Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sad Day and More!

Basketball fans come and go depending on why they developed an interest. Well today is a very sad day for many of us who have grown up and older watching HS and College basketball in the tri-state area. In fact it was a time that most of us were lean and trim as we watched games in the Wheel Chair Classic at Christ The King and the Montifiore Tournament in the Bronx. We also found time to go to NYC, Westchester, and even NJ to watch HS games but more importantly watch what College Coaches showed up. It was during these great times that I met John Salvo, one of the true colorful characters who loved watching and talking the game. Big John, as many called him, lived in Eastchester NY and was a fixture at Manhattan College, St. Johns, Iona, and even Notre Dame sporting events. He always spoke in the "we" way as if he was a graduate of the schools I mentioned. "We have to get stronger" or "We might sign John Doe" was the way he talked about all the local teams.

Well Big John passed away a few days ago and will be buried today in Westchester County. Boy will he be missed! I would bet the coaches will be out in force to pay respect to John. He would love to be there just talking to all in attendance. I can still hear him saying "give me 5 minutes" or "Who is That Guy" looking at a person entering a HS gym looking like a D1 coach from somewhere in America.

If you are wondering who John was allow me to explain. He was the guy sitting down at a HS game watching a kid no one has ever heard of and calling right than and there a few D1 college buddies he had on speed dial. He was the guy who stepped out of a stretch limo at the annual Kutchers All American HS Game with a huge cigar in his mouth when that was one of the big HS all star games. He was the guy who schmoozed with all the coaches and becomes almost a pain in the butt if not for the fact he was so well liked and loved. They all knew him! I remember sitting with Big John at Madison Square Garden watching the Super Six. Roy Williams arrived to watch Dexter Strickland when John yelled to him as if he knew him well "Hello Roy." Roy Williams looks over at John and says "Hi John." Yes everyone knew John Salvo. From the young kids hooping in Bed Stuy, to the kids in Edison NJ, John was well known. It was not uncommon to hear young basketball players look at Salvo as he walked into a gym waving at various folks and say "Whats Up Salvo." All he wanted to do was have a great meal, watch a great game, Know the major players, know the kids who were being recruited and by whom, and talk recruiting with College Coaches.

At his Funeral today I am sure folks will smile as they tell John Salvo stories. Like the time it was rumored he and some buddies grabbed a Cab on a Friday and went to Notre Dame for a Saturday football game. How about his great trips to his true football school, USC. I am sure John read all the boards locally and most likely will continue to do so from Heaven. The one thing we really know for sure is John will be at the Final 4 listening to what all the coaches have to say. Hopefully he will hear that they really miss him and appreciated his energy and love for the game. Rest in peace John and continue to enjoy the game we love from the great seats you must now have.

Curry To Transfer

Seth Curry is leaving Liberty to find a better and more competitive program. Do not be stunned if he ends up at Davidson to follow his Brother. This would be an ideal situation for this kid who many of my Charlotte friends say is as good if not better than his older brother.

Another school that could get him is The University of Virginia depending on the new Head Coach, and University of NC Charlotte. This kid will play it very safe when it comes to a new basketball home.

Lance Stephenson

Folks are saying it will be Kansas. WHY? OK dumb question! But I still think St. Johns is the place for him to attend and star from day 1. Lance stay home and help SJU return to the glory years.

Jarid Famous

4 words. "Go To Seton Hall" Make a wise life decision! Remember there is life after basketball.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Thoughts

Fran McCaffery the Siena Coach will get multiple offers in the next few weeks. Anyone who thinks this guy is not a true program savior is crazy. He would be great at a Big East or ACC school based on his prior experience including time as a ND Assistant. I think schools looking for a good HC should start driving towards Albany right now! I still think he handled the Siena Players leaving a few seasons back in the wrong way initially. But I am sure he had his reasons. But right now, he will be in demand! And If Jay Wright goes to Kentucky, Villanova would be the ideal place for him. Watch carefully the next few weeks.

Kyrie Irving is the future in NJ HS hoops. One of the great things about this young man is he has his priorities right. Just knowing who his Dad is, and thinking back at how he played at Boston University (if I remember right) and continues to still play at Harlem Square Garden in a men's league, this kid gets alot from his Parents. And what also makes him a prime recruit is I doubt if he could ever be purchased like many stars nationally. His early enrollment at Montclair Kimberley Academy prior to St. Patrick's speaks volumes about his families priorities.

Jarid Famous is off to The University of South Florida for a visit. The school will go all out to impress him and will succeed. But the bottom line is what's the environment like on game nights in December? Will they get to the dance? How is attendance? I know for a fact one late school is trying to get in with him and that school could go a few rounds into the NCAA tournament next season with him aboard. But we all know his Dad will call the shot on this and hopefully Daddy Famous, or Stretch as some say they know him by, will be happy with HIS decision 3 years from now. I say this because often Dads make decisions for kids and later realize they made mistakes. Trust me I know at least 2 Dads right now questioning doing or not doing something that impacted their sons. Careful Mr. Famous!!!!!! Look at the options well!

Lincoln HS wins the NYC Public Championship for the fourth year in a row. Does anyone else now deny Tiny Morton is a future NYC Hall of Fame Coach? But Johnny Mathis of Kennedy should also be on the ballot because he does a great job as well. Look for Kennedy to return to Madison Square Garden next season. Also look for them to participate in a strong North Jersey HS event next season.

Young ladies with game and yet to obtain scholarships should seek out Mr. Jim Couch at The Dyckman Basketball Program. Mr. Couch has been coaching youth for over 35 years and is putting together a team to take to North Carolina for a showcase event in a few weeks. You can email me or leave a comment below and I will have Coach Couch get in touch with you. Unfortunately he does not use the email account that was set up for him lol.

