Saturday, June 29, 2019

CHSAA June Team Camp notebook: Updates, standouts

By Eugene Rapay (@Erapay5)
Special To Daly Dose Of Hoops

Archbishop Stepinac's R.J. Davis talks 2019 recruiting surge, Marquette, Georgetown visits

He's played alongside current Illinois player Alan Griffin, and his younger brother Adrian (A.J.), a five-star player in the class of 2021.

While Archbishop Stepinac is well aware of his value and what he is able to bring to the court with his energy, scoring ability, and athleticism, sometimes spectators from the outside don't get to see it, as the Griffin brothers receive most of the buzz. However, this year, things are starting to change, as college programs start to notice and the scholarship offers begin to pile up for rising senior R.J. Davis.

"As proud of I am, it's the hard work he's put into it, his family, and his mentality to stay focused at a crazy time in his life," Crusader head coach Pat Massaroni said of Davis' recruitment, which has now grown to over 20 offers, with 11 coming in since January 1. "I'm proud as his coach, I'm also proud of him and his ability to defend and lead. We all know he can score, but he's grown to do so much more for himself during this offseason."

Massaroni continued: "I think he's been a man on a mission that's kind of been underrated. He doesn't speak about it, but I can see it in him that he's been underrated. Now, the nation is seeing what he is and the level he can get to."

Since the New Year, Davis has fielded offers from Cincinnati, Iona, Georgetown, Providence, Pittsburgh, Indiana, Marquette, Northwestern, Florida, UCLA, and Vanderbilt, adding to a collection that also includes St. John's, Seton Hall, Fordham, Maryland, Manhattan, and many others.

He doesn't plan on trimming that list any time soon, and it could possibly grow to include North Carolina and Kansas in the coming weeks. Both schools were in to see Davis, with UNC assistant coach Hubert Davis in to see him Saturday afternoon and the Jayhawks scheduled to see him on Sunday. Of the bunch, he’s only visited two schools: Georgetown and Marquette.

"It was a good experience for both schools," Davis said of his recent visits. "They had a great campus, great coaching staff for both schools. Both schools were very welcoming, which I liked, working to continue to build a relationship."

Davis hopes to go somewhere that he is able to make an impact right away. As schools begin to take notice of the way he is able to score at all three levels of the floor, evolve into a tenacious defender, and a floor general, it will be interesting to see who else will step into the recruiting picture and what schools he will be eyeing more closely.

Cardinal Hayes' big man Shemani Fuller discusses first Division I, MAAC offers

With star point guard Joe Toussaint graduated and headed for Iowa, Cardinal Hayes is in search of a new leader. 

As 2021 guard Jaylen Murray was unavailable on Saturday, 6-foot-9 rising senior Shemani Fuller looked to make his case to step into the forefront as one of the veterans and biggest players on the court.

With his imposing size and athleticism, Fuller bullied the opposing St. Francis Prep Terriers, helping lead the way in a hard-fought victory. Fuller made his impression known with his powerful slam dunks and ability to clean up the glass.

His work throughout the offseason helped culminate in his first-ever Division I offers.

"It feels great, I've been patient," Fuller said of breaking into the Division I conversation. "I'm happy that my work is finally being seen. You don't honestly know how hard I've been working. I'm just glad that people are starting to see what I'm capable of. I haven't touched the surface yet, of what I could do."

Earlier this month, Rider and Quinnipiac offered the Cardinal Hayes big man.

"They said that they like me and that they would love to have me in their program," Fuller said. "They came to watch me today and yesterday. Rider said the same thing, they love how I play and stuff."

Fuller says that he's also received interest from Saint Peter's, Fordham, Iona, and New Hampshire.

St. Peter's Liam Murphy dazzles with 30-point shooting performance

6-foot-7 wing Liam Murphy (2020/St. Peter's) has been studying NBA players like Klay Thompson and Luka Doncic closely.

The Eagles' rising senior has a reputation for his ability to shoot the ball, flashing a smooth stroke whenever the ball is in his hands. In Saturday's game against Holy Cross, he surely put on his best impression of those NBA snipers.

Murphy finished with 30 points in St. Peter's win over Holy Cross, playing with every bit of confidence and swagger that comes with being a sharpshooter. By no means did this confidence show up in celebrations or through showboating -- Murphy is far from that of player -- but instead quietly with the shot selection. Murphy was taking and making shots from well beyond the arc. Even with a hand in his face or in tight pressure, Murphy found a way to put the ball through the hoop and did so from almost anywhere on the court.

