Richard Codey: Senator, Coach and Metaphorical Master…

Posted by nvr1983 on April 30th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferencesHe also officiates youth league basketball in his spare time. 

WEST ORANGE, NJ –  Chalk it up under the ‘you never know who you will meet’ department. This past weekend called for officiating assignments at an AAU tournament here at West Orange High School. Both days called for three games and an appreciable supply of water as the local mercury rose. On Saturday, after finishing two girls and a boys game, I ran into coach and New Jersey Senator Richard Codey whose team played on the adjoining court. “No column today,” I joked. He got a laugh and told me about the highly touted recruit (6’8 Ferrakohn Hall)  Seton Hall just signed.   


On Sunday the schedule called for three games beginning at 8:30 a.m. Not the easiest time to begin boys 17 and under games but definitely advantageous to beat the expected 90 degree heat. As it turns out I have Codey’s 17 and under West Orange team. There are two games that go on simultaneously. I am chatting with my partner Sue Lisanti and the officials from the next court Leslie Porschen (an excellent player in her day at FDU) and Mary Ann Conboy. Codey interjects and jokingly challenges political correctness by saying “the women are taking over.” Leslie notes that our Board 33 chapter is actually low on women’s officiating numbers and could use more members. “I mean we have had a lot of women working this tournament,’ he said in a joking manner. After a little more small talk it’s toss the ball up and get to work.

West Orange is playing a team from Ocean County, New Jersey, the Wolfpack. Early on it’s a good competitive game. Codey’s team is running some nice flex offense in half court sets. It’s obvious he is not an AAU coach that ‘rolls out the basketballs’ but teaches offensive and defensive structure. If he is looking for a call he usually implores my name but overall he spends a greater deal of effort on his team’s execution.  On one play his guard got the wind knocked out of him. We stop play and summon Codey on the floor. “He’s getting hit harder than the Germans in World War II,” Codey says as he smiles and winks. “I like that one coach,” was my reply. We move on and at the half it’s still close.

My center is getting more hits than Susan Boyle on YouTube,” Codey says at the scorers table so tournament co-director Mary Alice Zavocki can hear. He is laughing as he says this and asks if I saw Boyle on You Tube over the weekend. More small talk in good fun.

Second half, West Orange has a ten point lead then proceeds to lose all but one point of it. We have a transition play coming to me on the lead position. The Wolfpack player executes a jump stop that looks funny. In a split second the information is processed in my mind. Years of Edgar Cartotto’s officiating camp drilled into us his philosophy, “if you not sure it’s a walk don’t call it. I’d rather you blow a walk call than screw (Edgar’s verbiage is colorful) a kid who didn’t walk by calling it.” I’m not sure, I let it go. The player scores and out of the corner of my eye I can see Codey jumping and making a walk jesture while saying, “ohh Ray.”  My thoughts are of Bobby Gonzalez who has made similar moves on the Hall bench. During a time out, Mary Alice, keeping the clock, said it was a nice no call. I just told her my view and Edgar’s philosophy.


Codey’s team never lost the lead, regrouped and earned a nice 68-60 victory.  Post game, I tell both teams nice effort and both coaches it was a pleasure to work their game. As it turned out a noticeably tall assistant joined Codey’s bench during the game. It was the Hall’s John Garcia. I introduced myself, spoke about the writing and covering his games and commended his Hall club on working hard and doing a nice job this season. Garcia refers to Hall and says, “wait till you see us next year, we are going to surprise people.”

Codey heads out, I say good game again and jokingly note today we had no cheerleaders today (the above is provided from a Seton Hall game earlier this year). He got a laugh out of that one.

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RTC Mascot Death Match Champion: Big Red!

Posted by nvr1983 on April 30th, 2009

Just remembered that we never posted the championship results of this year’s RTC Mascot Death Match.  So here goes…

By a resounding margin, Western Kentucky’s Big Red easily handled Cleveland St.’s Magnus the Viking in the final match.   Admittedly, the bigger upset was in the semifinal round when the WKU mascot took out Xavier’s Blue Blob.   So congratulations to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and their mascot, Big Red, for winning the first annual RTC Mascot Death Match!


