Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Basketball Stuff

It is Tuesday and a lot of basketball stuff to talk about. Lets start with our local "Big Time Teams."  Yes we will talk about Hofstra, Fordham, etc. because they are doing better than expected. Of course those teams are not really the elite programs in the area but worthy of praise.

Our elite programs continue to be St. Johns, Seton Hall, and Rutgers.

Interesting watching St. Johns play with the Head Coach easily wearing a red tie symbolic of the St. Johns school colors. What a nice and easy thing to do! How one former local coach could go out of his way not to do this is mind boggling to say the least.

Well St. Johns seems to be back and The Garden was rocking for the game yesterday vs Georgetown. Of course we all know by now that St. Johns won the game and seems to be again the elite team in the NY metro area. The interesting thing is despite inconsistent play this season, they are currently undefeated in the Big East and gaining great momentum. It seems as if St. Johns will be hard to go against on the court as well in recruiting battles in the next few years.

Personally I love seeing the Garden rock! Nothing like the Garden for great games. I just look forward to the day when Seton Hall and Rutgers will be huge Garden games similar to the NC/Duke/NC State rivalries in the ACC.

Seton Hall has got to get it together and fast. Not just the team, and coaches, but the university itself. This is a great time to get the entire program in check from facilities to marketing and promotions.  Develop the fan base nowise you grow with a very young and very inexperienced coaching staff for the BE level.

Honestly I still feel the staff in place at SHU is not  capable of getting it done on the BE level at this time. I am not even sure it is as good as last seasons Rutgers staff.  Not saying The Head Coach has to go, but he sure needs to evaluate the personnel working with him. Please do not take this as me saying the coaches are not good. I am only saying they are not experienced enough YET to get it done on that level.  All of the Seton Hall Coaches have tremendous upside! EVERY SINGLE ONE! But Seton Hall needs results now because if they do not get them soon, they could become the Providence to UConn that exists in New England.

Game and talent wise missing Hazell has to hurt. Take away 20 points from any team and it would be devastating. When and if he comes back it could become interesting. I look for SHU to make a serious run to end with a winning record.

Looking at Rutgers all signs point to positive results in the next few years. However they seem to be getting great recruits on paper but I wonder if they will develop into bonfire outstanding BE players.  One thing for sure is they will play hard, and get better under Mike Rice. And if they get that RAC fan base back it could mean many great year in Piscataway.

Speaking of the RAC I have to say how great it will be to see that building re-done and possibly re-configured. 9000 seats is all they need and I love the fact it could be a hard ticket to get. Remember they can always play a game or two at the Medowlands and MSG.

Back to some others. Looks as if Tom Picora could make Fordham a serious contender despite the old gym they try to market as a Palestra Type building lol. Fordham needs to understand they really need a new building seating around 8000. Again maybe the Bronx Boro President and NYC Council can build something together that Fordham can play games at.

Surprised Hofstra has done as well as they have after losing Coach Picora. But than again when I look at the staff at Hofstra, the Assistants, Wayne Morgan and Steve Demeo, are better than 75 percent to the BE Assistants. And both have OUTSTANDING NY and NJ connections.

Iona? All I can say is I heard the guy can coach!!! He sure is proving it!

Manhattan? Many folks are watching that situation closely.

Monmouth? See Manhattan

Delaware? See Monmouth

High School Basketball has been on my mind a lot. Just read where St. Benedicts is getting a very good point guard to transfer in to help them win some games. What is wrong with that picture? It is like they are calling up a kid from the minors to help out! Recruiting? Did the kid just go through a book of schools and decide Newark NJ is the place for him?

Honestly they might need more than that. How does a team with a number of division 1 prospects and signees even lose to a team like Scotch Plains on Sunday in a game at Teaneck HS as part of the Playaz Basketball program New Years Jump Off? Are you kidding me or did Derrick Character and Lance Thomas play under assumed identities? I have always been a fan of the coach at St. Benedict's and I am sure he will get it together. But bringing in a hired gun midway through is hardly the answer. Maybe it should start with committing to defense! or passing to the open man! Or how about competing!

Watched Hackensack HS, a true sleeping giant in NJ based on area talent, play Hudson Catholic which has a number of high rated younger players. Still remember the Hackensack coach as a tough little point guard. I hope he realizes the potential of his program and makes basketball a priority for his players year round.

