Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thoughts and Clarification

I am back with bits of information on various topics. Lets start with Mr. Jarid Famous and Westchester Community College where I attended, played. and graduated from. I even was an Assistant Coach when the current Head Coach Winston Nicholas played for the Westcos under legendary JC Coach Ralph Arietta who is in the JC Basketball Hall of Fame. Yes he was that great of a coach and should have gotten opportunities to coach on the D1 level.

Winston Nicholas is not a good guy. HE IS A GREAT GUY!! Trust me I know. He, like most fathers including me, feels his son is a better player than some others might feel. That's normal. My friends who watched Westchester many times feel young Mr. Nicholas, who I remember as a baby, is a definite low to mid major D1 player. Thus the Dad feels his son with hard work could play at a higher level. But I ask folks to trust me on this, Winston Nicholas is a great person and good for young men even though he can be very, very hard on them as he challenges them to get better. He is like a Bobby Knight type and rewards hard work and commitment.

Here is a great Winston Nicholas story. Westchester under Winston Nicholas always has the best uniforms, warm-ups, socks, etc. In fact they might have 5 sets of new stuff and many more older sets. A few years back the team was not playing hard or competing as many coaches say. Coach Nicholas put the new fancy stuff away and gave the team uniforms from years ago that were tight, short, and funny looking. Might have even been uniforms I wore when I played there lol. But he got the message across. You have to earn stuff in life and he was giving them a life lesson. And by the way he is a very good coach and teacher of the game. Program wise it remains one of the best JC programs on the East Coast.

Now about Mr. Famous. I do not know his Dad but I know a few folks who his Dad communicates with. From what I hear his Dad is a very nice man WHO IS ENJOYING ALL THE ATTENTION. Which is why he even shows up at games without his son. I guess he is just enjoying the recruitment process as he should. But I hate to say it but if any school thinks he is a lock, they are wrong according to my sources. I have heard all types of rumors about benefits he could receive by signing with certain schools. Now remember I said SCHOOLS, which means more than one. I am stunned at some of the stuff I have heard, When I started to ask around I was stunned even more by the answers I received including certain ex NJ, and NYC players and benefits they received or will recieeve from attending certain schools. Let me say it again.... STUNNED!

Now I am not stopping with Mr. Famous who is just a player being recruited with a Dad who is enjoying the process. They are just a Player and a Dad. I say enjoy the process because when it is over folks will forget you very quickly, especially if you are not a stud right out of the gate. Others in NYC, NJ, PA, and Conn. have been offered benefits over the years going back to the 50s. Did they take them? I am not sure. But let me talk about how some HS, JC and travel programs in other parts of the country handle recruiting of star players.

Everything has a price tag. A meeting with a player at the HS or JC has a price. A meeting at a travel team practice has a price. A home visit has a price. A visit to a game at the college has a price. A college visit has a price. A signing has a price. And if the kid shows on campus it could be bonus time. Crazy system that I really hope is not taking place in this area.

So hopefully Mr. Famous will look at his choices carefully and choose a school for the right reason. A school that will help him further develop his skills, get stronger, allow him great playing time, and a chance to shine on offense and defense as he earns his college degree.

I really look forward to those HS Games at the Pru Center next Saturday. For some reason most of the match-ups I have seen in local tournaments have not been attractive. Seems the power schools might be requesting easy opponents if they participate. The Newark event seems like much better match-ups and they excite me.

What has happened to the Prime-Time Shootout? Here is an event that is well organized that went the expansion route too quickly. I wish they would have just Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games in Trenton NJ. The schedule could have been loaded with good teams as opposed to spreading the thing around and having what might be a bunch of weak games with a few dandy's thrown in. How about Rice, St. Pats, St. Benedicts, Blair, Lincoln, and Philly schools against each other and top out of area/state comp all weekend with an actual championship game on Sunday. Where is Bobby Jacobs when we need him LOL. He sure had that Delaware thing going great! That was an event!! So was the Prime-time. Maybe I just have it wrong but it seems so watered down with the multiple sites over a few weekends. Just waiting for the international version in the future.

The Hoop Group Events are the same thing and I am a huge Hoop Group fan. But the line-ups for those tip off events were not that exciting, at least on paper. The same seems to be in order for the other events in the Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg Pa., etc. It is OK to get a local team or two. But where are the games with the great area and out of area teams matching up?

This again brings me to the old Doc Turner Holiday Tournament in Harlem USA. First time I saw Mugsy Bouges (sp) and his Dunbar (Balt.) teamates. Also saw the DC Dunbar with great talent as well. 3500 local folks packed into the gym enjoying great basketball. What an event! They even had Oak Hill with Chris Brooks returning to NYC one year. I was without a car at the time and remember walking 39 blocks to the games at CCNY. Great Memories!

Alot of talk about the Rutgers Basketball program and the facilities. Allow me to give my two cents. Rutgers facilities definitely hold the program back. No if, ands, or buts about it. In a day when programs are showing off state of the art facilities to recruits and hiring marketing firms to attract fans and develop a strong fan base for good ole basketball university, Rutgers is on the outside looking in. It seems the powers at the school had no basketball vision. They should have seen this coming. Rutgers could have the worst facilities in the Big East.

Yes Freddy Hill has brought in good talent. But imagine what he could do with better facilities. And if folks do not think the majority of recruits do not look at facilities, and fan support they are wrong. Honestly the back of the RAC (that rhymes lol) is pretty nice with the viewing area, locker room, etc. But in comparison the front of the house which is the Arena is on a different level. Funny thing is at one time The RAC was considered one of the nicer arenas in the tri-state area.

I am not sure Rutgers needs more than 9000 seats. But I do think the 9000 seats should be wider and more comfortable. In fact if they just did what St. Johns did and gut the inside of RAC and re-do it from the ground up while adding a basketball practice facility it would make a world of difference. In the future a downtown multi purpose arena seating 17,000 plus could be built and used for bigger BE and national type games as well as concerts, events, etc. Similar to how UConn uses its facilities.

Basketball wise it will always be a tough place to recruit local kids as is the case at Seton Hall and St. Johns. Why? Because of the pressure to get away and be part of a true basketball environment that attracts huge crowds, etc. St. Johns was attractive years ago based on Lou Carnessecca and that huge Living Stipend together. But now most kids want to go to the national type programs with huge fan support and wonderful facilities, and BENEFITS lol.

Speaking of St. Johns has anyone else noticed that they have more out of area kids than usual. I remember when St. Johns had Beaver Smith and the other local guys. Ed Searcy and his crew. Mel Davis,Frankie Alegia, Tim Cleuss, Filipe Lopez, Zendon Hamilton, Mark Jackson, Mike Mosley, Wayne McKoy, Billy Schaffer, Chris Mullin, Shelton Jones, etc. Those guys were the toast of the town and the stipends helped them dress well and go to local events and be stars. Now the kids live in dorms, play in front of smaller crowds, and are far from the celebrities past SJU players were. heck, SJU players even had groupies!

What happened to those tough NYC and NJ Players? The SJU Roster now has players, some who happen to be pretty good, from Upstate NY, Ky, Philly, Delaware, Lithuania, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Harrisburg Pa., and England. Wow!! Years ago kids were picked by the St. Johns staff, now they choose to attend.

Last thing about St. Johns. Call me crazy again, but this St. Johns Team is going to beat alot of teams now and in the future. To me they are very improved and have solid talent. In fact I see them ending their season with at least 15 wins. If they could win 17 they will be post season bound in the NIT. Add Antony Mason to the mix next season and this team will be very improved and pretty solid.

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