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Mo Cassara, mo' media

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

A regular guy who landed an irregular job in unconventional fashion, Mo Cassara has thrived in his role as head coach of the Hofstra basketball program through the use of social media.
Cassara had been an assistant coach at Boston College before he was picked up by Hofstra to work as an assistant under newly appointed head coach Tim Welsh.  In just over a month, Welsh had to resign under unfortunate circumstances, and Cassara’s future in basketball was soon uncertain. “I was 24 hours from being out of the sport”, Cassara said.
He was soon hired as the new head coach of the Hofstra basketball program, despite living in the dorms as a 3rd or 4th assistant coach in just his fifth week with the team.

What makes Cassara so unique, other than his youth, is his ability to connect with young kids through social media outlets used everyday by students and players.  Mo is a regular Facebook and Twitter user, and carries a separate phone with him just to interact with his team and fan base.
When asked if he responds to fans and students that contact him through social media, Cassara replied, “Sure I do… when I respond back, it creates a good buzz on campus”.

He also discussed his approach towards recruiting and establishing relationships with his potential future players.  “I’ll wake up at 6AM and send them a Facebook message”, Mo said when referring to the players he was recruiting.  By communicating with players through the same social media outlets they use every day, he is putting himself on their level.

Cassara emphasizes the significance of connecting with people, an important characteristic for someone whose job description requires him to attract young talent, maximize the talent he’s given, and answer to the all mighty and demanding media.  “It’s all about building relationships”, he said.

Cassara’s relationship with the media and his philosophy towards facing it has also been a strength of the personable young coach, who had handled the firing of Welsh with grace and class.  “I have to be the same person all the time.  It gives you credibility with the media”.

Gaining the trust of his players, fans and the students seemed to be a major priority for the first year head coach, who exceeded expectations by finishing tied for second in the conference. He noted how important his relationship was with leading scorer Charles Jenkins. “Charles helped me get through my first year”, he said when referring to his help both on and off the court.

Mo Cassara is division one college basketball coach who understands the significance of technology in his particular business.  He was given an opportunity most people never see, and he’s ran with it with the help of the most up to date form of communication- social media.

 

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Categories: Uncategorized

Should Mets start Willie Harris in left field on Opening Day?

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Terry Collins prefers to use Willie Harris as the Mets’ Opening Day left fielder.

Jason Bay will begin the year on the disabled list and won’t return until April 9 at the earliest.

The Mets will carry young slugger Lucas Duda in Bay’s spot and will expect Duda to start most of the games in left field.

If so, why does it seem that Harris will get the Opening Day nod?

Harris has had a productive spring and rightfully earned a spot on the roster. He showed some pop over the last few weeks and should be a versatile member of the Mets’ bench.

Even so, you might still be asking why the Mets will start Harris when they want Duda to play every day.

The answer is simple: The Mets will be facing Florida Marlins’ ace Josh Johnson—one of the top pitchers in the game—on Opening Day.

Rather than have Duda start the season with a tough outing against Johnson that could crush his confidence, Collins can save Duda for Game 2 against Ricky Nolasco. Though Nolasco is no slouch, Johnson can be unhittable at times.

If the Mets do go with Harris on Opening Day like it seems, the lineup may look similar to this: Reyes, Thole, Wright, Beltran, Davis, Pagan, Harris, Emaus.

As Rubin reported, Collins may want to use Pagan as more of a run producer rather than a table-setter in Bay’s absence. This lineup could do some damage and has a nice combination of speed and power.

While Harris has done everything to earn the spot in the starting lineup, why is Scott Hairston not being considered?

Hairston had a monstrous spring training for the Mets. He hit .345 with four HR and 12 RBI in just 58 at-bats.

Though the games don’t matter, Hairston hit some clutch home runs this spring.

The one drawback from Hairston this spring has been his strikeouts. While he showed good power, he struck out 14 times.

