HomeComing Day Split At Rose Hill

credit Robert Cole/The New York Extra /2019

The schedule up at Rose Hill on the campus of Fordham University had that double-dip set for Saturday. It was Homecoming Day for football against Holy Cross in the afternoon at Jack Coffey Field. A few hours later in the Rose Hill Gym, Men’s basketball and tipoff against Marist College.

Joe DiBari, the longtime Fordham Sports Information Director may have had the hardest task of the day. He, and his staff prepared  game notes, made sure the football press box and media row at courtside were ready to go.

The Fordham University Athletics Department knew it could be done. The pep band, cheerleaders, dance team,  security, and the game staff were in game mode. They all worked the double-dip.

“They came to me and said, ” You want to do this we can do it,” said DiBari.” It’s not going to be easy and we do it,” 

It is that rare occurrence up at Rose Hill of  two major sports on the same day, and sometimes the double-dip is necessary, Homecoming for football draws the important alumni and the objective is those fans will take a few steps and head to the Rose Hill Gym, 

Except, the  oldest college basketball field House in the nation was not at capacity.

“Arthur Avenue.” said DiBari. Yes, in proximity are the finest Italian restaurants in New York and many chose that option. 

But business as usual for DiBari and his staff. They had no time for a break after the Rams on the gridiron lost a tough one to Holy Cross 49-27. The Fordham defense allowed five fourth quarter touchdowns to the Crusaders that ruined part one of the Homecoming Day at Rose Hill.

The combined crowds were an estimated 3,500, most there for football. Holy Cross and Fordham have a football history and met for the 58th time that started in 1902.  

But it wasn’t a total loss. Those who left Rose Hill listened to the basketball broadcast on WFUV 90.7 FM or streamed the game online. 

“Football didn’t win today but the environment on campus, it’s a special thing here in America that we take for granted about how cool campuses are, but also how athletics is interwind,” said head basketball coach Jeff Neubauer.

With their 58-41 win, the Rams opened their season 3-0 against Division 1 opponents for the first time since 1972.

“ We have this really cool thing, homecoming happens like all these people come back to their university,’ Neubauer said. “It’s just  a fun weekend.”

Chuba Obams scored 13 points and nailed nine rebounds for Fordham. Four players scored in double figures. Antwon Portley added 12 points and Jalen Cobb, 10 points, came off the bench and continued to make an impression.

It is early in the season for the Rams on the court as one more game remains on the schedule next Saturday at Rose Hill that will conclude another disappointing football season.

 But this was a great way to end the double-dip up at Rose Hill, even though very few remained to see the split. 

“A great weekend for Fordham,” Neubauer said. “Also happy we were able to get this done tonight.”

Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Jacob deGrom ,Another look by Rich Mancuso,The New York Extra

08/11/19 Washington Nationals vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY
#48 Jacob De Grom pitches in the 1st innning The New York Extra

Now you can place Jacob deGrom in that category of dominance. There won’t be a debate about the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner in that category of being a top pitcher in the game with consecutive awards that became official Wednesday evening.

Once the Baseball Writers’ Association of America could look at the win totals,as that significant factor in determining CY Young consideration.

But Jacob deGrom has changed that criteria and turned the vote into that category of dominance.  The Mets right-hander became the 11th pitcher to win consecutive Cy Young Awards with 29 of 30 votes.

It has been dominance from a modern day pitcher with 21 wins in the last two seasons. The wins used to play a role in the vote. But Jake has changed the guidelines with his dominance.

 He showed that again in 2019, a 2.07 ERA in his final 27 starts, finishing 9-7. And if the Mets provided more run support and bullpen preserved the lead, Jacob deGrom ups the win totals.

“I kind of got back to my mindset of 2018,” deGrom said Wednesday night. “I didn’t let much bother me.”

And that characteristic of  going about his business is something in itself. As the Mets showed down the stretch in September, deGrom, was in his usual position of pitching deep into games. He went about business as the Mets failed to score runs,

08/23/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #48 Jacob DeGrom hits a solo homer in the 6th inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra

But it wasn’t an easy April. Jacob deGrom did not resemble a Cy Young pitcher in the first few months. He had to struggle as hnis team failed to score runs. He made the necessary adjustments with that mindset of getting wins for hbis team as a priority. 

