Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday Thoughts

Lance Stephenson

Cincinnati? WOW!!! Where did this come from. I do like Mick Cronin who has a long basketball history in that area. Plus his Dad was a great HS coach there and young Mick learned alot from him and others I am sure. But why would Lance turn down St. Johns, Seton Hall and Rutgers (If They wanted him)?

John Chaney once told me his recruiting method. I had called him to alert him about a guard in NYC who I thought would be very good at Temple. He asked me point blank as he always did, "Just How Good Is He?" I answered he is good enough to play for you at Temple. He laughed and said if that is the case he would never recruit him. You see John Chaney only recruited kids from outside of the Philly area who would be GREAT and Star at Temple. Like Mark Macon from Michigan! He told me that good guards are a dime a dozen in big cities like NY and Philly. If he wanted a kid, especially a guard, who was just very good, he did not have to go far to recruit him. He could get plain good right in Philly and take the train to see the kid as he often did even when he came up to NYC.

I tell this story because I feel the same way when it comes to kids attending college to play basketball. If a kid has Ivy options, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Stanford, certain Big Ten schools, etc. I understand them leaving the area. But to leave area programs such as SJU, SHU, RU, etc. to attend Cincinnati is interesting to say the least. If I was a college AD and this happened I would question who is doing the recruiting. However we all understand the Lance case is sorta different. But again Cincinnati? It still amazes me how kids turn down area schools to go far away for what they can get right here. It also is a concern based on kids not understanding alumni connections and career options in an area you wish to reside in after college. Want to work and live in NY, Pa, NJ, Conn.? Attending college in the area could be beneficial!

I know Cincinnati has great tradition with Oscar Robertson who still attends games. I also know first hand that the facilities are nice and the school is very good with an outstanding Cooperative Education component. Maybe Lance wanted the Coop Program lol? Nah......I doubt he is interested in doing an internship.

Looking at the Cincinnati roster, it seems they could be very good next season and getting Lance is the icing on the cake. But dog gone it Lance could have Made SJU such a better team and been almost a NYC college basketball savior as the Red Storm filled up MSG like they did years ago. First Xavier gets certain area kids, now it is Cincinnati. One thing for ACC and others to get kids. Now Cincinnati is taking kids away.

Rutgers Gets Beaty

Good pick-up for Rutgers. But what about Corey Chandler? will they play a 3 guard line-up? Will he be happy coming off the bench? Will he come off the bench? Is it just me or does anyone else see problems with a 3 guard RU line up with the bigs being The big fella and Enchinique? Will they have problems with Chandler if he comes off the bench? What happens if Chandler beats out Beaty and starts at the point? It all has the making of a interesting season at Rutgers. Hopefully they will turn it around.

Hoop Group Event

Heard about all the craziness at the recent metro event. All I can say is sometimes things happen! The Hoop Group is and always was a CLASS Organization, even if they do charge to much for those HS Tournaments at various locations.

Summer Leagues

Summer leagues are starting and it is nice to see the young kids out competing. 8 year olds playing so hard running the court. Who will be the future stars? Maybe Hoop Scoop will publish the top babies born this year. Number 1 could be baby Jonah Jones who came in at 8 pounds 7 ounces and 25 inches. Heard a number of schools have inquired already. Oops before I forget, remember my grandson Logan? He is close to turning two years old and already demanding the ball, something his dad did not do lol. On a recent trip to his other Grand Parents home in Texas he was seen dunking on the small hoop with authority. maybe Texas will get involved. If not he could always go to Xavier or Cincinnati.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today's Thoughts

Lance Stephenson

Perceptions that are not necessary true can hurt people in the world of work as well as in sports. Thus the case of Lance Stephenson. It seems people are getting great enjoyment out of laughing at how his recruitment has developed. It seems many people are no longer interested in "Born Ready" for various reasons.

The strange thing about this is Lance could really help most of the programs that are mentioned. I laugh when I see people applaud Gary Williams for no longer recruiting Lance Stephenson. I laugh because anyone who has followed Gary's successful career knows he would recruit Bin Ladens first born if he could help Maryland win games. He would take kids straight from Rahway or Green Heaven State penitentiary's if they could ball. And though everyone deserves an opportunity, do not get it twisted about why Gary Williams is no longer recruiting Lance. He has that position filled. Gary would take a great HS player if he came with the cast of entourage lol.

How about all the other programs that recruited Lance? Not one single program stopped recruiting Lance because of behavior concerns or concerns about his family involvement. They stopped based on their needs being met by other recruits. That includes Kansas!

