Friday, December 30, 2011

It is really heating up!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Basketball is really back all over the country though many college programs such as UCLA look to be in turmoil. Watched a recent UCLA game and the place was only 1/4 full if that. Of course they were not playing on campus but instead playing in downtown LA at the place USC use to call home before building its new arena years ago. Well,  looking in from the outside the place and the program looked like a larger version of FDU, west coast version !  Sorry, this was not the program of John Wooden, Gene Bartow, or even Steve Lavin! I am sure things will be better when Pauley Pavilion is finished getting a total make-over, but for now it looks like a program heading in a down spiral direction. This would be a great time for USC, who often has been called the JV in LA, to come up to UCLA's status. But it remains so unusual seeing UCLA with its history playing in front of a few thousand if that.

On the East Coast I watched a great game between highly ranked Florida and often forgotten Rutgers. Of course Rutgers was the underdog before the game started. Problem for Florida was the game had to be played and Rutgers came to play. I am not sure what happened but it could have been the ghosts of 'The RAC" coming alive because the place was rocking to the point I am sure some players being recruited by RU were very impressed despite the building being far from state of the art. Remember Cameron Indoor Stadium on the Duke campus is really ancient and not much more than a glorified HS gym, the type they have in Indiana. But when there are butts in the seats, as they were at Rutgers last night,  it looks marvelous.

The game itself was almost as impressive as Ely Carter, the former St. Anthony's and prep school star who no Big East Team recruited at the start of his senior year in HS. I still remember watching him and the big fella who went to Richmond do nothing but win. He signed with St. Bonaventure (sp) of the A10 and all of a sudden the big boys came recruiting him. After deciding to do a prep year the rest is history, although he was not the Blue Ribbon Recruit in this years Freshmen Class at RU.  Now anyone who has watched this kid play will come away impressed. Last night was no different. He totally dominated the highly rated trio of Kenny Boyton, Bradley Beal, and Erving Walker, who at one time was rated the number 1 player in his class and was recruited by every HS in the tri-state area. I am sure Mr. Carter heard of Erving Walker while he was in HS. I am sure Mr. Walker now knows Mr. Carter. No predictions on this kids future from me but as I watched I sure had to put on my sun glasses to shield me from the brightness of his future.

Watched Myles Mack closely as well. Confident is an understament. I have not always been big on him as a Big East recruit but you can certainly see he chose the correct school to attend, something many HS players do not do. He also was outstanding and together with Ely Carter and the other young players this  could be the start of something special at Rutgers for years to come.

Lastly on the Rutgers win last night. Why are a few  people so down on Dane Miller? Is it the curse of the super frosh at RU. I have seen at least 3 others who had great freshmen years become unappreciated the next few years. Guy scored 16 points on 8 of 13 shooting and some still feel he is not a player. Are you kidding me? He makes it possible for others to shine! This young man is a player that helps you win games as you build your program.

I cannot wait to see the Seton Hall vs Rutgers game this season and in the future. I honestly think Big East Basketball in The Garden State just might become very popular again. Speaking of Seton Hall, I am surprised that a small amount of people are down on that program for losing to the Number 1 team in America on The Number One Teams Home Court. Again I say Seton Hall has held serve better than anyone else on the local college scene. They have won games they were supposed to win except the Northwestern game. The next few games are very important and games that could define the Pirate Program for the future. The name of the game is COMPETE! Thus far they have done this.

St. Johns vs UConn? I want St. Johns to be good so bad I am looking for any positive signs I see. The roster might be small on scholarship players available, but the ratings of those they have are among the best in America. Better than Rutgers, and Seton Hall. So whats the problem? Is it Steve Lavin being out? Is it a chemistry problem? Is is the lack of depth?   Is it no one eats at Dante's any longer? Is it the new arena is uncomfortable? Something is wrong and it is more than Lavin being out!  Again I root for St. Johns and want nothing more than 3 great area Big East Teams!

Anyone watch FDU lately? Now you know they are always on my mind. Noticed the last time I was there that they had multi colored pop up seats on one side. Looks great when no one is sitting in the chairs. Great idea Mr. AD! Than again since no one attends the games it makes the gym look ummmm colorful! Again Coach Vetrone this is not about you. After all you (FDU) want to be D1, you have to spend money to recruit and to provide an environment suitable for a winning program. Like that great basketball philosopher Wayne Morgan, former Iowa State and Long Beach State Head Coach said to me many years ago when he started out coaching at Dutchess Community College in upstate NY, "You Cannot Make Chicken Soup Out Of Chicken S... !  Good luck coach but I am sure those CUNY and NJAC openings will look alot better in the near future if they do not provide you with better support including marketing!

Tow more days before the greatest 1 day HS event in the history of Bergen County NJ takes place at Hackensack NJ High School. Yes, I am referring to the Playaz Basketball Club New Years Day Jump Off!   St. Anthony's vs St. Benedict's,   Plainfield vs Hudson Catholic,  Teaneck vs St. Patricks, and the opening preliminary game to hold down the gym for late arriving fans,  Hackensack vs Englewood.

If you love HS basketball this will be the place to be. I know people attending this event from Philly, Maryland, and even Connecticut. Hackensack HS is a pretty large facility and at one time the home of the Bergen County Jamboree championship until it became too expensive.   Nice facility with plenty of parking with at least 3 games that could qualify for TV games. Hope to see many of you there. I will be the one watching every possession and  coaching from the stands with hopefully Teaneck Hoops and JShuttlesworth lol.

Enjoy the day and Happy New Year to everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday December 29, 2011

Basketball is going full steam ahead all over America. The HS season is up and running, the College season is going strong, and even the NBA is back. Here are a few tidbits based on my observations thus far.


Is it me or does the NBA all of a sudden seem exciting and relevant again?

Is the NY KNicks for real at 1-1?

The Knicks vs Nets game should be a good one for temporary bragging rights in the NY Metro area!

Am I the only one who thought The NJ Nets would never really move to Brooklyn? I honestly thought they were kidding and/or bluffing to get a better NJ deal.

Is Miami on a mission?

Are the LA Clippers actually a better team than the LA Lakers?

Is it not odd that two NBA teams are in the same city using the same Arena?

Denver seems to have not missed Camelo Anthony

College Basketball

OK Seton Hall lost to Syracuse at Syracuse! Seton Hall lost to the number 1 team in America! Should they be embarrassed? Should they have their heads down? I say heck no! Its one game and one game only. As I have often said the good teams beat all the teams they are supposed to beat. With the exception of Northwestern I would say mission accomplished to date. With the Big Easy season now getting into full swing Seton Hall is capable of winning all the games they are favored to win as well as a few they will play who are considered better teams. Honestly I feel they can beat West Virginia and Villanova as well as many of the others who are considered the cream of the crop. Post season? I would say yes at this point. Seems Seton Hall is headed in the right direction.

Rutgers is steady and St. Johns won the last game played against Providence  College.  Good and expected win for St. Johns but I still feel despite the recruiting class being highly rated, this team is not ready for prime time even if Steve Lavin returns full time today. JMHO!

FDU Report

Is it true representative from the NJCAA were on campus discussing FDU moving to the JC ranks? Is it true the President actually now understands there is a D1 team at FDU? OK I was kidding about the NJCAA meeting but I sure hope the FDU President wakes up and provides funding to re-do the gym and put more into the sports program.   Sad Sad Sad when I think of the potential FDU had years ago!

HS Report

I am telling everyone who will listen that The 4 games at Hackensack HS on Sunday could be the best set of games featuring NJ teams ever put together. I feel these games will sell out even Hackensack's very large gym.

Dwight Morrow vs Hackensack                   Beren County Rivals = Good game
St. Patricks vs Teaneck                                 Great Game!
Plainfield vs Hudson Catholic                      Great Game!
St. Benedict's vs St. Anthony's                     True number 1 and 2 teams in the State of NJ meeting!

In total you really have the number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 team playing on the same day at the same location at different times on the same court. If you a a true basketball junkie like I am this is a group of games you do not want to miss. Plenty of parking and easy routes to highways. I cannot wait!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My HS Team and Senior Player Rankings and College Tidbits

December 23, 2011

It is 2 days prior to Christmas and many people are scrambling for great deals on presents. The malls are crowded and items are flying off the shelves. Before I enter the "Shopping Zone" I need to post a few items I feel necessary when it comes to Boys HS Basketball in NJ. Later I will again do New York City and even find time to do Northeast Pennsylvania.

I have watched over the years many of the people who call themselves excellent talent scouts and evaluators of players post top 10 teams and players. Some have great credibility while others, many of whom never played or coached basketball even on the CYO level, do not and thus do a horrible job. Interesting thing is people tend to listen to these guys who in many cases are great people but when your true experience was with your HS Chess Team what do you really know about evaluating basketball talent on any level.

It is for these reasons I tend to really enjoy guys like Jay Gomes, Ed Butler out of Essex County, and Tom Konchalski, the HS basketball GURU. even though he once rated Mike O'Koran a D3 player lol. .Even the young HS kid with a service seems to do a very good job! But most of the others?  Well, enough of that. Today I am putting out my list of the top Programs and Sr. Players in New Jersey.

Lets start with teams. This will change back and forth as the season progresses with upsets etc.  Yes upsets happen as we all saw on Sunday at West Orange HS,  but at the end of the season I expect the rankings to look like this or close to it:

Top Teams

1. Guess? OK St. Anthony's with a great coach, great player, and outstanding supporting cast
2. St. Benedict's easily with a cast of great players and a superb coach
3, Plainfield  who will face Teaneck in Sectional finals in a few months
4. Teaneck who rarely gets credit despite its record over past 15 years and multiple D1 recruits
5. Hudson Catholic who could wind up at number 2 or 3 when they jell and mature
6. Gil St. Bernards with a great Player and a few very good Ivy type players. A TEAM!
7. St. Josephs of Metuchen with a top 5 national freshmen and outstanding Senior
8. Seton Hall Prep with a few good players including Dallas Anglin
9. St. Patricks based on tradition and the unknown. Players? Coaching?
10. Trenton Catholic who looked like JV as most do against St. Anthony's but with at least 3 or
      4 potential D1 players and a very good 1st year coach in Mel Weldon.

Lets look at the top seniors in the state of New Jersey as of today. Not last year or even the future. Right now! Lets put the politics away and pick the top guys not on potential but on performance, approach to the game, consistency, etc. Being 6 ft 11 or 7 ft does not matter if a player does not get it done and that includes kids being recruited by Duke and Kentucky.

Top Seniors or shall I say my super 10

1. Guess? OK Kyle Anderson,  Nuff said! Ok I will say more. He makes everyone a star. Again I say
    I would average 10 a game at my age playing with him. Might even get a scholarship to FDU!

2. Melvin Johnson   from NYC Rice HS and Miami Recruit (ready for the 3000   fans a game lol).
    Rice closing sure was a blessing to The Garden State.

