THE BOYS OF KILLEEN’S

February 1, 2022

February 1, 2022

            “The great hills of the South Country they stand along the sea; and it’s there,

walking in the high woods that I would wish to be,

and the men that were boys when I was a boy walking along with me.”

The South Country

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a small bar named Killeen’s Tavern located on a side street in Astoria, Queens. The tavern’s history dates back to about 1934 (my birth year). It was owned by a burly Irishman. The whole place was no bigger than 30 ft. by 15 ft., half of it designed like a half-moon bar, and the other half consisting of a few tables, a juke box, a telephone booth, a toilet that was always clogged up, and a kitchen (required by law) that didn’t work. Beer was 12 cents a glass, and a shot of rye was 45 cents. The local crowd had its colorful characters. Damon Runyon would have loved this place. There was “Buster” the late-night singer who crooned Sweet Leylani, Lorraine the Dancer, “Cuz” the night bartender, “Oil Pan” Tom, the landlord Pete the Russian, Freddie “Spook” Stegman – the greatest sport birddog this side of the Mississippi.

Then there was the day bartender – Pat Killeen himself. An impressive 6′ 1″ and burly 275-lb. man with a thick Irish brogue, who, when angry, would roll his black cigar from one end of his mouth to the other. Yes, he could intimidate if necessary. But he was a fair and open-minded individual, always with the best intentions at heart.  And then there was dapper George Connelly – the Sunday bartender of 30 years who many believe James Cagney copied his mannerisms from.

Who were the other inhabitants of the Tavern? Here are some of their names: Scratch, Buddy, Gaylord (your author), Big Dan, The Whale, Jimmy the Greek, Steve the Greek, Weegie, The Rat, Vince the Prince, The Grey Fox, The Scavenger, The Buff, The Snake, The Brat, Tuto, Tex, Superman, The Hawk, Marty Cool, The Phantom, The Bant, The Weedier, Big Fitz, Red, Joey Hot Dog, Sparksy, Dixie, Jake the Weightlifter (all 95 lbs. of him), Bugsy, Louie the Lob, the Dolly Sisters, Filthy Phil, Tony Guido, etc.

Among these notables was a younger contingent known as the Boys of Killeen’s. They were the children of working-class parents who endured the Great Depression and survived the harsh times of that era. Although better off than their parents, the Boys of Killeen’s was a group that appreciated good times, and were not nearly as security conscious as their parents. It was a group that ultimately went on to succeed in the workplace, no doubt influenced by their New York City and Killeen’s experiences.

It has been written that most Long Islanders are displaced New Yorkers. For certain, many in the reading audience have their roots in Queens and Brooklyn, if not Manhattan and the Bronx. The displacement process occurred at different times for different individuals and groups, but for some, despite the emigration to Long Island, the ties of friendship and companionship remain as strong today as it did nearly a century ago.

Rhetorically speaking, it seems like it happened eons ago. But in real time, it all started nearly 70 years ago. There was a group of guys that had just exited their teenage years and were brought together by a common love: basketball. They were headquartered in Astoria, Queens. What follows is a tale of their pilgrimage through time over the last half century plus.

In the late part of 1954, a group of youngsters 17, 18 and 19 years of age decided to rent the empty storage room next to Killeen’s. The Phantom, later Special FBI Agent Ernie Haridopolos, was the instigator for the club and first dubbed it the Parkside Nationals. The room was 20 ft X 15 ft and contained a Coke machine, a 7-ft bar, one card table, a fumigated sofa and six chairs. The bathroom (ugh!) was shared with the adjacent deli. Things soon improved as up went sheetrock, a tile floor, and a phonograph. This was followed with a monthly $50 split-even raffle to pay the $35 rent and for parties (approximately twice a month).

During the early 1950’s, and prior to the massive TV sports agenda available today, Sunnyside Gardens (located of course in Sunnyside, Queens) annually hosted an Open Basketball Tournament that featured all the great amateur stars of that era. The young teenagers who patronized Killeen’s Tavern, located on 24th Street off Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria regularly paid the one-dollar admission fee to see their basketball heroes perform. And then, as if blessed by a magic wand, these same youngsters became basketball stars in their own right.

In late Spring of 1955, they came to the conclusion that “hell, we can play with these guys.” And were they ever so right. They enlisted the help of one of their own with limited basketball ability, (yours truly) with directions to field a team for the upcoming summer tournaments. I was baptized coach and the Killeen’s Tavern dynasty was set in motion. I got Pat Killeen, owner of Killeen’s Tavern, to sponsor the team and made the necessary arrangements to enter the team in the various tournaments. The Killeen’s team was officially born.

All the pieces were put into place when the recruiting process started that would effectively mold the team into a winner over the next dozen years. The talent was primarily gathered locally from Astoria that included Marty Collins (Elon), Steve Afendis (High Point), Joe Montana and John Caso (St. John’s), Bo Erias (Niagara and later Minneapolis Lakers), Don Ryan (Atlantic Christian), Richie Bennett (Bryant High School), Tom Rice (School of Hard Knocks), and Wally DiMasi (Providence). Key amongst this group was Danny Doyle (Belmont Abbey and later the Detroit Pistons). The first year also saw additions to the local mix that included Dennis Costigan (Hofstra), Ivan Kovacs (St. John’s), York Larese (North Carolina), Timmy Shea and George Blaney (Holy Cross), Nick Gaetani(Brooklyn College), Kevin Loughery (St. Johns), Tom Fitzmaurice (St. Bonaventure), Brendan Malone(former Knick assistant coach), Al Filardi (NYU), and the Quarto brothers —Frank (Manhattan College) and Vinnie (Adelphi). All, at one time or other, for over a ten-year period, wore the $2.00 blue T-shirt and $1.50 white shorts that marked them as The Boys of Killeen’s.