Now lets revisit the Recruitment of Lance Stephenson. The perception about most inner city kids with game and reputation is always going to impact what people think. I laugh when I read how fans from certain colleges who could not get a Lance Stephenson quality player, even if they had his Dad on staff and his Mom working in the admissions office, say how he should not be recruited. Yet if Lance announced today he was attending one of those schools they would have a record number of readers and posters on their team site welcoming him with open arms. Yes it is easy to say do not take a kid you could not get even if you wanted him lol.

Lets look at Lance through my eyes. Here is my honest assessment of him from the first time I saw him as an 8th grader. Lance showed great potential and maturity at a very young age. He was stronger and better than everyone he played against. He was so good he played with guys 4 years older and still stood out. As he got older he became better and better and even more stronger as a guard. As a player he might go down as one of the top 5 to ever play HS ball in NYC. Heck he could be top 2-3 because no one was better than Lew Alcinda as a HS player. As a senior in HS, he seemed a bit more sloppy with the ball in my opinion. But he was still a great player. Just looked bored and was trying to do too much. But he was still the best in NYC or NJ. As a player he will be even better in college where he will have to be more focused. What college? I will talk about this in a minute.

Lets look at dear old Dad. Why is it a problem for people when a Dad who PLAYED basketball and wants the best for his son gets involved in his sons recruitment? No one says a thing about stage moms, tennis moms, parents pushing piano lessons, etc. I always say the best accepted parents by coaches are those who never played the game. Look in the stands at any game and the ideal parents just sitting there are usually the parents who were not athletic or at least never played basketball. A Dad who grew up playing Soccer and never played or watched basketball will never question anything because he rarely understands the game of basketball. Do I feel Lance Stephenson's folks enjoyed all the attention? YES! Have they handled the recruitment well? Not sure! Have they been great parents to Lance? YESSSSSSS! Let me say it again. YESSSSSS! Lance Stephenson's Dad and Mom have the best interest of their Son at heart. They feel his pain, and enjoy his pleasure. I honestly feel they are attacked based on false perception. As the all time champion of acting like a fool at my son's games, I can only imagine how much they were into Lance considering his potential and outstanding skills. They like me with my son, love their son and wants the best for him.

Lets look again at this attitude issue. I have never seen what others have. And remember I have watched Lance in person over 40 times! Does he play with a swagger? Yes! But I have never, ever, seen what folks often describe. I see a kid who competes all the time. A kid that wants to play. I see a passionate kid who pushes his teammates on the HS level just as Kobe pushed his teammates in the NBA championship series. I guess Kobe showed a bad attitude when he was screaming at Andrew Bynum in an effort to motivate him?

When it comes to Colleges, trust me when I tell you that 95% of the colleges in America including D1, D2, D3, and even D4 and D5 if there was such colleges, would have taken Lance Stephenson when they had scholarships available. Now that the scholarships are not available they tend to stick their chests out and act as if they did not want Lance. That is so funny and I hope Lance has a list he can refer to next season in case they are on his schedule. Again I laugh at the Maryland reference knowing how they recruit after they recruited a student athlete that stayed with me for 2 years.

Where should Lance go to college is the big question? But before giving my thoughts on this I need to say Seton Hall, and Rutgers, and even Syracuse, need to work their butts off to get involved with this young man. Right about now he and his family need that right coach to approach them with a scholarship offer and a development plan that will lead Lance to the NBA. And if he attends, others will follow in the next few years. Personally If I coached at one of the mentioned colleges I would be at Coney Island on the Cyclone everyday for the next few weeks hoping to bump into him. I might be dizzy from the ride, but I would get my points across.

His future team? I have said it once and I will say it again. Lance would do great in the NY tri-state area. I think St. Johns would have been a great place for him to star, and help bring back to life. It would have been his team from day 1. Now if that does not work, imagine him signing with Seton Hall or Rutgers? WOW!

My Last Post

Had an interesting email from a guy from Greenburgh NY who loves reading my blog but hates what I write, especially about AAU, HS, etc. I want everyone to understand I enjoy your comments and encourage you to disagree with me if it is how you feel. I just ask that you read well before doing so because we might just be saying the same things or you might just realize I am not saying ALL, just some.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Basketball........The Ugly!