"I'm putting up hundreds of thousands of shots per day," Murphy said of his greatest strength on the court. "My whole game is built off my shot. I want to keep learning the counters and just study the game -- and good shooters like Klay Thompson, Luka Doncic -- guys like that, just be able to play off my shot and make the game easier for everybody around me."

Murphy says he currently has offers from Arkansas-Little Rock, Saint Louis, LIU Brooklyn, American, Rider, and Lafayette. He's also received interest and has visited Ivy League schools. He says finding the balance between high academics and athletics will be crucial in selecting a school

"The highest academic, I really want to get a major and be able to kind of do something in the business workforce," Murphy said of his dream school. "I'm looking to go into economics and finance and get the best basketball experience, build a great bond with the guys and the coaches, and ultimately get that great degree from one of the schools."

Quick Hits:

-- Archbishop Stepinac five-star 2021 wing Adrian 'A.J.' Griffin emerged as one of the top talents in the New York area and in the entire country. Unfortunately for the Crusaders, he was unable to catch a piece of the weekend's action. He was there to support his teammates on Friday night, however, and was unavailable for the rest of the weekend. He also thinks this injury will hamper his ability to play in next month's Peach Jam. Griffin sustained a back injury during his 18-point performance to help the Team USA U-16 team capture the Gold Medal in the FIBA U-16 Tournament in Brazil over Canada. Griffin recently received a spree of offers from Duke, Villanova, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Michigan, and Kansas, adding to his count that also includes a number of other local schools in the tri-state area like Manhattan, St. John's, Seton Hall, Fordham, Rutgers, and UConn.

-- Malcolm Chimezie (2021/Archbishop Stepinac) is back in a groove after recently returning to basketball in mid-May after a surgery to remove a knee tumor had sidelined him for two months. The 6-foot-8 bruising forward made an impact in Stepinac's victory over St. Peter's, proving to be an anchor on both ends of the floor. An athletic forward that prides himself on rebounding and cleaning the glass, while demonstrating an improving ability to see the floor and pass out of the low block, Chimezie and his coaches hope to see a surge in his play and recruitment once he is fully re-acclimated to playing and improves now that he is fully healthy. He currently holds offers from Saint Peter's, Canisius, Bryant, Marist, and Manhattan. Chimezie says he's also heard from Holy Cross and a number of local schools like Hofstra, Columbia, Fordham, and Stony Brook.

-- It's never easy running with a short bench, but that's all Mount St. Michael had on Saturday night. With only six players suited up, it was locked in a close battle with camp host Archbishop Molloy. Ibrahim Wattara (2020/Mount St. Michael) was a key player, almost never taking a minute off. A 6-foot-5 wing, Wattara is a high-flyer. He has great leaping ability and excels at attacking the basket. While he's not the quickest, he makes up for with his fearlessness, the way he is able to finish strong over traffic and his dunking ability. Wattara currently has offers from Iona, Bryant, and a new one from Saint Peter's.

-- Basketball might be a tall man's game, but don't tell Darrell Victory (2022/St. Francis Prep) that. The 5-foot-6 rising sophomore was a sparkplug off the bench, helping St. Francis Prep almost complete a comeback against Cardinal Hayes. St. Francis was trailing by nearly 20 points before the Terriers started rallying back in the second half. Victory came up with crucial second half points, with his scrappy nature on defense -- generating turnovers and flying out in transition -- to also demonstrating the ability to finish in traffic and knock down the three-point shot. He's still young and has plenty of time to grow, but his quickness and tenacious approach will provide him with a great foundation early on. St. Francis Prep ultimately lost by three, but Victory's second-half effort did not go unnoticed.

-- St. Raymond's 2021 point guard Malachi Smith is hoping to break out and be the next talented guard to come out of the Bronx and the Ravens' storied program. He scored 18 points in St. Raymond's lopsided win over Holy Cross. A quick, elusive 6-foot point guard with solid vision, Smith is a weapon in transition. In the half-court, he's got a quick first step and can burst past his defender. He's unafraid of contact and doesn't get gunshy when it comes to moving through traffic. While he needs to work on being more consistent with scoring and finishing, the potential is there for Smith. He currently holds offers from UMass, Iona, Saint Peter's and Stony Brook. Rutgers, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Morgan State, Colorado, Seton Hall, Manhattan, and Syracuse also came in to see him.