Summers came and went, but from 1955 to 1965, summers in New York featured tough basketball. All the Killeen’s Boys came home from school to the Big Apple to sharpen their game on the blacktop. Legendary tales of summer activities about Rockaway Beaches 108th Street Basketball courts – sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the McGuire and Fitzgerald bars to the north – have remained some of this area’s proud historical moments in time. Later came graduation, and winter brought on the Star Journal, Long Island Press, CYO and YMCA leagues, plus the Haverstraw, New City, Jersey City, and the famous Don Bosco Tournaments. It was truly an exciting era. The Boys of Killeen’s were an integral part of that era. The one player who will always be remembered is the aforementioned Danny Doyle. He was a Killeen’s star for many reasons, but Doyle may have said it best with, “I probably was the most heralded player on the team, but was probably the third or fourth highest scorer. In a very real sense, this was a team without a star, and yet every player on the team was a star.”

Over the years, The Boys convened annually in January at my house. When this ritual started over 40 years ago, there was a robust group of over 30 attendees. A few more were added along the way, but the relentless passage of time has taken its toll on The Boys. There was a time when attendance was viewed as mandatory, even if one were sick or located elsewhere. However, the number of attendees reached 10 two years ago and was decreasing at an  exponential rate. Enter Covid-19 and, unfortunately, the ritual ended as The Boys now have but a handful of curtain calls remaining.

I still keep in close contact with the remaining members of The Boys. A problem with The Boys is that a large number have unfortunately left us. Memories of youth, earlier love, Killeens Tavern, the basketball team, etc., now find The Boys often attempting to relive what Hilaire Belloc (in the preamble) was referring to with “it’s there . . . that I would wish to be, and the men that were boys when I was a boy walking along with me.” No matter; it was a great ride for all of us as the life and times of The Boys prepare to ride off into the sunset.

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NEXT POSTINGS

MARCH 1:                 On Purely Random, Pristine Thoughts XXVI

APRIL 1:                    On Hofstra’s 2021-22 Basketball Season

MAY 1:                      On the EWSD Town Tax Vote

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Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. An assistant (coach) who specializes in developing offenses and / or offensive strategies would help.
  2. Practice dribbling with both hands. In effect, the player should be just as capable driving or dribbling left as well as right.
  3. Practice taking layups when dribbling toward the basket at top speed.

On Hofstra 2022 Men’s Basketball Upcoming Season

December 1, 2021

December 1, 2021

Two teams come to mind when one thinks of basketball on Long Island: St. Johns (Queens) and Hofstra (Nassau County). Hofstra has held the upper hand in recent years. But last year, SJ head coach, Mike Anderson, revitalized the team with a high-pressure defense that created havoc for a number of teams (I have a bet on them to win the NCAA this year at whopping odds of 175-1). Hofstra, on the other hand, took several steps backwards after coach Jo Mihalik went on medical leave last year and the team utterly failed to respond to the new leadership. That was then, now is now, and the article is about Hofstra’s Spring season (I did not bet on them at 2500-1.).

Five topics on Hofstra’s upcoming season are reviewed below: coach, players, defense, tournament thoughts, and closing comments. Here we go.

  1. Coaching: There is a new sheriff in town and his name is Speedy Claxton. Everybody is enthused about his selection to lead the Pride. So am I. He will do fine, even though it is his first year. My dear friend and mentor, Jack Powers, former Executive Director of the NIT, had this to offer on Speedy: “He is a wonderful kid, a quality person, a great player, and certain to succeed. Rick Cole made a great choice.” My sentiments…exactly.
  2. Players: Here is some bad news. The club lost Isaac Kante who I believe would have been a dominant center in the CAA this season. This was a major loss, particularly since the club lacks both a solid big man and shot blocker. The club appears to be top heavy with quality guards. They include: Jalen Ray who will need to have a superstar year on offense, and improve his defensive play; Aaron Estrada, a solid addition from Oregon University; Cabet Burgess, a holdover who shows promise; and, Zachary Cooks, another solid addition from New Jersey Institute of Technology;
  3. Defense. The club has almost exclusively played zone since the arrival of coach Mikal ich. Here is some good news. Speedy announced early on that that the club would almost exclusively play zone defense. As I’ve always said, if you play against a zone, your grandmother can guard you. I’ve also said that it is defense that wins championships, particularly backcourt defense. Bottle up your opponent’s playmaker and you’re in business.
  4. Tournament thoughts. The object every season for any club in a mid-major conference is to win their tournament, NOT their conference. Iona College, with essentially mediocre seasons, has won the MAAC tournament in the last 4 years in a row. Does Tim Cluess know something that other coaches don’t know? I believe he has figured out that the corrupt NCAA has stacked the deck against mid-major teams, and the only way to survive and prosper is to win their tournament. Bottom line: Play to win the tournament, NOT conference games during the season. How does a team do this? I discussed this very topic in the 2nd edition of my “Basketball Coaching 101” book.
  5. Closing comments. The team chose to open against 3 top 25 ranked teams: Houston, Maryland, and Richmond. Did these games provide a wakeup call? Perhaps. Houston was an overtime loss; Maryland was 2-point loss with some really poor time management at the end of the game, and Richmond was also a loss. The club was 3-4 at the time of submission of this article.

One more thing. My spies tell me that Hofstra has aspirations of moving from the CAA to the MAC. I hope not since the CAA gives the club a more “spatial” presence.

Finally, attending Hofstra games for me still remains the best sports buy in the New York Metropolitan area; it’s even cheaper than going to the movies. There is ample free parking, easy access in and out of the Mack Sports Complex, the concession stands are not a rip-off ($3.50 for a dog, $3.00 for a soda, etc.), and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Did I mention that it’s $9 for seniors and children, and the whole exciting atmosphere is conducive to family attendance? Consider sharing it with someone you care about.

