The Daily News, having been burned on the scoop that St. John’s was firing Norm Roberts and having whiffed on half-baked “rumors” that the Red Storm would have a chance at Florida coach Billy Donovan, gives it another try this morning: Today, the wheel stops on Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, whose team just fell to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Hewitt is known as an excellent recruiter but a middling coach, which, apparently, would be enough for St. John’s. (The story sheepishly, almost apologetically, points out that Georgia Tech just extended Hewitt last Tuesday.) Hewitt has the approval of the city’s AAU coaches, and as a Friday Times story made frighteningly clear, they’re the ones who run this.
You’ve got to see some of these quotes. Basically, the AAU coaches make no qualms about it: St. John’s, a Roman Catholic university, needs to start cheating. Seriously, they say that.
Russell Smith, a coach with the New York Gauchos, an Amateur Athletic Union program, said Roberts and his staff had been “too laid-back” in their local recruiting efforts. “You got to hustle here, bend some rules or do something,” Smith said. “They settled for the transfers and second-tier kids.”
Kenny Wilcox, the head coach at ASA, a junior college in Brooklyn, said St. John’s had been foolish to think it could win without bending the rules. “It’s naïve because if you know the business, there are certain schools that are getting certain types of players and certain schools that aren’t,” Wilcox said. “At St. John’s, they’re not getting certain types of players because they’re doing things the right way.”
So, to extrapolate here, Hewitt and Hofstra’s Tom Pecora — another coach who gets the AAU coaches’ seal of approval — are willing to “bend some rules or something,” and Norm Roberts wasn’t. This is what college hoops has come to. It has probably been like this for quite some time. Whoever takes the St. John’s job, really, has already lost.