-- Christ the King's Moussa Cisse was unavailable to play at the CHSAA Team Camp. The rising junior is one of the top prospects in the country, ranked as a consensus five-star recruit. He currently has offers from Georgetown, Georgia, UConn, and Pitt. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Justin Wright-Foreman selected by Utah Jazz in NBA Draft

Justin Wright-Foreman’s NBA dreams were realized as Hofstra star was drafted by Utah Jazz. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

In his first year at Hofstra University, Justin Wright-Foreman sat behind Juan’ya Green on a Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championship team, waiting for his own opportunity to lead the Pride to similar success. And in an era where too many disgruntled student-athletes transfer far too often and far too soon in search of instant gratification, Wright-Foreman was a throwback of sorts, remaining in Hempstead and honing his craft, working to improve the likelihood of his dream becoming a reality.

As a Thursday night turned to Friday morning at Barclays Center, where Wright-Foreman competed as a sophomore when Hofstra faced Kentucky in December of 2016, the hours of dedication from the Queens native reached a crescendo in the 53rd overall selection of the 2019 NBA Draft, when NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum announced Wright-Foreman as the newest member of the Utah Jazz.

Wright-Foreman, Hofstra’s second-all-time leading scorer behind Charles Jenkins, becomes the Pride’s first draft choice since Jenkins, who was a second-round selection of the Golden State Warriors in 2011. The Jazz also made history for the CAA in the process, as Wright-Foreman and Charleston’s Jarrell Brantley — who was taken three spots prior, also by Utah — marked the first time the CAA had two players drafted in the same year since 1992.

“I heard my name and it was crazy,” Wright-Foreman told Zach Braziller of the New York Post as he recounted the delirium surrounding his nascent professional career. “It’s an emotional moment. Nobody knows what I’ve been through, all the late nights in the gym, staying there until 1 a.m., staying there until 2 a.m. To see it pay off is so relieving, but I know I have more to do.”

“Waiting for this all night!!!!!” Hofstra assistant coach Speedy Claxton tweeted shortly after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news of Wright-Foreman’s impending selection. The former Christ the King standout and first-round draft pick after leading Hofstra to the NCAA Tournament in 2000 has served as Wright-Foreman’s recruiter and mentor over the years, and his protege spoke in reverent tones of Claxton’s impact when he passed his predecessor at the point guard position on Hofstra’s career scoring list.

With 2,327 career points in his tenure on Long Island, Wright-Foreman brings an unparalleled knack to score at will to a Jazz backcourt that will afford him an instant opportunity to learn from two of the game’s best in Donovan Mitchell and recently acquired Mike Conley, Jr. Wright-Foreman is equally adept at rebounding the basketball for his position, and makes just as noticeable an impact without the ball in his hands as a facilitator on both ends of the floor.

“He’s just a marvelous, marvelous basketball player who — every game, every day — does something to make you just say, ‘wow,’ Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich exclaimed after Wright-Foreman drained a 34-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to cap off a 42-point effort against eventual CAA champion Northeastern on January 5. His finest hour came weeks later, when Wright-Foreman tied a program record with 48 points in a victory over William & Mary on February 9, a performance Mihalich praised by saying, “as you’re coaching, you’re trying not to also be in awe.”

Wright-Foreman is also Mihalich’s first-ever player to become a draft pick during his head coaching career. The twelfth Hofstra player to be drafted in program history, his career-ending streak of 88 consecutive double-figure scoring games was not only a school record, but the seventh-longest string in Division I history.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Myles Powell to return to Seton Hall for senior season

Myles Powell ended speculation Wednesday, announcing his return to Seton Hall for senior season. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

On the same day where Seton Hall officially learned it could potentially host the No. 1 team in the nation this November, its top returning player announced he would not only be suiting up for that game, but also to add one final, season-long chapter to his budding legacy.

Myles Powell, the Pirates’ charismatic shooting guard who tested the NBA Draft waters this offseason, ended the growing speculation that had been building in the hours leading up to Wednesday’s deadline for all underclassmen to declare whether or not they were remaining in the draft, tweeting a picture of himself seated on the baseline with the caption “Guess who’s back” Wednesday evening, thereby affirming his intent to finish what he started in South Orange as Seton Hall readies itself for what should be an unprecedented fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Powell’s return assures the Pirates — whose non-conference schedule is headlined by a Gavitt Tipoff Games home game against likely top-ranked Michigan State on November 14 at Prudential Center — a nationally-televised showcase for the surefire Big East Conference Player of the Year candidate.