3. Chris Jones - Teaneck. Playing with a purpose. Remember intelligence does not equal softness
    This is the type of player that could sign with a North Carolina and contribute significantly by his
     Junior Year.  In the A10 or BE with certain teams he gets it done from day 1.

4. Quinton Decosey - St. Joseph's  of Metuchen  a tremendous slasher and overall player who will
    be a star at Temple one day. He even looks like a star on the court and runs and plays with a purpose.
    A true favorite of mine and many others!

5. Blaise Mbargorba - Peddie  Runs and blocks shots and is tenacious on the court. A real big guy
    who will be a very good college player

6. Dallas Anglin - SHP  OK everyone continue sleeping this kid. He only is consistent with game!
    Hofstra has a wonderful player in him and he will excel in the CAA

7. Brandon Taylor - Trenton Catholic   Looks lazy as heck on the court but has played well enough to
    get my 7th spot. The Locks he wears might be cute to the girls but to play on my team you would
    have to play like Lebron or Mike Jordan. This is my one pick that I am not 100 percent comfortable
    with based on his performance Sunday. But it was against St. Anthony's !!!

8. Jerome Finke - St. Anthony's  Make sure he brings Kyle Anderson a Christmas present because
    as good as he is, and he is good, Kyle makes him and everyone else better.

9.  Don Hoffman - Gil St. Bernards  A winner playing with a great player  at GSB. Plays hard all the
     time and gets it done on both ends of the floor

9.  Justin Sears - Plainfield  Ivy bound player who many will work for one day most likely.  But
     honestly this kid can play. Not often a kid attending a Charter School plays and stars at the 4th
     best HS in the state, a school he does not even attend.

10. Charles Cook - Trenton Catholic and James Madison commit is a player who brings it all the time!
      Along with the super freshmen and hopefully Brandon Taylor Trenton catholic under former
      basketball great Mel Weldon, will become the team they are capable of being!

Honorable Mention? No such thing!!! Work hard and get on this real list!!!!

Local College Tid Bits

Iona is back

Hofstra is heading in the right direction

Siena College actually draws more people than many Big east Teams for home games

FDU ......... Is FDU!

Tom Green  the former FDU coach is head coach of CCNY, a D3 CUNY conference school in NY. Maybe he will meet up with FDU in the near future when FDU goes D3. Right now CCNY has the better gym and program.

I would love to see a game between NJ Tech and FDU as the prelim to a game between Bergen Catholic and Paramus Catholic at Bergen Catholic, I guarantee the place would be full!

Coaches all over the country are sleeping very good and talented players in NE Pennsylvania

St. Johns continues to make me wonder if this whole thing is a dream?

Rutgers had the RAC re-done with sound system and seating? oops another dream!

Seton Hall is actually 10 and 1? Hey it is not a dream!

Is Monmouth doing better under a King?

Whats up with the new facility at Rider? Or did they forget?

St. Peters, oh St. Peters, I sure hope you do well. Seems you are on the right track!

Fordham , calling Fordham!!! Where is Fordham? Have not seen anything on them! Even heard they played a game at the Garden. Was it a secret?  Do they have a SID over in the Bronx?

Is it only me or do many in North Jersey feel William Patterson and Ramapo are better programs than you know who? OK FDU again!

Did I tell you I think Tom Green was treated unfairly? Did I tell you I think he is a heck of a coach?

Honestly my feeling about FDU has nothing to do with the coaching staff including Greg Vetrone who played for me when he was in College during the summers. In fact I think he is doing super stuff considering he is at a school who couldn't care less. I heard the current president does not even know they are a D1 program and the AD feels it is better that way. I guess it is a safe job for him.  For some reason I thought I heard the AD would be heading to a huge West Coast University by now. Ummmmmmmmmm! So Greg please do not take this stuff personal!  We all know you are doing the best you can at a D1 school with a D4 budget.

Well,  again I say if you are out and about please take time to get to a game and as always enjoy the hoops!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

HS Stuff and a tid bit of College

HS Recruiting

It's interesting how many of the kids being recruited know all about the various message boards on the Rival network. They seem to read those boards more than you can imagine. Some even become upset with a school based on what might be said by a poster with no idea of what they are talking about. Plus many fail to realize it is their thought and not reflective of the coaching staff at a particular school nor the majority of that schools fans.

However when a featured article fails to mention the players from one of the 6 best HS Program in New Jersey along with  St. Anthony's, St, Benedict's,  Hudson Catholic, Gil St. Bernard  and Plainfield, somthing seems wrong. Not only is it a slap on a program that has won consistently for many years, it is a serious blunder based on players developing now and in the future. As I always say it is better to be safe than sorry. Also I love saying never burn bridges!

This is the case that recently happened when the Teaneck HS Players received no respect on a local NJ Universities fan page. What made things even more interesting is Teaneck beat a very good team with two high level recruits including 6 ft 9 frosh (he was at least 2 inches bigger than Neville Fincher when he stood straight up, something many young kids rarely do on or off the court) Karl Towns Jr. .and a smooth and explosive wing player in Quentin Decosey. I agree that both are special and Towns Jr. is potentially top 5 nationally in his class now as well as when he is a senior. But to not even discuss the Teaneck players after they won the game?

Teaneck has 3 legit D1 players and a possible 4th in Shaker Lindsey. If people do not think Chris Jones is a serious recruit they will miss out on a tremendous talent and even better person. He totally outplayed Decosey, who I love as a player), scoring 25 points and getting 10 boards. He will be a 6 ft 6 guard in college. In fact if the local A10 and BE Schools do not get all over him I am sure the good ACC and SEC, along with A10 programs will join the chase as his season progresses. This kid is the real deal! Neville Fincher is a 6 ft 8 or 6 ft 9 tough guy learning to play the game correctly.  Everyone who watches understands he will be a better college player than HS player. Tough and extremely athletic! Lastly Juel Hernandez is a kid everyone continues to watch. I have received at least 6 calls over the last year from very large programs asking me my thoughts on him. Not sure of his level in D1 basketball but I do think with maturity this 16 year old kid in his CORRECT GRADE will be very good. He is as close to Ricardo Greer the former Pitt player as you will find. Again just a matter of confidence and maturity for him to play high level D1 basketball.

With a Coach like Jerome Smart, a person who has coached many great HS players as a HS Coach and as a top AAU Coach, you know these young men will be prepared for the college level. It also will not hurt them that he knows at least one coach from almost every college on the east coast.

Now back to Chris Jones. Based on him being an extremely intelligent kid with super supportive parents,  just like Fincher and Hernandez, he might just decide to sign at a level below his ability in order to play huge minutes right away.  Maybe Siena will steal him? Maybe Rhode Island? Could Hofstra snatch him up? Maybe so but again this kid is a high level talent who I have heard is the most improved HS player in the State of NJ and rated in the top 5 or so players in the state.

St. Benedict's

St. Benedict's is back and a formable opponent for St. Anthony's at the New Years Day Jump Off at Hackensack HS. I am excited about this game and all the others because I have not seen these type of match ups in NJ prior to the post season in many years.

St. Anthony's vs St. Benedict's
Teaneck vs St. Patricks
Plainfield vs Hudson Catholic
Englewood vs Hackensack

All I can say is this must be a fluke or something that happened by mistake. Or maybe I am dreaming? 6 of the top HS Programs in NJ the same day and another game that is a rivalry is more than you can ask for. Whats the cost $20? I doubt that much but if it was it sure would be worth it.  On a side note I look forward to watching my guy Donald Osbourne, one of the top coaches in the entire tri-state area reshape a program that should be a top 15 program in the state yearly in Englewood HS.  I am Also excited watching Aaron Taylor resurrect a once great and proud program at Hackensack HS. I still remember him as a humble but tough player with alot of class 15 or so years ago.

Back to St. Benedict's. The current coach at St. Benedict's is OUTSDTANDING! I have watched him do nothing but win with well coached teams with talent he developed. People forget he was the coach at St. Joes of Central Jersey, the team that now has the top rated Freshmen in the state. This team has at least 4 or 5 potential high major prospects including 2 from our neighbors in Canada.

I am so excited about watching the St. Anthony vs St. Benedict's game I might arrive at 7 AM that Sunday!

Lets talk Hudson Catholic

My first question to everyone is where was Hudson Catholic the past 8 or 10 years? In fact where were they the past 25 years? In fact where were they the past 40 years when it came to the boys basketball program? In the same breath let me ask where was Bloomfield Tech many years ago? Where Is Bloomfield Tech now? All I will say is the person who made Bloomfield Tech a PROGRAM and the person who has made HUDSON CATHOLIC a legit regional if not national name is the same person! His name is Nick Mariniello and he learned from some of the best! Still remember him as an Assistant at Marist HS when they were a NJ power under Mike Leonardo.

Now why am I writing about this program and coach after they were upset by a less talented team in Rutgers Prep? I write because upsets happen everyday in sports. Also I write to say Rutgers Prep is a very good TEAM. But to crucify Hudson Catholic for an upset loss is 100 percent wrong. These are young men not NBA players going against HS players. Hudson Catholic has underclassman as stars and as starters. Sleep on this team if you wish. I honestly think as they mature as a team they could be a hard out. I also feel this season is just a warm up for them because they or St. Benedict's will be the top team in NJ next season hands down. Yes, better than Gil St. Bernard, and better that St. Anthony's, although we all know Bob Hurley has the ability to mold an average team into a great team. 

So all this fire the coach stuff needs to be laughed at! In fact the Coach at Hudson Catholic will never have a hard time getting a coaching job. After all, he has a great track record coaching and HELPING KIDS! Plus he could always be an Actor or model lololol. Had to throw that in (smile).

Seton Hall Wins Again

Folks can think what they wish but to win at Dayton is huge based on the tremendous support they receive year after year after year.  This is a game that many teams would lose. In fact it is a game SHU might have lost in the past. Like I always say, winning can become a habit! Next up Longwood and I certainly hope SHU does not enter the contest over confident. A win would mean going into the Syracuse game SHU would be 11 and 1 with momentum!  Just wish the game was in Newark!


NJ Tech is up next and that should be a win and warm-up for the Florida game and a homecoming for ex RU Standout Mike Rosario. It would be a great thing if Rutgers wins and recruits in the area can see that leaving the area is not a priority to be respected and successful.  Well,  I cannot wait to get feedback on this game including the reception Mike Rosario receives. I honestly hope and feel he gets a standing ovation. That would be classy and a good message to potential recruits.

St. Johns

St. Johns wins and its a great thing. But to beat Pan Am Airlines or is it Texas Pan American, is a building block but nothing to break out the champagne over. Providence is a huge game and luckily a home game for the Red Storm. Than it is UConn away! Should be interesting!

