Friday, October 31, 2008

Media Credentials Denied; Appeal Filed

As readers of the blog, you know that Dave and I are pretty serious about our love for the Hall. We follow this team religiously, and with true journalistic integrity.

It's for that reason that we decided to apply for media credentials to cover the team more closely at home games. Unfortunately, we just received an email that we've been denied. Fear not, however!! I have just filed an appeal with someone named Matt. Let's keep our fingers crossed...

Here's the email from the Hall:

Thank you for your interest in covering Seton Hall University men's basketball. Unfortunately, your request does not meet our credential criteria and it is not possible to accommodate all requests. You were denied credentials for the following reason:

Due to limited media space, Seton Hall University does not credential independent bloggers.

If you have any questions regarding your credential request, please contact Matt Sweeney at

Here's our "appeal:"

Dear Matt,

A few weeks ago, my fellow blogger Dave and I applied for media credentials to cover Seton Hall basketball. Unfortunately, we were inexplicably denied. In the email we received, we were told: "Seton Hall University does not credential independent bloggers."

I certainly understand that media credentials for Seton Hall must be in very high-demand, and accommodating every request is surely impossible. Really, who in their right mind wouldn't want the opportunity to report on this crazy squad?!?!?! Gonzo?!?! Nunu?!?! I can only imagine the piles and piles of applications.

Ordinarily, I would accept this denial with grace and humility. I must, however, take objection to the phrase "independent bloggers."

Dave and I are in no way independent. In fact, we depend on Seton Hall basketball for everything. Without the Seton Hall team, we'd have no reason to go on. "It's like someone saying I can't have air. I can't live without air, and I can't live without them." (Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire, referring to his children.)

Although I've never met you Matt, I can say confidently that you will never meet two people more dependent on anything in your entire life. And now, I'm depending on you.

I kindly and respectfully ask that the powers that be reconsider this decision. Not unlike Herbert Pope, I hope that you will take seriously my "appeal," accounting for all personal hardship I may or may not
have endured.


Ben and Dave

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Schedule Terrifying; Trick no Treat?

With All Hallow’s Even (or Halloween, as many pagans prefer) literally right around the corner, lots of people are busy preparing themselves for their annual candy binge and dusting off that old pirate costume. Traditionally a Gaelic celebration to mark the end of the harvest season, All Hallow’s Even was a time for ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Fortunately, modern society has progressed (with the advent of the refrigerator and all). Well, the folks at ESPN and USA Today released their own form of slaughter today in their pre-season top 25 poll.

Their top 25 features seven BIG EAST teams, and four ranked in the top 10. And nothing could be more frightening than the stretch of games the Hall will play from January 6-18 when they play Villanova (25), Notre Dame (9) and UConn (2). No matter how many spirits are summoned or livestock slaughtered, this stretch for the Hall could prove disastrous.

While Seton Hall’s out-of-conference schedule is perhaps more equivalent to a “Hannah Montana Halloween Special,” their in-conference schedule is the modern day “Shining.” But while BIG EAST games will no doubt prove tough, especially with our limited roster, Seton Hall’s RPI should be through the roof, once again confirming that the BIG EAST is the best conference in the universe. So, just one big win against a top BIG EAST team (a la Louisville) could bring heaps and heaps of candy that nobody, not even your conniving little brother, can take away (think one of each: M&Ms, Skittles, Mounds bars, Baby Ruth, Snickers, Twizzlers, Twix, Starburts, Kit Kat, Nerds, Airheads, 3 Musketeers, Abba-Zabba, and, my personal favorite, Goo Goo Glusters).

So while I hope everyone enjoys their All Hallow’s Even, just remember this: no matter how many scary costumes (Stix as a witch, Big Mel as an ogre) you might see out there, nothing, and I mean nothing, is scarier than a BIG EAST basketball schedule.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quintessential Quinlan

Well, now it looks like it's final. After announcing the suspension of Stix for the first two games of the Puerto Rico tournament, Seton Hall fans across the world rallied to convince the SHU administration to overturn the decision, but to no avail. Joe Quinlan is apparently standing strong, and the Hall will now be left with 7 players against Pac-10 powerhouse, USC.