“So blessed & thankful to be where I’m at in life on & off the court!!!!” Powell tweeted. “Going back to finish what I started & most importantly be the first one in my family to have a college degree. LET’S GO WIN A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP,” he continued, tagging Seton Hall’s men’s basketball Twitter account in the process.

The winner of the Haggerty Award last month — the third Pirate in the last four seasons to be recognized as the best player in the metropolitan area — Powell had a transcendent close to his junior campaign, averaging 23.1 points per game as Seton Hall rose from an eighth-place preseason projection in the Big East to an improbable No. 7 seed in an NCAA Tournament few thought was on the horizon when the season began. After being invited to the NBA G League combine, Powell’s professional prospects began to blossom, and after a long talk with head coach Kevin Willard, whom Powell considers a father figure, a decision was made with a similar result to that of Angel Delgado when the 6-foot-10 forward was in a similar position two years prior.

“I’m very proud of him,” Willard told the New York Post’s Zach Braziller with regard to Powell. “He went through the process, he made an educated decision based on feedback, and he’s in a great position to be one of the best college basketball players in the country next season and become an NBA player.”

“We’re excited to have him back,” the coach added in an interview with the Asbury Park Press’ Jerry Carino, who also reported that Willard spent the past three days with Powell in Los Angeles, where the junior went through his final workouts and preparations. “I’m really proud of the way he attacked the process with maturity. He looked at it as, ‘What do I need to do long-term and where am I at?’ I think he grew up a lot and learned a lot about himself.”

Long hyped as a great scorer, Powell stands some 800 points shy of matching Terry Dehere’s program record. Should the Trenton native match his scoring average of last season, he would come very close to eclipsing the number of 2,494 set by Dehere, who parlayed his success in South Orange into becoming a lottery pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. Over a quarter-century later, it seems that regardless of how its coda is written, Powell’s legacy is well on its way to becoming immortal.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Powell becomes third Pirate in last four years to win Haggerty Award

Myles Powell’s transcendent junior season ends with Pirate sharpshooter taking home Haggerty Award as best in New York metropolitan area. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

On numerous occasions over the past three years, Myles Powell has been praised by both his coach and teammates as a player who will eventually go down in Seton Hall history as one of the greatest to don the blue and white of the Pirates.

The Trenton native has yet to close the book on his legacy in South Orange, but another chapter was written today, when Powell was announced as the latest winner of the Haggerty Award, bestowed annually upon the player judged to be the best in the New York metropolitan area by the panel of writers responsible for voting on the prestigious honor.

Powell, who averaged 23.1 points per game in a season where Seton Hall reached its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament last month, staked his claim to the award with a tour-de-force performance in February and March, taking the Pirates from the bubble into an at-large spot that seemed unattainable at the start of the year, when Seton Hall was picked eighth of ten teams in the Big East Conference’s preseason poll. The junior guard defeated Justin Wright-Foreman of Hofstra and last year’s winner, St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds, to be recognized as the area’s best. Powell also becomes the third Pirate recipient of the Haggerty in the last four years, joining Isaiah Whitehead and Angel Delgado, who took home the recognition in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

In addition, Powell’s coach, Kevin Willard, shared all-Met Coach of the Year honors, splitting the Peter A. Carlesimo Coach of the Year award with Hofstra’s Joe Mihalich. Coincidentally, Willard has received this honor every year that one of his players has won the Haggerty Award. Fordham guard Nick Honor was named Rookie of the Year.

MBWA All-Met First Team
E.J. Crawford, Iona
Darnell Edge, Fairleigh Dickinson
Rickey McGill, Iona
Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra

MBWA All-Met Second Team
Raiquan Clark, LIU Brooklyn
Mustapha Heron, St. John’s
Abdul Lewis, NJIT
Eugene Omoruyi, Rutgers
Eli Pemberton, Hofstra
Akwasi Yeboah, Stony Brook

MBWA All-Met Third Team
Tajuan Agee, Iona
Geo Baker, Rutgers
Zach Cooks, NJIT
LJ Figueroa, St. John’s
Sean Hoehn, Sacred Heart
Quincy McKnight, Seton Hall
Justin Simon, St. John’s

Sunday, April 21, 2019

St. John’s dysfunction highlights Iona’s consistency as Cluess remains with Gaels

Tim Cluess’ decision to turn St. John’s down after not receiving serious interest is only beneficial to Iona, who will now further solidify its place as New York area’s most consistent program of decade. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

When St. John’s entered the market for a new head coach twelve days ago following Chris Mullin’s resignation that may or may not have been forced, one of the first names to be mentioned for the position — and with good reason — was Tim Cluess, the head coach at Iona College who turned the Gaels into a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference powerhouse.