A good All star game takes place this Saturday at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem Pa. It feature the Lehigh Valley against the best of Monroe County. It might me a good thing for a few MAAC, NEC, and CAA teams to send representatives. Some pretty good but under the radar players will be on display.

How soon before Travis Ford is snatched up by another school? How about Sean Miller? Sometimes folks have to make moves to get that special coach when he is available.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Complaints lol!!!!!!!!!

I have always attempted to be fair to all the programs I comment on. In the past I have had everyone from Tiny Morton at Lincoln HS to Paul Hewitt at Georgia Tech a bit upset at what I have written on message boards and blogs about them and their teams. I have not been spared by Bobby Gonzalez, Norm Roberts, and the entire staff of Rutgers University including Craig Carter who I coached when he was in HS and in College during the summer months. In fact I took Craig to one of his Rutgers visits while he was in HS at Bronx HS of Science. I also pulled serious strings to get him into a graduate program to work on his masters degree and gain education credits he needed while working as a NYC Teacher between coaching jobs. Also on my list of people pissed at me in the past has been folks from the Gauchos, Playez, NJ Road Runners, NYC Mission Society, Rice HS, and more! I have been an equal opportunity blogger and message board participant. Oddly, most of the folks who have been upset with me have also been pleased with some of the things I have said. In fact, I would say 95% of those who have been upset understood I was only calling it as I see it. Most are still friendly with me and hopefully will remain that way. And if folks really read everything I have written, they would see I have complimented each person the list. I gave many more compliments than folks give me credit for. That included Fred Hill Jr.

It is so funny how folks at one school say I kiss up to fans at another school, and vice versa. Funny thing is I have never kissed up to anyone on any board. I have complimented people I feel worthy of compliments. I always give props to Danny Hurley because I like his style and non-ass kissing approach to the HS basketball business. My Grandson already has a St. Benedicts Shirt lol. I love the job Jay Wright does at Villanova and defended him when folks say he ran Kraidon Woods away from a scholarship which was 100% bogus. I like Mike Brey at ND and Al Skinner at BC. I also like what Norm Roberts has done this season as well as the future of Seton Hall University. Now with those statements folks will say I am dogging Rutgers. I am not! But if folks are so blinded that they can not see FHJ has alot of catching up to do and RU the University has to do their share regarding support to FHJ, facility improvement, and new marketing initiatives to attract fans, than something is very wrong. On the other hand I think people have to expect FHJ to get additional years and show improvement in the next two seasons!

It is also amazing how people feel if you compliment someone you are kissing up to them. Why can it not be you just strongly feel they are doing something worthy and right. Again kissing up is not my thing. I just love the game of basketball, especially on the HS and College level. Do I have an ego? I never thought I did but maybe I need to check myself. I write about basketball because it is a hobby and almost a passion. This is one of the best times of the year and I am in my glory. In addition, basketball is a great bonding tool for fathers and sons, friends, and associates. I know it has been very good to me and my family and I have never made 1 single cent. Free sneakers and a shirt or two? Yes! But never a single cent!

While talking about this I need to say to anyone reading this, what goes around comes around and sooner or later you might just run into that person you knocked and the person will be in position to help or hurt what you are doing. It is the reason why most college coaches maintain good working relationships with HS Coaches even if a player does not sign with their school. Let me give an example. Years ago a good guy who is no longer in the college basketball business but was an assistant coach at FDU said some rather rude things to me and some other folks. I told him he would see us again. And he did 4 years later when he came into 2 different homes to recruit players. As he walked in we just smiled at him. The players eventually signed with The University of South Carolina and Fordham. But we really did not do anything to hurt the guy but we could have.

Lastly I need to say that taking it out on me and attacking me because your team is not what you want it to be is sad. Just as folks do not have to read my blog, I could care less that they do not like me for my thoughts. But what some posters do not understand is others get turned off by what they say and do which is clear in the Lance Stephenson sweepstakes. SJU is not stupid! They are waiting until Lance decides on a college before deciding what will happen with the coaching staff. Sad that a 18 year old kid controls the destiny of grown men making alot of money. If Lance attends SJU Norm will be back. Hopefully he does but even if he does not, I hope SJU is fair. Oddly, I would bet the beating Norm takes from fans, and board posters will be part of the reasoning in where Lance decides to attend. Just as the postings from Rutgers folks will help Corey Chandler determine if he will return. And I know at least 3 super prospects who will not consider a certain school based on fans and perceptions they get from reading message boards and speaking to people they trust.

Well thats it for today and now it is close to NCAA kick off time. And before I forget I think UConn could win it all. But Louisville, and North Carolina are serious contenders. And if there are some serious typos in this basketball blog, please accept my apology.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday Thoughts

Before discussing a bit more about the NCAA tournament, I need to address what is happening with college coaches. Now it seems Dave Leitao has been relieved of his duties at The University of Virginia. What is odd about this is the fact not to long ago he was named ACC Coach of The Year. Guy really did a good job despite his current record for the 2008-2009 season.

I see where many folks are happy he was let go. I also see some people, who most likely never met him in person, are calling him arrogant and full of himself. Totally bogus because anyone who knows Dave would say the complete opposite. Dave Leitao is one of the best guys in the coaching business. Dave is easy to talk to, understanding, and very caring about his and other players. Just because he looks dapper and takes care of his appearance does not mean he is full of himself. I continue to be amazed when folks say things about guys they never spent time with but only met in passing at an AAU type event if at all.

I for one know Dave very well and think Virginia's lost is another schools gain. I also think folks hate UConn so much it carries over to Dave because he was a UConn Assistant. Well Dave will be fine! He worked his way to Virginia after being a decent player at Northeastern under Jim Calhoun. He joined Calhoun at Northeastern as an assistant. Joined him and did much of the recruiting at UConn as they built the UConn program. left briefly to coach Northeastern (Thanks to SPK/Steve for the correction),came back to UConn, before going to Depaul prior to going to Virginia. Guy has really paid his dues and no one has given him anything. He earned his positions and did a very good job.

