Friday, December 19, 2008

Basketball Thoughts

Mike Williams

First I need to talk about one of the true gentle giants in NYC basketball circles who passed away last week. I ventured from Pennsylvania to attend the funeral of MR. Mike Williams of HARLEM NY on Wednesday Evening. And the Harlem basketball royalty turned out in force to salute him.

For those who do not know Big Mike, please let me remind you who he was. If you attended a Wheel Chair HS Classic basketball game in past years, he was the person who was in charge of selecting the Bronx team and coaches. But more important he and his Buddy Ernie Morris, a great guy as well, were the two guys who folks often came to see because they put on quite a show in the stands. They would go off at bad calls, dance down the aisles, and just do their thing. It was comical and well worth the price of admission.

But beyond the comedy was a great basketball mind and a real community leader. This guys community resume could be a blue print for young coaches looking to get involved in community sports and make a difference with our youth. You see Mike had no interest in becoming a HS or College coach. All he wanted to do was coach in his community. And this he did and he did it well. he was one of the first Riverside Coaches who took a team of kids from NYC overseas. These were kids who for the most part had never even been out of NYC. This is a guy who ran the Upward Fund program for kids in NYC. This is a guy who ran The Minisink Townhouse Program for The Children's Aid Society. This was a guy who was a TERRIFIC Referee and he could have gotten to the College ranks but he loved working in the community. But most of all this was a guy who lived life at it's fullest. he did it his way and enjoyed life as we all should.

I knew Mike since I was 14 years old. We were competitors in basketball as kids. He was some player at a young age. Tough and took it right to you. He also happened to be my next door neighbor at the complex where I live in Harlem NY. It was not unusual to see him grilling on the side walk as you came in from work. Folks would tease him and he would just laugh as continued grilling next to his Cadillac Escalade truck. He could care less what folks thought of him or others. As long as he liked you and enjoyed what he was doing, everything would be just fine.

Well Mikes funeral was filled with young and old. Ex NBA guys, Riverside's ex coaching staff, folks from the NYC Rucker Tournament, Folks from the Bronx. Folks from Harlem. Folks from The Wheel Chair Classic. The Suboa Referees, Folks from his Sanitation job. Even Derrmon Player from SHU showed up after practice and got mad love from everyone. And by the way, Mike showed the world it was honorable and a great move to be a Sanitation Worker. He made it attractive based on HE WAS DOING IT! Everyone came out and it was a true love feast as Mike was on his way to a better place where I am sure he is Grilling, Coaching, and talking stuff to everyone around. Rest in Peace Big Mike. You did it YOUR WAY and we all have learned from you!


Again I ask why is Nate Archibald not coaching in the NBA?

Again I ask why Ray Haskins is not coaching in College?

These two guys not coaching proves we have so far to go in the world of sports. Guys with little or no experience getting Assistant jobs and these two guys with a wealth of experience remain on the outside looking in. Crazy. I cannot believe the Knicks could not have used Nate Archiblad. I would bet Stephon Marbury would still be a Knick and very productive if Tiny was there. I cannot believe St. Johns , Rutgers, or SHU could not use Ray Haskins. His Brooklyn Connections and understanding of zone press defenses alone make him worthy. Not to mention he TAKES NO CRAP FROM PLAYERS YET THEY ALL LOVE HIM! When will this change? Young in-experienced ex walk-on's or managers getting positions before these guys is just wrong. Just as looking at guys like Ron Brown at FDU not being considered for higher level positions. Ditto my guy Julius Allen. How about my guy Bobby Holford coaching with Ron Neclerio at Cardoza HS in Queens because no college, including perennial losers like St. Francis in Brooklyn would give him an opportunity. Well it is a good thing some guys coaching are part of the ole boys network or have Fathers who get them hired and keep them in position. And I am not talking about Rutgers in case folks are getting confused.

Rutgers Beats Bishop College, or was it St. Augustine? Oops, it was Delaware State! Sorry but it makes no difference. They all are the same based on resources for athletics. All are good schools but sports wise there is no comparison. These games are supposed be blowouts. In fact when a Big East Team has a close game with these type of teams, which also includes Bryant this Saturday, it is almost a letdown. Recruits look at this. Alumni look at this. And other teams look at this and come into your building feeling invincible and play with great confidence. What has happened to the Rutgers RAC home court advantage? Against Bryant RU should win by 16 points or more to make a semi statement.

So I hear rumors that Christian Morris Mom had enough of her son not playing thus the transfer out. Good move and I am sure the RU folks are not that upset, even though they should not want to lose any kid because it sends a negative message. But I do hope young Mr. Morris can find happiness. I think any kid who just accepts sitting is a kid destined for life challenges. They should never be disruptive, but it should bother them that they're not playing. The Morris family will move on and Christian will play where he attends, graduate, and have a very good life hopefully. And in 10 years no one will care where he or anyone else attended or where they played or what they did as players. Hollis Copeland, John Morton, and Bernard Rencher could all sit together at the BE Tournament and very few would stop by and take pictures. Yet all are very successful in life.

So Seton Hall is becoming transfer university? Well that is what Lou Carnesecca did years ago with transfers. Right off the top I can think about the great back court of Bernard Rencher (Notre Dame) and Reggie Carter (Hawaii). Many others could be included as well. But I do think it is time for SHU to step it up HS wise and get some area recruits to commit. Though I understand with the guys sitting out, it looks like a hard sell to kids convincing them they would get playing time. And most kids want to play!

St. John's is off to a good record. I really hope they can keep it up and win a few BE games that would allow them to finish with a winning record. When SJU is good, everyone benefits based on media coverage on college basketball.

New Jersey HS Basketball kicks off Today according to my man Jon Cano. Teaneck, a school I love for obvious reasons plays Bergen Catholic. Should be a good game. Bergen has a very underrated coach who I know takes heat from many because of his stance to take kids not normally seen in Bergen uniforms years ago under the ex coaching regime. Teaneck should be back with a very improved and young team. I/We need Teaneck back in the mix. Come on Coach Curtis March, lets get that energy back like you had it years ago when you were a TRUE PROGRAM! You should be as good as Linden, and Plainfield at least. I will be at a few games this year and really look forward to seeing the Kennedy game. Heck, might even send a check if the energy level of the coach is back to where it was lol.

Doc Turner Classic

When will we get another version or at least bring back the Doc Turner Christmas Classic. Come on!!! I am seeing new events spread like wildfire and none, I repeat none, is on the same level as The Doc Turner was. Sell out crowds, great food, and top notch HS boys and girls basketball. Lets get a committee together and get this up and running by next season. It would be fantastic!

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