Cluess checked every box that St. John’s was looking for, save one, that being the school’s unwillingness to pay his buyout and not even speaking to Iona to even negotiate a method of compensation to lure the former Lou Carnesecca player back to a situation that was widely considered his dream job. As a result, the Red Storm trusted its future to Mike Anderson — by all means, a very good hire by athletic director Mike Cragg — after Cluess, who was strung along with no serious intent to be targeted after St. John’s president Bobby Gempesaw and vice president Joe Oliva essentially torpedoed his candidacy, despite being Cragg’s choice after Bobby Hurley said thanks, but no thanks — took his name out of the conversation Thursday morning with the following statement:

“I would like to start by thanking everyone for all their support,” Cluess began. “I am truly blessed to have so many people say so many nice things. When I was unexpectedly contacted last week, it opened up a flood of emotions. For those of you who have ever lost a loved one, you know there are special places, trinkets, and memories that keep them alive in your heart and soul. St. John’s was one of those key places where my love for family has been a part of my life since my earliest memories.”

“In my heart, the thought of reestablishing the connection to my brothers, Kevin and Greg, through the possible opportunity to coach at St. John’s — and the chance to help bring back their rich tradition in the process — made it hard to walk away from. There comes a point where the reality of the situation becomes clearer and moving forward is what is needed.”

And so Cluess, whose four siblings all graduated from St. John’s, an institution he spoke of reverently just sixteen months ago when his Iona team faced the Red Storm at Madison Square Garden, politely told his one-time alma mater that he — in no uncertain terms — was not going to be played like a fiddle when it was clear that he was not wanted by the powers that be at St. John’s. But the loss in Queens is a gain in New Rochelle, where Cluess is welcomed back with open arms and appreciated by everyone associated with the school, to whom he has taken to a half-dozen NCAA Tournaments in nine years at the helm. Furthermore, Iona is the winningest program in the New York metropolitan area under Cluess, and second only behind Syracuse in all of New York State since Cluess replaced Kevin Willard in 2010. Advantage, maroon and gold.

“I love my players at Iona and being a coach here, and I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love at a place I love,” Cluess said Thursday. “I look forward to continuing to grow the Iona program to higher levels.”

As does everyone that continues to support a native son of sorts, despite the ill-advised and misdirected criticisms he may have had in the eyes of St. John’s brass. And although Mike Anderson could eventually prove to be a solid hire, the reality is he has his hands full at a program and in a territory where he has no experience, whereas Cluess can get right back to work with the early favorite to win the MAAC yet again next season, as four starters return to an Iona outfit angling for its unprecedented fifth consecutive conference tournament championship.

Anyone who knows Cluess knows of his ability to produce in clutch situations and when the expectations around him are at their highest. Maybe next March, when St. John’s is in the all-too-familiar situation of being on the bubble and living and dying with each dribble leading up to Selection Sunday, while Iona — assuming all goes according to plan — has a more secure postseason path, will show the decision-makers in Queens what they could have had if only they were wise enough to open their eyes.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Mike Anderson Photo Gallery

Photos of Mike Anderson's introduction as the 21st head men's basketball coach in St. John's University history, on April 19, 2019:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Mike Anderson expected to be next head coach at St. John’s

Mike Anderson, most recently head coach at Arkansas, appears to be long-awaited choice at St. John’s. (Photo by University of Arkansas Athletics)

The coaching search at St. John’s, one that more closely resembled a roller coaster with its twists, turns and inversions, seems to have reached its conclusion Thursday evening, and done so with a surprise ending.

Mike Anderson, the former head coach at the University of Arkansas, is expected to become the Red Storm’s next leader, according to Newsday’s Roger Rubin, the longtime dean of St. John’s beat writers. Should he agree to terms with the university, Anderson will replace program icon Chris Mullin, who stepped down on April 9 after four seasons at the helm of his alma mater, departing under speculation that he was forced out by university administrators that wanted to press the reset button on a star-crossed program.

Anderson, 59, was dismissed last month by Arkansas after eight seasons at the helm of the Razorbacks, despite reaching the NCAA Tournament three times in the past five seasons and developing a Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in Bobby Portis. In 17 years as a head coach, split between UAB, Missouri and Arkansas, he has a 369-200 lifetime record, and took Missouri to a regional final in 2009. Prior to receiving his first head job, with UAB in 2002, Anderson spent 17 years on the staff of Nolan Richardson at Arkansas, helping cultivate the 40 Minutes of Hell mentality that was instrumental in the Razorbacks winning a national championship in 1994.