What makes this even more crazy is Craig Littlepaige, a guy who I think is a very good AD and a guy I am friendly with. Craig knows better than most what it takes to make a program successful. He also understands how things can go bad from his days at Rutgers. Knowing Craig and Dave makes me think this came from somewhere else because I doubt Craig would have forced Dave out. He went through hard times and that alone should have made him understand what Leitao was going through. Unbelievable that this guy gets canned and others can survive for 10 years with no accomplishments!

Seton Hall

All I will say is folks need to allow Bobby Gonzalez to go into his lab and get the job done. Let the man work because he will get it done in grand fashion next season. The talent is there and hopefully the kids who played this season will work hard in the off season to get ready for a serious NCAA run. Now they need the marketing folks to get aboard starting mow to get more season tickets sold. Get that curtain up for next season because the 2009-2010 version of the SHU Pirates will be very good if things come together as they should!


Fred Hill will be back and it is a season that has to show improvement across the board. Kids that stay need to show improvement, team has to play better, defense needs to improve, big guys need to have go-to moves, and team needs to compete for entire game.

Coaching wise I am sure the coaching will improve every game FHJ coaches. Coaching in the Big East is not an easy thing and going against some of the best coaches in the country on an almost daily basis is difficult. Plus they have to do it with lacking facilities and fan support.

Player wise I think recruiting Corey Chandler again will be difficult after talking to one of his real advisors. But it can happen if they all sit down and talk it through. Two frosh will improve but overall the talent is good, but not great. A stud JC PG and Big forward is needed to make allow RU to have a NIT run at the least.

St Johns

It seems everyone is teaming up on Norm Roberts. One bad game in the BE tournament and folks go right back to bashing Norm. I stand by what I have said earlier in the season. Norm has the program improved and many kids in NYC are now interested in playing for SJU. I have my fingers crossed that Lance Stephenson stays home and attends SJU! Him and Mason Jr. and Burell, and the others would make the Red Storm special in a sold out for the season Alumni Hall and a exciting MSG. Again I say to Lance, go where you are LOVED and NEEDED and able to be the star from DAY 1.

But even if by some small chance Lance says no to SJU, Norm deserves more time despite the performance his team displayed in the last BE conference tournament game.

PSAL Championship

Lincoln HS from Brooklyn vs Kennedy HS from Da (The) Bronx

Great game with two great coaches in Tiny Morton and my friend Johnny Mathis. Kennedy has a strong group of players including at least 4 big guys with potential and some very good guards. Plus Johnny can coach his butt off which is proved by his two City Championships. But so can Tiny Morton who has as good if not better coaching resume and the advantage of having a player named Lance Stephenson.

I see a very good game with toughness being the difference. I am pulling for Kennedy, which by the way will hopefully agree to play in the 1st ever North Jersey Hoop Classic next season with everyone returning but 2 players, because of my affiliation with Johnny. But Lincoln is a hard team to beat at the Garden which is almost like their home away from home lol.

NJ Tournament of Champions..... or St. Patrick's Invitational

Name says it all. St. Patrick's should breeze through this. But both Science High and University High from Newark could be sleepers. In fact, University, coached by ex FDU star Elijah Allen, is a team for the future. with great talent for next few seasons including a special PG who is now only a freshmen.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What a Weekend

Like most people who enjoy basketball, the past two weeks was a great time to watch the game we all love. But this weekend provided a bit more with the exciting games that really started with the 6 overtime Syracuse thriller against UConn on Thursday. Again I say what a game!

Also like the championships I had an opportunity to catch on TV. Loved watching Binghamton sell out their beautiful on campus arena for the American East Championship against Maryland-Baltimore County. What a great atmosphere for college basketball. Funny how I thought including the two state university schools from New York, Albany and Binghamton, would hurt that league. I could not have been more wrong. In addition to academic excellence, they also brought great facilities and very good basketball teams to the conference. Now Binghamton plays Duke in North Carolina. Wow! But any player who loves the game should love getting an opportunity to go against one of the best college programs in America. a side note about this game was the way Randy Monroe the Maryland Baltimore County Coach loved by many around the country based on his calmness and gentlemen quality at all times turned into a wild man on national TV. He was totally out of control and if I did not know him I would have thought he was under pressure or something. Wow!

I am stunned that Seton Hall was left out of the NIT field. Just shows the lack of respect some people have for certain big east programs. I remember when a BE team could finish 1 game above 500 and be a lock. See St. Johns history. Still remember Digger Phelps getting his ND team in with a barely winning record. Could this had been a Bobby G snub? I also think it is important that teams show great fan support during the season because potential ticket sales at away games impress the NIT committee. When Rutgers went to the NIT finals under Waters and the Garden was almost red, it made a statement. Thus RU would get consideration points just based on a decent record above 500. Folks seem to forget the NIT is still a business looking to make money. Which is why the early rounds go to sites that can draw fans.

Went with my Son, John Cano, and a few other Teaneck fans to the RAC to watch the Group 3 championship. Teaneck was totally out hustled and outplayed by a good Neptune team. Oddly Shabazz fans in attendance must have been kicking themselves because Shabazz might have been much better than both teams playing talent wise.

Though Teaneck lost I want to thank them for bringing Teaneck back to the program category after being just a team for the past few seasons. I really enjoyed them this year and maybe they will return next season if they put in the mental work to make them competitive. I honestly felt so bad for these kids because though they had the skills, they proved that lack of heart and toughness will always result in a loss against good teams with toughness.