This has been fun.  Check back next year during the first week of the NCAA Tournament for the next version, and thanks to everyone who voted over the last month. 

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Alex Tyus Follows Billy Donovan’s Lead

Posted by nvr1983 on April 28th, 2009

As we mentioned in today’s Fast Breaks, there was some curious news out of Gainesville today where Alex Tyus, who had announced that he was transferring from Florida on April 17th, changed his mind and has decided to continue his basketball career there. Yes, that would be 11 days between leaving and coming back to the Gators.

Surprisingly, Billy Donovan let  Tyus rejoin the program without any hesitation (at least publicly), which is a change for a coach who has ripped his team publicly on several occasions in the past. However, when you consider Donovan’s past flirtations with leaving Gainesville before returning his acceptance of a change of heart regarding scenery seems to make sense.

The interesting question which we will probably never find out is what made Tyus change his mind. Was it that he thinks UF is the ideal system for him? (Doubtful because they played him out of position and Donovan’s teams have largely underperformed outside of the repeat national champs–a big exception, but a team that seems like more of an aberration if you look closer at Donovan’s tenure.) Was it the co-eds? (Ok. That’s a very valid reason although he could have gone to UCLA, Arizona State, or FSU if that was the issue.) Was it a lack of options? (Doubtful for a guy who averaged 12.5 PPG and 6.2 RPG playing out of position as a sophomore.)

Whatever the case was I’m sure that the Gator fans are happy to have Tyus back as he makes them a NCAA tournament team (possibly SEC champs if Nick Calathes pulls out of the draft) with an incoming class that includes Kenny Boynton and Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin. Well, that is at least until Tyus changes his mind again. . .

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04.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on April 28th, 2009

It’s been a light few days, but we’re here to get you caught up on the few things surfacing…

  • Florida’s Alex Tyus was transferring, now he’s not.  This confused us until we remembered that he learned from Donovan two-step from the master himself. 
  • Bruce Pearl’s romantic overtures know no bounds… not even the head football coach’s wife (not that we blame him). 
  • Oddly, USC is no longer recruiting big man Renardo Sidney (who moved to LA three yrs ago for marketing purposes).  Now he may be heading back home to Mississippi St?  Stay tuned on this one.
  • Will Syracuse be the one-year football destination for Greg Paulus?
  • The NBA’s early entry deadline was Sunday – here are a few of the last-minute entries:  Mississippi St.’s Jarvis Varnado (no agent), UConn’s Ater Majok (no agent), Tennessee’s Tyler Smith (no agent), USC’s Taj Gibson (no agent) and BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari (no agent). 
  • Returning:  Iowa St.’s Craig Brackins (a major coup), Michigan’s Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
  • Gary Parrish doesn’t believe that Davidson will recapture the Curry magic for quite some time. 
  • It’s hard to believe this didn’t happen now that the FBI has brought charges against Karen Sypher for attempting to extort Rick Pitino for $10M, two cars, a paid-off house and college tuition.  Wow.  Regardless, we have to agree with Goodman when he says nothing good is ultimately coming from all of this.
  • He was only “holding it” for someone named “Luck.”  Welcome to Nevada basketball in the post-Mark Fox era.
  • Wichita St.’s Gregg Marshall got a one-year contract extension (to 2015) after an improved second year at the school.
  • Good to see the NCAA gumshoes going after the big boys like Northeastern, who received two years probation on Friday.
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Gerald Henderson Enters the NBA Draft (Sort Of. . .)

Posted by nvr1983 on April 25th, 2009

Since Duke ended its season in humiliating fashion against Villanova in the Sweet 16, almost every pundit has suspected that Gerald Henderson would forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft. In the middle of all the NFL Draft coverage earlier today, he announced that he would enter the Draft, but had not hired an agent yet.

Before any of the Cameron Crazies get their hopes up too high that he might return (and make Duke a heavy favorite to win the ACC next season), it should be pointed out that this is most likely a precautionary measure just in case he gets injured before the deadline or something along those lines. In addition, the fact this his father (Gerald Sr.) was an accomplished player who played with at least 3 current GMs (Danny Ainge, Kevin McHale, and Larry Bird) means that young Gerald will likely get plenty of feedback about what range he is most likely to be drafted if he decides to stay in the Draft.

Based on what the NBA Draftniks are saying, Henderson looks like he’ll be drafted anywhere from around #10 ( has him at #9) to a mid-1st round pick (’s Top 100–Insider access required). While most guys of Henderson’s ability tend to base their decision on whether or not they have guaranteed lottery spot, I can’t really see the benefit (in terms of NBA Draft status) of him coming back for his senior year. Everyone knows that he has NBA-level athleticism and he made a big jump between his sophomore and junior year, which should show scouts that he is improving. While he might hone his game  little more (add some 3-point range) with an extra season at Duke, the bump in his stock would be negligible since he’s never going to be a top-3/5 pick. For the Crazies holding out hope that he’ll return for one more year at Duke, the deadline to pull out of the Draft is June 15th.

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Greg Paulus Is. . .I Can’t Explain It. Just Look at the Picture.

Posted by nvr1983 on April 24th, 2009


That sound you just heard is from all the heads exploding along Tobacco Road. Apparently this was part of the UNC barnstorming tour, but I have no idea what Paulus was thinking. At first, I thought it might be his brother Mike (preposterous, but not much more than Greg Paulus in Carolina Blue), a QB at UNC, but he doesn’t look like Greg.

(h/t to 850 The Buzz)

Update: After looking at this picture a little more closely (and not posting at 3 AM), I’m beginning to think this is a Photoshop job. Paulus couldn’t possibly be dumb enough to pose for a picture like this wearing UNC clothing, right?

Update: According to our friends at 850 The Buzz, the picture is real and the baby was completely fine posing with the others players, but as soon as Paulus held her she started to cry.

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Maryland HS Star Decides To Go To Maryland?!?

Posted by nvr1983 on April 24th, 2009

We have mentioned Gary Williams and his struggles to keep his Maryland program relevant since Juan Dixon left College Park, Maryland, but it looks like he might he temporarily fixed one of the many problems with a commitment from Terrence Ross, a 2010 recruit from Montrose Christian (same high school as Kevin Durant) in Maryland. Ross is a 6’5″ SG who transferred to Montrose from Portland, OR before his junior year. Even though he only averaged 13.5 PPG this year (partly attributable to playing alongside Mouphtaou Yarou, a senior who is ranked 10th in Rivals Top 150), he is a 4-star recruit who is ranked 31st in his class by Rivals with some ridiculous athleticism (see below).

Keeping an in-state star might not seem like a big deal to most people (especially when you’re the only legit program in the state), but it is from Williams who has lost a bevy of stars (Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, and Ty Lawson) to out-of-state programs in recent years as well as the aforementioned Yarou, who signed with Villanova. While this might not necessarily mean that Williams has righted the Terrapin ship, it is certainly a very good start.

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Report: Paulus to Syracuse

Posted by nvr1983 on April 23rd, 2009

After weeks of speculation about where he would end up (Michigan? Duke? Green Bay?!?), it appears that former Duke point guard Greg Paulus has made a decision about where he will be playing next year. The former Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year has decided to go from the hardwood of Cameron Indoor Stadium for the FieldTurf of the Carrier Dome next year. [Ed. Note: Interestingly Cameron Indoor, which is well known for its small size and the heat that Dick Vitale whines about on every telecast, has air-conditioning. The Carrier Dome (as in the HVAC company) does not.]

Unlike at Duke where he lost his starting point guard job as a senior, Paulus (a native of Manlius, NY just outside of Syracuse) will likely step into a position where he should compete for the starting spot on a team that went 3-9 last year, but did manage to win at Notre Dame (one of the colleges that recruited Paulus as a QB out of high school). Although Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone named Ryan Nassib as his starting QB less than a month ago, I think Marrone may let a National High School Football Player of the Year compete for the job.


Assuming that Paulus enrolls at Syracuse, it raises an interesting question of how Syracuse (a basketball school even during the days of Donovan McNabb and Marvin Harrison) will embrace one of the most despised players in college basketball. Based on their wholesale acceptance of Eric Devendorf, I think the fans at Syracuse will take to Paulus, who is less demonstrative (and doesn’t have any accusations of violence against women to his name) especially if he can make their football team respectable again.

Bonus Question: How many games will Paulus play at QB before he gets sacked and someone performs a mock tea-bagging? I’m going with game #2 at Penn State on September 12th. Fortunately, I don’t see anybody on the Syracuse schedule that is a big enough rival of Syracuse to have a repeat of this.

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Davidson and UNC Lose 3 Star Juniors: Coach K Pumps Fist

Posted by nvr1983 on April 23rd, 2009

After arguably being the third best team in the state of North Carolina the past 3 years (behind UNC and Davidson in 2008 and behind UNC and Wake Forest in 2009), Duke may have just ended up with the best team on Tobacco Road and the ACC by simply holding onto its stars this off-season with the possible exception of Gerald Henderson. Let’s run through the challengers for Duke in the state of North Carolina (NC State left out for Sidney Lowe obvious reasons).


Wake Forest? Having lost James Johnson and Jeff Teague to the NBA Draft, Dino Gaudio will be hard-pressed to replicate this year’s success (outside of their embarrassing first round loss to Cleveland State) with just Al-Farouq Aminu returning to lead the Demon Deacons. I’d say they’re going to be worrying more about playing for a NCAA bid than about challenging Duke for the ACC title (although Teague may ultimately return).

Davidson? Although Davidson’s drop-off this year (from a missed Jason Richards‘ 3-pointer at the buzzer away from the Final 4 to a NIT also-ran) made the Wildcats seem like an unlikely threat this coming season, having Stephen Curry in the mix meant that the Wildcats had the potential to threaten any team in the country (even if some people think he isn’t quite all that he’s hyped up to be). However, today in a move that wasn’t surprising to all but the most deluded fans, Curry announced that he will turn pro and hire an agent ending any chance of stealing Pete Maravich‘s career scoring record (done in 3 years without a 3-point line). Good luck playing for a Southern Conference title and a 15-seed for the next few seasons Wildcats.

UNC? Going into the off-season, the Tar Heels posed the greatest threat to Duke next season even with the loss of all-time ACC leading scorer Tyler Hansbrough (I know it sounds weird to me too), Danny Green, and Bobby Frasor (the Deadspin commenters will miss him more than Tar Heel fans will). As all Tar Heels knew the fate of their 2009-10 season hung on the decision of juniors Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. If either of them returned (both returning was just a pipe dream), Roy Williams would have another national title contender with Marcus Ginyard, Tyler Zeller, and Ed Davis returning and John Henson, David Wear, and Travis Wear (and potentially John Wall) coming to Chapel Hill next year. Instead, both Lawson and Ellington declared for the draft today. Assuming that Ty can hire a designated driver from now until the NBA Draft, I don’t expect to see either of them suiting up in Carolina blue again as they are both at their peak value. The Tar Heels are a shoe-in for the NCAA tournament next year and will probably will be in contention for a top 4 seed particularly if Wall decides to not listen to his handler Brian Clifton and play for Roy.

What does all this mean for Duke, which has struggled to live up to its reputation and ESPN’s infatuation since Chris Duhon left?  Although Coach K will have to wait a year to add Seth Curry, and there has been no official communication from Durham, I’d have to guess that it would look something like this. . .