Anderson’s candidacy came late Thursday afternoon, adding drama to a day that began with Iona head coach Tim Cluess — a popular choice among fans and media to succeed Mullin — releasing a statement indicating that he had removed himself from consideration for a job widely perceived to be his dream destination, opting instead to remain in New Rochelle, where he has led the Gaels to six NCAA Tournament appearances this decade. Anderson, Yale head coach James Jones, and former Georgia Tech and George Mason head coach Paul Hewitt were reportedly the three finalists for the vacancy late Thursday, with Jones and Hewitt having been informed they were no longer in the running, per sources.

With no clear New York connections, Anderson will need to hire assistant coaches with strong ties to the area as his first priority. His imminent arrival signals an end to a wide-ranging search process that began with Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley as the top target of St. John’s administrators and athletic director Mike Cragg, only to see the former Duke point guard leverage the offer into a contract extension. Loyola’s Porter Moser and UMBC’s Ryan Odom did the same while Cluess was left seemingly twisting in the wind despite massive support, with speculation about the school’s willingness to buy out his contract at Iona among the obstacles in his path.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Takal Molson transfers to Seton Hall

Canisius transfer Takal Molson committed to Seton Hall Wednesday, opting to play final two years in South Orange. (Photo by Dean Bogart/The Canisius Griffin)

While one local Big East program continues its meandering search for a head coach, its Hudson River rival took a step toward replacing its cornerstone player following his graduation next May.

Seton Hall — operating in the shadow of St. John’s seemingly never-ending quest to replace Chris Mullin — picked up a commitment from Takal Molson Wednesday evening, fortifying Kevin Willard’s burgeoning core with a proven scorer who can also rebound and facilitate just as well. Molson, viewed as the Pirates’ replacement for Myles Powell after the soon-to-be senior graduates next year, will sit out next season and have two years of eligibility remaining.

“Officially decided to continue my career at Seton Hall,” Molson tweeted Wednesday, nearly one month after announcing his decision to transfer from Canisius. “This is just the beginning.”

Molson, a 6-foot-5 guard from Buffalo, left his hometown Canisius program on March 23, and averaged 16.9 points per game to go with 5.4 rebounds per contest as a sophomore for the Golden Griffins. A first team all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference dejection this past season, Molson was also the MAAC Rookie of the Year in 2018, and led Canisius to runner-up finishes in the MAAC each of the last two seasons, including a share of the 2017-18 regular season championship. Seton Hall assistant coach Duane Woodward, no stranger to competing against Molson from his time on King Rice’s staff at Monmouth, served as lead recruiter for Seton Hall’s newest talent, and quickly established a connection with the guard as soon as he became available, bringing him to South Orange one week after he decided to pursue other options.

“As soon as I entered the transfer portal, Coach Woodward came right out to see me,” Molson told Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press. “When I visited, I loved everything about Seton Hall.”

While on campus, Molson was hosted by sophomore forward Sandro Mamukelashvili, with whom he found a common bond from the time Molson’s hometown travel team in Buffalo visited Mamukelashvili’s native Georgia. Soon, the two will be going up against one another in practices.

Molson’s arrival places Seton Hall one over its scholarship limit, which will likely signal at least one other roster move as Kevin Willard prepares for his tenth season at the helm.

Ten years gone, holding on

Iona’s NCAA Tournament game against North Carolina, one Gaels led at halftime, closed tenth season of this site’s operation. (Photo by Jaden Daly/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Ten years, come and gone so fast. 

I might as well be dreaming.

It was on this date in 2009 that this website and this space came to be, started in a college radio station office whose front window afforded a view of the studio from which many of my first experiences in this industry were born into reality. What was a contingency plan in the event that the broadcast career I intended to forge following my graduation from St. John’s University one year prior ended up becoming a life — a full-grown child, in some ways — unto its own, and not once — not ever — did I dare to dream that I would be doing the same thing a decade later.

But here we stand on April 17, 2019, a full ten years removed from Daly Dose Of Hoops’ inception, and even longer since the video above was Oprah Winfrey’s theme music in the 1990s, when I was about the same age — give or take — as the venture I operate now. And even though the overall game count decreased significantly this past season when compared to the output of recent years, it was my intent to provide quality coverage for all 74 contests as if each were the national championship.

