Monday, April 29, 2013

Juan'ya Green To Transfer From Niagara

Juan'ya Green, who nearly won MAAC Player of Year honors this past season, is one of two Purple Eagle players to be granted release to transfer in wake of coach Joe Mihalich leaving for Hofstra.  (Photo courtesy of the Buffalo News)

New Niagara head coach Chris Casey was already walking into a challenge when he was hired a week ago today to replace Joe Mihalich at the helm of the reigning regular season MAAC champion Purple Eagles.

Seven days later, Casey may have an even bigger issue on his hands, as guard Juan'ya Green and forward Ameen Tanksley have requested; and have subsequently been granted, releases to transfer.  The two sophomores were Niagara's second and third-leading scorers this past season, and were integral parts of the Purple Eagles' nineteen-win season that culminated with an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, where Niagara lost its opening-round game to Maryland. News of the transfer requests was broken by Bob DiCesare, who covers Niagara for the Buffalo News, and confirmed by the school.

Green was slated to enter his junior season as one of the preseason favorites for the MAAC Player of the Year award after narrowly losing out on that honor this past season to Momo Jones of Iona following a sophomore campaign that saw him average 16.5 points to go with nearly five assists and two steals per game at the point guard position.  Tanksley, a Philadelphia native like Green, managed to amass 11.3 points and six rebounds per game, the latter leading the team.  At the moment, leading scorer Antoine Mason has not been mentioned in transfer talks, and it is worth noting that Casey was an assistant on the St. John's teams that Mason's older brother Anthony Jr. played for in the mid-to-late 2000s under Norm Roberts.

Ironically, the Hofstra program Mihalich left Niagara for three weeks ago faced an eerily similar situation three years ago when Tom Pecora left the Pride to take over at Fordham.  Not only did Pecora's top recruit Branden Frazier follow him to Rose Hill, but point guard Chaz Williams and forward Halil Kanacevic transferred to Massachusetts and Saint Joseph's, respectively, shortly after Pecora was hired at Fordham.

Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops for more information on this topic as it becomes available, as well as news and notes from across the MAAC this offseason.

Evan Hymes Not Transferring, Will Remain At Siena

Evan Hymes, who had intended to transfer earlier this month, has changed his mind, and will return to Saints for his junior season.  (Photo courtesy of 4 Guys In Blazers)

He may not be an incoming recruit since he has already been in the program for two years, but Evan Hymes' return to Siena provides a similar effect for new Saints coach Jimmy Patsos that signing a new freshman would.

Hymes, who had reportedly been looking to transfer out of the Siena program earlier this month to be closer to his family in North Carolina, has apparently had a change of heart; and in a story broken yesterday by Mark Singelais, who covers the Saints for the Albany Times Union, announced his intent to come back to Loudonville for his junior season.

The 5-8 point guard was Siena's fourth-leading scorer last season, averaging 10.6 points per game in an 8-24 campaign for former coach Mitch Buonaguro, averaging 3.7 assists per game and shooting 34 percent from three-point range.  When we spoke to Patsos two weeks ago for the first time since becoming the head coach at Siena, he was optimistic about getting to coach Hymes, telling us "I really hope he stays" and that he thought he was leaning toward a return because he is "experienced and fast," two key attributes for Patsos as he implements his flex offense and uptempo attack that he honed to perfection both as an assistant to Gary Williams at Maryland and over nine years at Loyola, where he won a MAAC championship and made two postseason appearances.

Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops throughout the offseason for news and notes involving not just Siena, but the entire MAAC as well.

Scott Machado Makes NBA Playoff Debut

Scott Machado's jersey hangs from Golden State locker room shortly before Warriors' 115-101 win over Denver that saw former Iona legend make his NBA postseason debut.  (Photo courtesy of Iona College)

Scott Machado's NBA career may be less than a year old, but after last night, it now includes postseason experience.

After being traded to the Golden State Warriors' developmental league affiliate last month, Machado was signed to a 10-day contract by Golden State three weeks ago.  He rejoined the Warrior roster after guiding the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBDL to a league championship series appearance, one they ultimately lost to his former squad, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, led by former St. John's swingman D.J. Kennedy.

Machado only played three minutes in the Warriors' 115-101 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series last night, a win that gave Golden State a 3-1 series lead.  The former Iona standout, who became the first Gael in nearly two decades to suit up in the NBA when he made his debut earlier in the season for the Houston Rockets, picked up two points and a rebound, making his lone field goal attempt of the night.

The Warriors and Nuggets resume their series tomorrow night, with Game 5 taking place at the Pepsi Center.  Tipoff for the game, which can be seen on TNT, is slated for 8 p.m. Eastern.  A Daly Dose Of Hoops will continue to have information on Machado as he makes his first journey through the NBA playoffs.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jordan's Situation A Lot Like Another Ed(die)

Eddie Jordan's road to success at Rutgers mirrors that of a coach with the same first name hired two years ago, that being Providence's Ed Cooley.  (Photo courtesy of the Asbury Park Press)

Six days ago, Rutgers University officially moved on from their three-year marriage to Mike Rice, annulling it with the hire of former Scarlet Knight point guard and one-time NBA head coach Eddie Jordan.  Since Hurricane Michael passed out to sea, the basketball community around central New Jersey is now more hopeful; arguably than ever before, that their new leader can bring about the same success he once spawned nearly four decades ago en route to becoming the all-time assist and steal leader in program history.

When you look at what Jordan has in front of him just one week into the head basketball coach position at his alma mater, it may seem like a lot on the surface, but the potential is clearly visible.  With the five scholarship players he inherits, led by incumbent shooting guard and All-Met honoree Myles Mack, Jordan's maiden voyage on the banks of the old Raritan bears a striking resemblance to another coach who returned home to right the ship of a program who had seen better days, but was described as having been "run into the ground" by his immediate predecessor.  Ironically, both Jordan and this coach share the same first name.

In 2011, Providence native Ed Cooley was somewhat of a hot commodity in the coaching carousel, having led Fairfield to a regular season MAAC championship and NIT appearance in his fifth season in charge of the Stags following a successful run as Al Skinner's lead assistant at Boston College.  Not too long after Fairfield's season ended, Cooley "sprinted home," in his own words, to the Friars as the school's replacement for Keno Davis; who, despite his offensively-influenced schemes, was never able to get Providence into the top half of the Big East standings.  In yet another striking parallel to Jordan's arrival at Rutgers, Davis spent just three seasons in the Ocean State, just as Mike Rice did in Piscataway.

Technically, ten players from Davis' final Providence roster made their way onto Cooley's first Friar squad, but for all intents and purposes, the new coach only had five players of significance for his first season in Rhode Island, just as Jordan does now.  In addition, both coaches will have gone through year one in their new positions having to replace their leading scorers: Cooley lost MarShon Brooks to graduation and the NBA before he could have the chance to coach him, whereas Jordan will not have the services of Eli Carter after the sophomore guard announced his intent to transfer in the aftermath of the Rice fiasco and a broken leg that ended his season prematurely.  For the record, Carter will choose between Maryland and Florida, and could get a waiver to play right away.

Each coach also has arguably the team's best player coming back for two more seasons, as Myles Mack enters his junior year for Jordan the same way Vincent Council did when Cooley was hired in 2011, with mounds of potential and expectations of a breakout season from media, coaches, and fans alike.  Council thrived in Cooley's defensive-minded system, becoming a well-rounded player on both sides of the ball that played his way into all-Big East honors and a perennial spot at or near the top of the conference's assist leaderboard.  Mack comes into his third season having led Rutgers in assists and steals just as his new mentor did when he wore the Scarlet Knights' uniform, and Jordan is already eager to work with his new protege, waxing poetic about being able to look at him during timeouts in games, telling him 'What do you see out there?'"

