Ryan vs. Reading: Up, Up and Away!

It’s levels to this shit…

I just watched a wonderful PIAA “Final Four” contest between Archbishop Ryan, out of Philadelphia, and Reading High School.

Mannnn listen… Reading is thirsty!

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Reading has a long proud tradition of competing for PIAA State Championships and coming up short… Many of the people wearing the red shirts, hoodies, jackets and hats with Big R emblems watched Stu Jackson (pictured above) lead Reading High to a State Championship game in 1973. Even more, watched Donyell Marshall (pictured below) emerge as an All-American in 1991.

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But neither won it all… No State Championships!

Reading has won more than 2,000 basketball games. They have more victories than any other high school in Pennsylvania. Chester High is next with around 1,850.

The Knights also own a record 19 District 3 championships; they won their first in 1929 and added three more in the past decade.

Long dominant at the local level, Reading has 20 Berks championships despite not joining the league until 1979. The Knights won the league title in each of its first six seasons and has claimed two-thirds of the trophies ever since, going 62-12 in league playoff games.

Reading ain’t new to this…

The Knights played their first basketball game in 1901, less than a 10 years after Dr. James Naismith hung peach baskets in the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA.

PIAA State Championship are long desired and highly valued in Reading… State’s is the pinnacle in Reading… Young Philly ballers still strive for Catholic and Public League Championships… The State’s are an afterthought…

Philly is new to this…

Ryan, along with the rest of the Philadelphia Catholic League, joined the PIAA for the 2008-2009 season.

Reading is 0 for 116 in PA State Championships… Ryan is 0 for 9…

Many Philly fans were amazed that 90% of 6,000 or so in Liacouris Center were hardcore Reading supporters. Quite a few openly wondered where were the 9,000+ that crammed into the Palestra a few weeks ago?

“What the fuck?”

“Why doesn’t Philly support teams chasing State Titles like Reading?”

State Championship just don’t matter that much to Philly hoop heads. Thus, Philadelphians have no way of understanding the heavy load Lonnie Walker is carrying… He is shouldering the hopes and dreams of all 98,653 Reading residents… After 116 years of playing basketball, they have real shot at winning their first State Championship.

Conversely, Philly is spoiled! Imhotep, Neumann-Goretti, Constitution, Girard College and Archbishop Wood are ALL playing for State Championships… Philly is gonna probably win at least half of the 6 State Titles on the Boys side… It’s what we do…

Reading has NEVER won one…

The team and the town came to the Liacouras Center with HIGH EXPECTATIONS!

Ryan has a very good squad… They have 2 D1 players, a rock solid D2 player and a few really good youngsters. They were ready to do battle early…

Izaiah Brockington came out demonstrated why NJIT gave him a scholarship to play basketball. Early on, first quarter and a half, he was the best player on the court. He was aggressive and highly focused. Reading had no answer as Ryan jumped out to a big early lead on the back of Brockington. He went left… He went right… He went over them… He went under them… He was unstoppable… Ryan had a double figure lead in the first half.

Then it happened…

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird… It’s a plane…

It’s Superman!

Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands. And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way… And now another exciting episode…

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Photo Credit: Derek Campbell

I didn’t see a phone booth… I don’t know where it happened, but one of the Reading players transformed into FUCKIN’ Superman! Real Shit! In the blink of an eye…

Lonnie Walker became the biggest player on the court…
Lonnie Walker became the fastest player on the court…
Lonnie Walker became the most skilled player on the court…
Lonnie Walker became the most explosive player on the court…
Lonnie Walker became the best shooter on the court…
Lonnie Walker became the best defender on the court…

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Photo Credit: Derek Campbell

The 5,500 or so Reading fans willed him into action… On the break, he jumped so high and dunked so hard it looked like one of JJ’s paintings on Good Times… He seemed to defy gravitational pull… He jumped and soared and floated and eventually came down when he felt like returning to earth… Only after depositing the ball with tremendous force through the rim…

He pulled up from 25 feet… Splash!!