I still think Javae King-Gilchrist is a very good player. But he really needs work from the shoulders up much more than skill development. A great kid and great competitor, he did not take advantage of the stage he had yesterday. It was a time most good players look forward to. He has all the skills in the world but lack of strength and desire to go at this team early in the game by him and his teammates set the pace and resulted in the loss. The Neptune team was impressed with Teaneck from films, but Teaneck came out so soft and non aggressive it was over in the first half.

In the second half Teaneck was back within 10 with about 5 minutes to go in the 4th quarter when King-Gilchrist had an opportunity to make something happen. He missed a shot he would have made in past games. The Teaneck team was just so tentative it reminded me of when my son's teams played at the RAC and did the same thing. And My son was a good player but he too played soft and attentive.

For kids to be real ballers it takes more than skills. It takes heart and desire as well. Teaneck has some very good players coming back although I still think they are soft. The returning players seemed to be scared and at times did not even go after loose balls. One player, Blue, never ever goes after balls and seems to live on the perimeter. I call him out because he has a chance to be very good next season with work and mental toughness. Maybe John Cano and I will start up our Teaneck work-out program again!

Well Coach March, again I thank you for all you continue to do. Just remember my Chicken saying as well as my too much meat in the refrigerator saying. You know what I mean lol.

Rutgers Arena

Took a good look at the RAC and here is the LFBall plan to make it better. Not really an expensive plan, but a plan to make it a nicer place. My son by the way agrees with many Rutgers Fans about a better arena does not do as much as a winning team would do. The plan:

Re-do the ceiling in the RAC UGLY and worn

Take the student bleaches out and put in scarlet colored ones to give arena uniformed look. Or at the least have them painted

Purchase a new scoreboard with video and a decent sound system attached. Could barely understand what was being said.

Video Monitors in corners

Replace the upper bleacher type seats with same chair back type just below

Fix the chairs on lower level that are ripped and warn with padding coming out. There were many like this.

Lastly go to a regular basketball floor. That Boston Garden look is ancient.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Heck of a Thursday!

Thursday was a heck of a day for me. Unfortunately part of it was having to read some terrible personal and untrue comments about me that has nothing to do with basketball. I had to go on the Rutgers Basketball board to answer those terrible accusations. I can deal with folks not agreeing with me as guys like Frank and Steve from SHU will testify to. But it is another thing when folks use false accusations against me because I disagree with basketball stuff at RU. Well I answered there so I will not bore folks with my response here. But I will say I have an idea where it came from based on the number of posts the main person had. I am sure it is a friend or maybe someone very connected with basketball on the college level. Maybe I should talk about some of the non basketball rumors I have heard about happening away from the court! Happenings that have been hidden for a few years but many know about! This will most likely never happen because rumors and not complete information is so damaging and no one should have to deal with that. NUFF SAID!

Back to Basketball

Syracuse vs UConn game was tremendous and will be shown on TV for the next 20 years. 6 overtimes!!! Are you kidding me? What a game! Both teams were so tired they could hardly get up and down the court. They continued competing until the final whistle.

During the portion of the game I saw, you could see players going back and forth verbally. This was a war and at the end Syracuse came out victorious. I wonder if the BE conference is happy about that since the UConn traveling fan base is one of the best. The Garden might be sold out, but the seats need to be filled for TV and concession purposes.

Villanova over Marquette at the buzzer? Wow! Jay Wright keeps getting it done at Villanova. What a great situation. Sell outs at home in the 6500 seat gym and sell outs or close to sell outs when they play at one of the big Philly arenas. I honestly never thought Villanova would become such a big time program a destination for elite players. They are the NEW St. Johns, which had it going on this way years ago between Alumni Hall and MSG.

High School Basketball

Traveled to East Orange NJ to see 2 state semi final games. In a group 1 semi, University beat a solid team from Verona. Both teams were exceptionally coached to me. Great seeing kids actually running sets. This was HS kids at there best. Loved the job the University (from Newark) coach did with his players. And players he has! Big kids with game and guards who understand and have quickness and ability. It was only when the game was over and University won that I realized that the coach was Elijah Allen, ex Newark HS and FDU star who had some NBA looks. Boy did he do a great job and he seems to be a coach folks will be watching for a few years.

The game I really came to see was the Teaneck vs Shabazz. Great seeing all the guys from years ago at this game. Brian Crawford from Newark, Jim Salmon of the Playez, Herman Snyder from Teaneck, and My Guy Jon Cano who talks ball with me all the time.

Well this was a game of the big's vs the guards. It seemed that every time Shabazz missed a shot they had a big guy get the rebound and put it back in. The shabazz big guys were not just huge, they were athletic and could score. Shabazz was coached by legendary NJ hoopster Lou Grimsley who remains one of New Jersey's all time great high school players. I remember him being a part of a team at Essex County College to beat a team by 100 points. Game made Sports Illustrated. Well this was a typical Newark team based on its toughness and early game desire.

Teaneck was a group of guards with one big guy who only stands about 6 ft 2 with 4 pair of socks on. The kids he was going against were 6 ft 7, 6 ft 8, etc. Shabazz must have had 10 blocks of Teaneck player's shots in the first quarter. All I could do is think Shabazz cannot possibly play this good all game. And they did not.

Teaneck is a town that has a rich basketball tradition and has sent numerous players to college on basketball scholarships. Led by Curtis March, a legendary coach in NY circles, this team is a classic over achieving never give up bunch. The leader is Javae King- Gilchrist, a 6 ft 2 and growing 17 year old player who even Jim salmon, and Brian Crawford, two AAU vets with lots of contacts, feel is at least a A10 player. Funny thing this to me was not even one of his best games. So for these vets to feel this way says alot about this kids potential. Owen Barnes was steady as usual off the bench and seems to have a huge Teaneck following. Jonathan Blue is a star in the making as is Kyle Steinbergen. All 3 are underclassmen and will be back next season for Curtis March, if he decides to return for another season.