Finally, both coaches are brilliant basketball minds with no other instinct than to make an immediate impact.  Although Cooley's 15-17 record in his first season at Providence was to be expected, his young team entered Big East play with an 11-3 record, and managed a resounding upset victory over eventual Final Four participant Louisville on a night where the Friars celebrated the 25th anniversary of the program's 1987 Final Four appearance, ironically with Rick Pitino; who coached the Billy Donovan-led Friars to the national semifinals that season, on the opposing bench.  This past season, Cooley's Friars advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT, with a 19-15 record that saw the team finish eighth in the Big East and play its way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble with a late-season surge that brought Cooley consideration for the Big East Coach of the Year award that should have gone either to himself or Marquette's Buzz Williams, but was ultimately; and perhaps wrongfully given how March Madness played out, to John Thompson III of Georgetown. Eddie Jordan may have a losing record over his seven-plus seasons as an NBA head coach, but the winning percentage obscures four consecutive postseason appearances with the Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler-led Washington Wizards, not to mention a Princeton-inspired offense that adapts to fit his talent and a natural teacher who seeks only to help those he comes into contact with, as evidenced by his selflessness in coaching the freshman team at his alma mater Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C.

Eddie Jordan.  Ed Cooley.  Two similar first names, and, in a much shorter time span than most expect, similar results.  If you're still not convinced, see for yourself next season.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Harvard Returns To Rose Hill Next Season

Led by guards Siyani Chambers (left) and Wesley Saunders, (right) Harvard will make return to Rose Hill Gym on December 28th to renew nonconference series with Fordham.  (Photo courtesy of USA Today)

The last time Fordham hosted Harvard, the Rams knocked off the then-No. 22 ranked Crimson by the final of 60-54 for their first victory over a Top 25 team since 1978.  Harvard may not be ranked going into next season, but they will have a chance to once again avenge the crushing defeat of two seasons ago.

As confirmed earlier this morning on Twitter by college basketball insider Jon Rothstein, Tommy Amaker and the Crimson will make their second Rose Hill Gym appearance in as many calendar years when they face Fordham on December 28th.  Harvard did defeat the Rams on December 1st of last year at Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge by the final of 73-64, but the reigning two-time Ivy League champions have not returned to Rose Hill since the January 3, 2012 game that became one of the defining moments in the Tom Pecora regime, which now has renewed confidence and support following Fordham's signing of Christ the King guard Jon Severe, New York's Mr. Basketball this past season.

Harvard, who comes into next season as the favorite to win a third straight Ivy League title after picking up the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament win against New Mexico last month, returns each of their three leading scorers to their backcourt, with sophomore point guard Siyani Chambers joining swingmen Wesley Saunders and Laurent Rivard for their junior and senior campaigns.  In addition, Amaker welcomes back junior sixth man Steve Moundou-Missi, as well as former point guard Brandyn Curry and double-figure scoring forward Kyle Casey, both of whom withdrew from the university before last season began in an attempt to preserve their final year of eligibility following accusations of cheating on a take-home exam.

Fordham will also host Saint Francis University (PA) to open the 2013-14 season, but this is the first confirmed date for a nonconference matchup that has been made public.  The Rams may also square off against Siena and Loyola (Illinois) next season, and will more than likely renew the annual Battle of the Bronx rivalry against Manhattan at Draddy Gym in Riverdale as well.

Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops for all things Fordham during the offseason.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jon Severe Signs With Fordham

Jon Severe will not be going very far for college, as Christ the King guard becomes Tom Pecora's highest-profile recruit at Fordham since arriving in 2010.  (Photo courtesy of the Queens Times-Ledger's Joe Staszewski)

Tom Pecora's first three teams at Hofstra went a combined 33-55 before the coach signed a guard by the name of Antoine Agudio prior to the 2004-05 season.  Agudio went on to become the Pride's all-time leading scorer, and Hofstra produced three consecutive 20-win seasons upon his arrival.  Since taking the job at Fordham in 2010, Pecora's Rams have gone a combined 24-64, but have endured constant criticism in many different areas from a devoted fan base that has become restless with trying to embrace a winner. 

Pecora took the first step toward responding to the said criticism this afternoon, when he landed arguably his best recruit since coming to Rose Hill, one he hopes could be the next Agudio.

Jon Severe, a 6-2 guard out of Christ the King in Middle Village who earned Mr. Basketball honors in the state of New York this past season, officially announced his decision to attend Fordham earlier this afternoon, choosing the Rams over Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and a last-minute pitch from Rutgers, whose new coach Eddie Jordan entertained Severe in an in-home visit last night that, according to the guard, went well enough to the point where the Scarlet Knights became a contender for his services. Nevertheless, Severe arrives at Fordham off a senior campaign in which he averaged 21.6 points per game and led the Royals to a New York State Federation championship, the latest trophy for the tradition-rich Christ the King program.

"I think I can change the whole program around," Severe said in reference to his new team, one in which he will almost certainly make an immediate impact alongside senior Branden Frazier and sophomore Mandell Thomas in the Rams' backcourt as Fordham attempts to replace the production lost by the graduating Chris Gaston with a recruiting class of forwards Manny Suarez and Jake Fay, guards Chris Whitehead and Antwoine Anderson; and the centerpiece, Severe himself.

"Obviously, he's an exceptional player," Pecora said.  "You know all of his accolades, and for him to be able to come in and give us immediate firepower with his ability to score the basketball, I think will make a huge difference for us next year.  There's no doubt about his ability to come in and play a lot of minutes for us."

Severe's coach credited Pecora as a steady influence during the recruiting of the star guard, as Christ the king head man Joe Arbitello said the Rams "recruited him the hardest," and that Pecora has "made himself more visible than anyone else."

"I was calling my kids Tommy and Dave for two weeks because it seemed like I saw them (Pecora and associate head coach David Duke) every single day," Arbitello said.  "They were here a lot, and when they weren't here, I was hearing from them and Jon was hearing from them.  They did everything possible to bring home a recruit who, in my estimation, probably will be the biggest recruit Fordham has had in 20 years."

Severe's signing is also the second consecutive big splash Pecora has made this month, as the Rams received a verbal commitment three weeks ago from Eric Paschall, a coveted forward from Dobbs Ferry from the Class of 2014.

Pecora has had success in developing guards out of Christ the King in the past, as he was the assistant on a Jay Wright-coached Hofstra team that went to an NCAA Tournament behind point guard Craig Claxton, better known as "Speedy," who turned into a first-round draft pick in 2000.  The lure of immediate playing time proved to be the major selling point for Severe as he donned a maroon hat during his announcement in the Christ the King gym.

"Last night, I knew I wanted to go to Fordham," he said.  "I'm playing a lot my freshman year, I can make a big impact on the team, it's close to home.  It was just a better choice for me, they showed me the most love."

Severe's confidence is as high as the hopes of the fans that will now cheer him at Rose Hill in November, as he feels his arrival could set off a chain reaction at a school that has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1992, before the star guard was even born.

"After I commit, more people in the city will want to come to Fordham," he said.  "I think it's not where you go, it's what you do where you go.  I know we're going to win."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rakeem Brookins No Longer Listed On Siena Roster

Siena guard Rakeem Brookins, arrested earlier this month, no longer appears on Saints' roster.  (Photo courtesy of the Albany Times Union)

Although no official announcement has been made, it appears that Jimmy Patsos' first team at Siena may not include Rakeem Brookins.

The sophomore guard, who was arrested eleven days ago in an off-campus incident shortly after Patsos was introduced as the Saints' new head coach, no longer appears as part of Siena's roster on the Saints' website.  The Philadelphia native appeared in 20 games this past season under former coach Mitch Buonaguro, starting all but three of them, and was Siena's third-leading scorer, averaging 11.3 points per game in an 8-24 campaign that ended with a quarterfinal loss to Niagara in last month's MAAC Tournament.

Again, no announcement has officially been made by either Patsos or the school.  However, Siena assistant athletic director for communications Jason Rich, who is also the men's basketball sports information director, addressed the situation by informing A Daly Dose Of Hoops that "the players you see listed on our roster are the players currently on the team."

In Patsos' first season at Siena after spending the previous nine at Loyola, the Saints' new coach returns most of last season's team for the 2013-14 campaign, but will lose former first team all-MAAC honoree O.D. Anosike to graduation next month as Siena attempts to return to their former perch among the elite programs in the MAAC. The Saints are only three seasons removed from winning their third consecutive conference championship, the culmination of arguably the most successful era in program history, one that produced two NCAA Tournament victories against Vanderbilt and Ohio State under former coach Fran McCaffery, who earlier this month guided the University of Iowa to the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament.

Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops throughout the offseason for news related to not just Siena, but the MAAC as well.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chris Casey Introduced At Niagara

Chris Casey, who spent the last three years at LIU Post, will replace Joe Mihalich at Niagara after Purple Eagles officially introduced him as new head coach today.  (Photo courtesy of Niagara University)

After their former head coach departed for Long Island, Niagara University brought his successor in from the same suburb of New York City, officially introducing Chris Casey as the 21st head coach in the history of the Purple Eagles program just moments ago inside the Gallagher Center on Niagara's campus.

"To have the honor to coach here is very exciting," said Casey, who coached Division II LIU Post for the past three seasons.  "I am looking forward to getting started."

Casey replaces Joe Mihalich, who left Monteagle Ridge as the winningest coach in MAAC history, going 265-203 in a 15-year career before replacing Mo Cassara at Hofstra, where he was hired two weeks ago.  The 48-year-old Casey already has MAAC ties, having been an assistant at Saint Peter's from 1990-98 before going 27-46 in three years as the head coach at Rutgers-Newark.  He became the coach at LIU Post in 2010 after Tim Cluess left the Pioneers to replace Kevin Willard at Iona, and took them to two NCAA Tournaments in three seasons, amassing a 62-25 record in the process.  Prior to that, he was an assistant under Norm Roberts at St. John's for six years, serving as the Red Storm's director of basketball operations from 2004 to 2006 before replacing Chuck Martin on the bench in Queens for the next four seasons.  Casey's hire makes him the third Roberts assistant to become a head coach, joining the aforementioned Martin; who was recently dismissed at Marist, as well as Glenn Braica of St. Francis College, who will enter his fourth season at the helm of the Terriers.

Casey is also the fourth new coach in the MAAC next season, joining Jeff Bower of Marist, as well as Northeast Conference transplants Tom Moore and King Rice from Quinnipiac and Monmouth, respectively.  He inherits a Niagara team that went 19-14 this past season, a year in which the Purple Eagles overachieved by going 13-5 in MAAC play, good enough for a regular season championship that helped earn Coach of the Year honors for Joe Mihalich.  Led by sophomore guards Juan'ya Green and Antoine Mason, whose older brother Anthony Jr. played for St. John's while Casey was an assistant there, Niagara went to their fifth postseason in the last fifteen years, falling to Maryland in the opening round of the NIT.  Barring any transfers, Niagara only loses two players from their roster next season, and will likely be considered one of the favorites; along with Iona and Manhattan, to win the MAAC.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Four Years, And Still Trying To Live The Dream

One of the highlights of the year was getting to enjoy this view of the MassMutual Center in Springfield during last month's MAAC Tournament.  (Photo courtesy of Christian Heimall)

Before I go any further, please allow me to pay tribute to the immortal Pat Summerall, who passed away yesterday at the age of 82. Although never directly affiliated with college basketball, Pat was, along with Dick Enberg and Vin Scully, one of the three greatest influences on my broadcasting style; a style that has, in turn, revealed itself to an extent in the content that has been showcased on this site over the years.  The old saying goes, "never forget your roots," and for me, my roots as a broadcaster; which have spawned my roots as a writer when I am not behind a microphone, will always be traced to Pat Summerall.  Rest in peace, Pat, and I am sure you are already preparing your introduction of John Madden for that day in which The Lord calls upon him to join you for color commentary in the great broadcast booth up above.

Now, on to the real reason for this piece.  April 17th is always a day of great significance for me, because it was on this date in 2009 in which yours truly had the grand vision of attempting to join the print (well, in this case, electronic) media in the event that my play-by-play career turned out to be a bigger bust than Ryan Leaf or Blair Thomas.  Fortunately, that has not happened, and I thank God every day for the fact that I have been able to maintain my balance as a broadcaster; but at the same time, I have also managed to supplement what I do on the air with A Daly Dose Of Hoops, which has made the transition from part-time blog to full-time website that has gone through more reinventions than Madonna's concert tour from the summer of 2004.  (As my friend Jerry Beach would say, GOOGLE IT!)

So here we are, four years later, still bringing you college basketball news and insights, with so many different ways of presenting this information to you, and finding success that makes me look back and marvel at what has risen from something so small.  Let's see how far we've come, shall we?

You know, it's funny that I reference Rob Thomas, and for those of you who don't know me well, I'll tell you why.  When I started doing play-by-play in 2007 at my alma mater St. John's, the Red Storm had a freshman forward on their roster by the name of, you guessed it, Rob Thomas.  Whenever Thomas scored, (and EVERYONE who worked with me in the WSJU sports department can attest to this) I would follow up his basket with a lyric from a Matchbox Twenty song.  Examples of this include "the real world is not hassling him," and "he's not crazy, he's just a little unwell."  Sadly, St. John's never got to play in ESPN's 24-hour marathon while I was there, because I always wanted to break out the "it's 3AM, he must be lonely" line.  Anyway, I digress.

One year ago, I celebrated A Daly Dose Of Hoops' third anniversary by stating my sheer amazement at the site's 265 percent growth over the previous twelve months.  Twelve months later, the growth rate has jumped off the charts again, and has rendered the same effect upon me.  On April 17, 2012, A Daly Dose Of Hoops had a grand total of 30,548 views.  Today, that number now stands at 94,237, which means that the site has, for a second consecutive year, more than tripled its growth, a statistic that I can never thank you enough for.  Our Twitter feed, which was set up in November of 2010, now has 994 followers, which is another number I never imagined would be possible.  As I have said many times in the past, and will continue to say both now and in the future, there is no me if there is no you.  On a side bar, can we get to 1,000 sooner rather than later?  If you or someone you know isn't following us, pull the trigger, man!  Joe Lunardi did, (yes, THE Joe Lunardi) and if it's good enough for the founding father of Bracketology, there's no reason why it can't be good enough for you.  I actually had the honor of meeting Joe this year through his work as a color commentator for Saint Joseph's University (his day job is serving as their marketing director) radio broadcasts alongside Matt Martucci, who I was also fortunate to introduce myself to.  Both of them are great at what they do, and were more than complimentary to me, something I will forever appreciate.

This past season provided more opportunities for me based off the incredible and unforeseen amount of exposure I received last season.  For starters, this site ended up covering 120 games this year in either an on-air or off-air capacity, a number that many of you checked in on with me throughout the year.  To be honest with you, I did not expect this tally to catch on so quickly and be so well received, but it evolved into a ritual that provided photographic evidence of every venue the site was at, as well as frequent statements of "I don't know how you do it" and "you don't miss anything" from my friend and colleague Vin Parise, with whom I was fortunate to start working last season through my coverage of Iona College.

Over those 120 games, I got to cover three conference tournaments, the NCAA Women's Tournament, and the NIT among others.  More importantly, I also got to meet more people, which for me as a broadcaster at heart, has always been the best part of the job.  I got to meet not just coaches and sports information directors, but also fellow broadcasters like Christian Heimall at Manhattan College, a young play-by-play announcer (three years younger than me to be exact, but you would never know it based on his maturity and professionalism both on and off the air) who ended up becoming one of my closest friends in the business even though I only met him five months ago, and people like Josh Adams of College Hoops Digest, who I was honored to share press row with on several occasions, most notably at the Prudential Center.  I am also blessed to have strengthened some existing friendships with colleagues like Anthony Sulla-Heffinger of the New York Post (Tony and I may actually be the only full-time Fordham media, and there was not one game at Rose Hill this season that was not attended by either of us) and the inimitable Jerry Beach of Defiantly Dutch, who keeps my sanity intact with his Simpsons and 1980s references on Twitter at all hours of the morning.

I also cannot thank the sports information directors and administrators who allowed me to cover their programs, teams and conferences throughout the year enough, but I'll try to recognize them all here.  (I apologize for the name dropping by the way) Brian Beyrer, Matt Sweeney, Mark Fratto, Brian Morales, Kristin Duffy, (actually, it's Quinn now that she's happily married...that's what happens when you know someone for six years) Dave Gansell, Steve Dombroski, Joe DiBari, Stephen Gorchov, Brian Bohl, Mandy Gutmann, Dan Lobacz, Lily Rodriguez, (who played volleyball at St. Francis during my first year as a play-by-play announcer there) John Higgins, Nick Guerriero, Mike Kowalsky, Kevin Ross, Tom Chen, Jack Jones, Mike Ferraro, Brendan Thomas, Jill Skotarczak, Ken Taylor, John Paquette, Drew Dickerson and Larry Torres.  I think I got all of you, and even in order of the games I attended, no less.  Thank you all for having me, and I would be honored to do it again next season if you're willing to let me come back. 