He spun, pump faked and dropped a sweet ol’ skool finger roll… Ryan decided they were tired of him scoring so they would foul hard when he attacked the rim…

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Photo Credit: Derek Campbell

…And ONE!!

Just in case Ryan thought they were going to make some halftime adjustments, he jumped on their asses to start the second half… Look… Up in the sky…

Like I said, Ryan has a good Catholic League team. Brockington and Matiss Kulackovskis are solid D1 recruits… Fred Taylor is a high level D2 rim protector…

If someone could have given them a big ASS bag of Kryptonite they might have had a chance…

After final buzzer sounded, Clark Kent sprinted to kiss his beloved grandmother seated at the end of the court… He personally thanked each and every cheerleader… The electronic and print media tried to grab his attention, but he made them wait as he rushed to join the procession and respectfully shake hands with his vanquished opponents…

Class Act!

I hope Superman ends Reading’s State Championship drought this weekend!

One hundred and sixteen years is a loooooong time…

When the Philly teams win, they’ll get nice pats on the back… When Reading wins, they become folk heroes for generations to come… But first, a parade!

It’s levels to this shit!!

 

When The Dominoes Fall? Who Will be the Coach?

Well… Here we go… College Basketball Coaches are being fired and hired across the country.

The dominoes are starting to fall in rapid succession. When one falls it hits the next one which hits the next one which hits the next one…

Who are some of the likely candidates for the open and soon to be open positions?

VCU coach, Wil Wade has been mentioned as the front runner for the LSU job in the SEC. Should he take it, VCU would be wise to take a HARD look at Villanova Assistant Ashley Howard (pictured below right).

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Howard has been a Division 1 Assistant Coach for 13 years. In 2004, he was hired as an assistant to John Giannini at La Salle University. He spent four years with the Explorers before returning to Drexel in 2008 as an assistant coach to James “Bruiser” Flint. He was part of a staff that led the Dragons to consecutive 20-win seasons, including a school record 29 victories in 2011-12. Howard spent a year working under Chris Mack at Xavier before returning to Philadelphia and joining Jay Wright’s staff in June 2013.

Since his arrival on the Main Line, Howard has helped the Wildcats finish 1st in the Big East 4 consecutive years. They have compiled a record of 129-17 (88.3% winning percentage) over that span. Of course, Villanova won the National Championship in 2016.

Howard is a widely respected talent evaluator and recruiter with extremely strong relationships with high school and grassroots programs along the eastern seaboard. He would be a strong and capable candidate to help VCU continue upon their winning trajectory.

LIU Brooklyn fired Head Coach Jack Perri today. An intriguing name surrounding this vacancy is James “Bruiser” Flint (pictured below).

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With 20 years experience as a Division 1 Head Coach, Flint has demonstrated that he is a capable leader. He took over the UMass program following the departure of his mentor and friend John Calipari. He led the Minutemen to two NCAA appearances and three post-season appearances in 5 seasons. He never had a losing season at UMass. He assumed the helm at Drexel in 2001. Over the next 15 seasons, he won 245 games to become Drexel’s all-time winningest coach. He led the Dragons to 5 post-season appearances and  was named CAA Coach of the Year four times (2002, 2004, 2009, 2012). He also won an NABC District Coach of the Year award three times (2007, 2009, 2012).In 2012, the school won its first CAA Regular Season Championship in 2012, but lost to VCU in the finals of the Conference Tournament.

Coppin State University has dismissed Michael Grant. Several names have been floated as possible successors. One of the more prominent candidates is St. Joseph’s Assistant Coach Mark Bass (pictured below).

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Bass joined the Hawks’ staff in 1999-2000 and during his tenure, has been involved with teams that have made six consecutive post-season appearances, won five Atlantic 10 regular-season titles and captured the 2016 and 2014 A-10 titles. Nine years after he led the Hawks to the NIT Final as a player in 1996, Bass again helped SJU reach New York City and the NIT Final as a coach in 2005.

He is a highly respected recruiter with an extensive network of high school and grassroots connections in the mid-Atlantic region, Cleveland and Chicago. Bass has established himself as one of the top assistant coaches on the east coast. Runner-up for the Delaware State Head Coaching position a couple of years ago, Bass is very familiar with MEAC basketball.

