Monday, December 28, 2009

Very Disappointing!

I know a few people might be upset with what I have to say. But as I always say, I give it to you as I see it which is straight with no chaser! So Seton Hall Fans, HS Basketball Followers, Street Agents, and others, this blog is dedicated to you!

Lets start with the huge Seton Hall game against West Virginia on Saturday. Because I could not get to the game I watched from the front row in my home from a couch reserved seat. I say front row because I had 5 basketball junkie friends over watching with me.

The atmosphere at The Prudential Center seemed outstanding. Enough for any HS recruit at the game to be totally impressed. I was even ready to send in my letter of intent after seeing such a turnout. But than the game started and boy was I disappointed. Not because they lost the game. Heck Seton Hall played a close game against a team that was rated higher than they were. Let me explain why I was so frustrated. I really feel SHU is NCAA bound this season, but to get there they must hold the home court advantage and win the big games at home. What I saw was not the team I expected. Let me explain further.

Starting with Herb Pope this team did not seem ready to play. I watched this guy play when he was in HS. And to be honest, this was not the kid I saw. I saw a guy playing on his name without bringing his game. Are you kidding me with all those missed free throws? That just says to me he was not ready to play. It also shows he had no legs. How can you be a power player and not shoot at least 65% from the FT line? Wilt Chamberlain shot free throws better when he played! Shag could give him lessons! It was almost like he had been out on a date the evening before the game......if you know what I mean lol. What a disappointment based on expectations!

Mitchell seemed over his head against West Virgina. What was that about? He looked weak and unsure.

Hazell played a great game when hitting shots. But some of the shots he missed early had us thinking he was shooting his way to Europe as opposed to the NBA. However when he made the shots, which were still questionable, he looked great. I guess SHU will live and die with his shot selection this season.

The guards did OK even though they could have stepped it up better statistics wise. Not mad at Keon or Jordan for effort. They will play better.

The bigs on SHU looked almost out of shape. In fact, Pope and others looked like they had McDonald's strength if you know what I mean. I could have swore Pope was not that big at his last school. They must get in better game shape. And if any of those guys who are not seniors think they will be in the NBA next season, they are mistaken.

Lastly on Seton Hall. I like the dribble drive kick it out system. But I also like something a bit more structured for when things are not working. I felt man to man match-up wise, the smart money would be on Seton Hall on this day based on injuries and the WVU starting center out. And if they hit free throws I would be right. I also must question the fact so many guys play during the game. It will be hard to get into a flow when you play guys because you feel you have to. Only certain programs like Duke and North Carolina can have so many talented players on a roster and win because the HS AA types on the bench understand their day is coming in the future.

Finally. I loved what I saw in Robinson and Hall. They will be great for SHU this season and even better next season!

Went to see Teaneck HS play Kennedy HS in the Playez tournament at Patterson Catholic HS in Paterson NJ. While there it occurred to me that what they need in Patterson is an all Paterson Tournament with Paterson Eastside, Paterson Kennedy, Paterson Catholic, and one different outside team each season. Maybe a Dematha, NYC Lincoln, etc. Call it the Mayors Cup! Place would be packed and maybe a portion of the proceeds could go to charity.

Well back to the game. Sorry to say Teaneck was the better team but lost because they did not have a leader on the court. I was stunned to see the Teaneck guards fumbling with the ball and sliding and pushing off when pressured. I even had to close my eyes on a few occasions. Please do not get it wrong. Every Teaneck player including all the guards had game! They could really play! They just were lacking that 5 point, 6 assist guy who would be the glue. I was very surprised a program such as this did not have a freshmen, or sophomore guard on the JV or Freshmen team to bring up to handle this. I was also stunned to see Coach Curtis March, one of the best in the entire state and usually a dapper dresser coach the game in worn and old looking jeans and a faded blue t-shirt. Come on Curtis you are better than that! I remember when you made the kids wear ties to games with jackets.

Lastly, for a $10 entry fee I thought they could have provided free programs at least to the adult paying customers. But everyone knows I am a Jimmy/Playez fan so I will not be too hard on them lol.

Momentum is building for the Fran back to college coaching push. Many people in the NY Metro area are hoping he takes a job.......if one happens to develop. I have not spoken to him but hope to run into him at a game. I for one sure hopes he gets back in it! Ditto Tim Welsh who is really interested in the Fordham job according to my sources. If he or Fran get back in the mix, watch out because it will be fireworks in local basketball and recruiting circles.

