Tuesday, January 15, 2013
We continue on with a true up and down basketball season locally. I have so much to share that I need to make this post a 2 parter with more later in the week. I always share only when I have something to say and today is one of those days.
Lets start with the local high major teams that are currently part of the soon to be defunct Big East Conference. So much can be said about each of them but the most important thing to me is Fans Need To be supportive. At least in the case of Seton Hall and Rutgers! St. Johns? That is another story!
Seton Hall has a current record 11 and 6 playing a pretty decent schedule. Thats 11 and 6 and not 6 and 11! This is the time fans need to rally behind the team and make the Prudential Center a hard place to play. The support could provide points to the score board and make the Pirates achieve beyond expectations. And for those who feel Willard is on the hot seat? All I will say is lol.
Rutgers has a current record of 11 and 4. Thats pretty good in my opinion. The RAC is supposed to be a hard place to play and now is the time for the place to be a complete mad house. Like Seton Hall, Rutgers could end with a winning record worthy of post season play. Now the negative as I see it. Mike Rice looks like a maniac the way he coaches. Yesterday another person who coached similar was fired at Southern Cal. When I watch Rutgers even I get frightened by Mike Rice's eyes, and I have watched him for years even when he was at Fordham and he worked out with our Dyckman Program here and there. Is his behavior going to ever scare some kids away? Ummmmmm!
St. Johns is a different story. The tradition, the respect, the face of NYC College basketball! The team that in the past sold out Madison Square Garden. The team that people looked at as if they were watching the Knicks. The groupies, the crazy fans, we all were St. Johns as they said in the chants. Well, they have the super star coach from Hollywood and a world class staff being paid the big money and the results have not been as expected. The head coach has had some health challenges but thank God he is back. But since coming back do we see any real difference? Rumor has it that the assistants make as much as some head coaches at other places including one Big East head coach. And the recruiting budget they have is larger than most in many ways with more in a reserve war chest for special occasions. Still no native NYC or NJ players on the roster. Yes, the kid from Our Savior New America is playing, but where are the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Newark, Plainfield, Atlantic City, and yes Teaneck kids? St. Johns always had that area toughness more than national names stopping by before heading hopefully to the NBA. I really do not see this experiment working but what I think sure carries no weight. Even the on campus arena does not sell out any longer. Is anyone really watching? And please with the sneakers on the coaches every game with open shirts and no ties. We need a strong St. Johns again!
Everyone has been emailing me about being so tough on FDU. Well, as I mentioned to FDU basketball Booster James Brown, CPA, the FDU program has talent but maybe they need to recruit character as well. Just saying..... FDU again has a losing record of 7 and 10 after losing last night to NJIT at home before a sitting in one section only crowd of 412 announced people which most likely was half that amount. I again question the athletic leadership of that school and wonder why they even have a D1 basketball program if they are not going to be supportive. Funny thing is the campus is wonderful and getting nicer each year. However, the Rothman Center is a sore thumb and looks like a gym in a small HS in Mississippi. I again ask does anyone really care? Unbelievable based on the potential of the program being 9 miles from NYC and about 20 from Newark NJ. But again they do have players but maybe not with the work ethic and character needed for FDU to be successful.
Speaking of NJIT I saw them on TV playing Utah Valley and I was very impressed. They played hard, had talent, and ran stuff. In fact i feel they will be a very good team in years to come once they get into a conference such as the NEC (Maybe they can take FDU's spot when they go D3), or the America East. Academically they are already a great school!
Monmouth built a great new 4000 plus facility, hired a North Carolina Alumni Coaching Staff, and continues to lose in front of record low crowds. They are currently 6 and 11! Why? I am yelling this as loud as I can, Monmouth is one of the great mid major jobs in America if they have the right people. Maybe the current coach will turn it around. Or maybe he will not. But with such an outstanding school, facilities, and potential fan base right near the shore, it is no excuse not to be able to get every great transfer, and freshmen recruits a shade under Big East caliber.