Until next time enjoy the hoops!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Start of A new Season

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It is wonderful writing a Blog that again will be very expressive with my thoughts and insight about the state of basketball on the East Coast especially New York, New Jersey, and parts of Pennsylvania.
Those who know me understand I will not pull any punches but will be always be fair and honest in my posting. Do grimy stuff and I see it, I might just talk about it. Mistreat a signed recruit? I will talk about it! Not really coach your team? I might just say a thing or two. Under perform? That would be something to talk about.

I also will talk about the games and the potential of many of the players I watch. One thing I will not do much of is report a score of a recently played game. But I will talk about performances of the players and coaches as well as what happened in the gym before the game, during the game, and especially after the game. All the stuff folks rarely post about. Like who was talking to who, who came with who, who seemed to be upset, deals in the works, and much more.

Hopefully you will enjoy the blog more this time around than in the past. Again this is done based on my love of the game and not to get a contract with the NY Daily News or The Newark Star Ledger. So if there is a mistake or two or three, or a thousand please do not crucify me. Just sit back read and enjoy what I AM ATTEMPTING TO SAY! You might just enjoy it!

So lets get started right now!

College Basketball

We are off and running! During the pre season there was plenty of  hype about the coaches and recruits at St. Johns and Rutgers. It was almost as if Seton Hall had down graded to the Patriot League based on the local media coverage given the Pirates. It was all about the great recruiting classes at both St. Johns and Rutgers. Before anyone comes at me I will say I was included in the behavior I described. I also thought St. Johns was ready to pack Madison Square Garden for home games played there. In fact I thought St. Johns was back and again a national program contending for a NCAA bid. 

Well,  it is December of year 2 of the current coaching staff and I do have to ask if they seem any better than the last year of Norm Roberts regime? Seriously!  And I do understand Steve Lavin has been under the weather with post surgery illness etc. and for that they do get a pass. But I do remember everyone saying this Mike Dunlap is the greatest Assistant Coach on the planet! The staff was supposed to be hand picked and perfect for the resurrection of the St. Johns basketball program.

They are certainly running but to where? Players are transferring, recruits are de-committing,  and many others are not expressing as much of an interest in St. Johns as  they did a year ago. Could it be St. Johns is no longer the sexy choice among the HS elite? Well, time will tell what happens from this point on but are they are pleased thus far in year 2?  Can turn it around and become a force with added recruits including one this week?  Stay tuned!

Lets look at Rutgers! Ok lets start with the building they call The RAC.  It is the same and so are the turnouts for games it seems. Again I need to ask does anyone other than the coaches there really care? Do they not notice the ragged chairs fans pay to sit in? Do they not even notice the building would be great as is if they just re-do the seating and sound system while adding a practice facility? Ok I have to admit I have not been to a Rutgers game in a very long time. But looking in from the outside I do feel they have a great coach in Mike Rice, have recruited well in NY, NJ, and even in Washington DC. Are they playing hard? I hear they are and really could be very good in the near future. Maybe Jim Carr (Thank God The Old Jim Carr is back!), one of the GREAT Guys again in college basketball will invite me to a game. By the way is there a discount for AARP members?

Now lets look at  Seton Hall University. Thus far they are 9 and 1 heading into a difficult part of their season.  Some would argue the teams they have beaten are not exactly title contenders. And that would be a very stupid statement because they have been consistent and have won most of the games they had to win. I always have thought that the very good teams do not lose to teams not on their level. So to be 9 and 1 is what I call holding serve and jump starting what could be a nice season with a post season birth at the end. I also feel the early wins are  what seasons are built on. The Seton Hall team understands winning. 

What makes all this come together is how both St. Johns and Rutgers, teams often compared to Seton Hall, are having down seasons thus far although there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for both of them as well. No one was even putting SHU in the same category as SJU and RU in terms of being attractive programs. Silly them! Silly me!  We all became caught up in the glamor and glitz of  the recruiting classes of both RU and SJU. We got caught up in the new super coaches in Steve Lavin and Mike Rice and forgot that COACH WILLARD could actually coach and had learned from the best including his dad Ralph, and his mentor Slick Rick Pitino.  Well, maybe slick is not the correct term because he sure has not done much slick stuff lately and really is a terrific coach and teacher who understands program building and winning. 

So right now the best team in the entire NYC Tri-State area is The Pirates of Seton Hall University. The second best? Could easily be Iona which has assembled a great group of players. And with a coach who could be the best actual coach in the tri-state area when it comes to X and Os, they are destined to have a very good season.

Not far behind is Hofstra with what could be the best coaching staff in the area. I am watching and noticing how they are inn the homes of many recruits who would never even think Hofstra normally. But put 3 well respected ex D1 Assistants together who have Big East experience and you are looking at a great staff for a mid major program. 

Tom Green Emerges
I saw Tom green at the Hoop Group Tipoff event at West Orange HS on Sunday. Interesting to find out he is the new coach at D3 City College of NY. I applaud CCNY for being smart enough to hire Tom  Green. But at the same time I frown on all the local D1 schools who did not snatch him up as an Associate Head Coach etc. This guy is a GREAT PERSON who was treated very bad at FDU after putting them on the map. Well, what goes around comes around and FDU is nothing more than a glorified JC or D4 school playing a D1 schedule in a horrible building with an administration who couldn't care less. Sad!!! They even messed up what was a nice gym by removing end court bleachers that  gave the gym a small arena feel.

If the right AD ever gets there and they do it the right way by re-doing the inside seating etc.? Watch out! I still feel they are a sleeping giant. Problem is they are sleeping like a bear in the winter. And we all know that bears hibernate for a long time. Make up your mind FDU. Is it to be respected D1 basketball or will it be D3 games against FDU Madison, and others because as it stands now I am not sure you could beat the Ramapo's, and William Paterson's. 

Hoop Group Tipoff at West Orange HS

Drove down to the Hoop Group Tip-Off at West Orange HS on Sunday expecting to see some great games and even better talent. Honestly I was not disappointed!  I would bet neither was Rick Pitino, Mike Rice, Steve Demeo of Hofstra, Ron Brown of Binghamton, Danny Hurley (My Grandsons future coach), Phil Martelli (sp)  of St. Joes, and many others.   

Let me start by saying Martelli had an Interesting personality to say the least. Maybe it's a Philly thing, but guy was brushing off folks all over the place like he was Pitino or Calipari, which he is not. I always spoke highly of this guy based on watching him recruit and even talking to him. But watching him Sunday made me realize he is full of himself in the worst way. How does he even get players? Wow!!! By the way all the other coaches I saw were engaging to kids and fans alike and that included Pitino who did not even sit where the other coaches sat. He sat in the area where the basketball fans were and chatted and waved at people looking to say hello or get an autograph.  

The gym was nice but very dark. Maybe I am just use to the gyms in the Pocono Mountains. Huge gyms better than most colleges. All they need there are better teams although Pocono Mountain West and Pocono Mountain East, could compete with most public schools and are indeed HS Programs as opposed to HS Teams.  

Back to the actual event. I missed the first game and honestly had no idea who even played. Funny thing is no one around me, even though they had watched, could tell me anything. So lets start with the second game which was won by Rutgers Prep. Yes, Rutgers Prep upset NJ HS Power Hudson Catholic despite being down close to 20 points in the first half. For a team with 4 D1 players Hudson Catholic sure did not look like a NJ Power. When you have players being recruited by The Big East, ACC, and A10, how do you lose to a school with maybe one player being looked at by an Ivy or Patriot school?  Let me tell you how. By playing as a team to win games as opposed to playing for exposure and to be recruited to colleges and universities. Rutgers Prep was a true team and seemed to really get along. They were a unit and did not rest on past achievements and press clippings. Rutgers prep used the St. Anthony's TEAM PLAY MODEL! Hudson Catholic also lost because maybe Reggie Cameron and Mike Young did not make themselves available for the ball nor were the guards looking to get them involved. I am sure the Coach will get them back on track. 

Watched a great game between Teaneck, a traditional but often overlooked power, against St. Josephs of Central Jersey. It was a pleasure watching one of the top freshmen in AMERICA play. I will be able to tell people many years from now that I watched Karl Towns Jr play his freshmen year (Thanks SPK). At 6 ft 9, this young man is special. Skilled, coordinated, can shoot the 3, and passes like a young Larry Bird. After watching him play, I am positive he has watched many games with his Dad and fully understands things most seniors do not. By seniors I am talking about College Seniors. Again what a pleasure! His team also had a tremendous wing player headed to Temple in 6 ft 5 Quinton Decosey. Smooth as silk, and oozing with potential. I honestly feel this kid will be an amazing College player in the A10. 

Teaneck, which has a great feeder system run in the Richard Rodda Center with two state of the art courts and over 500 young participants, is good year after year after year. Not a community you would expect to have such good teams and potential D1 players, but they always have both  going all the way back to the days of Tony Campbell.  This year is no different with  possibly 4 D 1 talented players in Chris Jones, Neville Flincher, Juel Hernandez, and Shakir Lindsey if he continues to develop leadership skills. Chris Jones is a star although he does not realize it.  A hard worker and great performer to say the least. How this guy does not have RU and SHU all over him I will never understand, Well, after scoring 25 and getting 10 boards I am sure Mike Rice will be calling Coach Jerome Smart if he has not already done so.  Neville Flincher, when using his head right, is pretty good. His future is bright when he brings his A game and has his thinking cap on. But when he and Karl Towns Jr. were jawing back and forth, with Karl Jr. never backing down, I was concerned that Neville would do something to open up a spot on the bench for him.

Teaneck won the game and the war. Chris Jones outplayed everyone including Quinton Decosey to get MVP. But it was a Juel Hernandez shot that was the game changer. Up to that point he did very little. But good players always come through in the end. Lastly Shakir Lindsey did a great job running the team and with more leadership skills to go along with his natural ability at 5 ft something, he could be very good. It also does not hurt to have a very good coaching staff  including  Jerome Smart who gets the best out of his players. 

Next up was St. Anthony;s vs Trenton Catholic. I love the St. Anthony team first approach. They actually play great team basketball and work hard on defense. Do not believe me? Ask Trenton Catholic, a team that won big the game before this one with Bob Hurley in the gym scouting. Can you imagine that? A Hall of Famer driving to Trenton NJ to scout a future HS opponent. Who says he is not serious about his program and winning? I sure hope he stays for at least 20 more years. I really like Josh Brown Jr. a Jr.  who has committed to Temple, Jimmy Hall, Jerome Fink, and Tyrek Carey. These kids could win it all again! But I LOVE Kyle Anderson Jr. who always plays team ball and makes all the others I have mentioned better! 