Have to talk about Northeast Pennsylvania HS Basketball. I went to a game at a local HS a week ago and could not believe my eyes at the new gym they had built. I am talking state of the art 2500-3000 seats and scoreboards better than most colleges. Here is the problem. The Team is horrible! I cannot even remember who was coaching and the talent was like a NJ or NY 8th grade team. I cannot understand why coaches in that area do not develop the talent better. Tall kids who look like they are touching a basketball for the first time. All the 5 schools in this area minus 1 (Stroudsburg) have great facilities that could put college gyms to shame. I forgot to say at that grand opening of the new gym, about 130 people were in the stands.

OK it is confirmed the Washburn Boys are back in Texas. Never knew folks in Texas were reading my blog. Received a call on Sunday confirming what I had written. Person is well connected and even said the older boy could be a 2 years a done player!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


What a confusing season thus far in area hoops. Seton Hall beats Cornell who beats St. Johns who beats Temple. Wow! Maybe the various teams in the east are getting closer talent wise? I really doubt that! What really is happening is some of these less talented teams have very good coaches and great systems that they run. Plus they play as teams should play, as a team.
Jio Fontan to Southern California? Wow! They will always be JV to UCLA and the Lakers. Plus Kevin O'Neil is tough to play for from what I hear. Well good luck to him and his family. At least the weather is great!

That brings me to the St. Johns game against Cornell. In a perfect world for St. Johns, they should never lose to an Ivy type school or schools that have zero players who were recruited by high major schools. Ditto Seton Hall and Rutgers University. The trick to those teams doing well is winning all the games they are supposed to win and than do at lease 500 in conference.

I have been very impressed with St. Johns prior to the Cornell game. I was not as impressed watching them play street ball and very selfish at times. This was not the team I saw against Duke. I do understand Coaches need to provide some offensive freedom but this was a bit too much. Guys seemed to be playing for stats as opposed to playing as a team. Win a few early games and some players start thinking about the next level and we know what that is. Norm is better and so are the SJU players, which at this time does not have a true NBA prospect. But playing better team ball will only enhance a few players marketability. Lastly on this topic I do understand two starters were out and with them SJU most likely would have won this game. But they were out and Cornell showed what true student athletes can accomplish through hard work, a great system, and good solid coaching.

This brings me to Seton Hall Vs Temple. Not as bad a loss as many might think. But nonetheless it should not have been a loss. The big problem for SHU as they head into the BE season is how they will adjust to better comp night in and night out? Also will they play as a unit/team or a few guys thinking they are all set for the NBA and just auditioning for spots on NBA teams? Hazel is a favorite of mine and a player who could sneak into the league and become rich in the process. But he needs to understand that the team concept comes first and if he plays within the system he will show he is a true team player worthy of NBA opportunities.

I can say the same thing for many other players in the Big East and other leagues. However I do salute Eugene Harvey who finally has it. He understands he needs to make plays first and score 2nd. I also think Keon Lawrence showed he will be a true team player and maybe even a star. Jordan Theodore will only get better. The bigs still can play, they just need to better compete on every possession.

But 1 loss is not the end of the world. They win against West Virginia and no one will remember Temple. Ditto St. Johns. Win the next few and the Cornell game will be a distant memory. This is why I love Basketball over football. In football you have a week to sulk and live the loss. In basketball it could be a game two days after a bad performance or even a loss.

Just received word via David Britton's buddy Rob Wright, ex Texas Assistant and current HS Super Coach in Dallas, who told Jim Couch, NYC Playground Coaching Legend, that the Washburn Boys are back in Texas in time for the HS season. Curious to see if they play. Maybe they will reemerge next year at St, Benedict's or a similar type school?

Providence is having some struggles. I guess it is hard for Coach Davis without the players he inherited. What is going on at FDU? Are they kidding us with that team disguised as a D1 program? This is not aimed at the coaching staff who were thrown into a difficult situation as much as the university for funding the team like it is a D3 program in South Dakota. And again lets not talk facilities and marketing. Heck NJIT looks like Villanova compared to them lol.

