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!