Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 24
 
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

THE HEAT IS ON: George’s Roasters and Ribs guard Brian Halligan, left, heads to the hoop in action last season in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League championship series. Halligan was named as the playoff MVP as George’s won the series 2-1 over Cool Runnings to take its second straight league title. George’s will be in a hunt for a three-peat as the summer league tips off its 22nd season this Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts.

Drawing Strength From Sense of Continuity, Summer Men’s Hoops Starting 22nd Season

Bill Alden

Not a lot has changed around the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League since last year and that is a good thing.

As the league tips off its 22nd season this Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts, it will again feature nine teams, including such stalwarts as two-time defending league champs George’s Roasters and Ribs along with Dr. Palmer/Sportsmedicine and Princeton Youth Sports.

The league’s continuity is a source of strength. “It means we are doing something right,” said longtime league commissioner Ben Stentz in reflecting on the league’s health. “We are in excellent shape.”

In Stentz’s view, George’s has an excellent chance to make it a title three-peat.

“They have won it the last two years and I think they need to win three times in a row to be a dynasty,” said Stentz of the team that is being led again by former Princeton High and College of New Jersey standout Bobby Davison and will feature Scott Findlay, Brian Halligan, Mark Aziz, and another former PHS standout Shahid Abdul-Karim.

“It is pretty much the same team. Bobby Davison told me they have added a few new players including a guy who played at Lafayette.”

While George’s has plenty of talent, it is the club’s competitive will that has made it so formidable in the playoffs.

“It is like the old Tiger’s Tale team, they have figured out the kind of players they need to be successful in this league,” added Stentz, who works as a Program Supervisor for the Rec Department.

“They have developed a toughness so even when they aren’t playing well, they expect to win.”

George’s could face a tough challenge from a new entry in the league, University Radiological Group which features a group of former PHS stars.

“They have been out of Princeton High for a year or are about to graduate,” said Stentz.

“They have guys like Brian Dunlap, DeQuan Holman, and A.J. Dowers plus Skye Ettin, Thatcher Foster, Josh Gordon, and Jordan Metro. I think they have a chance to be pretty good. They had a pretty good chemistry when they went to the sectional final two years ago. All of these guys have played in the summer league and they know what it’s about.”

Another team that could be a force in the league this summer is The Princeton Sports Bar and Grill, which formerly played under the name of Hilton Realty.

“They have added Al Jerido; they had good size but needed a B+, A- guard,” asserted Stentz.

“With them getting Al, I think they can challenge George’s. Al is like a jet; he can score in bunches.”

Other challengers could include Dr. Palmer and SMB, which has been revived with a group featuring relatives of the original club under that name.

“Dr. Palmer is never an easy out,” added Stentz. “SMB has Lucious Kirkley and Colin Kirkley who are related to Clarence who was with the earlier SMB team which had Keith Jones and Harold Driver. I made them check with their forefathers. They said they will be coming around and hoping they will be good.”

The Princeton Youth Sports entry, which features current PHS hoops players, should provide its foes with some good fights.

“Princeton Youth Sports has some good young players,” asserted Stentz. “They are going to be tough if a team takes them lightly. Jason (PHS head coach Jason Carter) gets them to fight and compete.”

Stentz sees BLK and the Pennsylvania Blue Devils as dark horses. “BLK (formerly Blackrock) had a tough year last year but they always have some good shooters,” said Stentz.

“Their issue has been getting people to show up. People will be making a mistake if they think the Blue Devils are just average. They have some young guys playing in D-3 college programs; they are in prime basketball shape.”

A wild card is new entry, Running Rebels. “I don’t know a lot about their team; it is based out of Hillsborough,” said Stentz.

“This is a tough league for a new team; there is a steep learning curve. If you stick around, you figure out how things go and what kind of players you need.”

Stentz is feeling the annual buzz that comes as the summer campaign approaches and people try to figure out what’s going on with the league.

“People are coming in and asking what did you hear about this team or that team,” said Stentz. “While basketball gets the attention, it’s the community involvement that is most important. That’s what this is all about.”

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