On Trenton Catholic the highlight was Malachi Richardson, a 6 ft 4 Freshmen who is destined for greatness. I wonder if he will be at Trenton Catholic 3 years from now. Also standing out was Charles Cook, who has committed to James Madison University of the CAA.  A slight disappointment was Penn State recruit Brandon Taylor. Brandon is a 6 ft 7 or 6 ft 8 forward with a body and lots of hair. If you ask me too much!  I always say you have to play like Lebron or Mike to play on my team with long braids or Locks! Well, he sure was a non factor, but St. Anthony's does that to teams. Only way Trenton Catholic could have played better is if the Coach, Mel Weldon suited up and played. For those who do not remember him,  he was a standout many years ago in Trenton and was National JC Player of the Year when Mercer Community College won the National Tournament under Howie Landa in Hutchinson Kansas. 

Final game was a blowout from the start. St. Benedicts is back and better than ever with two Canadian imports in Tyler Innis, and Isaiah watkins, both D 1 talents, to go with Rice HS of NYC transfer Melvin Johnson who has committed to Miami of the ACC. Add to that Isaiah Brisco, a Nate Blue (Real Scout) protégée  who could be on the same level as Karl Towns jr.  as a top 5 or 10 national freshmen player, and a host of others and you have a bonafide HS power team. Roselle Catholic, who from what I understand, has the best basketball environment in North Jersey, was without several key players sitting out 30 days after transferring into the school.  

Well,  all this makes the Playez Basketball Club New Years Jump Off very interesting and exciting. The games taking place at Hackensack HS has a feature game of St. Anthony's vs St. Benedict's to go along with Teaneck vs St. Patricks, and Plainfield vs Hudson Catholic. Honestly this event is so good the games could have taken place at FDU. Oops, I forgot they made the gym smaller and not attractive. My bad!

Until next time, enjoy the games!!!! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Stuff!

Saturday October22, 2011

NBA Lockout

No matter how hard I attempt to evaluate the current state on the NBA can I find reason to side with the players union. This is the most unreasonable and selfish thing I have ever seen any group associated with labor do.  Np matter how many arena workers are taken to dinner, how many charity games take place, how many millionaire players donate to charity in the next few days, this is wrong, greedy, and selfish.

I wonder what type of money would these players earn if the NBA closes its doors forever. What would 80 percent do. Maybe go to Europe for $150,000 a season with a  few players earning $5,000,000 a year. But that is a far cry from they $20,000,000 type contracts most receive. Could you even imagine Michael Jordan forfeiting his last mega contract and losing endorsement money to venture abroad to earn $10,000,000 as opposed to the $35,000,000 he often earned in a season?

Well, even those who could demand 5 to 10 million a season abroad is a very small percentage of the current players. In fact most would be looking at $1,000,000 type contracts with housing, meals, and cars thrown in. Maybe the bigger stars would receive Mercedes and the lessor stars would receive Honda's. And to be honest even the amount they could earn abroad is way above the national norm of what folks earn here in the greatest country in the world.

How in heavens name can they even expect to earn a higher percentage of the revenue? Regardless of whether NBA Commissioner David Stern, who I do agree is a true arrogant egotistical man behind the phony smile and calm type voice according to what I have heard, is lying or not about the many teams who actually lost money in the past few seasons. I would not care if every team has turned a serious profit. They are after all  in business to make money or they would just be a AAU team. Oops I forgot AAU Guys are now making decent money as well. More on this another time!

What would these guys make if they could not play basketball? Or if they did not play in the NBA? Players with statistics such as 10 points and 7 rebounds a game are earning $10,000,000 per season! Guys averaging 7 points and 3 assists are millionaires! And they feel they are under paid?

Well, in this economy, one that we have seen national unemployment go up and down with people losing homes, families, careers, and health benefits, it is hard to be sympathetic to the NBA Players Union!

On another note Mr. David Stern. Have you forgotten you are from Teaneck, NJ and attended Teaneck HS? You must have since they cannot get you to even stop in every 5 years to encourage kids and faculty. Would not hurt if you even took some of your mega bucks and gave a few thousand to the HS yearly to help keep the freshmen sports programs up and running. Similar to what great guys like Mike Fratello does at Hackensack, NJ HS!

Big East Expansion

OK who is actually running the Big East? Daffy Duck with Elmer Fudd assisting? Are they dumb or just dumber? Looking at schools out of the area where the Big East has ties is just dumb and strange as evidenced by the TCU move without participating. Why not go after the University of Alaska? Maybe the Red Army National Team? Dumb stuff to say the least!  The way they are going seems to be a quick fix and nothing else. They are considering weak teams for the football side and strange teams for the basketball side who really would be using the BE as a spring board to a better fit conference with natural rivalries and better travel options. Please see TCU as a reference. Missouri? Are you kidding me?  Kansas? Why would they? The bottom line is the BE can remain strong based on Basketball and the current schools football programs. Here is my salutation.

For basketball bring in the following teams and only these teams. Xavier (strong Program and they will not jump in 3 years), Temple (natural choice and they have football), Dayton (Outstanding Fans and program), And Duquesne (Improving basketball programs in The Pitt market).  These are the teams that are needed. For football they can hold serve just as things are. Even if they lose West Virginia.  UConn's programs is getting better yearly. Rutgers is doing fine. I honestly do not even see the big loss in those who left if the BE gets the teams mentioned.

Lastly on this subject. Notre Dame is not really needed, especially since they maintain independence in Football. The days of having some teams in the BE and some in other conferences based on team sport is only an opportunity to fail in waiting. You do not see the Big 10, ACC, SEC, etc. doing such foolish stuff. All Teams in, or all teams out! I honestly would even ask Notre Dame to exit if the FB program does not become a part of the conference. Percentages could change but they need to be part of the BE in football. And honestly as bad as they have been in recent years they need to really think about this.

I know football brings in huge revenue but when mentioning the BE the next word out of 95% of people's mouths is basketball! Get those teams mentioned and forget about partial participants in football. Especially weak programs such as Army and Navy! If that's the case why not just add Manhattan or Monmouth for basketball? Same thing!

Four Big  HS Events

Went to IS8 last week and the place was crowded and jumping. Nice to see so many old friends and fellow basketball lovers. Unfortunately it was the same old thing with folks yelling at Refs from the sidelines, and Parents coaching from the stands. Hey wait a minute that was me years ago (smile). Also saw  Coaches on one knee thinking they would get discovered and offered jobs and little un-atheletic guys walking in with stud players and acting as advisors while they really are no more than exploiting adults looking for ego satisfaction or a payday. Sickening!!!!!!  I often wonder how certain folks act as if they are  so important that they can act a certain way. More on this at another time. Trust me it is coming!!!! Again it is coming!!! And it sure will not be popular!

Today is the semi finals at IS8. Might go depending on what I get done this AM. Later at Baruch I need to be at The Jim Couch Event. I LOVE JIM COUCH and SEAN COUCH and all the other wonderful volunteers with the Jim Couch Foundation. My son and I owe them so much. As I have told my son on a number of occasions. After his next big movie or TV job he needs to send them a CHECK! Also needs to send a check to TEANECK HS!  The Jim Couch event gates place at Baruch College in Manhattan today and tomorrow.

Later tonight is an All Star Game between NJ and NYC at Bishop Loughlin HS in the Clinton Hills section of Brooklyn NY. Both a girls and boys game will take place to benefit a scholarship fund established by Kamani Young in honor of his Wife, who passed away a few years back. This game will be exceptional with the best players regardless of class playing. This means there will be stud players across the board. I guess that means the little un-atheletic advisors will be in attendance as well.

Sunday is a huge day at Baruch College with some of the best young players in the country flying in and playing in an  undergraduate All-Star classic as part of the Jim Couch Foundation weekend at Baruch College. They have flown in players from all over the country and they will compete tomorrow in exciting games. You really do not want to miss this!

Well, thats about it for now. Watch out for my next post. It might just come sooner than you realize. And in the future I have some interesting observations to share with you. Even if I do not mention names you will know who I am referring to. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thank God For HS and College Basketball

Good day to all my fellow basketball fans and the many basketball junkies who have followed basketball in NY, NJ, Pa., and Connecticut over the years. A special good day to our areas wonderful and rich in tradition HS and college basketball programs for always providing us with something to cheer for and in a few cases something to cheer against.

Well,  I for one sure hope the NBA Players come to their senses over the contract issues that continues keeping the professional season from taking place. Come on players every one of you are making more money than 95 percent of the Americans who pay outrageous prices to watch you perform. Be real if you can and understand you could be working at The Community Center for $9.00 an Hour, or teaching School for $37,000 a year to start, or even practicing Law for around $130,000 a year if you have it going on. All three are good and needed careers but instead you are making millions yearly and more with endorsements.  Even guys averaging 6 points a game and playing less than half a game,  while playing a game you played at one time for the fun of the game are millionaires.  

I often wonder what many of these players would do if there was no basketball? I honestly think at least half of the current professional players might just  be playing in adult leagues and have careers we would not be saluting as we do the careers I mentioned above. I mean guys averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds are getting $35,000,000 contracts. Are you kidding me!

So please with the BS about the owners. These owners, many of whom might just be grimy, still put up and invested money in a product called NBA basketball and deserve to make money on their investment.

Eddie Griffin Challenge

Loved traveling the 90 miles from my home to The Haverford School which was right down the road from Villanova University. And what a wonderful area this is and it's no wonder they call it the Main-Line. It is right on the way to Philadelphia and if you travel Lancaster Avenue you are almost right at St. Josephs University.

Tree lined  streets with beautiful homes sitting back, wonderful restaurants, and gas stations with the highest prices in 100 miles which also told me I was in the high rent district. I would bet any young kid playing in the game somehow noticed Villanova University as they drove by.

The Haverford School is one of those prestigious HS prep schools located in the Philadelphia Area.  Located down the street from Haverford College, a great school and one that attracts a certain type of student, this campus was gorgeous. And the facilities were traditional prep school similar to the New England traditional schools such as Choate, Berkshire, and the others as well as NJ Prep schools such as Blair Academy, Pennington, Hun, etc. Not sure if they had dorms but the school itself was attractive. Oddly only one single player was listed on the rosters of any of the three games from The Haverford School. Did not get to watch EricAnderson play but hopefully he did a great job and represented well.

Great Job by Jim Salmon and his wonderful team. Always classy, always a great presentation, and always worth every dollar spent.  I also want to thank Jim for stopping the guy coaching the NJ Juniors from continuously dribbling a basketball during the game like he was in the park waiting for next.  Jim went over and took the ball only to have the guy now start making phone calls while coaching the team. Grass roots basketball at its best lol.

Also great to see Kyrie Irving, Wayne Ellington, and JR Smith coaching the teams. In fact Kyrie was really into it even debating the ref a bit over calls. One quick note was the fact all 3 PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS did not look like the players of past who would look like a star when they came into the building. They looked and dressed just like young guys from all over America with the capri type pants (JT), jeans down on butt just a bit (Wayne), and erg Jeans (Kyrie). I guess I am just getting older!

