Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Thoughts

First of all I need to say my thoughts are with Jim Carr of Rutgers and his Son. I really hope everything turns out well. My prayers are with him.

My Thoughts for Today

Lets start with a funny thing that happened to me on Saturday. As I have said in the past, and continue to say almost daily, you never know who knows who when it comes to recruiting basketball players. Many of the top kids in the area have parents who played or were affiliated with basketball years ago. They all are part of a basketball community that talks to each other all the time. If it is not a Duke, NC, UCLA, Kansas situation, alot of what happens is influenced by this network. And even those mentioned are impacted by the network. Somebody knows somebody who can be of assistance or can hurt a school during the recruitment process. This is why the best recruiters work so hard to find out the true people involved or those who can make a difference in the recruiting of a young man.

Now back to Saturday. I received a call from a man who would not tell me his name initially. But he did say alot of parents love reading my blog. Especially those who have kids being recruited by local schools. He said he knows me well but wanted to play a game. I had to guess who it was. Well after talking to him a minute or so I realized it was one of MY BEST FRIENDS from High School. A guy named "RED." He said he was trying to find me for a long time and got my number from a mutual friend who actually told him I was "LFBALL." We laughed and almost cried talking about the great times we had together. That's when HS basketball came up again. He wanted my thoughts on some things. He had a lot of respect for certain guys and seemed to know way too much about local HS basketball. He loves Bob Hurley, really knew all about New Heights and the staff there. Even knew the local Big East Teams. That's when he hit me with the big surprise. His son is Devon Collier, the big PF from St. Anthony's HS in Jersey City. He and I talked recruiting and the schools trying to get his son. I laughed as I told him how pissed some might be that we are lifetime friends. Looks like a few BE teams are very involved and many more trying to get in the door. Oh before I forget, the Dad is Roger "Red" Collier and he was a HECK of A Player for my HS team. He was a year behind the rest of us and although he was the 2nd best player on the team to Bruce "Sky" King, he did not start based on a coaching decision. Great for me because I was the one who would have sat the bench lol. But despite this, he always had a smile on his face, the prettiest girl, and was loved by EVERYONE!

Lots of great FDU feedback to my FDU comments from last week. Read the comment section to see some interesting thoughts.

A Great Coaching Staff Make-up

If I was a Head Coach of a local team and wanted to really do well in the recruiting wars why would I hire a bunch of coaches who all know the same people? What does that do? All the coaches stepping on each other trying to talk to mutual friends is almost a waste of a position. I honestly would not even want my coaches to be friendly before they are hired and definitely not from the same area or know the same people.

I think a staff locally should have the following:

Head Coach From NY, NJ, Pa., Conn
Asst. Coach From NYC with NYC based connections
Asst. Coach From Philly with Philly based connections
Asst. Coach From DC or Conn. with Coaching Connections
DBO From Conn or DC with Connections

These guys should not even know the same people. They should have great contacts that will get them into the doors of the better players from Conn to Washington, DC.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday's Thoughts......FDU &SHU

As promised here are my thoughts on FDU Men's Basketball. I need to start by saying the FDU Basketball program is a true sleeping mid-major giant based on being in Bergen County NJ (turns out some decent players) which is down the road from Paterson NJ (home of Paterson Catholic, Eastside and Kennedy) and its proximity to New York City (8 Miles) and Essex County NJ (no more than 15 miles), all basketball hotbeds for great mid major talent. So what's the problem? I again refer you to my formula for success at FDU:


SCHOOL COMMITMENT + Decent Budget + Facility Improvement + Great Marketing + Fan Support + Good Players + Great Coaching Staff = SUCCESS

School commitment seems to have always been lacking. Despite this Tom Green won much more than he lost. Yet the school replaces him as if he did something wrong! Was there a deal made between folks involved with basketball? Why would new guy hire a person from California as an Assistant? Who is this guy and who does he know lol? Lets see if FDU gets a few California kids in this recruiting class. Lets watch closely this season where movement occurs and where folks wind up in the future. FDU needs to support the Basketball program better. When I lived in that area the University President at that time rarely attended a game. Crowds of 200 in a 5000 seat facility was not uncommon, and no one seemed to mind. Students did not bother to show up and neither did local people from Bergen County. A D1 program right there and no one including the University even cared accept when they went the NCAA Tournament and the press made a big deal over a close game on national TV.

