It has been a long time since I have posted my thoughts. That will change as we get closer to the college and HS basketball season. Those who know and understand me realize I only post when I have something to say. Because I am not a "Real Writer" and this is just a hobby, I tend to not comment much over the summer months. But again we are getting ready to have a great college basketball season in the TRI State area of NY and Pennsylvania. So everyone needs to put on their seat belts for what could finally be a great ride.
I would like to acknowledge Rutgers University and new Coach Mike Rice. I knew Mike Rice years ago when he was a staff member with the Hoop Group. Also remember him playing with a young man I worked with who attended Fordham University at the same time as Coach Rice. That would be Jean Preliou (sp) who was a terrific point guard who played years overseas and now is a D1 Assistant. Just too bad Jean has forgotten his roots according to many. Well none of that this morning but plenty in the future. You folks know me!
Coach Rice was always a hard working and nice guy. My son even remembered him from the days at the Providence Hoop Festival. I am sure Mike Rice does not remember me at all. But one thing for sure, he has left no stone unturned in getting Rutgers back in the positive light with many people who were becoming very non supportive, and yes that included me. I even received a call from an Assistant I always liked who told me the COACHES at Rutgers were not allowed to call or communicate with a certain group of people and I was on that list. Well, it seems Coach Rice has no such list and is making efforts to get RU back on track. And personally I love it, want it, and cannot wait for it to happen! We need Rutgers to be good. They could just develop into a very good program under Coach Rice from what I have heard and witnessed in the past months.
Though I wanted Fran or Skinner for the Job at Rutgers over Coach Rice based on what I felt Rutgers needed, I always felt Rice was capable and a good candidate for the position. Just shows that Rutgers knew what they were doing thus far. And once Coach Rice was hired, he goes out and gets a great staff that can recruit the entire eastern seaboard. He has a guy who can get in with many people in NYC, and points going north. He has a person who can do well in Washington DC and points south. He has a guy who knows NJ and PA and was loved by EVERYONE for years and now seems back to his old self. He has himself and the many connections he has established over the years. All I can say is RU is heading in the right direction. And they are getting good players to consider and COMMIT!
Now I will do the typical LFBall thing and question the University about commitment to better basketball facilities. FIX UP THE RAC! New floor will be nice but how about better seating, and sound. At least do that!
Seton Hall excites me beyond believe. I do not care what people say, this team is loaded with talent and toughness. I honestly feel they could beat any team in the Big East. I also feel they will have a rocking good time at the Prudential Center in Newark. That joint will be jumping if the Pirates play hard and together, which is Kevin Willards job to get them to do.
There could be a problem with multiple guys thinking money contracts and the NBA while playing. If some of them know scouts from NBA teams are watching, and there will be many days of this, it could be problematic unless they realize they have to stay tight as a team. The NBA will be there, but the NBA loves winners. Not too many guys from losing programs are drafted. Especially selfish guys!
The new players along with the returnees make this team one to follow. Honestly I see them in every game they play, no matter who they are playing. This season could be one of the best in Seton Hall history.
Now lets talk recruiting or the lack of it. Seton Hall is doing a very good job. But many kids want to play from the time they step on the court. Looking at the kids in the program, courtesy of Bobby Gonzalez and Demon Player, many would turn down SHU based on feeling the playing time will not be there. Of course the Hall will lose a few starters after this season, but some of the young players are better than people realize. And the kids being recruited understand this. At Rutgers there is an abundance of playing time available. Thus the early commitments! At Seton Hall the playing time picture is more cloudy.
I still am not thrilled with the coaching staff at SHU. I think Willard will do fine and so will the others who are Assistants. Just do not see that lead recruiter guy who can get after it like guys from other BE schools will. Honestly Shahee Holloway should tear up Northern NJ and NY recruiting wise. Time will tell. The other guys on the SHU staff are very unfamiliar to me. I really think John Morton would have been a great person to get for one of the positions.
This team should do well this season based on WILLARD and his ability to coach talent. And the talent is there to make a huge statement not only locally, but nationally as well.
Many people are sleeping St. Johns, which most likely is fine with Coach Steve Lavin. Based on that, I can see, Coach Lavin walking away with Metro Coach of the Year at the conclusion of this years college basketball season.