The games very good with NJ winning the Junior Game while Philly won both the Sophomore and Senior games convincingly. Did not get to see much of the Sophomore  game but what I did see was Quadri Moore, a 6 ft 9 true big man with a  great feel for the game and skills from Linden HS. Also noticed Rashad Figures from Hackensack HS do his thing although he has never met a shot he did not like. He could be called never going to give it up  Figures of even It Figures he was not giving it up! And he sure did not unless he could not get a shot off.

The Junior game was good and full of Talent as New Jersey showed it has a wonderful Jr. Class. Say what you wish about NYC and Pa. Yes,  very good players but NJ HS basketball will be great in 2012-2013.  Philly seemed to have a very weak Jr. Class but it just might have been NJ was just that much better. Reggie Cameron is a true big-time player and smooth as silk. Shoots, runs, competes, and wins! His teammate this season Mike "Where Did he Come From" Young could be a big-time stud player so good they might clone him to make an army. He really is a skilled big guy. I could have sworn prior to him being at St. Benedict's he was from Pittsburg. Fellow Hudson Catholic player Kavon Stewart is a very fast and quick point guard you will either love or hate depending on if your son is playing with him or not. He has talent and skills but seems to be on a mission to get his as the kids say and not see the court as well as he could if he tried harder. Also holds the ball far too long. He needs to look at tapes of Nate Archibald as Kyrie Irving did in his youth I am sure. But the kid has talent. His head will determine if he is a BE or A10 recruit of a MAAC or NEC recruit.

Of course Jaren Sina played in this game and was also outstanding. Kid can do more than shoot! Moves well and seems to be a tough as nails player who rarely backs down and when he shoots everyone including him expects the shot to go in. He is a huge recruit for people such as Seton Hall, and Rutgers, but I can see him at Syracuse as well if they recruit him, They can hide him on defense and they run an offense geared to him getting his shot off.  Joel Hernandez of Teaneck was only player in the game without his name on his jersey. Jim Solmon, the games director and organizer,  publicly apologized and Mr. Henandez went out and played in a way that made everyone watching know who he was when the game ended.

But here is my best player on the court award. It went to a kid many say has great grades, is a true good person and citizen, and can flat out play his butt off. I am referring to Daren Reed of Princeton Day School! This young man can do everything! Play defense, shoot, make Free Throws, pass, lead, dribble, create. jump, and work the concession stands at halftime before joining the band for the half-time show. He was so good I  could not stop watching him. In fact here is a prediction. This kid will play in the NBA! He is that solid and the colleges in the area need to really step it up. He does EVERYTHING WELL, not good, WELL!

Lets talk about the Senior game. Nice to see the entire Anderson family show up with UCLA gear on. I am sure the bookstore at UCLA was happy they visited based on everyone having something on with UCLA on it. Kyle Anderson,  who could be my best player of all-time, warmed up in his UCLA Basketball shirt. He seems happy and proud of his decision which is a great thing. Celebrate young Kyle because in September all clippings and rep start from scratch. But honestly this kids is and always will be the real deal in my eyes.

Let me point out something else about the great players such as Kyle Anderson. They play against the best and never ever run from basketball challenges. Last year I went to see Michael Gilchrist  play in a number of showcase games since he was the number 1 player in America. He did not show for  any of the games I attended. It was like he was hiding behind his rep and working hard to keep his rankings by not playing in games where ho might not look good due to a lack of team work etc. Well,  Young Kyle seems like he would play on the moon if invited even if he had to play against two headed men with 4 arms.  This kid has always competed from way back and played with the best against the best which is why he has developed so well.

Even with Kyle Anderson Philadelphia had a convincing win against NJ. NJ did have a nice team with Dallas Anglin playing like Seton Hall lost out on another Brevin Knight based on him being from Seton Hall Prep and not getting a sniff from SHU.  He wisely chose Hofstra University of the tough CAA and boy did they get a solid player who has improved leaps and bounds from a year ago. Chris Jones of Teaneck was also solid. I honestly feel he would be a wonderful player for a program such as Dayton, St. Joes, Temple, Delaware, Hofstra, etc.  if he gets a bit more of a swagger he could get noticed by even larger programs.

Melvin Johnson arrived late and announced he had committed to Miami. He went on to have a great 4th quarter. But I had to wonder why would any kid want to attend the University of Miami to play basketball? I understand its a great place to live, work, and be a student. But to play basketball? No one attends games, small arena, no one seems to care, etc. They seem to have the right guy coaching at Miami now. They have a guy who comes from George Mason, a team that went to the Final Four under him, yet rarely had a large crowd in that big arena on campus. He will understand playing ball in font of 2900 and your opponent is The University of North Carolina.  This kid would have been great locally at SHU or Rutgers if they had the space. Even SJU or Temple. Miami? Crazy and to me poor advising!

Ok now here is the scoop on the best player in the building the entire day. And this kid is also a great student from what I hear and an even better person. If there are 50 better players in America than him I sure would love to see them. I am talking about Amile Jefferson a skinny and tough 6 ft 8 impact player who is a smaller version of Kevin Durant but maybe just as good as Kevin was as a HS senior based on what I saw yesterday of him and what I saw when I watched Kevin in HS. Kid goes with either hand and finishes at the rim. Shoots from long range, handles like a two guard, competes hard,  passes to open man, and really defends. I understand he is a high level recruit but based on what I saw,  he should be easily top 25 or 30. By the way his school, according to many, also is one of those ritzy prep schools.

So the two best players I saw yesterday (Kyle Anderson is really the best but had an off game and even with that I would still average 10 a game at my age playing with him) were traditional Prep School Guys with grades and personality! I love it and I love the fact the HS Season is coming up soon.  It should be quite interesting.

Big East Split

I loved the joke one SHU Fan, who has often criticized me, put on the Pirate Crew Board a few weeks back. He said Rutgers has been accepted into the ACC with certain conditions. I and everyone else jumped to read what he had to say. He went on to say the conditions were a lump sum payment of $50,000,000 to the ACC to join and agreeing to play a JV schedule in basketball until the team gets better. Hilarious and as I told a SHU friend, I give credit where credit is due and that was funny as heck.

But really I think Rutgers remains a true sleeping giant in NCAA sports. It will only be a natter of time before Rutgers will be in a post season tournament in basketball and make one of the TRUE bowl games in football as opposed to such bowls as The White Castle Bowl, or The 7-11 Bowl. The football team at RU is one almost every kid in NJ considers when being recruited. It was not like that years ago. In basketball we can feel and see the momentum. I still say without some solid plans to improve and renovate the RAC, it will always be a serious up-hill battle. Kids want great facilities for the most part. The RU Football program has this but the  basketball team, though it has a great coaching staff, needs to support facility wise to keep up with the competition. This has to be a road block for them being admitted to the ACC.

I am sure Seton Hall is watching all of the developments while quietly working and making in-roads with a number of wonderful young players. In fact they seem to be in touch with every good player within a 500 mile radius.  Prudential center is quite Impressive and a kid still can have the best of many worlds. Nice and intimate college campus, huge basketball program playing in 20,000 seat arena, close to major cities, and maybe some of the best and most loyal fans in America.

Well, with Syracuse and Pitt headed out the door I see no reason why The BE does not peruse Xavier and Memphis. Both have great facilities and outstanding support. Memphis also has an up and coming football program. What is the wait?  In fact this should be done now and Syracuse and Pittsburg should be allowed to leave at the end of the season. It would be embarrassing to see one of them win the BE Tournament at MSG.

Basketball wise it would be a strong conference with the addition of Memphis and Xavier. Even add Temple as a 3rd team in anticipation of Rutgers joining the ACC.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Legend and Basketball Ambassador!!

Good Morning:

I Hope you do not mind me sharing  an experience I had Monday evening. This is not meant to be a downer as much as it is meant to highlight a real celebration of life. The life of a person we often referred to as A New York City Basketball Ambassador ! A guy who often put people involved in basketball together in the same room or gym. Amazing the number of people who knew him who collectively know every great HS player between Long Island and Pennsylvania.

Received some hard news that a wonderful person named Sid Jones passed a week ago. And when I say wonderful I mean it in every way possible. Personality, smile, demeanor, care about others even at his expense, ability to encourage others to do the best they can at all times, the ability to never give up on anyone, patience with everyone, intelligence, great family man and family man role model, great father, great grand father, outstanding organizer, outstanding coach, outstanding life coach, and much-much more.

Often when attending a funeral people talk about the deceased and highlight great stuff about him or her. Most of the time when this happens many people look at each other as if to ask "are we at the right funeral?"  They do this because the person being laid to rest is not the person we knew. In the case of Sid Jones it was one of the few times where they did not even have to say much because no one, with the possible exception of President Barak Obama, has less package and controversy hidden in his closet. I honestly never saw Sid Jones raise his voice or get upset during a basketball game or in life. He oozed with goodness and understanding with almost Saint-Like Qualities. To know him is to appreciate him 100 percent.

Sid Jones was a friend of quite a few people I have the pleasure of knowing well. People who are great HS Coaches, Great College Coaches, and just wonderful people. Which is a reason why I wanted to share and highlight this going home service that brought out almost every NYC area basketball mover and shaker.

I honestly cannot believe Sid will not be a fixture at West 4th Street or the Nike Pro Am this summer physically. But spiritually we know he and guys like Bill Motley will not miss a game. In fact they will never have to worry about being late, or getting stuck in traffic. They will have season tickets to The Yankees, Nets, Mets, Knicks, HS Games, NCAA games and even find time to hit a movie or two if a good game is not taking place.

The funeral parlar, which was more like a funeral complex, was packed to the rafters with people from all over New York City, Long Island, and even New Jersey. But for the most part this was a Brooklyn USA event! And what an event it was!  The turnout was a who's who of New York City area basketball. There were so many ex great players and coaches in attendance that at one time it would have equaled no less than 10 All City and All Area Basketball squads, 4 College All American Teams, and more than a dozen coach of the year candidates with the right opportunities. What a tribute, what a guy we had in Sid Jones, what a tremendous going home service.

Personally I expected to be real down after the service. But for one of the few times ever I left out feeling great based on this magnificent celebration of life. On a personal note sometimes I forget the many people I know through basketball, which is still such a part of my life. Based on the well wishers and folks walking up to me I felt as if I was an honorary  Brooklyn resident. It is such a blessing to know so many people through a sport. It is also great because once again Sid Jones brought many of us together. I saw people I have not seen in 25 years. I saw people I forgot I knew. It was almost to the point there were so many of us there who were friends at one time the funeral almost turned into an actual networking events.

Well, the World has physically lost a great Man in Sid Jones. He surely will be missed but one thing for certain and one thing for sure, he will be with us spiritually and never forgotten physically for the rest of our lives. Rest in Peace Mr. Basketball Ambassador,  SID JONES!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Thoughts, July 11th, 2011

Coaching Vacancies Etc.

