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Scholastic Roundup: It’s time to do this for the Kids

May 23, 2021 Andy Furman
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Rich Kosik admits he grew up when New York City – and Brooklyn in particular – was the Mecca of Basketball.

“Sadly, over the past two decades that title has gradually dwindled,” said Kosik, who is the Student-Athlete Advocate for the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL). “There are many contributing factors, but it’s been visibly evident by anyone with the knowledge of ‘how it was’, when they viewed any number of PSAL games over these recent years.”

Kosik says one of the factors is that back in the day there were 180 to gradually 200 high schools – now there’s over 300.

“Kids used to be assigned to their neighborhood schools with some stars recruited to then power houses who knew how to manipulate the system,” he said. “Either way, the talent level got spread out and many of the better teams lost some of their sources of talent and were not the competitive forces they once were,” he said.

Mix in the loss of great and competent coaches to age and retirement and the PSAL never really having a sold jayvee program and player development was left to games played in night centers, parks and outside tournaments, Kosik reasoned.

The PSAL has made no official announcement when a game schedule would be announced for a belated basketball season.

A shortened basketball season – minus the playoffs – was scheduled to begin last week. In late March, it was announced basketball teams could begin conditioning on April 5th and start practicing – outdoors – on the 26th and the season would commence May 15th.

New York City health authorities and the Mayor’s office had determined that high-risk sports – like basketball – had to be played outside for health reasons.

“One thing I found striking,” Kosik said, “was the league (PSAL) uses the term ‘competitions’ and not ‘games’ when referring to a possible schedule. I’d love to know who said that and what was meant by it. Are they saying the games aren’t important? I hope not.”

Something very important is owed to the senior class of 2021, according to Kosik. “Beyond a game schedule,” he adds, “the priority for the Mayor, the Chancellor and the PSAL should be providing a Basketball Showcase Event, for seniors only over a two-to-three-day period in late June.

In fact, the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) has already scheduled one – its set for June 26-28. “Why not have the PSAL event on the 24th or 25th or the 29th and 30th,” reasoned Kosik. “This would provide the seniors with an opportunity to showcase their talents to invited college coaches,” he said.

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The CHSAA got their event sanctioned by the NCAA, according to Kosik — the same should be done for the PSAL.

Kosik believes a letter or e-mail to the NCAA should be out to organize the proposed event. “Make it a priority these seniors deserve,” he said.

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Bob Valvano, the former St. Francis College basketball coach, shared some sad news on social media the other day. “I have been diagnosed with atypical CLL, a former of chronic leukemia, Stage 4,” he wrote. “But they tell me, Stage 4 or not, it’s possible to get it into remission, so we will attack it with all we have.”

Valvano coached the Terriers from 1984-88. At the time of his hiring, he was the youngest head coach in Division I men’s basketball at 27 years old. Under Valvano the Terriers won their first post season game in over 30 years, in 1988.

“I don’t feel all that well right now,” he said, “but hold out hope to play golf again, got for walks, chase new adventures and done once more from the glorious buffet of life.”

During the college basketball season, Valvano is the lead game analyst for ESPN Radio. When not doing those games, he is the color analyst for the University of Louisville men’s basketball games on WHAS (840-AM) and WKRD (790-AM) radio.

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Former New Utrecht cager Lenny Hershkovitz sends along a note about his friend – Larry Pollard, the basketball coach at Thomas Jefferson High. “Larry’s assistant coach – Sheldon Jefferson – broke Mark Jackson’s scoring records at Bishop Loughlin High School. Both Pollard and Jefferson played for the Mountaineers at the University of West Virginia,” he said.

As for Jackson – he played at St. John’s and later with the Knicks. He’s an NBA analyst for ABC these days.

Herskovitz reminds that Pollard and Jefferson stage a “Hersh Day” in honor of Lenny’s brother – Arnie – who was brilliant basketball representative for high school hoops.

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This from Arthur Solomon, a one-time Brooklyn Eagle writer and former VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller: “When the baseball commissioner heard that Medina Spirit failed a drug test, he immediately asked, ‘What team does he play for’”?

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected].

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