Another name repeatedly mentioned for the Coppin State opening is Larry Stewart Jr. (pictured below).

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Stewart just completed his second season as assistant men’s basketball coach at Morgan State. Very familiar with the Maryland HS and grassroots basketball scenes, Stewart was the Associate Head Coach for the Bowie State men’s basketball team where he spent six seasons. The Philadelphia played at Coppin State where he established himself as an all-time MEAC great. A standout forward at Coppin State from 1988-1991, Stewart led the Eagles to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1990 and first ever National Invitational Tournament in 1991. He was a two-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Player of the Year and named Black College Player of the Year in 1991, also winning the John B. Wooden Award. Stewart ranks NO. 3 All –Time at Coppin State in scoring (1,824) and first in rebounds (1,052). Stewart’s Coppin State jersey (42) was retired at a ceremony in 1993. The MEAC inducted Stewart into their Hall of Fame in 2005. Stewart is the obvious choice if Coppin wants to rekindle the glory they experienced during Fang Mitchell’s heyday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Your College Coach is Fired Before Prom…

Almost seven years ago to the day, the headline in the NY Post’s sport section read “St. John’s fires basketball coach (Norm) Roberts.”

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As we are currently witnessing, the grim reaper is a busy muthafucka in March… Washington axed Romar… Indiana fired Crean… UMass cut ties with Kellogg… LSU dumped Jones… The grim reaper ravages coaching staffs across the country with no mercy…

Often overlooked in the carnage are the young people who’s fledgling careers are disrupted before they have a chance to begin.

My youngin, Ronald Roberts (pictured below left), got caught up in this particular firing…

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No bullshit… My youngin can kiss the sky… His vertical is easily 40 inches+… He’s agile, explosive and extremely aggressive when attacking the basket… Time after time after time, I’ve seen him have to tilt his head to avoid banging it against the rim… These attributes plus the fact that he is a first class young man and a very solid student made him a HIGHLY desired college prospect in 2010…He was one of the top schoolboys coming out of North Jersey…

Roberts had reputation for dunkin’ HARD on dudes! Watch yo muthafuckin head!! A lil’ raw in the skills department coming out of high school, he was a relentless and tenacious rebounder… He was destined for the Big East, St. John’s and Madison Square Garden…

A few months earlier, Norm Roberts texted him non-stop… Came to his house suited and booted, sat in his living room, ate dinner with his parents, visited his school and chopped it up with his AAU coaches… Roberts did everything necessary to convince him to come to St. John’s.

Roberts committed…

Then St. John’s fired Roberts… Before he went on his prom, Roberts had to regroup…

The new St. John’s coach, Steve Lavin wanted to go in another direction… Fortunately, one of the new assistants, Tony Chiles, was a man of the highest integrity. He made sure that the Roberts family was appropriately informed and facilitated his connection with his long time friends on the St. Joseph’s staff…

Roberts went on to have a wonderful collegiate career at St. Joseph’s… I got see him dunk on at least a hundred victims!

Roberts and St. Joseph’s lived happily ever after…

Phil Martelli and St. Joseph’s were there to provide a soft landing for Roberts…

Same shit just happened to Clifton Moore and Tom Crean!

What will happen with Moore? Will the new coach value his skill set? Will he want his “own guys”?

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Should Moore reopen his recruiting?

Should the AD release him from the Letter of Intent?

This is the type of shit families need to think about when committing…

The things they don’t tell you are IMPORTANT!

Enjoy your prom youngfella…

Wanna Recruit Philly? Hire One of These Guys!

Real shit I’ve heard in recent months…

From a PAC 12 Head Coach, “Yo man… we gotta get tougher! Who should I be recruiting in Philly?”

From a Patriot League Head Coach, “I really FUCKED UP passing on Ryan Daly (pictured below)… We could have really used his toughness this year!”

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From a C-USA Head Coach, “I love Philly guards… Anybody like Kyle Lowry coming up?”