NOTE: A real downer. An assistant in the Athletic Department cancelled my media pass for Hofstra games. That will probably adversely affect future Hofstra articles, but more importantly, reduce my ability to contact / involve key basketball personalities such as players, coaches, ADs, and officials in the second edition of my book “BASKETBALL COACHING 101”. It will not affect my involvement elsewhere. Anyway, I enjoyed my serving as a good will ambassador for the program — and it was good while it lasted.

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NEXT POSTINGS

JANUARY 1:             On Zzzabuu VI

FEBRUARY 1:          On Great Eats VI

MARCH 1:                 On Purely Random, Pristine Thoughts XXVI

APRIL 1:                    On Hofstra’s 2021-22 Basketball Season

MAY 1:                      On the EWSD Tax Vote

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Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. Practice inbounding the ball at various locations on the court when the opposing team is pressing.
  2. The player nearest to the ball should take it out immediately after a basket or foul shot and pass it to the first open man.
  3. Do not leave the foul line after the first of two (or three) free throws, and do not slap / shake the hand of a fellow teammate.

On Hofstra’s 2020-21 Men’s Basketball Season and The East Williston School District Budget Vote

May 1, 2021

May 1, 2021

This is not an easy newsletter for me to write. There are two parts: one concerned with Hofstra’s 2020-21 basketball season and one concerned with the upcoming East Williston School District (EWSD) budget vote. There is bad news on both subject matters. In any event, here goes.

  1. Hofstra’s 2020-21 Men’s Basketball Season

In case anyone forgot, Hostra won its first Colonial Athletic Association (CAA Men’s Basketball Championship) in March 2020, defeating Northeastern 70-61. The teams’ combined wins over its past two years include 26 wins in 2019-20 and 27 wins in the 2018-19 campaign. These 53 wins placed them 14th nationally and was the main reason they won consecutive regular season titles. In addition, Isaac Kante was exceptional with a 65 percent field goal average – 9th in the nation. They were worthy champions in 2020 but, alas, the COVID-19 struck and the NCAA Tournament was cancelled.

The bad news continued following the conclusion of the 2019-20 season when coach Joe Mehalich took sick and has retired from basketball. The new season brought forth a new coach with Kante selected on the CAA’s preseason first team plus Jalen Ray and Tareq Coburn were preseason honorable mentions. I was pretty certain they were going to have another great year. But, the team’s performance turned out to be less than stellar. They arrived at the CAA Championship Tournament with high hopes but failed miserably.

My notes on this past season are listed below:

  1. They continued to play zone defense; even mediocre teams don’t play zone.
  2. There was no hustle on defense – a characteristic of many zone defenses with players confused at times as to who was guarding who.
  3. They couldn’t hit 3-pointers with any consistency.
  4. There was often poor shot selection.
  5. The other teams were simply better.

What makes for a winning team? Here is what legendary coach Rollie Massimino offered in my Basketball Coaching 101 book: “Every team has an identity and for me it is family. The magic word is WE. We are all together. Most of our family of players, coaches, etc., regularly contact each other for Christmas. I also still get calls from my gang at the beginning of each season wishing me well.” The Hofstra team? They looked like a pickup team; it was as if the 5 players had just been introduced. The bench? It appeared comatose most of the time. I once half-jokingly mentioned that “if you hope to win a championship, you’d better be with people you love.” Now I don’t think of it as a joke.

Next season? Look for them to rebound with a new coach. The new coach? What a great choice: Craig “Speedy” Claxton. Speedy played at Hofstra and won the Haggerty Award (top New York metropolitan player) as a senior. He followed that with 7 years in the NBA. Hopefully, he will not follow in the same footsteps as Chris Midlin. One thing we know is that Hofstra has had a really fabulous record of recruiting top guards and this included both Speedy and Juan’ya Green plus my favorite – Charles Jenkins. More recently, Speedy was apparently responsible for not only recruiting but also developing Justin Wright-Foreman and Desure Buie. Let’s hope the tradition will continue since it is guards who bring home championships. Regarding Speedy, my dear friend and mentor, Jack Powers, former Executive Director of the NIT, had this to offer: “He is a wonderful kid, a quality person, a credit to our sport, and certain to succeed. Rick Cole made a great choice.” My sentiments … exactly.

II. The East Williston School District (EWSD) Budget Vote

Over the years, I have been critical of teachers for taking yearly salary increases at a time when many people in the private sector are being laid off, taking salary cuts, or losing their benefits. Such is the situation this year.

A question we engineers often ask when evaluating a scheme, proposal, contract, etc., is as follows: Is it cost-effective and is there sufficient accountability? When applied to education, most school boards, school administrators, and teachers have conveniently avoided answering this question. In fact, these individuals continue to try to convince concerned taxpayers that taxes need to be raised further if our children are to receive a quality education. Our teachers also maintain that they are dedicated professionals. What in the world is the rest of the workforce? To hear the teachers you would think they were God’s gift to society. Regarding our teachers, I have more respect for the NYC teacher, who I believe is as dedicated, if not more, because they are exposed to combat duty, often on a daily basis. Furthermore, one need only compare the recent conduct of teachers with 9/11 first responders and the COVID-19 pandemic health care workers.

Needless to say, I shall vote against the budget since it contains increases and not reductions in teachers’ salaries and benefits. I suggest District taxpayers do likewise. Remember, it is Okay to vote NO on the budget.

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

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NEXT POSTINGS

JUNE 1:                      On Memorial Day VI

JULY 1:                      On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXXI

AUGUST 1:                On Great Eats VI

SEPTEMBER 1:         On Technical Writing

OCTOBER 1:             Zzzabuu V

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Here are this month’s three offensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. Every attempt should be made to exploit the team’s offensive capabilities against the opponent’s defensive weaknesses.
  2. Players should learn to dribble with either hand.
  3. Players should learn to shoot with either hand.

