Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It has been a while since I have posted. Here are some thoughts on various items that I have thought about.

I said it years ago and people laughed. I said often that Hamady N'diaye of Rutgers would one day be drafted by an NBA team. Well my prediction happened and despite very little fanfare over the years he emerged as a 2nd round draft choice. Like people say as kids "Told You So."

I noticed that the number of International players drafted in the first round is down from years ago. I guess NBA General Managers are now smart enough to know a 18 year old from Europe is not the same as a seasoned USA player in most cases. Glad to see that international trend end!

Scotty Renolds not even drafted? This might just be a blessing to him in the long run. Now he chooses where he wants to go and attempt to make a team. I predict he will play many years in the NBA and some GM will be sorry they did not draft him!

Who is advising all these guys to come out early? Mickey Mouse? Such greed by many so called agents really is hurting the players and college basketball. To be a 2nd round pick is not a guarantee of making a team. Lots of similar players all over summer leagues wishing to this day they had done it different. Hello to both Mr. Cooks, ex NYC Playground Legends.

John Calipari is so interesting. He says this is the greatest day in Kentucky basketball history! Is he kidding or did someone slip something into his diet coke? He should be called on the carpet for two reasons. How do you not win the NCAA Championship with 5 1st round players on your team? He should have been in hiding from embarrassment. Academically the President of The University of Kentucky should be furious with this 1 and done thing Calipari is doing. Kentucky is in horse farm country and that's just what the basketball program is doing, Breeding basketball players using the University of Kentucky facilities. I wonder if anyone cares that those kids might never be able to understand contracts or function as regular folks when careers are done. To have 4 1st year players and 1 Jr. leave at the same time was academically embarrassing. I guess Kentucky only cares about winning and making money! Sad!!!!!!!

I also love the way Calipari uses the media. He is front and center for cameras making statements and gaining photo opts that every HS player in the country will see. Than he makes statements such as "My Wife says he is like a son." Talk about using the media to recruit for you, he is the master! The NCAA should stop this from happening. They are promoting 1 and done and that academics are just not that important. Honestly the HS to NBA rule needs to be looked again. Maybe it is not that bad after all.

Labron James to Knicks? I doubt it! When will they realize that the current coach is so wrong for the Knicks, and for the NY Metropolitan Area? This guy needs to be in the Southwest somewhere. I cannot even imagine LaBron being comfortable talking to this guy.

How could the area teams pass on Lance Stephenson? Who is in charge? oops forgot who is coaching the Knicks.

HS Information

A very good comment on a recent blog post suggested Jerome Smart was not the first choice for the Teaneck HS coaching vacancy. I honestly cannot imagine who would have been a better candidate than Jerome Smart unless Kevin Boyle, Danny Hurley, and Bob Hurley all applied. I did like Donald Osbourne as a future coach but not sure if he was really interested. Jerome brings alot to the table and will continue where Curtis left off while providing more post HS opportunities as well as exposure for his players. This was not a good choice, it was a great choice.

By the way I often thought about Curtis March screaming etc. It bothered me and later I realized how wrong I was! Ever hear the other top coaches in NJ? The top coaches in NYC? They all say things I cannot repeat here. ALL OF THEM! It is the passion they have for coaching and getting players to compete better.

In later years I realized how wrong I was and what an impact he made on the kids. I am so grateful for all Coach March did for my son and many others as a caring coach who took Teaneck to heights not imagined by anyone. He was far from the typical 3 to 5 Bergen County public school coach. I for one am sad to see him go. But at the same time so thankful Jerome Smart will head this great public school program in future years.

Lastly those kids that did not attend Teaneck went other places for reasons other than Curtis. They were pushed by people with no real idea of what they were doing. They were also looking at the grass being greener. Patterson Catholic is nowhere near the academic school Teaneck is, and we understand Teaneck has issues. I doubt Coach Smart will need to recruit as other do because Teaneck is a basketball town with one of the best feeder systems in the state at the Richard Rodda Center which runs youth basketball leagues on two beautiful indoor courts.

Dwayne Mitchell to Coach Rice HS in Manhattan

Coach Mitchell is a no nonsense type guy who rarely seems to smile. However he is destined for coaching greatness because one thing he can do well is COACH! Guy has been a great coach for years even with his younger Gaucho teams. Parents knew their kids were in great hands with him and he would be a responsible and caring person who would keep the kids safe and together as they traveled to various tournaments often playing 3 games in one day. Still remember him at Milbank after his young 13 year old team had played. He had them all sit on the bench together and eat lunch before heading to another part of the city in a semi formation for the next game. no less than 8 future D1 players was on that young team!