I start this off by first saying this is not about any one person, but about a system in dire need of revamping. This includes the NCAA, AAU, Grass Roots Programs, Sneaker Companies, Sports agents, D1, D2 and even some D3 programs. I have sat and watched along with everyone else how this game we all love has gotten out of hand, or shall I say put in the hands of the wrong folks who seem to be calling all the shots from behind the curtain. We have watched a wonderful game revolve from the scandals years ago involving CCNY and other area schools to a solid system of college teams competing for good ole university, and now back to under handed and questionable decisions. We are back at the stage where the big winners are playing with atomic weapons and the other college teams are using sling shots. And just what makes these college power teams so great? They have resources and connections that go beyond what others can dream about.

Lets start out talking about who is really controlling amateur athletics in the United States of America? Is it the NCAA? NAIA? NJCAA? AAU? I would say none of the four mentioned! The game we love is really now in the hands of various companies, rec and travel team people, sports agents, and basketball advisors. These folks really dictate what HS young players will attend, Colleges that HS players will attend, what coaches will get what jobs, who those coaches will hire as assistants, what sneakers those coaches will wear, and even what athletic directors will get interviews at what schools. In some cases I have even heard where salaries are paid by outside people not even affiliated with a particular university or school. Heck we have heard about some HS coaches getting paid by outside people including families of kids on the HS teams. We have heard about deals being made with everyone under he sun in regards to hiring and firing and athletic budgets.

Trust me, it is a different game than it was 20 years ago. So much money to be made with outside deals, elite teams scheduling weak teams who can earn upwards of $150,000 for a good loss in front of thousands of fans, TV appearance money, NCAA money, attendance money, Camps (Huge Money) bonus money from outsiders if you know what I mean, and much more including increased contributions from Alumni. There is so much money involved I am surprised things are not even worst. And at a time Athletic Directors are working hard to balance budgets and obtain funding to keep programs afloat, they are becoming very vulnerable when it comes to others influencing the decisions they make.

This makes power brokers who do not even work for or within the NCAA very influential when it comes to jobs on all levels of Division 1. From what I heard in the past few days, power brokers from as far away as California, and as close as New York, are very involved with some of the smaller D1 programs. Why? power and influence! It is that conquer the world mentality and the rush they get by influencing hiring and in some cases firing.

The sad thing is lives are influenced by all of this, and it is far from pretty. It often is nothing short of exploitation of people. Kids are ruined by people pushing them in the wrong direction for the wrong reasons. Even some coaches and ADs are used and they do not even realize it. An AD has an opening for a coach and all of a sudden he or she gets a whose who in sports calling to recommend the same person. They are calling him or her at little university and the AD gets so excited he wants to almost tape the conversation. Wow, he might say to all in earshot, guess who just called? Of course the caller might just say how they have heard of the great job he or she has done at little university and when they hear of an opening at large university they are going to help him or her. But in the meantime how about helping out by hiring our candidate. And by the way, are you going to the convention? We should meet there for dinner! AD is feeling that this is his chance. Sad but true and this has happened alot in recent years from what I have heard. And truest me when I say sports agents, large companies, and many others are involved and no one says a thing. This brings me to my main issue today.

I continue to be stunned at the recent hiring of an interim men's basketball coach at FDU. I am stunned at the way Tom Green was let go. And I am even more stunned that Ron Brown was not offered the interim Head Coaching position. but as I look at it, everything is fast becoming crystal clear. I just have a few questions for the FDU AD. Why wait until now to fire Tom Green, I also ask if he thinks he hired to best possible interim coach for FDU?

Now this is not as much about the new coach at FDU as it is about a process that seems very unfair, especially for an interim coaching position. I have seen interim coaches hired many times. It is just that, an interim position with no guarantee that the person appointed will even get a job on the permanent staff. In almost all cases the interim is the person with the longest tenure, and the person looked at as 2nd in charge. That would have and should have been Ron Brown, who had 7 years experience at FDU and served as the Associate Head Coach. He also had head coaching experience at Florida AM, and LIU. He was an Asst. in the Big East at West Virginia and Western Kentucky. He had the credentials for the INTERIM JOB. And remember the interim job is one that wants a person to hold the program together until a permanent coach is identified in the future.

To even have 3 assistants interview for that position is confusing. After all this was not for the permanent position. Than the FDU AD gives the Job to a guy who just returned to college coaching after being away for many years making people wonder what is really happening. Are they waiting for another coach to become available after next season? What made the person chosen so good that he could be out of coaching for years and than get a job over an experienced and loyal employee who also was the Associate HEAD COACH? This again is not about the person chosen because I happen to like him. He also was a member of my team when he played summer basketball in NYC. And talk about fast and skilled? He was both. This is more about why would an AD pass up the Associate Head Coach who is loved, not liked, loved by everyone he comes into contact with. Plus he is experienced, dedicated, and committed.