Against a power pitcher in Josh Johnson, the Mets must focus on putting the ball in play and force the Marlins to make plays. The fish have been known to play shoddy defense, so the Mets must capitalize on their mistakes.

Harris is more of a contact threat than Hairston. He can use his speed to manufacture runs, which will be key against Johnson.

Additionally, having the power threat in Hairston available to pinch-hit late in the game can work to the Mets’ advantage. The Mets may need an extra base-hit to start a rally, and Hairston can provide that punch.

Though I’d like to see as much of Lucas Duda as possible the next week and a half, I agree with Collins’ logic here. Allowing Duda to not be overmatched in his first game of the season can go a long way in his development.

Another question you may be thinking about is the following: What happens if Duda absolutely rakes in Bay’s absence?

He would really have to show some good power and drive in a ton of runs early for the Mets to even consider keeping him with the big club. Still, no matter where he is, Duda needs to play every day, especially defensively, to continue improving.

Burying Duda on the Mets’ bench would do him no good. While Carlos Beltran won’t be expected to play every single game, Duda would still have to battle Harris and Hairston for playing time.

These questions and more should be answered as the season progresses.

I’m sure as you’re excited as I am for Opening Day tomorrow. Here’s to a lot of fun in 2011. Win or lose, it’s great to finally have baseball back.

Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.

Categories: MLB

Kris Humphries: 10 Reasons Re-Signing Him Needs To Be New Jersey Nets' Priority

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Following the 2011-2012 season, the main free agent the New Jersey Nets will worry about is current point guard Deron Williams.

However, a pressing free agent that the Nets must retain this upcoming offseason is their power forward, Kris Humphries.

After six mediocre seasons playing mostly in a bench role, Humphries has found himself this season.

He’s averaged a double-double this season with 10.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

If it wasn’t for Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Humphries would be a shoe-in for Comeback Player of the Year.

Here are 10 reasons why the Nets must re-sign Humphries this offseason.

10. Kim Kardashian attends games

Though this obviously is not a major reason to bring back Kris Humphries, he is dating Kim Kardashian.

While she hasn’t exactly brought the Nets much luck this season, it’s always a pleasure seeing her in the stands.

Maybe she can distract the Nets’ opponents into missing shots.

But seriously, here are the real reasons for bringing back Humphries.

9. Won’t be too expensive

In regards to some of the other available free agents, Kris Humphries may not be terribly expensive.

Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov has his sights set on some marquee free agents this and next offseason. However, he must also budget wisely so the Nets can afford the available talent.

Humphries is only 26, and his performance this year has opened the eyes of many around the league.

Still, he won’t command the salary of Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph or David West, thus making him a great option for the Nets.

8. Starter or substitute

Kris Humphries has shown that he can be a valuable member of a starting five or can sub if need be.

Humphries worked his way into the starting lineup early in the season after giving the Nets great minutes off the bench.

When the Nets gave youngster Derrick Favors the starting role, Humphries still was able to record double-doubles off the bench.

Humphries regained the starting role following the Deron Williams trade, which included Favors. He hasn’t lost a step since the change.

He gives the Nets versatility if they plan on pursuing a free agent forward or center.

7. Two-way player

Not only can Kris Humphries clean up around the hoop, but he has shown his defensive prowess all season.

He rises up over would-be offensive rebounders to snatch the ball out of their grasps.

He’s 6’9”, 235 pounds, so he uses his muscular frame to bully his opponents on the glass.

Though he’s averaged just 1.1 blocks per game, it’s the timing and emphatic nature of these blocks that has left an impact.

Here, Humphries put Phoenix Suns’ center Robin Lopez in his place in front of his twin brother, Brook.

He’s one of the few two-way players left in the NBA.

6. Lots of energy

Kris Humphries gave the Nets a much-needed energy boost early this year after New Jersey’s miserable 12-70 season last year.

He ripped down rebounds, cleaned up on the glass and threw down some monster dunks.