File Photo #48 Jacob DeGrom Neil Miller /The New York Extra

The Cy Young talk came  into play months later. The admiration from his teammates in the clubhouse is what every pitcher looks for.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #28 J.D.Davis hits a solo homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra

“I was so impressed with the way he carried himself throughout the first part of the season,” said J.D. Davis. “He hit some adversity but continued  to grind it out to then turn the page and be lights out for the rest of the season.”

It was Cy Young all over again. He joined the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Nationals’ Mat Scherzer as the 20th pitcher to win multiple CY Young Awards.

“His attention to detail and preparation went to another level.” Davis said. “And while a lot of us young guys watch one of our leaders dive into trying to better himself everyday, helped us to stay motivated and driven into bettering ourselves for the team.”

What stands out here was leading NL pitchers in strikeouts, lowest OBP allowed, finishing second in  ERA and WHIP, third in innings pitched.

And those final 23 starts, allowing more than two runs just four times and three runs twice in that span. Jacob deGrom, though, was not happy as he finished the season as a Cy Young favorites in his final start.

He said, “I guess you do kind of set personal goals, but tonight we fell short of a team goal.”

You hear this about the Cy Young Award winners over the years and comparisons with some of the former Mets that have been on the mound.

Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden, R.A Dickey, all Cy Young Award winners with the Mets.  Seaver and Gooden stand out as those homegrown products and led the Mets to championships.  

Jacob deGrom got the Mets close in 2015. He wants that championship and his team is close after falling three game short of a 2019 NL wild card .  

The Mets fell short but this week two of their homegrown took home awards. Tuesday, Pete Alonso was the landslide 2019 NL Rookie of the Year.  

It is all good for an organization that is close to getting the major hardware in October.

“It means a lot to this team and organization to have a Cy Young Award winner and a Rooke of The Year winner,” Davis said. “The future is bright for the Mets and is led by two great ballplayers.”

Davis Said, “I can’t wait for the 2010 season to start.” 

 And something says, Jacob deGrom is destined for history with another  Cy Young Award and championship year not far from becoming a reality.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitetr@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Mets deGrom Wins Back to Back Cy Young Awards

File photo New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom #48 Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

What is with it with the Mets and these one-voter outliers?!

Mets ace Jacob deGrom made history Wednesday night, becoming the first Met pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Young awards, just the seventh in NL history to go back-to-back and the 12th overall to accomplish that remarkable feat.

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom #48 /file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

But it wasn’t unanimous.

deGrom got the first-place vote on 29 of 30 ballots. Dodgers left Hyun-Jin Ryu got the lone remaining first-place vote and finished second.

“Words can’t express it,’’ deGrom said on MLB Network. “I said it was a dream to win one, but to win back-to-back, honestly, I’m kind of speechless right now.’’

Which might go for a lot of Mets fans.

Rye (14-5) had a better ERA (2.32) than deGrom (2.43) who went 11-8. But deGrom had more strikeouts (255) than Rye (163) and Mets ace was virtually untouchable in the second half of the season.

After giving up seven runs on nine hits in five innings of a loss to the lowly Marlins, deGrom’s numbers were 3-5 with a 3.98 ERA. This a far cry from his 2018 numbers of 10-9 with a ridiculous 1.70 ERA.

“I feel like I was trying to better what I did in 2018,” deGrom told reporters. “I think that was something I struggled with to start this year, was kind of dwelling on what happened last year. Kind of not focusing on the task ahead as much as I probably should have.”

deGrom regained his focus and posted a 1.89 ERA the rest of the season. Yet it was the same case last season, when deGrom beat out Max Scherzer. De  Grom was not a unanimous winner. He got the first place vote on 29-of-30 ballots.

If this sounds familiar it should. Earlier this week Mets slugger Pete Alonso won the NL Rookie of the Year, getting the first-place nod of 29-of-30 voters. Alonso, who wore black 100-% baseball cap signaling his belief that he should be the unanimous winner.

