Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

College and Highschool Basketball

I love it! I love the competitiveness of amateur basketball. Although I have recently rediscovered The New York Knicks based on Jeremy Lin, it could never replace the excitement of College and HS basketball when the games and the atmosphere is right.

Such is the case  of the recent two Rutgers vs Seton Hall basketball games which provided the atmosphere and game quality people in he Tri-State area has hungered for. Those games were exciting with a capital "E."  Years ago I was attracted to the game by the great teams at St. Johns who recruited local hungry players from NY and NJ to field outstanding teams selling out Madison Square Garden on a regular basis.  I also loved watching Rutgers at Madison Square Garden and even dreamed of being a Scarlet Knight after seeing RU rock the Garden.

College basketball actually stole me from the Knicks where I was a super fan starting out as a HS kid with a G.O.  card that gave HS students super discounts to attend games. I still remember sitting way up by myself with my ice cream cup, peanuts or popcorn, soda, and if my money was right a hot dog. The entire package would cost me a grand total of $10.00, including the game ticket because those G.O.  cards were wonderful.  Great memories!

Hopefully college basketball is back locally and close to where it was with the start of The Big East when St. Johns and Georgetown was a harder ticket to get than one for the Knicks. Of course the NCAA tournament was always a big deal especially with the great UCLA teams of John Wooden and the great program at North Carolina under Dean Smith. But ESPN brought it all home and in my eyes helped make Cable TV what it is today.

We are very close to NCAA time and everyone is wondering who will be chosen. Of the area Big East teams we know the only one with a chance is Seton Hall unless Rutgers and St. Johns wins the BE Tournament.  Iona and LIU have a chance as does Manhattan if they win the MAC, which is possible.

Breaking College Basketball News

Much has been said the last two days about the state of College Basketball. If you did not read my last  blog please do so because it really has some stuff in there, especially if you read between the lines, that will make you wonder about college sports.

HS Basketball

I love the game of basketball,  especially HS basketball. Last night I had an opportunity to attend a game at Gil St. Bernard's where the home team took on St. Patrick's in the NJ State Tournament. Before talking about the game I have to say how beautiful the school and campus is. It was just like a small college campus and the gym was packed with parents and students having  a great time. With tuition at around $33,000 a year (including lunch lol)  it looked as it was supposed to look.  My understanding is the number 1 JHS kid in NJ will be attending Gill in the fall, and after seeing that place I am stunned more kids are not, especially if they have a decent financial aid program (smile).

After walking at least a half a mile to an actual field-house that was state of the art, I sat down on the side  behind the bench of St. Patricks.  The place was packed and the fans were so into it that two St. Patricks Dads almost came to blows when one felt the other was not cheering for the team and his son but hating on everyone but his son. It was kind of scary but if you have never had a child play a completive sport on the HS level it would be hard to understand that this happens often as we parents tend to be protective of our children  Someone made a nasty comment to me about what happened and I laughed because they had no idea they were commenting to The Worst Dad in The History of NJ Basketball  which I was for many years, something to this day I regret.

The game itself was close going into the 4th quarter. St. Pats was missing 3 very important players who could have made a huge difference. I traveled all the way to this game to see Gil St. Bernard's for myself and to experience what just might be the last game St. Patricks ever plays. The game was won by Gil St. Bernard's, who showed what happens when a group of players play team basketball, which they had to do to win the game because their star player Jared Sina did not look like the highly rated player he is capable of being.

I have always loved the way Jared Sina played. The cockiness, the hard nosed play, the confidence, and more.  But on this evening he had one of those games especially in the first half. He was far from bad, he was far from average, he was just good and not GOOD as in Big East, ACC, good. Now I have seen him play better, and kids have off games which is OK especially when your teammates step up as they did and your team wins the game. But from what I saw I sure hope he plays better from this point on.

Random thoughts from the game:

Gil St. Bernard's looked like a great program and a great place to attend school. If a kid gets an opportunity to attend school there they should run and not walk.

Gil's Coach Sina seemed like an outstanding coach and person. Great fit for the school and program.

If St. Patrick's closes, and I hope they do not, a few of the St. Pat players sure should consider Gil St. Bernard's

St. Benedict's Coach was at the game! Are you kidding me! I guess he just came as a fan lol.
But he is a very good coach.

I loved the support St. Patrick's received with alumni and others from Elizabeth showing up in huge numbers to support the team.

If St. Patricks stays open they will be a great team next season!

St. Patrick's at full strength will be top 2 or 3 next year

I understand even if St. Pats closes down there is a plan to keep it open as a private or charter school with the Mayor of Elizabeth playing a huge role in what happens.

I saw coaches from St. Johns, Penn State, and St. Joseph's in attendance.

