My intention was to attend Saturday’s opening game against Newark Central. You can’t predict everything, though, like being rear ended on Route 1 & 9 in Linden in route from Edison to the game in Newark. It ended up a win for the Cardinals, as reported by Plainfield Sports News.
While I was not able to make it, I did sit down and speak with an expert. I doubt Terrence Johnson refers to himself as the guru of Plainfield Boys Basketball, but since I have known about him for at least the last 15 years I’ll take the liberty of calling him one. I’ve always known Terrence as the man who runs the eteamz Watchung Conference page and who knows all there is to know about high school basketball in North Jersey. When I attended games back in high school, Terrence was always there. Here is our Q & A.
Q: Which significant players were lost this year?
A: No key players were lost.
Q: Any new players that you are looking out for?
A: I wouldn’t consider Clarence Hoover a new player, but you can being he only played one home game last year. He transferred over from Piscataway at the end of the season. Hoover plays like a throw back Plainfield Guard – Guts, Grit and all out hustle. The faithful will enjoy seeing him this year. As far as new players, the sophomores on the team have great motors – 6′-3″ Ceasar Cordoba and 6′-4″ Jahlil Simmoms. They won’t play much varsity this season, but rest assured, if someone doesn’t get it done on the varsity, these 2 are ready to provide energy.
A: Linden is the favorite. Linden has a 6’9 center, Quadri Moore, who is going to Cincinatti next year. They have hard nosed guards that will defend you on the way to the bathroom, great coaching staff, and a former Plainfield Recreation player on its roster, Otis Livingston Jr. You can never count out a Linden basketball team even in adjustment or down years, but this year is not one of them. They know the target is on its back and they don’t mind it being there.
Q: Plainfield moved to Group 4 this year after playing in Group 3 for the last four years. What impact will that have?
A: As funny as this may sound, we probably have a better shot winning Group 4 than Group 3 this year because Newark Eastside has 2 players going Division 1 in its Front court. Linden at least only has 1 (smiles).
Q: What are the strengths of the this year’s team?
A: The strength of the 2013 team is going to be experience. These kids finished last year 12-15 and should have learned a lesson or two about playing in the big games. Previous years they were on the bench watching Sekou (Harris) , Justin (Sears), Jahmal (Lane) and Dii’Jon (Allen-Jordan) play. Last year, they were able to get out there and see how it feels to play in front of hostile crowds and at home. So, the strength is going to be experience.
Q: How about weaknesses?
A: The first thing that comes to mind when I think of weakness for the Cardinals is Ball Handling. Don’t get me wrong, we do have 3-4 players that can dribble, but we will have to do a better job than we did last year handling and making decisions.
Q: What advice do you have for fans?
A: Plainfield fans, please be patient with this years team. There are going to be games you come to and say, “Man, we should have beaten them by 20” or “We should have won that game. How did we lose?” There are going to be some head scratchers. The Cardinals play probably one of the top 7 toughest schedules in the entire state. We have Linden twice which enters njhoops.com at #5 in the State, we have The Patrick School twice which enters #7 and we play Roselle Catholic twice and they are #1 in the state and top 20 in the nation. Throw in top 20 foes Rutgers Prep and Newark Central you can see its going to be a tough one. The record will not reflect how good this team is, but you will see the results when the state tournament comes around.
Here’s to a strong season of growth this year.
Since Terrence and I sat down, the latest top 20 rankings have been released by the Star Ledger. They are as follows, followed by their record last year:
1. St. Joseph-Metuchen (27-5)
2. Roselle Catholic (25-5)
3. St. Anthony (28-2)
4. Linden (22-8)
5. Newark East Side (25-7)
6. Trenton Catholic (12-16)
7. The Patrick School (24-4)c
8. St. Peter’s Prep (23-7)
9. Hudson Catholic (29-2)
10. Seton Hall Prep (26-3)
11. Pope John (20-8)
12. Paul VI (26-4)
13. Newark Tech (23-9)
14. Paterson Eastside (25-3)
15. Pt. Pleasant Beach (26-4)
16. Teaneck (27-4)
17. Camden (20-9)
18. Pitman (24-6)
19. Atlantic City (24-2)
20. Gill St. Bernard’s (19-8)