Justin Verlander won Cy Young in the American League. He and deGrom join Mets legend as the only three pitchers to have won Rookie of the Year and multiple Cy Young awards.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1 Neil Miller/The New York Extra

 “This year, having that little rough patch, this game will humble you quick,’’ deGrom said. “Last year, I didn’t really seem to have any

. It was kind of smooth sailing all year. But this year, to recover from that little rough patch and figure out a way to get it done and go out there and fix some mechanical things, was good.”

Just not unanimous good.

Yankees Will Be in Mix For Cole or Strasburg

File Photo Steve Strasburg Neil Miller /The New York Extra/2019

 Aaron Boone could have won the 2019 AL Manager of The year but he was the runner up to the Twins’ Rocco Baldelli. Boone was deserving with a team that overcame a  MLB record 30 players on the injured list and winning 100 games or more in his first two years as manager.

File photo Aaron Boone Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Leave that for another day about Aaron Boone coming up short. The priority now is for the Yankees to go that extra step and play baseball deep into October.

And with the GM meetings this week in Scottsdale Arizona, Brian Cashman has started that task to a new season. In a few weeks the process to winning again in 2020 continues at the annual Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

File photo Brian Cashman Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Which always brings up the question for all teams, and in particular for the Yankees, regarding their failure to reach the World Series for the first time since the years of 1910.

But the Yankees are close. You can blame the inability to send a frontline starter to the mound in the postseason, a Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. 

Overall, the Yankees  2019 postseason has been recounted over and over about their failure to score with runners in scoring position. Or was it analytics that saw their potent lineup swing and miss at first pitches?

The objective, as it always is for Brian Cashman, return and win the World Series and do it with their mix of a few veterans.  Get it done with another year of experience from Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gio Ursehla, and perhaps Miguel Andujar.

And with that in mind, the objective of every GM in baseball this week is beginning that process to improve.  

“ Of course we’re going to talk to Strasburg,” Cashman said Monday. “We’ll talk to Cole. We’ll also talk about some surprise guys, I’m sure. It’s going to take two to tango. It’s hard to predict. But of course, anybody would have an interest in players like that.”

So, Cashman is talking. The Yankees, never dormant during the offseason,they will make their bids.

File Photo Zach Wheeler Neil Miller/The New York Extra

But bring this into consideration? How high will the Yankees go with an offer to Cole or Strasburg? How high will an offer go to Zack Wheeler if the Mets don’t make their bid to re-sign the Right-hander? Wheeler is considered the third top pitcher on the market next to the other two.

And keep this in mind, through the Yankees spend, they are always looking to not exceed that luxury tax threshold of $208 million, though they have the means this offseason to spend.

 Didi Gregorious and Dellin Betances are free agents. Cashman is not ruling out a return for Betances, though in a game that requires bullpen help, the Yankees may not have the means to retain him and all assuming at the right offer.

Then there are the words of Yankees General Partner  Hank Steinbrenner who informed this columnist three years ago that gone will be the days of handing out lucrative and long term contracts to pitchers.

For the most part, this Steinbrenner, with limited control, is still in the decision process. The Yankees have not gone long term with a starting pitcher since handing a seven-year multi-million dollar deal to CC Sabathia in 2008.

 Steinbrenner said at the time, “It is not worth the risk with a pitcher long term and susceptible to injury.”

But the philosophy, and heard from numerous sources, has changed within the Yankees hierarchy. They are aware, as we all do, the game has changed. Pitching and in the  postseason will win ball games even if it means spending over the tax.

Though for Cole, Strasburg, or Wheeler  there will be a tremendous cost. Cole is projected to obtain the highest paid contract on record for a pitcher and perhaps tops in the game.

But if the trend holds, count on the top two pitchers on the market signing late in the game and a few weeks before spring training.

Again, these next few days are about meeting and getting to know. Very few deals are made during the GM and Winter meetings.  It’s a bidding war and the Yankees will be a part of the process.

