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Oracle of the Hardwood

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At Penn Station, Konchalski and Broderick meet up and board the train to Elizabeth. There, they are picked up by their chauffeur for the night, a retired Elizabeth cop Konchalski met about twenty years ago at the wedding of a basketball player he had scouted. The main event of the evening is a marquee game between the public-school powerhouse Plainfield and Saint Patrick, but first Konchalski and his friends are going to take in a small-time game between two public schools, Linden and Scotch Plains. They arrive at the cramped Linden gym, where the school’s coach, Phil Colicchio, comes over to say hello.

How’s the season, coach?

It’s going great, Colicchio says. I absolutely love this team. I don’t have any D-1 players and they play fantastic.

He tells Konchalski about one of them, a senior with a 1580 SAT reading-and-math score and a 3.5 GPA. At six three, the player is severely undersize for his power-forward position, but he’s hoping that his marks will get him some looks from Division III schools. Konchalski knows that his evaluation could be determinative. He smiles, takes out his yellow legal pad, and gets ready to go to work.


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