What a New Year in the Tri State Area of New York City
It is a very exciting time for New York City area college basketball programs. New Coaches at Seton Hall, St. Johns, Rutgers, Fordham, Iona, Hofstra, and St. Francis of Brooklyn. Well the honeymoon is over as of right now. Some of these new guys might not last more than 2 seasons. Unless the place they work really could care less about winning and establishing a good program.
A prime example of this is St. Francis of Brooklyn. Does anyone at that school really care? Who goes there out of HS? Who turns down Stony Brook and similar schools to attend a school in a building in downtown Brooklyn, even though it is fashionable Brooklyn Heights.
St. Francis hired one of the nicest people ever associated with college athletics. He is a nice coach but an even better person. But from watching this school and program in the past, I can tell he will get very little support. I wonder if the College President even knows they have a team or a gym? Still remember how they treated the old coach who was a very good coach. No cell phone, no auto, and most likely no expense account.
The new Coach, who came over from St. Johns when the entire staff was dismissed, has his hands full and I can only wish him well in what could be the worst job in America! Now I do have one bit of advice for the current coach at St. Francis and any other place that wants a winning program. DO NOT BE SCARED OF HIRING OLDER COMPETENT COACHES WHO CAN HELP YOU! The St. Francis Coach did just this by not putting together a strong staff. He even turned down Ray Haskins for a volunteer position. Ray could have helped them as he did LIU years back when he led them to back to back NCAA and NIT tournament births. This new coach did what I thought he would never do, he went and hired guys he can control. Guys with no juice. Guys who cannot get it done at a place like St. Francis.
Oh well it will be another one of those seasons in Brooklyn Heights. 200 people in attendance maybe. And a ton of loses with no one even caring.
The New Coach at Seton Hall will be a very good coach. In fact that is not a problem at most campuses. The problem and challenge for him now and in the future is getting the stud players to attend as PJ and a super staff did years ago. Ditto Tommy Ameker, and even Bobby Gonzalez to a point.
He has very good talent this season. Talent that could lead SHU to an NCAA birth. But after this season he will be on his own and have to get it done with players recruited by his staff.
Now I feel SHU will be in the NCAAs this season based on talent and a very good Head Coach. The problem I see is Seton Hall has a staff that is not ready for prime time recruiting at this time. In fact who are the Assistants besides Shaheen Holloway? And oddly even he has not been around long enough to establish contacts that will get him and SHU players . I still remain stunned that SHU would not hire a better staff to recruit players. I am stunned they did not get guys with super connections to join Coach Willard and Holloway. What were they thinking?
As I mentioned last week, recruiting starts very early with establishing relationships. And in all honesty it involves for some schools in the mid-west and points south a lot of cash being spent. Not just a courtship of a player! It might be a courtship with presents, but not just talking someone into attending Big University of America. Assistant Coaches that are hired at schools in major conferences need to come with a book of national connections. The days of guys like Dick Vitale going into a home a selling a kid on playing time is over.
Unfortunately many kids and parents have a hand out for extra benefits to attend certain colleges. Think most schools do not have a department set up just for this? Of course they do. It is called the non affiliated "Friends of The Program." In fact, some of the huge basketball factories have boosters who handle these requests without the Head Coach even knowing about it. Or at least they are smart enough to stay out of the picture and never even discuss stuff with Assistant Coaches. You would be surprised at the schools I have heard pay, and pay well.
So to not have that big donor booster, you need a barracuda as an assistant with lots of contacts from the East Coast to The West Coast. Tough guys ready to walk down streets in South Jamaica and the South Bronx late at night hoping to accidentally bump into kids as some ex SHU coaches were known to do years ago. Or coaches willing to walk into parts of Baltimore far from the Harber and be comfortable recruiting.
Again Seton Hall will win this season. But getting recruits for the future will be a challenge based on the mentality of kids and advisors as well as a lack of connection to power brokers along the eastern seaboard.
Lets look at St. Johns. If nothing else they will play hard for the new coach because they know he does not have to play them. In an effort to impress, they will work harder than they have ever worked in the past.
Now SJU did not get the dream staff Lavin spoke about. But in my opinion that was a dream team of recruiters. SJU might just have the best overall coaching staff. In fact I know they have the best staff, especially when it comes to X and Os.
Add very good talent to very good coaching with a proven X and O expert on the staff and that will equal success. In fact I feel Madison Square Garden and the on campus arena will be jumping this season.
Rutgers has done a better job than anyone else locally on the recruitment trail. And I am not stunned by this. Rutgers has a big time on campus atmosphere despite playing in a 9000 seat sorta dumpy and old fashioned arena.
The new kids signed bring great energy to the program despite having to wait a year to play. Is it me or has Mike Rice become a real NJ Hero thus far. He hired a great staff for recruitment purposes. They have the east coast covered. And from watching him for many years, I know he understands the game and is a very good Coach.
I am going out on the limb here and predicting Rutgers will finish with a winning record this season.
Now again get that gym,,,,I mean Arena fixed up. Think Rutgers did well so far? Watch what happens if the crowds increase and they win. They could become a dominant area program.
Fordham has a pretty good staff. Not sure what they are doing and if they will win. Now Rutgers Arena is like the Prudential Center compared to the HS type gym Fordham plays in.
But Tom Picora will get it done. He has won everywhere. Fordham will be no different.
New Coach at Hofstra. Glad he was smart enough to get Steve DeMeo (Shocked none of the BE schools went after him) and Wayne Morgan, a super addition. Stunned that Wayne is even at a CAA school as opposed to a place like Ohio State, Seton Hall, etc. They Might be better in the long run than any team in the last 15 years at Hofstra.
It's a shame how some schools get away with cheating all the time and everyone knows.
What BE school got rid of some Assistant coaches and had a tremendous player drop out and disappear back to his country because the coaches did not want the NCAA to talk with him.
Anyone besides me miss having ABCD camp at FDU? How about The Boost Mobile moving to California? Next thing you we might see is The NYC Rucker League and IS8 moving to Upper saddle River!