Just siting here thinking about Villanova. Can anyone local beat them for players based on school rep academically, facilities, fan support, and coaching staff. Its like for a bigtime program yet in a small nurturing environment. Almost like Davidson being in the Big East.

Looking forward to seeing my man Curtis March lead Teaneck to the Group 3 NJ Championship this season. Do not sleep this team who has some very good players who Coach march gets to compete all game long, every game! A great Public program in a nice community. Watch for a certain 6 ft 5 kid on the Teaneck team who will remind you of Ron Artist at the same stage though not quite as talented. he scares the heck out of opposing players and is a pretty good pickup after moving to the area from the Bronx.

Loved listening to Jamal Mashburn do color on the Kentucky romp over Drexel last night. I cannot understand why he is not swiped up right now to do the huge college games. Talk about role models from Harlem, NY? I do have to question Mr. Mashburn's comments about AAU and Travel teams. From what I remember he was a card holding member of the NY Gaucho's and received all the privileges that came with his membership. All of them lol!

Speaking of the game. Is it me, am I wrong, am I crazy? Why would kids play for Bruiser Flint? He must be the best in practice and with off court issues. He might even be a great x and o guy and teacher. But come on with the frowns! It looks like a terrible experience the way he frowns at his players when they do not please him. Did he really think he was going into Lexington Kentucky and beat The University of Kentucky? Did he really think the game was going to be close? Well Bruiser I frown at you lol. I frown because though you should always play thinking you can win, you need to get as much out of the experience as you can. I sometimes feel this guy, who has great genes from a very respected playground legendary coach in Philly, acts as if he is coaching summer or AAU ball. Just me! Bruiser please do not frown at me if I run into you during the summer. I would not be able to deal with the pressure.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Interesting stuff going on in college basketball. Maybe the field is more level than ever before with the exception of the super type programs. But heck even they are losing to teams from lessor conferences. Teams with not a single player on the roster that would be recruited by high major teams.

Lets look at Louisville. Are you kidding me? How does a program with a multi million dollar coach, a sold out 19,000 seat arena, a new state of the art arena on its way, an assistant coaching payroll of close to $2,000,000 with perks and benefits included, a state of the art practice facility, and some of the top recruited players in America lose to Western Carolina University? OK the NC Charlotte loss was one thing. So was the UNLV loss. But Western Carolina? Who are they? Are they the North Carolina version of Southern Connecticut? OK I should not be putting down Western Carolina, I should question Louisville. Bad Bad Loss and a horrible start of the season. Is Rick Pitino losing it? Will he ever get the Cards back to the Final 4? can they ever win a national championship under him? Lots of flash and glitz at Louisville with very little substance thus far. And what's with Samuel's? He better watch himself because guys like Pitino and Calipari will blame you very fast for stuff. Check out what happened to Sean Banks, who was very good and similar to Mr. Evens who left Memphis after 1 season. Oops, could they make him a derrick Caractor type scape goat?

Speaking of winning games that you are supposed to win, that's exactly what Rutgers did against Rider University, a MAC Team that plays home games in a HS Auxiliary type gym. Folks seem thrilled at a win that RU was supposed accomplish. This was Rider of The MAAC. Not the A10, CAA, or The MAAC, its the MAC. Now Rider is not a horrible team, and honestly have decent tradition and should be proud of all they do. especially considering what they have to work with in regard to selling recruits on attending Rider.

Rutgers, Seton Hall, and St. Johns are not supposed to ever lose to any team in the area not associated with the Big East Conference. That includes Fordham, Manhattan, St. Peters, Rider, Siena, Hofstra. etc. Now all of a sudden a overtime win against a team you scheduled for a automatic win is the most exciting game played all year. That's sad! Those games should never be under a 14 point type win. Those type of teams coming into a place like the RAC (though it needs ABC's Home Makeover lol), Alumni Hall, MSG, and The Pru Center should feel intimidated and in awe from the time they hit the locker room. Overtime? Please! Good to get a win that you were supposed to get, but do not get it twisted, this was supposed to be a huge game for the walk-ons.

Hearing a few interesting rumors. cannot say actual names but will provide info you might be able to figure out>

Guess what School might be concerned about Fran Frachillo taking over at Fordham? No not St. johns and not because he might outwork other local schools for good players. The school in question might just have been interested in Fran for their program depending on what happens this season.

