Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Martelli Prevails Against Former Assistants; Johnnies Hammer Drake
By Mike Vorkunov
PHILADELPHIA — Phil Martelli only got caught looking once.
The St. Joseph’s coach did not want to look to the bench on the other side of the Palestra because he would see two men he knew intimately, his former assistant in Rutgers coach Mike Rice and his son, Jimmy, an assistant on Rice’s staff.
“It only got disconcerting one time,” said Phil Martelli. “I never look down that way but I look down and that little sucker Jimmy had our call before I had our call on a foul shot. I had to bite my lip from not laughing.”
His son may have gotten the best of him there but Phil and his Hawks won in the end with a 76-70 victory over Rutgers in the Hoop Group Classic.
A big night from the St. Joseph’s backcourt proved to be the difference. Carl Jones scored a game-high 21 points while Langston Galloway added 20 points and eight assists. Jones scored seven of his points in the final four minutes of the game to help his team pull away. It was part of a long night the Scarlet Knights had in trying to stop the two.
“They dropped their head and attacked our feet,” said Rice. “I don’t mind getting beat. I want to tell them which way they want to beat us though. We force a certain way, we have a certain formula to our defense. They’ve just been dropping their heads and taking us off the bounce so quickly with our help not even getting a chance because there was no East-West, just North-South.”
And in a game with friends and family pitted on different sides, it meant someone had to go home a loser
“It wasn’t very good, I got an L,” said Rice of coaching against his former boss. “It’s one of those things that he’s done so much for me, he’s such a big part of my life. Especially with his son coaching. How much respect I have for him and the St. Joe’s program. When the ball goes up, I could care less who it is. I want to win. It’s not a good feeling when you take an L, I don’t care who’s on the other side.”
For Rutgers, it was defense that failed them after riding it to surprising wins over Fairfield and Miami. They allowed the Hawks to shoot 51 percent, including 57.1 percent in the second half. They could barely keep in front, if at all sometimes, and were out-rebounded 35-27 on the boards. It was an effort after which Dane Miller said they had gotten away from their core defensive principles.
“We were poor,” said Rice. “In the details of what we did we were very poor. I thought we were a soft basketball team on the defensive side tonight.”
Miller had a game to forget, scoring just two points and fouling out in 19 minutes. He put the loss on his shoulders but it was much closer to a team effort.
Before it started, though, the two Martellis shared a pre-game hug and embrace, and the elder Phil did the same with Rice.
“It was special to be honest with you, I’m just so proud of Mike and the energy,” he said. “Jimmy’s in great hands. Jimmy’s a good young assistant coach, really hard working. And for him to be with Mike at a place that really cares, Tim Pernetti and the people at Rutgers.”
For more Rutgers and Seton Hall coverage, follow Mike Vorkunov on Twitter at @Mike_Vorkunov
JOHNNIES HAMMER DRAKE IN ALASKARead the story here on SNY.
(Photo courtesy NJ.com)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.