And if the Yankees want  to take that step and begin the new decade with a championship, well the first step is bringing one of those top three pitchers to the Bronx.

They hardly fail to get what they want. They are the Yankees and they do have the means to do it.  Stay tuned!
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

All Alonso Needs to do is Keep Playing Like a Rookie

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Mets #20 Pete Alonso hits his 42 home run of the year breaking a Mets record and putting the Mets ahead 1-0 in the 4th inning Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Now that Pete Alonso has accomplished almost everything a rookie can hope for, here’s our hope.

Peter Morgan Alonso, please don’t change.

Don’t make it habit but if you happen to get your jersey torn off after a post-game heroic, do the interview shirtless.

Continue to honor the victims, heroes and families of 9/11.

07/26/19 Pittsburgh Pirates vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #20 Pete Alonso at ceremony with Tunnels to Towers and Wounded Warriors Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Keep crushing home runs.

And for as long as humanly possible, play baseball like a 12-year-old at Williamsburg, full of joy and passion.

Of course, for the next couple of weeks, take the National League Rookie of the Year Plaque on a Stanley Cup-like run. You can’t plant flowers in it or drink beer out of it but you can hoist a lot of cold ones in Tampa or New York or any else place there’s a Mets  fan.

We’ll set over/under at 53, the record number of home runs Alonso slugged this year. That didn’t break just any record, it broke the record for home runs by a rookie previously held by a Yankee – Aaron Judge.

Trust us. This is huge for Mets fans that spends almost eternal second fiddle to the Yankees.

In addition to crushing those 53 home runs, Alonso drove in 120 runs while hitting. 260. The Polar Bear, all 6-3, 245 pounds even stole a base.

What was stolen from Alonso was winning the award in unanimous fashion, which clearly was on his mind Monday night at the award’s announcement. He wore a black hat inscribed with “100 %.”

 Alonso received 29 of 30 first-place votes. One voter opted for Atlanta rookie pitcher Mike Soroka received the one other first place vote.

If Alonso needs motivation next season, he could look there. Just as he could have used the fact that he barely made the big club coming out of spring training. Surely he was thrilled to make the team and maybe there was some extra mojo.

But this is what makes Alonso such a New York treasure. He doesn’t need a chip on his shoulder because he has laughter in his heart. He loves the game. He knows how few make this dream come true.

Hopefully, Alonso will never forget that. He’ll continue to embrace the big, warm, cuddly Polar Bear persona, player version of Mr. Met. He’ll get just as big a thrill out of a walk-off walk, that led to the bare-chested celebration, as he gets from a walk off homer.

He’ll be that kid that dreamed of one day winning NL Rookie of the Year. And then he did it.

Could An All-Star Team of Jets and Giants Make the Playoffs?

By Lenn Robbins

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Jets #48 JOrdan Jenkins celebrtaes after a sack of NY Giants #8 Daniel jones today Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

 The worst place to go for an NFL game is MetLife Stadium.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 10, 2019. Darius Slayton makes a catch in front of Jamal Adams. Photo by David L. Pokress/The New york Extra 2019

  The two teams that call this steel and concrete monstrosity home have a combined record of 4-15. Amazingly, they played a somewhat entertaining game Sunday with the Jets beating the Giants 34-27.

  The Jets share the bottom of the AFC East with a 2-7 mark. The 2-8 Giants have a one-half game lead over the truly pathetic Washington Redskins for last place in the NFC East.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 10, 2019. Jamison Crowder of the Jets takes Janoris Jenkins along for the ride in the first half. Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra 2019

  Apparently, the Jets offense is quite competent, as long as its playing against the Giants defense. Gang Green averaged 223.5 yards (dead last in football) and 11 points (tied for last) going into the game. They racked up 294 yards and 34 points against the Giants.

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Giants #86 Darius Slaton makes a reception in todays game Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

And the Giants offense is competent when playing against the Jets defense. Big Blue averaged 326.8 yards and 19.6 points going into the game. They racked up 287 yards and 27 points against the Jets.

Yep, it was that bad.