Guess what program might be right back to the NCAA next season with the ex coach returning to lead his troops into battle? It will be interesting to say the least.


The CHSAA needs to stop the bull. They have alot or nerve talking about a boycott of the PSAL and having relations with them. They are upset at the recent transfer of a kid from Bishop Ford to Lincoln HS in Brooklyn. Well, guess what? The CHSAA has robbed the PSAL of talent for the past 25 years. They have provided good opportunities for kids via grants from places like Riverside Church and The Gaucho's, but killed the talent base in the PSAL until recent years.

Now people such as Tiny Morton, Johnny Mathis, Ron Neclerio, Ex Coach Jack Ringel, Ruth Lovelace, The Guys at Thomas Jefferson, and many others including Pat Mangham (sp) at Fredrick Douglas have worked their butts off making their programs attractive enough to get kids to attend and gain exposure.

Maybe the PSAL should boycott St. Francis College where Ray Nash son Brian is the coach. Brian is a great guy but when folks make threats it becomes serious. Imagine if the PSAL Coaches said no PSAL kid would attend a local Catholic College or University. This boycott thing is just Tom Murray, ex Hayes Coach and Ray Nash, Current Bishop Ford President;s way of getting back. Does not hurt that both are very good friends and almost always agree with each other going back to when Murray and Nash coached together including the Empire State games.

I say let it go. After all many PSAL Players have gone the opposite direction to Catholic high schools. And lets not even discuss the state of New Jersey!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Information and Thoughts

Washburns out!!!!

So the Washburns have departed St. Patrick's for greener pastures. I wonder if this has anything to do with Chris Sr, arriving in the area a few weeks ago? Chris said he was going to change a few things. I really hope he took a good look at the great work Kevin Boyle does with players development and exposure wise before making a harsh decision. Derrick Caractor to me never recovered after leaving St. Pats even though he did return later. What would Luther Wright had been if he did not leave St. Anthony's and transferred to Elizabeth, which really was not even his district HS? Yes he had a great HS career, but would he had been better prepared for college by staying at St. Anthony's? Hopefully Chris and the kids Mom will make a wise choice for the two young men. If they stay gone it could be Rice, Paterson Catholic, or if what Chris said is true, anywhere that David Britton did not have juice or influence. Who gets hurt by all of this? You know the answer. Be wise Washburn family! Who knows, they might go back to Texas or to North Carolina. Chris email me. I know you read this blog!


Uconn lost a good game yesterday. From watching it is obvious Kimba walker is a future NBA player. Problem is John wall is a future NBA Star. The Garden was alive and all the big timers were in attendance including the new breed of fans, groupies, and even bookies lol. But the atmosphere was great and something that will be a routine thing when St. Johns gets even better. Could not believe the house was so empty for St. Johns vs Georgia and filled up for Uconn vs Kentucky. Big difference in D1 basketball and High/Super D1 programs. Like comparing Kimba Walker to John Wall.

I still believe St. Johns has improved. And remember they have two potential starters out injured. Plus I actually saw them running a good offense and playing under control. And if you think they do not have talent, you are wrong. St. Johns is moving is the right direction.

Speaking of UConn. Heard from a pretty reliable source that UConn has some interesting news coming out in nest few days or next week. Something to do with a very tall ex player who now plays in the NBA. Stay tuned it could be very interesting from what I hear.

Rutgers beat Monmouth in a game they were supposed to win. I say a win is a win and fans should be pleased to win without one of the bigs on RU playing, even if I thing he is OK/Good and not what others think he is. No one should be upset with the RU staff if they win all the games they are supposed to win and look respectful in the loses. The Vermont loss was a bad one. But losing to the top of the BE is expected as is losing to North Carolina. They just need to win against Providence, South Florida. steal a game against SHU and St. Johns, etc. I do agree no coach should get upset with a fan, or blogger, for expressing his or her opinion.