THE ULTIMATE QUIZ IV

February 1, 2021

February 1, 2021

As indicated in III, this has become one of my favorites. But, this one is a little different. It is solely political in nature and each statement to follow requires either a true or false answer. And, there is no correct answer … it is basically your call. The 40 comments to follow concern events/ actions that occurred during the 2016-2020 time period. You are asked to provide a true or false response.

I personally will not take a position on the results/grade of your true – false test. But, based on your number of true answers, I feel that you would be classified in one of the five categories:

  1. 0-8:     a staunch liberal
  2. 9-16:   a liberal
  3. 17-24: a moderate
  4. 25-32: a conservative
  5. 33-40: a staunch conservative
  1. The stock market increased at a near exponential rate, no doubt due to a turnaround robust economy, commitments to job creation, and a decline in poverty levels.
  2. Our nation is now classified as energy independent (remember the price of gasoline is now $2.00/gal)
  3. Contrary to earlier predictions, there was a return of manufacturing jobs.
  4. Black colleges and universities received an unprecedented increase in financial aid from the Federal government.
  5. The U.S. military prowess increased dramatically.
  6. The air, water, and land (soil) was never cleaner.
  7. Despite a departure from the Paris Peace Accord, CO2 emissions decreased below expectations.
  8. NAFTA was dissolved and replaced.
  9. New rules were put in place to stop the exploitation by China.
  10. Built nearly all the Southern wall and stopped illegal immigration across the Southern border.
  11. The majority of the public came to realize that the media was corrupt, self-serving, and un-American.
  12. The Washington establishment – consisting primarily of career bureaucrats, often referred to as “The Swamp” – was corrupt, self-serving, and un-American.
  13. Stopped the ISIS killing and torture.
  14. Several elements of the Obama Health Care Act were eliminated.
  15. Reduced the North Korean threat.
  16. For many citizens, there was a return of pride and love of country.
  17. Contrary to earlier predictions, our presence in foreign wars was significantly reduced.
  18. Abuses in veterans’ hospitals were significantly reduced.
  19. The COVID-19 pandemic was responsibly addressed medically and economically.
  20. Delivered ventilators and hospital beds immediately to an ill-prepared NYS.
  21. Delivered the COVID-19 vaccine in 7 ½ months, not 5-10 years (as predicted).
  22. Taxes were lowered for the middle class.
  23. The President was impeached based on a telephone conversation with a third-world country that was interpreted in a questionable manner.
  24. Unemployment levels for Blacks reached an all-time low.
  25. The Food Stamp Program was significantly reduced.
  26. Per capita wealth increased at a near exponential rate.
  27. Property values increased at a near exponential rate.
  28. Many companies, after moving abroad earlier, returned home.
  29. The MS-13 presence in our country was reduced.
  30. Eliminated the presence of ISIS in the Middle East.
  31. Our soldiers are now coming home.
  32. The Iranian threat was significantly reduced.
  33. Contrary to earlier concerns, no nuclear wars were initiated.
  34. The US was the first country to stop to and fro travel with China.
  35. Unemployment levels for Hispanics reached an all-time low.
  36. Unemployment levels for Asians reached an all-time low.
  37. Unemployment levels for women reached an all-time low.
  38. Contrary to failed promises from a host of past presidents, the US Embassy in Israel was relocated to Jerusalem.
  39. The economy and newly created jobs grew at an unprecedented and exponential rate.
  40. Contrary to the prediction of nearly all the bureaucrats, peace treaties were signed between Israel and several Arab nations.

How many true answers did you come up with? Where do you think Trump would be classified? Biden? Pelosi? Cuomo? Pence?

Note: For some of my fans, I recently co-authored an Amazon book ($7.99) titled “Virus Contacts”. The lead author is Ann Marie Flynn.

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

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NEXT POSTINGS:

MARCH 1:                 On Technical Writing

APRIL 1:                     On Great Eats VI

MAY 1:                       On Hofstra’s 2020-21 Basketball Season

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Here are this month’s three defensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

  1. Every shot, particularly of an “outside” variety, should be contested — unless you are the size (5’ 6”) of the author.
  2. Every attempt should be made to exploit your team’s defensive capabilities against the opponent’s offensive weaknesses.
  3. If fouls committed by your team are low relative to your opponent, substitute for your star or key players – assuming they need a breather anyway – since the officials are more prone to call “touch” fouls on your team.

ON HOFSTRA’S 2019-20 MEN’S BASKETBALL SEASON

April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020

 

Here is how I opened my earlier analysis at the start of the Colonial Athletic Association season (12/1/19) – “This year’s analysis? I love Coburn as a player – he was my type of player when I was coaching. But Buie is the key. I think it will be his defense that will hopefully carry the team to the CAA Championship and an invitation to the Big Dance. This will really be an exciting year if this comes to pass. And, they have a reasonable shot to make it happen.”

 

The prize this year, as always, remains the same: Win the CAA Tournament in March and earn a bit to the NCAA tournament. The result? They won the CAA conference outright. But the conference and tournament are two difference things since the season conference title earns you nothing although the team became the sixth program in CAA history to win consecutive season titles. Along the way, Hofstra ranked second in the nation with road/neutral site wins (13), hit 20 3-pointers in a game, exhibited a tenacious defense (at times), and their four guard-three point shooting offense was in high gear most of the time. Pemberton and Kante were selected to the second and third team All-CAA teams, respectively, while Tareq Coburn was selected the basketball scholar athlete of the year. And Buie? He received the Ehlers Award, which is presented annually to the men’s basketball student-athlete who “embodies the highest standards of leadership, integrity and sportsmanship in conjunction with his academic athletic achievement.” After earning his undergraduate degree from Hofstra, Buie is currently earning his M.E. in Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies, holding a 3.92 grade-point average. On the court, Buie led the CAA with 5.0 assists while pacing Hofstra with 18.5 points per game including 44 points in one game. Buie was also a first team all-CAA selection and was once again on the CAA’s All-Defensive Team.