This energy was a huge factor in the Nets’ improvement this season.

Humphries always hustled when he was on the floor, and will look to continue this energy heading into next season.

5. Double-double machine

Kris Humphries has been a double-double machine this season.

He’s recorded 29 double-doubles this year after only recording six in his first six seasons.

He is one of only 11 players averaging a double-double this season. The other 10 are the following: Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Zack Randolph, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bogut, Joakim Noah, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo and Humphries’ teammate Deron Williams.

That is some pretty impressive company, which shows what sort of asset Humphries has been to the Nets this season.

4. Picks up Brook Lopez on the boards

This season, Nets’ center Brook Lopez has developed a deadly mid-range jumper.

As a result, he has found himself outside the paint more often when rebounding opportunities arise.

Lopez has averaged just 5.9 rebounds per game this year, which for a seven-footer is quite low.

However, Kris Humphries has picked up Lopez’s slack on the glass in a big way. He pulls down offensive rebounds, which gives the Nets second opportunities.

Also, since the Nets can rely on Humphries down low, Lopez can use his outside jumper more often, knowing that Humphries will fight for the board.

3. Finally come into his own

It may have taken Kris Humphries six NBA seasons, but he finally put everything together this season.

Once he worked himself into the starting lineup, he gained the confidence needed to make him a productive player.

Since he’s still young, Humphries can use this momentum to build a solid career.

The Nets would be wise to lock him up long-term to prevent another team from swooping in.

2. Connection with Deron Williams

From the moment that Deron Williams suited up for the Nets, he and Kris Humphries developed an instant connection.

Williams has a knack for finding most of the big men he’s played with, but Williams and Humphries looked like they had been playing together for years.

Since Humphries was able to constantly finish around the basket, Williams compiled a ton of assists.

Williams will be a Net for at least one more season, so re-signing Humphries long-term may keep Deron in town.

As long as Williams consistently feeds Humphries down low, both players will be productive forces for the 2011-2012 Nets.

1. Arguably Nets’ MVP

Kris Humphries has arguably been the Nets’ MVP this season.

New Jersey seems to get a consistent performance out of him every night, which has been a major factor in their improvement.

The Nets appear to be a team on the rise in the Eastern Conference, but Humphries will need to be around next year for the team to get better.

As seen by the trade for Deron Williams, Mikhail Prokhorov and Nets’ GM Billie King aren’t afraid to shake up the roster.

However, what sort of message would it send to the other Nets’ players if the team failed to sign their MVP?

Based on these reasons, there’s a strong possibility Humphries will continue to call Newark home for at least the next few seasons.

Categories: Uncategorized

Zack Greinke and 10 potential pitching busts in 2011

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Pitching is an art form that only few have perfected in baseball history.

Last year, we saw a return to the dominance of pitching, highlighted by Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Felix Hernandez and Tim Lincecum.

Heading into 2011, expectations are once again high for pitchers.

However, a handful of pitchers that have been hyped up this offseason appear to be prime candidates to flop this year.

Whether it’s new surroundings, injury issues or lack of confidence, these 10 pitchers have the potential to be busts this season.

10. Erik Bedard, Seattle Mariners

Erik Bedard missed all of last season with a torn labrum, but he finally appears healthy this year.

However, that doesn’t mean Bedard will instantly regain his Baltimore Orioles’ form.

Though the Seattle Mariners inked him to a lucrative deal prior to the 2008 season, he has only started 30 games the last three seasons. He signed a one-year non-guaranteed deal with Seattle this offseason.

On a team that isn’t expected to do much this season, Bedard may be considered more of a flop than he’s already been for Seattle.

At least the bright spot for Mariners’ fans is that if Bedard struggles, stud prospect Michael Pineda will receive more attention. Pineda will start the season in the No. 5 slot in Seattle’s rotation.

