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!
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.
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.
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.