I was burned out for months on end after all the hundred-plus-game seasons before these last two, and I wanted to take some time to enjoy life without burning the candle at both ends. On top of that, I saw Josh Verlin — a far more talented writer than I could ever hope to be — disband his fantastic City Of Basketball Love website last fall after going through some of his own adversity, and I didn’t want to lose the fire, the passion with which I chronicle college basketball. So even though I wasn’t around as much, I made that choice for a reason.

It was justified though, as the games we did cover were meaningful in more ways than one. This year’s journey included new destinations, such as Maryland, South Carolina, and Ohio. For the first time in almost three years, we went out to Long Island, where Hofstra’s resurgence made for telling a great story and introducing my audience to the exploits of Justin Wright-Foreman. While Seton Hall returned to the NCAA Tournament and Manhattan continued on the long road back to redemption, we also got to cover St. John’s latest taste of March Madness, and ending the year by watching North Carolina — the school that baptized me to college basketball — battle Iona, with whom we’ve been able to witness mounds of success as this site’s brand has evolved, was the perfect touch of icing on this latest birthday cake.

But enough about me, enough about us. This is about all of you. Without you, there is no me, no us. It is all of you that make us so incredibly blessed to tell the stories we share, as your support is what makes the motor run. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, and if you love who you do it for, you’ll have nothing but pride for what you do.

To all the sports information directors and media colleagues that helped promote us and continued to welcome us with open arms, I can’t thank you enough. The same can be said for all the coaches we’ve covered, and we look forward to getting to know Carmen Maciariello, Patrick Beilein and Jay Young just as intimately as we have the rest of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. To my staff, I appreciate your patience and commitment to helping make our outfit what it is. Bob Dea wrapped up his second season as our lead photographer, and his galleries are true works of art. Vinny Simone came on board following the closure of NYC Buckets, and helped out with Hofstra and MAAC coverage so much that I wonder how I ever did it without him. Jason Guerette, in addition to his outstanding work as my tag team partner on Seton Hall coverage, didn’t think I was all that crazy for saying we should drive down to Maryland three days before Christmas, and we were rewarded by getting to see Seton Hall win on the road. At the end of the day, though, all of us were beneficiaries of Jason’s undying passion for his alma mater, which was reflected in the exceptional work he did in this, his fourth year as part of our family.

Finally, I once again thank you, the readers. Without you, we couldn’t go on, and the fact that you joined us for the ride even when it was shorter than usual is something we won’t ever take for granted. I may feel like I cheated you sometimes by not giving you as much content as I once did, but the positive feedback and kind words mean more to me than any of you will ever know. Things like that reinforce my faith in this world and the ability for people like us to make a difference and an impact on one another. I really mean that, and I hope I can continue to make you proud.

In closing, I wish you the very best as this offseason continues to unfold, doing so in the midst of St. John’s wide-ranging search for a successor to Chris Mullin as head coach. Who knows, maybe one of us might get a phone call at this rate. Until we meet again, wherever that may be, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thank you for everything once more. Ten years have gone, but we’re still holding on, and we’re not letting go anytime soon. Let’s make it another ten more, and maybe even ten after that.

All the best, always.

Jaden Daly
Founder and Managing Editor

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

St. John’s is Clueless if it believes Tim is not the answer

Of everyone linked to St. John’s head coaching vacancy, no one possesses ability to turn Red Storm around quicker or more efficiently than Tim Cluess. (Photo by Vincent Simone/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Unless you’re either flying back from the Final Four or some other destination, or living under a rock — or maybe if you’ve had no access to social media — or any kind of media, period — you now know that St. John’s is once again in need of a head coach after Chris Mullin resigned Tuesday afternoon, closing the book on four years at the helm of his alma mater.

Where, and to whom the Red Storm program turns now is where everyone’s attention has become simultaneously transfixed. And much like when St. John’s and Steve Lavin parted ways four years ago, there is a clear-cut choice to replace Mullin, one who stands head and shoulders above any of his fellow candidate brethren.

That man is none other than Tim Cluess, who for the past nine years has operated in the shadow of both Lavin and Mullin at Iona College — just over the Throgs Neck Bridge and New England Thruway from the corner of Union and Utopia — and taken the Gaels to six NCAA Tournaments in the same timeframe that St. John’s only managed half that total, winning five Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships, including each of the past four.

