I don't know about anyone else but I am very excited about area basketball for next season and beyond. New coaches at St. Johns, Seton Hall, Iona, Fordham, Hofstra and Wagner should bring interest back to the game we all love. It is almost a total area wide face lift. It is as if all the area ADs decided to make a huge move together. I cannot remember ever seeing this many local hires at one time.
From all indications Coach Willard at Seton Hall seems to be a person the players will love playing for. Without going into detail I will say how things happen for a reason. Years ago Willard was all signed sealed and delivered to a CAA school who at the last moment pulled the plug on him for the DUMBEST REASON! Fast forward we saw him go to Iona and do well enough to obtain the Seton Hall Job. If he went to that CAA school, this would never had happened. In fact that CAA school has not done well from the time they went back on hiring him. Reflecting back I am sure he is thrilled how things worked out.
If Iona gets a guy like Fran Fraschilla they will continue to move back towards where they were years ago. By the way the Jeff Ruland story is something that has been whispered all over the country during his tenure there. Ugly situation especially if true and done to a guy like Ruland who put Iona on the map. Guy turned down Kentucky to attend Iona and they do this to him? Back to basketball. Fran would do a nice job there. Personally I feel he would be a bases loaded home run for Iona. I love what Fran brings to the table and always have. I also hear whispers that Kentucky Assistant Steve Masiello could get this position and is being pushed hard by his Godfather Rick Pitino.
Hofstra is an interesting situation. Seems the AD at Hofstra is an ex UConn guy which explains the fact Dave Leitao, Karl Hobbs of George Washington, Tom Moore and other UConn guys are listed as candidates. I am a huge Dave Leitao fan but feel he needs to take the huge salary at St. Johns as opposed to trying to step down to a Hofstra level. He seems to excel at higher profile programs with money to spend as opposed to those with limited budgets and resources. Furthermore, Hofstra needs a NY guy like Van Macon to lead them and continue the great job done by Jay Wright and Tom Picora. If not Van Macon they should strongly consider Al Skinner who was wrongly fired this week from Boston College and is a Long Island native.
Speaking of Al Skinner I need to point out all this guy did was win, never get into trouble with the NCAA, graduate his players, defend his kids, and find hidden jewels and develop them into very good Big East and ACC players. Someone needs to call him right now! If Tom Picora did not take Fordham he would have been the perfect fit. I might have said Iona as well but after hearing what Ruland and his assistants went through I am not so sure it would be safe for him there.
Tom Picora is the type of guy who will lead Fordham back to some sort of post season play. He deserves the money he received if for no other reason than he left much better facilities than he will have at Fordham. Using the A10 as a selling point, he will work very hard to sell Fordham to recruits. Now all they need is to commit to improving the facilities in a huge way. Fordham really needs a new gym and practice facility in the worst way. Maybe a joint project with the City of New York to build a place in the Bronx to generate revenue when there are not Fordham events being held in the building and a place to use for events similar to how Temple University does it.
I hear Wagner has guys like Darren Savino, Danny Hurley, and a few others being considered. Wagner is interesting because they really have an opportunity to become Staten Islands team and capture fans from all over the boro. No reason they should not have a season ticket waiting list in that nice 2500 seat gym. If you have never been to Wagner, I will tell you it was much better than I imagined when I attended a few games there years ago.
With all of the local college basketball activity going on, the one that brings it all home is St. Johns! As I have always said, on the college level you need a Coach and a Salesman to attract great players and fans to fill up the arena when you play games. Hiring Steve Lavin is like getting a coach and PR person in the same deal.
Not sure he will get the Manhattan Coach or Dave Leitao, but if he does and also gets Jay (I remember when he was Jason lol) Williams or Jared Grasso from Fordham, WATCH OUT!!!!! Again this brings it all together for a great 2010-2011 college basketball season and one that will see many more HS players from NY, NJ, and even Connecticut attend college in the area.
Lastly, could this be a version of the Philadelphia Big 5 if they play each other?