 The sobering questioning is this: If you were to draft a team of Jets and Giants, would it be good enough to make the playoffs. Remember, the NFL rewards mediocrity, so we’re not counting on 10-6, 8-8 gets you in, 7-9 might.

So, we put together our All-NY NFL team. Perhaps you should sit.

East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, November 10, 2019. Jets QB Sam Darnold splits Giants defenders to score a first quarter touchdown. Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra 2019
11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Jest #14 Sam Darnold throws in the 1st half today Neil Miller/The New York Extra

QB: Sam Darnold or Daniel Jones – They each get a half. Cop out, I know: Still evaluating. Might be the case for the next five years. Ouch.

RB – Saquon Barkley, Giants – despite yesterday’s performance, second best all-around back in football (Christian McCaffrey).

RB – Le’Veon Bell, Jets – despite this season, once one of the best all-around backs in football.

TE – Evan Engram – Legit. Would start on most teams.

OT – Kelvin Beachum, Jets – consummate pro.

OG – Brian Winters, Jets – had the temerity to get in Darnold’s face after last week’s botched snap count.

C – Jon Halapio, Giants – did not have to be lured out of retirement, like Jets center.

OG – Will Hernandez, Giants – emerged as a nasty, borderline dirty player last week. We like it.

OT – Mike Remmers, Giants – see Beachum.

WR – Sterling Shepherd, Giants – Should not play again this season, if ever. No joke.

WR – Jamison Crowder, Jets – Solid slot receiver.

PK – Aldrick Rosas – He started the season on the roster, unlike the Jets, who didn’t have an NFL-caliber kicker on its roster.

DEFENSE

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. New York Jets #33 Jamal Jenkins leaps into the arms of Jets defenders after a turnover in today game Neil Miller /The New york Extra

DT – Kyle Phillips, Jets – Each team gets one player with potential

DL – Quinnen Williams, Jets – Slow start, coming on.

DT – Dalvin Tomlinson, Giants – Each team gets one player with potential.

DL – Dexter Lawrence, Giants – Looking like a terrific pick at No. 17.

OLB – Markus Golden, Giants – A delightful surprise. Serious.

ILB – Alec Ogletree, Giants – A little on reputation.

ILB – CJ Mosley, Jets – Amazing one-game season.

OLB – Jordan Jenkins, Jets – Out of options here.

CB – Janoris Jenkins, Giants – Depends of which Jackrabbit shows up.

CB – Darryl Roberts, Jets/DeAndre Baker, Giants – Each gets one half to avoid third-degree burns.

11/10/19 NY giants VS NY Jets at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. NY Jets #33 Jamal Adams sprints into the end zone for a touchdown after stripping the ball from NY Giants Daniel Jones in the 3rd quarter Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

SS – Jamal Adams, Jets – He’s the best, just ask him.

FS – Marcus Maye, Jets – He’s very good, but not as good as Adams.  Just ask Adams.

P – Uh, who cares?

Coach – To Be Determined, Jets, Adam Gase/Giants, Pat Shurmur – If they’re both back for 2021 season, season ticket holders deserve refunds. Wait, did I say 2021?  Meant 2020. Sorry for the panic attack.

Does this team make the playoffs? Feel free to write.

Historic Ivy League Win For Dartmouth In The Bronx

Iconic as it always is at Yankee Stadium and that means college football as it was a Saturday afternoon. Two undefeated teams, Dartmouth and Princeton on the gridiron and the winner gets sole possession of the top spot in the Ivy League.

But this was all about Dartmouth. Their defense continued to be their story as they remained undefeated, 8-0, with a 27-10 win over Princeton. It was the second straight year the two schools came into their game nationally  ranked, perfect 7-0 records, and the Ivy League title on the line.

credit Robert Cole /The New York Extra 2019

The scholastic-athletes of both schools know the history when they walk through the halls on campus. The coaches tell them about the history and Saturday afternoon was no different. 

They walked on the iconic Yankee Stadium turf in the Bronx  and there was more history. It was 150 years ago, three days after the anniversary of Princeton playing Rutgers in the first college football game in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

“We spent a lot of time talking about the history,” said Princeton coach Bob Surace. “Our football program playing the first game.”