Well the choice was made and FDU has done more in the past two weeks to clear a path for folks to again start calling them that made up name we all laugh at. I wonder if the President was prepared with the large number of calls he received from people very concerned at how Ron Brown was treated. Than again he should just ask his AD how he handled all the celebrity calls he might have received regarding the chosen candidate. But that would be hard because the AD made his decision and than went right out of town to a convention. Maybe one of the folks who called will indeed meet him for dinner.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Saw a link on Seton Hall Board from HallDan that led to one of the most interesting stories I have seen this year. Ray Mernagh in his blog said many of the things we tend to whisper about for years. At last someone says what he thinks. If you really have read my blogs I have said some similar things without ever mentioning names. All I can say is this is a major reason certain high D1 schools will never be able to win a conference championship, or seriously compete for the NCAA title. Yes the reason is cheating, and alot of schools do it. It is much harder for some to do than others. And in a system where there is not a coaching tenure system, coaches do all they can to stay employed because they can be fired even after 26 years at a school that would never compete for a NCAA championship even if it hit them in the face, based on budget, facility, and financial issues.

We can cheer for good ole U, but keep in mind the difference in money spent that is not reported in an effort to get great recruits would surprise you. A great, not good, great example is a month ago I recieved a phone call from a very good person who works very hard surrounded by Kentucky, and Memphis Boasters in his everyday job. I mean these guys live and die for those teams despite being strong religious men. For years I have asked my buddy, who again is a great guy, to seek out venture capital dollars from his very rich friends for a project I am working on. So when he called I thought it was about my project. It was not! Those guys wanted to know what they had to do to get Lance Stephenson to attend Memphis! Now keep in mind they were net affiliated with the university, just rich fans. I do not even know Lance Stephenson, and if I did I would not be brokering any illegal deals. I guess my buddy gave them the impression I knew some people lol. By the way I hung up on them although I did call my buddy back later to apologize. Plus it might have been all talk!

But that's the passion of fans at big money schools all over America. They live and die by the wins and losses. When a team like SHU gets to the Championship game at the final four it is a HUGE accomplishment. It was almost like Hoosiers! No knock on SHU, who really draws well at the Pru (And it should be better this year), but more a knock on the huge cheating programs in the country that have made it hard to get the truly elite players to attend Regular high D1 programs unless that program hires the HS coach, AAU coach, Advisor, etc. Because the new College Basketball is really a huge business and even Sam Gilbert who did get in trouble with his UCLA involvement could not compete with many of today's boosters, the playing field has become very uneven.

FDU Update

Seems the AD at FDU is interviewing the 3 assistant coaches at the school for the position of interim head coach. Rumor has it that all 3 will be employed regardless, but if that interim person does not do a good job a certain coach might be there in the very near future depending on .. . . . . . . !

Now I know who is most qualified. That does not mean this candidate will have the strongest people calling for him. It means he is best the equipped out of the 3 to get the job done. But when certain folks call, others listen. A call from certain power brokers in the AAU/Sneaker world can do wonders for a career. All 3 guys are good folks but this position requires marketing insight as well as coaching and recruitment ability with a strong connect to the tri-state area.

Lets see how this plays out. My fingers are itching on this one and I hope it is done right!

Friday, June 5, 2009

All About Tom Green

No one, especially a college basketball coach, will perform his or her job perfectly. But they can do their job in a way that makes the university they work for proud. Tom Green did just that. Now after 26 years of loyal service FDU has decided to let him go. Ok he does not provide the young slick back hair look many programs are seeking. But he is solid and deserved better treatment than he received. Plus he really is a great coach and outstanding person.

I heard a rumor that FDU was considering this, but I had heard the same rumor at least 4 times since I first met Tom Green over 20 years ago. I met him at a time FDU they played games in Rutherford NJ at a small HS type gym that is now part of Felician College. Tom made the FDU program respectful again in the same way Al Labalbo (sp) another ex FDU Coach did it with defense. Tom made FDU a household name and took the "ridiculous" out of the description when people talked about the university. Every kid in the tri-state area knows about FDU and alot of this is attributed to Tom Greens hard work and presence in NYC, and NJ.

Coaching wise he was and is one of the best! I wrote often how Fred Hill Jr. should hire him at Rutgers as that experienced assistant or associate head coach. It would have been a match made in heaven and RU might have been much better with him sitting on the bench whispering into Freddy's ear. Maybe Fred will now reach out and give Tom an opportunity just as Tom gave him one many years ago. It is called paying a debt and getting a great person at the same time.