9. Pedro Feliciano, New York Yankees

Pedro Felicano shifted boroughs from Queens to the Bronx as he will become the lefty specialist for the New York Yankees.

Feliciano signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Bronx Bombers.

However, Feliciano was severely overworked the last three seasons by the New York Mets. He led the National League in appearances with 86, 88 and 92, respectively, the past three years.

Already this spring, Feliciano has experienced triceps soreness and will begin the season on the disabled list.

In a division that includes powerful lefty hitters including David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Luke Scott, Nick Markakis and Adam Lind, a shutdown lefty reliever will be huge for the Yankees.

Feliciano’s overuse may come back to haunt him this season.

8. Mat Latos, San Diego Padres

Mat Latos is coming off a year that saw him go 14-10 with a 2.92 ERA in 32 starts, which established him as the ace of the San Diego Padres’ staff—one of the most underrated in baseball.

He is expected to have another big season this year. After the Adrian Gonzalez trade, the Padres will have to pitch well to make up for their lack of offense.

Latos was recently diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder, and will therefore begin the season on the disabled list.

When he does return, there may be added pressure on the young righty to duplicate last season’s performance.

The first step for Latos will be to get healthy so he can avoid being a bust this season.

7. Brad Penny, Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers added veteran starter Brad Penny to provide quality innings in the rotation.

Penny is only four years removed from a 16-4 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007.

However, Penny started just nine game for the St. Louis Cardinals last season after suffering from back issues.

The Tigers signed him to a $3 million deal, despite a string of poor seasons.

Now back in the American League, Penny may be in for a rude awakening, especially against good offensive teams like the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins within the division.

He will start the Tigers’ second game of the season.

6. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants

It’s quite difficult for Barry Zito to be considered anything but a bust since joining the San Francisco Giants.

Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract after 2006, which made him the highest paid pitcher in the game at the time.

He’s had a losing record in each of his four seasons with the Giants. However, San Francisco gave him a vote of confidence this offseason.

He has looked good during spring training, but it will take more than a few spring starts to get Zito back on track.

Luckily for the Giants, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner will be able to pick up Zito’s slack.

5. Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox

Following his Cy Young season in 2007 for the San Diego Padres, the sky appeared to be the limit for the young Jake Peavy.

However, back issues limited him to an unimpressive 7-6 record in 17 starts during 2010.

ESPN’s Baseball Tonight crew expected Peavy to be fully healthy for the start of the season and ready to regain his form.

Though he will start the season on the disabled list, Peavy has been given lofty expectations for 2011. It seems unfair to Peavy, who should be more concerned with returning healthy than dealing with the hype.

He may be considered a bust if he doesn’t live up to those expectations.

4. Baltimore Orioles Starting Staff

The Baltimore Orioles made a huge splash this offseason by adding four significant pieces to their starting lineup.

Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy should provide some punch to Baltimore’s order.

However, the Orioles will rely on an inexperienced group of starting pitchers.

Jeremy Guthrie has been solid the past few seasons, but he will be viewed as the ace of this young staff.

The O’s signed the injury-prone Justin Duchscherer to fill a rotation spot, but he has already been placed on the disabled list.

Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Jake Arrieta will all be expected to contribute, and Chris Tillman and star-prospect Zach Britton will be waiting in the wings.

The Orioles may get lucky with these young starters, but they may also waste some strong offensive performances.

3. Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs

Carlos Zambrano rebounded from a tough start in 2010 to finish 11-6 with a 3.33 ERA.

Though he claims his attitude problems are behind him, let’s see if he lives up to that statement.

He has been known for calling out coaches and teammates, which in turn has affected his performance on the mound.

The Chicago Cubs will be relying heavily on Zambrano in their rotation. The Cubs traded for Matt Garza and still have Ryan Dempster, so they have the makings of a strong rotation.

If Zambrano’s emotions get the best of him, he may be a bust this season. If the Cubs struggle, Zambrano would be a likely trade target, though many teams may not want to take on the headache associated with his talent.

2. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

One of the biggest stories this spring training has been the season-ending injury to St. Louis Cardinals’ star pitcher Adam Wainwright.

Wainwright and Chris Carpenter formed arguably the best one-two punch in any starting rotation in the league prior to the injury.

However, with Wainwright on the shelf, the pressure shifts solely to Carpenter to lead the rotation.

Carpenter will turn 36 in April, so he could be a candidate for a decline, especially if he’s overworked in the absence of Wainwright.

Sadly for Carpenter, anything short of a dominant season will be viewed as a bust since he will have high expectations all year.

1. Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers

The trade involving Zack Greinke was one of the most notable of the offseason.

Greinke is coming off a forgetful 2010, but a fresh start with the Milwaukee Brewers seemed like a good remedy.

However, he broke a rib while playing pick-up basketball this spring, forcing him to miss his first few starts.

A rib injury can be nagging for pitchers, since they use their core to create torque in their delivery.

The Kansas City Royals received some good young talent for Greinke, so this deal, as well as Greinke’s season, may be considered a bust.

Categories: MLB

New York Mets: 10 Bold Predictions for April

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

After an offseason filled with financial grumblings, injury troubles and a lack of major offseason acquisitions, the Mets’ expectations heading into 2011 are quite low.

However, if a few things fall into place and the team gets off to a hot start in April, the Mets may have what it takes to be the surprise story of the National League.

The Amazin’s will need to set the tone during their first month to remind the rest of the N.L. East that competitive baseball will be played this year in Flushing.

Here are 10 bold predictions for the month of April that would send a message to league.

10. Mets will beat Josh Johnson Opening Day

A great way to come out of the gates strong would be to win on Opening Day.

The Mets play the Florida Marlins in Miami in their first game. Marlins’ ace Josh Johnson will be on the hill Friday night against Mike Pelfrey for the Mets.

New York defeated Johnson last year on Opening Day, and they will attempt to do it again.

They will need some timely hitting and a clutch first start by Pelfrey to get the job done.

It would only count as one win, but an Opening Day victory would breathe a sigh of relief into the Mets’ clubhouse, especially for new Mets’ manager Terry Collins.

9. Mets take 2-of-3 against Phillies in first series

After three games against the Marlins in Miami, the Mets head north to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies.

This will be the Mets’ first test against the “four aces.” Philadelphia will likely have Cole Hamels start the first game, followed by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

The Mets can send a quick message to their division rivals by taking two out of three on the road against three superb pitchers.

New York will have to utilize its speed at the top of the order—Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan—to manufacture runs in what should be three tight ballgames.

8. Mets play with renewed sense of energy

One thing we can expect from the Mets this April is a renewed sense of energy.

New manager Terry Collins brings passion and intensity to the dugout and expects nothing less from his players.

Jose Reyes appears revitalized and ready to be a leader of the team.

The Mets have speed at the top of the order, which can create havoc for opposing pitchers. Reyes and Angel Pagan can bunt, hit-and-run and steal bases as well as anyone in the league.

Now that Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez are gone, the team can focus on its job—winning baseball games—rather than dealing with the headaches those two players created.

This new energy should lead to wins.

7. Young and Capuano combine for 5 wins

The Mets signed injury-prone starting pitchers, Chris Young and Chris Capuano, to anchor the back end of the rotation.

These two have been pleasant surprises this spring and will look to continue their success into the regular season.

If Young and Capuano combine to win five games in April, the Mets will be heading in the right direction.

With ace Johan Santana scheduled to miss the entire first half of the season, New York will need steady contributions from Young and Capuano to keep the team in contention.

6. Brad Emaus solidifies second base job

Over the last week of spring training, Brad Emaus began to separate himself from the pack in the second base competition—enough so to win the starting job.

While the Mets wished he would have broke away from the pack much earlier, it’s better late than never.

