The Cahillites Capture South Jersey!

The sun still hasn’t set on the Roman Empire…

The Cahillites traveled about 20 minutes from Center City Philadelphia to meet the upstart Camden Panthers in a contest played in the supposedly neutral Cherry Hill East Gymnasium. Camden came into the game with a HEAVY reputation. Their main piece is, Lance Ware, a versatile 6’9” senior power forward headed to play for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. Alongside Ware is the incredibly strong and determined, TaQuan Woodley, a junior 6’8” 230 lb power forward that relentlessly rebounds and protects the rim. Woodley is a high major prospect with South Carolina, Temple, Saint Joseph’s and Penn State in hot pursuit. On the wing, the Panthers feature Jerome Brewer an athletic 6’7” wing with a sweet shooting stroke from 3 point range.

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DJ Wagner, Camden’s Freshman Guard

In the backcourt, DJ Wagner has arrived. Heir to the throne of Camden basketball, Wagner is the son of DuJaun Wagner and Grandson of Milt Wagner. He has already been anointed the messiah for the proud Camden High basketball program. Rounding out the rotation are 4 or 5 highly talented freshmen that display skill and athleticism that will one day result in college basketball scholarships at some level.

This group of uber-talented scholastic players is led by a former McDonald’s All-American and 9 year NBA Veteran point guard. Rick Brunson is a disciple of Temple’s legendary John Chaney and this matchup with mighty Roman Catholic was his first BIG game at the helm of the Camden High basketball program.

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Rick Brunson, Camden Head Coach

In preparation for this matchup, the Panthers have been plundering and pillaging small communities in New Jersey. They had piled up 4 victories with final margins ranging from 20 to 37.

But this would be different… This was HIGH MAJOR HS basketball... Coaches from Auburn, Temple, Penn State and several other high major programs were present. Saint Joseph’s brought their entire staff out to see the match up. Several former NBA players were present. Well over 2,000 spectators crammed into the hot gym designed to hold about 1,500. There were fans in every nook and cranny of the space not used for the actual contest itself. Jeremy Treatman, once again, put together a Play-by-Play Classics event that hoop heads could not resist.

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Pat Chambers, Penn State Head Coach & Hansel Canon, Black Cager Sports

Roman Catholic, on the other hand, is trying to find an identity. The Cahillites suffered massive losses of key warriors… Seth Lundy and Hakim Hart have moved on the the Big 10 playing for nationally ranked Penn State and Maryland, respectively. Louis Wild a key member of Roman’s last two Catholic League Championship squads is prepping at Olympus.

Throughout the summer and fall, the Cahillites have struggled to find a new way to win big games. The road has been filled with potholes. They have looked really bad in several performances against elite competition.

Not the last two games…

Facing the very best the Public League and South Jersey has to offer, Roman Catholic has found a new path to victory… They have convincingly vanquished two of the strongest teams (Imhotep Charter and Camden High) in the region.

How are they getting it done?

Of course, there’s the fact that they have the most athletic, most explosive, most powerful big man in the nation. Jalen Duren’s game really defies adequate description. Some shit you just have to see first hand to grasp. But… I will try…

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Jalen Duren

He dunks ON you! He dunks OVER you! He dunks THROUGH you! He dunks AROUND you!

On this night he had no fewer than 9 or 10 dunks… while these plays only resulted in 2 points each on the scoreboard, everyone in the gym will attest to the fact that they were worth at least 4 points each!

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Jalen Duren

His dunks are like the body shot that Bernard Hopkins landed to end his fight with Oscar De La Hoya. The contest literally STOPS for a standing 8 count after each dunk. These are not regular high school dunks… These are FUCK YOU… FUCK your family dunks…. These are FUCK YOU give me your lunch dunks…

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Rysheed Jordan, PUB Legend and Stan Laws, Head Coach of Camden Monarchs

Yeah… Yeah… His offensive repertoire is limited… He continues to take ill-advised jump shots… He really hasn’t developed a picture perfect turnaround jumper like former Cahillite Marc Jackson… He doesn’t have a feathery touch like Roman legend Eddie Griffin… So what?

