Monday, July 31, 2006


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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bombers Land Abreu

You didn't think Brian Cashman was going to sit still through Monday's trade deadline without adding something to his ballclub, did you? Well, I confess, I thought he might hang in there with Melky Cabrera and Aaron Gueil all summer until Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield return.

But Cashman pulled the trigger on a deal that brings the Yanks OF Bobby Abreu and P Cory Lidle in exchange for four minor leaguers you've never heard of. Abreu is making $13.5 million this year and is due to make $15.5 million next year, when he could make a nice replacement for Sheffield. Plus, Lidle may solve the problem at the No. 5 starter position. He can go deep into games, giving the bullpen a break. Who knows? Maybe he even becomes the No. 4 starter, replacing the maddeningly inconsistent Jaret Wright, should the Yanks get into the postseason.

Stones Coming to New Jersey

Periodically here at ZAGSBLOG we will interrupt the flow of sports news to bring some tasty classic rock info. The latest news has The Rolling Stones coming back to the States after the European leg of their tour, and playing twice in New Jersey, at Giants Stadium on Sept. 27 and at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Oct. 27.

Keith Richards, who recently fell out of a coconut tree and suffered a concussion that required skull surgery, will be back on the tour. Better get out there because who knows if we ever see this guy alive again? Keith is also scheduled to appear in Pirates of the Caribbean 3 as Johnny Depp's father. Word has it that Keith wants to first appear in the movie after falling out of a palm tree. Hey, it's only rock 'n' roll, but I like it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

New Girls Soccer Coach at Clifton

Sheila Miller of the Herald News reports that Dan Chilowicz will take over for Stan Lembryk with the storied Clifton girls soccer program. Chilowicz was a boys assistant at Clifton. Lembryk retired in April after leading the Mustangs to three NNJIL divisional titles, three Passaic County titles and one North 1, Group 4 crown. He sent several players on to the Division I ranks, including Nikki Krzysik, above, now playing for the U.S. Under-20 national team, which is preparing for the FIFA U-20 World Championships next month in Russia.

In other news, Keith Idec of the Herald News writes about Paterson's Gerald Hayes, a Passaic Tech grad seeking a starting job with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.

Tommie Patterson Moving from PC to Eastside

As first reported by the Herald News, Tommie Patterson has left the Paterson Catholic boys basketball team to coach at crosstown rival Eastside. Patterson, a Kennedy High grad, spent seven years at PC, going 1-3 in Passaic County championship games while sending Marquis Webb (Rutgers), Darryl Watkins (Syracuse) and Kimmani Barrett (La Salle) on to Division I programs. His top assistant, Damon Wright, is the lead candidate to get the PC job.
“For me it’s overwhelming that I applied for the job and I got the job,” Patterson said in a phone interview on Thursday evening. “Quite honestly, I didn’t think I would get it.
“I thought if I could get to Eastside, which is a bigger forum, then I could have the opportunity to reach more kids like Tyrone Collins did to me. It’s a bigger school, I’ll have more players I can put on the (right) path and let them know it’s not about the city (of Paterson). It’s about you enjoying life. It’s about the student-athlete.
“There are more kids that I can reach with my speeches. Lord knows they don’t like to hear them but I’m going to give it to them.”

Patterson also cited a desire to get away from the parochial school world, where he said he loses kids from Paterson to St. Anthony, St. Benedict's, DePaul and Paramus Catholic because those coaches offer to pay tuitions for the top kids, a suggestion that has stirred debate in some quarters. He says PC has never paid anyone's tuition.

As far as his staff, Patterson is looking at bringing in James Hargrove, a former Kennedy teammate, along with Eddie Hill and James Bacote, two Eastside guys. Hill was Tommie's top assistant at PC and Bacote was an assistant under Art Redmond at Manchester before Redmond was replaced by Rich Sponzilli.

Speaking of the Cougars, rising junior point guard Jordan Theodore of Englewood has scholarship offers from Maryland, Georgetown, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Asked if he was considering leaving the school because of the coaching change, Theodore said, "No."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Queen of Peace Starting Over

After losing 16 seniors, including four Division I players, and the entire coaching staff save for one man, the Queen of Peace football team is starting over in 2006. Graduated senior LB Darius Bagan, left, is headed to Boston College. The Herald News profiles the team and new coach Tom Ferriero.
"There are still enough football players here to be a very competitive football team in this division," Ferriero said.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Love Picks Bruins

Kevin Love, considered the top post player in the Class of 2007, announced on Tuesday in Las Vegas that he will play his college ball at UCLA. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Love led the Reebok ABCD Camp held earlier this month in Hackensack, NJ in scoring and rebounding. He had narrowed his choices to UCLA and North Carolina, but said the chance to stay close to home (Oregon), to play for coach Ben Howland and to follow in the footsteps of Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the deciding factors. "UCLA just feels right," he said.

