By Jim Whelan
Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
The old English physicist Sir Isaac did not have sports in mind when that theory was conceived, but it still can fit.
Last year Linden had the horses to win a state championship and played a burly out-of-conference schedule which included Group I State Champ Newark Science High School, St. Benedict’s Prep, St. Anthony, Bishop Laughlin of Brooklyn, St. Dominic on Long Island, Mount Vernon and Oak Hill Academy.
“I am not afraid to schedule a loss; that is how I approach coaching,” exclaimed Linden coach Phil Colicchio. “When Jamaal Tate was a senior, we played in a tournament against a team from Connecticut. He had a monster game and Monday morning my phone was ringing off the hook — that’s why I play the schedule I do.” Tate ended up at Penn State and this philosophy is working for Colicchio as he closes on 250 wins at the Union County school.
It was unfortunate that Colicchio’s Linden Tigers had an untimely academic tutoring issue involving two key players last season. “The kids learned a valuable lesson that academics come first,” said the Tigers head coach.
The Tigers came together as a unit with the doctrine of “the next man up” to salvage the rest of the season. Linden made it to the Frank Cicarell Union County Finals and lost to St. Pat’s 36-49 in a slow defensive contest. The Tigers had to play hard to qualify for the state tournament. There, they ousted Watchung Conference rival Union on a dramatic last second shot by 6’6 Tevin Calhoun. The Tigers’ season was ended by Plainfield in the G4N2 semi-finals.
“Our teams are always looking to compete,” Colicchio said.
The “action” – the loss of players because of the academic tutoring issue – caused the “reaction” to the style of play of the team and the some players. One player that can into his own during the Tigers time of need was 6’1 guard Quadeer Lewis.
“Without David [Bruce] clogging up the middle, [Lewis] has been driving the lane and playing his butt off,” Colicchio said. Lewis averaged 17 points as junior last season. Players like Trell Myers, Jarrett Calhoun, Bryan Glinsky also gained valuable varsity floor time with the loss of Bruce and Elijah Hodge.
Starting his 14th season at Linden, Colicchio’s Tigers were undefeated after winning the BUC Classic in Little Silver. The Tigers defeated Nottingham of Trenton, Bayonne, and Pennsauken to take the crown. Lewis had a solid tourney and averaged 15 points per game and Colicchio’s club asserted a balanced guard dominant attack. Juniors Jaurice Jones and re-emergent Elijah Hodge lead the Tigers in keeping the floor balanced.
A modest Coach Colicchio won’t take all the credit. “It’s not just me, it’s the players and it’s the program.” replied Colicchio. “I have the two best assistants too with Marty Luc and Danny DelValle who come up with the game plan and run the practice to help us achieve our goals.”
This year’s schedule is not as tricky but still presents a good challenge. St Anthony is still on the schedule (away, Feb.15), along with Paramus Catholic (home, Jan.12), Bayonne (home, Jan. 23), and Irvington (away, Union/Essex Challenge Jan. 16). The Tigers can’t forget about powerhouse Watchung Division rivals Plainfield, Union, Elizabeth, Westfield, and Scotch Plains either.
Coach C will have the Linden boys ready to compete.
2010 Linden Tigers Roster
Seniors: Quadeer Lewis, Trell Myers, Jarrett Calhoun, Shaquille Mitchell, Bryan Glinsky, Curtis Lowery, Anthony Wellington, Bart Gallo Juniors: Elijah Hodge, Jaurice Jones, Steve Carvabali, Rodney Sanders, Jeff Knight, Ivn Sharif, Justin Phillippe Sophomore: Shakir Phelps
Jim Whelan can be reached at email@example.com
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