From a Big 10 Head Coach, “Close the door… real talk… How the FUCK did Charlie Brown (pictured below) end up at St. Joes?”

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These types of interactions are a daily occurrence…

One thing for sure… Philadelphia’s basketball community is complex, challenging and, at times, highly dysfunctional. Successfully recruiting Philly is badge of honor in the college coaching ranks. A lot of coaches can’t get it done…

Shit ain’t easy in the BIG markets…

Philly, Chicago, New York/North Jersey, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, North Carolina, Los Angeles and Detroit… Each area has it’s own set of unwritten rules and traditions…

Make mistakes at your own peril… One bad move can KILL a program recruiting-wise in the region…

Violating these unwritten rules can result in a program and it’s staff being ostracized for years! Gotta know know what to do… Who to see… What to say… When to say it…

In every major market across the country, one will hear local basketball HS/AAU coaches explicitly say, “We don’t FUCK with them… They can’t get NONE of our kids…”

These HS/AAU coaches HOPE you will relay the message to the program in question… They want the college coaches to know they “don’t FUCK with them…”

In most cases, the coaching staff at a particular program has either mistreated one or more of the beloved local schoolboys or they have, in some way, disrespected some of the more important local HS/Grassroots coaches.

Like Run said… “It’s Tricky!”

So…while the sports world is once again focused on HIGH MAJOR Head Coach hiring and firing, we want to take a deep look from a different perspective… The Head Coaching carousel is widely covered by National sports media… When Cuonzo decided to head to Missouri everybody knew within minutes… Same thing with Romar’s termination at Washington…

Far more interesting to the Black Cager, is the following scenario:

Say… a head coach is hired this spring and he wants to recruit Philly… Or, a coach has an opening on his staff and he feels a need to penetrate the Philly market… What should he do? How does the program establish a foothold in the area? How does the staff avoid those nasty Philly potholes?

Here’s my suggestion: Hire somebody from the area that knows what FUCK they are doing!

Let me provide a concrete example…

Take a program like Bowling Green University Men’s Basketball… Bowling Green located in Wood County, Ohio…

Where the FUCK is Wood County, Ohio? I still don’t know…

There’s no significant history of Bowling Green successfully recruiting Philadelphia… How does a program like that reach into Philly and get some quality kids?

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That’s exactly the situation faced by Michael Huger (pictured above) when he was hired as the Bowling Green head coach in April 2015. In May 2015, Huger hired Kevin Noon as Director of Basketball Operations. A year later, he promoted him to Assistant Basketball Coach.

Noon (pictured below) is an unassuming and quiet guy from the Greater Philadelphia Region (Cherry Hill West graduate). He’s also extremely bright and a relentless worker. Noon played at Rider where he walked on to the team as a senior after serving as a team manager for three seasons. Following his senior year, in which he posted the highest GPA in the MAAC, Noon was awarded the Richard H. Bubacz Award for leadership, sportsmanship, and scholarship.  He graduated Manga Cum Laude from Rider in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English writing. Great hire!

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Next thing you know…

Daequan Plowden (pictured below) one of the top players in the Philadelphia Public League committed to play at Bowling Green in November…

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Then…

Matiss Kulackovskis (pictured below) one of the top players in the Philadelphia Catholic League committed to play at Bowling Green in February…

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Bowling FUCKIN’ Green! Where the FUCK is Wood County again?

Coach Noon is a clean slate… No basketball enemies… Just an earnest hardworking college assistant coach that was given a chance. As an alum and former staffer at Rider, he has keen awareness of the fertile nature of the Philadelphia region… He’s seen Mike Ringgold (Roman Catholic), Brandon Penn (Robeson), Danny Stewart (Neumann-Goretti), Novar Gadson (Bartram), Junior Fortunat (Roman Catholic), Anthony Durham (Abington) and others have success at the collegiate level. He knows how to relate to Philly… He knows how to talk to Philly…

In a very short period of time, Noon has helped Bowling FUCKIN’ Green become a player in the Philadelphia region!

Who’s next? Who will be given an opportunity like the one that Huger gave to Noon?