Daniel Murphy may see some time at second, but the job looks like it’s Emaus’ to lose.

If he continues his strong offensive and defensive play from the past week, Emaus will cement himself as the team’s second baseman.

He can be a force at the bottom of the order, which would help create a balanced lineup.

5. Carlos Beltran will play in almost all of April’s games

After two spring starts in right field, Carlos Beltran will get the Opening Day nod.

He had been dealing with knee tendinitis in his non-surgically repaired knee, which caused him to miss significant time this spring.

However, he seems to be healthy and ready to contribute.

Not only will Beltran play in most of the April games, he will be a productive force—maybe not like his 2006 performance but still a formidable presence in the Mets’ lineup.

Beltran will be a free agent following this season, so he is out to prove that he can still play at a high level.

4. Jason Bay gets hot after returning from DL

Though Jason Bay will start the season on the disabled list with bruised ribs, he is poised for a rebound once he returns.

He will hopefully be activated for the Mets’ first home series at Citi Field. He is scheduled to come off the disabled list April 9.

Bay is itching to get back on the field after a lost season in 2010. He signed a four-year deal with a fifth-year vesting option last winter, so Mets fans also want their left fielder to produce.

He was swinging the bat well before his recent injury this spring.

Bay can send a message to the league that last year was an anomaly, and he is now ready to regain his power stroke.

Bay coupled with David Wright, Ike Davis and a healthy Carlos Beltran can form a dangerous heart of the order for the Mets.

3. R.A. Dicket finished April undefeated

R.A. Dickey was arguably the Mets’ MVP last season after finishing 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA.

He baffled hitters all season with his knuckleball and gave the Mets’ rotation a much-needed shot in the arm.

Dickey had an inconsistent spring, but that was more because he was trying to refine his craft rather than worry about results. This was the first spring training of Dickey’s career in which he had a guaranteed roster spot, allowing him to experiment with his pitches.

He will start the third game of the season, and with a little bit of luck, he will start the year undefeated in April.

Dickey is a competitor, which will allow the other pitchers on the staff to feed off his energy.

2. Mets finish over .500

The Mets will play each of their division rivals, as well as the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks, in the first month of the season.

They play 27 games, so a 15-12 start seems realistic.

New York will have to steal a few games from the Phillies and Braves—on the road no less—to accomplish this record.

A strong homestand against the Astros and Diamondbacks will be a great chance to rack up some wins before squaring off against the Nationals and Phillies to close out the month.

1. Mets finish tied for 2nd place

A 15-12 April record should put the Mets close to or tied for second place in the division.

The teams in the N.L. East all play each other early on, so they are bound to remain close in the standings, unless one team pulls away.

If New York can hang with the Phillies and Braves, the Mets will prove that they should not be treated lightly by the other N.L. East teams.

This is the type of confidence that a team can ride out for the course of a season.

It should be an exciting month, so sit back and enjoy, Mets fans.

Categories: MLB

Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups Light Up Nets at MSG

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Despite some significant improvements this season, the New Jersey Nets are still a year or two away from figuring it all out on the court.

Though they led by 16 points in the first half, the Nets dropped a 120-116 heartbreaker to the cross-town rival New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

In Carmelo Anthony’s first game against the team that coveted him, he did not disappoint. Melo led all scorers with 39 points and added 10 rebounds to record the double-double.

Chauncey Billups quietly scored 33 points, while Amar’e Stoudemire poured in 23. The Knicks’ “big three” did most of the damage, as their next highest scorer was Toney Douglas with seven points.

Deron Williams returned to the lineup after missing the previous six games with a wrist injury. He scored 22 points—his new Nets career-high—and added eight rebounds and eight assists. However, he missed what would have been the game-tying shot with seconds to go in the fourth quarter.