Fordham is currently playing in the tough A10 without the tools to be successful. As I mentioned to a Fordham Assistant a few weeks back, they will never be a major player in the A10 without a better place to play home games. I couldn't care less about the academic rep of the school, etc. Lots of great schools academically have state of the art facilities. To play in that place even with the upgrades will not attract the kids needed for Fordham to be what they need to be in the world of college basketball. They are not Duke! I repeat they are not Duke so that old place with limited bathrooms and concessions from behind a table etc. will just not work. It will take a certain type of kid and transfers to make Fordham good. Kids are not turning down Xavier, Dayton, St. Joe's and others for Fordham Road and the chance to play in front of 2700 in a 100 year old facility. I will say that Fordham is a great academic school and the graduates tend to be very successful but HS stars are not sophisticated enough to make that a recruiting factor.
Manhattan 5 and 11, Hofstra 5 and 11 and Rider 9 and 9. Manhattan has a lot of work to do and I am sure they will be more competitive in the near future. Hofstra just might be done and a new coaching staff might be in place for next season. Just a program in need of change. However, if change happens I hope they will think about Wayne Morgan being elevated to the Head position and I also hope if there is a change at FDU Steve DeMao is hired ASAP. He might be the only one locally with the know how and experience to turn FDU around. Rider is another place with a HS gym. Problem is they have a small HS gym from the 1950's Interesting place and the coach on hand needs to get a 5 year extension for being 9 and 9 at this time playing in such a dump.
Iona............They just keep rolling on! The current coach attended St. Johns University so all I will say is ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! This is a program that makes everything they do first class including the little 3200 seat on campus gym. The uniforms, atmosphere, and everything else says winner. Still have a concern about staffing but the AD Gene Marshall is outstanding and will make it all correct. FDU and SHU could have used this guy and I told folks this for years. By the way I saw AD Marshall's son play for Hackensack HS. Not a D1 player but sure will be super successful in life just by his work ethic and commitment. Might be Gov. of NJ one day!
Last but not least Columbia is 8 and 6 and no one has noticed. If you want a great atmosphere attend a Columbia game. I wonder if my man Ron Kapon still follows the team? I even like the uniforms they are wearing! Columbia is no longer the laughing stock of the Ivy League.
Lots going on HS wise in both NYC and NJ. The biggest surprise thus far is The Patrick School, formerly St. Patricks. They have a very good team and are far better than people thought they would be. St. Anthony's is who they are. Playing hard with discipline makes them a hard team to beat. Gil St. Bernard has totally under achieved. St. Joe's has some very good young players and will be very good next year. Hudson Catholic is a contender but to me not serious one. Teaneck is Teaneck with no height but a wonderful little guard in Shakir Lindsey and a pretty good sg/sf in the Hernandez kid who would be a good get for a school like Monmouth. Atlantic City remains perfect and i look forward to watching them on Saturday at St. Anthony's. Most likely St. Anthony.s will win by 15 or so. St. Benedict's has the best group of players on one NJ HS Team I have seen since the old Patterson Catholic Teams with Tim Thomas and company. They are also very well coached and Tyler Ennis is one of my favorite players and a true student athlete and gentlemen.
The huge game between St. Anthony's and St. Benedict's shoud be a good one but I see St. Benedict's winning by 12. What happened to HS basketball in Paterson NJ? Both Eastside and Kennedy are far less than competitive these days. Seton Hall Pep is now equivalent to Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco from Bergen County. Roselle Catholic has a very good team and Tyler Roberson is a Syracuse player if I ever saw one. However, they do seem to be slightly under achieving. Pope John XXXIII of Sparta has a tremendous player who mysteriously left Cardoza HS in Queens to enroll their last season. Question is will he ever play. Regardless this will be a great team and maybe most talented in NJ next season with an assortment of talented younger players with high D1 potential. What is it with the lack of classy warmups gear on elite HS teams this season? Teams are hitting the court like they are in the hackensack YMCA league. No warmup pants, mix matched warm-ups, etc. Horrible!
Was at the recent New Years Jump Off hosted by Jim Solman's Playaz organization. Great great event! Match-ups were not as they were supposed to be because Gil St. Bernard dropped out to preserve record. One thing still needed is at least a piece of paper with the players numbers etc. Oh how we all miss Bobby jacobs and The Slam Dunk to the Beach or was it Slam Dunk at The Beach? Say what you wish but NYC HS Basketball is nowhere as competitive or interesting as NJ HS Basketball. What happened?
More later in the week. Have a great day everyone!