However, I do hope Coach Mitchell understands that as quick as he moves up, he could move down. So in the spirit of Moe Hicks, who always acknowledged everyone as if they were long lost friends, he needs to pick up his head and learn to smile and be cordial to those he knew when he was coaching the young kids. Nuff said!

Friday, June 18, 2010


Lakers Win

Great win for the LA Lakers over the Boston Celtics. However it still amazes me how people use the "We" when describing NBA teams they follow. We have to win the next game or We will pull it out, etc. Great being a fan but where is the real affiliation? Do these fans actually think those NBA or NFL players really care about representing them as citizens of that city on the front of their uniforms?

Heck Nate Robinson looked like a 5 year Celtic the way he was into the games and that is OK. All the players put alot into the game performance and play with pride. But we should never get it twisted, they are professionals playing for dollars and not good old state university, area high school, or really the city on the front of their uniform. Pick a team to enjoy. Follow the team. Enjoy the game. But keep in mind they represent an organization and owner more than the city.

That brings me to college fans. I fully understand people taking pride by becoming die hard fans. Just attending a college for two semesters gives you a history and a base to support and follow. Graduate and it is really your school playing. This is what is great about college athletics. In the NY area all the schools seem to have sincere and very knowledgeable fans. I would bet many coaches sometimes wish the fans were not as knowledgeable. A great fan to many coaches is that person who worships the coach and sees him as a person who can do no wrong. I would bet most college coaches, especially the younger coaches, read the Internet daily including message boards and blogs. I know for a fact many read this blog and some have even called me on occasion to complain or at the least had someone else call. If it was up to many, there would be no message boards or bloggers.

The true fans are what makes college sports so special. Though many student athletes get perks that we know about but look the other way, most people look at them as amateur's playing for good ole state u. Just young kids competing and representing the University!

However to the University it is big business. It is not as much about developing young men and young ladies as it is about winning and making money for non revenue sports, the new science building and university advertising. It is the reason the transfer rules are ridiculous. Schools need to hold on to certain players they feel will benefit them. They would let a bench warmer on scholarship transfer to a rival down the street. But a star player needs to get a Presidential Pardon to change schools. Thus the case at Monmouth University.

Though I feel kids need to be loyal to schools that give them an opportunity when they were not highly recruited, they should not be held hostage in a program that seems not to care or willing to accept being average at best. I look at the Monmouth situation two ways. For the transferring player the grass might look greener than it really is and he could wind up playing far less minutes and having a much smaller role at the school he transfers to. What happened to staying with who gave you an opportunity when you were not well thought of as a player. Now all of a sudden everyone wants you. On the other hand what is going on at Monmouth for this kid to run like he is doing. What made a kid who loves basketball just walk away from the sport to play intramural frisbee at a D3 school? Very interesting! Maybe it is just a coincidence.

It seems to me no one is really watching what is going on at Monmouth. Waine Szoke where are you? I continue to say Monmouth should be one of the top mid major programs in America. No excuses because they have all the ingredients. Great facilities, great campus, beach nearby, great academics, great college area, outstanding fan base when they do well. So what has happened?

Seems from the outside looking in no one is under pressure to win or achieve. I am sure the Coach knows his stuff, But in no way should they be what they have been for the past few years. Does the President know they have a team? I know that has been the case at FDU for many years. Never figured Monmouth was the same. Why build the new arena if you do not care or expect to win? Just build a huge Rec Center for intramural sports. Make it state of the art, etc. After all, with what they are putting on the floor they could not fill half of the old building and that building was really not that bad. I would bet Rider would love to send special trucks to lift the old Monmouth Facility and transfer it to the Rider campus.

Well, enough on Monmouth. Stevie Wonder can see that they need to change some things. Or maybe Stevie is the actual President.

Kids Visiting Area Colleges

Still waiting for the big bang at local colleges recruiting wise. Will the kids now stay home? Will any stud type players turn down the perks at some of those other places, if you know what I mean, to attend school locally? Or a better question might be will some area schools find ways to offer perks if they have not done so in the past? Lets see what happens. We are watching and listening.

Best Teams in Area next Season

1. Seton Hall
2. St. Johns
3. Hofstra
4. Rutgers
5. Fordham
6. Manhattan
7. Iona

I really think both Seton Hall and St. Johns will be best Big East Teams in NY, NJ, and Connecticut. I feel they will beat both Syracuse and UConn this season. Bobby and Norm sure did not leave the programs without very good talent.

