Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WCC Coach, Rumor, and More

Sad day in basketball with the passing yesterday of Winston Nicholas, Head Coach of Westchester Community College. Many know Winston through his tenure at Westchester Community College. But to the real basketball fanatics, Winston's legacy goes way further than Westchester.

Winston was one of the first great young players from Queens NY. He was a stud as an 8th grader who tore up the playgrounds in his Queens neighborhood. He went on the basketball radar when he enrolled at Long Island Lutheran High School where he played on a team that featured older players Reggie Carter and Wayne McKoy, who both were already house hold names in recruiting circles. People wondered who was this strong 6 ft 4 kid with smarts and ability. They later found out it was Winston Nicholas. Or Mr. perfect as I often thought of him.

In my eyes he always had his uniform just right. His socks always came up just right. he had the perfect strong guard body. I laugh as I think back at how he always wanted to be a point guard. Funny thing is he was so smart he found ways of actually playing the position despite not being the quickest person around. Winston always knew what he was doing and he was a leader!

As a player his coaches would have to have their stuff together because Winston studied play books and tape. he had the answers to everything as a player. He was often challenging, but in a good way. He was almost intimidating to a coach because he often felt he knew as much as them in a good way lol.

Winston never completed his career at Long Island Lutheran. He decided to return to his Queens home and play for Cardoza HS where he led his team to the City Championship game which I think they actually won. One of his teammates was current Cardoza Head Coach Ron "The Teacher" Neclerio. I might be wrong on this but I could swear Winston told me he played with Neclerio. A friend emailed me that Neclerio was the Assistant Coach on his Cardoza team that won the city championship.

Winston went on to accept a scholarship to a nice D1 school but became home sick and enrolled at Westchester Community College where he commuted to daily, never missing a class, from his Queens home. He brought along his HS buddy Stu who also was a great talent. Oddly Winston stayed affiliated with Westchester and the school loved him even after he left to accept a scholarship to Hofstra University to play for Dick Berg.

After his college playing career and an assortment of college related positions including one D1 assistant position, Winston returned to Westchester Community College. I still remember when he returned. The uniforms went from OK to outstanding! Ralph Arietta, a great coach and JC Hall of Famer, embraced Winston and allowed him to have a huge role. We often laughed because we knew that would mean the program would be the best outfitted team in America. Winston found deals only he could find. Team socks that normally would cost $4 a pair he got for fifty cents. he made deals with uniform companies before it was popular and the Westcos had 5 different types. Shooting shirts? At least two. I think Winston even had the team change one time at half time to a different set of uniforms.

I still remember going to watch a WCC game a few years back and Winston taking me down to the equipment room which could rival Kentucky's with all the great stuff on display. Yes Winston knew how to market his program and get great deals to outfit the team.

As the Head Coach he had zero ego when it came to getting advice from others. But in actuality he was a tremendous coach! He really understood the game and how to teach it. For a while he out coached everyone with a team of kids with very little talent as he re-built the once powerful Westchester program. And when he started to get talent again it was a huge problem for other teams because the guy could coach, teach, and recruit. Plus he made sure they had nice uniforms and a nice gym. Winston was the MAN!

A great Winston story for those who think C. Vivian Stringer knows how to get the most out of players. At one point in his career as a head coach at WCC Winston decided the team was not competing and deserving of wearing nice gear. The year could have been 2005. Winston makes the entire team give in all gear from sneakers, to socks, to wristbands, to uniforms. He than gives out the uniforms Westchester wore in the year 1974 including my old uniform number 34 lol. Folks were stunned to see kids squeezed into those tight uniforms but the kids received the message loud and clear.

Winston Nicholas was a great person who did things the correct way and provided opportunities to many. He is such a reminder of the good days and what we had. Winston will be very much missed by many including his family, players, past staff, friends, and colleagues. Winston rest in peace before re-organizing the hoops program in Heaven.

Hoop Happenings

Strong rumor that Barry Rohrssen, Head Coach at Manhattan has been offered a job at Kentucky on John Calipari's staff for $400,000 yearly. My sources say he is strongly considering especially since he was on the Cal staff when he was HC of UMass. Stll remember Barry as door guy at The Limelight and China Club in NYC. I do not know him but people who do say he is OUTSTANDING!!!!! Plus he is a nice guy from Brooklyn.

Famous to South Florida is nothing to frown about. The school has great facilities, nice weather and great views if you know what I mean. I am sure they provided him a wonderful scholarship package.

Why would folks be so upset over Bobby Gonzalez losing out on Jarid Famous to the point of calling him names? Trust me, Bobby did not lose this kid because he did not do all the right things. Bobby and his staff worked their tails off but sometimes a kid and his family like to explore other opportunities. This was not about the SHU staff not doing their job.

What is Lance Stephenson waiting for? I honestly think he needs to take a good look at his options. He understands where he is as a player and what comes along with his signing. Will the school allow his parents to have a say? Will they accept his initial behavior? Will they allow him to play through mistakes? Kansas could be very lonely when things are not going well. But than again maybe his family could relocate there. Lance really needs good direction at this time.


Beth said...

I loved what you wrote about Winston. I knew him from my days at WCC as EIC of the school paper. I'm not a student there anymore but I've gotten permission to write a little something about Winston for the paper. I'm wondering if you would consent to letting me submit what you wrote as well? Were you at the funeral? I was sitting with Coach Arietta and his family.

Again, I loved what you wrote!


LFBall said...

No unfortunately I had a huge event that day. I am also friends with ralph Arietta. I am a WCC Graduate as well as a former player who at one time was Captain of the team. I also coached at WCC as an assistant to ralph for a number of years.

Of course you can use my stuff. Reach me at lfball@aol.com or call me at 646 3372480.


Bobby said...

I just wanted to chime in after i read the great stories of Winston Nicholas. I met him through hie BEST friend and my Cousin Stuart(TRUCK)Powell, who is my cousin. They played together at Benjamin Carodza High School when they one the PSAL City Basketball Championship back in 1977 or 1978They Winston was a tough but fair coach and your right he brought Stuie to WCC in the mid to late 1980's when Stu decieded to go back to school. Winston also has two children who are also amazing basketball player as well and his daughter will be playing for Holy Cross University in the fall of 2009 on full basketball scholarship. I had the oppurtunity just to "chill" with him outside of the basketball world and he was just a good dude! Anybody who knew him could tell you how he could just light up and room and he still was in great basketball shape.
RIP Winston!