It is a shame that some folks who St. Pats really helped have turned their backs on the school. Thank God Kyrie Irving was brought up right and understands giving back,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

General Thoughts

College Basketball

Lots of stuff flying around concerning UCLA and the lack of discipline. I have to laugh because at least 70 percent of the schools playing D1 basketball there are discipline issues. The difference is they are pushed under the rug and you never even find out it was happening. Now do not make me start naming schools and coaches. Many of you reading my blog know exactly what I am talking about.

One of the problems is a lack of a tenure system for coaching staffs. Remember I said STAFFS and not Head Coach. Far too many coaches are at the mercy of advisors, players, and parents regarding what happens on campus. Why? Because the bottom line is winning! No exceptions! Most schools couldn't care less if you every kid goes out to the world with a degree and do wonderful things if the kids did not produce on the court. Yes, I am talking about winning games.   Deans and Presidents have known about drug usage, from players and coaches, bad behavior, excessive cheating by coaching staffs, and much more yet they turn their back because winning brings money for new labs and larger Presidential Cabinet expense accounts.  I say excessive because if truth be told every D1 college in America cheats in one way or another! Illegal practices, free clothing to parents and supporters, small payoffs to get players, Illegal travel arrangements for those so called un-official visits, etc. How does a kid from a struggling family afford to fly to an un-official visit 1000 miles away and come right back home? Please! Also special no show jobs on and around campus, use of vehicles, extra game tickets, special lodging for family on game days, and much much more. And that's the minor cheating!

For years certain teams were known for supplying new Autos to recruited players. Stevie Wonder saw what was happening yet the NCAA never came down hard on such programs saying they, with plenty of great eyes, saw no infractions. How about the schools we love and adore who take a parent with a GED if that and get them a job earning $100,000 while finding them a great home to use for $450 a month? Trust me it happens. How about the schools who hire an AAU guy or a parent as a Coach or administrative assistant at a salary of $100,000 plus. And the person hired comes directly from a job in retail where they might have earned $10 an hour. How about the schools that put out a secrete notice that a certain kid needs $100,000 to sign and folks chip in to cover the cost believing the kid will bring success to the program. And how about the schools that have kids complete 5 years including a redshirt year yet the kid still cannot read or write and no one cares. That also is cheating, cheating the kid and his family.  But most likely no one paid attention because they all felt  the player was NBA bound

So back to all the UCLA rumors. If Ben Howland is released it certainly will not be based on an article in Sports Illustrated. However with a losing record etc. they could use it as an excuse to make a change. But if they get the Mohammed kid out of Vegas, and Tony Parker, he is not going anywhere,  even if he had Bernie Fine type charges. It is all about winning!

This brings me to another point that has pissed me off. Every family with a son who is an AA takes money! Just because a person drives a new car it does not mean they received it from the school. If the family moves into a new home it does not mean they received it from the school. In both cases the parents might have had a college fund that they can now use on a home down payment or for a new car since the child received a full scholarship. Now keep in mind others on that campus, many who might not be as good a player, could have received outrageous perks. But maybe this kid has parents who did not need or would not accept knowing that serious money was only a year or two away in the NBA.

So out of control programs for the most part are the norm. Getting details is another story. And again in their own way everyone is doing some form of cheating, even D2 and NAIA schools.

Speaking of cheating Seton Hall.....................just kidding lol. Just getting the attention of those Pirate Fans! Seton Hall seems to be right there as a NCAA at large team. Who would have thought this in August? Shows that with hard work good things happen. Of course things have to work out for them but I believe they have a great chance of going dancing.

Rutgers continues to show spunk and improvement. They could be special next season. I will leave Mike Rice alone today because coaching wise he is doing a great job. Just wish he would sit down and relax his eyes because he looks like he is ready to pop someone. Oh well I guess I will again be barred from communicating with any coach on the Rutgers staff as Fred Hill had it when he was there. But I do like Mike Rice! I did like Fred Hill at one time!

These days i do not even venture into Queens based on how I hear St. Johns feels about my thoughts on here.  When I do go it is at night and in the back of a van lol. But seriously I do think St. Johns has talent in the coaches and players. The problem is who will come back. I have heard many interesting things. I am a huge Maurice Hicks and Tony Chiles fan and always have been. Just hope St. Johns gets the young players to return and Lavin comes back with a clean bill of health. If this happens we could see a different St. Johns next season although despite the loss o Pitt last night they seem to be vastly improved right now.

Speaking of Cheating FDU.........lololololol.  That does not even sound right based on what is going on over there. Could you imagine FDU doing major cheating? Maybe one of the players got an extra sandwich? Maybe a parent gets a soda on an un-official visit. But the way they are playing and the atmosphere in that place has alot of people thinking it is only a matter of time until they become a D3 type program. And if this happens I am sure NJIT is prepared to take their place in the NEC.