In other news, Bob Huggins' lawyer is now representing Bill Walker in his case against the Ohio High School Athletic Association and says Walker has a strong case to be able to play next year. The No. 2-ranked high school player in the nation by, Walker was previously ruled ineligible after it was determined he had exhausted his high school eligibility.

Teel, Olsen Ready to Start at QB

The Herald News reports that Oakland's Mike Teel and Wayne's Christian Olsen are both No. 1 on the depth chart at quarterback at their respective schools, Rutgers and Virginia.

Because Rutgers qualified for its first bowl game in nearly 30 years last season, Teel said the team expects to succeed again this year:
"The mentality that we have down there now is we won, we had some success last year and guys know what it feels like," Teel said. "That's something that you want to feel every time you go out and play, so that's the mentality we've had all off-season and it's what we're working on."

Olsen, meanwhile, hasn't started a football game in five years, and is finally getting his turn in the ACC.
"I've been waiting 23 years for this," Olsen told reporters on Sunday at the ACC Football Kickoff in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The Star-Ledger also has a story on the Rutgers summer basketball league that is heading into the playoffs next week.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wood vs. Aluminum: A Matter of Life or Death?

In the wake of the life-threatening injury suffered by a 12-year-old boy from Wayne, NJ, the Herald News examines the issue of wood vs. aluminum bats and whether it makes a difference between life and death. In early June Steven Domalewski was pitching in a Wayne PAL game when he was hit in the chest with a batted ball off an aluminum bat. The result has left him in a coma at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Paterson where he has shown improvement, but still has a long way to go. Sheila Miller also has a story about how many parents are using a new product called the Heart-Gard to protect their children.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Oak Hill, Fork Union Cleared

The NCAA announced that Oak Hill Academy and Fork Union Military Academy, two prep schools in Virginia, had been cleared after they were initially placed on a list of schools "subject to review" on July 5. St. Thomas More, which produced Quincy Douby and next year will feature West Milford's Justin Sofman, remains on the list, much to the chagrin of head coach Jere Quinn. Quinn previously told the Herald News: "I will be shocked if our lawyers don't contact these people (the NCAA) and go after them."

In other athletic-academic news, Pete Thamel of The New York Times reports that Auburn has taken its first step toward reform. Interim president Ed Richardson said the school would limit the number of directed-reading courses a student could take. This comes after the Times reported that "athletes took advantage of so-called directed-reading courses to help boost their grades and remain eligible for their sports."

The Times also has a feature on Duke and USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and how he is melding a team of young stars in preparation for next month's World Championship.

Keith Idec of the Herald News has a story about how Paterson's Tim Thomas is hosting an event on July 29 to raise funds for his alma mater, Paterson Catholic.

"Knowing the situation with my high school right now, we're just trying to raise money to help keep the school open," Thomas, 29, said. "They need a little help. We can't just let that school disappear. Plus, I wanted to do something for the city as well. I just thought this was a way I could do something for the community, as well as raise money for my school."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

J.R. Smith to Nuggets

The Nuggets are expected to acquire St. Benedict's product J.R. Smith after he was traded by the Hornets to the Bulls for guard Howard Eisley and two second-round picks in 2007. The article in the Rocky Mountain News also points out that Smith's dad, Earl, has donated $50,000 to St. Benedict's. That must be good news for the school and the basketball teams, which next year will include three Passaic County players: Tamir Jackson, Jayon James and Rashad Bishop.

Smith, 20, was drafted No. 18 by the Hornets in 2004 out of St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J. He averaged 10.3 points while mostly starting as a rookie, but dropped to 7.7 last season, when he lost his starting job around midseason and clashed with coach Byron Scott.

Smith said it was "miscommunication." He said the two haven't spoken in a while.

Smith shot 37.1 percent on three-pointers last season. His high school coach, Dan Hurley, said Smith has a "Dell Curry stroke" and is a "phenomenal perimeter shooter" who was trying too hard to show he could put the ball on the floor.

"He's been lifting and getting stronger and really working on his skills," said John Lucas, a former Nuggets assistant who has been working Smith out this summer in Houston. "He's got the ability to be as good as anybody in this league."

Smith also has drawn raves for conduct off the court. His father, Earl Smith, said he has given $50,000 to St. Benedict's.

"I told him once, 'If you ever make it, I'll be knocking on your door (for a donation),' " said St. Benedict's headmaster, Father Edwin Leahy, who saw Smith when he visited the school Monday to work with youngsters. "He's a terrific guy, It's the middle of July and he stops by."