But this was the game his Tigers wanted in the Bronx. They came in having won 17 consecutive games.  Kevin Davidson did not make this historic for Princeton. It was not an iconic game for the senior quarterback from Danville California. He threw for 210 yards and a touchdown pass to Graham Admonitis.

Two interceptions wiped away the Tigers accomplishments and their rank among the top FCS teams in scoring and total yards. They turned over their first four possessions and finished with 246 yards. 

But for many on this Princeton team, losing has not been common. For many of their freshmen and sophomores, they have not experienced what it is to lose.  

“Some of these freshmen and sophomores in this locker room have never lost a game,” said Princeton coach Bob Surace.

He applauded the Dartmouth defense that held Harvard last week to 96 yards in the final minute without the aid of a timeout. The BIg Green and their defense held the Crimson to a pair of field goals Harvard’s fewest points in a home game since a 6-3 Dartmouth win back in 1996.

“They have a perfect defense,” said Surace..”They scored on defense and a couple of field goals. They have 17 seniors.  They won every one of those little battles especially the turnovers, the sacks. They are an excellent team. Credit goes to them.”

 Many of the 21,506 in attendance that traveled up the Jersey Turnpike from Princeton did not expect their Saturday to see a winning streak stopped with a defense of that magnitude. 

 Davidson, the  league leader in passing and touchdown passes, threw his 20th to Graham for three-yards  with seconds left in the first half. That put Princeton on the scoreboard with their first six points.

It was about Dartmouth and that defense. Princeton could not do much  except for a field goal in the third quarter. By that time, this iconic and historic game in the Bronx was just about over.

No it’s back to work for the Princeton Tigers with two more games against Yale at home and at Penn. A season not lost, but their first loss and time to regroup.

There will be more college football at Yankee Stadium. The 10th annual New Era Pinstripe Bowl takes place Friday December 27th with teams to be announced from the ACC and Big Ten Conferences. 

Comment: Rin786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso


Anderson The Entertainer In His St. John’s Debut

Robbins Nest

St Johns caoch Mike Anderson at Tuesdays game /Neil Miller/ The New York Extra 2019

By Lenn Robbins

If Hollywood ever decides to create a remake of the Oscar-winning epic, Gladiator, Mike Anderson should be the one standing in the middle of the colosseum bellowing, “Are You Not Entertained?!”

Anderson made his St. John’s coaching debut Wednesday and the Johnnies pressed, ran, passed and defended Mercer in a 109-79 blowout that wasn’t that close. The Johnnies forced 24 turnovers which led to 30 points.

“I hope our fans enjoyed it,” Anderson told reporters after the game. “It’s an entertaining style of basketball, but it’s winning basketball.”

That remains to be seen in the Big East, where some of the greatest guards that ever played the game took their city handle and carved up opposing defenses. Safe to say Villanova, Seton Hall, Marquette, et al will be better prepared and certainly more skilled to handle the Anderson’s style.

The flip side is that no team in the Big East plays this style. It’s similar to playing Army in football. That option is impossible to prepare for.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, almost as quickly as St. John’s got ahead of Mercer and really never let up. The Johnnies led 15-6 by the first media timeout and the Bears should have begun warming up the bus right there and then.

Anderson’s hire was a bit of a head-scratcher. He has used this swarm-of-wasps style to succeed at Tulsa, Missouri and Arkansas, but he couldn’t tell you where to get a good slice in the city no less the top games in the Grady and Lincoln history.

The Johnnies had one of their own – the best player in school history – on the bench these last four seasons. Chris Mullin left after the death of his brother and a feeling that the administration wasn’t sufficiently backing him and the program.

If there are spirits in Carnesecca Arena than Mullin and St. John’s will both find success.

Certainly, there was spirit in the bandbox on the corner of Union and Utopia. Anderson’s style is right out of the West 4th Street cage and every other proving ground in the city.  The Johnnies got right up in Mercer’s chest. Secondary defenders were eager to help. Mustapha Heron (25 points), LJ Figueroa (18) and Nick Rutherford (14) combined for 12 assists.

