Monday, December 29, 2014

A very interesting weekend in local HS and College Hoops around NJ

HS Basketball

We had an opportunity to attend the Playaz Basketball Club Jingle Bells Jubilee at Paterson Charter HS on Saturday Evening.  Paterson Charter is the old Paterson Catholic HS and the games on Saturday were just as exciting as they were when Tim Thomas and Donald Hand led the Cougars into battle many years ago. In fact some of the same fans were in attendance for the games which really were so great we are going back today for the championship. Well, we really need to see a certain player play again because I want to make sure he is what I think he is, The Best Big Player in NY, NJ, or Pennsylvania and he does not attend a private or Catholic HS. More on him later!  

First game I saw was Life Center which is not a NJHSAA sanctioned program against Hudson Catholic HS . Interesting to see Pervis Ellison coaching Life Center.  You folks remember him. The ex NCAA National Championship MVP at Louisville! Or was he the National College Player of the Year? Well, he was very good and had a decent NBA run as well.  Hudson Catholic was coached by Nick Mariniello who has turned into an exceptional coach after many years learning on the job at various schools.  Guy gets his players to compete, runs great offenses, and defenses, wins, and gets kids into college all while looking like a movie star on the sidelines.

Well the game went back and forth with at least 7 or more D1 caliber players on the court. Hudson Catholic won the game despite Life Center having a roster full of D 1 players including Never Nervous Pervis, as they called him years ago, Son Malik Ellison, a 6 ft 6 Sr. guard who could give Isaiah Briscoe a run on the court based on size and ability. This young man has all the tools which is why many super high majors are recruiting him as they did his sister who also plays the game.  SHU, RU, and others need to be all over this young man. Life center has at least 4 other potential big-time recruits as well including a point guard, Traci Carter,  being wooed by the local high major teams after de-committing from The University of Delaware, where he is actually from.  Back to Malik Ellison!  I am really not convinced he is not the best point guard in the state of NJ,  though he currently plays out of position.  Cannot wait till tonight when he plays the consolation game against Teaneck and their great sophomore guard Leandre Washington who also is projected as a high major recruit.

Hudson Catholic also has some terrific players including 6 ft 8 Sammy Friday who could be a mid major or a high major depending on how hard he competes. When he gets after it he looks terrific and when he watches he looks like a good MAAC player at best.  Which Sammy will show tonight against a player with great potential but lacking consistency.   Yes,  I an talking about Shakur Juiston a 6 ft 7 Guard Forward with nice skills and ability.  This kid was nothing short of terrific and if he has grades and could be more consistent he could  go anywhere in America based on what he did on Saturday evening. He was so good I HAVE TO GO BACK TONIGHT to see if he really is as good as he looked or was his performance a one time thing.   I walked out of the gym super impressed at this Paterson Eastside Senior who dunked off the rebound, dunked in traffic, hit the open J, passed very well, understood the game, blocked shots, and sold food at the concession stand at halftime. Tonight will definitely tell the entire story! was his performance something that can be repeated? 

Shout out to Teaneck HS who did a great job despite being so young. I am telling anyone who listens that Teaneck HS will be a state and regional power next season and that does not mean they will not be very good the remainder of this season.  But with super talented guards like sophomore sensation Leondre Washington and Freshmen sensation Ja'Quaye James,   Teaneck has a very bright future and seem very well coached by veteran coach Jerome Smart.  One note is the freshmen needs to stop whining and complaining to the Refs during games!  Calls will not be changed!

Lastly on the organizer Jim Solmon,  and the entire hosting organization. It’s a pleasure supporting a program that does so much for so many people without a lot of corporate sponsors.  This program has sent hundreds of kids to college as well as acted as a conduit for higher education via tournaments and events for many years. A huge thank you also for keeping the price of admission so reasonable at a time others are charging $13 or more for games that are far from competitive. I saw great games on Saturday and was able to stop and eat on the way home.  And thanks for having actual FREE PROGRAMS though we need magnifying glasses to read them (smile).  

College Basketball

Seton Hall won easily over Maine in the type of game that would have been much more of a struggle for past Seton Hall Teams.  Now those with amnesia need to refer back to losses to FDU and similar schools, schools they should never ever lose to never mind winning by a few points.  The win over Maine is supposed to be what happens when a Big East team goes against a team from a lower conference on the East Coast.  In fact it should happen against most lower level conference teams that do not have Wichita State or Gonzaga on the front of the uniforms.  SHU is showing better consistency than they have shown in many years.  The real tests will be St. Johns and Villanova, and not just based on the final outcome, but by the teams approach to the game and level of competitiveness. 

