All New York-Area Team
by Adam Shandler
New York is an all-rear-round basketball city, but it really comes alive during the college hoops season. The Big Apple hosts the Preseason NIT Semifinals and final game, as well as the Coaches versus Cancer Classic and the MSG Holiday Festival. But when Christmas ends and all the big name schools go back to Tucson and Lawrence and Chapel Hill, there’s still some pretty good reasons to watch college ball in the area. In fact, I counted twelve.
Introducing my Preseason All New York-Area Team. Notice how I say “area”. To me, the Greater New York Metro area includes the five boroughs, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland Counties, Northern New Jersey and Southwestern Connecticut. In other words, the actual city, and the places where people call themselves “New Yorkers” but aren’t really.
Marcus Hatten, St. John’s
Arguably the best college player in the area. The Big East steals leader (3.3 spg) returns, quite possibly, to his old role. The addition of freshman Elijah Ingram (St. Anthony’s/Jersey City) will move Hatten back to off guard, giving the 6-1 leader more opportunities to shoot the ball. However, we may see Hatten at both spots, maintaining that 20.1 ppg average.
Andrew Barrett, Seton Hall
Hatten’s Big East counterpart from across the river, the 5-8 Barrett returns as the team’s statistical leader in points (16.9) and assists (5.0). The guy can even rebound as he brought down almost 4 a game last season. Coach Louis Orr went out and got some size so Barrett should have plenty of targets this year.
Luis Flores, Manhattan
Von Damien “Mugsy” Green was the focal point of last year’s Jasper club, but his graduation should give Flores lots of room to shine. Flores is super-quick and likes to shoot off the dribble, especially from 3-point range. A two-guard who can play both positions on the floor and should work well with anointed starting point guard Justin Jackette.
Rick Apodaca, Hofstra
Unfortunately, we won’t see Apodaca until the 18th of January. The backbone of the Pride offense was caught smoking a funny bone, if you know what I mean, and must watch from the stands the first half of the season. Still, the 6-3 Apodaca is coming off a nice individual season averaging 17.3 ppg and was the guy you wanted to have the ball in the clutch, or in a comeback.
Bronski Dockery, St. Francis of NY
You won’t hear much about this guy until conference tournament time, which is too bad because he’s as good as he is scrappy and he always finds a way to spread the wealth. Should have a career year with the help of two returning big men — Clifford Strong and Christopher Stockwell. Dockery should improve upon his 15.2 ppg clip.
DJ Munir, Stony Brook
The Seawolves had a tough time adjusting to conference life, posting a 5-11 finish in their America East debut. One bright spot was Munir, who, with a conference second-best 17.2 ppg, showed he could compete. Might fall into the nasty habit of trying to do too much to win but should help the team improve on last year’s mark.
Mark Jarrell-Wright, Fordham
The post-Smush Parker era will be ushered in by Mark Jarrell-Wright, the Rams’ stat leader in four categories (points, rebounds, steals and field goal percentage). The 6-5 Jarrell-Wright has great size for his position, and he uses it. He’s an aggressive slasher but may want to take his outside game more seriously this year with a taller, stronger frontcourt helping out underneath.
The Big Guys
Anthony Glover, St. John’s
If all he did was rebound (6.7 rpg) coach Mike Jarvis would be okay with that. He’s 6-6 but can mix it up with any player his height or above. Not a big scorer but he’ll make you appreciate all the intangibles.
Paul Vitelli, Yale
One of the many reasons why Princeton and Penn were sweating at the end of last year’s regular season. Vitelli, along with center TJ Hugh, frustrated the Ivy-8 underneath with great defense and a relentless offensive presence under the glass. His 10.2 ppg and league-leading 7.2 rpg were what help propel the Bulldogs to a three-way playoff with Princeton and Penn. This year, Vitelli leads Yale to the dance.
Kenny Adeleke, Hofstra
Originally a Depaul recruit, Adeleke had a tremendous freshman year for struggling Hofstra last season. The 6-8 native New Yorker was extremely consistent and should be able to outdo his 13.5 ppg average this season. Strong and athletic, Adeleke Was named to the second team all-CAA but only because this is a conference heavy with exceptional guards. A leaper, he averaged almost 8 boards and totaled 24 blocked shots in 2001-02.
Jerome Hall, Wagner
The Charles Barkley of the NEC, Hall is one of the more undersized but best low-post “bangers” in all of college hoops. His 21 ppg and 7 rebounds contributed to a team that averaged over 81 points last year. Hall and the Hawks will make matches against St. Francis-NY, Central Conn and LIU more entertaining.
Chris Wiedemann, Columbia
A 6-9 big man who appreciates what has to be done for the position, Weidemann will be getting a lot of action this season. Scoring leader Craig Austin has moved on, so the Lions will most likely go down low to the experienced Wiedemann for big buckets. He’s one of the best in a class of Ivy players that has gotten bigger and better.
And don’t miss these guys either…
Glenn Batemon, C, Fordham- 6-11, 360. Pounds. Yes, pounds. Fun to watch this guy run up and down the court then own the post.
Dave Holmes, F, Manhattan – Paid his dues and should be rewarded with extra looks. A creative shooter for a forward.
T.J. McHugh, C, Yale – A terrific option underneath, he and Vitelli make a great team. Very hard to defend.
J.P. Spatola, G, Army – Did a respectable job coming off the bench to spell his brother, Chris, last season. Averaged 9.0 ppg and almost 5 assists.
Greg Jenkins, F, Iona – The guy is all over the place. Doesn’t knock you over with offensive skills but gets the job done. Could be best defender in the MAAC.