Monday, July 17, 2006

Jackson Getting Chance at St. Benedict's

The Herald News features Tamir Jackson of Haledon, NJ. With the departure of Eugene Harvey to Seton Hall and the arrival of Zack Rosen at St. Benedict's, Jackson will likely be the starting shooting guard this season for coach Danny Hurley.

Jeff Jacobs of The Hartford Courant also has an interesting column on the whole Geno Auriemma-Jim Calhoun soap opera in which he says that Auriemma came close to taking the Oklahoma men's job that ultimately went to Jeff Capel, but that he remains in Storrs because of family and business commitments. Clearly, the two UConn coaches are not going out to dinner anytime soon.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Rutgers Courting Bishop

Kennedy High School coach Jim Ring told me last week that he was on the phone for half an hour with Rutgers coach Fred Hill about Rashad Bishop, a 6-5 wing player who will spend this year at St. Benedict's Prep. Bishop, the 2006 Herald News Player of the Year, spent the past 4 seasons at Kennedy. Last year he earned second-team All-State honors after averaging 21.9 points and 11.0 rebounds, while showing tremendous range from downtown. Ring said Seton Hall, Maryland and Cincinnati were also involved with Bishop, who this weekend helped the Playaz Gold team win the adidas Playaz Ball at Basketball City.

Dick "Hoops" Weiss of the Daily News reports that Rutgers is involved with a dozen players, including Bishop.

Hill has four scholarships to play with and is looking for a center, wing forward, power forward and guard to flesh out his roster, which will lose a lot of size next year. He is apparently involved with a dozen players, including point guard Mike Coburn from Mount Vernon, N.Y., 6-6 wing Rashard Bishop of St. Benedict's, 6-7 forward Idris Hilliard from Hun School (Princeton), 6-7 forward Chandler Parsons of Winter Park, Fla. (whose grandfather was a 1,000-point scorer at Rutgers) and 6-9 center Levoy Allen of Pennsbury (Pa.).

Jim Hague also had a story in today's Hudson Reporter on Miles Beatty and Paterson's Travon Woodall from the ABCD Camp. Beatty, a senior guard, says several schools are interested, including Rutgers. As previously reported by the Herald News, Woodall, a rising junior point guard, already has offers from numerous schools, including Rutgers and Seton Hall.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Playaz Ball Tips Off; Beasley to Winchendon?

The Herald News has two stories on the Playaz Ball, which tips off today in several locations across North Jersey. One talks about how Paterson's Rashad Bishop, the 2006 Herald News Player of the Year, and Jerrell and Terrell Williams are on similar paths heading into a fifth year of prep school. Speaking of the Williams twins, Fox Sports reports that Tyrone Nash is leaning toward going to Northfield Mount Hermon to play with Jerrell and Terrell instead of accepting a scholarship to Kentucky.

Another Herald News story profiles Michael Beasley, the Frederick, Md., native who is one of the top players in the Class of 2007. Beasley may be heading to The Winchendon (Mass.) School next year before going off to Kansas State. Even though he committed to K-State, he also says Pittsburgh is in the mix.

The Herald News also reports that North Haledon's Craig Berry got a call from the Packers and will work out with them next week.

Pete Thamel of The New York Times continues his investigative reporting related to academic requirements at prep schools and colleges. Today he reports that an Auburn University sociology professor, Thomas Petee, has been involved in questionable activities by teaching an inordinate amount of directed-reading courses to football players.

Eighteen members of the 2004 Auburn football team, which went undefeated and finished No. 2 in the nation, took a combined 97 hours of the courses during their careers. The offerings, known as directed-reading courses, resemble independent study and include core subjects like statistics, theory and methods, which normally require class instruction.

The professor for those players and many other athletes was Thomas Petee, the sociology department’s highest-ranking member. The star running back Carnell (Cadillac) Williams, now playing in the National Football League, said the only two classes he took during the spring semester of his senior year were one-on-one courses with Professor Petee.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Is Dwaine Barnes Responsible for Bill Walker's Plight?

Is Dwaine Barnes Responsible for Bill Walker's Plight?
A fascinating column in The Cincinnati Post by Lonnie Wheeler suggests that Barnes, O.J. Mayo's legal guardian, schemed several years ago to reclassify Bill Walker so that he and Mayo would be in the same grade, therefore combining their tremendous basketball talents.
So Dwaine Barnes, the AAU coach, became their go-to guy in hoop decisions, which, in these cases, were life decisions. One of the first orders of business was to get the two wunderkinds in the same grade. We know now, through the OHSAA investigation which resulted in Walker being ruled ineligible for next year, that he and Mayo didn't start out as classmates. When Walker joined Mayo at Rose Hill in late 2002, he was placed in 9th grade. Mayo, already a local legend by then (Kentucky students may begin playing at the varsity level whenever they're ready), was tearing it up in 8th.

