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!