While the rivalry is no where near the same plane as Calhoun/Calipari, St. John’s coach Norm Roberts and Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez are traditionally engaged in a battle.
I’m talking beyond the two times a year the teams meet in conference play.
A science that is light years from exact, RECRUITING has built up continuous competition for the two Big East game generals.
Both coaches shoulder the onus of head vender on a 24-hour, 365 days a year schedule.
They scour the New York/New Jersey landscape for talent, seeking to sell young stallions on their respective hardwood homes.
The two coaches are spotted at the same events, blazing the recruiting trail for a handful of the same players.
They'll sit down in living rooms and talk with the same parents, pepper recruits with a barrage of similar questions, and essentially use the same exact branding campaign slogan: "Stay local."
“We’re going to try to recruit the best kids in New York no matter what,” explained Roberts, who may find himself on the hot seat next season.
Roberts received a major off-season boost when 6-foot-4 New York guard Omari Lawrence committed in late August, following a visit to the urban, Queens, N.Y. campus.
Roberts also did a commendable job in getting pitbull guard Malik Stith to pen.
To read an exclusive mano y mano interview with Stith, a Long Island native, please click on the link below!!!
“We’re always going to try to (recruit locally). The key is, the kids are not always going to stay home. I think people tend to forget that they don’t look at it from the opposite side. You know, sometimes kids that live in a rural area will say, ‘I’m sick of living in this rural, country area. I want to go somewhere in the metropolitan area.’ Sometimes you have the city kids say, ‘I’m sick of living in the city, I want to go somewhere else.’ And that’s what happens."
Roberts continued, "What we’ve got to do, is get the guys that are the best, the guys that want to stay home, that want to be here and make them as good as they can possibly be.”
Roberts and Gonzalez have been living two different lives the past few years.
At St. John’s, students are demanding more change than Barack Obama.
The Johnnies loyalists (well, the ones that are left) have called for Roberts’ job since the beginning of the season.
Even while St. John’s reeled off nine wins in their first 12 games of the 2008-09 campaign, students erupted with relentless “Fire Norm!” chants.
Of course, the teams they were playing during this early season, pre-Big East slate weren't exactly the cream of the crop.
Harkening back on it, the Johnnies have never reaped the benefits of a schedule as challenging as catching a date via Myspace.com.
At least UConn and Syracuse have SOME barometer games before the Big East slate opens up.
A Google search of “Fire Norm Roberts,” yields an eye-popping 532,000 results.
On the other side of the mountain, Bobby Gonzalez has won over a fan base that Louis Orr punch a plane, train or bus ticket out of town.
Bobby G brought in a scoring machine in go-to-guy Jeremy Hazell (22.8 ppg), a Harlem native. Robert Mitchell (14.3 ppg) and Eugene Harvey (12.6 ppg, 4.7 apg) hail from Brooklyn.
Today, SEVERAL PLAYERS BEING RECRUITED BY BOTH ROBERTS AND BOBBY G honed their skills at the St. John's elite camp.
Among these players is highly-touted New Jersey recruit Kyrie Irving. Irving, listed as a top-five Class of 2010 point guard by various recruiting services, is on the radar.
He's being actively pursued by a laundry-list of major Division-I programs.
Indiana, Duke, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Texas A & M, Villanova, and Virginia have all offered scholarships to the electrifying kid from Elizabeth St. Patrick High.
J.J. Moore, a 6-foot-5 small forward from Brentwood High is also being hounded by the recruiting rivals.
Moore, he of the springy bounce and long range shooting, plays for the NY Panthers on the AAU circuit.
To read about this event, please check out Jeff Borzello's article by clicking on the link below: