Floriani: Resident Jinxster

Posted by rtmsf on February 17th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences as well as an occasional contributor.

NEWARK, NJ – North Carolina, UConn, Siena… It just occurred that some of the strange goings-on lately can be attributed to a jinx. Namely with yours truly and Rush the Court. Oh, don’t read this wrong. I love my association with RTC . I enjoy the work as a Northeast Conference and MAAC correspondent. Also enjoy the occasional side article the opportunity affords to produce. 

Every other week a recap is submitted on the Northeast Conference and MAAC; besides that is an occasional article of general interest. In November at Coaches vs. Cancer one of my features was on the North Carolina cheerleaders. Well, you can see what has transpired in Chapel Hill these past few weeks.  Over Thanksgiving another one of my articles was a profile on the UConn cheer/spirit program. Watching the Huskies effort against Cincinnati on Saturday all I could think was NIT. How about UNC-UConn at the Garden in an NIT semi?  It could happen.

The Jinxster Doing His Work

Twice last year I wrote about officiating Richard Codey’s basketball games. Codey is a basketball devotee, a coach and was the New Jersey Senate leader. Was is the key word. He no longer heads the Senate.

Friday morning I sent my MAAC wrap-up across several time zones (with no Rick Majerus-like complaints of the cyberspace road trip). At the beginning I noted how the MAAC tournament in March will be “Siena’s to lose.” The undefeated Saints have the experience, talent, coaching and location. That evening Siena went out and lost at Niagara. On seeing the score I thought I was to blame. On second thought I did not officiate their game nor did I drive the team bus to Niagara Falls, Ontario, and not NY by mistake. None of those things happened, so in other words the game had a great crew and I’m sure Fran McCaffery’s club arrived well-rested and prepared to play. What happened? A quick tempo free look…

Siena 71 104 45 55 21
Niagara 68 128 60 50 18

The Purple Eagles scored their 87-74 victory because they were almost unconscious from the floor and cared for the ball with a great turnover rate. Niagara also moved the ball extremely well with 22 assists on 33 field goals and shot 26 of 40 (65%) from two-point range. Joe Mihalich’s club all appeared to follow the lead of sophomore forward Kalief Edwards , a 7 PPG scorer, who shot 9-14 from the floor for a 20-point night.

No Jinx Here (Yet)...

So forget the jinx. In Siena’s as well as Carolina’s and UConn’s case as well. Just one thing. At the Big East-SEC Challenge at the Garden in December I met and chatted with the Kentucky cheer squad. Even took a picture with them. Still, no one asked about getting an article done about them. Guess they knew better. Didn’t want to jeopardize a deep run in the NCAAs next month.

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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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Thou Shalt Not Tech the Cheerleaders…

Posted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences.  When he’s not writing, he serves as a basketball official in various New Jersey amateur leagues.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – In the course of my basketball life there is an officiating schedule. It is something I have done for two decades now and enjoy quite a bit. It also gives a different perspective on the game. For instance, before getting into officiating I never watched how a player set a screen while covering a college game. Now, it’s something watched closely courtside as it reveals how fundamentally sound a player may be.

At any rate, Monday night brought an assignment in the North New Jersey Suburban League, a sixth grade boys game between South Orange and West Orange. Entering the gym I noticed the West Orange coach was New Jersey Senator Richard Codey. He was acting governor of the state for a time and may be our next one down the road. Codey also has a passion for basketball and a close friendship with Bobby Gonzalez of Seton Hall. It is known that Codey has spoken to the Seton Hall University president on more than one occasion in support of Gonzalez. Likewise he has conversed with Gonzalez a good number of times.

We get going and early on South Orange gets out to a lead. Codey shows a little of the mentor that works about a half mile down the road by debating a few calls or no calls. Still, he is working hard genuinely teaching and encouraging his kids. On one play I call a three seconds on his player. “His foot wasn’t in the lane,” Codey protests, “Coach it was,” I answer politely,”plus I gave him about five seconds.”

Ray Would Never "T" Up This Crew

Ray Would Never "T" Up This Crew

During a time out, my partner comes over and tells me Codey wants a Technical on the South Orange cheerleaders. “Why,” I ask. “He said they are too loud and he can’t think” I suggest to my partner let’s just move on.

South Orange is too fast and athletic. The margin is in the thirties the second half. He might not agree with every call but overall Codey isn’t a problem to work with . He’s really in a teaching mode despite the score and at times gives a theatrical arms up in desperation on an unforced turnover. With 13 seconds to go South Orange is up 32 and calls time out to set a play. “Time out with 13 seconds left,” he says to me as if to say why? “Coach, I know what you’re saying,” I answer, “my partner and I commented on it.  We agree it’s not right, let’s just get it finished.” The game plays out the final seconds with a home win in the books. Codey commends us but adds, “you really should have ‘T’d’ those cheerleaders.” Provided they do not intentionally interfere with play, curse, or taunt,  there is no way to call a technical (which would be assessed to their team) on them.  My reply is I’m certain they can’t be ‘T’d’ but (taking a political route) I promise to check the ruling with my association.

“See you tomorrow at the ‘Rock’ (Prudential Center for Seton Hall-Villanova),” I said. “I’ll be there,” he replied.

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