After a 25-2 season that ended with a loss in the NJSIAA Non-Public B state title game to Camden Catholic, the Friars of St. Anthony are poised to make a little history this season.
For one, the Friars will tip off the 2010-11 season next Friday night against Edison Academy needing just 16 wins to give legendary Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hurley the 1,000th win of his storied career.
Secondly, this array of talented hoopsters have the best chance of giving the school its 25th NJSIAA state title, as the school moves closer to the national record for state championships.
Not only do the Friars return three key players from last year’s squad in senior guards Jordan Quick and Lucious “Lucky” Jones and junior forward Jerome Frink, but they have added two players who have come to St. Anthony after Paterson Catholic closed last spring.
The two new Friars will have an immediate impact and instantly become the program’s top two players in senior guard Myles Mack and junior swingman Kyle Anderson.
The three talented returnees, combined with the brilliance of the Rutgers-bound Mack and Anderson (a North Bergen native whose father, Kyle, Sr. was the long-time head coach at Ferris and later was an assistant at St. Peter’s College), makes the Friars a very formidable foe this season.
And it’s the reason why the Friars tip off the 2010-11 season ranked high in several different national high school polls. One has the Friars ranked as high as No. 2, another has the Friars placed firmly at No. 4.
So it’s safe to say that the expectations have been raised just a tad for the Friars this season.
“It’s been a windfall to receive the talent of these two players,” said Hurley, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August. “I knew that they would fit in, but it was a little bit of an adjustment, especially for Myles, who had no prior connection to us.”
No connection, except, of course, for the time that a sophomore Mack lit up the Friars two seasons ago in the state sectional semifinals. Mack scored 36 points, knocking the Friars from the state playoffs.
In the case of the multi-talented and diverse Anderson, who now stands 6-foot-8 and plays guard most of the time, there was no need for any worries about him fitting in.
“As soon as Paterson Catholic announced it was closing, Kyle was down with us lifting weights and getting re-acquainted with our kids,” Hurley said. “His transition was very smooth. It took a little longer for Myles. But we played in a fall league in Paterson, so Myles got more comfortable there. I think that helped all the kids get a little closer.”
Hurley was asked if there was any problem embracing players who were on the team that faced the Friars in the state sectional finals last March at Rutgers.
“It’s a lot like the Yankees when they sign a player from the Red Sox, like Roger Clemens or Johnny Damon,” Hurley said. “You’re just happy that they’re on your side now. They’ve been great additions.”
Hurley is working on getting Anderson to become a little more selfish and shoot the ball more. It’s not a problem for a great shooter like Mack.
“Right now, Kyle is more of a reluctant shooter,” Hurley said. “We’re trying to make him a more consistent shooter. I’ve never had a kid of Kyle’s size who could pass the ball like he can.”
The 6-foot-6 Frink has worked hard on improving his frame over the summer.
“He’s added 16 pounds of muscle, but he’s also added more than eight inches to his vertical leap,” Hurley said of Frink. “That’s unheard of. It’s almost like taking a second off your 100-meter sprint time.”
The 6-foot-1 Quick was a huge contributor last year and will get into the backcourt mix with Mack and Anderson.
Senior Tywuan Williams, who played sparingly last season, has moved into a prominent frontcourt role for the Friars. The 6-foot-5 Williams is easily the most improved Friar.
“He’s worked very hard and I think he’s going to have a good year,” Hurley said.
The 6-foot-6 Jones, whose shooting range is uncanny, will come off the bench for now. He may be the only Division I prospect in New Jersey high school basketball not to start.
“He can come in and play a couple of positions for us,” Hurley said. “He’s got a big role.”
Junior Jimmy Hall is another inside player. Senior Craig Davila, coming off a solid football season, will play a big role, especially with his fine shooting range. Junior Rashad Andrews, another athletic swing performer, is getting some time as well.
Later in the season, two sophomores, Josh Brown and Hallice Cook, will work their way into the rotation as well. Brown is a transfer from Morristown-Beard.
“Cook has a chance to be a real good player in the future,” Hurley said.
Hurley realizes that he has a better team than the one that won 25 games a year ago.
“You have three kids who had experience with us and two that were going to be the foundation of a very good team,” Hurley said. “These kids have already been successful together. We have to see if we can take the next step.”
The Friars open the season next Friday at the Golden Door Charter School against Edison Academy, then will head to Seton Hall to face a good Gill-St. Bernards squad in the Hoop Group Tipoff Tournament next Sunday…
A new league has been formed in Hudson County high school sports. It’s called the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League (HCIAL), which will take place of the Tri-County League that most local schools have played under since the dissolving of the old HCIAA 18 months ago.
“We started working on it last year,” said St. Peter’s Prep athletic director Rich Hansen, who will serve as the new league president. “The committee went through the whole process with the old league and from that experience, we formed our own league for all sports. It still needs some fine tuning, but in the interest of moving forward, we decided to get the word out there that we have the new league.”
North Bergen AD Jerry Maietta and Dickinson AD Rich Nisbet will serve as vice-presidents, while Snyder’s Tom Mullahey will be the secretary and Bayonne’s Mike Pierson as the treasurer.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to begin again,” Hansen said. “The old HCIAA was disbanded, so we had to try to match what we had and move forward.”
For now, the divisions of the league will be separated by school enrollments and will be called Red, White and Blue, but there is a chance that the league officials can readdress the names of the divisions in the future.
It would be a nice gesture if the new league adopted the names of the old HCIAA divisions, like the Coviello and Seglio, to honor two legends like Joe Coviello and Marty Seglio…--Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.