Iona at number 7? We are watching Iona very closely lol. Have some thoughts but will wait to share after watching more closely.

Teaneck HS Basketball Coach

I have gotten at least 5 emails from various people asking me my thoughts on Jerome Smart being named Head Coach at Teaneck HS.

I have known Jerome for many years from a distance. Never had much to say to him since Jimmy Solmon was my real contact and a person I spoke with often. But from what I have seen Coach Smart is very impressive. I never even considered him as a candidate when we were trying to figure out who would get the position. We thought it would be the ex Bloomfield Tech guy and that excited many of us. We thought it would be Donald Osbourne the Dwight Morrow girls coach and that also was an exciting thought because this guy will be legendary one day. We even felt the job could go to a college assistant. But no one even thought about Jerome Smart.

One thing we all wanted was a guy who could continue and expand on what Curtis March did at Teaneck. He made Teaneck HS a state wide name and one that college recruiter respected. Teaneck, a middle class community was the first school district in America to voluntarily integrate it's school district many years ago, always had good teams. When Coach March took over they became a GOOD PROGRAM with many kids going to D1 and D2 schools after Teaneck. They also won State and sectional titles and were regulars on state top 20 lists. We were scared that Teaneck would just name a care taker of the program, or someone who would not put time and effort into keeping the program on at least the level it is currently on.

To our surprise Jerome Smart is named the Head Coach. And WHAT A GREAT SURPRISE IT WAS. I say it was an OUTSTANDING CHOICE, and Teaneck really hit a home run with this. Yes a Home run!!!!!!!! Jerome will do all that Curtis did and maybe more based on college contacts, AAU contacts, style of play, level of competition, schedule they eventually play, and placement of kids in college. I am so excited I might have to move back and get my grandson Logan to enroll in 14 years since Danny Hurley is no longer at St. Benedict's.

If you watch Coach Smart coach his all star 17 and under Playaz teams you will notice a fairness and loyalty factor. You will see a bunch of kids who respect him and want to play for him. It will be no different at Teaneck. This guy is loved but more importantly admired. The days of kids running off to the Catholic schools could be over. Teaneck will continue in the great tradition of Curtis March and remain a serious state contender.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Random Thoughts

I guess this summer basketball thing is just getting too large for the average fans. I still remember going to events that were held at the same location all day long for 3 days. The younger players would stay and watch the older players and dream. Now it is about expansion and the dollar, or at least it seems this way.

People have turned what used to be a commitment to assisting our youth into full time careers and profit making ventures. I am not complaining, just explaining. At one time many people worked hard at jobs during the day and in the evening and on weekends they worked for free mentoring young men and women in sports activities. All of a sudden much of this became big business or at the least big ego's.

Teams went from having local players who had tee shirts as uniforms to now having kids from all over a 200 mile radius who are outfitted with the best uniforms with matching sneakers and even over coats. I have even seen some higher profile teams play games with the parents on the side line with matching sneakers because that particular travel team had so many good players the sneaker companies funded them at a level better than high schools. These sneaker companies at one time paid some travel team coaches more than regular high school coaches earn to coach sports. I do have to say some of the travel team guys were head and shoulders better than many HS guys I have watched coach based on passion for the game alone.

In recent weeks we have heard about ticket scalping ventures at Kansas and other places. Not sure if the allegations are true. But the rumors of those type of activities across the country with travel team involvement has been out there for years. These activities were in addition to the old exhibition game opportunities provided to various travel team programs to play against good ole U as a reward for past or even future assistance. Many did not know some of those travel teams received thousands of dollars to play and lose by 40 points with washed up ex players, many supplied by the host school.

All this is part of what I have referred to earlier in this post. The money involved in amateur sports is something right out of a book that could be entitled "Making Money while Assisting Kids." This goes back to comparing the way youth sports were, and the way they are now.

Some examples:

Average at best players and parents are paying thousands to personal basketball trainers in the hope of getting the player better. Huge business!

Kids with limited ability are paying lots of money for all star camps where they think they will be discovered. Funny thing is most of the better players do not even pay to attend camps or at the very least pay a very small administrative fee. I used to watch various rising seniors pay large amounts in hope of being discovered by the many large D1 programs organizers promised would be in attendance. Diving and playing hard often with no one even watching.

How about the kids who pay to play on travel teams? They pay in the hope of being discovered. Funny thing is no one even watches if you are not playing for a team recognized for having very good players and a history of sending players to the D1 and D2 level. Check out the next event you attend. The court with the known players will be packed and the court with The Bronx Barracudas vs the Staten Island Cyclones will be empty except for the parents who are watching.