So it was that Walker left Rose Hill before the season was out and enrolled at North College Hill in February 2003 as an 8th grader. Mayo joined him the next fall, with Barnes as his legal guardian.

The plan included winning four Ohio championships, which was dashed when the Trojans were knocked out in the presumed freshman season of both superstars. Not so the following year, or the following. If Mayo stays at NCH, his third title will have to come without Walker's lofty assistance.

Wheeler says that three years ago, Walker was shopping for a school that would reclassify him as an 8th grader and this was openly discussed in a Kentucky prep forum.

It's pretty obvious now that, three-plus years ago, Walker was shopping for a school that would place him in the 8th grade. NCH officials did so on the basis of his transcript from St. Joseph Central Catholic in Huntington, which he attended for less than two months in the fall of 2002. Before it had received Walker's previous transcript - not an easy get, since the youngster had already started flitting between schools - St. Joseph classified him as an 8th grader.

Rose Hill did not, and there were newspaper accounts indicating as much. When Walker showed up at NCH in the second semester, a prep forum in Kentucky openly discussed his move back from 9th grade to 8th. Why were NCH officials unaware of such a clumsily kept secret? Why didn't they resolve the missing months?

This analysis fleshes out Monday's Cincinnati Enquirer story that Walker "was put back in the eighth grade upon transferring to North College Hill in February 2003." That story only mentioned Barnes in context that he did not return calls seeking comment.

Meantime, Michael McCann, the lawyer who told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Walker would have a legal case against the NBA if he thought he should be eligible for the 2007 NBA Draft, posted a blog arguing that Walker's best course of action would be to attempt to persuade the NBA that he has a case before pursuing litigation.

I am the lawyer referenced in Groeschen's article title, and while I do believe that Walker would have a strong case (as I discuss in the article), I would like to add the following proviso: if Walker were to pursue eligibility for the 2007 NBA Draft, his best initial approach would not be litigation with the NBA, but rather a concerted and constructive effort to discuss the matter with the NBA, and hopefully persuade the league to reconsider its thinking; litigation here, as in every dispute, should only be used if all reasonable attempts at negotiation fail. Moreover, being a litigant can be stressful and emotionally-draining, and that's especially true in a highly-publicized trial.

But as we also know, sometimes all reasonable efforts at negotiation do not succeed, and litigation is the only and correct option to right a wrong. Should that occur in this instance, I believe that Walker would have an extremely strong case.

Eastside Names New AD; Berry Hopes for NFL Call

The Herald News reports today that Eastside High School in Paterson, former home of principal Joe Clark, has hired its first new athletic director in more than 17 years. Clifton Thompson, 34, takes over for Elbert Harris, who retired last June.
Also, North Haledon's Craig Berry hopes to get selected in today's NFL Supplemental Draft. The 6-6, 340-pound Berry withdrew from UConn last December for academic reasons.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thomas to Clips; Hammon Banged Up; Walker Has Case

In an exclusive interview with Keith Idec of the Herald News, Paterson's Tim Thomas says he chose the Clippers over the Suns to make his family happy; he recently purchased a big home near the Staples Center. Thomas also says he and former Bucks teammate Sam Cassell have patched things up and are looking forward to winning in L.A.

In WNBA news, the Liberty's Becky Hammon has a sprained ankle and can't play in Wednesday's WNBA All-Star Game.

On the high school front, the latest news on the Bill Walker case has The Cincinnati Enquirer quoting a lawyer as saying that Walker would have a case against the NBA should he decide to challenge the age limit and try to play beginning in 2007. A column at the same paper says the adults let Walker down.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Walker Saga Continues

One day after Ohio athletic officials ruled Bill Walker ineligible to play at North College Hill next year, the Cincinnati Enquirer looks into Walker's options for next year. Apparently, challenging the new NBA age limit is not one of them.
He could remain at North College Hill as a student - and not worry about playing for the Trojans.
He could enroll in a prep school.
Or he could play professionally in another country.

Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports, who spoke with Walker on Sunday before the Senior All-Star Game at ABCD, says that O.J. Mayo and Walker could both be on the move to another high school as a result.
Meanwhile, Seth Davis of reports on the continuing Mayo saga, including a rift in the Mayo camp that may have contributed to his leaning toward attending USC.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Vaccaro Sees Loophole; Walker Declared Ineligible

As the Reebok ABCD Camp wound down with its two All-Star Games on Sunday, camp director Sonny Vaccaro told the Herald News he saw a loophole in the NBA's age limit: dual citizenship.
"If in fact they're letting the Europeans play earlier than our kids, then I said, 'OK, we'll apply for dual citizenship,'" Vaccaro said. "I know it's far-fetched, but on a legal matter with a few kids it could've been done."