Who is the next Horace Owens? Geoffrey Arnold? Ashley Howard? Aaron McKie? Mark Bass?

Who should Head Coaches be interviewing if they want to recruit the talent laden Philadelphia Catholic, Philadelphia Public, Inter-Ac, Del-Val and Suburban One Leagues?

Who can land players from K-Low Elite, Team Final, Philly Pride, WeRone and the Jersey Shore Warriors?

Black Cager held a roundtable discussion and considered 25-30 guys that could help a college staff right now. Participating in the discussion were Delgreco Wilson, Amauro Austin, Kamal Yard and Paul Gripper. While I appreciate the input from my Black Cager colleagues, the blame for any errors and omissions lies with me… The final list was my call…

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Sean Colson (pictured above)… An extremely successful high school coach, Colson has taken a moribund Martin L. King, HS program and built it into one of the top 3 in Philadelphia’s Public League. He can be found at or near the top of the standings and playing for the Public League Championship every year. He is also one of the top grassroots coaches in the region. Two years ago, his Philly Pride 17U (Under Armour Association) featured Charles Brown, Jr (SJU, A10 All-Rookie), Stevie Jordan (Rider, MAAC All-Rookie), DeAndre Hunter (Virginia), Jaekwon Carlyle (Hampton), Tyere Marshall (Rider) and Lapri Pace McCray (Putnam Science-Prep). Colson’s teaching ability is evidenced through his role as a national trainer for Under Armour which allows him to work with elite scholastic players at Steph Curry’s Camp and Under Armour All-American camp. Colson is a proven basketball coach and skills trainer. He would be an asset for any program looking to establish relationships and recruit in Philadelphia.

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Matt Griffin (pictured above)… In his first year heading the storied Roman Catholic program, Griffin quickly established his coaching bona fides in the highly competitive Philadelphia Catholic League. Despite losing 3 Big 10 players, Griffin kept the Cahillites in the running and had them, once again, in the Final Four at the Palestra. He spent time at St. Joseph’s Prep working under Speedy Morris. Perhaps, more importantly, he’s spent a lifetime sitting at the dinner table with his father, former St. Joe’s and Siena Head Coach, John Griffin and his brother, Bucknell assistant, John Griffin, Jr. Griffin is a highly organized and highly motivated coach. He’s demonstrated an ability to get kids to play extremely hard while maintaining their composure.

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Kyle Sample (pictured above)… An old youngbuck, Sample has been coaching with Team Philly/K-Low Elite for more than a decade. During that period, they have produced more than 70 players that have received college scholarships. One of the more highly respected young coaches in Philadelphia, Sample consistently established very strong relationships with players and parents in their program. He is also able to work with coaches and administrators in other Grassroots programs as well. A true gymrat, Sample finds time to work with players ranging from elite D1 prospects to novice players being introduced to the game for the first time. He treats everyone with the upmost respect.

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Donnie Carr (above right)… One of the most well-liked members of Philadelphia’s basketball community, Carr was a legendary schoolboy and Big 5 player. Currently a non-coaching assistant at Hartford University, he has relationships that extend throughout Philadelphia and beyond. Carr has experience recruiting scholarship level players at the Division 2 level from his stint on R.C. Kehoe’s staff at Holy Family. He coached some of the very best players in the Philadelphia region while working with Nike Team Final on the EYBL circuit. There is not a gym or home in Philadelphia where Carr wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms. This Claude Gross protege is the perfect blend of old school tradition with new school awareness. The addition of Donnie Carr would bring instant credibility to any college basketball program seeking talent in Philadelphia.

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Jason Harrigan (above center)… The 2016 Daily News Philadelphia High School Basketball Coach of the Year, Harrigan just competed his first year as Head Coach of the O’Hara Boy’s Basketball team. In his final year at Del Val Charter School, Harrigan led his team to playoff victories over powerhouse Neumann-Goretti and Imhotep on neutral court. Known for extensive game preparation, Harrigan is very meticulous in his approach. He has played a crucial role in the development of some of the finest guards in the Public League including Antwan Butler, Semaj Mobley and Makhi Morris. His players exhibit fierce loyalty to Harrigan and he works tirelessly to place them in college. Harrigan is a rising star within Philadelphia’s scholastic coaching ranks.