The Budget must be very small because when you see FDU Assistants out they are driving cars that they might have owned for 10-12 years. Appearance including how you arrive is very important. Not saying they needed $35,000 cars. But they could have had nice Chevy cars or Toyotas. Just seems they cannot compete with the other area mid majors such as Manhattan, Iona, Hofstra, and Siena which could be a blue print for mid major success.

Facilities have become worst last time I looked. I cannot believe they took the end stands out of the Rothman Center. Why? I guess they want the HS look lol. They need to redo all the seating in that arena and make it 4 sided again, but with portable chairbacks. I still remember the day it opened with great fanfare! What a day, what a facility at the time! And please do not forget the weight room if it has not been redone. Only place I have seen that is less impressive is the weight room at St. Peters College.

Marketing the FDU program seems to be a challenge. Why are they not developing a future fan base through a Junior Knight type Program, a Golden Knight Program for area senior citizens, special package deals for area residents only, and a super push to area alumni with town captains from the various towns pushing the drive with an annual luncheon to the town with the most season tickets, etc. Also what are they doing with print and electronic media in the area? Why are more games not shown on local cable to develop fan interest? How about partnering with local malls and larger stores such as Bloomingdales, Red Lobster, The Cheesecake Factory, Saks, etc. Mall specials could be done. I can think of alot more as well. But the bottom line is No One Even Knows a Game is Going On when FDU plays at home. Is it worth having a D1 program if it has no impact and no one cares?

Fan support comes with marketing and winning teams. The winning has occurred and the crowds still stayed at home. Now is the time to put money in marketing to support the past winning ways.

Good players will come with winning and what has been mentioned. Right now FDU is looked at as a low end D1 program that people barely notices.

Coaching has never been a problem at FDU to me. It has always been the things I mentioned above. Heck Tom Green is an OUTSTANDING COACH who just needed help doing the things above. I am sure the new coaches will do just fine as well. But it will be hard without support in the ways I have listed. On the Mid Major level alot depends on X and Os. Time will tell if the staff in place is capable. Recruiting is one thing and game coaching is another.

Well, we are down to the "S" in my formula. Before discussing the "S" O need to say graduation rates, and academic support should be incorporated as well. Not sure of what happens at FDU, but this is a very important part of having a great basketball program. And yes the "S" stands for SUCCESS!

Last Blog Post

Explanation of last blog post concerning Seton Hall University. It seems that alot of people are disagreeing with me regarding my thoughts on recruiting great HS players to a program. Honestly the folks in question make some outstanding points!!! Unfortunately I still stand by what I have said and honestly it is a compliment to the Seton Hall program as opposed to a put down. In its own way, the staff at SHU has put together a very good group who could compete for a serious seed in the NCAA tournament if they jell. With that in mind I need people to remember it is a difference from being a Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, and even UConn program and a program going after its first High NCAA seed in many years. Those mentioned programs have a track record of getting 5 Star and 4 star kids who often wait their turn to shine based on tradition, winning, kids to the NBA after waiting their turn, and other factors I am sure I do not need to talk about that excite kids and their parents and advisors.

Other programs without the tradition cannot expect to have a bench of 4 and 5 star players waiting their turn. Jordan Theodore was a different type of kid and did not mind waiting backing up Eugene Harvey as he stayed close to home for college. Bur you do not see this often at the places that are not what many call the Super D1 programs. Of course SHU will be in the running for very good players. Heck with a great NCAA run they could be in the running for a 5 star player or 2 especially at certain positions. But it will be hard to recruit kids who want to start from day 1 at positions already filled for this season and next. Of course a kid with Michael Jordan confidence will come aboard after SHU averages 8500 fans at home games and goes deep into the NCAAs. They might feel they can win certain spots on your roster as starters. But again, kids who do this these days are limited at most schools other than the Super elite D1 programs. Now if the SHU roster was full of seniors, the team ends up top 20 at the end of the season (something that might just happen by the way), and attendance records are broken at the Prudential Center, it would be different.