In a postscript to the camp, The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that Bill Walker has been declared ineligible to play for North College Hill next season.
The story is a complex one, but the bottom line is that Walker played two semesters as a freshman at Rose Hill Christian (Ashland, Ky.) in the 2002-03 season. He transferred to NCH in February 2003 and was put back in the eighth grade, with NCH believing he had not finished eighth grade as yet.

Walker has played the past three years (six semesters) at NCH, helping lead the Trojans to consecutive Division III state titles in 2005 and '06. Walker's future plans are unknown, as this story is still developing today.

The Record also has a feature on how high school hoopsters are image conscious. The Star-Ledger has a story on how these camps are dominated by guards. And CSTV has a piece on Corey Fisher's performance in the Senior All-Star Game.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sofman: No Worries About NCAA List

The NCAA last Wednesday issued three new lists related to its crackdown on questionable prep schools across America. One of the schools on a list of 22 "under review" for academic "irregularities" is St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Ct. In the fifth of a five-part series on summer sneaker camps, West Milford's Justin Sofman, who is headed next year to St. Thomas More before going to Rutgers in 2007, says he is not worried about the latest list.
"I really don't know much about it so I really can't comment on it," said Sofman, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound All-Passaic shooting guard from West Milford who committed to Rutgers beginning in 2007 and is competing at the Eastern Invitational this weekend at The College of New Jersey. "It didn't affect my decision. I still want to go there. From what I hear, (St. Thomas More) is going to pass (the NCAA standards) well because of the guys they got up there. I'm assuming everything's going to be OK."

St. Thomas More coach Jere Quinn, however, says he is stunned and offended that the 44-year-old school made the list.
"I will be shocked if our lawyers don't contact these people and go after them," he said.

Pete Thamel of The New York Times wrote a story last week which revealed that Oak Hill Academy, the alma mater of Carmelo Anthony, is also upset about being on the NCAA list. In another story on Sunday, Thamel and colleague Thayer Evans say some high school players may choose to go overseas before playing in the NBA. Dan Rosen of The Record looks at the one-on-one matchups that attract hype at the ABCD Camp. The Daily News has a story about coaches text messaging players in order to stay in touch during recruiting.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's Good to be a Corey

Day 2 at the Reebok ABCD Camp brought no announcement from O.J. Mayo about his college intentions, so the throng of reporters was free to give some ink to other players. In the fourth of our five-part series on summer sneaker camps, the Herald News profiled the three Coreys - Chandler, Fisher and Stokes. Fisher said he might transfer from St. Patrick's this season, but a Villanova assistant told me he thought Fisher would remain at St. Pat's. Dan Rosen of The Record featured Greg Echenique, a native of Venezuela who plays for St. Benedict's and says he wants to live in Ridgewood if he ever makes the NBA. The Washington Post featured Renardo Sidney, a 6-9 man-child from Mississippi who already has shadowy figures trying to get a piece of him. The New York Post looked at Sylven Landesberg and The Asbury Park Press featured Miles Beatty of St. Anthony. The Star-Ledger profiled rapper/hoopster Percy Romeo Miller, aka "Lil' Romeo."

Friday, July 07, 2006

Walker Eligibility in Question

The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting on its blog today that Bill Walker, Robin to O.J. Mayo's Batman at North College Hill High in Cincinnati, could be declared ineligible next season because he competed during the 2002-03 season for a high school in Ashland, Ky. A ruling is not expected until at least Monday. The 6-6 Walker is at the Reebok ABCD Camp in Hackensack with Mayo. Neither has yet to publicly announce his college choice.

O.J. Mayo Circus Comes to Town

The big question entering the first day of the Reebok ABCD Camp at Fairleigh Dickinson was whether O.J. Mayo, the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2007, would formally announce he is heading to play at USC next year. ESPN had reported on Wednesday night that Mayo had committed to Southern Cal during a visit last week. As it turned out, Mayo told a small group of reporters during the morning session, including the Herald News and Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports, that USC is his "first" choice, but that Kansas State and Florida were still in the mix. Mayo indicated he might formally commit today.
"I just think it's a great opportunity," Mayo, a native of West Virginia who now plays high school ball in Cincinnati, said on Thursday. "USC is a great campus; they have great alumni and I think it will be easy to get players out there for help. L.A. is a great town and it's a pro city."

Later, at his press conference, Mayo didn't answer any questions about colleges, making the event pretty anticlimactic.

In the third installment of our five-part series, the Herald News examines how a bidding war between Nike and Reebok for Mayo's services is likely to emerge as he approaches the 2008 NBA Draft. Experts say Mayo could command $5-10 million per year on the sneaker deal, but $20-25 million when you factor in all of his potential endorsements. Meanwhile, Steve Politi of The Star-Ledger wrote a column examining the competition between USA Basketball and the sneaker camps to attract the best talent, and how the sneaker camps are winning.