Interesting to see how many ex NCAA Coaches who are let go find their way back so easily to  both college and NBA positions. Often they become NBA Scouts, or even NBA Assistant Coaches. I guess it is who you really know more than the job you are capable of doing.

This practice is no different than what happens in corporate America, Govt. and Other industries people apply to for employment. If you know someone, you have a great chance of getting hired. If you are on the outs, or not on the scene, you are often forgotten. Looking at NCAA College Basketball makes me realize the more I look, the more I see so much the same from 20 years ago, as well as so much that needs to be changed.

I mentioned when I started this blog it would not be about the obvious. I am not interested in stats of the winning team, or who won the Championship Game. I want the behind the scene controversial stuff! And trust me, I get a lot of it via observing and emails sent to me, many of which I ignore based on the accusations being even too much for my blog. But today I need to touch base on a few things on my mind including the treatment of Coaches in College Basketball.

It is such a sad commentary watching all the very good coaches not receiving opportunities based on false reputations and folks being such fools they go out and hire unqualified people just to be safe. How does guys like Fran Frachillo, Al Skinner, and other not get positions? How does local guys who could help Big East and ACC schools not get hired while inexperienced guys are snatched up at great salaries based on knowing someone who knows someone.  And lets not forget the big time coaches who influence people in who they hire by calling in favors owed them from years ago. ADs are not forgotten here. The deals many ADs make are ridiculous. I will not even talk about FDU firing Tom Green, getting rid of the end spectator stands, and really running a D3 program and calling it D1. Not the Head Coaches fault., it is the school administration!   Still waiting for the announcement!

I look at schools such as Monmouth University and question the direction they are headed in. They finally had an opportunity to hire a great NJ?NYC based coach and they go out and hire a person with no NJ or NYC connections, and he does not even have a serious NJ or NYC influence on his staff.  Here is where I really get controversial! It takes a lot of vision and understanding to hire a person who could make your program be noticed while creating a winning atmosphere. Fred Hill, Bobby Gonzalez, and Tom Green, all would have been ideal as would have been Al Skinner. Honestly Wayne Morgan, who is at Hofstra  could have moved over there and got the job done in royal fashion as well. I know folks are going to go bananas over me including Bobby Gonzalez in this group. To that I say why not? Guy won wherever he has been. Guy might be a pain in the rear, but it works for him and it worked at both Manhattan and to an extent Seton Hall. I sure would have pulled the twigged on him or any of the others. At that level you take a chance to be great!  OK update on Monmouth. I just learned that King Rice hired Brian reese and Derrick Phelps, both ex NYC HS Stars who most likely have not been in NYC for 15 years. Though it seems like a NYC connection, I am not convinced either of these guys have real NY connections that others might have had. But I remain hopeful for them because both were fine young men and great HS talents.

George Mason did just that hiring Paul Hewett, who was fired from Georgia Tech despite receiving millions in buy out money. I guess as long as you are a "Good" guy and non controversial you will always be OK. And you know Paul will win on that level because he will out think and out coach most of the guys he goes against in the CAA minus the folks at ODU and Virginia Commonwealth. But Paul is one of the real safe guys to hire and he will not be trouble or controversial. And just so folks do not get this twisted, Paul Hewett is a tremendous steal for a school like George Mason. I for one am shocked they got him!

Just hoping for a time when schools, head coaches, and ADs will hire the most qualified people and stop discriminating based on age, reputation, or who a candidate knows. So many super qualified  guys walking around seeking employment and not being given even an interview. Sad!

High School Basketball

Had an interesting comment based on what I wrote about a few players I observed at the Reebok Event at Philadelphia University last week. I really was very disappointed in what I saw from the 2 players mentioned based on the potential each has. Well, one coach, and a coach I respect, from an CIAA D2 school mentioned how much he loved one of the players. And to that I said "And that's exactly the level he looked when I watched him exhibit zero footwork and around the basket offensive skills despite being a superb athlete. Heck kid could go to that CIAA school and become a Charles Oakley type NBA 1st Round Draft Choice! But right now he should be in the gym as I type this blog post.

Other kid has tremendous skills but has not developed the killer extinct needed to become a true high level D1 player at a place such as Syracuse, Georgetown, Villanova, North Carolina, etc. Maybe it is a result of him being so young he has not yet learned how to really compete day in and day out. Lots of guys with great skills in D2 programs and in the Entertainers League at Rucker Park in Harlem.

I hope someone shares this with both kids and they prove me wrong because there is no greater fan of Teaneck

St. Anthony's looks like the team to beat in New Jersey this upcoming season. Interesting how they adjusted from having most of the players from Jersey City years ago to now drawing from other parts of New Jersey and even New York. I am sure the kids went to them as opposed to them seeking these kids out! Bob Hurley is a legend and has done far too much for far too many people for me to think otherwise. I even think he was a catalyst for my son at one point. Honestly I am a St. Anthony's fan as well, though not as much as a Teaneck Fan. Guess soon I will be one of the older guys sitting behind the St. Anthony's bench with a Maroon jacket on cheering lol.

I sure would not sleep on St. Patricks despite them having a new coach. Seems as if there is a great possibility many of the main players will return after all. Now all the new coach has to do is be a good coach. Can anyone say pressure?

My Top 5 in New Jersey (excluding St. Benedict's based on them not being eligible)

St. Anthony's
St. Patrick's
Gil St. Bernard

NY Top 5 New York City (Excluding Rice based on the school closing)

Christ The King
St. Raymond's
Boys and Girls

Best Area Player

Kyle Anderson. I keep telling folks at my age I could average 10 points a game playing with him. I love his game, personality, demeanor, etc.

Most Underrated Area Player

Without a doubt Daniel Dingle at St. Raymond's. He will be special because of his approach to the game and attitude. Plus his brother will make sure he is prepared as will his HS Coach.

Honorable mention is Chris Jones at Teaneck HS. Great grades, great person, great player. As usual the great kid with respect for those around him gets taken for granted. Kid would be perfect role player at a high major program until his senior year when he would bust out and be a stud!

Best Coach

Bob Hurley

Honorable Mention (excluding Bob Commino at Mount vernon based on them not being in NYC)

Tiny Morton at Lincoln, Ron Naclerio at Cardozo, Morgan Sina at Gil St. Bernard, Ruth Lovelace and Elmer Anderson at Boys and Girls, John Mathis at Kennedy, Oliver Antiqua St. Raymond's, Jerome Smart Teaneck.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reebok Philadelphia University Camp and More

I seem to always come on here apologizing for being away so long. Today is no different but I promise to write a lot more in the coming months leading to what I hope will be an interesting college and HS basketball season.

Lets start with the state of recruiting and the closing of Rice HS. I cannot believe all the craziness with Rice HS closing down. Where are all the alumni and ex players? Where are the benefit games to pump money back into a fine school that has done its share to assist and educate young men for many years. I cannot believe the only thing positive from Rice HS is the Basketball team. But based on rumors, I now see why Moe Hicks ran, not walked, to the job he now has at St. Johns.  Man has to do what he has to do!

Interesting seeing all the young kids in New York, New Jersey, Philly, and Maryland being swept away by the recruiting process. Who is advising these kids? Kids are committing and changing schools almost weekly. I really question this un-official visit stuff that is taking place. Kids should not be allowed to commit as a HS Sophomore or even as a Junior. Stuff happens, things change, and coaches leave.  Again where is the guidance?

So now the St. Patricks of NJ kids, including a few from NYC, will be staying at St. Patricks to play for the new coach. Ummmmmmmm? Great for him! Is it great for them? Still remember that guy coaching at Marist of Bayonne after the ex coach left and the program being considered a NJ power. Hope he does better this time around or else they will become just as Marist is at the present time. I do wonder if St. Patricks is hiding some information on their financial existence based on Kevin Boyle running out of there similar to how Moe Hicks left Rice.

Seems to me that Lincoln HS in Brooklyn along with Cardozo in Queens have proven that with hard work and a rep for getting kids into quality colleges, they provide just as much if not more than the traditional private school powers. Heck Lincoln picks the best of the best similar to what Christ The King did in the past and Malloy did in the far distant past.

Reebok Camp

OK here it comes, controversy 101. What the heck is the purpose of this camp? What are these kids really getting besides a good run, some Reebok Slippers and Sneakers, and an opportunity to stay at a Division 2 school with only decent facilities. Are you kidding me? What the heck is that and what are they selling?

I want to see any of the kids in the camp, or any of their friends or family members under 35 go into a sneaker store and ask for the new Reebok Sneakers. John Wall himself, who wears those sneakers, dreams of putting on some comfortable Nikes.

Interesting how they had a separate players entrance as if some of those kids would be exploited by the D1, and D2 Coaches in attendance. Hell they should be careful and separate those kids from some of the Rec Coaches they are involved with.

Since I have been missing in action for some time I was able to be a fly on the wall in the hallway outside the gym. People are still making deals and selling as well as receiving. Crazy!

Watched 3 games and was hardly impressed with the exception of having an opportunity to sit with Todd Green, the son of ex FDU Coach Tom green who remains a favorite of mine. Todd is doing scouting for an NBA Team

Was very interested in seeing the 3 kids from Teaneck HS play. Everyone knows I am a true Teaneck fan and bleed blue. But on this day I was very disappointed in what 2 of the 3 Teaneck kids did on the court.

I read on ESPN that Neville Fincher really helped himself. Well, they must not have watched the game I saw where he looked as if he just started playing basketball that morning. In fact that would be giving him too much credit. He looked as if he just started playing a minute before he came on the court! No footwork, no shot, just tough kid and athletic but unable to demonstrate except in the warmup line where he was putting on a dunk exhibition. Maybe he has worked out with a blind coach this summer preparing him for next season. Because anyone with vision can clearly see this kid has potential but without putting in the work makes no difference. But he has that tough baller look and I guess that counts for something. Good thing he is 6 ft 9 and not 6 ft 3!

Watched Joel or is it Juel Hernandez as well. Now everyone seems intrigued by this Ricardo Greer clone. Coaches call me asking if I know him, he gets great props based on what I have not figured out yet. Now the problem with this kid is not a lack of skills and ability. This kid lacks the ability to compete every play and every minute he is on the court. In other words he goes through the motions. Watched as he was so stiff from doing half speed warm ups prior to the game  that he barely got up and down the court. Looking too cool, and acting as if he was still warming up with a minute left in the 1st quarter, he looked lazy and not focused. Waste of talent who will still be a low D1 player who could have been a high D1 player with the right shoulders and above training. Maybe he will attend FDU? Uggggggggggggg! Sorry!

All this makes me question if AAU/Rec basketball is hurting kids who need skill development. Does Neville Finch, who should be working  on his footwork and skills need games all over the country where all he does he mostly rebound or would he be better off staying around Teaneck and working on his game and body in the gym?

Kids like Karl Anderson can afford to travel the globe because they have game already. Others need to really think about this as should there AAU coaches. And where are the HS coaches?