To quote Sarah Barricuda: Say it ain't so Joe!! Why must you sabotage our only chances of success?

What I truly cannot stand about Quinlan is that I don't believe he has any such passion for winning. We can talk about this until we're (pirate) blue in the face, but this suspension is simply unjust. One game fine, but the two Puerto Rico games is entirely unfair. It puts us in an impossible position to win those games, and worse yet, it gives the ESPN announcers fodder to discuss when we're losing by 40 in the first half. (Usually, announcers during these tournaments prefer to ramble on about the weather, or indulge in nostalgia-ridden diatribes about their former playing days.)

Just a brief anecdote about our Joe Quinlan, the Hall's illustrious athletic director... Last season, as devoted readers will no doubt recall with glee, Dave and I drove down to West Virginia to watch the Pirates take on the Mountaineers. As we gathered in the hotel lobby the morning before the game, we happened to run into Quinlan. We greeted him warmly, and began telling him about our 8 hour road trip, not to mention our limitless passion for the Hall. He could not have cared less. He stood there just staring at his cell phone, as if it might magically teleport him away from talking to these two crazed Seton Hall fans.

Well, Joe, if that is your real name, and if you are in fact a licensed plumber as you claim, let me tell you something: fans make the game. And passion is the name of that game.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Video Killed the Radio Star

All weekend, Dave and I had prepared for WSOU's live interview with SHU Coach Bobby Gonzalez at 7pm on Sunday. We cleared our schedules. We purchased composition books for taking notes. We even dressed up in zoot suits to pay honor to a time when radio was more popular.

Naturally, our hopes and dreams were smashed to pieces when we tuned in only to find out that Gonzo had cancelled at the last moment. Of course! How fitting!! According to WSOU, Gonzo had some recruiting to take care of, so he could not partake in the interview.

Like two grown men left at the altar, Dave and I were understandably hurt and confused. Why would Gonzo do this to us? What possible use would we have for these zoot suits?!?!?

Still, it was not a total loss. With the hosts talking about SHU hoops rather knowledgeably, Dave took copious notes, while I decided to dial in to the broadcast. Although audio problems made it nearly impossible to communicate with the on-air personnel, that did not matter: this was my major media debut. Relishing the spotlight, I rambled on about the intricacies of zone defense, only to later discover that I had been disconnected. I guess it's true what they say... stardom doesn't last forever.

But wait!! There was a silver lining! Perhaps Gonzo had cancelled the interview because he was too busy pursuing a verbal commitment from SHU target recruit Arsalan Kazemi. The Iranian-born Kazemi had visited Seton Hall during the weekend, touring around South Orange during the day, gallivanting through New York City at night.

Alas, this was also too good to be true. According to fellow blogger Adam Zagoria, even though Kazemi had a wonderful time at the Hall, he is simply not yet ready to commit. Although Gonzo pushed him hard to take the plunge -- maybe even trying a little too hard -- Kazemi just did not feel he could commit at this time.

Oh, commitment issues, commitment issues...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Starting a-Nunu

As the Seton Hall Men's Basketball team prepares for its exhibition game on November 7th against Molloy College, one thing is for sure - this is the mark of a new season. Forget about the number of players. Never mind who will play the power 4. And don't even worry about the choice of warm-up song (Ben and I cast our votes for "Put On" by Young Jeezy). Because this much is clear - a new season is a blank slate (tabula rasa). It's a chance to start fresh, atone for past sins, and begin a-Nunu.