Well now it is off to Rutgers on Sunday and I plan on being in attendance. It seems even though at least 4 kids left the town to play HS basketball at a Catholic HS, the Highwaymen have found a way to get back to Rutgers. I still remember when Curtis started out as the Boys Coach at Teaneck and saying with tears in his eyes after not getting through to the Bergen County Jamboree Championship, "I just want to get to FDU one time!" Well he has done alot more than that with multiple trips, multiple county championships, and even a few state championships. What a run!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 2 and More

And we are off to the second season attempting to get to season 3 of 2009. 2 of the 3 local teams won opening round games in the BE tournament. Siena won the MAAC and their program looks solid as a rock. Will Fran leave to take a larger job somewhere in America? Time will tell because he is a super candidate along with Anthony Grant of VCU for the big time! Someone will get these two guys after their seasons end!

Rutgers vs ND
I honestly thought RU would win this game. Well it is over now and RU starts preparing for next season. FIG starts the first day of the rest of their lives and the RU coaches again will depend on new players next season. Will RU be better next season? Maybe they will if players work hard and improve. Maybe they will if the guy sitting out is good as FHJ says, and the incoming recruits are as good as some say. Me, I really do not want to sound too negative but as I said in a previous post the "IF' is huge but anything can happen. Just like Stephon Marbury will start at guard in next seasons NBA All star game in the back court next to Nate Robinson and coached by Mike D'antonio because the Knicks will be in first place heading into the 2010 all star break. Rutgers has a huge mountain to climb.

SHU vs South Florida
Told folks SF would be loose and play like they have nothing to loose. SHU won as they were supposed to. They are really an NIT team right now and are playing tonight against a tough team that they can beat. But again if this year turns out good, next season could be magical. SHU Fans should be out in force at the Garden since it is only 20 minutes from the Prudential Center. NO EXCUSES. I would love to see SHU win this game!

St. Johns vs Georgetown
Norm has to get at least 2 more years based on what he has done. he has quietly put SJU back into the picture as a players for great HS players and great local support from NY area fans. SJU to me is back regardless of the outcome today against Syracuse. Kids are thinking SJU again! I have no connects on this but I think Lance Stephenson really likes the idea of playing for St. Johns and helping them return to the glory years. And if he goes there, many others will follow! The game against Marquette is very winnable though challenging.

The season is over for Rutgers and a few fans still find time to say hurtful things about 3 kids who stuck it out there with a new coach who sometimes made them feel un-welcome. I wonder if the treatment this season of those kids and CC will impact future recruitment. More parents of recruited players read blog's and message boards than folks realize.

Patterson Catholic vs St. Patrick's at The RAC
Wonder if parking will still be $10. Game should be a good one but St. Patrick might be just a bit too talented and well coached for PC to compete with. JMHO!

Teaneck vs Shabazz at East Orange Campus HS
Game is Thursday and this is a game I will attend. I will be pulling for Teaneck to win this game. They better bring more than 1 busload of fans because Shabazz is almost down the street from East Orange and will have alot of folks cheering on their team.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A New Season and More

Today starts what many consider the second season for area Big East Teams. All three area teams will participate in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. And honestly anything can happen!

SJU vs Georgetown

This is a game made just for St. Johns. They are playing on one of their two home courts and should be able to win this game. If they do, it makes the Lance sweepstakes lottery even more of a possibility. They would than play Marquette in a tough but winnable game. I like St. John's chances!

Rutgers vs ND

Like I said anything can happen. I honestly think RU can upset the Fighting Irish if the players and coaches are prepared. Because it is the first day, I doubt the place will be full of ND fans which helps the RU cause. If FHJ goes to his veterans again it could be very interesting. Funny thing is if RU can pull off the upset, and I think they can, the next game is against West Virginia and they could win that game as well. Call me crazy!!!!

Seton Hall vs South Florida

South Florida has nothing to lose and will come out very loose. But Seton Hall, playing in front of friends and family should win this game and have a day off before taking on powerful UConn.(Oops I wrong and thanks to SPK from emailing me the correct information. The daily News had me confused lol) Seton Hall would than play Syracuse in a tough but winnable game before facing UConn. We all know UConn travels well and the place will seem like Hartford with all the Connecticut fans in attendance. But win or lose against UConn, and again in the BE anything can happen, this team should be in the NIT. No reason SHU should not have lots of fans at a game 20 minutes from their usual home court in Newark!

Well it is really an exciting time of the year as we prepare for the big dance. It's nice seeing teams going crazy after winning the smaller conference tournaments. Unfortunately I have to smile because for some it is like celebrating before heading off to be slaughtered. Like a new fighter winning his first bout and being happy that he goes against Mike Tyson in his prime the following month. But I guess it is about knowing you qualified and thinking your university, The University of Smallville, can beat a team like UConn, NC, etc. on a given day. Maybe that will happen. After all, Smallville is the home of Super Boy so maybe he is enrolled and will participate lol.

The start of March Madness or what I think it should called, March Joy, also reminds us that the AAU and travel team season is around the corner. This is where kids really earn scholarships. The travel circuit is a must for kids looking to play in college. One word of caution. Play on a team that will allow you to play and not sit. But also try to play on a team that college coaches know and watch. Some teams can travel all over the country and still not be seen because tournament organizers often put those teams with no rep on court 5 which could be around the corner and down the street.