Art Stapleton of The Record wrote a feature on Rutgers coach Fred Hill and Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez and how they are approaching the summer recruiting period in their first year as coaches. Jerry Carino of the Courier News profiles Idris Hilliard of The Hun School and Hamidu Rahman, who are being courted by the two NJ state schools.

CSNY Open Freedom of Speech Tour

After the hoops yesterday at Fairleigh Dickinson, I cruised down to Camden to see the opening night of Crosby, Still, Nash & Young’s “Freedom of Speech” Tour. Thirty-seven summers after they first appeared together at Woodstock, the boys are on tour speaking out against the war in Iraq and promoting free speech. The Star-Ledger had a review and setlist. Playing to a capacity crowd, CSNY sounded great, if a little rough, on the first night. Backed by a giant peace sign and with the words to the Constitution written on the stage, they played a first set mostly made up of songs from Neil’s new album, “Living With War.” After a 20-minute break, the boys came back out and stepped away from the political arena for a bit, playing “Helplessly Hoping,” “Our House,” and a beautiful version of “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” with Neil on piano and Graham and David on backing vocals. Considering he suffered a brain aneurysm little more than a year ago, Neil looks great, and even cracked a few jokes ("Welcome to CSNY Soapbox ’06.") Then they weaved their way back into anti-war songs, singing “Let’s Impeach the President” as images of George Bush flip-flopping on various issues played in the background while the faces of dead soldiers also were shown on the giant screen. A count-up showed that 2,537 American soldiers had died in Iraq as of Thursday. Many of their anti-Vietnam songs sounds as fresh and relevant as ever, a sad commentary on this war. The boys closed with “Ohio,” “What Are Their Names?”, “Lookin’ for a Leader,” "Deja Vu" and “Love the One Your With.” The tour heads to Neil territory in Canada next week before returning to the NY/NJ area in late August.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

ABCD: Woodall shooting for top

In the second of a five-part series on summer sneaker camps in New Jersey, the Herald News profiles Paterson's Travon Woodall, a 6-1 PG who dreams of playing for Duke. Woodall is one of 10 Garden Staters invited to ABCD and one of several talented point guards, including Corey Fisher of St. Patrick's and Corey Chandler of Newark East Side.

Jerry Carino and Keith Sargeant of the Courier News also has a good story today on what Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez and Rutgers coach Fred Hill are up to as the July recruiting period heats up.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Nation's Best Coming to Reebok ABCD Camp

In the first of a five-part series on summer sneaker camps in New Jersey, the Herald News reports that 6-5 PG Derrick Rose of Chicago Simeon will join 6-5 PG O.J. Mayo and 6-9 PF Kevin Love at the Reebok ABCD Camp beginning Thursday at FDU-Hackensack. That gives Reebok the three top players in the Class of 2007. In a sidebar, the HN reports that the Eastern Invitational is taking many of the prep players no longer being accepted at ABCD, including West Milford's Justin Sofman and Paterson's Jerrell Williams.

Meantime, rumors are flying that Mayo will announce his college choice this week, choosing between USC and Kansas State, where Bob Huggins has taken over.

Dustin Dow of The Cincinnati Enquirer had a nice series the other day on the sneaker camps, including a story about how Nike, Reebok and adidas hope to influence the players to use their products and ultimately sign sneaker deals with them. The series also had stories on how the camps affect coaches' schedules and can influence a player's stock to rise or fall.

Finally, The Washington Post has a fascinating story about the sneaker companies and their efforts to recruit a 10-year-old.

Friday, June 30, 2006

North All-Stars Rout South

The North All-Stars routed the South, 31-16, in Thursday's North-South All-Star Game at Rutgers. The Herald News checked in with Josh Richmond of St. Marys and Joe Muraglia of Queen of Peace, two locals on the winning team. The Ledger and Courier News focused on Donald Jones of Plainfield, the North's Offensive MVP.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Douby to Sacramento

Rutgers guard Quincy Douby was selected No. 19 in Wednesday's NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings and The Record's Tara Sullivan was at his house for the story. The Asbury Park Press and Star-Ledger also had stories on Douby and the draft, while the San Francisco Chronicle tells the story from Sacramento's perspective.

The Ledger reports that seven Big East players were selected in the first round, including four from UConn and two from Villanova.