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David Anwar (above right)… True Philly hoop heads know and respect the name David Anwar. Casual hoop fans might ask: Who? You see Anwar, a Philadelphia native, has toiled in the hinterlands of Arkansas, Nebraska and Texas… Arkansas-Fort Smith earned a 101-29 record with Anwar on the bench, including a pair of top-seven national finishes in 2001 (fifth) and 2002 (seventh). He then moved on to join the staff at Texas El-Paso (UTEP) before going to Nebraska. For the past 5 seasons, Anwar has been on the staff at North Texas. Incredibly well connected, Anwar would bring a wealth of knowledge to any Division 1 program. Over the years, Anwar has made sure his recruits graduate on time. He is one of the most honest and trustworthy guys in the business.

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Aaron Burt (pictured above)… As the Coach of the Nike Team Final 17U (EYBL) program, Burt has gained an immeasurable amount of experience working with high major and mid major basketball prospects. He is able to help young men understand that they have a specific role to play within an organization with big goals. The importance of that skill cannot be overstated. In an era where every kid and parent is thinking “one and done” Burt is able to adeptly balance individual aspirations with organizational goals. His relationships with HS coaches at the top Philadelphia High School basketball programs and his experience coaching McDonald’s All-Americans and future NBA players makes him an outstanding candidate for any college assistant opening.

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Randy Monroe (pictured above)… Been there… Done that… If you are trying to mitigate risk in your hire, if you want someone with extensive experience… Hire Randy Monroe! He was an Assistant at the D2 level in the PSAC (Cheyney), at the D1 level in the A10 (La Salle), in the SEC (Vanderbilt) and in the America East (UMBC). As a D1 Head Coach, he led UMBC to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008. Highly respected by everyone in Philadelphia Scholastic/Grassroots basketball circles, Monroe is the clear choice if experience is the deciding factor.

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Brian Daly (pictured above)… While he’s been a D1 assistant in the Patriot League (Boston) and the Big 10 (Penn State), he’s probably best known as Ryan Daly’s Dad these days. Daly is highly regarded by everyone in Philadelphia. He was awarded the prestigious Markward Award as the best player in the Philadelphia Catholic League in 1989 while playing for Monsignor Bonner. He competed collegiately at St. Joseph’s University. As a HS coach, he developed a reputation for caring about the academic and social well-being of his players. An excellent communicator, Daly is able to help parents understand and navigate the recruiting process. His relationships with Philadelphia’s basketball community served him well at both Boston University and Penn State. Both programs witnessed a surge in Philadelphia recruits while Daly was on staff. Most importantly, Daly is laser focused on making sure his players matriculate. Whenever, he decides to jump back in, he should be high on the list of anyone seeking a Philly-based assistant coach.

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Jazz Williams (above center)… Quietly, Williams has established himself as one of the premier young basketball coaches in the region. For a few years, he was the only Black head coach working in the Philadelphia Catholic League. Williams has an excellent rapport with young men and their families under his tutelage. Currently, he is on the coaching staff at The Haverford School and K-Low Elite (Adidas Guantlet). Williams has been extremely valuable in helping young men transition into a highly competitive academic institution. A very intelligent and thoughtful young man, Williams would be an ideal assistant coaching candidate in the Ivy and Patriot League programs or any program committed to placing educational development on par with athletic competition.

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Bobby Jordan (pictured above)… If a Head Coach wants to get in every gym and become acquainted with everyone in Philadelphia, then he should hire and walk in with Jordan. Currently, serving as the Athletic Director at Girard College, Jordan is a Bruiser Flint protege. He played for Flint, at Drexel, after graduating from Roman Catholic. Jordan is high-energy and extremely engaging. A true “hoophead” he will discuss middle school girls basketball just as quickly as high major college men’s college basketball. He has an extensive network of acquaintances and confidants that keep him tapped directly into the artery of Philadelphia’s basketball talent. Passionate about Philly hoops, Jordan consistently works hard to help kids even when he has no skin the game. This makes him a very attractive assistant coaching candidate for those that need to make an immediate impact on the recruiting trail in the Philadelphia region.