Was on my way to the Patterson Catholic vs St. Anthony HS game yesterday. Fortunately I received a call from my man Jon Cano as I drove down route 89 headed for route 280. He informed me the game was sold out and the gym only held 400 people. I was amazed since it was only 3;45 PM. I thought about how messed up this was as I turned around to head back to Pennsylvania. This was a game that could have drawn 2000 people and made decent money for a struggling school like St. Anthony's. Why would they not put this game at a larger school, or college facility. Only in North Jersey LOL. Funny thing only a Hurley could do this and no one get upset because of the well deserved admiration for all he does and has does for young men. But for me, I still think the state of NJ should have mandatory seating limits for state games period.

Looking forward to seeing Teaneck make the state championship game at Rutgers University (If that is where they still play). I honestly feel Teaneck really has a few kids worthy of scholarships now and in the future. If they get to the championship game check them out. A real nice bunch of hard working and hard playing kids.

New Tournament in North Jersey

A good group of people are working hard to put together a HS showcase and tournament at a nice facility in North Jersey. Games will have Powerful teams from NYC and NJ including 4 girls and 8 boys teams. If it comes together it will be very special. They are just waiting for facility to get back to them as well as final confirmation from two sponsors.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Rutgers Seniors Final Game

It is a very emotional day for me watching JR Inman play his last college game at the RAC this afternoon. Wow how time fly's. I still remember JR walking into the gym at The Richard Rodda Center in Teaneck, NJ as a 9th grader from St. Joe's of Montvalle. Shayle Keating Sr., Billy Gilbert (Ex NYC Star and SJU Player), Jon Cano, Allison Davis, and I greeted him with open arms along with other 9th graders including Antonio Pena who plays for Villanova.

JR walked in with huge baggy shorts and black dress socks. It was funny looking at his skinny legs in those black dress socks. I still remember Miles Orman, who went on to Marist dunking on him and the entire gym started laughing. I remember stopping the action to tell everyone including the parents in attendance that this kid, who was dunked on, would be special one day and would be recruited by multiple big name programs. Folks thought I was crazy! I knew what I was talking about based on past experience. Did he pick where Jon Cano and I thought he should go and develop? NO!! But that was his decision and he and his parents wanted him to play close to home for a family man who would provide family values as much as basketball development. I cannot argue with that because Gary Waters seemed to really work hard on establishing a Rutgers Basketball Family. Was I a huge GW fan? Not really although I did respect him and admired his tenacity in getting JR, Farmer, and Griffin, I also thought he was a very good coach! My problem was I just did not feel Rutgers was a basketball school where JR could slowly develop into a very good player based on strength and conditioning, facilities, and more. But JR wanted Rutgers and even reminded me of what I always preached to him and other young guys, "go where you are loved and not where you are just wanted."

Going back to his HS career I knew he had tremendous potential if he played for a coach that believed in him. JR is the type of kid that needs to know he is loved and appreciated or he could shut down. Saw him excel in HS outplaying even Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellison in a HS game where he destroyed both guys and their team. Even they are stunned with what has happened to JR. But is all good and he will be fine once the season is over I am sure.

When Fred Hill was hired as Associate Head Coach at Rutgers It was a good day for me because I had known and REALLY LIKED Freddy for many years. He was a favorite of my entire family and many other families I know. When Gary Waters was fired, it was a good and bad day. I was very happy for Freddy, contrary to what some might think. But very upset at the way Gary Waters was treated by what I felt was a good ole boy network guy in the RU AD. I was pissed and felt that was not the way to get Fred a HC job. He, in my opinion needed to be with Gary Waters for at least 3 more years to fully understand what goes into being a head coach on the BE level while continuing Gary's Family atmosphere. Gary was treated wrongly and most know this and that put pressure on FHJ much more than it should have.

Will Fred be successful? Time will tell but one thing for sure is he needs to really work on management and player development as much as coaching. I would say in time he will be very good and he will learn from the mistakes he has made including the way he handled FIG and other upperclassmen. Every game he coaches he will be better than the game he coached the week before. He will not hold grudges and learn as a bigtime coach that folks will always have an opinion about you good or bad. He and his assistants will also learn that they need poker faces and need to watch what they say to players about ex coaches, advisors, etc. Those coaches will also watch what they say to AAU types, HS Coaches, and others because the circle is very small in NYC and NJ basketball. TRUST ME!

Well JR and his Sr. Teammates never imagined they would go through what they have this season. Not as much the record, but the lack of playing time and a feeling that they were not needed nor really wanted. Sad situation despite them often not playing up to expectations. Mike Brey at ND gets the most out of kids because he makes the
13th man feel special. I have watched him sit with walk-on's parents for 30 minutes prior to practice having a discussion. It is no secrete why people and players love him. JR and his friends probably never received that feeling and as I mentioned earlier, kids need to feel wanted, needed, and believed in.

So I say to JR and Farmer and Griffin, you guys are completing what you started and though you have not gone to the basketball promised land, you have done your best and most likely 85% of the RU fans appreciate you. And those who knock you are most likely guys who never even played Freshmen basketball in high school. I would bet a dollar to a nickel Gary Waters called or will call each of them prior to the game today. Lastly, after the last game you play in the BE Tournament, a new chapter in your lives start. Learn from your mistakes but focus on the future and put the past behind you. It will be the first day of the rest of your lives!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Recent Happenings

Well it is almost time to say goodbye to the areas seniors who have performed for local teams. From Rider to Iona to Rutgers, Seton Hall, and St. Johns, this has been an interesting season to say the least.

Hopefully folks will have decent thoughts about the graduating players after they take their uniforms off for the last time. Remember these kids committed to your school when they had other options regardless of those offers being D1, D2, or D3.

Wonder what are the thoughts these players will leave with? Will they be lifetime supporters of the school they played for? Will they become recruitment ambassadors? Will they hate on the experience and let everyone know? What will they do after the last game? In recruitment the worst nightmare for a Head Coach is a dissatisfied group of ex players and advisors. And remember, what goes around comes around. So sooner or later paths will cross in a living room, over a telephone conversation, or in a discussion about good ole university.