On this topic of new beginnings, I would like to highlight one of the more overlooked examples of leadership in the last few months. Eugene "Nunu" Harvey, our extraordinarily skilled, but occasionally ill-tempered point guard, recently gave up his beloved #15 to newcomer Herbert Pope. Nunu, who will be wearing the number #20 this season, was not at all forced to do this, but rather willingly "dished" his jersey to Pope in order prove himself an unselfish leader.

Of course, you might say what does it matter. You might say the number #20 isn't all that different from 15. You might say, they're both multiples of 5. In that case, you'd be correct, but irrelevant. Because a player's number means more than what it says on the back of the jersey. Rather, it means what it says on the front of the jersey, where the number also appears, which always means more, because team comes first. Now that's leadership!!

Just as Nunu is looking to change course and begin fresh, I too will be starting a-Nunu. Many of you probably don't know this, but I will be beginning a new job this coming Monday (have no fear, I would never let it interfere with my ability to maintain this blog). However, as I enter my new position, I can only wonder what the leaders will give up for me? Will the VP of my department give up his beautiful corner office? Will the CEO exchange salaries with me? It shall remain to be seen what sacrifices my new company will make for me, but surely nothing will compare with Eugene Harvey.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Profiles in Courage:" Paul Gause

As the whole world eagerly awaits news of Dancing Bear's eligibility from the NCAA clearinghouse, now seemed like the perfect time for the first installment of my series "Profiles in Courage." (Some of you more devoted readers may remember Dave's series "What's in a Name?" which provided an in-depth analysis of the phrase "Gonzo Journalism.")

We begin our series with a look at the profile of undoubtedly our most courageous SHU Pirate: none other than senior captain, defensive specialist, and personal "friend," Paul Gause.

If you look at Paul Gause's profile on Facebook, you know you're a "friend" of Paul. (That's because only his Facebook "friends" have viewing privileges - keep trying, hackers!!!) I first became "friends" with Paul almost a year ago. Can't remember.. he may have asked me; I may have asked him. But what does that matter! Since then, I've enjoyed perusing his interests, recent photo albums, assorted wall posts on a near daily basis. No doubt he looks at my profile just as regularly!!

For today's "Profiles in Courage," I'd like to consider first Paul's choice of profile picture. Just looking at it, you learn everything you need to know about the Hall's fearless leader. The flag in the background shows he puts his country first. The sunglasses prove once and for all that it's socially badass to wear aviators indoors. And the heightened contrast of the photograph demonstrates his obvious talent for graphic design. (Nice use of the Adobe toolbar functions!!!)

But it's more than that. Given Paul's off-season knee surgery, many of us have been understandably concerned about his health situation. What's his status? you might ask. Well, according to Paul, his status is "maxing and relaxing (12 hours ago.)" Yup, I think Paul's gonna be just fine.

Okay, that's all for now. Congratulations to Paul as this week's "Profile in Courage!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Dancing Bear Tries Not To Break the Eggs

How, many of you are probably wondering, can Ben and Dave possibly trump Friday night's magical initiation into the Seton Hall Booster Club? Well, with the very fortitude and conviction that the Donald himself so often relies on, we managed not only to match Friday night's emotional high, but eclipse it all in one, magical day.

This afternoon, Ben and I attended the Bobby Gonzalez Basketball Coaches Clinic. Intended to be an opportunity for local high school coaches to learn drills and game management from a BIG EAST basketball program, many of our new friends from the Booster Club were also in attendance.

To try to recapture this afternoon's events would be impossible; to explain them would take a lifetime. The following excerpts, though brief in stature, is our attempt to at very least scratch the surface in reliving this afternoon.

-After taking a brief tour of the beautiful Seton Hall campus (not our actual intention, the lady at the gate gave us bad directions), Ben and I arrive at Walsh Gymnasium to be greeted with literal skin from Assistant Coach Derm "Skin" Player. Player's handshake was the first of many as we greeted the other attendees, including Danny, Dick, Vinny, Sal and the rest of the gang.

-Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez emerges from his veritable museum of an office and shakes my hand. Awesome.