I would also like to thank Jason Schott and Ray Floriani, who helped turn a one-man operation into a three-man production with their contributions, Jason for his tireless coverage of St. John's University, and Ray for his photo essays that added a different; and much appreciated, element to our coverage.  It would be my honor to keep you in the family next season.  On that note, if you or someone you know is interested in joining our ranks, reach out to me at for more information.  I can't pay you yet, but I can offer you the chance to get the same kind of experience and exposure that this site has managed to afford me over the last four years.

Finally, I have to thank the people who matter the most, you, the fans.  Without you, there really is no me, and I cannot state that enough.  It is you who, to use a term I mention often when doing play-by-play, make the motor run, and all of you are; and will always be, much bigger parts of my life than any of you will ever know.

Together, we all managed to make our fourth year our best year, making us the epitome of a recruiting class that arrived as freshmen with mounds of potential, only to depart as seniors that overachieved beyond their comprehension.  The only difference is, whereas collegiate student-athletes only have four years of eligibility, we're not going anywhere anytime soon, nor do we intend to.  It is my hope that all of you come back for our fifth year together, which will be a twelve-month period that I will do everything within my power to make the most memorable part of our college basketball experience.  Trust me when I say this, I would love to have all of you come along for the ride again.

There is really not much else I can say, so to bring the curtain down on our fourth year as we enter the offseason, I would like to enclose this postgame speech from Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall, who was a big part of our coverage down the stretch as his Shockers advanced to their first Final Four since 1965; and deservedly so, after his team battled eventual national champion Louisville to the wire in one of the best games all season.  (Video courtesy of Wichita State University Athletics)

Thank you for everything, my friends.  Your support means more than any amount of words in which I try to describe it ever will.

Jaden Daly
Founder and Managing Editor
A Daly Dose Of Hoops

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Catching Up With Jimmy Patsos

Jimmy Patsos was equal parts realistic and hopeful when discussing expectations in his first year at Siena.  (Photo courtesy of the Albany Times-Union)

Only two weeks have come and gone since Jimmy Patsos was introduced as the new head coach at Siena College, but given everything else that has happened in the offseason, it certainly feels like an eternity.

Earlier this afternoon, I had the chance to finally speak to the new coach of the Saints for the first time since putting this piece together after his Loyola team was eliminated by Manhattan in the MAAC Tournament quarterfinals.  After starting by asking about his family's well-being in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy and him asking about new Marist coach Jeff Bower after I mentioned that I was at his press conference yesterday, (Patsos lived two blocks from the site of the explosions, and thankfully, everyone he knows in the area is safe) what followed was a 21-minute, 21-second (not the longest interview I've ever conducted, but definitely in the top five over my six-year career) conversation that started on a straight path, but took multiple detours before reaching its destination, in typical Patsos fashion.  Here's Jimmy, offering his opinion on a number of different topics, including how he and his wife Michele follow our site "religiously" from their time at Loyola:

On taking over at Siena:
"I'm really excited about it, I mean, it's a great job.  Every job has great parts and bad parts, whether you're at Carroll High School where I was, I was at the University of Maryland when they were pretty down, Gary Williams had been there, then we got Joe Smith and Keith Booth, then we went to Loyola and, luckily, Andre Collins came with me, and now I see guys here that can play, and I mention players because (at) any program, you have to have players. Make no mistake, when Fran McCaffery won, it was because they had really five or six good players, and that's a credit to him recruiting. I've got to get out there and recruit.  I think there are three or four kids right away that can help us that are in the program, so that's encouraging.  A couple of guys, I want to see if they can play fast because they've been playing slow forever.  I want to now know if they can play fast because we're going to press and run, but it's just a great place.  You've got Troy and Schenectady and Saratoga, everybody's excited about basketball and that's really a great feeling. The arena's great, they have some great people.  Jason (Rich) and Mike (Demos) in the sports information office are great, John D'Argenio (the athletic director) is great, Father Kevin (Mullen, Siena's president) is great, they've got a great trainer.  Are there some things they need to fix?  Of course, but it's a great job, and I'm looking forward to playing.  Our schedule's challenging, it's going to take a year to rebuild because we lost some guys, but in a year, I expect to be back on track, and it's a great opportunity to try and win the MAAC."

On long-term expectations:
"To go to the postseason, I'm sure some people will say back to the NCAA Tournament and beat Vanderbilt and Ohio State and all that, that's nice with matchups, you know.  The MAAC is a very good league, Quinnipiac and Monmouth were added, but it's still a one-bid league with eleven teams.  That means we have (a) 9 percent chance of winning the league, I'm just a math guy, okay?  Nine percent chance of winning three games in March, like everybody else.  Now, winning four is really tough, but you can win three games in March.  I want to get better as a team every game, I think month by month you have to take a look.  Are we doing better in the classroom, are we being better citizens, are we doing better on the basketball court? Citizens, classroom, court, you know, I do a lot of things in threes. When you get two out of three, you're in good shape. We have to work on some things here.  My long-term goal?  Absolutely, the postseason. The CIT, we were lucky to play in that at Loyola, it was a great tournament.  Joe Dwyer, Angela Lento, great tournament. I've never played in the CBI.  I played in the NIT, it's a great tournament.  As a head coach, I played in the NCAA, that's great. Postseason's a great thing. There's 140 football teams and 80 of them go to bowls, okay?  That's over 50 percent. There's 350 basketball teams and about 130 go, so that's like a third.  So maybe I'm being different, but the goal for this program absolutely should be (to) have a winning season and go to (the) postseason. Sure, I want to win the regular season.  Sure, I want to go to the NCAA. That's not that easy, or else teams like Marist and Fairfield and Canisius and Rider would have done that before, see, there's a reason why they haven't, because it's really difficult.  Iona has, they're defending champs, we were the defending champs (at Loyola) the year before, Siena had a nice run before that, so I'm really interested to learn how this 11-team (league) works out, because there's two brand new teams, and I want to see how good we can get next year. Next year, we have 32 games to get good, a very challenging schedule to be ready for the MAAC Tournament."

On any possible advantage to knowing his roster from coaching against it previously:
"You know, that's a really good question, Jaden.  What I would say, though, my big advantage is that I know the league more than the players.  My point is I know how each team plays with the coaches they have, and the league lost Joe Mihalich, a great person and a great coach, our ambassador left, so that's a new coach, Marist has a new coach.  As far as my team goes, I know (Rob) Poole is really good, I really hope Evan Hymes stays, I think he's leaning toward that because he's experienced and he's fast, (Imoh) Silas, the big guy, can play, and then after that, some guys are getting new chances.  And the other thing is, we're going to play fast, so you can't just say 'Hey, is this guy good?' Watching a team play 2-3 zone and walk the ball up the court, there's nothing wrong with that, that's a great way to play for certain coaches, I'm not criticizing that style.  We're running, we're pressing, we're taking more threes, I'm a big offensive rebounding guy, I have to let these kids play that way and evaluate them, is that fair?  I've only had two practices and I've been working on things.  I want to see how they play when the game is speeding up.  I have a feeling some of these guys may excel in that system."

On recruiting and how he can sell Siena as a campus and an experience beyond basketball:
"Well, that's a good question, I mean Javion (Ogunyemi) is coming to us from Troy, he kept his commitment, you know, he had signed a letter of intent.  I could have been, you know, a jerk and said 'just come already,' but I went and re-recruited him.  Being recruited or re-recruited is okay, it's all part of the process, and they recruited me at Siena.  I've gone to that campus twice to shoot around, but what does that show you?  It doesn't show you anything.  I've been to the arena, I like Albany because there are restaurants and I know Saratoga and there are different parts, Schenectady's a great suburb. I didn't see the inner workings of Siena, so I get on the plane, I drove over actually, landed, I spent five hours with John D'Argenio, who's a great guy, and he's an experienced guy.  He's a guy who has a lot of experience as an athletic director, and I really like that.  So what I did was just get off, meet him, have breakfast, tour the campus.  I wanted to see where the dorms are, the dining hall, I met the president, I met the board, I met Joyce, the senior woman's administrator. These people are all important, the people at the SID office, well, athletic communications I guess you call it now, so I think it's one of those things where you just look and you act like a player, and I said 'this is really good.'  The dorms are good, the academics are good, the support is good, the arena's good, I like the city, it's got a great airport.  Why wouldn't I come, you know?  I'm a lucky guy to be coaching here, I'll tell you that."