Anthony Morrow, who eclipsed his season-high point total through just three quarters, had a big game, scoring 30 points and shooting 4-of-5 from three-point range. Brook Lopez scored 26 points, while Kris Humphries recorded his 29th double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

New Jersey established a double-digit lead early in the second quarter. Humphries had 11 rebounds within the first 17 minutes, and the Nets were playing with a passion and desire not seen since Williams last played.

The Nets scored 68 points in the first half, which is the most they’ve scored in a half all season.

The Knicks closed out the first half trailing by 10. Anthony, Stoudemire and Billups combined to score 50 of New York’s 58 first half points.

The Knicks had all the momentum early in the second half, as Anthony began to take over. A 10-0 run brought the Knicks to within one.

The Nets, however, answered with three-straight three-pointers—two from Williams and one from Morrow—to push the lead back to 10.

Anthony’s 20-point third quarter allowed the Knicks to close out the third quarter down only one.

The fourth quarter saw back-and-forth lead changes, but the Knicks established a five-point lead with just over six minutes to play.

Williams began taking over, as his three-point played tied the game at 107. The Nets pushed their lead to three, but Billups answered with three clutch free-throws to once again tie the score.

After a full minute of no scoring, Anthony drilled a pull-up jumper with 1:08 to go, giving the Knicks a two-point lead.

Down by two, the Nets opted not to foul with less than 30 seconds remaining. Though known for his great closing ability, Melo missed a jumper that would have iced the game, which left the Nets down two with 8.3 seconds to go.

However, New Jersey could not capitalize, as Williams missed a 15-footer. Billups made both free throws on the other end to quell the Nets’ hopes of a miraculous comeback.

Though they had a breakout offensive performance collectively, the Nets let a win slip right out of their hands.

New Jersey returns to the court Friday evening when it travels to Philadelphia to take on Andre Iguodala and the 76ers.

Categories: NBA

Mo Cassara – From the Anonymous Head Coach to the Social Media Superstar

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

New York – When Mo Cassara joined up with former Hofstra Men’s Basketball head coach Tim Welsh last spring, he was looking for new opportunities and a fresh start. In less than a month, Cassara went from being the man behind the curtains to the star of the show.

The one-time assistant coach at Boston University had barely been able to unpack his luggage when he received the news that Welsh would be stepping down due to a DUI charge and that he would be the new leader of the Hofstra Pride.

A stranger to the team and the campus, Cassara was able to create a social media revolution that has evolved into a successful recruitment tool and enlivened an entire student body.

With the changing of technology, Cassara has set the bar of communication to a whole new level through outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. “You don’t have to tack a sign on a door anymore to gain attention” said Cassara. “I don’t have the experience that some of the guys in our league have, so I am going to give this a little flare”.

For Cassara, a “little flare” consists of having 1,500 friends on Facebook and 1,000 followers on Twitter with over 2,600 tweets. “Yesterday I was recruiting in Philadelphia and I was responding to messages for two hours” not only with athletes, but also students.

Cassara has used these mediums to speak to recruits and gain an upper-hand on his rivals around the league, who have not fully grasped their importance.

In what seemed like an impossible feat, Coach Mo was able to create a relationship with highly coveted recruit Malik Nichols. Nichols not only suffered from a speech impediment, but also had emotional issues, losing his high school head coach to suicide and his mother to a heart attack at age 17. Every morning, he would send Nichols a message as soon as he woke up, making it possible to build an unbreakable bond. “It was really hard to talk to him on the phone” said Cassara. “There is no other head coach sending this kid a facebook message at six o’clock in the morning…that is the stuff that you have to do sometimes.” Nichols will be attending Hofstra this upcoming fall and begin his college basketball journey.

Given the chance, Cassara has made the most so far out of his short time as head coach of the Pride. He has revitalized basketball and looks for new ways to interact not only with student athletes, but also with the general student body. From a time when Cassara could walk across the entire campus without being recognized, he has transformed into the notorious social media celebrity that everyone has come to know and support.

Categories: College Sports