That’s like complaining that a prime Mike Tyson lacked Ali’s lateral movement… Right now, he don’t need none of that shit. Why? Because…

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Jalen Duren

He dunks ON you! He dunks OVER you! He dunks THROUGH you! He dunks AROUND you!

But… we all knew that… and on many nights, we all know that will be enough for the Cahillites to eek out victories… But what about when they face the big boys? Will the other guys show up?

Well… For the second BIG GAME in a row Lynn Greer, III has displayed the leadership, poise, judgement and selflessness that one would expect from a HIGH MAJOR point guard prospect. His handle is beyond tight… LG3 has the ball on a string… He puts in front of defenders and yanks it back with precision… He’s able to go wherever he wants with the ball… He is big enough and strong enough to challenge BIGS at the rim… He finishes through contact… Most importantly, he has become very, very good at choosing the right time to impose himself of the game.

While Jalen Duren is an NBA athlete playing high school basketball, there is no doubt that this is Lynn Greer’s team. He has become an exceptional leader… Greer’s play is allowing the incredibly gifted Justice Williams to show his ASS this year. Lynn sets up the offense and gets guys in position. He gives it to Williams on the wing and Williams is doing things that other 10th graders simply cannot do. He was deep in his bag tonight. His in and out moves… His crossovers… His hesitations were simply majestic.

Camden was right there… They played solid defense, and on many occasions Justice’s offense was just better… If you want to know what a HIGH MAJOR wing looks like, watch the soon to be released Raw Sports video of this contest and focus on Justice Williams offensive performance tonight.

But… as noted in Isaiah 11:6 “a little child shall lead them.”

When Woodley was able to wrestle, bump and push Duren away from the rim… When Brewer’s and Ware’s length was giving Greer problems… When the Roman offense was stalling… It was the pubescent Xzayvier Brown that made big shot after big shot. Brown is very slight in stature… One can easily envision him sitting at middle school lunch table just a few short months ago… Then… The game begins and he is ALWAYS among the calmest, coolest and most collected players on the court. This kid has BIG BALLS!

Brown never gets sped up… He has a profound understanding of floor spacing… He makes himself available to Greer and Williams for skip passes… He gives them a clear target… And, when the pass is made, he is ready to squeeze! A freshman… A FUCKIN freshman is already one of the most reliable knock-down jump shooters in the Greater Philadelphia region. If his feet are set and he catches and shoots in rhythm… Count that shit! Put three on the board for Roman.

Brown is going to be a problem for four years down at Broad and Vine.

Another key piece for Roman is Nasir Lett. Like Brown, Lett understands floor spacing and he understands his role. If he is open, “Lett it fly!” Rarely does Lett catch rim… far more often than not… splash!

Impressive… Very impressive… It took a while for these guys to identify and GROW into their respective roles. One has to credit Head Coach Matt Griffin for switching defenses at key moments and constantly instilling a high level of confidence in this version of the Cahillites.

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Justice Williams, Roman Catholic, defends an inbounds pass

Yes… They have the BEST big man in the land… But they are much more than that… Greer has evolved into a maestro on the court. His tendency to play solos at inopportune moments is gone. He has clearly grasped the fact that he as to CONDUCT the orchestra. He’s allowing his young virtuosos to shine at precisely the right moments. Greer is a leader…

After finishing a tough layup, Brown took an ugly and violent spill. He thought he was hurt… I thought he was hurt… Everyone in the gym thought he was hurt… Greer knew he wasn’t injured! He made sure that Brown knew he wasn’t injured. After sitting one series, Brown immediately returned to the lineup and the Cahillites finished off the Panthers in front of about 2,000 despondent Camden fans.

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This is Lynn Greer’s team… They will go as far as he takes them… The car fully loaded with all the options… The tank is full of 93 octane and the GPS is set for the Palestra…

Can they be stopped?

The Roman Empire is seeking to capture their 5th Catholic League title in 6 years and 33rd overall… The Cahillites ended Neumann-Goretti’s string of six straight in 2015. Their recent run was interrupted by only Sir Colin Gillespie of Warminster’s incredible romp through the Catholic League in 2017. Other than that… It’s been all Roman for 5 years…

Well… I gotta go for now gotta get to work…  I owe Boo Farmer another Chicken Cheesesteak from Iskabibble’s!