Interesting also watching and reading about games going on all over America and finding out some kids who are rising juniors and seniors have grade point averages less than 1. 2  heading into the season.  The way I see it either the Parents do not give a damn, or they feel kid will never qualify so why not allow him to have fun playing. To that I say shame on the parents and shame on a HS coach who allows this. No one should be allowed to play anywhere if they cannot read or write! Keep that kid home for the summer and educate him so that he will at the least be able to live a normal life. I cannot believe this is still happening! The NCAA needs to really look into who should be allowed to play at these camps during the summer months. And I am talking about multiple kids!!!!

Well,  in the NY Metro area the colleges are doing all they can to attract good players. That again brings me to FDU. Sorry, but some things stay on my mind. And Coach Greg Vetrone this is not about you as much as about that tired administration in place there. If they provide you with decent, I did not say great, support you could do good things. As it is now FDU must be the worst job in D1 College Basketball. The administration messed up the gym by getting rid of seating and not replacing to the point it looks like a terrible and dingy HS gym and far from a college arena. Again I feel an announcement will come in the next few years changing the FDU basketball team to D3. I really feel bad for the coaching staff. I even watched as Marcus Tony El walked through Philadelphia University proudly displaying his FDU shirt.  I cannot wait to see what they average in attendance this season.

Saw the LaSalle Coach in the Hallway. What a nice guy and very personable. I guess you can see why he has had success. Cannot see him at LaSalle much longer as larger schools seek out his services. Saw the new coach at Virginia State looking at players. First time I have ever seen a CIAA coach on this side of Baltimore Maryland. Next thing you know the CIAA schools will all be up north and even start hiring a few NY and NJ guys.

That's it for now. I will be back with more updates on a more consistent basis. Stay well and enjoy the day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Todays Thoughts

Friday March 4, 2011

Interesting basketball news all over America. Lets start with college basketball.

Seton Hall beats St. Johns at The Prudential Center!This is not an upset in my mind. This is how many people expected Seton Hall to play this season. Yes, again I understand the injuries that have happened in South Orange. But the SHU team has still under achieved all season long. I honestly expected a NCAA birth this season or at the least a high NIT seed! The talent is there, but the team just never seemed to jell. Those who disagree with me should only look at the performance against St. Johns last night. They beat the same St. Johns team that has beater some quality opponents and highly ranked teams. Name of the game is consistency, and Seton Hall showed very little consistency wise this season.

Now on the other hand, I would not want to play Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden in The Big East Tournament. The Rutgers vs Seton Hall game, if that is a matchup, will definitely be worth watching. The winner will be a hard out for the next opponent. And if the winner is Seton Hall, they just might go on a serious roll and surprise a lot of people. Remember this team really has good players.

St. Johns should recover well.  St. Johns is back and how they do next season will provide a glimpse of future years to come. It will be the time to reclaim NYC and all the fans they had at one time when the Garden was sold out for St. Johns games.  The new kids coming in are all highly rated and one or two will even be older freshmen from what I hear. But what they have in talent might not measure up to this years team experience wise. The Big East remains a Mans league and young players not named Carmelo Antony do not always come in and dominate.

All I will say about Rutgers is they are sneaking up on many people. Very good recruiting class but I am not convinced they are killers who can come in and dominate. Than again the coach seems like the type of guy that can make an average player into a household name! He gets his team to compete! He gets them to compete everyday, every week, and every month.  Rutgers with Mike Rice is quite scary to many!

Monmouth job is on the lips of many. Like I have said to many, that job is one of the best mid major jobs in America based on program potential. Only thing that hurts the job is the lame conference they compete in with many schools who really do not even know they have D1 basketball programs. Teams like FDU (Saddest D1 program in America hands down), St. Francis Brooklyn, St. Francis Pa.,  are a Horrible group of schools. Tom Green must be sick to his stomach watching what has happened to a program he built. I am not pointing at one coach in the NEC. I am pointing at the ADs and Presidents because Coaches are committed much more than the schools.  I often wonder why kids would turn down quality schools in the MEAC (Historically Black D1 Conference with Hampton, Florida A&M, Del State, etc.) to attend some of those schools that are like JV to the HS and AAU programs kids they are recruiting come from?

Back to Monmouth. This job could really be great if there was a plan, even a secrete plan, to change conferences. I honestly think the Patriot League with Lehigh, Bucknell, Lafayette, Holy Cross, etc. is a better conference.  The Patriot is a conference that is competitive with fan and school support. This is such a great opportunity for Monmouth to get the right person as coach and not just do the good ole boy thing with a local golden boy or favorite son. But if they plan on just averaging 1000 people in that nice building, playing FDU tough at FDU in front of 185 real fans, and at home in front of 700, than just do the usual and hire the local HS coach, the one not names Hurley.  I still feel they could have a long term plan for the MAC, The MAAC, The CAA, etc. Football or no football, it would not make a difference.

Looks like Manhattan will make a change. Again I am telling people the AD at Manhattan loves Tony Chiles, the current St. Johns Assistant. Columbia grad, connected in NYC, NJ, Pa, Delaware, DC, (which is why Steve Lavin hired him), kids love him, experienced, personable (No One Dislikes TONY), and hard working!  Plus he is a NYC CHSAA guy who played at All Hollows, and coached at Manhattan for a few years before going to Iona. Thats a story to share after he is named coach at Manhattan. This is a real no brainer! Time for Manhattan to do the right thing! Manhattan would never be sorry.

Look at how this all falls into place. Tony goes to Manhattan and guess who takes his place? You got it, the current Manhattan Coach who is a 5 star Assistant Coach and Recruiter.

I hope Marist stays with Chucky Martin. Nuff said!

Ditto the coach at Siena. Good guy who has coached at Fairfield, and even Cleveland State. But Siena fired Rob Lanier after one losing season last time out.

Here are other things I have heard over the past few days. Jamie Dixon leaves Pitt for? You got it right if you said  he will be the next coach at North Carolina State for $3,000,000 per season. Gary Williams is about done at Maryland. Maybe not after this season but in the very near future. Guess who replaces him? Again you are right. It is none other than Mike Brey! Remember Mike is from the area and attended Dematha and even was an Assistant there. Watch as the puzzle falls into place.

Back to Monmouth. This is a guess, but it could happen. If Bob Hurley wins the NJ Tournament of Champions, I feel he would have done all he could on the HS level. Hall of Fame, wins nationally, helping kids in Jersey City, and much more. This is the time when he could retire to his home on the shore and guess what job awaits him? You got it right if you say Monmouth. Only problem is his Son Danny is coach of Wagner in the same boring conference. But maybe Danny moves on after this year to a position on the North Carolina State Staff, and Bobby joins his dad at Monmouth. Ummmmmmmmm! Very interesting!

High School Basketball

I am really looking at all the schedules in the tri state area for games to attend. Now everyone knows I will be at Teaneck games before I go anywhere else. And if you have not seen Teaneck, you are missing out because they are very good with at least 3 mid major or higher talents on the team. And all are home grown and UNDERCLASSMEN! They also have some pretty good seniors who those NJAC teams should be knocking on the door for. Are they blind? How could they not be pushing up on those talented kids who really are good enough to start at Teaneck but are caught up in numbers.

If I was a tournament organizer I would be reaching out to this team for next season because they will be special regardless of how they end the year. They really should be the 3rd ranked team in New Jersey.

I am so excited about watching St. Anthony's vs St. Patrick's next week. WAIT! I am also excited about watching Gil St. Bernard's play St. Patricks. Gil St. Bernard's just might the best backcourt in New Jersey. Better than Seton Hall, Rutgers, and The Nets!  OK that is a stretch but they are the best underclass backcourt in NJ hands down. This game could be an exciting one. The suburbs vs the city lol. Almost like Hoosiers the movie. Do not sleep Gil St. Bernard!

The St. Anthony;s vs Hudson Catholic game could be a good one as well. Only problem is how to get into that small rec. gym St. Anthony's plays games in. I am sure people are on line right now.

When the smoke clears, we could be in for the biggest HS basketball game in the history of NJ HS Sports. A game that should sell out. In fact I need to head over to buy my tickets right now because I do not want to miss this game.

Over in NYC they are in the quarter finals of the city PSAL championships. My prediction is Boys and Girls will win it all. But a Lincoln and Boys and Girls championship game at Madison Square Garden will be huge as well. When those two play, anything can happen.

I still look for a final of Christ the King vs Rice in the CHSAA championship game. Interesting how schools like Lincoln, Boys and Girls, Cardozo, Kennedy, Wings, and Jefferson has knocked the CHSAA out of the automatic best NYC league category. The teams mentioned have held serve and convinced kids who in years past would have ran to Rice, Christ the King,etc., that PSAL programs are on the rise and in most cases even better programs.

Well, now off to plan my schedule for the next 8 days. What an exciting time of the year!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It Has Been A long Time!

Good Morning fellow basketball lovers. For those who are looking for the work of a person with an editor please do not read. 

I guess like most others I am really caught up in the NY Knick hype with the addition of Carmelo Anthony and others. What is surprising to me is how long it took the Knicks to pull the trigger. Does anyone besides me feel Chauncy Billips is a true improvement over Raymond Felton? How soon folks forget Mr. Clutch or Mr. 4th Quarter as he was called in the past. A solid point guard is the glue that holds any team together from biddy basketball to the NBA. Chauncy Billips will do this and more for the NY Knicks. I also look for Carmello and Amare to be as good a one two punch scoring wise as the NBA has seen in recent years. The three of them together will make everyone else around them better. Plus it makes the Garden the place to be again just as it was during the Clyde/Reed/Earl the Pearl days. 

Though I did not follow NBA basketball for a number of years, I now find myself watching more and more. I love the younger players in the league. Blake Griffin is something to watch. He is fearless and a true highlite film in the Dominique Wilkins category! Kevin Durant could be better than everyone else in the NBA very soon. Even in Oklahoma he cannot hide his greatness. Of course the big three in Miami are a sight to see even though in my eyes Chris Bosh is a tad overrated and not on the others level. Chris Paul is another star but will soon run from the South to a more glamor city to perform. NY just might be his destination.

The NY Nets are trying hard to keep up with the Joneses as best they can. But it seems to me they need some serious help in the front office. And as much money as the owner has, he is away in Russia way too much to really understand what is happening around the NBA. The trade they recently made for Deron Williams might be the biggest waste of time I have ever seen. Yes, he is great players! But being a midwestern guy will most likely mean he will sign with a midwestern team as soon as he can to get away from NJ or Brooklyn. 

Speaking of Brooklyn, I eagerly await the move of the NJ Nets to Brooklyn. However, seeing to me is still believing because in the back of my mind I still do not see this happening. But the experts say the Arena is going up and the move is no schedule. I just feel that an announcement will come in the near future that the Russian Owner has decided to stay in NJ and build yet another Arena away from Downtown Newark for the team. Just a hunch on my part.   I most likely am wrong but deep inside I think there will be a snafu soon regarding this move. 