North-South All-Star Game Tonight

There are numerous features out in anticipation of tonight's North-South All-Star Game at Rutgers. The Herald News completes its 3-part series with a feature on Remo Fioranelli of Wayne Valley, a DE who will walk on at Rutgers next year. The Ledger features QB Andrew Mandeville, an undersized player who will head to Monmouth. The Courier News has a piece on two players from the South, Plainfield WR Donald Jones and Dunellen WR John Schleppenbach. The Burlington County Times, Asbury Park Press and New Jersey Herald also have features on the game. Joe Hofmann of the Daily Record has a notebook.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Figueroa Building Promising Future

The Herald News has three stories today on Thursday's North-South All-Star Game at Rutgers, including a feature on Passaic LB Felix Figueroa, who is making an unusual move next year. He will attend The Apprentice School in Newport News, Va., where he will learn to be a welder building submarines for the U.S. Navy while earning a salary. He will also compete for the school's football team.

Mark Czerwinski also has a feature examining whether All-Star games such as these are worth it, given the potential for injury. Queen of Peace OL John Palumbo was seriously injured in the Bergen All-Star Game a few weeks back and will have to redshirt his freshman year at Temple. Bergen Catholic coach Fred Stengel says he is opposed to these types of games.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Richmond Ready for North-South

St. Mary's standout Josh Richmond is ready to play any one of several offensive positions for the North in Thursday's North-South All-Star Game at Rutgers. Joe Hofmann of The Daily Record has a feature on North coach Bill Regan and his veer offense. The Hudson Reporter has a piece mentioning the three Hudson County players in the game, including Temple-bound RB Kee-Ayre Griffin.

Reebok Camp Next Features Paterson Stars

Two weeks before the Reebok ABCD Camp tips off at FDU in Hackensack, Reebok Camp Next featured five players with Paterson ties. They included Class of 2008 members Jio Fontan (St. Anthony), Wayne Mack (Paramus Catholic) and Jordan Theodore (Paterson Catholic) and 2010ers Jayon Jones and Shaquille Thomas, the nephew of Phoenix Suns star Tim Thomas.

Friday, June 23, 2006

All-State Baseball Announced

The Associated Press All-State baseball team was announced Thursday with junior SS Bryan Gambuzza of DePaul and senior OF Justin Bencsko of Pequannock earning second-team honors and junior P John Slootmaker of Lakeland being selected to the third team. Gambuzza was the Herald News Player of the Year and Slootmaker was named Pitcher of the Year (See below for more.) Bencsko, who helped lead the Golden Panthers to back-to-back Morris County titles, is headed to Villanova on scholarship.

In Bergen County, senior P Eric Katzman and junior Rob Segedin of Old Tappan were selected to the first team. Katzman is headed to the University of Michigan next year.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rutgers College Player Summer League

Rosters and schedules for the Rutgers College Player Summer League are posted. DEVCO looks to be one of teams to beat with plenty of Paterson's finest, including former Paterson Catholic teammates Darryl Watkins and Marquis Webb. That team also features former Eastside and current Norfolk State standout Tony Murphy, former Passaic and current NJIT point guard Clayton Barker as well as Luis Martinez, who helped lead William Paterson to the Elite Eight of the NCAA D-3 tournament and Rutgers' Jaron Griffin.

William Paterson coach Jose Rebimbas also heads a strong BIGNELL PLANNING team that features G Jamar Nutter of Seton Hall, former Seton Hall G Donald Copeland, Rutgers F Ollie Bailey, Rutgers PG Courtney Nelson and G/F Kimmani Barrett, the 2005 Herald News Player of the Year who is headed to La Salle.

Games begin Sunday night at the Barn at Rutgers, with playoffs starting July 30 and running through Aug 3. Jerry Carino of the Courier News has another story on the league.

Herald News All-Area Baseball

The Herald News All-Area awards are out today and Lakeland junior pitcher John Slootmaker was named Pitcher of the Year while DePaul shortstop Bryan Gambuzza was selected Player of the Year. Slootmaker went 7-2 and helped lead the Lancers to their second straight Passaic County championship; he and fellow hurler Brad Smith are hoping for a threepeat in 2007. Gambuzza batted .552 with a Passaic-County best 58 hits, more than two a game, and helped the Spartans earn the No. 1 seed in the Passaic County Tournament.

St. Mary's was named Team of the Year after reaching the Non-Public Group B state championship game for the first time since 2003.

And Pequannock's Bill Arata was selected Coach of the Year for guiding the Golden Panthers to their second consecutive Morris County crown despite injuries to several key players, including Villanova-bound OF Justin Bencsko.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reebok ABCD Invites Announced

It’s almost that time of year again, time for sneaker guru Sonny Vaccaro’s one-stop basketball recruiting shop known as the Reebok ABCD Camp at Fairleigh Dickinson. The Herald News breaks a list of New Jersey players invited to the prestigious camp between July 5-July 9. They include Paterson’s Travon Woodall, a 6-foot sophomore guard from St. Anthony whom the HN featured earlier this season.