 

On to this year’s tournament. The previous four years found the team in the finals twice, only to fail to win the championship. But this was another year. They won it easily which moved them onto the NCAA tournament. But wait! How do you spell infectious disease? CORONA!! End of story. After convincingly earning their first trip to the NCAA tournament in nearly 20 years, the event was cancelled.

 

As we gamblers often mumble after a tough loss…next case. On to next year and what can the faithful expect? Starters Coburn, Ray, and Kante will be back along with Schutte. Trueheart, Silvero and Burgess. Ray and Kante figure to have great years but Silvero could make a monstrous difference. New recruits will only add to a quality starting team that will consist of Coburn, Ray, Silverto, Trueheart, and Kante. I look for big things next year.

 

Finally, more on Buie. Can he make it to the next (professional) level? The scouts I talked to all felt he was not only too small but also too light. I disagreed in his case. Maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for guards (I also touted Charles and Justin), but I believe that guards – particularly those who can play defense, – can most impact the quality of a team. (There’s an off-guard at Providence that currently comes to mind.) Buie has also shown dramatic improvement in each of the last four years; his ability/talent has increased near exponentially during this period. I really think he has a chance.

 

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NEXT POSTINGS:

 

MAY 1:                       On the 2020 East Williston School District Budget Vote

JUNE 1:                      On Memorial Day V

JULY 1:                      On Four Issues II: The New York Racing Association (NYRA)

AUGUST 1:                On the Coronavirus

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Here are this month’s three defensive suggestions from the upcoming second edition of my “BASKETBALL COACHING 101” book.

 

  1. Officials should be charted, particularly under the offensive basket.
  2. Practice a small forward and (in particular) guards laying the low post to exploit any weak defensive player. Some (1) or (2) guards are especially adept at playing the low post, perhaps due to earlier playground experiences.
  3. With 40-70 seconds left at the end of the half or game, shoot before 30 seconds to insure another shot.

ON THE HOFSTRA 2019-20 BASKETBALL SEASON

December 1, 2019

December 1, 2019

 

Here is part of what I wrote last year at the start of the Hofstra Men’s 2018-19 basketball season. “The 10/28 Newsday headlines blared away “Hofstra Targets NCAA: Wright-Foreman key to making March Madness.” Here is what appeared this year in the 11/2/19 Newsday headlines, “Hunger Pains: Pemberton, Pride Wants to Earn Spot in NCAA Tourney!” Now I ask you: What team doesn’t want to make the Tourney? In any event, the problems that existed last year still remain.  What problems remain? The same four I raised earlier, as detailed below.

 

  1. How many teams that made the Sweet 16 play zone defense? If you answered hardly any, you’d be right. And, there is a reason why the better teams do NOT play zone defense. Accept it – nothing can replace the intensity of an in-your-face man-to-man defense. NOTHING!!!
  2. I keep repeating this after each season. You are inviting trouble when you commit to a 7-man rotation, with 5 players rotating around 4 positions. A successful team needs season-tested players not only when players are in foul trouble but also at tournament time when confronting either a 3-game/3-day or 4-game/4-day schedule. Hopefully, this will not occur again this season.
  3. Coach Mikalich and his staff have done a superb job in recruiting – when it comes to offensive players. But, defense is as important as offense, right?  Anything been done about it? Time will tell.
  4. The object every season for any club in a mid-major conference is to win their tournament, NOT their conference. How does a team do this? I discuss this very topic in the upcoming 2nd edition of my “Basketball Coaching 101” book . . . or, simply talk to Coach Timmy Cluess of Iona.

 

On to this year. Buie, Pemberton, Ray and Coburn are back. So is Truehart, although currently sidelined. The new additions include guard Silverio (Omar) and center Kante (Isaac). The starting five appear (at this time) to be guards Buie, Pemberton, Ray, and Coburn with Kante at center. Subs appear to be the aforementioned Silverio, Shutte (Ken) and (perhaps) freshman Burgess (Caleb). This year’s analysis? I love Coburn as a player – he was my type of player when I was coaching. But, Buie is the key. It will be his defense that will hopefully carry the team to the CAA Championship AND an invitation to the Big Dance. This will really be an exciting year if this comes to pass. And, they have a reasonable shot to make it happen.

 

Here’s more:  the club is off to a decent start.  So far, so good.  The team’s record at the time of the preparation of this article (12/1) is 4-3 that includes an embarrassing loss to San Jose St. and a dramatic come from behind 20-point victory against UCLA.

Here is my usual pitch on why everyone, particularly seniors, should consider attending Hofstra games this season. Attending these games for me still remains the best sports buy in the New York Metropolitan area; it’s even cheaper than going to the movies. There is ample free parking, easy access in and out of the Mack Sports Complex, the concession stands are not a rip-off ($3.50 for a dog, $3.00 for a soda, etc.), and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Did I mention that its $6 for seniors and children, and the whole exciting atmosphere is conducive to family attendance? Many home games last year turned out to be thrillers. Share it this year with someone you care about.

 

GO PRIDE!

 

Note: The theodorenewsletter will begin a new feature starting this month (see below). The new feature will provide either three offensive or three defensive basketball suggestions that will appear in the upcoming 2nd edition of “Basketball Coaching 101”, and replace the weekly basketball suggestions that have appeared on Facebook’s “Basketball Coaching 101.”

 

This month’s Basketball Coaching 101 offensive hints:

 

  1. Run back at near full speed after a turn of possession (or turnover) to play defense.
  2. Never play zone defense. There are some exceptions, detailed in (3).
  3. Consider playing zone defense only if one of your star offensive players is a weak defender or if one of your star offensive players is in foul trouble or if you intend to use only 5, 6 or 7 players, i.e., the person (substitute) players are weak. Massimino used this strategy during Villanova’s championship run in 1985.