Speaking about tournaments this brings me full circle to the way tournaments are now as compared to the past. As I mentioned it was a great thing playing and watching tournaments in the same location. About 15 years ago this started to change when tournament directors decided to expand as much as possible. Even in Vegas the "Big Time " went to what seemed like 400 teams using every HS in Vegas. Than there was a Nike event held on the campus of UNLV. Than there was another event a week after the "Big Time" event. Than there was a tournament at Disney World sponsored by Nike. It goes on and on. Nothing wrong with inclusion if it is for the right reason and not just to make more money by having more teams and not providing a positive experience for young men and women.

This brings me to the Rumble in The Bronx. I need help. This is an event I attended every year until it got so big and confusing. Maybe I have gotten slower thinking and processing wise since becoming a member of AARP. But figuring these games out and where to go is so confusing. They have at least 6 sites from Fordham to what seems like Albany lol. Manhattan College back to Fordham over to some HS and than back to Manhattan. This is as bad as when my son played on the LI Panthers and we traveled 65 miles in Vegas looking for the gym only to find out we were at the wrong place and when we found the correct location they had lost on forfeit. The Panthers had one of the best Travel Teams ever assembled at that time. Over 250 college coaches were in the stands waiting for the game as The Panthers were lost in the desert lol.

Where do I start at The Rumble? What an adventure folks will have from Friday to Sunday. I guess I need to pack supplies and a map. Wow, AAU/Travel Team/Rec basketball. You have to love it!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back At It

It has been a while since I have posted anything on my blog. I wonder if anyone noticed? Well I am back and hope to share my thoughts throughout the summer months.

Lets start with some random thoughts.

Justin Sofman walks away from basketball and a scholarship saying he will put the basketball down for good. I guess he will at least play intramural ball at his new school Ramapo. I honestly hope for the best for this FINE YOUNG MAN who has always exhibited class on and off the court. I also hope he decides to continue playing at Ramapo which has a strong D3 program. Funny thing is Ramapo might just beat Monmouth if they played them. At least they would be competitive based on past seasons history. And people should never knock this young man for going after what he wanted basketball wise. In the end he most likely will be extremely successful in life and his future career.

So FDU gets a transfer from an A10 school. Melquan Bolding who is one of the few Mount Vernon NY kids to not attend Mt. Vernon HS. What has always made Mt. Vernon so good was the fact the kids did not opt to attend NYC and Westchester Catholic High Schools. This young man was an exception. So now he attends FDU where he will play for Coach Gary Vetrone. Well that is what he said his name is lol. I thought it was Greg Vetrone, a person I coached as a wonderful young man from Queens NY who attended Bergen Community College in NJ and was a very good player there and later CW Post on Long Island. Well Mr. Bolding also said he feels he can trust Gary Vetrone. Interesting and hopefully true. One thing for sure is FDU will be better next season and seasons to come because this young man can really play and might just dominate that conference.

Well it is a new era at Rutgers University. Craig Carter is now at Siena. Jimmy Carr remains at Rutgers in the same capacity (a good thing). I am sure Dennis Gregory will wind up somewhere decent based on connections. At the least he will be with the Hoop Group because Rob Kennedy is loyal and smart. Dennis is great at the camp and youth basketball thing. That brings me to Darren Savino who believe it or not I have always liked and been impressed with. If Fran F would have been named Head Coach at Rutgers he would still be there. Now? My bet is he ends up at FDU where he has been spotted recently. He would be a very good addition to the staff there.

If Savino goes to FDU who will he replace? oops I forgot to mention that Ron Brown has not been retained by Coach Vetrone. Funny how this basketball thing works. Vetrone could not get a sniff for many years after prior jobs at UNLV and other locations. Tom Green brings him back to FDU where he had previously served as a Assistant Coach. Tom, who deserved better, is fired by an Athletic Director who was hoodwinked by certain power brokers who are now even more famous, and all of a sudden the Associate Head Coach Ron Brown who had experience as a BE Assistant, and as a Head Coach on the D1 level is passed over as the intrim Head Coach in favor of Greg Vetrone or should I say Gary Vetrone. Fast forward and Coach Vetrone hires a HS Coach from California as an Assistant to work with the staff on hand. California HS Coach? What favor was he paying back lol?