I love this shit…

Doughty is CLEARLY the Best? That’s a Big Fuckin’ Thumb on the Scale!

Inevitably, in any conversation worth having about basketball you end up making comparisons. What I find extremely interesting is size and weight of the “thumb” that is invariably put on the scale. It’s one of those things that’s always there but it rarely made explicit.

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In a recent social media “debate” with my good friend Charles Jones from Born Leader Family, he asserts that Samir Doughty (Auburn/R-Senior) is “easily best college guard [from] our area offensively & defensively.”

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Samir Doughty, Auburn/R-Senior

That’s a STRONG fuckin’ statement… Indeed, Jones refuses to consider alternative assessments. While I love the energy and analytical rigor he brings to the discussion, I am not ready to concede that his conclusion is accurate.

Jones did make me realize this topic warrants a more serious evaluation. We need to make some things VERY EXPLICIT so we won’t continue the long-standing Philadelphia tradition of talking right past one another.

Toward that end, I want to perform a comparative analysis of some current Philly guards playing NCAA Division 1 basketball. The Below chart is a listing some Philly guards and their “per game” statistics in Division 1 competition.

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We chose per game averages instead of career totals for a reason. While interesting and in some ways informative, total stats are really not useful in the present comparative analysis because of the extreme variation in the number of games played. Some have only played as few as 41 and 51 games while others have played in as many as 102 and 107. This wide variation renders a comparison of totals almost meaningless. The per game averages, however, shed some useful light.

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Ryan Daly, St. Joseph’s/R-Junior

An objective comparison of the actual NCAA Division 1 game performance is fairly straightforward. More points, rebounds, assists and steals per game is better than fewer. As far as scoring is concerned, Sam Sessoms is the most prolific scorer over the course of his career which is also the shortest at 43 games.

But… We all know the game is much more than simply scoring points. Other important factors have to be taken into consideration. Keep in mind the objective here is not to identify the “perfect” way of framing the argument and measuring performance. Rather. the goal is to identify “better” ways of framing the argument. We are trying to lay the foundation for future debates and discussions. Most importantly, we want to help the hundreds of new consumers of Black Cager content understand what is often left unsaid.

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Sam Sessoms, Binghamton/Sophomore

We take it seriously and do it a little differently at Black Cager Sports Media.

My man Jones leaves very little unsaid… It was a heated dialogue with him that prompted this essay.  He rather forcefully put forth the following assertion, “In meaningless basketball (knowing you gonna lose going into games makes it a lot easier to play. No real pressure). As a ranked team coming off a final 4 you getting teams best punch. Big differentiating factor when u expected to win at the highest level and your expected to lose at a Lower level.”

Fair points… Jones has pushed the argument forward on an analytical level. You cannot just look at D1 stats and compare across the board.

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Stevie Jordan, Rider/Senior

At it’s core, his essential point is that when comparing player performance across conferences to determine which is “better” you have to put the “thumb” on the scale…

SEC points > American East points
SEC rebounds > American East rebounds
SEC assists > American East assists
SEC steals > American East steals

Again, fair points…

After establishing this point, Jones can argue that Doughty with NCAA Division 1 performance stats significantly lower than those of Samuel Sessoms, Ryan Daly, Stevie Jordan (Rider) and several other Philly guards is the “BEST” player. In a very straightforward manner, Jones is arguing that 18.4 ppg in the America East is not equal to nor is it a reasonable predictor for scoring in the Big East, ACC, Big 12, PAC 12, Big 10 or SEC.

Basically… He making it very clear that it’s levels to this shit!

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Josh Sharkey, Samford/Senior

And… If you don’t put your “thumb” on the scale for the Big East/ACC/Big 12/PAC 12, Big 10/SEC player… The comparison is unfair to the high major players and more or less useless.

Jones is right..

With aforementioned data one can compare and contrast any two guards. If we limit ourselves to a “simple” compare-and-contrast analysis, in which the data is weighed equally, we make a HUGE assumption that needs to be made explicit.

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Tommy Funk, Army/Senior

We assume that all D1 games are equal. That is simply not the case. In this regard, I agree with Jones.

However, the far more interesting and difficult question becomes: Exactly, how heavy should the thumb be?

