Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 33
 
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

CROWNED AGAIN: Shahid Abdul-Karim of George’s Roasters and Ribs/Ivy Inn handles the ball last week in the best-of-three championship series of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s League. Abdul-Karim’s unflappable play at point guard helped George’s top Northwestern Financial 58-50 last Friday to win Game 3 of the series and the title. Abdul-Karim, a former hoops star at Princeton High and Springfield College, has now been on six championship teams in Rec Department summer league play.

Abdul-Karim Proves To Be Valuable Addition as George’s Prevails in Summer Hoops League

Bill Alden

Shahid Abdul-Karim headed in a new direction this past February when he entered the Cape May Police Academy.

In pursuing the law enforcement training, Abdul-Karim left behind a teaching job at Princeton High and his post as an assistant boys’ basketball coach at the school.

Accordingly, the former basketball star at Springfield College and longtime standout in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s League left hoops on hold as he plunged himself into the rigorous curriculum of the academy.

But while at the academy, Abdul-Karim got a proposal that sent him down a new path once the summer hoops season rolled around.

“Bobby was in the class before me at the academy and he gave me a call,” recalled Abdul-Karim, referring to Bobby Davison, a former PHS and College of New Jersey basketball star who is the driving force behind the George’s Roasters and Ribs/Ivy Inn entry in the summer hoops league.

“He said ‘hey, we need a guard.’ I’ve known Bobby since we were in high school and I was happy to play for a team like this.”

Abdul-Karim said yes to Davison and last Friday night that decision paid dividends as George’s topped Northwestern Financial 58-50 to win the league’s best-of-three championship series 2-1.

The unflappable Abdul-Karim played a big role in the win, capably running George’s offense from his point guard spot and draining six free throws in the last minute of the contest.

In the raucous celebration that followed on the Community Park courts, Abdul-Karim acknowledged that it took him a little while to get in sync with his new teammates.

“I was coming in a little rusty; I hadn’t played since I went down to the academy in February,” said Abdul-Karim, who had played for Where2Ball.com the previous two summers and had stints with The Cafe, Tiger’s Tale, and George’s.

“It took a little time. This is not my team. Bobby has been with this team and a lot of the guys played with him at TCNJ. I just wanted to come in and play my role to the best of my ability.”

As the summer went on, Abdul-Karim embraced his supporting role with George’s.

“I don’t have a problem not being the go-to guy which I was for Where2Ball and just being someone who gets someone else the ball,” said Abdul-Karim. “It’s a very unselfish team.”

Coming into Friday’s finale, Abdul-Karim and his teammates knew they had to play together to overcome Northwestern, which had rallied to a 36-35 win last Wednesday to force the decisive Game 3.

“We definitely let game two slip away; we had opportunities at the end to win the game,” said Abdul-Karim.

“I would say that coming into this game everybody was really mad. We all played college ball; we all have experience. We all know what to do in terms of buckling down and getting everything going. We were all focused coming into this game.”

Despite that focus, George’s had to overcome a six-point second half deficit and the sizzling shooting of Northwestern star Derick Grant to earn the title.

“We always said Derick is going to get his points; it’s a matter of not letting anybody else go off,” said Abdul-Karim of Grant, who poured in a game-high 24 points on the evening.

“In game two, we let Derick get some points and we let Christian Burns get some points and that was the difference. In this game, we did a better job shutting other people down.”

In the title game. Abdul-Karim’s clutch free throw shooting down the stretch made a big difference for George’s.

“I don’t mind going to the line, if you are going to be on the floor, you gotta be able to go to the line, if need be,” asserted Abdul-Karim.

“I’ve been there before so it was a walk through the park for me to ice the game. I wasn’t nervous at all; it was routine pretty much.”

For Abdul-Karim, there was nothing routine about playing on his sixth title-winning team in the summer league.

“Everybody on the team was excited to get out here and play,” said Abdul-Karim, who has also helped Where2Ball, The Cafe and Tiger’s Tale to league crowns.

“It’s good because we know we all want to win. Everybody is on the same page. It was a real unselfish team; everybody knows their role.”

And with Abdul-Karim embracing his new role, George’s ended up writing a championship story.

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