For Rutgers to get to the top half of the Big East, it will take a university wide committment because as much as folks do not want to admit it, NO STUD PLAYER/PROGRAM CHANGER will ever commit to RU while they have poor facilities, no practice gym, and a poor fan base. NO ONE! And Fred Hill Jr., as good a recruiter as he might be, could not make this happen. Neither could John Calipari, or Rick Pitino if they were the coaches. This is why coaching is so important. Being a 2nd tier team you win with execution, coaching, and good talent. The top tier teams win with Great Talent and decent coaching and motivation. I do not see great coaching at Kentucky, etc. I see stud players who would be NBA players if the rules were different. So RU fans should not look at FHJ as much as the President, AD, and University Sports Information and Marketing Staff. If You Build It They Will Come!!!!!!!!

Seton Hall

10,000 or 20,000. If SHU sells the game against West Virginia out soon, why not lift the cutain to get 5000 more fans and future students in the building. Still remember 15,000 plus at the Medowlands when John Morton and Gerald Green played. Heck, buy another curtain for games that can draw 15,000 fans or more. What's the big deal? That game should draw 15,000!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Recent Information and Rumors

Some names might be spelled wrong. Please forgive me. But you will know who I am writing about.

Great to see Jio Fontain gain his release from Fordham. I do however question if all the hoopla is worthy for this young man. Is he really a program changer? Is he the missing ingredient? Is he the guy that makes everyone else around him better? Could he be making a huge mistake? Lastly could he just have been the best player on a very untalented Fordham team?

I say all this because sometimes kids get full of themselves and think they are better than they really are. To leave a place where you were a bonifide star to start all over against better athletes and definitely better players is very hard. And sitting out a whole year does not help the situation.

I also question why this kid does not play out the year at Fordham since it would not impact on him still receiving 2 full years of eligibility from the NCAA. I really hope he does not start playing in late December 2010. That would be even harder, especially with a program WITH GOOD PLAYERS AND SET STARTERS.

Lastly. I understand from friends in the know that ex Fordham Coach Derrick Whittenburg graduated all players who stuck with him for 4 years and will be paid in full based on his contract. Watch for him to hook up with a very good team as an Associate Head Coach or an NBA team in some capacity. If Sidney Lowe can hold on he could end up back at NC State in some capacity.

Who Gets Fordham Job

I hear the following are being considered.

Fran Frachillo ex St. Johns and Manhattan Coach. Great choice if this happens. Fordham would be right back in mix. Almost a smaller and less expensive version of Rick Pitino.

Tim Welsh ex Providence and Iona Coach. Great choice as well but not the home run Fran would be based on Fran is a never say quit guy who is terrific. But Tim would also be outstanding and would win and recruit NY and NJ well. Plus he would bring back a great NY Guy, Steve Demello who is now at Central Florida.

Pete Gillian is also on the short list at this time from what I hear. We all know how much he is loved by many and on this level he would really excel. Another great choice!

Those are the three big names. Also being considered is:

Kentucky Assistant Steve Masseola (Sp) who has terrific NYC ties. Not sure if he is ready for an A10 position but would be great at a MAAC or NEC school and I know just the school that could use him and by doing so he would completely turn the program around and attract thousands to games.

Arizona Assistant Book Richardson. Question is if he is ready to step out on his own. He is a unique guy who is mature beyond his years. Sleeper? Ummmmmmmmmm!

On another note I love when fans at one school call out fans at another school because they feel cheating was involved in the recruitment of certain players. What is comical is the fact that almost every school in America commits recruitment violations. That's right every school! Some more than others and some spend a heck of alot more money than others. Come on folks open your eyes and you will be surprised what you see.

Just read on the Rutgers Board that tickets to the Rutgers vs North Carolina Game in Chapel Hill are very expensive. cannot believe some are $100. You know your program is upscale and terrific when you can get $100 for this game and sell out the entire arena. Talk about generating money? If the average ticket is $50 and the place holds 20,000, that means they make $1,000,000 each game plus money from concessions. And remember this does not include money fans have to donate for the privilege of purchasing tickets. WOW! And we wonder why College Sports especially football is such a huge business. Even $500,000 a game is huge! Should the players be paid a weekly stipend? You better believe it! Heck, they would even sell out against NJIT!

Seton Hall is on target to be undefeated going into the West Virginia game at the Rock. Both teams are currently undefeated last time I looked. This game will be a true indicator of where SHU is marketing wise and team wise. No reason the Rock should not have 14,000 at this game. If the crowd is less than 12,000 it will be a terrible sign to potential recruits. The place should be rocking and SHU needs to do all they can to make sure it is. Bring back PJ, The Final 4 team again, Luther Wright day, Welcome Home Sharpe James Day, Salute to Corey Booker, half time performance by Bruce Springsteen, Jay Z and Beyonce, and anything else to fill the building even if it means going out and giving away 7,000 comps. A great showing here will mean alot not only this year but for seasons to come.