Let’s walk through two examples. For illustrative purposes, we can conceptualize and measure “impact” per game by simply add the average number of points, rebound, assists and steals per game. This will result is a score for each player we call the Division 1 game “impact” number.

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The results are different than our earlier comparison of scoring averages alone. If one compares the resulting impact numbers, Ryan Daley overtakes Sam Sessoms as the leader and Josh Sharkey (Samford) overtakes Tommy Funk (Army). Taking overall performance into account, Daly’s ability to rebound at a significantly higher rate than the others explains his jump in the rankings. Same thing with Sharkey’s ability to steal the ball. Stevie Jordan’s strong overall performance across categories throughout his career at Rider keeps him near the top of the list.

With this data one can compare and contrast any two guards in terms of their performance in NCAA Division 1 games. However, as noted earlier,  if we limit ourselves to such a “simple” compare-and-contrast analysis, in which you weigh the data equally, we make a HUGE assumption that needs to be made explicit.

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Quade Green, Washington/Junior

We assume that all D1 games are equal. I agree with Jones, that is simply not the case.As a result, the rankings of Doughty, Quade Green (Kentucky/Washington) and Collin Gillespie (Villanova) suffer.

This brings us back to the question at hand: Exactly, how heavy should the thumb be?

Here we make explicit exactly how much the “thumb” weighs in two different examples. Varying weights assigned to the “thumb” result in significant variations in the rankings. In the first example, we use following multipliers to account for the effect of playing in more competitive leagues/conferences:

We multiply the Impact score times 1 for Low Division 1 leagues.
We multiply the impact score times 1.25 for Mid-major Division 1 leagues.
We multiple the impact score times 1.50 for High-Major Division 1 leagues.

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Fresh Kimble, Louisville/Graduate Student

In this way we recognize that it is tougher to be a productive player in the A10 Conference than in the America East Conference. This way of accounting for “League Competitiveness” also recognizes that the SEC Conference is tougher than the A10.

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When the strength of the conferences is taken into account in this assessment, Doughty makes the biggest jump in the rankings. He goes from 8th to 3rd. Fatts Russell (Rhode Island) moves from 6th to 4th.

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Fatts Russell, Rhode Island/Junior

But, this still would be insufficient for some observers. Consider this argument Jones unflinchingly adheres to, “no matter what context you put it in [Doughty] is a better player as a role player and as a primary. More efficient, better defender, better athlete, and is a center piece of winning. I been said the context matters. Meaningful basketball is different. You put it into stats I told u… That [Doughty] is better. You talked about situations and I still told u why. And if you was starting a team and u took any of them players before him you’d prolly [sic] get fired.”

But how does one convincingly substantiate the position that Doughty “no matter what context you put it in [Doughty] is a better player”? You simply cannot discard performance in games.

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Dave Beatty, La Salle Junior

You have to assume that Doughty has a harder row to hoe…

Statistically, what you have to do is assigned double the weight to every high major point, rebound, assist and steal while holding low to mid-major stats steady. If your rubric assumes that “high major” leagues are twice as difficult as low and mid major leagues, Doughty becomes the clear cut “best” player. See the chart below with such revised Weighted Impact scores.

High major conference impact #s have multiplier of 2. All others have a multiplier of 1. Even when such disparate weight is applied, Daly remains second in the ranking. Passed only by Doughty. Quade Green and Collin Gillespie also surpass all of the low to mid major players on the list.

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I’ll be the first to admit that the Big East, ACC, Big 12, Big 10, PAC 12 and SEC conferences are tougher that the low to mid-major conferences. But I’m not willing to assign a weight to the high majors that is twice that assigned to the A10, Mountain West and American.

Jones is right… “It’s levels to this shit!”

However, the differences between the levels are not as large he would have us believe… Doughty may very well be the best Philly Guard in college basketball, but the discussion is definitely unsettled and ongoing.

Black Cager Sports Media thanks him for introducing some much needed nuance and subtlety into discussion usually driven by personal bias and animosity.

We will revisit this topic every few weeks or so.

 

Open Gym: Archbishop Wood

Catholic League Champions ✓

State Champions ✓

Top 25 Nationally ✓

Archbishop Wood, under Head Coach, John Mosco had one of the great seasons in recent memory.  The 2016-17 season was the greatest in the history of the Wood program. That team featured 5 or 6 Division 1 basketball players.