On incoming recruits:
"Well, Javion (Ogunyemi) is coming and (Stephan) Jiggetts is coming, because we signed them.  Jiggetts has lost ten pounds and is getting in shape.  We'll try to recruit some other guys, I'm not allowed to comment because they haven't signed yet, but I'm sure there are a couple of guys that want to come visit.  I still think getting local kids is most important, then my next area is Baltimore/Washington, but I've got kids from New England a lot too.  And I'm sure everybody's like 'What about New York?' I'll get to New York, but there are a lot of schools in New York, you know?  I'm really well known in the Baltimore/DC area, and they have the best players in the country, per the experts, whoever they are, you know, Dave Telep or Clark Francis, or all these guys.  They've had success, (Kenny) Hasbrouck, John Williams played here like 20 years ago but for Mike Deane.  It's a 40-minute flight, so that's important.  Then I want to get local kids, I also think the Boston region's great because it's only three hours away, but we'll get kids.  We'll get recruits because I've seen what the product is and it's a great sell, but it's a great academic school, and parents at the end of the day at a major level, parents care about academics, and that's really important to me."

On next year's nonconference schedule:
"Unfortunately, we're going to have to put UMass off for a year, but we'll continue that series later, we're starting up a series with Cornell, we're playing Hofstra, we're playing La Salle, John Giannini, great job, we're playing Purdue in a money game that's part of the Old Spice.  We're going to the Old Spice with Memphis and everybody, see, it's going to be a little rough here early.  Old Spice, those are three big time games, BCS-level games. We came in eighth last year, not first, okay?  But you know, this is the business we have chosen, Hyman Roth from 'The Godfather.' I understand that.  So, you know, I got Purdue in the Old Spice.  That's four games that those teams have more resources and better players than us, but we'll try and compete.  I think La Salle's a good game, I think Fordham's a good game.  Father Kevin has started a series with St. Bonaventure, the Franciscan Cup, I think that's a great idea, I like Fordham, we will play Albany every year. Will Brown and I talked yesterday, we're going to lunch, Will's a really good coach.  We're opening with them, I think we should open with them every year. That's 12,000 people at a game, the first game of college basketball. We might have the biggest crowd in the country, other than a Kansas or somebody, but like a real 12,000, not tickets sold, but people in the arena.  So, the schedule's great, I think it's good to have a little local, we're going to, down the road, always play a national championship team.  I like to play Georgetown, Duke, Kansas, we went to Michigan State.  I like to do one trip a year where we get some money for the program, we get on national television, we play a game that's going to get us ready.  I'm a history guy, so I think it's important for these kids to learn about places that won the national championship.  Our schedule will be challenging, but we're 0-0 until we play a MAAC game, because that's what counts, the MAAC and then the MAAC Tournament."

On advantages to his educational road trips:
"You know, look, I'm not taking kids to museums for five hours, we're just going for a half-hour to an hour.  I just think kids are going to remember going to see 'Milk' in San Francisco.  I think guys remember the Guggenheim.  We took our players, half of whom are from Washington, DC or Baltimore and had never been to the Vietnam Memorial, or the 'I have a dream' speech on the steps. That's important.  I took them to a Broadway show this year that was about a boxer who didn't listen and died, you know, it was The Golden Boy, the guy Tony Shalhoub was in it, the girl from 'Dexter.' I'm going to try and get kids to learn about life and build relationships and grow, because that's important for them down the road.  I know I'm paid to win games, you know, I'm crazy, but I'm not that crazy. But I think those kids remember that.  When you go to Niagara, you should go to Niagara Falls.  I think when you go to Chicago, you should go to the stock market.  That's just a different thing I do.  We went to Memphis, how can't you go to Graceland and Martin Luther King?  They're two of the top ten most important and most popular figures in  modern history, both died young, one was assassinated, one had too many people pulled at him, the dangers of fame, you know?  I'm going to teach that stuff, it doesn't mean I'm quizzing them on it, but we're here to educate young men and win basketball games. I get it."

On using historical figures as motivation:
"Well, the Black Panthers game was because it was Black History Month, and I had talked about Frederick Douglass and different people, I talked about Martin Luther King and I talked about Malcolm X.  I just hadn't got to the modern era of the '70s with the Black Panthers. You know what?  I don't care, I just said 'Sometimes you just have to get a little militant.' I didn't mean militant in a bad way, I just meant there's some times you can be a pacifist like Gandhi, but sometimes like Martin Luther King, you've got to use your own voice and you've got to use your own intellect, but sometimes you have to fight back, and I don't mean that in a literal term, but we were playing very passionate against Fairfield, we acted like that wasn't our game.  I said 'Sometimes you have to strike back.' That means pressing, running, getting the boards, getting a little aggressive on defense so that you can change the momentum of the game. At some point in the '60s and '70s, the black community had to get aggressive to change the message, or it wasn't going to happen for them. My wife's a product of the Vietnam War.  That war was a bad war.  I know my stuff, I read too.  So, my point is this: If I'm going to teach these kids, you've got to use it.  The significance of people in history?  I mean, of course.  You just want them to know so when they go to a cocktail party or (are) at a job interview or at a sales call in 20 years, they don't look like 'Oh, I'm just some jock who played basketball.  No, I'm a college student with a degree.  I just happened to be a good athlete.'  See, that's how I look at that."

On his influences:
"Jack Bruen played fast, he played at Power Memorial with Lew Alcindor.  Dave Gavitt was the kind of guy that said 'instead of canceling the Albany series, you should embrace the Albany series and understand how grateful you are.' Dave Gavitt's the kind of person that says 'you should do every radio show and go in person,' like I would go to your studio if I could, 'and be grateful that you're getting a radio show and representing the university.' You know, Dave Gavitt was 'if you give, you'll get more back.' Gary Williams is my main guy though.  You gotta have one guy, Gary's my guy.  'We're going to press, we're going to run, we're going to fast break, but in the last ten minutes of a game, you better be able to run a half court offense.' I'll play zone, I get that, but the first 30 minutes, let's get the tempo up. It's interesting to me: Usually the team that wins dictates a lot.  Louisville won it (the national championship) pressing, playing a little fast.  I just got off the phone with Andy Enfield, he's out in California right now, he's playing fast, throwing lobs and dunks, and I think that makes kids want to do it.  I'm not a Big Ten coach, I'm an ACC coach.  Greg Manning played for me, his father played in the ACC. We're ACC, let's get up and down.  That's Georgia Tech with Kenny Anderson, that's Mike Krzyzewski forever, that's Dean Smith and Roy Williams and Bill Guthridge playing fast.  I like playing fast, I thought (Jim) Larranaga did a great job this year. I'm going to learn from those guys that play fast, that's just me."

On the MAAC Tournament:
"I hope the tournament gets back here one day, and you can tell everybody I said that.  The tournament is best suited for Albany because people come to the games, it's a great city, and I like Springfield.  The Hall of Fame's cool, but there's no team there, like Marist and Siena draw a lot, you know?  Albany is a great city, they've got an airport, it's easy to drive to, they've got hotels, you (can) go to Saratoga for the day, go to Troy for the afternoon, go to the game, and for $50, you can bring three people to the game and get something to eat.  You know, let's face it, there's hard economic times.  That's not easy."

Steve Pikiell Reflects On Stony Brook's Record Season

After a 25-win season, Steve Pikiell has reason to be optimistic about future at Stony Brook.  (Photo courtesy of Stony Brook University)

At last night's MBWA Haggerty Awards dinner, Steve Pikiell was rightfully recognized as the metropolitan basketball writers' choice for Coach of the Year honors, the second time this award was bestowed upon him after a 25-win season that is; at least for the time being, the most successful in the brief history of Stony Brook University.