College Basketball

I have been watching area college basketball very closely. Seems to me that St. Johns is back! This is despite the fact they have won some big games. They were back just being average. But thus far they have gone beyond expectations winning wise. Oddly it is being done with the type of players that made St. Johns and Lou Carnesecca famous, the very good players not on top 50 lists. Hardy was a very good player in HS but far from being on any top 50 lists. Not sure he was even on top 100 lists. But he is a player that has skills in the mode of the past legends that came out of NYC to make St. Johns a college power for years.

Many people forget that St. Johns was always mentioned as one of the true basketball powers nationally along with North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, etc. There was no Duke, Memphis, Kansas State, etc. St. Johns was one of the top programs and they had a way of keeping many of the good NY area HS players home. From Northern NJ to Long Island, if St. Johns wanted you, you listened. And trust me, Lou Carnessecca had the ability to close the deal. Heck Lou is such a good man he could sell ice in Alaska. St. Johns past teams were tough and skilled just as they are now.

Last thing on St. Johns. Steve Lavin still needs to send Norm Roberts a Thank You Card for all the players he recruited that Lavin now coaches. These guys are doing great and honestly I expected them to do good this year even if Norm was the coach. However I never expected what I am seeing. But both St. Johns and Notre Dame are showing what can happen when you recruit 4 year players as opposed to one and done guys other than Carmella Anthony or Labron James types. 

Rutgers should keep its head up high because they have had a great season considering what has happened there over the past 4 years. It has been a zoo to say the least and it is not all because of Fred Hill or Gary Waters. Many players had a hand in the mess as did the AD who thought he was more important then the Rutgers President. Well, sometimes you have to tear down and re-build and that is exactly what is happening.

The way Coach Rice has Rutgers playing makes it easy for the current AD to get funds to renovate the RAC. I can see them gutting the entire inside and redoing all the seating, putting in new video scoreboards and sound system, installing a new floor, new locker rooms, and building a nice two court practice facility right next door. I see this happening in the very near future and when it does just imagine what would happen. As far as the current coaches? They all deserve a raise! In fact Mike Rice should get an extension ASAP to lock him in. He is the true face of Rutgers basketball!

Seton Hall has had what many would consider a very disappointing season. Here come the Seton Hall fans to debate me with butter knives against a sword. Look at the record against the talent on the team. OK I understand that Hazell was injured and others had issues that needed to be addressed. But what should have been a NCAA contending year seems to be out of the question at this time. I really wish Seton Hall was better if for no other reason than the many loyal and knowledgable Seton Hall fans who live and die with the Pirates.

Recruiting wise it looks like next year could be even worst than this year unless the returning players really step it up and compete as a team. But there seems to not be many reinforcements on the way! I sure hope the SHU staff is out looking at JC players and un-signed HS seniors with BE potential. Their first destination should be Hutchinson Kansas and the National JC Championships. Second would be every HS event they can attend in a 10 state radius. I still say Seton Hall is a great destination for players. A great learning environment, a great arena, very good fan support in an urban area with pro teams, and very good tradition.

I still have concerns over the current SHU Staff. Willard and Holloway are understandable. But again I say where is the killer recruiter who has ties to DC Assault, The LI Panthers, The Gauchos, Playez, or is it Playaz. Where is the guy who can open the door to HS programs nationally and has a track record of getting great players to campus for Willard to close the deal? Remember the assistant Coach sets the table and the head Coach cooks the meal, and makes the deal!

Looking at other area college teams I anticipated some openings. What these programs do now will determine what will happen for years to come. Monmouth is the first program that comes to my mind. If you have never been to that campus you might not fully understand what that program is capable of becoming. The campus, location, and facilities all make it possible to be one of the best mid major programs in the entire country! This is the type of job a big-time program Assistant would accept. It is the type of program that can pick and choose despite being is a very low D1 conference, the Northeast Conference. I can even see other area Head Coaches and EX HEAD COACHES attempting to get involved. Maybe Danny Hurley should have waited for this one? Kevin Boyle? Either of these guys could do a great job. So could Bob Hurley Sr. If he wins the NJ Tournament of Champions anything is possible. Why not go out a winner? What else is there to accomplish for him on the HS level?  Does he not have a home on the Jersey Shore? UMMMMMMMMM! 

But if not Coach Hurley, why not someone with great experience looking for a challenge. I would not be surprised if they looked at people like Ex Rutgers Coaches Bannon and Hill. I can also see them hiring a person with a great personality who will assist in putting butts in the seats at games. This is what Mike Brey did at The University of Delaware which at one time was the best mid major job on the East Coast. The hires after Brey have not done the PR job he did although all were very good coaches. But College basketball programs need coaches who can sell to recruits and fans alike. 

Not sure what is happening at Rider. However for a program playing games in a JHS type gym they sure do OK. FDU, wait I need a separate paragraph to talk about that place. Lets discuss Marist. Another sleeping giant in need of a winning basketball program. Chucky Martin is a great guy, but will he get it done there? I sure hope so. But many folks are watching from the wings thinking this job will open after the season ends. 

I hear a lot of kids are looking at Manhattan College. That is a wonderful but will the Head Coach, who everyone loves, ever get it done in Riverdale? I wonder if he is second guessing not taking the St. Johns Associate Head Coaching Job? I have heard this could be this wonderful mans last season. If so Seton Hall needs to be in the parking lot helping him with his bags and leading him to South Orange in a limo with a bucket of money! I hear a lot of big-time programs are positioning themselves to snatch him up if he departs Manhattan, 

Now if there is a change at Manhattan I know the perfect person for the job. None other than Tony Chiles, the current St. Johns Assistant who worked at Manhattan under Fran and Iona under Jeff Ruland.  Speaking of Ruland I would not be surprised to see him as a candidate at Monmouth. But Tony Chiles at Manhattan with the right staff would be great! And I would bet Tony would be great for folks to work for. Columbia grad with a lot of experience and knowhow. Also look for Tim Welsh to get involved at Monmouth!

Had an opportunity to attend the Bergen Jamboree at FDU last week. I cannot believe what I saw. They took a nice gym and turned it into a JHS gym. What was once 4500 seats is now around 2000 seats and they do not even match. Looks like a dump and thats exactly how the team plays. Not about the coaches at this time because what can they do with an administration not committed to a winning D1 program. This gym looks more and more like Pratt Institute looked years ago when it was unkept and dull. Where is the fund raising by the AD? Where is the President on this? Does the President know they have a team? This might just be the worst D1 program in the United States. No one cares, no one comes to games, and they seem to have no future. I will not be surprised if they announce that the school is moving to D2 or D3 status. Honestly what is the point if you are not giving your coach more support! How can he recruit against Monmouth and the new Arena and new Coach? I have always felt FDU needed a marketing team to get folks out. I now feel they can wait on that until they fix that terrible gym and bring back the seating or at least match the seating up to look decent. What a waste of a program! Tom Green must feel sick about this based on how hard he worked to make it a program and even getting to the NCAA's a few times. The current coach must feel helpless trying to recruit with those resources. I would not be surprised if they have the coaches using public transportation to get to games and recruit. 

HS Basketball

Congratulations to Pocono Mountain West HS for a great season and beating Pocono Mountain East in the last game. I still think many low and mid major D1 programs are missing some good players at those schools. Villanova came up and found a hidden talent at Liberty HS this season. I have told numerous coaches about talent at those places and either they are just too lazy or too stupid to make the drive that is between 1 and 3 hours for most schools. 

Looking forward to a great matchup between St. Anthony's and St. Patrick's at Rutgers. I might just drive down on Wednesday to purchase a few tickets. I have read that the game just might be moved to The Prudential Center in Newark if it happens. Either way I am in the building to witness the number 1 vs number 2 team in the nation  compete. 

After those two teams the rest of the State of NJ is almost even with any of a number of teams being the 3rd best. But if 6 Ft 9. Nevelle Fincher just learns to COMPETE by rebounding and playing solid defense, Teaneck just might be the 3rd best HS team in NJ. This team is young with the seniors, many worthy of a D2 or D3 look, coming off the bench. In fact tournament organizers should be looking at Teaneck and even Hackensack for tournaments next year and years to come based on the youth and ability of both teams players. Teaneck has at least 3 D1 players in the lineup with a slight possibility of 2 more joining them.

In NYC I am happy for Coach Dwaine Mitchell at Rice. No one should ever doubt his coaching because he has always been one of the best all the way back to his Biddy coaching days. Guy is a winner and developer of talent. I anticipate a Rice vs Christ The King Game soon!

Love the job Ruth Lovelace and Elmer Anderson along with my man Gene Carroll is doing at Boys and Girls. They are proving NYC toughness with skills and ability, and good coaching is hard to beat. Ditto Lincoln, Wings, Cardoza, Kennedy (Johnny Mathis is EXCEPTIONAL!!!!!) , These  schools have closed the gap between the CHSAA and the PSAL. In fact I think Boys and Girls, Lincoln, Wings, Cardoza, etc. could beat most CHSAA teams.

Speaking of Wings Academy. Caught them in a showcase tournament in NJ sponsored by the GYM Rats AAU at Ramapo College. Great event and great job by Dwight Morrow (Englewood NJ) Girls Coach Donald Osbourne who was the master mind behind this event. Wings was exceptional and the coaching was outstanding! I had heard of the coach for years and never really Watched him coach. But boy could he coach! Now here is the down side and what separates him from many other very good coaches. What in heavens name made him wear a t-shirt and sneakers on the sideline? I mean not even a team t-shirt. I might as well had said Joe's Soul Food Kitchen, etc.  Are you kidding me? He looked like he was coaching in July at Rucker Park? Why not a coaching shirt? Why not a nice warm-up suit? Despite his fine coaching many in attendance were shocked at his appearance. I am not looking to embarrass but just letting folks know that teachers and coaches need to have a professional look while at work. Because this Coach, and again he was OUTSTANDING, sure had the wrong image. And I am stunned that a guy who I consider the best Principal in the entire USA when it comes to understanding HS and College athletics has not mentored this future great coach better!  I guess some will say would i take a great coach in a t-shirt over a poor coach in a suit and tie? I would say both need to change up (smile).

Well thats it and as I sign off I want to thank Donald Osbourne, Bobby Holford, and others for inviting me and Jim Couch to a great day of basketball recently at Ramapo College. We also thank you for the awards you presented to us and the love you shared. Also nice to see Bobby on the side lines assisting a HS Program with a kid who might just be the best young player in NYC! After Bobby is finished I am sure he will be better than he is now. After all Bobby Holford is and always will be one of the best teachers of the game and the best station 5 (is that the tough station at 5 Star Camp?) Instructors of all time. Still amazed at him not coaching on a higher level!