So for all of you Duke haters, get ready for an unbearable next 11 months (especially if the Devils, and not UNC, garner the services of John Wall). For all the Duke fans, the pressure is now back on. Just making it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament won’t cut it this time.

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Will 2009 be the Year the Big 10 Finally Challenges the ACC?

Posted by nvr1983 on April 23rd, 2009

Yesterday the pairings for the 2009 ACC/Big 10 Challenge were announced, and cries of rejoice went up from Iowa City through Evanston over to State College as the Big 10 schools realized that they have a fighting chance at actually winning their first Challenge in the eleven years of its existence.   Let’s take a look at the matchups and show you the games where the land-grant institutions (+NW) from the midwest can actually make this happen.

Penn St. @ Virginia
– PSU is coming off of an NIT Championship and will return its best player, Talor Battle, along with a strong corps of juniors.  UVa will still be learning new coach Tony Bennett’s system.  This is a winnable road game for the Big Ten, and PSU will win it.

Maryland @ Indiana – Assuming Greivis Vasquez returns to school (he should), Maryland should be able to pull away from Indiana relatively easily.  Even moreso if they nab Lance Stephenson.  Tom Crean has a nice recruiting class coming in, but it’s heavy on volume, not stars, and Maryland should get this one.

Michigan St. @ UNC – Goodness, haven’t we seen enough of this already?  We don’t care who UNC loses or Michigan St. keeps.  It’s in Chapel Hill, and even that doesn’t matter.  UNC wins.

Northwestern @ NC State – NW wasn’t terribly far from being an NCAA team this year, and they return most everyone; NC State was pretty far from it and they may lose Brandon Costner.  The gut says this is a winnable game for the Wildcats, but you never know with those guys.  If the Big Ten expects to win this year’s challenge, though, they’ll need this one, so we’re giving it to them.

Virginia Tech @ Iowa – Todd Lickliter’s extremely young team should make a leap of progress next season, but we’re still not sure they’re ready for Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen.  ACC gets the road win.

Wake Forest @ Purdue – Best game of the Challenge, with two black/gold teams taking each other on.  While Wake has proven it can look dominant in November/December before crumbling in February/March, Purdue will be super-jacked for this one.  Look for Hummell and Moore to outplay Teague and Aminu as the home team wins.

BC @ Michigan – In Y2 of John Beilein’s rebuild in Ann Arbor, he worked miracles.  Next year his best two players (Harris and Sims) return, and Crisler Arena will become a place nobody wants to play.  Big 10 win.

Duke @ Wisconsin – these are the games where the home team camps out for weeks in anticipation of beating the Devils, only to watch as Duke eviscerates said home team by 18 pts in the first half on their way to a laugher.  Wisconsin will think it can win this game; Duke knows better.

Florida St. @ Ohio St. – For the first time in four years, OSU won’t be bringing in some 7-foot top recruit, but they won’t need it because they’re bringing back everyone else, including star Evan Turner.  FSU will lose their star Toney Douglas and Uche Echefu, and while they’ll be very good next year, they’ll still be adjusting to life without those players at that time.  OSU at home gets the W.

Illinois @ Clemson – This game is a tossup because both teams bring back a substantial amount of talent as well as bring in strong recruiting classes.  We have a feeling that Illinois is about to become relevant nationally again, but we’re not sure Clemson is ready to cede their spotlight.  Especially in December, when Clemson excels.  We’re going with the home team here.

Minnesota @ Miami (FL) – Tubby welcomes back every player of consequence from an NCAA squad while bringing in a top 12 recruitng class.   Miami isn’t that tough to play at anyway, but especially when Frank Haith loses three of his top five players (incl. Jack McClinton).  Minnesota wins.

There you have it.  Final results (projected):

Big Ten: 6
ACC: 5

The key tossup games in our eyes are Northwestern @ NC State and Illinois @ Clemson.  The Big Ten will need to win one of those two to supplant the ACC for the title of this challenge for the first time in, um, ever.

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