-As the players warm up from the conference room that overlooks the basketball court, Ben and I ate bagels, drank coffee and watched the entire Seton Hall-Louisville game on a pull-down projector. Again.

-After devouring several bagels and drinking enough coffee to power a small office, Ben and I head downstairs to the court to watch the team start their practice. I start sweating from the bright lights. Ben thinks he is back in 9th grade form and tries to join the layup line. I have to stop him so he doesn't embarrass himself, and more importantly, me.

-Gonzo starts running offensive and defensive drills. Because Herb Pope had to be in Pittsburgh, the team only had 9 players, which makes scrimmaging rather difficult. Assistant Coach Adubato is forced to step in and play the power forward position. One thing is for sure, Dr. Scott Adubato is no Herb Pope. However, Adubato's strength should not be in question as he quickly showed who was in charge during the "Cowboy Drill" where he took unusual pleasure in knocking players to the floor with an oversized, karate foam blocker.

-As the players huddled up to discuss an upcoming drill, we got a glimpse of one of the many differences with this year's team. Spread across the backside of the players' shorts was the word "family." I can only hope the Booster Club purchases similar shorts for us to wear in Puerto Rico.

-As practice progresses, one thing is definitely sure - Gonzo loves recent transfer Keon Lawrence. Praising Keon whenever he can, Gonzo even went as far as to quote Keon's stats from his Big 12 career. At one point, Gonzo actually yelled out to the team, "Keon once put up 25 at Kansas!!!!" We could only hope that SHU hoops radio announcers Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin were taking notes.

-During the more physically demanding drills, it's clear that big man John Garcia is struggling to keep pace. His surgically repaired knees, along with a bit of a weight problem, combine to make John rather tentative running the court. To quote fellow booster club member Dick, "He looks like he's trying not to break the eggs." With this metaphor, Dick earned official title as booster club Poet Laureate.

-After four hours of practice, Gonzo finally calls it quits. By rough estimate, Robert "Stix" Mitchell has dropped his mouthguard on the floor 14 times but, thankfully, only one shot clock was broken, courtesy of a Mike Davis two-handed bank jam.

-While the players head to the locker room to shower and change, Gonzo holds court and fields questions from those in attendance. As he does so, Big Mel Oliver enters the gym to start warming up for his own practice (since Biggie is still not eligible to play, he can not practice with the team). It's estimated that Big Mel weighs in at a clean 350 but his improved footwork has apparently earned him the nickname of "Dancing Bear," a name that conjures images of the Lenape Native Americans who once ruled the lands of South Orange. We should know more about Dancing Bear's eligibility in the upcoming days.

-In direct response to Ben's question, Gonzo announces that he is holding walk-on tryouts. Ben strongly considers quitting his job and enrolling at Seton Hall.

-After taking a tour of the locker room and pretending to watch game tape, we were led back upstairs to the conference room to eat some of New Jersey's finest pizza with the coaching staff. Gonzo gave us a quick tour of his office which rivals only the Basketball Hall of Fame in memorabilia collected.

For roughly seven hours, Ben and I lived out a dream. We met and talked to the entire coaching staff, players and other fanatics just like us. While I would have liked to live the rest of my life in Walsh Gymnasium, I must say I am proud to be a member of this "family."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Booster Club Dinner

Last night, Dave and I took part in one of the greatest experiences in our young, but surprisingly mature, lives. We attended the annual pre-season Booster Club Dinner.

Held in the dining hall of the VFW of Kenilworth, NJ, the dinner proved a who's who for Seton Hall men's basketball fandom. Although Dave and I were on average 30 years younger than the rest of the crowd, everyone was incredibly welcoming -- guys named Sal, Vince, Danny, and all the rest. For while they may not share our generation-Y sensibilities, specifically our insatiable desire for interactive media as well as our well-documented sense of entitlement in the workplace, they share what is most important: a love for SHU hoops.

