Brooklyn Boro

This just might be Barry Rohrrsen’s best production

August 30, 2021 Andy Furman
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Barry (Slice) Rohrrsen was always in fine company.

At Xaverian High School he was one of the two final cuts for the freshman basketball team.

The other – Scott Baio – yeah, you remember him, don’t you?

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He’s known for his role as Chachi Arcola on the sitcom Happy Days (1977-1984) and its spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983), and for playing the title character on the sitcom Charles in Charge (1984-1990), Dr. Jack Stewart in the medical-mystery-drama series Diagnosis: Murder (1993-1995), and the titular of the musical film Bugsy Malone (1976), his onscreen debut.

As for basketball, well not so much.

Now for Rohrrsen.

“I was a gym rat,” the 6-4 hoopster told the Eagle, “I was a walk-on for Coach Gene Roberti at St. Francis College.”

And while the stage and screen may have provided fame for Rohrrsen’s fellow non-varsity mate at Xaverian — – Baio – it was St. Francis College that paved the way for the career of Barry (Slice) Rohrrsen.

“St. Francis will always be a special place for me,” the ’78 Xaverian High School grad said, “coming from a single-parent family in Park Slope, the school gave me the chance to perform on the Division I basketball level, offered me my first coaching opportunity and then put me behind a microphone to call games for the Northeast Conference.”

Rohrrsen started his coaching career as an assistant on the Terriers’ staff; and the past several years he’s called their games on the Northeast Conference YouTube channel.

But the Rohrrsen basketball path was a cross-country trek – for years. 

First – let’s get this out of the way. His name is Barry, yet most call him Slice.

Why?

“I got the name from the late Howard Garfinkel at his Five-Star Basketball Camp,” he said. “I’d slice to the basket during the counselor pick-up games. The name stuck – and for years many people didn’t know my first name.”

Howard Morris Garfinkel was a high school basketball scout who ran the well-known Five Star Basketball Camp from 1966 to 2008 in Honesdale and later in Pittsburgh, Penna.

St. Francis was Ground Zero for Slice, the gym rat. He served as an assistant coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), and the University of Pittsburgh.

His strength – recruiting New York City kids – and he was directly responsible for creating the pipeline from New York City to Pittsburgh. He signed New Yorkers Levance Fields and Carl Krauser.

He was named head coach for the Manhattan College Jaspers in April, 2006 and has since served as an assistant under John Calipari at Kentucky and at St. John’s University under Chris Mullin – another Xaverian High alum.

Basketball – on any level – is a small, yet loyal fraternity. And when one member passes on, well, many step up.

And that’s exactly what Slice has done.

Tom Konchalski spent 43 years evaluating college basketball prospects and ran the High School Basketball Insider Report since 1979. He also took over the ownership of the Five-Star Basketball Camp.

Konchalski passed at the age of 74 this past February.

His HSBI Report was mailed out 16 times a year to the more than 200 college coaches who subscribed to it – it was typed by Konchalski.

Barry Rohrrsen remembered.

“Tom and I met when I was about 15 at the Jack Curran Basketball Camp,” he said, “I knew him for over 45 years.”

Jack Curran, by the way, was head coach at Archbishop Molloy High School. He won more basketball and baseball games than any high school coach in the United States. He has been elected into nine different Halls of Fame.

So, Slice wanted to put a bow on the deal, and create some closure.

“I started a fundraiser for Tom,” he said, “we first started a scholarship basketball game in Brooklyn to help kids gain a scholarship.”

And with Konchalski’s passing, Rohrrsen wondered – “what could be done? What could we create what Tom would do?”

It’s done – and set at Archbishop Molloy High on Friday, September 10th (5 pm) – of all places.

It is a Memorial Tribute to this legendary high school basketball scout.

“He was really a special guy,” said Slice, who calls Riverdale home these days, “and really there was no equal in my memory,” the 61-year-old Slice, who is a Board member on the committee, said.

That committee boasts legendary names like Bob Hurley, Sr., who amassed 26 state championships in 39 years as coach at the now-closed St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. 

On February 2, 2011, Hurley became the 10th coach in high school history to win 1,000 games. Five of his teams have gone undefeated.

On April 5, 2010, he was announced as the only coach to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame that year and only the third high school coach in history to be so honored.

Barry (Slice) Rohrssen also worked as an actor, with minor roles in several films, including Glengarry Glen Ross (1992).  His most recent part was that of a referee in Uncle Drew (2018).

But perhaps his best production is yet to come — Friday, Sept. 10th at Archbishop Molloy High School, honoring his former friend.

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]; Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR


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