Defensive is a lot easier to sell when it turns into offense. The Johnnies  score 40 fastbreak points.

For one night, Anderson sold his vision better than Popeye’s is selling its chicken sandwich. The 109 points were the most for a St. John’s coach making his debut.

“For two hours every game, we are going to provide sheer entertainment,” Anderson told reporters earlier this week. You won’t even want to take a bathroom break.”

First Win For Fordham Leads To Optimism by Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

Jeff Neubauer is always optimistic and Tuesday night the fifth year men’s basketball coach at Fordham University saw his team up at  Rose Hill win their first game of the season. This coach had every reason to be optimistic.

Fordham men’s basketball head coach Jeff Neubauer at last nites game Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

His team responded in the second half.  The Rams overcame a fourteen point deficit and won their season opener, 68-59 over St. Francis of Brooklyn.   

But this was one game and the Atlantic-10 Conference will be on the agenda. The win was satisfying and the coach will take it. 

“So many guys gave us real contributions,”said Neubauer. “We had leadership from our veterans. They have been through something like this before. They got some resolve, they’ve got some  toughness, they got some experience to fall back on.”

The Rams and their coach hope this is the season they make more inroads.  They have the veterans, 12 players have returned, and in the Atlantic 10 Conference not many basketball programs  have that retention.

They play in a conference that has three of the top 25 schools in pre season polls.  Davidson, Richmond, and Dayton are on the schedule in January when conference play begins.

As always, this won’t be easy for the Rams but they hope by mid March to go a step further when the A-10 Conference Tournament tips off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

And if Tuesday night is any indication, despite this being the first game, Neubauer could see his team take that next step.  Winning these non conference games are important.They provide some indication of what to expect in January when the schedule gets tough.

It is early in November. The Rams and their coach, well, they know the pressure is always going to be there. Alumni and supporters are starving to see their program move out of the bottom three in the conference and take that next step. 

But patience may be running thin. There are always rumors that this coach needs to win. Neubauer arrived at Rose Hill four years ago. The Rams finished 17-14 overall, 8-10 in the conference, and an appearance in the CollegeInsiders.com Tournament was not the NCAA or NIT in his first year,

Everyone wants to be a part of the Big Dance in March. So winning these non conference games are as important as those in the Atlantic-10.

There were mistakes Tuesday night.  There always are as a team begins to respond and find out what has to be done in that first game. There were the freshman responding and 12 returning players which is more than the other thirteen teams in the conference. 

“The way we phrase it, we have twelve  guys back from last year,” Neubauer said. “ look around  the A- 10, you may find that teams lost six- seven guys to transfer so we do have an experienced team. Our job is to attack the rim something  we did not do well last year.”

And they won the first game  without Nick Honor. The highly touted recruit and leading scorer as a freshman transferred to Clemson.

But they played that second half as if they were ready for March. 

#1 Chuba Ohams Neil Miller/The New York Extra
#13 Antown Portley Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Ivan Raut, the junior guard had 15 points. Two of his 3-pointers turned it around as Fordham went on a 16-4 run in that second half. Chuba Ohams, the junior forward, had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Antown Portley added 14 points.

#4 Ereten Gazi Neil Miller /The New York Extra

And a senior, Erten Gazi, came off the bench and scored 11. They responded after losing so many last year by not converting the three-pointers. They have changed a bit, more inside than shooting beyond the arch. 

“The  problem, we were in a bunch of them,” said the coach.”If  you look at how many games we lost by three last year, it’s more than most teams lose by three in a  decade so I do think all those experiences from last year helped.”

And as they say, the first game is in the books that leads to optimism.

Comment: Ring786@aol,.com  Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Four Things We Learned From the Champions Classic

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Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

  By now you have learned certain things in life are meaningless.

  The fortune inside the cookie. Meaningless.

  The LCD boards in every subway station. Meaningless.

  ToyotaThon…You get it.

  Such is the case with preseason college basketball rankings. Pathetically, utterly meaningless.

