam he was dead wrong. But the Gonzo I know will eventually reach out and apologize if he did anything wrong. Heck, I even got a call from two different buddies at mid major schools who said Gonzo and his Staff was upset with something I wrote on this blog. Ask me if I care lol? In a month or two both Adam and Gonzo will put this behind them and enjoy each other in conversation if folks just allow it to rest.

Quick Hits

Rutgers could be undefeated going into the North Carolina game and a good showing could mean a national ranking. This early cupcake schedule allows the younger players to adjust easier to division 1 basketball and gain confidence along the way. However will the early schedule prepare the Scarlet Knights for the rigors of Big East play?

Mr. Curry and Davidson is like Mr. Jackson and the Jackson Five. We all know the team is there but we are really just watching what Mr. Curry does next. 44 against Oklahoma? WOW!

Kentucky must really be buzzing. 0 and 2? Losing to a North Carolina team without Psycho T? Shows what they have down in Chapel Hill.

St. Johns is 1 and 1 thus far. Well losing to Boston College at Boston College is not the end of the world. Hopefully Norm can get his team focused for the next game. My gut is they will be a much better team this season and surprise some folks. At least that is what I hope happens. Alot of folks in NYC say I have dogged Norm Roberts. I say never. I really like him and always have. I am one of the people really pulling for him to succeed. He brings class to the local college game and I hope he is here for a long time. So lets go Red Storm!

Seton hall does not have 1 recruit signed so far. OK what do folks want the SHU Staff to do? maybe just sign that 6 ft 3 power forward from St. Cecilia by the Sea HS in Hoboken? How about the 5 ft 3 point guard from lollipop prep in Great Neck LI? Than at least they will have 2 signed players. I applaud SHU for not feeling pressure to just sign a kid just to have a kid signed. And again they have a harder job locally based on the talent already enrolled, including the kids who are sitting out this season. Kids want to play!

Lastly. Alot of kids are looking at local BE schools as future destinations.....Or are they really? UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

College Basketball.......Do they really care?

I continue to think about the many HS basketball players who started playing the game at a very early age dreaming of wearing a St. Anthony's, Rice, St. Patrick's, Lincoln, or Mount Vernon jersey one day, and developing into star players participating in great AAU tournaments and travel team events as a blue chip recruit. These kids have huge dreams as they play in events and look into the bleaches and seats eyeing College Coaches who they have seen on television and read about in the newspaper. Yes it is a dream for many, and that dream can become a reality with hard work.

Unfortunately those same dreams can become nightmares, and oftentimes believe it or not, the player involved in a hoops nightmare is not the problem that the media makes it seem he is. It is just unfortunately many people who cover sports are also sports groupies disguised as writers or TV commentators. Many just want to be around sports celebrities and have access to speaking with College and powerful HS coaches on a continuous basis. And the advisors? In most cases very similar. I still remember those advisors from 25-30 years ago who actually sold players to colleges. But the way stories are reported and the hero worshiping of coaches, is why so many stories are really one sided.

Even with this, the real culprits remain the people involved with athletes who think they will get something if the athlete makes the NBA or gets money over seas. These people often attempt to take over parenting responsibility from the actual parents. Often you hear stuff like "we are not visiting ....." or "At this time we are considering" or "He is one of my kids." PLEASE Stop! Kids that make it athletically should not be indebted to anyone but the Parents that raised them. Now they should not forget the HS they attended when the contract comes in, or forget about giving back to their community so that others can benefit in similar ways to what they experienced. But they do not owe anyone.

One of the most interesting observations is watching how many advisors disappear when a kid does not make it to the NBA. Even worse is when that star kid who was a JHS and HS all world player does not develop and become the player people expected. What happened? Is he a bad kid? Is he doing drugs? Is he just Lazy? Is he just a bad person? It is so easy to find something wrong with a person when things do not go as expected. Oddly, in most cases the player being labeled and abandoned is the same person and player he was 4 years earlier. But back than when folks were pulling at him from all over America, his short comings were not as visible as the dollar signs and prestige that went along with associating with him.

This brings me to Derrick Caracter AGAIN. For the record I have watched Derrick play, talk to folks, and even spoken with him myself. I cannot tell you about his work habits in the gym, but I can tell you this young man is one of the NICEST kids you will ever meet! I can tell you also that this kid could in no way lose his "Game" over night as many are trying to say. I honestly feel he went to a factory and was treated as factory workers all over the country are treated. When they need you they keep you. When they do not feel you are needed they lay you off. Derrick was laid off by Rick Pitino. Factory workers with union backing have a better chance than a kid who has a coach who does not believe in him or sees another kid coming in who can do the job for him. Maybe college players need a union. Or at the least a group that would really look out for the best interests of college athletes.

All of a sudden Derrick is a bad apple. A guy with no future or any chance of playing in the NBA. WRONG! Now is the time to encourage this young man. But this is also the time for kids all over America to hear the Derrick Caractor story. This could be a 2 box set by also having the Lester Earl story (was big when Tim Thomas was at Patterson Catholic HS). These two stories could be called the rise and fall of two can't miss basketball stars and why. But Derricks story is far from being complete.