Program wise each area school needs to be in a positive position to get future players who will make a difference. When Tommy Ameker mismanaged his players at SHU, it impacted his recruitment tremendously. And he had no transfers I can think of. Just a bunch of under achieving players who he treated well based on who each player was. He kissed up to his super incoming class and forgot the returning players. He never recovered and ran, not walked, to Michigan because he saw the writing on the wall. Needless to say he is now at Harvard.

At Rutgers I see similar things happening. No sense in repeating what has been said for a long time regarding player management, etc. In fact the Rutgers Record, though important, could be secondary to other happenings in Piscataway. See St. Johns and Fran Frachillo as a reference. If you see massive transfers, under performing players who have gone from good (not great) to bad over a period of time, and a look of fear on faces, it is something that needs to be examined. No the players do not get a pass for playing soft!!! Because they have done just this! But the Coaches need to check themselves as well and how they have managed the RU Program. Sorry, that is how I see it.

Transfers? If anyone actually believes Corey Chandler in not seriously considering transferring they are crazy. Even without the recent problem, he had to see the recruitment of a super JC PG as folks have written, as being a nail in his coffin as a starter at RU because Like I have said, Rosario will start at the two even if Steph Curry and Tyreke Evans transferred to RU. Plus the look over your shoulder situation had to be too much on him and has definitely impacted on how he performed! So yes Corey said nice things and apologized to his coaches and teammates, but the beat still goes on and I would bet a dollar to a nickel he has already had his REAL advisors make some calls to schools that would fit Corey's style. Use your imagination and you will come up with the same potential list I can see him contacting.

Is Corey the only one considering leaving Rutgers? I have heard rumors that other players are also considering leaving. And no I am not talking about Rosario and Enchenique. Why would they leave a place where they really have and get all they need regardless of output. But others are seriously thinking transfer. I have heard this for a long time. One might not be able to leave, but others I feel really will see what is out there before making a decision. And if Corey stays at RU, it will be good to keep a player like him, but I would be stunned.

Every school will have kids transfer. It is a popular thing to do when you feel your playing time will decrease or you are not being treated fairly. Happens all the time. But too many sends a serious message which is why coaches work so hard to keep even role players from leaving. It impacts recruiting and program stability.

Lastly I feel, and again I am not an expert, that teaching, bench coaching, and execution is very important in college and HS basketball, but program and player management is what separates basketball programs from basketball teams.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

St. Johns, Seton Hall, and Rutgers

St. Johns

What more can I say except they seem to be really on the right track even if they lose remaining games this season and in BE Tournament. They seem to be competing well and gaining alot of confidence.

With that said I say again to Lance Stephenson, STAY HOME and be part of something very special. Help SJU return to the glory years and sell out crowds at Madison Square Garden. I can hear them chanting your name already from the rafters. All your friends from Brooklyn, your Parents and family, HS teammates, and your fans who have watched and defended you for years will be there to provide the positive vibes necessary to take you to the next level. St. Johns needs you but more important you need St. Johns because they will provide you with a showcase and showplace no one else can. Plus, everyone wants to play NYC and Broadway. Why play in a B Market when you can stay home and play in an A market! Blair stayed home to attend Pitt! The Syracuse kids stayed home! And so did players like Mullins, Berry, Jackson, and others and the last time I looked all have done extremely well financially even after basketball.

Seton Hall

Was across the street from the SHU campus yesterday at a recording studio with some very well known recording artists working on a project. Could not help from driving on the campus when I left to re-acquaint myself to what the school has to offer facility wise. Honestly this is the perfect school for a great player not seeking to be caught up in large numbers like they have at mega universities. The campus was very nice and it looks larger than the last time I was there and took time to really look around. That was when PJ was there and I had a nice meeting with him concerning a player named Sally or Salley. Could someone please post the HS he attended. I know his dad lived in NE Pa. but the son played for the late great Doc Necelli and the Madison Square Bronco's.

Again I say that campus will be alive next season. Just hope folks are ready for alot of attention and publicity!


Rutgers loses to a very good Syracuse team. Now all I will say is the following:
Mike Rosario took 21 shots and made 6
Next highest shot total was 7 by Farmer
Chandler played 5 Minutes (Is a message being sent here?)
Enchenique scores 2 points and gets 4 boards (nice kid but why so many accolades?)
Rebounding totals were close to even
Turn Overs even
Assists were far apart. 8 for RU and 19 for Syracuse

I am sure the coaching staff at RU has looked at film all night after this loss. Not really interested in knocking the RU staff but I will again say this team was loss when the keys to the ship were turned over to two nice kids at the start of the season as the upperclassmen watched as hey were handled with kid gloves and they were forced to play a certain way or sit down. Those kids never recovered. I do think the RU Players have shown no heart or pride. But that to me is something I expect when kids are just not hungry. If folks really understood the backgrounds of Harris and Flynn, they would understand why they are so tough and dedicated to competing every game.

Next year at Rutgers could be similar at best! If folks think the new players will provide what is needed to get out of the cellar of the BE they are incorrect. What will do this is a GREAT IMPROVEMENT from Rosario, Enchenique (He needs much more than folks realize), a free to play Chandler, and other team members. They need a chemistry that I last saw at Providence under Rick Pitino when Billy Donovan went from a dough boy to a basketball player. But most of all they need FHJ and his coaches to really step it up with the players development wise, mentally, and during games. This can happen and if it does we will see a better RU. But trust me it is far from being about who will come in next season. Everyone in the BE will get new talent and alot of them are getting better players than Rutgers.