Again I say St. Johns is on target for the post season. That's right I said it! Forget the Duke loss even though I loved the toughness they displayed. If Norm gets that 1 stud player and one more similar, SJU will again become a MSG favorite. I really like this team and the direction they are going.

Say what you want, but Villanova is a very good team and a much better program. Can anyone say "National" program? And the kids are all very nice kids. Was on the campus and saw a few players including Corey Stokes. They came over and extended their hands and introduced themselves in a very professional way. Wow! And they can play!

There is an over 40 league that is running in Harlem, NY every Sunday. Funny thing is all the guys look like they can still compete on some level. many are in their late 50s and maybe 60s. But they can play. Among the players are ex NBA Stars, NBA Employees, ex College Stars, and ex street ball legends. In fact their is even a VIP/Legend section where many older ex Knicks, Nets, and Community people who were involved in basketball for many years sit and talk hoops while watching the games. Even the Dad's of a few current Great HS players participate. Would have been a great place to recruit Kyrie Irving since his Dad plays and he often comes to the games which are played from 8:30 AM until 2 PM each Sunday at IS 201, which is better known as Harlem Square Garden.

Speaking of Uptown, guess who attended a week or so ago? Chris Washburn Sr? Folks said he was just stopping by to see what was going on. Told a few folks he was looking for an AAU Team for his two sons. The consensus according to many was The Playez out of Patterson, NJ. I heard a rumor yesterday that both boys might have left St. Patricks. trying to find out if it is true. If it is they could wind up at a certain NYC area Power. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Bit of Basketball History, NYC Area Style

Came across this on my computer and wanted to share again. Just somthing to read when you have nothing else to do lol.

A Bit of Basketball History, NYC Area Style

It was a hot summer day many years ago that I ventured to the local park outside of home in the St. Nicholas Projects in Central Harlem to watch the most famous summer basketball league in America. Besides the great basketball, it was a great place to collect empty soda bottles in order to cash them in for the .02 deposits on the small bottles and .05 deposits on the larger bottles. Growing up this was one of the many ways to earn money for purchasing candy, or attending movies. Besides hustling at the local food chains carrying bags, this and opening taxi doors at local churches was the next best thing for a bunch of enterprising 11 year old kids.

As I sat down in a small space under the basket watching the great Wilt The Stilt Chamberlain from Philadelphia dominate the paint I was amazed at his size and ability. He was a true super star!!!! But what has remained with me for over 40 years is what happened with less than one minute to go in the game Big Wilt was playing. Big Wilt stepped on my foot going for a loose ball under the basket and all I could do is scream. Being the enterprising person I was at the time, I turned my pain into gain by tapping him on the shoulder with a smile minutes after the game reminding him how he hurt me. Well Wilt Chamberlain decided to treat me and a few other kids to sodas and Ice cream for my suffering. We were so pleased just to get him to acknowledge us. But to get him to treat us to goodies? That was the greatest! I would imagine if the same thing happened now, kids and parents would be seeking much more compensation via law suits, etc. lol.

That day was my first real initiation into New York City Summer Basketball. Summer basketball in New York City has been popular for 50 years or more. We all know the story about the legendary Holcombe Rucker. But many do not remember the other legendary figures associated with NYC Summer basketball. People such as Ollie Edinboro who was a protégé of Mr. Rucker, Snookie Walker who owned the Famous Snookies Sugar Bowl which was a popular local restaurant filled with basketball trophies. Oddly Snookie was even more famous for standing up to organized crime to protect his vending machine business. His exploits and courage against organized crime was legendary!

