It was quite the stuffy, poor air-quality, high-school gymnasium you come to expect, but the atmosphere at John F. Kennedy High School Tuesday night couldn't have been more focused. I made the trip to Paterson hoping to see some great fan support from the Pirate faithful.
I was not disappointed.
Here are the 3 thoughts:
1. Pirate Pride
Last week, it was reported that about 60 Seton Hall fans showed up and cheered on Kyle Anderson. Tuesday night, I would estimate there was at least, double that number. The stands on one side of the court were packed with Pirate Blue and there were also fans standing on the baselines. In fact, for this particular game, the entire crowd was surrounding the court (there was a second court with another game on it, but all eyes were on this one). Not only that, but much of the current team was in attendance along with St. Anthony's and Seton Hall legend Terry Dehere. Even some of the cheerleaders were there. CHEERLEADERS, I kid you not.
And the crowd was a smart crowd, cheering whenever Anderson did something noteworthy- a nice pass, a made shot, a good steal or block. There was no pandering to the prized recruit, no pleading with Anderson to come to South Orange, nothing that would be construed as a violation- not even a mention of Anderson's name and 'Seton Hall' in the same sentence. It was just some fans in Seton Hall gear, watching a basketball game. Well done, Pirate Nation.
2. The Other Guys
There were three other players involved in this game that Seton Hall has their eye on- Hudson Catholic's Kavon Stewart, Reggie Cameron and Michael Young. Stewart is a point guard and a fearless one at that, with good quickness and some juke moves that are very good. Cameron is a good shooter who showed off some of the range tonight. I thought Mike Young was one particular player, but further analysis shows that is not the case, so nothing on him yet. All three are solid young players for the class of '13, so stash those thoughts away for a while.
Anderson came as advertised tonight. He took about 5 minutes to get warmed up and get a feel for the game. Once he did, he went to work. The team put the ball in his hands often and more often than not, he did something that made people in blue cheer. There were great passes for open shots off penetration, there was a little scoring and shooting from midrange and from three, there were some steals and a block and all of it was smart and under control. Two plays stick out in my mind. The first (which I mentioned on Twitter) was Anderson isolated at the top of the key, he took one dribble left, crossed back right (leaving his man on his hip), drove the center of the lane, switched hands before the help defender could rotate over in time, and finished off glass with his left hand. A second play is even more telling of Anderson's outstanding maturity level. He drove down the right side of the lane and his defender was able to keep up. Most players would force a shot or try to draw a foul in this situation. Anderson saw an open teammate on the baseline across the lane, and in one motion, got up in the air a little, and threw an over-the-shoulder pass to that teammate.
My final word on Anderson is this: he is one of the smartest players I have seen in a long time, especially at the high school level. He may not be blessed with quickness, but he is always under control. The game comes easy to him, and he seems to always be two plays ahead. His court vision is incredible (his unusual height for a point guard, 6'7-6'8, helps this), and his passes almost always find their target. He makes everyone around him better with his unique skill set, but can also score if his team needs him to. Anderson is one special player who has won games everywhere he has ever been in his short life. If he indeed chooses the Pirates, he'll join a core of Fuquan Edwin, Aaron Cosby, Brian Oliver, Gene Teague and Patrik Auda, a group that will surely make some things happen for Kevin Willard and company.
The coaching staff (short of the in-home visit scheduled for Sept. 18th, the last of these visits- two days before his announcement) has done all they can do. The fanbase has also done all they can do. All there is to do now - is wait. Get ready for the longest week in recent memory, Pirate fans. Hopefully, there is a pot of gold at the end of this maze that has been the recruitment of Kyle Anderson, Jr. Maybe it's finally that time. Finally time for a little good news to break Seton Hall's way.