Also invited were Corey Chandler of Newark East Side, a junior point guard who committed to Rutgers beginning in 2007; Corey Stokes, the St. Benedict’s junior swingman who recently committed to Villanova; Idris Hilliard, a junior from The Hun School in Princeton, and Ashton Gibbs, a sophomore from Seton Hall Prep.

That group will join O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love, the top two recruits in the Class of 2007, as well as Mayo’s North College Hill teammate Bill Walker, at FDU, where they will be examined and dissected by hundreds of college coaches and scouts from across this great land.

The 6-4, 190-pound Mayo has been associated with Reebok since 2003 when the shoe company invested tens of thousands of dollars in his AAU team, the D-I Greyhounds. But Mayo made national headlines in April when he played for the Nike-sponsored Miami Tropics in Houston, spurring some to speculate that the swoosh might have an inside track on signing the future NBA player to a multi-million dollar sneaker contract.
After all, LeBron James, to whom Mayo has most frequently been compared, jumped ship from adidas to Nike after announcing he would turn pro.

Still, Mayo has apparently left his options open and said he was looking forward to returning to ABCD for another season.
“It’s my last year coming so I’m looking forward to making a big impact and having some fun,” Mayo said during a phone interview.

Mayo also recently made national news when he was suspended from his North College Hill team for allegedly fighting. There had been speculation that he might transfer to another high school for his senior season. He visited with officials at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, but Mayo said he would spend his last year at North College Hill in Cincinnati.
“I’ll be returning back to North College Hill,” he said.

Mayo is trying to win his third state championship at North College Hill.

Two other Paterson players, sophomore Jordan Theodore of Paterson Catholic and freshman Tamir Jackson of St. Benedict’s, were invited to this weekend’s Reebok Camp Next, also at FDU.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Ismaulis Hernandez Story

Today's Herald News profiles Ismaulis Hernandez, who learned to play baseball with a rolled up sock in the streets of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and has become an All-County pitcher for Eastside High School. Hernandez will play for the Northeast New Jersey All-Stars in Saturday's New Jersey Senior All-Star Game at Mercer County Park.

Also a reminder that the Herald News will run its ALL-AREA teams on Wednesday, complete with Pitcher and Player of the Year, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year and a list of All-Area selections. The Associated Press ALL-STATE team will then run on Friday.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

All-Star Games Galore

June is the month for baseball and football All-Star Games, and boy does New Jersey have its share. Last Friday, Wallington's David Popek looked forward to the Bergen County All-Star Football Classic at Ramapo High School. But the game was called due to lightning and rain after a scoreless first half. The main story of the night was that Queen of Peace offensive lineman John Palumbo dislocated his left ankle and left fibula on a freak play in the second quarter. Luckily, Temple reaffirmed its commitment to Palumbo, who plans to redshirt and then play in 2007.

Two days later, New Jersey's seniors routed New York, 30-6 in the Governor's Bowl at West Point. Kennedy senior defensive back Star-Meek Jones played in the game, his last before heading off to Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. From there, Jones hopes to play for Rutgers in 2008.

Other upcoming All-Star Games include:
Robeson Classic, June 17, East Orange HS
Adam Taliaferro Bowl, June 29, Rowan U
Sunshine Classic, June 29, The College of NJ
North-South Game, June 29, Rutgers
Shore 44 Classic, July 14, Mid-South HS
Snapple Bowl, July 20, East Brunswick HS

On the baseball front, the New Jersey Senior All-Star Game is slated for June 17 at Mercer County Park in West Windsor.

Preps, preps and more preps

Everywhere you turns these days, it seems more and more high school athletes are choosing the prep school route. That extra year at school helps kids prepare academically, athletically, physically and emotionally for college.

Just recently Kennedy forward Rashad Bishop, the 2006 Herald News Player of the Year and a second-team Associated Press All-State selection, committed to St. Benedict's in Newark. Bishop lit up St. Benedict's for 34 points in a loss at the Tip-Off Classic at Seton Hall last December, and you can bet Bees coach Danny Hurley remembered that. Hurley's plan for next season is to have two teams, a prep team comprised of fifth-year players, and a regular high school team of four-year players. Both would play elite competition from around the nation. The high school team would not compete in the NJSIAA state tournament this season, Hurley said.

Bishop joins fellow Passaic standouts Justin Sofman and Jerrell and Terrell Williams in the prep ranks. Sofman will spend next year at St. Thomas More in Connecticut, while the Williams' twins are entering their second year at Northfield Mount Hermon. Former Passaic Tech standout Hashim "Big City" Bailey also prepped last year at The Patterson School in North Carolina before heading off to play for Memphis coach John Calipari.

Bishop, Sofman and the Williams twins could cross pathes this year at the National Prep Tip-Off Classic in Rhode Island in November.