Pikiell, who was also named Coach of the Year in the America East for the third time in four seasons, was gracious enough to spend some time with us before last night's festivities got underway, putting the Seawolves' historic campaign in perspective while also giving us a glimpse into life on Long Island without warrior forward Tommy Brenton.

Jaden Daly: Steve, 25 wins, best season in program history, first-ever postseason win; and out of the eight losses, only two by double digits.  What does that say about this team, how far they've come, and what they've molded themselves into?

Steve Pikiell: You know, it's really exciting. We've come a long way.  My first year, (we were) 4-24, 2-14 in the league; and this year, to be 14-2 in conference play, (it's) a total reversal of where we were. We've got great kids, I've got a great staff, and the university really as a whole is just exploding, I mean, our gym is being redone and should be done next year at this time, and you know, the whole university really, the excitement going on, Joe Nathan Field, (College) World Series, our football team won a league championship again, fourth in five years, our men's and women's lacrosse programs are very good, so it's just exciting for our university, and our basketball team continues to get better.  I think better days are still ahead for us.

JD: It's like they haven't missed a beat...coming into this year losing Bryan (Dougher) and bringing back most of the team, and then finding Jameel (Warney) who; let's be honest, could play in the Big East if he wanted to with the numbers he put up.  What does it say about the continuity of this program and how much your kids believe in one common goal?

We're really an unselfish team, and I was nervous coming into this year because we lost four seniors, all four signed pro contracts, so they're playing in Europe, and the guys that played behind those players all stepped up. Anthony Jackson had a great year as Bryan's replacement, Dave Coley had an all-league kind of season, Tommy Brenton does everything for us, was the player of the year in the conference, but I really like the development of Eric McAlister. Jameel certainly comes in, and as a freshman, was ready to play from day one and was rookie of the year in the conference.  So, I think we developed players, I think they all got better, and the guys that got an opportunity to play more minutes, you know, showed that they were worthy of more minutes, but really, this was an unselfish team all year long.  We had nine guys that were the different leading scorers in the games of the twelve guys that we played on our roster, and Tommy really set the tone for that, too, as an unselfish, high IQ guy.  I just love where our program is, I think we're going to continue to get better, and hopefully our guys will continue to develop.  We now need a guy to take Tommy's place, and hopefully we have a few in the program that are ready to step up and do that.

JD: Tell us more about Tommy, what he's meant to the program for four years.  We know he'll be missed, and you can't put a price on what he's done.  Talk about his pro prospects and how much of a chance he has.

SP: We're really thrilled.  He just finished his Masters degree too, and he's the national Defensive Player of the Year, and player of the year in our conference, you know, gets his graduate degree and finishes with a 3.5 GPA in grad school, I mean, can you say anything more?  Leading rebounder in school history, leading assist guy in school history, leading floor burns, probably the best defender in school history.  You can't really say what he's meant to our program because he's meant so much in so many different areas, and he's a great kid.  He's right now meeting with agents, he has pro contracts already, he's just going to sift through those things and decide which country he wants to play for, and that's a great thing.  He's got a lot of different options, so I'm real proud of him, and real proud of how much better he's gotten too over the course of his career.

JD: On top of that, bringing the core of this year's team back next season, how do you like the makeup of next year's team and what they can become?

SP: You know, we have eight of our top ten back, and I feel real good about that.  We have a good player in every class, we redshirted three kids this year that I feel can really play and I'm excited very much about them.  They'll be freshmen next year, but they've already been in the program for a year, we signed a player early that can play in any league in the country, and hopefully we'll get some more good news coming up very shortly with the national signing date coming up, so I feel real good about the returning guys if they continue to improve, and I feel real good about the guys we're adding to the program.

JD: How about the schedule?  Last season, you had Maryland, UConn, a lot of challenging nonconference games early that you competed in and proved that you can play at any level.  Are there any other high-profile high-majors that are on the agenda for next season?

SP: We're working hard, we're going to play VCU at VCU, and we're working hard to solidify a few more dates with some high-major programs.  It hasn't been easy, though, scheduling has become one of my more difficult jobs.  We're playing Northeastern, the CAA champion, you know, which is going to be a challenging game too, and then we've got a host of other teams that we've played that continue to really challenge us.  Our schedule is going to be very good again when it's all said and done, but we're still working on some of the pieces to finish it off.

JD: With everyone in the New York area seemingly getting better every year, how competitive is this area in terms of basketball, and how much more do you need to keep up at what is perceived to be a lower level?

SP: Yeah, you know, there are are some really good coaches and real good programs, the job they're doing at LIU (Brooklyn) and Iona, the job Steve (Masiello) continues to do at Manhattan, Coach (Steve) Lavin at St. John's, you've got to do a great job, you've got to stay on top of your recruiting, you've got to continue to get good players and develop the players that you have in your program to keep up with those programs, so New York basketball is in great shape, it really is. St. John's continues to get better, Seton Hall, Rutgers will be in the middle of hiring a new coach too, Marist just hired a real good coach, Coach (Joe) Mihalich will do a great job at Hofstra and get Hofstra back on track, you know, Coach (Tom) Pecora at Fordham is going to continue to build that program.  It's great basketball around here, it really is, with some real good coaches and real good players. You've got to continue to keep working to keep up with the Joneses.

JD: Finally, in 15 years at the Division I level, Steve, for Stony Brook to come this far this fast, how much of a reflection is it on the program in general, and also for basketball on Long Island and in the area?

SP: Well, I'll tell you, it's been great.  We've come a long way in a short period of time. You've got to have a great president, President Sam Stanley is committed to athletics as, as evidenced by the new building that we're building is as good a building as anyone has in the New York area, and then Jim Fiore is a great athletic director.  There are a lot of really good coaches, but I think it's your athletic director and your president that separate your jobs.  Stony Brook's a great job, and it's a university that's exploding.  Our enrollment is off the charts, and we're building new buildings, we're building new dorms, building a new gym, we just built a baseball stadium, our football stadium is adding new seats.  It's an exciting time at our university, it really is, and our university is 55 years old, so it's a young university on so many levels.  It's a bright future at the university, and you've got to have great administrators in order to make a great athletic program, and we certainly have that.

Jeff Bower Introduced At Marist

Flanked by Marist president Dr. Dennis Murray and athletic director Tim Murray, (no relation) Jeff Bower makes his return to Red Foxes as head coach after a nine-year tenure as an assistant from 1986-95.  (Photo courtesy of Marist College)

Marist College reached into their past to build toward their future, hiring Jeff Bower as the Red Foxes' tenth head coach in program history at a press conference yesterday on the school's campus in Poughkeepsie.  Bower replaces Chuck Martin, who was dismissed after five years at the helm despite his team winning five of its last eight games and competing with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's elite.

A former assistant coach under Dave Magarity during the program's greatest successes in the 1980s and 1990s, Bower is perhaps best known for his tenure as the general manager and head coach of the New Orleans Hornets, with whom he spent the majority of a 15-year NBA career. The 51-year-old was also an assistant coach at Penn State before his initial stay at Marist, and will be one of four new coaches in the MAAC next season; as Tom Moore and King Rice enter the league from the Northeast Conference with Quinnipiac and Monmouth, respectively, while Niagara is still in need of a new coach after Joe Mihalich replaced Mo Cassara at Hofstra. Although Siena made a coaching change as well, Jimmy Patsos was in the MAAC for each of the previous nine seasons as well at Loyola.

After a very well-attended press conference, I had the opportunity to speak to Bower exclusively, and was blown away by his confidence in restoring the winning culture at a program that gets lost in the shuffle in regard to most of the locals, and Marist's new leader had this to say:

Jaden Daly: Coming back after almost twenty years, what is the difference between Marist when you left it and Marist today?

Jeff Bower: Well, physically, the differences jump out at you; the campus growth, the buildings and the advances in technology, the exposure the students have to things is fascinating to see.  As much as the buildings have changed, the values and the atmosphere are just like I remembered, which was part of the reason for wanting to come back and be a part of it.

JD: What are your goals, and how optimistic are you?

JB: Our goals are simple: We're looking to maximize the individual potential of all of our players.  I think if we do that, we'll be able to be successful on many, many nights from a team standpoint, but we're still getting our feet wet.  We're still studying who we are, as well as who our opponents are, but we're looking for progress, we're looking for performance, and we're looking to close the gap between expectations and results.