Why did it not work out? Derrick does need to share in the blame, but he is far from alone. It goes back to what happened years ago with the sneaker companies spoiling HS players and Derrick was not an exception. He was spoiled by what he received for being a future star. I even think one sneaker company had him change rec teams to play for a team that was getting gear from that NATIONAL company. They even told him where to attend HS. Derrick was a Star off and on the court and in demand. It all came to him very quick, just as it did for Lester Earl from Louisiana. He was being told he would be a millionaire and he and many folks around him became excited.

But to me, the star of this story is not really Derrick. The star is Rick Pitino who enjoys super star status and can do nothing wrong in the eyes of many. Coaches get excited when he calls. Players think playing for him provides a direct route to the NBA. People think when Rick speaks, it is the true gospel. And that is one of the huge problems with all of this. A recent ESPN story comparing Derrick Caracter to Samardo Samuel's shows what happens when a seemingly new and improved model is available. What happens when you buy a new car and sit it near your 3 year old car? The new car gets most of the attention while the older car is taken for granted. Well new players always seem like they will provide more and maybe they will. But do you hurt the older players in the press? And if this happens enough why would area coaches continue to encourage kids to attend a college where the coach does this?

"Derrick Caracter isn't here any longer," Pitino said. "We've moved on from Derrick Caracter." and "[Samardo] has nothing to do with Derrick Caracter," he said. "There's no comparison." Wow! Remember how excited Rick Pitino was when Derrick Caracter, Earl Clark, and Edgar Sosa signed with Louisville from this area? How soon we forget. And all the negative stuff said in the last 6 months does nothing to help Derricks cause. Even had Derrick begging to return to Louisville. Than Coach Pitino tells him he would have to sit out the year and PAY HIS OWN TUITION! From being ranked the number 1 player in the nation to paying his own tuition, what a difference.

I hope all turns out well for Derrick Caracter. A great kid who now needs support more than ever before. And when he makes it big, I hope he remembers those who are around him at this time, a time when he really needs support and encouragement.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Here We Go Again!

Here we go again. I guess this month I am very pro Seton Hall University. Maybe I can be pro Rutgers University next month and St. Johns the following month. Oops I forgot, that month is reserved for Villanova. Folks are so vicious and alarmed when an opposing school gets acknowledged. Heck it was just a few weeks ago that the SHU Staff thought I was hard on them because of my thoughts on the Brandon Walters saga. Now I am just pro SHU based on MY OPINION. Well again it is my opinion. Please allow me to have one.

Now lets get back to the facts. I am not even looking at this season when I talk about Seton Hall University. Folks can hate on them all they wish but the bottom line is the talent is great........yes I said it, GREAT! Pope and Mitchell up front? Hazell and Lawrence at the 2? Harvey and Theodore at the 1? An experienced Mike Davis at the 5? With the possibility of Mr. Famous joining him? Any way you look at it, this is great talent and could be one of the most talented teams in years at SHU. Every one of the players I mentioned has an opportunity to earn a Good living playing basketball when their college career is over. And I am not talking about playing in Korea for $25,000 and coming home saying you made $125,000 as many often do..

Maybe I am just dumb when it comes to this stuff. But it seems to me that the SHU talent could match up with anyone in the Big East. Especially if they play hard and commit to defense. But again, These are my thoughts and last time I looked I was not on salary at SHU, nor am I scouting for any NBA teams. But to say I lose credibility? never knew I had any lol.

Lets look at this Tobias Harris situation. Tobias is only a junior in HS. His Dad is smart enough to know that he has to look carefully at all of the options his son has. As an ex player, with a D1 Daughter, he understands better than most. And like most 16 or 17 year old kids, his son will like everywhere he visits. After all, schools will always put their best foot forward when a kid they want is visiting. What is it not to like? At any university? They all will kiss his butt on a visit and show him the depth chart and where he will be in the offense. They might even show him his future locker and have his jersey inside with his name on the back. He might even walk into the arena and the PA announcer will introduce him as starting at a position he wants to play, but most likely might never get that opportunity. So of course he will love everywhere he visits. But sometimes the main comp dogs each other so much that they could eliminate each other and the kid being recruited winds up at another school.

And for the record it seems the Harris Family is doing a great job with their son's recruitment. Trust me they know what they are doing to the point they will not allow one cent to be spent while they are on an un-official visit. So all the schools have an opportunity it seems. But there are 2 schools also getting involved and they like them just as they like RU and others. Those are Notre Dame and West Virginia. But again, this is a long process for them and as I say to everyone all the time, Go Where You Are Loved, not Where You Are Just Wanted!