 

You want more? Tough. You’ll have to wait until next month for 3 offensive suggestions.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

Basketball Coaching 101 (Facebook)

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

JANUARY 1:   On Four Issues I:  Climate Change

FEBRUARY 1:  On the Ultimate Quiz II

MARCH 1:      On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXIX

APRIL 1:          On the Hofstra 2018-19 Basketball Season

MAY 1:            On the 2020 East Williston School District Budget Vote

JUNE 1:           On Memorial Day V

JULY 1:           On Four Issues II: NYRA

 

 


ON PURELY, CHASTE, PRISTINE AND RANDOM THOUGHTS XXVIII

October 1, 2019

Hard to believe. The 28th! Here’s another 25 thoughts of yours truly.

  • It’s a new football season, but I still maintain that Eli Manning is the most overrated and luckiest individual to play the game of football…ever! The football Giants are toast if they don’t go with another quarterback.
  • Had contact with a recently graduated college basketball player who confirmed that two players on his team were paid. Now get this…he attended a mid-major
  • The Mets failed us once again. I thought nobody could be worse than Terry Collins. I was wrong.
  • I maintain that the bulk of the media continues to peddle lies and distortions.
  • Mets reliever Diaz doesn’t deserve the bad press. I believe he has the highest swinging strike ratio in the league – and that is an excellent measure of how good a pitcher is.
  • Just returned from a 3-day visit to Saratoga Springs. It was my 63rd year in a row. Lost some money but had a great time with the family. Finally had dinner at 15 Church Street; it was a unique experience.
  • Recently met democrat Judy Bosworth, Supervisor of the Town of North Hempstead, and was impressed…so much so that I might vote for her next time around. Ditto with Councilman Pete Zuckerman.
  • It’s World Series time. The Mets are dead but I’m still alive with the Yankees (ugh!) and the Braves.
  • My new book on “Water Management” will be out before the end of the year.
  • Mary still gets mad at me when I ask the maître d’ at an upscale restaurant: “Are franks and beans on the menu?”
  • Winter is just around the corner, and I’m not looking forward to it.
  • Lost Richie Dreyer (St. Francis), one of my players, last month. He brought a toughness that was lacking on my Killeen’s Tavern basketball team. He mellowed in his old age and did some wonderful things for AA.
  • I believe that one of our nation’s biggest problems is that family life has been displaced by government subsidies for far too many people.
  • Travel by any mode is terrible in Manhattan. Ditto Brooklyn.
  • Visited Quebec City in late June to attend the annual Air & Waste Management conference and presented two papers. Loved the Canadians and what a great city.
  • When are baseball pitchers going to wake up and figure out that the key to success is to not walk anyone and batters realize to go the other way when the shift is on?
  • Only got to Lot #6 at Jones Beach twice this year. I still maintain it is the most beautiful beach in the world.
  • The New York Racing Association seems hell-bent on destroying thoroughbred racing at Belmont Park. I paid for a season pass but won’t be going back this year; it simply isn’t an enjoyable day anymore. The level of incompetence of this organization is beyond belief. Hello Nassau OTB. I’ll have more to say about this in January.
  • The level of hatred for de Blasio continues to mount; it is almost as bad as that for Trump.
  • Still involved with developing potable (drinking) water processes via the desalination route, but have recently extended my work to include non-desalination methods. This has really been exciting work.
  • Traveled to Monmouth Racetrack (twice!) with several of my players. We visited my dear friend Steve “The Greek” Panos, the toughest Greek since Alexander the Great.  I am forever indebted to Steve for probably saving my life during a riot at one of our basketball games in 1963.
  • It’s all Greek to me. I still love lamb and pastitsio.
  • Recently attended a Kourtakis (maternal) family reunion in New Jersey, and it was just great. Some of us reminisced about life growing up in New York City.
  • Dear friend and noted sports historian Arthur Lovely keeps hitting the nail on the head with his “every day is a blessing”
  • My new quote to those close to me? “I hope misfortune follows you but never catches up.”

 

Tata!

 

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

Basketball Coaching 101 (Facebook)

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

NOVEMBER 1:          On the OHI Day V

DECEMBER 1:          On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2019-20 Season

JANUARY 1:              On Four Key Issues

FEBRUARY 1:           On the Ultimate Quiz II

 


ON THE ULTIMATE QUIZ

July 1, 2019

July 1, 2019

From my files. Here are 25 questions worth four points each. Good luck. The answers appear at the end of the article.

 

  1. What world-renowned philosopher said: “Revolutions break out when opposite parties, the rich and the poor, are equally balanced; and there is little or nothing between them; for, if either party were manifestly superior, the other would not risk an attack upon them.”
  2. When and what famous and charismatic individual wrote a Broadway musical play last year that no one gave a second thought?”
  3. Can you describe the origin of the term “subway” as it relates to tipping (gratuity)?
  4. What famous actress said: “don’t kiss me, I just took a bath.”?
  5. Who is currently involved with developing new potable water process systems in order to solve a major problem facing mankind?
  6. What famous actor said: “We’ll always have Paris.”
  7. What immortal movie character said: “After all, tomorrow is another day.”?
  8. What famous actor said, “Go ahead, make my day.”?
  9. What President said: “Government’s view of the economy can be summed up in a few short phrases: if it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; and, if it stops moving, subsidize it.”?
  10. What author said: “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”?
  11. What famous television newscaster said, “We are not educated well enough to perform the act of intelligently selecting our leaders.”?
  12. What famous world leader said: “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”?
  13. What famous philosopher said: “In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party to give it to the other.”?
  14. What famous author said: “No man’s life, liberty or prosperity is safe while the legislature is in session”?
  15. What famous individual said: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!”
  16. What President of recent times decided to rewrite and reinterpret history?
  17. What famous world leader said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessing; the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”?
  18. What famous personality first described Barack and Michelle as “The Entitlement Kid” and “The Last Lady,” respectively?
  19. What famous American said: “A Government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have”?
  20. If Joe Biden isn’t the dumbest individual in the swamp, then who is?
  21. Can you offer a comment on the 10 senators who questioned Kavanaugh?
  22. What do Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, Gerald Nadler, etc., have in common?
  23. Which democratic presidential hopeful would best serve our great nation?
  24. What would have happened to our great nation if The Hill, and not Donald Trump had been elected?
  25. Is it possible to Make America Great Again?