Please keep in mind that a great HS center should be attracted to SHU because the position could be wide open with Garcia being a 5th year senior. But if Melvin Oliver is a beast or shows tremendous potential, it will make it difficult. If Jeremy Hazell goes in the draft, that also becomes a place you could get that super player. But if he comes back, kids know he will play 32 minutes. Mitchell and Pope also would be hard for kids to beat out. So yes SHU can get some good players interested. But it will take a super job closing deals with many when you could have 4 starters returning.

Lastly. Do not think the SHU Staff is doing a bad job. They are doing a great job!!! This is staff that has done alot to get in doors and establish positive relationships with many. In fact Bobby Gonzalez is a master at this as is Dermon Player. They both know how to make even the lowest AAU or HS coach feel special! They also are smart enough to list Mitchell and Lawrence as seniors on the roster when they really are Jrs eligibility wise and Pope as a Junior when he is a sophomore eligibility wise. Why? because they know kids look at rosters to see potential playing times. Check out the on line roster on the SHU site, which by the way is very good!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Recruiting Thoughts

This is a very important time for HS seniors all over the country. Not only are the great athletes being recruited, so are other HS students who have special gifts. The kids with super grades, the kids with special talent in science and math, Kids in the school band, the kids who exhibit leadership skills, and even kids who are great managers for sports teams or cheerleaders. Yes, the managers on many college teams get scholarships at least as seniors if they do 3 or 4 years as a team manager, Ditto the cheerleaders at some of the larger schools. So please don't frown when your son comes home in 9th grade and says he is in the band, joined cheer leading, or will be the manager of the HS team. Ask Lawrence Frank, head coach of the NJ Nets. I knew him when he was 16 and the manager of the basketball at Teaneck HS. He was really into it and even went to Indiana as a Manager to Bobby Knight and the rest is history!

Basketball wise kids need to understand it is not just the campus and facilities, although they are important. It is the academic offerings, personality of the coaches, track record with similar players, ability to motivate and push kids to excell,and opportunities after basketball is over. What do the kids not playing much say? And finally, why not just stop in unannounced and watch a practice. With that in mind lets look at some of the kids being heavily recruited.

Speaking of recruitment I need to talk Tobias Harris and his family. What an organized team they seem to be. Food menus set, questions in place, an understanding of style they want for Tobias, and even the type of coach they want to see Tobias play for. With that all in place the process will eliminate a few folks off the back, but that will not be announced until later I am sure.

Lets look at the two from last week. John Calipari, a college super star came in and gave a great presentation. Kentucky is Kentucky, a great program no matter who the coach is. Great facilities and even better support. A real pressure cooker regarding expectations of players who often are idolized for years after their playing days are over. One of the few programs that players are almost looked upon as basketball Idols when they walk the street. The question here is will he choose a school that will continue to bring in guys at his position with just as good skills to compete for minutes? Also, will they allow him to play the point forward position when he arrives? But starting his home visits with Kentucky makes everyone coming after step their games up. Not sure if they are doing this, but many tend to have the top school on a list go first so they can do a comparison.

Next up was Georgia Tech and Paul Hewitt. Sincere and polished guy originally from Long Island. And like Coach Cal, a guy who never played D1 basketball but was fortunate enough to go through the ranks and excel everywhere he has been. His accomplishments at Georgia Tech are great, especially considering he has to go against folks with millions of dollars and private jets in the recruitment wars. Maybe Ga. Tech has a similar budget. But as far as I know places like Kentucky, Kansas, NC, Duke, UCLA, the well is never empty or questioned. Georgia Tech will be in the mix for many reasons including Paul Hewitt is loved, not liked, by many folks who know the Harris family well. One guy in particular is a huge fan of both Paul, and Norm Roberts at St. Johns, which is one of the reasons SJU is back on the board. Question here is will Ga. Tech offer same opportunities to Tobias? Will the staff prepare him for the next level? Is the support for basketball what it should be? If those questions are answered with yes, trust me they will be in it until the end and could be a place he winds up at. Academically, an outstanding school. The head coach....A true gentleman who never ever embarrasses kids during a game. A true role model who many would want their son playing for!