The talent, thanks to Norm Roberts, is very good and close to what Seton Hall has. The problem is and has been for a few seasons, consistency in how they compete and play. What St. Johns team will show up? This St. Johns team has some tremendous talent and a very good coaching staff. Not as good as predicted, but very good nonetheless. They have all the bases covered recruiting wise, and a marketing head coach who will generate great interest.
My first prediction on this team is they will sell out many games at Alumni Hall or Louie Arena, or what ever they call where they play in Jamaica Queens. I also predict if they get off to a good start they will have some great Madison Square Garden crowds, especially if they are smart enough to play Seton Hall at The Garden this season.
Recruiting wise I am not impressed. I feel they turned down a good local kid and very good player in Ronald Roberts who will wear an NBA uniform one day after his playing days are over at St. Joe's in Philly. The recruits they have coming in are OK. I always loved what John Chaney told me years ago. He said for him to take a kid from further than 2 hours away from Philly, the Kid had to be a hell of a player! He said he could get decent kids all over the greater Philly area, Delaware and NJ. I agree with that and have yet to see SJU get in on many of the better local guys. If they are getting a kid from California, I question just how much potential he has because if he was that great, UCLA and USC would have road blocks at Airports and on all roads stopping him from leaving. No knock on the kid, just wondering if he will live up to the hype?
But all in All I feel St. Johns is ready to climb back to the top media wise in the NY Metro area. The Seton Hall vs SJU game should be great if they are playing this season. I know the BE has so many teams they might do something different schedule wise.
Monmouth, the mid major sleeping giant went out and recruited the type of players they always have recruited. Nice suburban players similar to those they get from Christian Brothers Academy. Good luck to them because a lot of coaches are following them closely for reasons we all understand. New Arena, great support when they win, great location, very good school. Like I said, sleeping mid major giant!
Binghamton made a very smart move by hiring Ron Brown from FDU. Guy is a true gentleman who will assist Mark Macon on and off the court. Ron is loved by everyone and now has worked in the coaching business for over 20 years including a stint as head coach at Florida A&M University. Tremendous pick-up! Too bad he is not there with Julius Allen because the two of them together would have turned NY and NJ upside down. Funny how when one door closes (FDU) a BETTER ONE OPENS (Binghamton). And if people have never seen a Binghamton game they are missing a treat. Those games sell out and they are everything FDU games should be but are not.
All I will say is WHAT HAPPENED? This was the best Mid Major program on the East Coast for years. This is the year or else from what I hear. Same guys watching Monmouth are watching Delaware. Great university, great location, great fan support when they are doing well.
Spoke to a few folks about certain guys not even getting return phone calls when inquiring about open positions. One guy whose name keeps coming up is Dermon Player. Sources tell me he cannot get a single bite. Yet the other Assistant who worked with him at SHU has landed on his feet. I wonder why? I think many are missing the boat with Dermon because he brings a lot to the table. He would be a tremendous asset to many programs. Just funny how he is searching for employment based on feelings about a guy he worked for. Not right in my book! Funny how some guys can get fired and be employed in two weeks by friends who are coaches while others cannot get a sniff, even from people who they assisted years ago. I hope Dermon gets back into the Metro Hawk Program, develop some kids who go on to become Micky D All Americans, and remember the way he was treated and by whom. Honestly, those who have not even returned his calls might just be in trouble because Dermon still has a lot of pull in NYC with the major AAU programs. He would have been very good at Iona, but they took the HS Assistant instead.
Looks like all that sneaker money from years ago is disappearing. I wonder what happened? Maybe they realized running camps and supplying AAU teams with funding did not necessarily translate to sneaker sales or a guarantee future professionals would wear a certain brand of sneaker. Of course the economy also has played a part in this development.
Well, thats it for now. Look for more thoughts from me on a more regular basis from this point on. I am now on my way to NYC to get some St. Johns tickets. Then it is off to Seton Hall to purchase tickets. And this hurts me to say but...................I will then go to Piscataway to buy a few tickets. Have to squeeze into those tiny hard seats lol.