Well March Madness is here and it is my favorite time of the year. I still feel UConn will win the Big East but North Carolina will win the National Championship.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Am Back

Its been a while since I have put anything on this blog. Unfortunately I have had nothing to really say because area basketball has been a disappointment recently. Sure Seton Hall and St. Johns are doing some decent things but the Rutgers situation is so depressing to me. And again I am not smart enough to be a RU Alum so I am not a RU fan. But I am a fan of area basketball and a definite supporter of JR Inman, who if folks remember plays for Rutgers as the 9th man after being the leading scorer the past few seasons as a starter.

Lets start again by briefly talking about Rutgers. What a mess! What will happen to change it next season? Will it change? Well for this to happen Mike Rosario and Corey Chandler will have to be the true change agents. Unfortunately I am sorry to say the kids coming in and the present players are what you see is what you get type players. In other words just average. Greg Enchinique had one of the greatest games we have seen from a Rutgers freshmen against Providence. Maybe he could develop into a 12 point and 10 rebound guy next season. But the future is in the guards. And because if that, Corey Chandler needs to get to a true PG training facility because that is his future as long as Mike Hill-Rosario is on campus. Mike will be the starting 2 guard until he leaves Rutgers.

Sad again watching JR Inman playing and sitting this game. Such a nice kid who has just accepted his role of a 12 minute a game person. I guess Fred Hill showed him and all of us that believe in JR who is the real man!

I would like to spend a minute talking about Mike Rosario. After reading that great newspaper story on him I now know why he is and will always be successful. The kid has been in love with basketball most of his life. He looks at the game as a privilege to play and approaches each game thankful for the opportunity. I always say some kids have too much meat in the refrigerator and never are hungry enough to take their game to the next level. This kid understands this and is fighting his ass off to become better. I feel the same way about Corey Chandler and his approach. Once he gets his head right with the coaching staff and stop looking over his shoulder he will give Rutgers a serious 2nd BC option. Both could be special. Very Special. That is if Corey does not transfer to a MAAC or Patriot School........Just kidding! If he transfers it will be to the Big 10, ACC, or at the least A10. I know personally some coaches are eagerly watching this situation play out. A poster named NJ4Life can confirm the many schools who are drooling about this.

The new AD at Rutgers makes me think Men's basketball will be the 3rd team on the totem pole after Football, and Womens's Basketball. Guy seems like a football guy who will ask other's about basketball. Maybe he needs to speak with Stevie Wonder because even he can see the Men's basketball program needs more than band aids. Time will tell. Hopefully this new AD has some understanding about College Basketball.

Seton Hall still looks post season bound if you ask me. But again just think of where they could be next season. They might be so good even red sweaters will be visible at SHU home games and the opposing team will not be from NJ or NY.

Now I honestly feel this Jarid Famous kid everyone is now after will attend Seton Hall. Again I say if he does not, his folks have done the best con job in the history of college recruiting. Folks should send his folks a bill for the great treatment they have received. After all I am sure they would be able to handle it. Is he a program changer? Not sure but he can play and will be helpful to any program he signs with. I know Missouri is really going all out. UConn now wants him because they just love stockpiling good players for practice. St. Johns is a good option as well but I am not sure how hard they are going after him. Again I say go where you are loved and not where you are only wanted. Funny how I now hear HS stars saying the same exact thing.

To me the big thing for SHU to do in the off season is plan ways to increase season ticket holders to a point they can move the curtain up a notch to make the sell out number 12-13,000. This is possible, especially with the toughness, talent, and personalities of the players and coaches. If SHU starts getting 13,000 plus they will be in the mix for many top 30-50 players and a true household name on the summer circuit. It Can Be Done!

As I have mentioned in the past, St. Johns is improving and rapidly sneaking back into the picture as an area power regarding recruits. If Lance Stephenson signs with St. Johns, and I am sure SJU is all over this, SJU now improves its image and attracts great crowds at MSG. Also Alumni Hall again sells out every game on campus, NYC returns to the glory years, and the Garden again becomes the place to be for College basketball. Come on Lance make it happen! I know you read this blog on occasion and I am telling you that you belong on Broadway, well at least close to Broadway lol. Lance with the current SJU players and recruits would be dangerous!!

Lance we know Maryland wants you to follow in the footsteps of Albert King and be the next NYC superstar to attend school in College Park. Great place and I am sure they will treat you well. But there is nothing like home cooked meals, playing at the Garden, being able to eat a Nathan's hotdog when you wish, having your support network at games, having every NBA scout watch you perform, going to a school where you will be an impact guy from day 1, and lastly becoming a true home-town hero leading SJU back to the NCAA tournament. Watch out SHU, if Lance attends SJU the battle for area players and media coverage will be huge.

This brings me back to Rutgers. Where will they fit into this puzzle? The only State supported school of the 3, they should have a similar outlook. Hopefully Mike Rosario, Corey Chandler, Greg Enchique, and a recruited JC PG can help. But when you do a comparison, it looks like a hard hill to climb. The new AD has as much work to do as the coaching staff.

Hats off to my old town Teaneck. Coach March and his team made a grown man cry. Yes I cried when they won the Bergen County Jamboree. This was the first time My son has watched Teaneck since he played there years ago. He also felt great about the win.

Not sure if Coach March will retire, but if he does I HOPE THEY GIVE THE JOB TO YOUNG KELVIN REECE who did a great job coaching the team to the championship and is an outstanding young man! Great to see the men of Teaneck and Englewood out supporting the kids. Herman Snyder, Billy Gilbert, Jose Hernandez and his sons Christian and Giovanni, Jon Cano, Zach Husser, James Brown, Curtis Caveness, Kelvin's dad Mr. Reece, Coach Mac the ex Englewood Coach, and many others. These guys have done so much for area youth that it would take 10 pages to describe.

Until Next Time!!!!