Like Mullin, Cluess is a native New Yorker. In fact, his Floral Park home is a mere ten minutes from St. John’s Queens campus. Often mentioned for high-major positions as he has turned Iona into a mid-major dynasty, Cluess has eschewed the potential lure of football war chests and million-dollar paydays simply because he is content where he is. But with that said, those who know Cluess best know that if there were one job to get him to even contemplate leaving New Rochelle, it would be at the place he began his collegiate playing career, learning the game from the legendary Lou Carnesecca.

“It means so much to my family and myself,” Cluess said of St. John’s — where his three brothers and sister also attended college — when his Iona team faced the Red Storm in the Holiday Festival in December of 2017. “The passion that came from St. John’s basketball — watching it, being a part of it, growing up with it, especially making the lifelong friends that we’ve all made from that school — it’s been great to our family. I can’t explain to you what this school means to my family. All five of us went there.”

That answers the first question surrounding Cluess, that of who would support him at a place he still obviously loves very much. His rich connections to the New York and New Jersey area will help replenish a St. John’s roster in need of talent enhancement sooner rather than later. And for those questioning whether he could win after his top assistant, Jared Grasso, left for a head coaching opportunity of his own before last year, Cluess won ten of his last eleven games with an Iona team decimated by injuries to reclaim the MAAC championship. Furthermore, his skill of maximizing each individual player’s gifts while tailoring them to fit his system — a hybrid of uptempo offense and pressure defense — has proven to be the common thread between each of his Iona teams, which have experienced roster turnover in almost every way imaginable.

For those who say Cluess cannot recruit, or is heavy on transfers, look no further than A.J. English, Rickey McGill, and E.J. Crawford. Each of those three were four-year starters — Crawford will be when he begins his senior season in November — and each worked his way from role player into indispensable all-league talent and program pillar. And each one has more than one NCAA Tournament appearance on his ledger. With an unmatched eye for finding diamonds in the rough, coupled with his unique way of bringing out the best in everyone, access to a greater and more plentiful talent pool will only burnish Cluess’ reputation on that front. And for those doubting whether transfers would work at a higher level, take a look at what Iowa State did in recent years — with former St. John’s assistant Matt Abdelmassih recruiting the majority of the expatriates, no less — and admit you’re lying to yourself.

If you’re questioning why St. John’s would hire a 60-year-old coach when Bobby Hurley — the popular choice among fans and some media — is 13 years younger, can I mention that St. John’s is no stranger to having veteran coaches at the perceived tail end of their careers? Carnesecca was 67 when he retired in 1992. And if you look at the so-called bluebloods of the sport that some St. John’s fans still dream of becoming, you’ll see Roy Williams is about to turn 69 at North Carolina. Mike Krzyzewski is 72, and doesn’t look like he’s leaving Duke anytime soon. Jim Boeheim turns 75 in November, and his demise at Syracuse isn’t around the corner. Cluess may be seasoned at 60, but he definitely has at least another decade left in him, at least. This game may take years off your life, but if you’re active in it, the game also keeps you young.

Finally, athletic director Mike Cragg said the following in his statement issued Tuesday when commenting on the search process to replace Mullin:

“We are committed to building a championship-level program, so we will aggressively search for an experienced coach capable of running a high-level Division I team in New York City, someone who is ready to build upon the recent successes of our program with integrity by recruiting young men of high character.”

Tim Cluess checks all of those boxes. His record — which includes a winning season EVERY year he has coached, wherever he has been, AND a postseason appearance every year at Iona — speaks for itself as far as building a championship-level program. His experience — at the high school, junior college, Division II and Division I levels — indicates the grinder that this program needs to succeed in this market and at this level. And not only did Cluess build upon an already successful Iona history, all of the so-called question marks and checkered pasts that arrived in his gym eventually walked out better basketball players, better young men, and better citizens of this world.

The time of winning press conferences and making big splashes has come and gone. If St. John’s is the program that the bulk of its fan base still professes it to be, then the powers that be will corroborate that vision by hiring the man that will win games in the short term, not headlines. The administration that takes a lot of flak for clinging to the halcyon days of 1985 will use the short-term turnaround as a fuel to ignite a long-term resurgence.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. This is the fourth time in the last decade-and-a-half that St. John’s will be undergoing an extensive rebuild. What has been seemingly broken has yet to be fixed, but standing before the Red Storm is a man with a perpetual Midas touch for even the bleakest of situations.

The choice, as it has been many times before for this program, is clear. Maybe this time will finally be the one in which it makes the right one.

Place your trust in the proven commodity. Take a leap of faith with one of your native sons, and emphasize your core values by welcoming him back into your family.

Don’t be clueless, St. John’s.

Hire Tim Cluess.