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Wood Assistant Chris Roantree addresses the team at the end of workout

What’s up with this years version? While they return 4 bona fide D1 prospects in the senior class, there are some questions… They lost the “maestro”… As good as the other Wood players are, everyone that watched them realized that Collin Gillespie made each and every one of them better. Alas, he has moved on to bigger and better things… his “big games” are no longer in the Palestra… He now plays in the Wells Fargo Center and Madison Square Garden.

His probable replacement is a prodigy… Rahsool Diggins has a game well beyond his years. He has a tight and smooth handle. He is equally adept pushing the rock with either hand. His court vision is excellent. His willingness to attack belies his youthful appearance. In an era where 16 year old bearded freshman are commonplace, Diggins looks like a fresh-faced middle schooler. His much older teammates have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. It is readily apparent that they respect his game.

Still…

One wonders: How will he hold up against Kyle Thompson and Darius Kinnel (St. Joseph’s Prep)? Will Chris Ings and Noah Warren (Neumann-Goretti) be able to get in his head? Will Allen Betrand, Lynn Greer and Hakim Hart (Roman Catholic) be able to push him around? Will scoring guards like Patrick Robinson (Conwell-Egan) and Isaiah Wong (Bonner) force him in to mismatches? Will Antwuan “Booty” Butler be able to “youngbul” him?

The answers to these questions will very likely determine the fate of this years Wood team. Mosco and his assistants may have to take a page out of the hockey playbook. Prodigies like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby needed space to operate. The “tough guys” on the team made sure they were accorded the necessary space.

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Tyree Pickron (Quinnipiac Commit) & Andrew Funk (Bucknell Commit)

Junior forward Julius Phillips, along with senior guards Tyree Pickron (Quinnipiac commit) and Andrew Funk (Bucknell commit) are very tough and gritty basketball players. If they can combine with 6’11” senior center Seth Pinckney and 6’7″ senior power forward Karrington Wallace to give young Diggins some space on offense and support him on defense, Wood can reclaim their place at the top of the Catholic League.

It’s gonna take a team effort to replace the maestro… Diggins exhibits all requisite skills but he is just a kid and he has played ZERO (0) varsity Catholic League games. Watching him today, I realized he will be problem as sophomore, junior and senior. The boy is nice!

If the seniors take a page out of the hockey playbook and make sure the kid has the space and support he needs as he adjusts to one of the toughest high school leagues in the country, Wood will be right back at the Palestra in front of a standing room only crowd of 9,000+ this winter.

Yo Johnny Mos… The Flyers phone number is  215-218-7825!

 

 

Tribulations of a Basketball Junkie: Martin L. King Let Me Down!

I confess… I am an addict… I am a degenerate basketball junkie…

I drive all over the Greater Philadelphia Region and beyond in search of my fix…

I NEED to see good competitive, well played basketball games! My addiction is full blown!

In just the past couple of weeks, I’ve been to Baltimore, Bensalem, Bryn Mawr, Malvern, Souderton, 54th and City Ave., 33rd and Walnut and tonight Solly Ave in Northeast Philadelphia chasing… I’ve seen Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, JUCO and high school contests.

All in search of a really good fuckin’ basketball game. Sometimes I come across that good, good…

For example, last Thursday, I watched Martin L. King take mighty Imhotep, ranked 6th in the nation, to the brink of defeat. It was really, really UGLY, but it was GOOD… In a hard fought defeat, King controlled the game throughout much of the first three quarters before falling 53-49 in overtime. Photo below (PennLive/Daniel Gallen)

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That game was full of missed shots, fouls, turnovers… It more closely resembled a bare-knuckle backyard brawl than a basketball game. Shit… I kept waiting to see Kimbo Slice emerge from the King huddle and check in the game. Even though he never appeared, I got my fix… I did witness Wil McNair, standing 6’10” and weighing about 250 lbs team with 6’6” 225 lb Elijah Kiah-El to meet Imhotep’s extraordinary athletes at the rim time after time. Repeatedly, Donta Scott, Dave Beatty and Koby Thomas tried to go over and through the King bigs. Over and over, they were turned away, shots rejected. Repeatedly, they regrouped, reloaded and came back to challenge the big boys somewhere near or over the rim.