In many ways, last night was a homecoming for Dave and myself. An observation made all the more poignant by the fact that our actual high school homecoming is taking place at Newark Academy this morning, to which we are both invited as recent alumni. The question is: Newark may be our alma mater in facto, but isn't Seton Hall our patria de coria?!?!?

Starting at 7:30, the dinner kicked off to a great beginning with introductions and drinks. Shortly thereafter, we were feasting on meatballs and baked penne, accompanied by field greens in an italian dressing. After that, the room divided into two groups -- half of the club would convene at the back of the dining room to discuss logistics for the booster club's upcoming trip to Puerto Rico; the other half would gather and discuss recruiting news.

For Dave and I, this was one of the hardest decisions we've ever faced. Like a mother and daughter crying at Ellis Island, we were briefly separated. Given the fact that I am terrible with planning anything, Dave went to listen in on Puerto Rico. I had the honor of getting the recruiting scoop.

More details to come, but rest assured, this season should prove one wild ride. Also, in speaking with Dave during the ride home in my Volkswagen GTI, with the windows rolled down so as to more quickly evaporate our tears of joy, it sounds like this Puerto Rico trip will be life-changing. Forget about the fact that the Hall may face match ups against USC and Memphis. There's going to be a pig roast!! Also, a rainforest tour!! Lastly, we're staying in the San Juan Ritz Carleton, which houses a casino on the ground floor!!

Well, that's all for now. Expect an update on Sunday night, after Dave and I attend the Bobby Gonzales basketball clinic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Judge Dismisses Glover Lawsuit

From the International Herald Tribune:

PROVIDENCE, R.I.: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the NCAA and Big East Conference filed by a former Seton Hall basketball recruit who was declared ineligible.

Michael Glover, a 6-foot-6 forward from the Bronx, was ruled ineligible last fall after enrolling at Seton Hall, a member of the Providence-based conference.

He argued in a lawsuit in August that the NCAA never gave a reason for invalidating his entire senior year transcript from American Christian Academy in Pennsylvania.

The NCAA argued that the Rhode Island federal court system had no jurisdiction over the case, and the Big East argued that it didn't belong in the lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres dismissed both defendants from the lawsuit after hearing arguments Tuesday.

Stay tuned for more analysis and examination as Ben and I dig deeper into this issue and consult with resident attorney.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Gonzo Gamble

For those of you who know Dave and I well, you know us to be men of chance. Every now and then, we love a good spin of the wheel. A quick shuffle of the cards. A Thursday night game of Yahtzee, for money.

Well, considering all the uncertainty surrounding this season’s roster, Dave and I have decided to post odds on some of the many Seton Hall players in question. So, I hope you’re listening Vegas!! And also, Macau!!

Place your bets! Place your bets!

Melvyn Oliver 2:1

Given that it is now October and the NCAA (Publisher’s?) Clearinghouse still has not mailed the winning envelope to Gonzales’ grandmother, we’re estimating there’s a 50/50 chance that Big Papi suits up for the Hall. The fact that no answer has come yet is not a very encouraging sign, and with each day, the odds seem to get worse. Still, you have to think that the NCAA might take some pity on Oliver and the Hall, given the recent Glover scandal. The bottom line is this, though: unless Oliver can lose an additional 20 pounds, his effectiveness will be limited at best. But with only 8 players on the current roster, the more body on the bench, the better.

Mike Glover 7:2

A real long-shot only a couple weeks ago, word is that there is a chance Glover might be granted the opportunity to begin practicing with the squad. After having taken his case to court, Glover has earned the respect of his peers as a modern day Atticus Finch, fighting for justice after his transcript was ruled ineligible without cause. At 6’6’’, Glover does not fill our void at power forward, but he is an unbelievable athlete who add a tremendous emotional lift to this team, not to mention one of the most revered American literary figures.

