Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Morning Thoughts

The RU vs SHU Basketball Game and Rivalry

I guess it is safe to say no one is more pleased than me to see this rivalry develop and bring excitement to the State of NJ and most of the tri-state area. These games between Rutgers and Seton Hall can now be officially called a rivalry and a game that should be televised regardless of win loss records. Almost like the Army Navy game was handled for many years.

Rivalries often either bring out the best in you as a team or a player or they can make younger folks jump back and right into a protective shell. Rivalries bring people out to games and even help fund raising efforts of the schools in question. Recruiting wise kids want to be part of excitement. Because of that many additional nigh level recruits would want to attend Rutgers and SHU if they watched the game on TV because the atmosphere looked electric. I for one continue to be amazed at how both the RAC and Prudential Center look on TV. Big time is a true understatement because if you flipped from a UConn game to the SHU RU game on TV it would look similar. Now Syracuse is a different story but I still question the sincerity of fans there as opposed to fans of local teams but that's another post.

Rutgers won the game but in the eyes of many recruits the game is becoming a draw based on the excitement of the event and the fan turnout. By draw I mean to the game as well as drawing recruits to the participating schools. Though it is not Duke Carolina, it is developing in a way that could really hurt the 3rd area team St. Johns recruitment and atmosphere wise. With no true rival any longer, and a shrinking fan base at games played at MSG, SJU needs to really step it up even though they have had two great wins in a row.

So again RU won the game but Seton Hall will still be a post season team and attractive to recruits just as Rutgers will be.

Mike Rice

OK everyone please understand I have watched Mike Rice since he was at Fordham and I know about his Dad being a college coach in Pittsburgh etc. Mike seems to be doing a great job at RU and when I talk about hating his consistent wild man look on the side line it is just me and my feeling. Others might love it! But he and so many others feel they have to run the side lines coaching every play as opposed to staying calm and understanding most wins are accomplished via great prep work in practice. So again I say sit down sometimes and take in the action and coach your team because you are capable of great things as a coach.

Kevin Willard

I have to start by saying I have also followed Kevin Willard's career from Pitt forward. One of the worst days I experienced was when he DID NOT GET THE University of Delaware Head Coaching job years ago. What a bummer and something most people in Delaware were extremely unhappy about. What a difference he would have made! But Delaware's loss was Iona's gain which is now Seton Halls gain because I just love his coaching style. And like Mike Rice, his future is extremely bright.

RU and SHU Staff's

Not any high profile guys like many others nationally. But these guys are getting it done on the court and on the recruiting trail. Both have hard working and well respected 2nd in charge guys, and others well respected all over the entire east coast.

Facilities of Both Programs

No need to even discuss..........Sorry! But they both do look good on TV.


Kids now want to be recruited by both programs. In fact I am starting to hear how some kids want the challenge of playing against others at schools in the same conference. Both teams have their fair share of local highly rated recruits if not on paper,  by those really in the know like other coaches on the HS and college level.

Now let the rivalry continue!!!!!

HS Stuff

We are into the HS Playoffs in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In PA. it is almost like the CHSAA in NYC. Teams lose and still are in it. Confusing as heck! What is it a seeding round lol. In NJ it is straight win and move on, lose and go home. No exceptions although I still say you never ever get the best 4 teams to the NJ Tournament of Champions. This is easily remedied by saving two at large spots for teams who are upset in the group level playoffs but are clearly better than a group 2 or even group 4 school moving on. An example would be if St. Anthony's is upset by St. Patrick's who will be playing hard based on this being the last go around for the school.  So the true best HS in NJ will be sent home while little Sunshine Valley HS moves forward to the TOC. I want Sunshine Valley to make the TOC but want the field expanded to 8 from 6 to accommodate the two at large teams.

Staying in NJ I see St. Anthony's winning it all with strong challenges from Teaneck, Plainfield, and others. But it is something about playing team ball defensively and offensively that make them special. The potential Teaneck Plainfield game, which would take place next Weds in East Orange, will be the State Playoff Game of The Year and could easily be the Group 3 Championship. I see no team in South Jersey ready to challenge either team. If Gil St. Bernard plays Seton Hall Prep that also will be a great game. Not sure where they would meet up but it would be special.  Sleeper team in group 3 could be Newark Eastside and the team to beat in Group 4 is Patterson Eastside it seems.

Not sure if anyone has followed Woodridge HS from Bergen County. A group 1 or 2 school who really has done well the past two seasons. They have a big guy who got hurt some time ago and caused the PROGRAM to slide a bit.  But this team was destined to be a version of Hoosiers before the injury. I honestly thought they were the 2nd best team in BergenCounty and would play Teaneck in the finals of the Bergen Jamboree. But when you lose your best player things tend to fall apart. Good luck to this developing program.

Has anyone seen Shaakir Lindsey play? If not you need to get to see him because he just might be the greatest attraction in NJ HS basketball now and next season. A 5 ft 7 tough as nails skilled guard with great quickness and passing ability. A one man press breaker who can also hit the open 3. Again I would love to see him go against Aquille Carr in a future game.

Pitt has offered Chris Jones a full scholarship!  It still amazes me that people do not see and understand what more and more high major D1 Head Coaches see in Chris Jones. These Coaches from some very high level programs see the same Chris I see. The Chris who can shoot, run, jump, defend, and finish. This is not a late bloomer talent wise. It is a late bloomer confidence wise only because that was the only ingredient missing.  Funny thing is as I read the Pitt Rivals board and a few fans are questioning Chris based on him not being listed as a top 100 type player.

As I said there and I say here, people doing those rankings always get it wrong after the initial top 25-30 kids.  many of the people ranking never even played or coached the game we love. Yet there they are at games with pens in hand ranking. Funny stuff!  Even the great Tom Konchalski got it wrong when he listed Mike O'Koran as a D3 recruit yet he starred at North Carolina and with the NJ Nets.  How about current players? Ever heard of Jeremy Lamb? You know him! The great player at UConn who was not even a top 150 player coming out of High School according to most services. Well, Chris Jones just might be that next Jeremy which might be the reason UConn is recruiting him. I am sure glad Jamie Dixon makes up his own mind!

St. Patricks Closing

Sad day in Elizabeth NJ when it was announced St. Patricks would close down. Not going too deep on this but I will say Al Harrington owes far too much to St. Patrick's to even say the asinine crap he said to the press when informed the school was closing. Now no one has a right to tell a person how to spend his or her money. But damn!!!!! How soon many forget what was done for them. How soon folks become so into themselves they forget to reach out and help others. Says alot when a person like Kyrie Irving goes back to visit and offers to write a check despite learning to play way b4 arriving at St. Pats as a transfer student. I guess his Parents taught him about life while others fail to do so. Shame on the person with wealth who does not understand that the more you give, the more you will receive and at the same time help so many others. So Mr. Harrington go out and buy a new Mercedes and drive all over NY with the top down as many kids, some just like you were, are hurt by this closing.  I would love to introduce you to Mr. Ray Williams and Mr. Michael Ray Richardson who will tell you how easy it
comes and go's.

Where will the players go? seems the St. Benedict's Coach feels sorry for a few of them and has graciously offered to assist by taking them in. lololololol.  Very nice of him! I would love to see them attend St. Joes or Roselle Catholic. What about the local HS where they live? Oops some of the kids are from out of town. My bad! A dark horse for these kids will be the new school recruiting kids, Pope John in Sparta NJ. They did get a kid from Queens to enroll there as a recent transfer. Kid is a bonafide top 100 recruit with many Big East Teams involved. The coach seems very aggressive and I am sure he is all over this recent development.

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