Hudson Catholic did win the game and I was very impressed with a number of players especially Reggie Cameron, a 6 ft 8 inch versatile player with great ball and passing skills. And by the way he is a tremendous perimeter shooter. Only a Sophomore, his potential is great! Loved how he played the game! Hudson Catholic also has a very tough Sophomore guard in Kavon Stewart, who according to many is the top rated sophomore point guard in New Jersey.

Hackensack has tremendous youth also. Watch out for their superb freshmen Rashad Flaures (sp) who could be very special and might be one of best ever from Hackensack.

Same day saw St. Anthony's beat a decent Plainfield team with some pretty good big players but lacking guard play. Just too much Kyle Anderson and Myles Mack! Have to wonder where St. Anthony's would be if Patterson catholic did not close. Yes Bob Hurley has done great things in Jersey City and helped many kids over his career. So his blessing in what would be a down year is getting 2 instate high major transfers.  A huge joke at the game was folks saying Hurley is so powerful he had Paterson Catholic closed down to get the two best players lol.

Well this St. Anthony's team like others b4 them will compete hard and play to the final buzzer. But it is far from being one of the best teams until they get the traditional St. Anthony's defense in gear.

Lastly on St. Anthony's. I love Kyle Anderson because he is like a pony still developing. I honestly feel he will be the greatest college player ever to attend St. Anthony's and unlike many others play a long time in the NBA! Again I say I can get 10 points at my age playing with him lol.

Myles Mack is a very good HS player. Based on size, and PG skills I saw, I am eager to see what he does at Rutgers. Seems like a great kid and he competes hard. I did see him make more plays than usual this day and that was quite encouraging.

Last game had two traditional powers go head to head. Teaneck vs Seton Hall Prep led by tremendous senior Sterling Gibbs who signed with The University of Maryland in the ACC. Well Teaneck has been up and down inn past years based on many kids in the town deciding to attend local Catholic Schools for a short period. Well, it seems like the kids have decided to now start staying home and what a difference this makes.

Teaneck totally demolished Seton Hall Prep in a game that was over after the first 8 minutes. This was a different Teaneck team than the one I saw at Seton Hall during the Hoop Group Event. The main reason is the coaches have gone back to the drawing board to teach defense and push for players to compete harder, I really like the Teaneck Staff. Just hope they embrace the local feeder biddy league and keep the pipeline running strong.

Teaneck might just have 4 or 5 Division 1 caliber players on the roster. 6 ft 10 JR. Neville Finches will be a super high major college player. All he does is run, dunk, pass, block shots, play hard, and win! This guy could be a stud! Funny story about this kid who is the reason I went to the games. I had heard about this kid from Jon Cano, who contributes to this blog. Had no idea who he was or who his parents were. I walk into the gym and his dad calls me and says I need to meet his son who loved the workouts we did with his older brother years ago. I laughed and asked who his son was. Up comes a grinning Neville Finches who just might be 6 ft 11! He reminded me about sitting and watching us work with kids. Good thing about this kid is his mom, dad, and brother understand he needs to work on things. And trust me, when he does, he will be very very very special!

Also like a kid named Shakir Lindsey, who Jim Solmon nicknamed little dynamite. Kid is super skilled and can shoot the lights out. When I found out who his family is, including NYC Playground legend and CCNY graduate Mike Richardson, I knew where the toughness came from! Kid is very good and playing for the right guy in Jerome Smart as is all the other kids. These kids will excel under Coach Smart. By the way Shakir Lindsey is only a sophomore.

Add Chris Jones to the D1 list. Only a junior but already around 6 ft 4 with guard skills. Just needs to compete harder and play tougher. Kid looks like typical Teaneck kid. Well groomed and a bit passive but very very talented! Trust me I know the look lol. This talented jr. is a definite D1 prospect for at least a mid major CAA program. He could be 6 ft 7 when it is all done.

Add to this list the older son of ex Iona player Tony Hargraves who will grow and is an important part of the team. Guy can really play but is accepting a lessor role for the good of the team.  The toughest kid on the team is Joel Hernandez who can do it all as well. Tough defender, passes, shoots, and competes. This is a guy who will become the eventual leader of this team.  I would not be surprised to see this sophomore become a super player in the next few seasons.

Now looking at the box scores you will not be impressed. But trust me this is the most talented Teaneck HS team in many years and they all are mainly underclassman. This year will be inconsistent at times. But next season, they might be top 3 in the state and compete for a Tournament of Champions Title! Out if state tournaments better call quick!

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