Herb Pope 5:1

“Pope 5:1” looks a lot like a bible verse, and it may take some serious praying for this 80% underdog. Although Herb has definitely endured more hardship at his age then most men endure in a lifetime, we’re doubtful that his waiver will be accepted by the NCAA. His numerous missteps at New Mexico have tarnished his reputation a bit, and it’s more likely that the powers that be will have him sit out a season. It actually may be the best thing for him. But let this be known: Pope is a sick, sick talent around the hoop.

Keon Lawrence (Confusing)

Here’s why: there’s actually a very good chance that Lawrence will have his hardship waiver approved. Originally from the Newark area, Keon has suffered a number of personal issues that make his coming home to NJ very plausible. However, his waiver would only permit him to become eligible midway through the season. Too many variables in this one right now – go find another table.

Matt Cajuste 10:1

Since everyone knows 8 players are not enough, there has been a lot of discussion lately about the possibility of a walk-on. The best candidate for this position was Matt Cajuste. A big kid from Long Island, Matt was a decent prospect coming out of high school, although not Big East caliber. Unfortunately, word is out that Matt is not interested in joining the team, focusing instead on his studies, particularly mathematics and deductive logic. Matt, I applaud your interest my friend, but let me ask you this: are the two mutually exclusive?!?!?

Me 20:1

Sure, I may not officially be enrolled at Seton Hall, but I do have 4 years of eligibility remaining. Also, you would not find someone more dedicated then me. What I lack in athleticism I would make up for with hustle. What I don’t have in terms of locker room experience I would overcompensate for with awkward social maneuvers around the players. And last but not least, I can stroke it, no joke. From the top of the key, I am lights out. Also, in all my years of sports, I have only one recurring injury: fractured pinky.

Dave 45:1

Although Dave was the superior athlete during our high school days, I can assure you I am a better basketball player. On how many occasions have I observed a pick-up game in the park, commenting to Dave, “Let’s get next,” only to see him recoil in disapproval? How many times, when watching ESPN 2, have I reminded him of the former WNBA tagline “We got next,” only for neither of us to know how to break the ensuing silence? Yeah, I guess it’s true… some guys have a love for the game. But players have a love to play it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stix and Stones

After months of verbal attacks against Gonzo and his staff, Seton Hall athletic director Joe Q has decided to take this feud to the next level. He has chosen to suspend recent transfer Robert "Stix" Mitchell for the first two games of the Puerto Rico tournament, which Dave and I will be attending.

Now you may ask yourself, what did good ole Stix do to deserve such punishment? Well, as NCAA transfer regulations clearly stipulate, no student athlete may travel with the team while serving the mandatory one-year rest period.

Tragically, when the Hall was playing Georgetown last year, Stix allegedly found himself abandoned by a "friend," and he was left without a ride for the trip back. In a move perhaps best epitomized by the physical comedy of Jim Carrey in "The Mask," Stix then attempted to sneak onto the team bus for the trip back. Unfortunately, he was caught, and the mask with all its magical powers was tossed into a nearby river. (The Potomac?!?!?)

There are a lot of angles to this story. First off, why did assistant coach Derm "a.k.a. skin" Player allow him to board? Secondly, and more importantly, why did Joe Q suspend Stix for these two games?!?!!? Without a doubt, this kind of infraction warrants a punishment, but these aren't even the first two games of the season! Also, these are two of the only games that Seton Hall will have broadcast on ESPN this year -- why deny Stix such exposure, and why embarrass Seton Hall with a roster of 7!!! It's all so unfair.

But perhaps this is the most frustrating element of the story: I was there. I could have helped.

Stix, why didn't you call me?!?! I remember the Georgetown game well... I was "crashing" at my aunt and uncle's house in Alexandria, VA. They would have kindly extended their home to you. We would have fed you. Clothed you. The next morning, we could have driven back to South Orange together, laughing the whole way. You could have controlled the radio. It would have been epic.

I will end with a quote:

"Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice."

- Baruch Spinoza