Now back to Tom Green and FDU. Though Tom is a great coach, FDU has a horrible marketing department that did very little to attract fans to FDU games. Sitting in the middle of Bergen County surrounded by a million people and 9 miles or so from NYC, FDU still could not get fans into the seats. They never, ever, attempted to develop a true fan base despite FDU having very good and competitive teams. No one came out to games yet they still attracted decent talent.

FDU now makes it even harder. They take away seating in the 5000 seat arena making the new capacity around 3000, and fire a legendary type coach in June when the recruiting season is almost done. Who makes these decisions at FDU Daffy Duck! Now I read the statement from the AD and from the way he said it I would bet this was not even his decision. Plus I met him a few times and he seems like a guy who just does what he is told because he is so happy to have his job. I guess this is the year of "Yes Men." Any Manager worth anything fights for good employees and if they have to make a change they do it with dignity and concern in mind. Not just saying "Tom Green Is No Longer The Basketball Coach at FDU."

Well Tom please know you have thousands of fans who wish you well. You did a great job and many folks who are affiliated with FDU, and many fans who are not, appreciate all of your efforts. FDU's loss will be a gain to someone else. Trust me! Hey Lawrence Frank, you also could use Tom with the NJ Nets!

Big question is who will be the next coach? I have an Idea but after writing this I will wait to see how it plays out. But who ever gets the job needs to bring with them a marketing firm or at the least a marketing assistant.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Whats New?

Jarid Famous.......Again

Jarid Famous, Jarid Famous, Jarid Famous, Jarid Famous! Is it me or does his people including Parents, WCC Coaches, and others just want to stay in the spotlight? This kid better have a good, not decent, GOOD season because after all this he has alot to prove. If he attends South Florida or anywhere else after this circus and averages less than 10 points a game folks will remember all the attention he (AND HIS DAD) received. We all know how much good ole Dad was enjoying all the attention especially at SHU games if you know what I mean, at the Prudential Center.

And what is it with the WCC Coaches. Ralph Arietta must be flipping every time he reads how they are acting. Ralph was the coach who put WCC on the national map as a JC program. An outstanding coach and member of the JC Hall of Fame. Winston Nicholas must be also stunned by what is happening from his desk in Heaven where he is ordering new gear for the newly formed basketball program there!

And where does this leave Jarid and his people? I would bet Jarids Dad would still like his son to be recruited by others just for the attention. Jarid himself? I would bet he is just a confused young man. But Jarid needs to hit the gym because EVERYONE outside of the South Florida and WCC programs are just waiting for him to be a huge bust at South Florida.

Manhattan takes A Challenged Player

Great human interest story! I keep hearing this Slice Guy is an outstanding person who everyone loves. I will be pulling for this young man to be successful and for some reason I feel he will be. Defensively he will be solid, he can pass, and even shoot it based on reports I have received. Just a great get for Manhattan while providing a solid opportunity for a well deserving young man.

Nice to see Rutgers in Spain

Hope the comp is what people here think it is. Alot of weak programs in Europe. Also there are different team levels and many are the equivalent of lower D3 programs. But regardless it at least provides the Rutgers players with an opportunity to play together and get to know each other more off and on the court. Basketball bonding at its best!

Monmouth Basketball Program

This program really seems headed in a direction that will allow them to attract more and more very good players. Seems like the new gym, along with the great campus and closeness to the Jersey Shore could make this program a mid major power for years to come. Exciting time at Monmouth.

Seton Hall Basketball

"Are You Ready?" I am! Just hope all the players accept their roles with a smile. Remember everyone cannot be the star. Who will sacrifice? If they get it together they will be very strong, competitive and have a great chance of heading to the NCAA's this season. In fact I am predicting at least a 20 win season. The Pru Center will be rocking if everything comes together.

Kraidon Woods Transfers

Kraidon Woods has asked for and received a transfer release from Arizona State. He asked for the release late last week and among those interested from what I have heard is: Niagara, Monmouth, Binghamton, and Penn. I am sure by Tuesday there will be others. Great to find a solid kid who happens to be 6 ft 8 with skills and extremely athletic.

Javae Gilchrist from Teaneck

Javae is currently considering a great JC Program in Texas, Jacksonville JC. This program plays in what might be the best JC conference in America with lots of exposure but better yet great coaching and competition every day in practice. Thanks to Ed Butler for continuing to provide real opportunities for NY and NJ kids to gain exposure at his "Real" talent showcases which he does 2 times a year. Javaes HS Coach Curtis March also worked EXTREMELY hard to assist Javae, who has D1 grades but still needs to take the SAT or ACT again.