It is Wednesday and I have watched a lot of basketball from the front row in my home. Much of what I have seen was expected, but some things were not.
Never expected to see Tennessee lose 2 in a row even without Bruce Pearl. Losing to Florida at home last night was very unexpected. Received text messages from a number of friends who follow the sport closely and they were equally surprised. What does all this backsliding do for the tenure of Bruce Pearl as Coach at Tennessee? Will it give the school reason to find “Cause” to terminate his contract?
Honestly for what he is being punished for, the NCAA needs to look in the mirror and realize they are making a huge thing over something minor while other schools are purchasing homes and cars for recruits families, as well as providing employment opportunities for relatives. But here they go making Bruce Pearl a villain while other folks are committing major infractions. Does the NCAA really care?
This is why it is so hard to get in touch with the NCAA regarding thoughts and feelings. I even knew two ex police investigators who attempted to get jobs but could never even make contact. They are like a secrete society, harder to get to than the CIA. They just continue to make money and act like dictators looking only at convenient infractions and often looking the other way when powerful programs commit violations.
I guess everyone can see I support Bruce Pearl and hope he comes back and gets his team together. And yes I do know he was a whistle blower years ago!
Locally St. Johns takes on a very good Syracuse team tonight in Madison Square Garden. After losing to Notre Dame on the road in their previous game, this is a very important game not only because winning is better than losing, but because it will establish St. Johns as actually being back or on the way back to where they were years ago. . This is a game that should have the Garden rocking like the days of Berry and Mullen. Like when Mel Davis and Billy Schaeffer were doing it big. Like when Matt Brust was diving through people. Like when Frankie Alagia was throwing passes around his neck to Beaver Smith cutting to the basket. I really am glad St. Johns is getting better despite what some might think. St. Johns has always been the college team of New York City and that is my hometown. Adding to that is my true respect for both Tony Chiles, and Mo Hicks. One thing I will also point out is Lavin hired the best staff he could regardless of anything but what they brought to the table. They have it covered recruiting wise from the east coast to the west coast, and have superb teachers and coaches on the bench.
Rutgers might have lost a game yesterday vs. UConn, but they are really on the right track. They continue to compete and get better! I also like the way Mike Rice coaches and encourages his players. Mike also was smart enough not to get caught up politically and hired two guys who could recruit NYC and The DC area regardless of background and ethnicity. He hired the best for the job! Funny on TV the RAC looks pretty state of the art for a college facility. Just imagine if they made real improvements!
Seton Hall played a pretty good game in the last outing against Syracuse. I really felt the toughness of Seton Hall finally showed up. I watched and yes Willard seems to be a good coach. Again I say with experience he will be even better. But until than they have a long hill to climb. And that is not an endorsement for him to hire Fred Hill Jr. Although that is far from a bad idea! Last I heard Fred Hill was really liked on the SHU campus. Could be a huge pick-up if it ever happened because we know Fred has connections he hopefully did not lose when his personality completely changed as a Head Coach.
With Hazell back in the line-up, Seton Hall becomes a much better team. A team others now fear and look at differently.
People are really watching Manhattan, Monmouth, Delaware, Marist, and a few others regarding possible openings after the season. Looks like Cincinnati has turned it around and baring a late season breakdown, the coaching situation should not change. Georgia Tech remains interesting. But can anyone win big there in a league with Carolina, Duke, and Maryland? Georgia Tech is a harder job than folks realize despite them being in the ACC. Regardless the line is forming in the rear with people very interested. Tennessee mess around with Bruce Pearl and he might go there if Hewitt ever leaves!
Boston College is doing pretty good but I expected them to do well this season. Not sure if they would not have same results with Al Skinner there but Steve Donohue is doing a great job. Steve is one of the very good guys despite not giving my guy Ramon minutes when he played at Cornell! Good thing Ramon studied hard because he is now a practicing Attorney doing quite well. Some say he will be the first Dominican American mayor in New York City years from now.
Best staff in NY Metro area (not counting Head Coaches) for recruiting is Hofstra! They have a Big East Staff who would do well anywhere. Problem is they are in the CAA and have to be able to evaluate a bit different than they did in the past. Easy to identify the top 200 kids but now you have to find the top 400 and kids who fit what you are attempting to do.
On the HS front I am really looking forward to the Teaneck vs. Cardozo game at Ramapo College in New Jersey on January 23, 2011. That game will have some great talent on both teams. I am going to this game even if there is a blizzard.
Good HS games in Springfield Mass coming up. Should I go or should I watch on TV? Well I will watch one way or another.
Lastly. Wagner College has it going on! Looks very attractive to me for kids looking for a good situation. The place is close and facilities not bad. My honest guess is Bobby Hurley will be coaching there soon because Danny will get another job if he wants one. Will Monmouth reach out to him?Manhattan? Or will he just wait for an A10 or Big East job. I know it is early but you can see they will get it done at Wagner College.