Wednesday Feb 8, 2012
It has been a few days since my last blog post because honestly there was not much to talk about. Seton Hall is not playing as well and everyone knows that. Rutgers is not doing much better and everyone knows that as well. Even the lower conference schools have been the same even though I have not looked at an FDU box score in a while. But I would imagine they have not won since they beat powerful Bryant College or is it University? I do know Bryant is a very good academic school that until a few years ago was a proud New England Division 2 program. Now they are a FDU rival!
On the HS scene the games seem to have been very competitive especially in NYC in what was once the Suicide Division in Brooklyn. All those teams are good in Brooklyn and tough as well. Lincoln, Boys and Girls, Jefferson, Roberson will be good and competitive, South Shore is pretty good, Grady will bounce back, and many others are good as well. We know that Campus Magnet (Andrew Jackson) will be tough down the stretch as will Benjamin Cardozo, who is one on NY's top programs along with many of the others I have mentioned. Lets not forget Johnny Mathis Kennedy HS team in the boogie down Bronx or should I say upscale Riverdale section of NYC? Yes, NY teams, especially PSAL teams, are and always will be very competitive despite the huge amount of kids opting to attend private and parochial schools in NY and NJ.
Of course the CHSAA teams in NY are always competitive with St. Raymond's, Christ The King, and others. Oddly the CHSAA programs have been hurt more than anyone else by the number of players who would normally be at those schools attending HS in The Garden State. It took a while before people realized the commute to Jersey City or Elizabeth is not a hard one on public transportation. NYC kids are now making a huge difference at some of the traditional NJ power HS Programs.
This brings me to the St. Anthony;s vs Plainfield game I attended yesterday in Plainfield, New Jersey. What atmosphere for a HS game! I have been to many HS games over the years and thought the atmosphere at some were decent or very good. Plainfield was the best atmosphere I have ever experienced in my 35 years of attending HS games. From the great Security telling you where to park, to the pleasant people selling and taking tickets with smiles and thanking you, this was a first class operation. The gym was an older building that seemed to be re-done with great seating on 4 sides and filled to capacity during the Freshmen game. Thats right 3 and a half hours before the varsity game the seating was 85 percent sold out. They even handed out actual game programs with player names and numbers. I asked if this was a regular thing and was told yes.
What really amazed me were all the adults in the seating who actually knew the freshmen kids and cheered and encouraged those kids like they were the varsity team. I have never been to a HS game where 6o percent of the fans were actually adults who attend the games on a regular basis. Even the Town Mayor was at the game waving and cheering like she know the drill lol. Plainfield has two super duper supporters, one an ex school board member, who are true fans with one actually doing the powder thing prior top tipoff. And in the stands there was no player bashing just clean cheering for the home team and respect for the visitors from St. Anthony's.
2000 plus people saw a game that had the number 1 team in NJ go against the number 5 team which is Plainfield. Here is where the accolades stop! Sorry Plainfield because I do want to be welcome in your gym again one day. And though I am a true blue Teaneck Fan, I know it would be a tough game for Teaneck if they faced you. But honestly I have never seen a team ranked so high be so unprepared to play a huge game. I have never seen a highly ranked team not even attempt to run an offensive set the entire game. I mean the ENTIRE GAME NOT ONE OFFENSIVE SET WAS ATTEMPTED! People and fans can say that was because of the St. Anthony defense. I say bull because NO OFFENSIVE SET WAS ATTEMPTED and I kept track. Horrible up and down street ball basketball was played by Plainfield. It was the closest I have ever seen to the big game between Hickory High playing controlled basketball against the big run and gun team from the big city in Hoosiers. Horrible team basketball as I have ever seen! Coach might have had an off day but if there was a shot clock they might have scored 25 points based on no sets run to free up players for shots. In the first half 30 and 40 seconds went by as Plainfield searched for shots often shooting "hope" shots or air balls.
Now this is not an attack on the players. But it certainly is a post wondering about who the coach is because Plainfield has talent and tough inside guys. I did not expect Plainfield to beat powerful St. Anthony's. But neither did I expect to see a Harlem Rucker League Team coached by Slim from the block play last night. Remember the stage was set and than I realized I was way off Broadway in regards to actual performance. Like having a Mercedes body over a Yugo automobile. Plainfield had everything going up until game time sadly. They next play Gil St. Bernard in a game I really wanted to attend. Unfortunately I now feel Gil might make them look even worst despite the fact Plainfield will not be intimidated like they seemed to be last night. Who knows, they just might run a play or two!
St. Anthony's is a well oiled machine. Kyle Anderson is a complete TEAM player who you love cheering for based on him being a better person than player and as a player he is NBA bound in the near future. The other players around him benefit from his presence and mental toughness. In a nutshell St. Anthony's from the very talented players to the outstanding coaching staff of 15 guys (lol) expect to win and play that way. My only negative about St. Anthony's would be the clunky Reebok sneakers all 3 teams wore. They looked like they weighed 10 pounds lol. But they must be light because this is a true HS team and a wonderful HS program. Honestly I am stunned St. Anthony's does not ask for money to play games such as yesterday, games that sell out and generate capital.
Plainfield's biggest group 3 challenge at the time is powerful Teaneck HS from Bergen County who are rated 3rd in NJ by the Newark Star Ledger. The big match-up could occur in the state playoffs at East Orange Campus HS in the North Group 3 finals. Teaneck is playing great and the coaching staff is really one of the best in the entire state if not the entire east coast.
With at least 4 potential D 1 players on the roster and playing very well together this team has the ingredients to do well and possibly make a run at the overall group 3 state championship and do well in the Tournament of Champions. Last night they beat Paterson Eastside, a top 10 team in Nj and the number 1 Group 4 team in the state. But that Bergen Jamboree can be tough and often political if you know what i mean. So getting through the country tournament might just be more challenging than people realize.
Seton Hall vs Rutgers
The RAC was jumping! People purchased tickets outside from scalpers for as much as $2000 a ticket. The Governor attended as did many of the other state politicians. Thousands were turned away from attending this sold out game at the newly refurbished Rutgers Athletic Center, and what a building it is. Video score boards, expanded soft chair back seating, wonderful refreshments and two actual restaurants in the building for pre game meals in a comfortable atmosphere over looking the court. With every top NYC, NJ, and Pa. kid looking on from the special recruitment lounge, this game was full of great plays. RU and SHU with a combined 9 HS All Americans on the rosters, made us say ACC who? An interesting development last night was the sudden transfer requests from 2 players who just could not break into the line-ups at SHU or RU because of the overflow of talent. I have heard they will attempt to transfer to Duke or Kentucky where they will have a better opportunity to play!
I guess you know by now I was dreaming of what it could and might be in the near future. Unfortunately we are not there YET! However I still feel this game should be a sell out at Rutgers. To not be able to attract 8000 plus people is downright disgusting and whoever is in charge of PR and marketing at Rutgers needs to really be held accountable. Maybe the person worked at FDU in the past and really has no understanding of the right way to attract fans to games.
I think the game will be nip and tuck as well as exciting to watch. I personally will be watching from the comforts of home. Who will win? Does anyone care? Is it on the Governors schedule? Stay tuned for alot to say after the game concludes.