Additional heroes were Leroy Otis, One Eye Sam, Rodger Buster Bryant, Bob McCullough, Sand Man Sims, Jaws, Artie George, John Black, Jelly Roll, Cecil Watkins, Leroy Watkins, Lester Roberts, Skinny Reeves, Rap Perez, Gil Reynolds, Jim Couch, the Taliaferro Twins, Don Adams, and Hilton White. Later these guys were replaced by a few major teams who provided better uniforms, trips nationally and internationally, and assistance with tuition to private schools. They included Ernie Lorch at Riverside Church who often saw his early teams slaughtered by the older programs run by the gentlemen listed above. Also on this new and wealthy list was Lou Demeo (sp) who rumor has it was from Argentina and decided after meeting a few young men at a Knick game to start the Gaucho program. Both of these programs took kids from all over NYC and parts of Long Island and New Jersey in contrast to how others won with kids locally. They even had kids nationally participate in some tournaments including the great “Golden Hoops” sponsored at the time by The NY Daily News and coordinated greatly by Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Bob McCullough, Butch Purcell, and The Uptown Chamber of Commerce.

Summer ball in the city was played in all 5 boros but dominated by tournaments in Manhattan, The Bronx, and Brooklyn. In fact, it became so competitive that the original youth Rucker League and City Wide which was new at the time, decided to have end of the summer championships which were held at St. Johns Recreation Center in Brooklyn. All the champs from leagues in the five boros went through a playoff with the winners meeting in Brooklyn on a Sunday for the overall City Championship. This was huge and as a youngster I had the privilege of participating as a member of Leroy Otis’s Church of the Masters/Young Life midget team. I remember the game as if it was played yesterday. It was so exciting to be part of an event that no longer exits. By the way we did win the game against a strong team of future Boys High Stars including Ernie Douse, Gus Washington, and a guard named Bo who was great to say the least. Well this is not about my limited basketball exploits. It’s about the many players who left their mark on the hard top.

I remember the first time I watched Richard “Pee Wee” Kirkland play basketball. He was a 6 ft 2 guy who honestly was dunking on guys in Mount Morris Park playing for Milbank. He was one of the greatest guards I had ever seen. I could care less about the NBA. The summer in NYC had all I wanted to see. Pee Wee dominated the game and was very smooth off the court. I remember watching him score 50 in a game when he played in the Pro Rucker. I also remember him driving a luxury Duisenberg automobile around my Harlem Neighborhood later that evening in a blue suit with 4 beautiful women all dressed in blue riding with him. Now in our eyes, that was a star!

The first time I saw Pablo Robinson play basketball I thought he was doing magic. How could he do so much with a basketball. He was simply amazing the way he dominated. He had a brother Walter who was also good but not the player Pablo was. Still remember how folks always talked about his dad, who according to many was one of the top Chefs in NYC. Pablo made all of us proud by making the Harlem Globetrotters and even having a cartoon character in his image on the Globetrotter Cartoon Show.

People always seem to think Earl “The Goat” Manigualt was the greatest athlete and player during his time. He was a great one but the person often forgotten is Willie Manguam. I personally saw Willie Manguam take a quarter off the top of the basket in a park on 130th street and 7th avenue at 11 PM at night 45 years ago. I saw it with my own eyes as he took the quarter during a bet with a few other players. Besides jumping, Willie could just play!!! He could shoot, run, jump, and defend. Unfortunately we rarely hear his name. But he was a true playground legend.

Rodney Butler was the Charles Barkley of his time. When he entered a gym initially folks got a good laugh because he was a fat guy. Yes I said fat as opposed to big. Around 6 ft 3 and 280 ponds of White Castle Muscle, he would dominate every game he played. If he did not score 40 or 50 points it was a bad game, all he did was play hard and dominate. He also went on the Springfield College where the legendary Hilton White coached after a great career with the NYC Parks department as coach of The Bronx Falcons. Prior to these guys were players like Willie Hall, Bill Pleas (The First Mt. Vernon Star I saw), Dave Grey (Mt. Vernon) Dean Meminger, Tiny Archibald, Charlie Yelverton, The Great Joe Hammond, the best player ever both fundamentally and skill wise, Red Cotto the first HS All American from my old neighborhood, Rudy Waterman from LI, The Smith Brothers who all were great, The Williams Brothers from Mt. Vernon including Gus who still competes every Sunday at IS 201 in Harlem with a host of other ex NBA and local stars, Thomas Lockhart, Butch Lee, Artie Green who could draw 7000 to an outside game at King Towers, Bill Willoughby from Englewood (Which is 4 minutes from Manhattan) who played a lot in Harlem, and many more.

