Friday, January 02, 2009


by Zach Smart

When Bobby Gonzalez exited Manhattan College, a torrent of talent went with him.

Gonzalez, who now coaches at Seton Hall, was at the helm during Manhattan College’s version of Pax Romana. During this prosperous hoops era, Gonzalez elevated a team caught in the trenches of obscurity and got them some national visibility.

He scoured hoop hotbeds for top-flight recruits and the Jaspers went 129-77 under Gonzalez’ reign.

Bobby G’s stay at Riverdale was underscored by two NCAA tournament berths and a thrilling upset over then No.5-ranked Florida in the opening round.

One trio of Gonzalez recruits now playing under different systems are C.J. Anderson (Xavier), C.J. Lee (Michigan), and Providence’s Jeff Xavier.

All three made the decision to fill out transfer waivers after their coach took the Seton Hall job. Now fifth-year seniors, all three players have wood-cut a niche for themselves in their respective programs.

Lee, who plays second fiddle to one of the best players in the nation in Michigan guard Manny Harris. Lee recently told the New York Post that he couldn’t have asked for a better decision his early departure from Riverdale.

Jaspet Living Michigan Dream

Lee, a Pittsford, N.Y. native, is content with being relegated to cheerleader role, though he does get his occasional burn. Still, he’s playing on a team that’s put itself on the map this year and is the embodiment of a “rather look bad and win than look good and lose player” that’s talked of in White Men Can’t Jump.

Anderson and Xavier, however, have been significant cogs on both Xavier and Providence. Anderson, guy the Jaspers looked to in crunch time, is averaging 10.8 points and 5.3 points for the formidable, no.2 Muskateers.

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For Xavier, Gonzalez’ departure essentially presented a detour back to his old stomping grounds. The Pawtucket, R.I. native starred at St. Raphael Academy, where he averaged 28 points as a junior and 26 as a senior.

He stamped his imprint his senior year, being named to the all-tournament team at the prestigious National Prep Showcase and being named 2004 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Rhode Island.

This season, Xavier is an elderstatesman for a team striving for a tournament bid in perhaps the nation’s toughest conference. Xavier has been feast or famine shooting the ball, shooting 38-for-115 from the floor. He’s hit just 18-for-76 from the perimeter.

Xavier erupted during an early-season drubbing of Maine, canning 5-for-10 from three-point land and scoring 23 points. In other games, however, Xavier has disappeared into the fray and become a non-factor.

The streaky shootist broke out of a paltry 4-for-23 funk with 15 and 16 point showings against Jackson State and Boston College, respectively.

In the Friars’ recent win over St. John’s, Xavier played a solid all-around game. He hauled down six boards and handed out six assists, but he shot just 2-for-8 for five points.

After averaging 12.8 points last season, Xavier’s numbers are down. With the emergence of Marshon Brooks, however, the Providence offense has become more well-balanced. Still, Xavier will need to get back into his quick-strike sniping ways if he’s to morph back into the X-factor.

You know, the one that Bobby Gonzalez once actively pursued out of Rhode Island back in 2004?



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