JD: As far as scheduling, taking a look at what you have coming back, how do you go about finding the right games and the right opponents for this team to not just pad the record, but also challenge the players as well?

JB: Well, you know, scheduling is important, it helps you create a type of mentality and atmosphere of a program.  We want to play against high-level competition out of conference, we want to play in venues that excite our players and our fan base, and give them opportunities to enjoy.  The schedule is something we'll look at very closely moving forward to try to take advantage of ways that we can grow our program.

JD: You've been able to see how wide open the MAAC is, with all the great coaches and players in the area.  How well do you feel you can recruit, not just off of your NBA resume, but also selling Marist itself?

JB: Well, I think the most important thing is knowing what you have to offer, and as I look deeper at the offerings that Marist has, to me, I just have to deliver that message, just highlight the strengths of the college, the strengths of the campus, the strengths of a situation that can offer a total experience; academically, athletically and socially, to any young man who is interested in those things. On the way, we can help a basketball player improve, and we can help him develop his game and get better.  I think those are all aspects that most young people would have an interest in finding out about.

JD: As a former general manager, do you feel you have more of a leg up on the competition in terms of player development, and what do you bring to the table there that some others around you may not be able to take advantage of?

JB: What I can say in response to that is we've always valued player development, and we've always looked closely for ways to measure it, monitor it, and ways to quantify the need for players to improve. The experiences that we've had that have led us down that road, and many of the techniques and the things that we'll not only teach on the floor, but discuss with our players as far as letting them know where they're at in their improvement plan are things that I think we'll take advantage of a great deal.

JD: Going back to your NBA resume and track record there, how well do you think approaching a recruit and saying "I coached Chris Paul, I coached David West, I coached Peja Stojakovic" resonates with a 17-to-18-year old kid interested in playing at the Division I level?

JB: I think the important thing in that regard is that what I can talk to them about is what those players were like, you know, what made them special, what made them successful. What did they really have to work on the fastest and the earliest in the growth of their game and their development?  I think those things could be valuable for a young player to hear and know.  Also, I think the experiences that I've had, I've been behind the black curtain.  I know how it all works, and I know how it works at the very highest level, and there's a great curiosity among players as to what that is all about.  I've experienced it at every level, from the general manager level to the head coach level to the personnel director level, across the board.  I can tell people, tell recruits and their families, real world stories as opposed to getting it from other people.

JD: You've already met with the players coming back.  Based off your first impressions of them, what do you see in the team you have, and how much room do you think they have to grow?

JB: Well, a lot of room to grow, obviously, but I'm very encouraged and very impressed with the attitudes and the approaches of the young men I've had the chance to meet and talk with a couple of times.  I'm looking forward to getting to know them, looking forward to helping them improve, looking forward to helping them kind of define what they want and how they want to go about getting it.

JD: Do you feel Marist is a "sleeping giant," so to speak?

JB: I think Marist has the potential to be able to experience a lot of success.  I think it has the potential to grow itself in many ways, the Marist Institute of Public Opinion is a nationwide feature now, and I think basketball can follow a similar path.  The exposure has been here before, and we have to give them a reason to shine the spotlight again.

JD: With so much talent and so much tradition in the New York area, do you feel that professional success breeds collegiate success, or vice versa?  How can one feed off the other?

Well, I think success is something that's contagious many times, and when you're able to look at success and identify some characteristics or traits that are creating it, then it can be reproduced, and it can be turned into a repeatable process.  So, any team that's successful, whether it's collegiately, professionally, they all leave you with a message and a blueprint for you to look at and steal from, borrow from and motivate your people from.  Everybody wants to be around success.  Everybody wants to be a part of it and are willing to try things they don't understand if it means that they'll be able to join the group.

JD: For those still not sold, still not impressed on the future and what lies ahead at Marist, what is your message to the cynical fan?

JB: My message is sit back, keep an open mind, and the most important thing; as I'll tell my players, is that I can show you a lot better than I can tell you.  Our actions will define our efforts, and our actions will define the results. I'm proud to come back to Marist, I'm excited to be a part of it, and I'll do the best job that I'm capable of. I feel that if all those things come together, we're all going to like where we're heading.

Marist women's basketball head coach Brian Giorgis on Bower: "I'm looking forward to picking his brain.  He's probably forgotten more basketball than I know.  I think what he's going to do is establish his own niche of a winning culture, a winning environment around here, and it's going to spread like a wildfire."

Marist center Adam Kemp on Bower: "Our whole team is really excited.  We've all heard great things about him and what he is as a teacher and an overall basketball mind.  I could tell from the first time that I met him that he was really intellectual and very organized. Just seeing that he was a GM in the NBA, a head coach in the NBA, it definitely has to open eyes with recruits."

McKenith, Smith Become First-Ever Johnnies In WNBA Draft

Only several minutes after she was announced as MBWA All-Met Player of the Year, Nadirah McKenith became St. John's first-ever WNBA Draft pick, going 17th overall, with teammate Shenneika Smith following eight spots later.  (Photo courtesy of ABC News)

On a day marked by tragedy, St. John's University had much to celebrate.

For starters, their men's basketball program was honored at last night's MBWA Haggerty Awards dinner, with JaKarr Sampson being recognized as the MBWA Rookie of the Year while D'Angelo Harrison landed a spot on the all-Met first team.  However, just as it has gone for the past decade in Queens, the St. John's women have once again broken through and made history; as not only did freshman guard Aliyyah Handford win the all-Met Rookie of the Year award, but her senior teammates Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith capped off their legendary four-year careers by becoming the first players in Red Storm history to be selected in the WNBA Draft.

"I have had the opportunity to not only watch these two play as young players in high school, but also be someone who was able to recruit them over time and then to become their head coach as well," said St. John's coach Joe Tartamella.  "It is something special to me, and I really have a lot of pride that I was able to watch these two young ladies grow up before my eyes.  It just shows how special St. John's is and what our players can be capable of as part of our program." Former St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico, who guided McKenith and Smith through their first three seasons before taking over this past year at Michigan, tweeted her congratulations as well shortly after the two were selected.

McKenith, who was also recognized last night as the MBWA's women's Player of the Year, was the first of the duo to be drafted, as she was selected 17th overall by the Washington Mystics; who used their second-round pick on the point guard from Newark who ended her tenure in red and white as St. John's all-time assist leader, and came within one rebound of a triple-double in what turned out to be her final collegiate game, an opening-round loss to Dayton in the NCAA Tournament.  McKenith closed the book on her St. John's career with 1,293 points, and averaged 13.2 points and 5.5 assists per game in her senior season.

Shenneika Smith stays in New York after being selected 25th overall by Liberty in last night's WNBA Draft.  (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

While McKenith may be taking her talents to the nation's capital, her backcourt partner will have the benefit of staying home, as Shenneika Smith was selected eight spots later, going 25th overall to the New York Liberty.  Smith, who will forever be remembered in Johnnies history for her game-winning three in February of 2012 to upset Connecticut and end the Huskies' 99-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion, leaves St. John's as the program's fourth-leading scorer, amassing 1,727 points, with her 16.7 point per game average ranking fifth in the Big East.  The Brooklyn native was also St. John's leading rebounder this past season, with an average of 6.8 caroms per game.

"Tonight speaks volumes of where our program is headed," Tartamella said upon hearing of McKenith and Smith being drafted. "That is something that we have always been trying to build toward as a program over the last few years, and this just shows what our players are capable of.  We are really proud of the fact that we got not just one, but two, players in the same draft."