This was “good basketball”… Not pretty, not elegant, not fluid… But good…

In the end, Imhotep’s lightning quick superstar Daron “Fatts” Russell was able to impose himself on the less experienced King guards and will Imhotep to the Public League title. Fatts is dat dude! The Pub’s best player on the best team got it done. Nonetheless, I was impressed with King’s performance and their effort.

For a few days, at least, my urges were satiated…

However, the monkey soon reappeared on my back… I was unable to resist the pull of the Palestra, the Catholic League Championship was calling me…

“Gonna be some GOOD basketball” (photo by Zamani Feelings)

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The matchup featured the Philly player having the greatest high school career, Quade Green, going against the player having the greatest high school season, Collin Gillespie. Had to be there..

We all know how that ended… Green and Neumann-Goretti jumped out early and took control of the game. He was able to impose his will and Wood was down 13 at the half, with Gilllespie limited to a mere 2 points… Things looked bleak…

Truth be told… an informal survey among several media members (Randy Miller, Amauro Austin and myself) at halftime gave Wood less than a snowball’s chance in hell to comeback and win… But…

Collin Gillespie is a BAD MUTHAFUCKA!

He finished with 24 points and Wood wins going away.

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This set up what seemed to be an intriguing matchup tonight. Big, bruising, intimidating, aggressive Martin L. King versus the Wood basketball orchestra conducted by Maestro Gillespie.

Now… we all know junkies don’t think straight… Why should I be any different?

Listen to this dumb shit…

I told several of my friends, I think Martin L. King might be able to win. After playing to a full house of 9,000+ in the majestic Palestra, the tiny gym on Solly Ave. couldn’t be an exciting venue. After defeating Neuman-Goretti, Quade Green and Carl Arrigale for the second time this season, Wood had to ripe for a let down. Right? McNair and Kiah-El would be problematic for the competitive, determined and rail thin Seth Pickney. Right?

I envisioned a scenario where the bigger, stronger King players would impose themselves on Wood and cause the symphony to miss a few notes for a change. No way Wood would be able just pick apart Sean Colson’s staunch defense. After all, King just hit mighty Imhotep with body blows, upper cuts and right crosses for four full quarters before finally yielding in overtime.

King’s toughness would be problematic for Wood’s precision… Right?

Fuuuuuuuuuuck no!

How bad was the beat down? Let me try to explain… Let’s put it in a comparative context…

Those of you of a certain age might remember the “body bag game” between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins 27 years ago. The score that Monday Night was 28-14. A defeat for sure, but nothing epic is reflected in that score. To get a true sense of the magnitude of that particular beat down, one has examine the injury report.

Buddy Ryan’s defense knocked NINE (9) Redskins out of the game with injuries… Nine players left the game and did not return… Simply stated, it was a complete ASS Whuppin…

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I really hadn’t thought about that game until riding home from the Wood-MLK game trying to think of an adequate comparison for what I just watched. How do I convey the extent to which the Catholic League champ crushed the soul of one of the Public League powers?

There I sat, in the balcony with bleachers at full capacity… Good thing the Fire Marshall’s kid wasn’t playing… eagerly anticipating a “good game”…

I was ready…

I needed my fix… I needed a good, competitive and hard-fought basketball game…

Man… Let me tell you… King let me down… Right out the gate…

After 3 minutes of play, the score was Wood 16 – Martin L. King 2.

From there, shit went downhill.

The maestro was in his bag…. Weaving in an out of the King defense, Gillespie dribbled effortlessly right around the King bigs until he located one of his snipers standing, feet set, elbows cocked and ready to rain 3’s.

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The net was barely moving. One after the other, Cerruti, Pickron and Funk hit the back of rim and the ball fell straight down. You could see it developing, Gillespie created space… off a screen, crossover or an in and out dribble absconded his defender… on the loose, he came straight at the King bigs, head up, surveying the entire court… As soon as defenders committed he made a no look and extremely accurate skip pass to Cerruti, Pickron or Funk… for 3…. Splash!