Now Greg Vetrone who is really a hard worker and will go the extra yard to be successful, gets the permanent job over a few OUTSTANDING CANDIDATES. His first order of business? Not retain Ron Brown who is one of he real good guys in the coaching fraternity. Rumor is he wanted a younger staff which is grounds for ......... Enter Savino who could be outstanding at FDU. But so was Brown who loyally served under Green and helped keep FDU going strong for a number of years and everyone knows this. Maybe Ron needed some California or West Coast connections. Read my blog going back about 9 months and see if what I said is not what is happening based on recent articles about ticket scalping etc. Good luck to FDU but I do have to wonder where is the diversity staff wise? Before I discuss this more I need to further examine and trust me I will! Oddly the AD at FDU is a minority and hopefully he will make sure things are done correctly and appropriately.

Speaking about diversity I am still wondering why IONA would hire a HS Assistant Coach as a Assistant College Coach? I have never ever seen this. I have seen HS Assistants hired as Managers, Adm Assistants, Video Coordinators, and even DOBO's. But never as a Full-time Assistant on a level as high as the MAAC. This is not a knock on the person hired as much is it a question about thoughts of a head coach to fill a position on his staff with a qualified person of color which we know most D1 programs have. Just makes you wonder!

Rumble in The Bronx starts on Friday at Fordham University. I think I will attend........oops I forgot it is now at multiple locations many miles apart. I need to re-think this even though I do love going to purchase those great chicken wings outside the gym.

Speaking of Fordham I am convinced even if Digger Phelps returned with a staff of Mark Jackson, Hubie Brown, and Tom Konchalski, they would still be a middle of the pack team until they tear down that ancient gym and replace it with a 7,000 seat facility good for the entire Bronx area. Kids who would make a huge difference just will not attend despite it being a great academic school with wonderful alumni contacts. Being right off Fordham Road certainly does not help either. The Staff in place is a very good one but it is now time for a real facility with a practice gym attached. I am not even sure the Fordham program is on par with Hofstra at this time. Good luck Coach Picora! Another outstanding person who just happens to be a basketball Coach.

Speaking of Hofsra. Are you kidding me. They turn down a proven winner and very good Coach who grew up 10 miles from the campus to hire a guy who was his Assistant? I am sure when they told the BC Assistant he was the choice he thought he was being punked. I have never seen a Assistant, especially one NO ONE KNOWS, beat out his boss for a position the boss wanted. Never ever! I look for Hofstra to slide back to the days of Dick Berg, a nice guy who could not get it going. Turn Down Al Skinner for his Assistant! I still cannot believe this. Maybe Al decided he did not want the position.

Is it me or does the NCAA play games with folks by looking the other way at violations right in front of them? talk about an old boy network?

UConn had two coaches resign? So Calhoun really was surprised at what the two Assistants were doing? Yes right! So on their own they went out and broke the rules because they just wanted to help UConn? I would bet both have great positions in Hartford in the very near future. Wonder if hose guys realize how hard it will be to get another job in basketball on the D1 level?

As good as Mike Rice will be at Rutgers, and time will certainly tell. He needs to allow his staff the freedom to talk to outsiders and not be paranoid. Rutgers will have a hard enough time getting very good players based on not cheating in the past decade or the future. They will never purchase kids as other schools often do and we all know who does this and has done this for many years.

Mike Rice will be a very good Coach and bring good stuff to the table. The recruiting connections could be outstanding with Van Macon in NYC and NJ, and other guy Cox in DC and Virginia, with Mike having tons of Pa. Connections. Question is what will Rutgers do to support him? When is the practice facility being built? Where are the plans? What about the refurbished RAC? Very hard to compete for kids when you do not cheat nor do you have great facilities. I am not for cheating but the facilities must improve.

OK here we go again with Seton Hall. GREAT TALENT coming back. If Gonzo was still there would they win? ABSOLUTELY! Will Coach Willard win with Gonzo's talent? ABSOLUTELY because he really is a very good Coach and one who will excel. I really think anything other than an NCAA bid would be a disappointing season. This is the year based on returning and new talent. The Rock will be rocking and the place to be.

I say the same thing about St, Johns. Very good talent coming back with very good coaches aboard especially if Dunlap is there to help with X and O's. But I still think Norm Roberts would have won next year. Looking at all those very good players returning I question if St. Johns really wanted him to stay and win which would have meant keeping him for more years. With the talent they have I could lead them to the NCAA tournament and the last championship team I coached was in Teaneck Biddy Basketball with a very good team including my son and David West the current NBA star. One thing for sure there is a buzz about St. Johns all over NYC and kids are looking hard at them. The Garden attendance is key for future success.