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David Butts (above left)… Every year young people develop new ways of communicating… The slang changes… The greetings change… The technology changes… It can be very challenging to keep up. Within Philadelphia’s coaching community, Butts may have the best handle on what the kids are thinking, saying and doing. He is immersed in grassroots community. Butts knows what the kid’s aspirations are… He knows what they are trying to achieve through basketball… He’s able to engage and communicate with Philly’s young players in way that is truly admirable. He’s currently an Assistant Coach at Rosemont College just outside Philadelphia.

Of course, there are others equally, if not more qualified, to recruit Philadelphia. But these guys have excellent jobs or are just starting on their respective gigs. But hey… It don’t cost nothing to reach out… Andre Noble (Imhotep Head Coach) is the most decorated coach in the Public League over the past 20 years. Jamie Ross (Frankford Head Coach) has been a part of three state championship teams in recent years. Skip Robinson (WeRone Coach) is an integral part of an emerging grassroots dynasty. Larry Yarbray (Chester Coach) fields ultra competitive squads year in and year out. Mike Scott (Paris JUCO, TX) has quietly emerged as a top flight recruiter in a superb JUCO conference. Marvin Stinson (Audenreid Assistant) has helped build a strong Public League program and continues to run one of the premier middle school grassroots programs (Bottom Ballers) in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Lou Daniels (Manor JUCO Coach) has done an exceptional job in his first year as a Head Coach after assisting at Scotland Prep. Al Crockett (K-Low Elite Coach) is recognized as one of the top developers of basketball skills in Philadelphia. Terrance “Nip” Cook (Mastery Charter North) is building a powerhouse Public League program and developing scholarship players. Justin Scott (Arcadia Coach) is one of the premier small college coaches in the Greater  Philadelphia Region. Ellis “Chuck Ellis” Gindraw is the founder of “Chuck Ellis Workouts” and long-time small college assistant.

Wanna recruit Philly? Hire one of these guys!

Seriously…

Black Cager Scouting Report: Jalen Carey… NJ Playa!

Last year, Immaculate Conception came to South Jersey to play in the Black Cager Fall Classic. That day, Jalen Carey exhibited a well rounded and sophisticated backcourt game. He was named the New Jersey MVP.

More recently, he was ranked #78 in the nation by 24/7 Sports and the #13 shooting guard by ESPN.

A very mature and loyal young man, he plays for Immaculate Conception HS in Montclair, NJ and the NJ Playaz Basketball Club on the Nike EYBL circuit.

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Carey currently holds offers from the following colleges & universities:

Minnesota

UConn

Saint Peter’s

Penn State

DePaul

Saint Joseph’s

Pitt

Seton Hall

VCU

Fairleigh Dickinson

Temple

Rutgers

Rhode Island

Monmouth

 

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?

The Paucity of Black Coaches: Does it Matter?

African-Americans have long dominated college basketball on the court. Every year, college send their coaches into Black communities in search of talented Black basketball players. These coaches beg, plead and some even try to bribe young Black men to come play for their colleges and universities.

In the overwhelming majority of instances, the Head Coaches are white. The players are, for the most part, Black.

Does this matter?

Should players, their parents, AAU coaches and others involved in the school decision process consider the racial background of the coaches?

If they do not consider the racial background of the Head Coaches, will the situation ever improve?

Are Black males destined to remain the “talent”? Will their presence on the sideline ever match their presence on the court?

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As you can see on the chart (above), Black players are disproportionately represented in the uniforms. These are ten of the biggest conferences with the largest basketball budgets in the nation.

In the Missouri Valley Conference, Blacks make up about half the players and there are ZERO (0) Black Head Coaches in that league. ZERO!

If Black players never see Black Head Coaches and Black Athletic Directors, how will they envision themselves in these positions of authority?

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