Lets look at Notre Dame who is up next. Many of these coaches I know well. Paul Hewitt and Mike Brey are two of those who fall into this category, even though I have not spoken to either in a long time. I need to start with Mike Brey, who to me is an OUTSTANDING PERSON! I know because my son played for him at Delaware. I thank God for allowing my son to play for him the one season he was there before becoming the Head Coach at ND. Mike found time for every family and every player regardless of if they were 1st on the roster or 16th. I still remember watching Mike spend 35 minutes sitting and talking to the parents of a kid who rarely played during a practice just talking about opportunities for the son after basketball career wise. He even got along with me, and that's huge because I was one crazy parent lol. Mike Brey is a GREAT GUY to play for. Not just basketball wise, but also mentally. After leaving the Big 10 school my son attended with a coach who never even spoke with the players after practice or seemed to care (His Son does a much better job) Mike Brey was just what the doctor ordered. Notre Dame is Notre Dame! Tobias at Notre dame could be the best PF since Adrian Dantley or John Shumate. It would be huge. And the ND network is amazing, especially for a star player. Questions here would be development? Will they have a good supporting cast? Can he play point forward? Can they afford to make him a point forward? But one thing for sure, the Harris family could not find a better person for their son to play for than Mike Brey or Paul Hewitt!!!!!!

Not sure what is happening with Kyrie Irving. But it must be nice to have an opportunity to talk to him anytime you wish like Rod Strickland can since he is his God Father and has a long time relationship with the entire family which I think allows him to see the family when he wishes as long as they do not talk basketball recruiting.........yes right lol. This young man who looks like he is 13 but plays like he is 24, will pick the right school. As a student first kid, I am sure Kentucky is really in it based on Rod Strickland. Not that UK is a bad place or lacking academically. But when your dad and mom are successful, you understand the importance of academic excellence more than many others. This is why Duke is such a player for his services. Surprised Stanford is not in there. Looking forward to watching how this plays out.

So Doran Lamb will be meeting with Jeff Capel, The Boy Wonder!! And he really is because he has done more in his short coaching career than manu guys much older. But what do you expect from a Duke player who has a dad who was the head coach at North Carolina A&T and Old Dominion. But getting Mr. Lamb will be hard because I think this guy Book Richardson knows everyone in NYC and as the Assistant to Sean Miller at Arizona, he has opened doors previously closed. When Sean Miller hired Book away from the NY Gaucho's, folks wondered what this would really do for Miller. Well, a few years and two schools later it seems like Miller is a genius for hiring Richardson, who might at the moment be one of the best assistant coaches recruitment wise in America. I think Arizona has a great chance of getting Doran Lamb!

Locally SJU has stepped it up and is very involved with many of the good players. I honestly feel SJU will surprise alot of people this season. They have really worked hard to get the program on the right track and to me they have succeeded. Seton hall will have a hard time this season recruitment wise only because they have so many good players and not because the coaches are not on the job, Kids want to play! They already have a very good player from Paterson Catholic and will get others as well. But it will be harder based on current talent, which often happens when a team is good. Rutgers I am not sure about. Lots still happening regarding the Craig Carter situation, Chandler dismissal (Newark Guys really still upset), and overall team achievements and fan support. Some kids who want a BE team by any means possible might still consider because the storm is over. But the true program changers are looking elsewhere.

This does not mean all 3 teams cannot be successful. It just means some have to work harder in all categories including relations with community folks who often can make or break you! The mid majors need to step their game up. Come on Iona, Manhattan, Monmouth (With the great new facility and closeness to the beach), St. Peters (What a hard job!), etc. Go after those kids and get them signed. And please do not just look at NYC and NJ. Lots of great mid major talent in Westchester County, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Heck even in the Pocono Mountains there are some very talented but unnoticed players lacking exposure. At least last year there were some.

Lastly I keep getting folks emails on the blog and privately asking what's up with FDU. Honestly I think I need to answer that in an entire blog post. But for now all I will say is the following: SC+DB+FI+GM+FS+GP+GCS=S Stay tuned for what the formula means.