During these times a few NJ programs started to emerge as powers keeping the good players in the Garden State for the most part. People such as Rich Leary and the NJ Demons, who could be the greatest teacher ever in local AAU basketball, Brian Crawford and the Newark Rams, Sandy Python and the Road Runners, The Jersey Shore Warriors, The NJ Jay Hawks, and others. Recent additions have been the New Jersey All Stars and what might be the best program in NY or NJ The Playez Basketball Club based in Patterson NJ. 2nd best could easily be New Heights of NYC based on talent.

But for overall best program including services to support athletes, New Heights remains number 1 to me. Program wise others have eemerged as major players in youth basketball. The Panthers led by dapper Gary Charles and Sterling Nunly, Bingo's All Stars, The new Metro Hawks, The New Riverside Church Hawks, and Juice All Stars, all of New York.

I could go on and on with this and will in the future. But one thing for sure, New York City Area (including LI and NJ) basketball has proved to be entertaining and a great learning ground for many players including those from the suburbs

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quick Hits

Jayvaugn Pinkston to Villanova?

Great get by Jay Wright and company. Although I feel another local school would have been a great place for him in the tradition of undersized forwards who excel, the Villanova choice is not as bad as Collier to Oregon. Or was it Oregon State? same rain lol.

Villanova is hard to beat for local great players for a number of reasons whether you like it or not.

1. The school is an excellent academic choice
2. The school attracts NY Metro kids regardless if they play basketball or not.
3. The basketball team is popular and sells out on and off campus every game
4. The basketball team wins games and is a national type program
5. The team is going to the NCAA this year and years to come
6. Jay Wright is loved by most
7. Villanova is close to NYC and NJ
8. The kids on the team do a great job of recruiting other kids
9. Jay Wright knows how to close the recruitment
10. The Kids Graduate!!!!!!!

So Villanova is a great choice for most kids based on them having a great role on the team. But despite this, I still feel St. Johns would have been ideal for young Mr. Pinkston from day 1! He would have been a stud right out of the gate and from what I saw on TV watching SJU, he would have been part of that special new beginning. He could have been the King of NY in the mode of a richer version of Anthony Glover.

Speaking of St. Johns

Watched the game on TV and came away quite impressed despite a score closer than it should have been. Loved how Alumni Hall/Carnesseca Arena looked on TV. Much better than the job St. Joe's did when they kept that same ceiling and walls from what I could see in pictures.

The pace was electric like it was years ago when tickets were hard to get. Despite having around 3500, the place looked like it had 5500. Great look and the new scoreboard was big time!

St. Johns does have players and they will give Seton Hall a great game when they meet up.

Watched New Mexico against California at the "PIT" If you have never been to the "Pit" you have missed being at one of the most intimidating and loud arenas in America. Now they are doing a huge renovation of the Pit and I hope it remains close to what it was with all the new bells and whistles.

Again I wonder why certain D1 programs do not switch conferences or drop to D2. Why embarrass the school and the kids in the program. FDU? What the heck are they doing playing for the guaranteed money? Come on! Plus they seem to be putting zero into the program. So even if Greg Vetrone works his butt off it is hard without the proper support. What a waste! And could someone again please explain why they took out all the end bleaches and made the FDU gym look smaller than Hackensack HS? NJIT? Come on!!! The experiment failed now get back down to D2 or D3! The phone must be ringing off the hook with request for wins...I mean games. I felt the same about St. Peters for a long time but now I can see some improvement although I do not ever see them getting to the NCAA tournament in the next 25 years. But at least they are competitive!

Chris Washburn got back to me on my blog with some updated and angry information concerning his son and ex wife. He also took time out to really dog Dave Britton who seems to be in charge of what is going on right now. I will delete what he wrote but would be glad to talk to him and put something on here less graphic. By the way, the Chris Wasburn I met years ago is nothing like the guy folks assume he is. The Chris I met and took around was very nice, intelligent, understanding, and very approachable. I remember we went to Sweet Waters night club for a great show and all he wanted to do was wear his paisley tie.

Lastly, DePaul is really doing what it is supposed to do. Win every game they are supposed to win. Ditto SHU! That puts less pressure on a team to have to come up big at certain away games in The BE.

Finally lets see what happens at Fordham. Will they let Fontan out of his commitment? They should! Why keep a person who does not want to be with you?