Friday, April 12, 2013

2013 Metro Area Award Winners

Monday night at the Westchester Marriott will feature the annual MBWA Haggerty Awards dinner, an event in which anyone and everyone in the New York basketball media attends, and one in which we are extremely honored to make our first appearance at just three days from today.  With that in mind, we would be remiss if we did not offer our own metropolitan area awards, a list that several readers have asked about over the past month, and one that was intended to be released after the national championship.  Well, Rick Pitino and Louisville cut down the nets in Atlanta earlier this week, so without any further ado, we give you our own honorees in the Big Apple for the 2012-13 campaign:
Haggerty Award (Player of the Year) - Lamont "Momo" Jones (G - Iona) (Photo courtesy of Iona College)
2012-13 Stats: 22.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 44% FG, 89% FT, 32% 3pt
Jones becomes the second straight Iona guard to be honored with this award in this space, as his former teammate Scott Machado received this title a year ago.  Machado's departure allowed Jones to move back to the point guard position for the Gaels this season, and the Harlem product did not disappoint, ranking in the top five in the nation in scoring throughout the season, ultimately finishing third behind Erick Green of Virginia Tech and Creighton's Doug McDermott.  Already the recipient of MAAC Player of the Year and MAAC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors this season, Jones has been invited to the Portsmouth Invitational in an effort to improve his NBA Draft stock, and has too many highlight reel performances to mention in a season capped off by a 35-point effort off the bench against Loyola and a 33-point performance in the MAAC quarterfinals against Canisius in which he battled a 102-degree fever, but managed to score nearly half of those 33 in the final seven minutes, including eight in the final 3:09 to start the Gaels' eventual run to a second straight NCAA Tournament.

Rookie of the Year - Jameel Warney (F - Stony Brook) (Photo courtesy of Newsday)
2012-13 Stats: 12.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 62% FG, 56% FT
We're prepared for any and all criticism we might (and expect to) receive as a result of selecting Warney for this honor over JaKarr Sampson of St. John's, but Stony Brook's big freshman was a more efficient contributor on both ends of the ball, and more than held his own against stiffer competition whereas Sampson sometimes looked hesitant in the moment of truth against stronger teams for the Red Storm.  Described by head coach Steve Pikiell as someone who had "seen it all" during the Seawolves' nonconference schedule, Warney's progression continued during the America East season; and along with Tommy Brenton, the New Jersey native became an integral part in securing a regular season conference championship for Stony Brook en route to the program's first postseason win at the Division I level.  Warney's 62 percent shooting from the field does more than just peg him as a smart and efficient shot taker, it also positions him as someone whose on-court awareness is greater than those who have been competing at the same level longer, despite only a few months in the collegiate ranks.

Most Improved Player - Stevie Mejia (G - Hofstra) (Photo courtesy of Newsday)
2012-13 Stats: 11.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.1 APG, 2.0 SPG, 37% FG, 69% FT, 34% 3pt
The embodiment of a man who played hard no matter the situation, Mejia defined Hofstra basketball during his two years in Hempstead, staking a claim as one of the best players former Pride coach Mo Cassara was able to lure to Long Island.  A former Rhode Island transfer, Mejia nearly doubled his offensive productivity from last season, and his clutch shots kept Hofstra in games throughout the season despite their overall record.  Along with recently departed Taran Buie, Mejia made up for his 5-9 stature with an aggressive and determined style of play, which he coupled with a nonstop hustle to guide Hofstra through arguably the lowest point in program history after four of its players were arrested at the end of November, essentially firing a torpedo into the Pride's hopes for the year and ultimately costing Cassara his job at season's end.  One of the best defensive players in the area as well, Mejia's spot in the lineup will prove to be a very tall order for new Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich to replace.

Sixth Man of the Year - Shane Richards (F - Manhattan) (Photo courtesy of Manhattan College)
2012-13 Stats: 7.2 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 41% FG, 79% FT, 40% 3pt
Richards may only be a freshman, but the native New Yorker who played pickup games at the 92nd Street Y with friend of the website Theo Rabinowitz has already turned into one of the most lethal shooters in the MAAC, and had his first breakout game in his own backyard, erupting for 18 points on six three-pointers against South Carolina in December at the Barclays Center.  One of two MAAC Rookie of the Year honorees, Richards demonstrated a knack for getting open in the corner and knocking down a perimeter shot more often than not, a tactic that proved crucial for Steve Masiello to find the right lineups and strategies to propel the Jaspers on their late-season run, which ended with a narrow defeat to Iona in the MAAC Championship.  With George Beamon returning to a backcourt that also retains incumbent point guard Michael Alvarado, and Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey arriving up front to join Rhamel Brown, RIchards will have every opportunity to build off an already successful freshman season with a sensational sophomore campaign in Riverdale.

Defensive Players of the Year - Tommy Brenton (F - Stony Brook) and Rhamel Brown (F - Manhattan) (Brenton photo courtesy of ESPN, Brown photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)
Brenton's 2012-13 Stats: 8.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 44% FG, 65% FT
Brown's 2012-13 Stats: 11.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.0 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 55% FG, 41% FT
Both Brenton and Brown were so good at what they did this past season, particularly when it came to statistics that the box scores neglect, to the point where the only fair thing to do here would be to share this honor between the two of them.  The America East Player of the Year in addition to earning the same honors on the defensive side in his conference, Brenton defined the concept of a scrappy player who cultivated a winning culture simply by showing up to practice, asking for no quarter, and not giving one back.  A threat whether the ball was in his hands or not, Brenton was a big part of every scouting report compiled against the Seawolves, and recorded the first triple-double in the nation earlier in the year.  His fellow honoree had just as much of an impact on his team, as Brown became Manhattan's most valuable player when it became clear that George Beamon's ankle injury was serious enough to withhold the senior guard from the Jasper lineup through the heart of MAAC play, and ultimately, the rest of the season.  Brown stepped up higher and more frequently than anyone not named Steve Masiello could have envisioned, as his awareness under the rim and GPS-like radar in tracking loose balls solidified him as one of the most formidable interior presences in the area.

Coach of the Year - Steve Pikiell, Stony Brook (Photo courtesy of WUSB Sports Radio at Stony Brook University)
Pikiell just doesn't do it the right way on the court, as he did yet again this past season when he guided the Seawolves to a 25-8 campaign that became the most successful in program history, he does it the right way in life as well.  Praised by this site on multiple occasions for being the most respectful and compassionate coach yours truly has ever dealt with in his six years in the college basketball media, Pikiell gets the most out of his players, stands by them at every corner, and most importantly, believes in them long after the game has gone final.  Anyone can be named his conference's top coach three times in the last four seasons, but Pikiell has taken a Stony Brook program perceived to be at the depths of Division I when he arrived on the east end of Long Island in 2005 and turned it into a program that fellow local hoops purveyor Big Apple Buckets deemed to be the best in the region this year.  What makes this accomplishment even more meaningful is the fact that Pikiell is intent on building what he has into something bigger, refusing to budge when his name has been thrown around in coaching vacancies at mid-majors in the area, turning down several jobs within the past several years.  With the core of his team returning next season, it would not be the least bit surprising to see the former Jim Calhoun player and assistant win this honor once more next year, be it in the America East, on this site, or both.

2012-13 Daly Dose Of Hoops All-Metropolitan Teams
First Team
Lamont "Momo" Jones (G - Iona)
Jason Brickman (G - LIU Brooklyn)
D'Angelo Harrison (G - St. John's)
Tommy Brenton (F - Stony Brook)
Rhamel Brown (F - Manhattan)
Jamal Olasewere (F - LIU Brooklyn)

Second Team
Sean Armand (G - Iona)
C.J. Garner (G - LIU Brooklyn)
David Laury (F - Iona)
JaKarr Sampson (F - St. John's)
Jameel Warney (F - Stony Brook)

Third Team
Jalen Cannon (F - St. Francis College)
Fuquan Edwin (G - Seton Hall)
Branden Frazier (G - Fordham)
Adam Kemp (C - Marist)
Myles Mack (G - Rutgers)

Honorable Mentions
Eli Carter (G - Rutgers)
Chris Gaston (F - Fordham)
Stevie Mejia (G - Hofstra)
Kenny Ortiz (G - Wagner)
Jonathon Williams (F - Wagner)

All-Rookie Team*
E.J. Reed (F - LIU Brooklyn)
Shane Richards (F - Manhattan)
JaKarr Sampson (F - St. John's)
Mandell Thomas (G - Fordham)
Jameel Warney (F - Stony Brook)

All-Defensive Team
Tommy Brenton (F - Stony Brook)
Rhamel Brown (F - Manhattan)
Adam Kemp (C - Marist)
Stevie Mejia (G - Hofstra)
Chris Obekpa (F - St. John's)
Kenny Ortiz (G - Wagner)