Lets look at the Greg Enchique (sp) situation. I never said he was not going to be a good player. I just laugh at how folks think it will be easy for him to come in and claim a starting spot. He has game, but it takes so much more than game to make it in the Big East. Does he have the drive? Commitment? Determination? Toughness? Skill Set? Maybe so, but the transition from HS where you had a super star as a teammate and all you had to do is play 2nd or 3rd fiddle and look good, to the college game where every night you have to COMPETE, is a difficult one. He seems like an outstanding kid from my observations and I hope he does a great job. But to think he will put JR and Griffin deep on the bench is a stretch. But one thing for sure, kids have to take advantage of opportunities. Greg has a great opportunity to establish himself from the start based on JR and Jeron getting suspended. This could be what is needed for him to really excel. If he does it will be hard to replace him. Last kid that did this was Davis West at Xavier. He was going to be 11th man or red shirted his freshmen year. Injuries forced him to start and the rest is history since he is now an NBA All Star.

Lastly when I talk about why would a kid go to a school with starters in place for the next few years. I am talking about 3-4 star rated players. I was not talking about Dexter Strickland, Lance Stephenson (sp), MoMo Jones, etc. In fact I was stunned that Jordan Theodore choose the Hall knowing that he would sit behind Harvey for two years. But the kid they lost could have been buried deep on the bench. And I am sure he understands that. Some schools are different. North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Uconn, and others can get the 5 star players to sign knowing they will be bench players initially. But those schools are in the super category as opposed to High D1. Kids will sit and wait their turn because others before them have done it and become successful getting drafted or going into business.

Finally allow me to end by again saying this blog is not for scores, or taking clippings from newspapers and linking them, or writing who beat who by what score. It is a blog that will provide my opinion on college and high school basketball while entertaining others opinions whether they agree or disagree. But remember if you say something I disagree about, I will come back at you in the spirit of your comment.

Almost time to play ball!!!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Whats Going On"

So Seton Hall has lost a future star? I am not sure if this is the case or if they just lost a future player. People tend to get very upset about losing a recruit forgetting that Schools Do Not Get Commitments from every player they recruit. Now why would this last player not commit to SHU?

Let me give you just a few reasons: Stix Mitchell, and Herb Pope! He is not as good as either of these players and most likely wants to play right away and play huge minutes. Nothing to do with the Coaches at Seton Hall. I would bet he just felt the players in front of him could not be beat out. What about Hazell? No he would not beat him out either at the 2 or 3 spot. Why folks are getting so bent out of shape regarding not signing anyone yet is beyond believe. What star player in their right mind is going to sign with SHU knowing that the talent on the team for next season is what it is.....OUTSTANDING!!! Do you honestly think a great HS 2 guard will commit? Maybe but I would be surprised because they would have to be Great to beat out a future star in Hazell.

If it is not what I wrote above, maybe it's the kid just wanted the warmer weather, larger campus, nationally known academics, different type of coach,etc. But trust me, Seton Hall will get players under Bobby Gonzalez as long as he never ever bashes players in the press (again) and gets his side-line personality together. Because Bobby remains an outstanding guy who is loyal and dependable. I also think he is a great evaluator of talent and kids are somewhat drawn to him. I also think he needs a few more years at SHU to complete the job he started regardless of how this season turns out.

Let me change the subject to Rutgers. Got a phone call from Tobias Harris Dad Torrel last night. We talked about alot of things including his sons college choices. He asked me my thoughts on some coaches and programs. Highlights of my conversation with him was HOW MUCH BOTH ME AND MY SON LIKE FRED HILL Jr. and Craig Carter. I also told him how "You have to go where you are loved and not just wanted" I spoke about Alumni support after playing ball and pointed out how even Shayle Keating, YES MY MAN SHAYLE, was able to get a great position right out of Rutgers College earning great money! Also talked about how FHJ protects his kids, encourages his players from the sidelines, recognized he could use a guy like Danny Nee, etc. We had a great Rutgers talk! Rutgers is in there and rightfully so. I also told him to watch the others as they try to get his son by any means necessary. Of course that is impossible because he is successful and can pay for his sons un-official visits, and make sure schools are on his son in a legitimate way. We did talk about some other stuff including new schools recruiting his son, some of which are outstanding programs with great guys as head coaches. But knowing how he likes the feel he gets when going to Delaware to watch his Daughter, the starting 2 guard on the Blue Hen Women's team, play, he wants to be able to drive to see Tobias play. And lastly folks should not sleep his younger son who is becoming a heck of a player and could be as good as Tobias in time.

Spoke with Jim Solmon about how impressed I was with his last event. I honestly feel there must be a corporation or two that could assist this guy in doing all the positive events he continues to do in NJ. The sneaker money that was available years ago has gone away and much of what he does comes out of his pockets yet he keeps the entry fees down and continues to run quality events. If there is anyone reading this blog who can get involved with Jim they should do so. Even taking out an ad in his next program would be great. Please do not take this as an appeal because he and the Playez are struggling, because they are not. Just added assistance would help make what they do bigger and better. And thanks Jim for actually having rosters and a working microphone at your last event lol.

We are close to the start of the college basketball season. I am so excited I might drive down to Newark Delaware to see the RU vs UD game at a most likely sold out Bob Carpenter Center. Some folks are saying UD wins this game. I am not sure but I feel it will be a good game and the score could be close. The UD Guards are pretty good as are many of the up front guys. Because it is the first game for RU, and it is on the road, makes this even more interesting.