 

Bonus question: Can you explain the difference between investigating and spying?

 

Here are the answers to the 25-question quiz. Each question was worth four points. How did you do?

 

  1. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.); Politics, Book V
  2. It was last year and Lou Theodore.
  3. A soda/beer concessionaire at the old Jamaica, Aqueduct and Belmont racetracks in the late 50s would bellow out “subway” when a customer left a nickel tip (a generous one in those days) – the same cost as the fare on the subway.
  4. Barbara Stanwyck
  5. Why your favorite author, of course.
  6. Why Bogie, of course – Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca, 1942
  7. Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind, 1936.
  8. Clint Eastwood, 1983
  9. Ronald Reagan, 1986
  10. George Bernard Shaw
  11. Walter Cronkite
  12. Winston Churchill
  13. Voltaire, 1766
  14. Mark Twain, 1866
  15. J. Rourke, Civil Libertarian
  16. Jimmy Carter, and more recently, BHO
  17. Winston Churchill
  18. Lou Theodore, 2010
  19. Thomas Jefferson
  20. Nancy Pelosi and BHO are a close second and third, respectively.
  21. In a very real sense, they are traitors.
  22. They too belong in jail
  23. Sorry! I wanted to lighten the presentation. The question is obviously a joke.
  24. You can find out by electing a liberal/democratic as president in 2020.
  25. It is possible, but there is only one who can do it and, no matter what you think of him, our nation will forever be grateful for saving us from The Hill.

 

Bonus question answer:

To investigate is to inquire in order to uncover facts and determine the truth about an individual with his knowledge. To spy is similar except the inquiry is conducted secretly without the individual’s knowledge. In other words, Trump was spied on by HBO’s administration.

 

I had fun writing this one. Prepare for another quiz in the not too distant future.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

Basketball Coaching 101 (Facebook)

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

AUGUST 1:                On Engineering as a Career

SEPTEMBER 1:         On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXIX

OCTOBER 1:              On Barack Hussein Obama Update VI

NOVEMBER 1:          On the OHI Day V

DECEMBER 1:          On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2019-20 Season

 


ON THE ANALYSIS OF THE HOFSTRA 2018-19 BASKETBALL SEASON

April 1, 2019

April 1, 2019

Here is part of what I wrote at the start of the Hofstra Men’s 2018-19 basketball season. “The 10/28 Newsday headlines blared away ‘HOFSTRA TARGETS NCAA: WRIGHT-FOREMAN KEY TO MAKING MARCH MADNESS.’ I disagree. Wright-Foreman and defense will send Hofstra to the Promised Land. The backcourt, led by superstar all-American candidate JWF, may be able to carry the club and overcome any deficiencies upfront…and this will be determined as the season goes forward.”

 

Well, what about the players this year? Superman (Justin Wright-Foreman) emerged as a star. My discussions with 7 NBA scouts suggest that he has a 25% chance of making it. His major drawback: physical size and body strength. I like his chances for two reason: backcourt drafts are preferred and JWF has continued to improve with each season. The rest of the team? Buie and Ray also continued to improve and Coburn was the most pleasant of all surprises. To top it all off, Taylor, the center transfer from Purdue, improved significantly as the season progressed; he proved a more than adequate replacement for Rokas with his shot blocking and stellar defensive play, as well as his ability to make layups and foul shots. The team appeared unbeatable midway through the season.

 

And, what about the team’s performance this year? I’ll make this short. The club had what I would consider a turn-around year. They won the CAA Championship but failed to win the tournament, losing to Northeastern in the finals following a lackluster performance in their previous 5 CAA games. They closed the season out with a loss to a quality opponent in the first round of the NIT…an ultra-solid game in which they played great and could have won with a couple of breaks.

 

It is fair to conclude that the personnel was there for the team to go further. Here’s my analysis of reasons on why they didn’t.

 

  1. How many teams that made the Sweet 16 played zone defense? If you answered hardly any, you’d be right. And, there is a reason why the better teams do NOT play zone defense. Over the years, only Syracuse’s zone has withstood the test of time, but they too have fallen by the wayside in recent years as more well-coached teams have figured out how to destroy this defense. Hofstra, once again, committed to a zone defense this season and that, more than anything else, lead to their limited success. Case in point: During the CAA championship game between Hofstra and Northeastern, Mary (my wife) kept questioning why Northeastern was getting so many easy open shots while Hofstra struggled to get a good shot. I explained what happens when a team plays zone defense. Accept it – nothing can replace the intensity of an in-your-face man-to-man defense. NOTHING!!!
  2. I keep repeating this after each season. You are inviting trouble when you commit to a 7-man rotation, with 5 players rotating around 4 positions. A successful team needs season-tested layers not only when players are in foul trouble but also at tournament time when confronting either a 3-game/3-day or 4-game/4-day schedule.
  3. Coach Mikalich and his staff have done a superb job in recruiting — when it comes to offensive players. But defense is as important as offense, right? All coaches agree with this irrefutable statement, but few do anything about it. Bottom line: Recruit for defense as well as offense.
  4. The object every season for any club in a mid-major conference is to win their tournament, NOT their conference. Iona College, with essentially mediocre seasons, has won the MAAC tournament the last 4 years in a row. Does Tim Cluess know something that other coaches don’t know? I believe he has figured out that the corrupt NCAA has stacked the deck against mid-major teams, and the only way to survive and prosper is to win their tournament. Bottom line: Play to win the tournament, NOT conference games during the season. How does a team do this? I discussed this very topic in the 2nd edition of my “Basketball Coaching 101” book.