   Michigan State, one of the nation’s premier programs, came into the season with its first-ever preseason No.1 ranking under coach Tom Izzo. That lasted all of one game.

  The Spartans were upended by No.2 Kentucky, 69-62, Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in The Garden. No. 4 Duke technically upset No.3 Kansas, 68-66, in the other game.

“There’s a chance we could be ranked No. 1 for the first time in the history of our school to start out the season, which means — unfortunately — nothing,” Izzo said at the team’s media day.

Why the sport continues this tradition isn’t a mystery. The angst of the rankings makes for a lot of headlines and handwringing. A lot of diehard college hoop fans don’t start paying attention until January so this is good for the sport – theoretically.

The coach of the team picked No.1 usually reacts in one of two ways:

Exasperated indignation: “Obviously no one has seen us practice. If they did, we might not be in the Top 25.”

Or, outright dismissal: “Doesn’t mean a thing. If we’re No.1 at the end of the season, then I’ll be excited.”

The early rankings are more meaningless than ever, fortunately, because they don’t matter when it comes time to select the 68 teams that make the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA, masters of making the simple complicated, introduced the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) last season. Although it relies too much on analytics for my taste, it is as objective as an IRS accountant.

The NET is comprised of five valuations – team value index, net efficiency, winning percentage, adjusted win percentage and scoring margin.

The team value index rewards teams that beat good teams. It takes into account the opponent, location and outcome.

Net efficiency is a team’s offensive efficiency minus its defensive efficiency. Waaay to nerdy for me.

Winning percentage is just that.

Adjusted win percentage factors in location of games and result.  A road win is worth 1.4. A home loss is -1.4. A neutral site loss, such as the Champions Classic, is +1 or -1

Scoring margin is a team’s total points minus its opponent’s points. The winning margin was capped at 10 points per game so it doesn’t matter if the Spartans beat Binghamton by 12 or 50 in its next game. (Disclaimer: author is a Stony Brook grad).

So what did we learn about the nation’s top four  ranked teams. Oops, those rankings.

Izzo has decided to challenge the best player on what might be his best team. After guard Cassius Winston scored a game-high 21 points (1-of-7 on 3’s) and had just four assists, Izzo had this to say to ESPN.

 “Cassius was a little tired tonight,” he said. “I was surprised because he’s in really good shape.”

 Calipari said he didn’t start freshman Tyrese Maxey because he wanted his five-star recruit to come off the bench firing. Maxey had a game-high 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting. More impressive is that the freshman got to the line 10 times in his first college game, making nine.

His 3 with a minute left proved to be the game winner. Don’t expect Maxey to be coming off the bench for long.

“What I saw today is what I saw in high school,” Calipari said. “I [had] not seen it to this point. I’m in practice, where’s the sniper that I recruited? … But the two days prior to this, all I talked about was you be that sniper — play. We need you to get baskets for us.”

Duke has been a perennial power under Coach K because of one word – defense. Yes, teams usually look bad on offense this early in the season but that doesn’t excuse the 28 turnovers Kansas committed.

 If the Dukies, who shot 35.9 percent from the field (Kansas shot 46-percent0 weren’t this relentless on defense, they don’t eke out the two-point win. Which means Duke’s offense has a loooong way to go. Freshman Cassius Stanley was the only Duke player to shoot 50-percent or better from the field.

‘Overall, we were able to stay fairly fresh defensively,’’ said Krzyzewski. “And that’s gonna have to be a key for our basketball team.”

Bill Self certainly wasn’t laughing on the inside after those 28 turnovers. When asked if it was a positive sign that his Jayhawks only lost by two, he quipped, “I guess if you are Tony Robbins you could look at it that way.”

Kansas has NBA-type height in the 7-foot Uduke Azubike, 6-10 David McCormack, 6-9

Silvio De Soussa, 6-8  Tristain Enaruna and 6-5 Marcus Garrett.  The Jayhawks outrebounded Duke, 40-30.

But if the Jayhawks don’t get better point guard play, that height gets negated. Devon Dotson (six turnovers, one assist) was outplayed by Duke’s Tre Jones (seven assists, three turnovers).