After 4 minutes of play, Wood 21, MLK 6…

It’s worth noting, the Wood wings weren’t the only ones having fun… Seth Pickney and Julius Phillips caught the occasional Wood miss and slammed the ball back through the rim with tremendous force. Hanging on the rim, like second graders discovering monkey bars for the first time, they severely tested the springs in the breakaway mechanism.

With 38 seconds left in the 1st half, Wood 43, MLK 24…

I’m almost ashamed to admit I couldn’t shake my junkie tendencies… I kept hoping and believing the King team I watched against Imhotep would somehow make an appearance. I waited for a run… I pleaded for several consecutive stops on the defensive end… I wanted to see some “good basketball!”

I was trippin’…

With 4:08 left in the game, Wood 81, MLK 43…

Alas, I had to deal with the fact that I wouldn’t get my fix tonight… I had to face facts… King let me down…

No good basketball on Solly Ave… Just a good ol’ fashioned “Ass Whuppin”…

Yo… What time Booty play Quade tomorrow?

Collin Gillespie: Catholic League Champion

They both wear number 1…

Quade Green has the bigger rep. He’s a Team USA Gold Medalist… He’s a McDonald’s All-American… He will play in the Jordan Brand game… He killed Nike’s EYBL last summer… He will travel to the land of “One and Dones” when he joins the vaunted Kentucky Wildcat program in the fall.

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Collin Gillespie, on the other hand, was a nice Catholic League guard… Last year, he tended to defer to another nice Catholic League guard, Tommy Funk. Funk ended up at West Point, where he was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team. Nice stuff… But… Light years away from the land of “One and Dones.” Unlike Quade who shined on the brightest summer stage at the Peach Jam, Collin plied his trade on the equivalent of the AAU “Chitlin’ Circuit”. As a member of Nike Team Final’s “B Team” he played in Spooky Nook, King of Prussia and Neptune, NJ. As late as December, Collin was sitting on scholarship offers from Basketball powers Albany and Maine.

Then over a period of about 8 days, he received offers from Rider, Drexel, Delaware and Hofstra. All of sudden, he was becoming “sexy”… The word was getting out…

He was the darling of mid-majors… His performances were becoming impossible to overlook… 25 in a win over suburban power Abington… 27 in blowout over Scranton Prep… 27 in a tough loss to Father Judge… 29 in win over 2-time defending Catholic League and State Champion Roman Catholic… All this while playing the role of a traditional pass-first point guard.

If you paid close attention to the crowds at these games, there was always a well-dressed guy lurking on the fringes of the crowd. He tried to blend in, but it was tough. He was always surrounded by friends and passionate Philly hoop heads peppering him with question after question… Ashley Howard, Villanova Assistant Coach, was stalking Collin Gillespie.

Unlike so many other college coaches, Ashley Howard trusted his own eyes. Like his mentor, the legendary Claude Gross, Ashley determined on his own that Collin Gillespie could really fucking play basketball. He never had to ask: “Who else is recruiting him?” He watched him closely game after game after game… He concluded that Gillespie could play at Villanova. Based on that determination alone he brought his boss, National Coach of the Year, Jay Wright out to see what he had been witnessing for weeks.

They sat together during the first matchup between the two number 1s… They were not disappointed. Mr. Green put up 30 points in a valiant effort. The night, however, belonged to Mr. Gillespie! He poured in 42 points while playing a flawless floor game to lead Wood, a football and girl’s basketball school, to the top of the Catholic League standings.

Those who were there, knew what they witnessed. It was now undeniable… Gillespie is a bad muthafucka! Heard it in the gym… Heard it in the parking lot… Heard it over the phone on the ride home… But… in the rematch, you had to like Green’s chance to redeem himself and the Neumann-Goretti juggernaut.

Well… they played tonight before an overflowing crowd of 9,000 plus. The Catholic League Championship was on the line. All the familiar faces were in the building… St. Joseph’s greats like Brian Warrick and Rashid Bey. Temple alums Lynn Greer and Levan Alston sat courtside. Representatives from every media outlet in the region clicked away on MacBook Pros. College coaches from near and far glad-handed their way through the thick crowd. In the end, everyone agreed, Quade Green is a magnificent high school player. But… After the game, they were all saying the same thing…

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Collin Gillespie is a “Bad Muthafucka”! Heard it in the gym… Heard it in the parking lot… Heard it over the phone on the ride home…