 

I also noted earlier that this might be a do-or-die season for Hofstra since the club is top-heavy with seniors and only one freshman along with two sophs. But things have changed. My spies have informed me that Buie has been granted another year of stay (eligibility) and Jalen Ray – who continues to grow (physically) – has become as a quality guard/small forward with some defensive skills. Add to this that Pemberton, although short at times on defensive output, will emerge next season as a scoring machine. Also add to this the performance of Coburn this past season. I’m good at math and it seems that they will have an excellent starting 4 that may be devoid of a center. Hopefully, one of the transfers or one of the freshmen or a new recruit will fill this void. Bottom line 1: a quality center could bring another CAA championship next year. Bottom line 2: playing man-to-man may insure 1. In any event, I’ve changed my mind and now believe that 2019-20 will be another good year.

 

I return at the start of next season.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

MAY 1:           On the 2019 East Williston School Vote

JUNE 1:          On the Theodore Healthcare Plan

JULY 1:          On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXVIII


ON PURELY CHASTE, PRISTINE, AND RANDOM THOUGHTS XXVII  

March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

Here we go once more…my 27th. This one’s a mixed bag, with both sports and personal commentaries.

 

  • Still fighting to keep my weight down. My diet, described in an earlier newsletter, has really helped.
  • Humanity can survive without numerous amenities. However, it cannot survive without energy or potable water.
  • Had a successful visit with three of my guys to the simulcast facility at Monmouth Park Racetrack and (naturally) dropped by their Sport Book. My bets? The Nets (750-1) to win it all. The Mets (22-1), Atlanta (18-1), and Diamondback (750-1) to win it all. Virginia (15-1), Buffalo (75-1), Tennessee (16-1), Kentucky (17-1) and we have Marquette (25-1) to win the NCAA. Partners with two others. Wish me luck.
  • Working on desalination projects. Hoping to come up with a viable economic process that will provide potable water. Someone is going to get rich in this area but it won’t be me. My best so far involves geothermal energy. My associate and former classmate is working on mangroves and hybrid processes.
  • I’m also still working on accident and emergency planning/response issues, particularly as they apply to terrorism. Stopped giving seminars but my book is still selling.
  • NYRA is a disaster; they have effectively destroyed Belmont Park, the most beautiful racetrack in the world. But hope springs eternal. Kay, the CEO, has thankfully left. We now await another Cuomo political appointment who no doubt will also fail to right the ship.
  • I used to think that energy and water were the critical issues that mankind needed to address this century. Nope! It’s water, and solely water.
  • Go Mets!
  • I should stop complaining. I still go out for dinner, walk almost 2 miles a day, do 8 pushups on awakening, write books, keep pace with my newsletter, go to the track several days a week, bet horses every day, etc.
  • A few of my guys are now claiming they have property in Oz.
  • Insecure people use profanity.
  • There are days when I wish I could go back in time and relive my Killen’s Tavern basketball memories.
  • I have tremendous difficulty throwing anything away, particularly things related to my books. And yet, when I go, they will certainly find a home in a circular file.
  • I’m still addicted to hot pastrami sandwiches, hot dogs with kraut and mustard and hamburgers. Perhaps Trump and I have something in common.
  • People continue to ask me out to lunch or dinner. My usual response: “Can I have the money instead?”
  • Please remember that the fanatical green environmental self-defined experts-engineers and scientists alike – who have certified (*!*$#%*) the existence of a global climate/warming problem would be out of business if no problem actually existed.
  • I’m often asked: How am I doing? I often respond with “How good could I be doing if I’m talking to you?” Is that a politically incorrect response?
  • I’ll be 85 come April. Hard to believe! But I’m still good looking…well, sort of.
  • The major effect of breaking my back (fractured vertebrae) 1 ½ years ago is that I am now 2 inches shorter. Not good for a guy like me.
  • Let’s hope one of the sports will ban players from spitting. It’s disgusting, particularly in baseball.
  • The second edition of my Basketball Coaching 101 book is now officially on hold due to numerous other commitments.
  • I hope to soon publish details on my basketball “umbrella offense.”
  • Travel has now become such a hassle. Visiting Florida is the only place that has been acceptable. There obviously will be less travel in the days ahead.
  • I’m hoping to do an article on taxes in the near future. Here is a checkbook list of mine: Federal, State, County (Nassau), Town (North Hempstead), Village (East Williston), and School (East Williston). Add to this sales, gasoline, gambling (when I occasionally win), etc. Twenty percent tipping has added to my woes.
  • Legendary sports historian Art Lovely (my dear friend) recently celebrated his 90th birthday with his beloved Red Sox winning the 2018 World Series. Unfortunately, I needed the Dodgers at 8-1.
  • Kudos to yours truly. I hope sports officienadoes will finally come to agree with me that Eli Manning is the luckiest and most overrated athlete (not just quarterback) of all time. Thank you Lou for letting us know early on.
  • Blew a couple of big consulting jobs as an expert witness…more and more people are apparently questioning my claim to be the world’s premier environmental authority.
  • Every time I meet someone socially, I ask about the $20 they owe me. One guy recently and a gal sometime back took me seriously.
  • Every one of us is aware of the lazy, indifferent conduct of government employees…and most of us accept it. But now, their conduct has expanded to include criminality. The best way to solve the problem is to eliminate most of these positions.
  • Baseball pitchers (and managers) have yet to figure out the truly negative results produced by walks.
  • Hunkered down for another winter. Ouch! But I still have The Queen, the kids, and the grandkids, along with my other activities.

 

Feel free to get back to me whether you agree or disagree with my comments. Happy hunting till XXVIII.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

APRIL 1:                     On the Analysis of the Hofstra 2018-19 Basketball Season

MAY 1:                       On the 2019 East Williston School Vote

JUNE 1:                      On the Theodore Healthcare Plan