Iona's third straight MAAC championship was among highlights of what turned into a productive ninth season for this site, which shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. (Photo by Jaden Daly/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
It's a long way up, and we won't come down tonight.
Every year, April 17 is among the highlights of my offseason, as it affords me the opportunity to extend a simple -- yet heartfelt -- thank-you to everyone for making this site what it is and continues to be, and 2018 is no exception.
The regulars among us know of the backstory, of how a backup plan in the event of a flameout in the on-air part of the business was formulated inside the tiny offices of WSJU inside St. John's University, and how it has mushroomed into a life unto its own in the years that followed. I won't mention the page views or the Twitter following, because I don't want to blow my own horn as much. Therefore, I will keep it simple and thank everyone involved in helping make this endeavor into the fruitful labor of love it is.
Beginning last October, when Iona hosted an exhibition with proceeds donated to hurricane relief efforts -- something several other schools in the area soon followed suit with -- and ending with the National Invitation Tournament final nearly three weeks ago, 92 games were covered, and hundreds of stories were told. From New Rochelle to midtown Manhattan, Philadelphia to Piscataway, Albany to Boston, and everywhere in between, I did my best amid a promotion at the day job and a lengthened commute to keep the content as frequent as possible, and I apologize if I left anyone out.
To the sports information directors and media contacts who went out of their way to make sure everything was taken care of and that my staff and I got whatever was needed, no words can justify the job that all of you do. I can't thank the likes of Brian Beyrer, Pat McWalters, Tom Chen, Kevin Ross, Steve Dombroski, Joe DiBari, Mike Kowalsky, Casey Snedecor, Brian Morales, Miles McQuiggan, Bryan Jackson, Hamilton Cook, Mike Ferraro, Gary Kowal, Greg Ott, Matt Reitnour, Derick Thornton, Jack Jones, Jeremy Kniffin, Mike Demos, Kevin Lorincz, and Mike Sheridan enough; not to mention Rob DeVita and everyone in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference office, John Paquette, Kristin Quinn, and everyone at the Big East, plus Larry Torres and the Madison Square Garden staff for maintaining professionalism and helping us above and beyond the minimum to make sure our coverage was fresh and engaging. Again, if I missed anyone, I humbly apologize.
To the coaches, the same gratitude needs to be exhibited. Those who follow us closely know how much Steve Masiello has meant to our growth over the years, but he and his Manhattan team were not the only ones who boosted us. Kevin Willard, Chris Mullin, and of course Tim Cluess were the other pieces of our core this year, as was John Dunne, who we wish the very best of luck in his new position at Marist. If I named every coach, I'd be here all night, but be advised that you all meant a great deal to us this year in helping chronicle the tales of your respective programs. On that note, I need to thank Mike Maker and Jimmy Patsos in particular for the courtesy and professionalism they showed us over the years, and wish each the best in their future endeavors. To Shaheen Holloway and whomever is fortunate to take over the reins at Siena, we look forward to working with you in the coming months.
My contemporaries in the media are -- and will always be -- special to me, and not a moment goes by where I am not grateful for the support and warm welcome I have received in your family over the years. Jerry Carino has become one of our biggest allies and sounding boards, and the conversations in the Prudential Center media room as night turned to morning are among some of my greatest memories this season. Alongside Jerry, the same can be said for Zach Braziller, John Fanta, Chris McManus, Josh Adams, Jeremy Schneider (we miss you on the Seton Hall beat, homie), Jim Hague, and so many countless others we come across every night.
I have also been blessed to have the backing of one of the greatest staffs I can employ, and their loyalty despite not being compensated speaks volumes as well. Jason Guerette just wrapped up his third season as my indispensable wing man on Seton Hall coverage, and he remains a strong tag team partner. The same can be said for Jason Schott, who made his return to the St. John's scene and brought back memories of the old Row C days in the process while helping me out on more games than I can count when we needed to pull double duty. Bob Dea came on board this season as our photographer and enhanced our ability to tell a story through the art of timeless images, and I look forward to a second season together. Ray Floriani is a true Renaissance man of our industry, and covers a non-conference women's basketball game as if it were the national championship. Tell me, what more can you ask for in that regard? Andy Lipton's freelance contributions and videos have helped cover some parts of the game that often get overlooked, and the special contributors -- of which there are many -- only add to our bottom line. We're always looking for more people to come on board, too. Reach out to us on Twitter, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're so inclined, and we can go from there.
Finally, I have to thank the readers, because without you, there would be no us. Your support means more to me than any of you will ever know, and the impact you've had on my life is truly immeasurable. It goes beyond sharing our pieces on social media and telling your friends about us, as just the mere inclusion of this site into your everyday routine is why we do what we do.
As we wrap up our ninth year as an outlet, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the influence the now-shuttered NYC Buckets had on helping this site evolve. Some may think John Templon and I were rivals, but nothing could be further from the truth. John and his team inspired me to reach down deeper, to tap into new areas, and expand my own brand in much the same vein he and his staff did theirs. It goes without saying that the college basketball landscape will not be the same without the NYC Buckets staff on hand to share some of the sights and sounds along the way. Our sister site College Hoops Digest continues to be a source of motivation as well, and who knows, maybe we'll be able to add a Southern imprint the way Josh Adams did with Brian Wilmer, who still contributes for us on occasion as well. Long story short, we've tried to stay humble and keep a good head on our shoulders, and it is that mindset -- coupled with the genuine appreciation for every kind word directed our way, as well as the criticism that is sometimes well-deserved -- that keeps the dream that was born on April 17, 2009 alive to this day, with a full flame underneath it to ignite the future. If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.
In closing, may we all enjoy the offseason, and I hope you all keep spurring us on to keep our passion so full and so strong. May the possession arrow always be in your favor, may you never have to sit through too many trips to the monitor, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
There ain't no place that I'd rather be, and we can't go back, but you're here with me.
I thank you all for everything you've done, and for keeping us atop cloud number nine for the foreseeable future. All the best, always.
Founder and Managing Editor