St. Johns destroyed Tulane University just as they should based on all the great talent they did flips and tricks to get on campus.  The days of the local products dominating the roster is officially over with so many kids signing on from places a plane ride away. They really have become a national team by the way they recruit. I know they have worn sneakers for a great cause in the past, but now it seems they also need to wear sneakers for all the running across the country they do to convince players as only they can do to attend SJU.  Right now looking at their schedule it seems they are undefeated.  But the same source, Rivals, had Seton Hall undefeated last week and they had a few losses.  Again the SHU game will be a wonderful test for both teams!

Rutgers wins by a single point at Monmouth! I am telling anyone willing to listen that Monmouth is a true sleeping giant in college basketball on the East Coast.  No way should a Big 10 school win by 1 at Monmouth. Those are the easy games before they play Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, and others who are a hard out every singe night. Those programs put so much money in the basketball programs with private jets, private charters, wonderful facilities, and in many case unlimited recruitment budgets.  Eddie Jordan will only be super successful if he gets the resources. He has a good staff in place including a barracuda recruiter who will get them in doors not only in the USA but also in Europe as well.  I still believe RU will be a wonderful program after recovering from years of program abuse from the inside via a meddling AD and coaches not prepared to handle the stress of big-time basketball at the time.  

FDU info is up!!! They are 4 and 6 after losing the big game to St. Peters on December 23.   I did not see that great CPA James Brown at the Teaneck HS Basketball Game Saturday night to get the full story (smile).  Next 3 games on the road before facing powerful St. Francis of Brooklyn coached by one of the true great people in the game despite being the hardest job, yes even harder that FDU, in the country based on location, campus, and facilities. That’s a home game so I might sneak and purchase a ticket for this one to see just how far they have come as a program.

Back to Monmouth and what a great job that could be!  I really hope the guys there get it together in the near future but that building needs to be ¾ filled every games with winning basketball.  Ditto The University of Delaware, which has a class act coach in Monte Ross but the folks there are still waiting for the next Mike Brey.  Honestly I would bet sometimes Mike Brey wishes he was still there as opposed to the pressure of winning at ND.  But to me these are the two best mid major jobs on the East Coast based on facilities and more!

A bit of a struggle thus far for a great guy in John Dunn over at St. Peters University. But if they know what I know they will get him to sign an extension because he does it with smoking mirrors on a campus two or three blocks long with a big HS gym. In fact maybe  FDU needs to get their coach signed for a few extra years because it sure is not a reflection on him when he has little to work with budget or support wise.  I still wonder if the FDU President knows they have a D1 basketball team? 

Fordham with a super classy staff  really needs more time than 2 more years.  Tom Picora (sp) is one of the best people you will ever meet coaching  college basketball  At a school that frowns on junior college transfers and requires far above average grades to be admitted, they do a great job and worthy of a new 5 year contract from the new AD who hopefully understands the challenges. John Wooden would have had a difficult time. Ditto all the current super star college coaches earning a million dollars plus a year.

Manhattan according to many is the best 4 and 7 team in America. They play extremely hard and do it for 40 minutes a game with no time off to relax.  This is the team people hate to play because they will compete every day and every minute.  No doubt the respect the coach has despite the negative and unnecessary PR from thus past summer.  Manhattan along with Iona remains sexy places to attend if you love playing or watching great basketball. 

Rider 6 and 6 with mirrors lol. Horrible non D1 facilities but very good coaching and hard working student athletes make things work out.  And remember they had a 1st round draft choice to the NBA a few years back meaning he learned to play better after signing with Rider. By the way what happened to the new facility?

LIU is 4 and 7 and that’s about right considering the honeymoon is over and they cannot sneak up on anyone else. I still say the new gym should be called Ray Haskins Field house or Arena based on him taking the Blackbirds to the NCAA and NIT two consecutive years in a row before he was let go in a true unfair way by people who schemed on him. Place was rocking with fans with applications for admission at an all-time high during his time there coaching.

This brings me to the unfair treatment of many coaches. Now we all know there is a lot of cheating going on across the board with players getting paid through an outside source with the coach acting as if he has no idea.  We all know about the transcript stuff at many places. We all know about the Mickey Mouse courses many kids take often completing 4 or 5 years with 25 true credits only to return to the streets or neighborhoods they left as stars without a degree. We all know about the illegal payments by boosters while kids are on campus. So much going on yet if the program is winning no one cares.  So with that said I still look at guys like Gary Waters at Rutgers, Louis Orr at SHU, Ray Haskins at LIU, and current guys like Tom Picora at Fordham, Eddie Jordan at RU, and yes even Kevin Willard at SHU. Oh these guys could have or could do some minor things but not on the scale as others. Yet they are expected to win right away. And in the cases of the first 3 mentioned it has taken years to recover from them departing.  I say all this to say people need to be patient with coaches and not expect an NCAA championship this year. Not at SJU, not at Seton Hall, and yes not at FDU.  Look for improvements and hold the marketing people accountable for butts in the seats just as you hold coaches accountable for wins and losses.  More on this next time!

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