Colloquialisms survive for a reason. We all are familiar with words or phrase that are not formal or literary, typically, colloquialisms are employed in ordinary informal conversation. In the era of the transfer portal, it’s easy to convey meaning through use of colloquialisms. For example, with 500 D1 players left in the portal last year and another 800 currently parked there, the meaning behind the phrase “a bird in the hand is better than 2 in a bush” is easily grasped.
Still… the lesson is lost on so many…
Another, basketball specific, colloquialism has never been more apropos.
All ballers and hoopheads have heard it countless times…
“Bring your game not your name.”
Whether it’s made explicit or left implied, the sentiment underpinning the phrase is ALWAYS in place in Philly. The Philly Live 2022 Basketball Event at at Jefferson University (formerly Philadelphia University) in East Falls is no exception.
Apparently, the Roselle Catholic basketball program did not receive the memo.
When we last saw the Lions, North Carolina pledge Simeon Wilcher ’23 led the way with a team-high 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a victory over mighty Camden High as Roselle Catholic (29-2) won the final installment of New Jersey’s Tournament of Champions. The victory represented Roselle’s fourth title in four attempts, capturing the state’s highest honor previously in 2013, 2015 and 2018.
Since then, the top team in New Jersey, has added 6-7 Duke commit, Mackenzie Mgbako ’23. He is currently ranked 3rd in the 2023 class by ESPN. Roselle Catholic is loaded. Top notch matchups including Roselle are usually must see TV. Hence, a sizable contingent of coaches and hoopheads trekked to the Jefferson University campus in East Falls to witness Roselle Catholic take on Philly powers Roman Catholic and Imhotep.
Unfortunately, the Lions came down the Jersey turnpike and across the Ben Franklin Bridge shorthanded. The trip would not end well…
They came to Philly Live, to square up with the Cahillites and the Panthers without the 3rd and 10th ranked players in the nation.
Roselle Catholic brought their name and not their game.
They took two L’s as result.
The first game, however, was hard fought and competitive. Indeed, Roselle led for much of the contest. But in the end, they just couldn’t do anything to slow down Xzayvier Brown ’23. With Wilcher absent, The Lions had no one capable of matching Brown’s basketball I.Q. They were unable to control him in any way, shape or form. He did whatever he wanted and went where he wanted to go. As he has for 3 years, Brown demonstrated that he is a natural born leader and excels under pressure. Throughout the game, Brown took and made big shots. He’s used to the big stage, he’s been holding down the point guard spot for the Cahillites from the very first time walked through the door at Broad & Vine. He knows how to control the tempo of the game and displays some sneaky athleticism and good length that helps him blow by opponents and make athletic finishes. Brown is a very solid mid to high major point guard prospect.
I wish the future Tar Heel, Wilcher was there to offer some resistance… Without Wilcher, Roselle had no answer for Brown as he led Roman to a come from behind victory with scores of college coaches watching every play.
Nonetheless, Roselle Catholic nearly held off the Cahillites in an exciting evenly matched game. However, In their next game, the Lions paid an extremely high price and heavy tax for showing up shorthanded.
Nearly everyone in the building was focused on this matchup. I settled along the baseline, under the Roselle Catholic basket, next to my man Rudy Davis.
If this game were played in Boston, say, around 1966, Imhotep’s Coach for this game Kevin Stewart would have lit a nice big victory stogie when the ref tossed the ball in the air for the jump ball. That’s because, beginning to end, this was an ol’ fashioned extension cord whoopin’… welts and all…
Imhotep jumped out to a 12-3 lead… For Roselle, things went downhill from there.
Plainly stated, Imhotep beat the shit down the legs of the Roselle Catholic. If it were wrestling, both shoulders were pinned early and the ref could’ve counted, rather slowly, to 30.
When the score reached 12-3, I said to Rudy, “They are not going to score 25 points.”
At the other end, elated Imhotep players dunked and dunked and dunked. Justin Edwards, the magnificent senior leader of this incredibly talented Panther squad, exhibited the combination of skills, toughness and athleticism that will, surely, land him in the 2023 McDonald’s All-American game. When he was not scoring with absolute impunity, he was aggressively battering Lion field goal attempts off the backboard or walls.
If it were a boxing match, the score would be 120-108 on all cards.
As the game approached HALFTIME, the “mercy rule” was in effect. The lead was north of 30 and the clock never stopped running again.
If it were a football game, Imhotep would have been taking a knee for all four downs late in the first half.
Before the halftime buzzer sounded, former St. Joe’s point guard, Tasheed Carr ambled over to baseline where I was seated. Disappointed and frustrated, Sheed expressed his feelings about Roselle Catholic being there in name only.
That’s a problem in Philly… Especially, against Edwards, Nowell and the rest of the Panthers.
Sheed shouted, “What is this? Where is Wilcher and Mackenzie?”
“Who are these guys?”
“Get these guys outta here…”
Eliciting laughter from the locals, Sheed’s comments stung the small, but previously vocal, Roselle contingent seated to my right. I’m pretty sure that was the intention. It also had to sting the Roselle players on the floor as well. They were well within hearing distance.
Truth be told though, Sheed had a point… As Omar Little would say, “When you come at the King, you best not miss.”
Roselle didn’t even bring a full clip… They’re gonna have to run that back with Wilcher and Mgbako on the floor. It’s a must at this point… They HAVE to run that back… somewhere, somehow…
From the outset, players wearing Roselle Catholic uniforms were brought under immediate domination and control in all aspects of basketball by the Imhotep defense.
I think it was 45-12 when I left at the half… I asked Rudy to text me the final score. Before I arrived home, he hit me…
They HAVE to run that back… I wanna see Imhotep play a fully represented Roselle and Camden. I’m tryin’ to see sumthin…