Thinking about how crazy it is that a person like Tom Green gets elected into the Northeast Conference Hall of Fame yet FDU has yet to recognize his achievements with a similar honor. Again FDU sometimes equals Class without the C and the L!

CIAA Going On in Charlotte

What a great time of the year! I had an interesting posting discussion on NJ.Com about HBCU's (Historical Black Colleges and Universities) and the lack of a northern flavor on basketball teams. Honestly I would rather attend an HBCU than one of those D1 programs locally drawing 350 people to games. No knock really, well maybe it is a knock. Hampton or St. Francis in Brooklyn with no campus or dorms? Florida AM or FDU? Morehouse or St. Peters? Those are the D1 programs. The D2 programs like Shaw, Fayetteville, etc. are not bad either.  Ummmmmmm! I just continue to wish the various coaches would consider recruiting northern kids and northern kids would consider attending an HBCU institutions.

HS Basketball in NJ

Heading to that ritzy HS off Route 206 called Gil St. Bernard tonight for the St. Patricks vs Gil game. Should be a great game and as a true basketball fanatic this is a game I need to see. I love Sina's game and attitude. I love the way they play as a team. I really am looking forward to this game tonight.

I also plan to see the Newark Eastside vs Plainfield game. But everyone knows and understands that the Public School game of the year might happen on Weds, March 7 at East Orange Campus HS in East Orange New Jersey. The game would be Teaneck and Plainfield if Plainfield is able to hold off a very good Eastside team. Lots of talk on the HS boards about this potential game.

I am and always will be a Teaneck HS basketball fan. Heck if they asked I could be a booster  lol.  But i also recognize great achievement and that is exactly what schools such as Newark Eastside, Patterson Eastside, Plainfield, Linden, Shawnee from years back, and Teaneck do on a consistent basis. They play and win with home grown talent and send kids to college. Plainfield even has a kid heading to Yale. Most likely he will have plenty of time to prepare for Yale after Weds. lolololol. Sorry I could not resist!

As a side note I love when grown folks come out to support HS kids. It is a great thing to take pride in the HS you attended or the HS in the town you reside in. The support in Jersey is far better than NYC   Rarely are adults without children playing at games in NYC. So all of you older fans continue going to games and having fun because supporting those kids is a wonderful thing. Funny thing about where I live in Pa. is the gyms are state of the art seating what looks like 2500 in the smallest and close to 4000 in the largest yet the teams seem to always be barely decent with the exception of schools such as Pocono Mountain West, Pocono Mountain East and a few of the Allentown area schools. I mean the gyms are better than St. Peters, FDU, Manhattan, Iona, St. Francis, LIU, and others.  And here we have true winners like St. Anthony's practicing at the Rec center and sometimes a bingo hall.

Chris Jones to Pitt

I cannot believe a small portion of the fans at Pitt seem to already be down on Chris Jones without ever seeing him actually play. This is what happens when people who do not understand the game become so called scouts and run recruitment sites. Even Jay Gomes who is usually pretty good does not have Chris as a top 10 NJ senior yet he has him as a pre season 1st Team All State selection. Did Jay forget Chris when doing the list? I had and continue to have Chris as number 2A with Melvin Johnson of St. Ben's being 2B and Quentin DeCoursey being 4 based on Chris outplaying him in a head to head match-up. I think the Newark Star Ledger has a similar list to what I have.

These recruiting services are often bogus. Interesting thing is some folks feel they know it all. OK I have been guilty of this but I promise to change lol.  Those non qualified people and sites  provide misinformation often. Little round guys who were on the bowling team in HS are now ranking players and people are listening. And who does the rankings for ESPN? I love when they introduce Paul Biancardi (sp) their National Director of HS Basketball Scouting lol. I like Paul but they make it seem as if he really is in an office doing rankings with videos etc. Now Dave Telip (sp) is a guy who has done a great job for many years and really knows his stuff. But for the most part the first 25 nationally often is a no brainer. The problem is ranking the rest, many of whom no one actually saw.  Anyone remember the kid who Bobby Knight made up years ago? He actually made up a kid and next thing you know he was top 15 nationally.

Back to Chris Jones who I feel will one day play in the NBA. Why? Because of where he was and where he currently is, because of his work ethic, because of his size, and because of his improving skills. Chris is a GREAT pick-up for Pitt and the coaching staff understands this which is why they hurried and offered before Michigan, and many others who were calling came to see him.  It is true he had no high major offers prior to Pitt, but trust me he had a bunch on the way including strong programs from the ACC, BE, Big 10, and Big 12.  Within one week he would have had at least 7 offers from major programs from the mentioned conferences.

Well, thats it basketball wise. I can be reached at LFBall@AOL.COM if you have questions or concerns