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!!!!