Q&A with Friar Legend Jamel Thomas

Our thanks to Jamel for taking a few minutes to answer some questions.

For those unfamiliar, Jamel played at PC from 1995-99 and went on to play professionally (NBA & overseas) for 10 years.  In his senior year as a Friar, Jamel led the Big East in scoring and was named to the 1st team All Big-East.

We, at Big East Hoops 24/7, caught up with Jamel recently to get his thoughts on a few topics. Here you go:

BEH 24/7: Name your starting 5 of the Big East players you competed against.

Jamel: “My starting five that I’ve played against is John Wallace, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kerry Kittles and Victor Page”


BEH 24/7: What is your favorite moment from your playing days at PC?

Jamel: “Favorite was the NCAA Tourney. I loved the fact coach Gillen let his dogs loose[lol]. We played without any worries.”


 BEH 24/7: Are you able to appreciate all of your accomplishments looking back after all of these years?

Jamel: “Of course I appreciate my accomplishments. Everything I’ve experienced I’ve passed down to my brothers Sebastian and Ethan. I needed to be that role model for them so they know chasing the dream is possible.”


BEH 24/7: Do you keep in contact with any former teammates or guys you competed against?

Jamel: “Yes I keep in contact with mostly all my guys from PC. Duane Woodward and Tyrone Grant are my guys since we were 13-15 years old. One thing about me is that I stay connected with my friends and family.”


BEH 24/7: PC, UMass, Seton Hall and Villanova were all recruiting you (to name a few) what did you like about PC?

Jamel: “Mostly all the schools that were recruiting me wanted me to play power forward especially Umass. They wanted me to replace Lou Roe. My high school coach Bobby Harstein told them I’m more of a small forward than a power forward. So coach Gonz was the most influential coach for me to go there. Once he said that he was going to get Derrick Brown to play at PC I was all in and then he added Shammgod. It was like a dream come true. That’s what I liked about PC, I had good friends to play alongside of me.  Once I got there I met some amazing people like professors, students and people in the city of providence. Providence College is a great school to go to academically and of course athletic wise.”Jamel thomas


BEH 24/7: Where do you see Kris Dunn going in the NBA draft?

Jamel: “I’m biased, I always thought Shammgod was the best point guard to come out of Providence but what Kris Dunn is doing is unbelievable. Shamm is doing a hell of a job teaching and working with [Kris] every day. And that’s what Shamm and I are about, producing players that can be potentially better than us. He’s doing it with Dunn and I’ve done it with my brothers and kids I train.  So right now I have Kris going #1 in the draft.”


Thanks again to Jamel for the input.  You can follow him on Twitter @JAMEL530 and Instagram @JAMEL530 where you can purchase gear related to his book “A Beautiful Struggle”.  Jamel also has a new book coming out soon!


Guest Blog: Friars v Crimson. Some Questions Getting Answered ?

Providence Rhode Island 11/14/2015, the Friars kicked off their season at home last night against Harvard. There has been a lot of angst in Friar Town since last year’s NCAA loss to Dayton. With the loss of the graduating seniors and transfers of Tyler Harris and Pascal Chukwu the team entered this season with lots of questions regarding their size and how they will replace the departing offense of Ladontae Henton and the rim protection of Carson Desrosiers. While some of these questions will take time to answer, there were things that started to come into focus.  Kris Dunn will be a dominant player on both ends of the court.  He will control the game’s tempo and create scoring opportunities in the half court and his defense will create many open court scoring chances.  Dunn is the best “on ball” defender the Friars have had since John Linehan and his ability to get into passing lanes is uncanny. Kris Dunn was not one of the questions Friartown had coming into the season.  Who will pick up for the loss of Henton?  The preseason buzz was about the talent and skills of Rodney Bullock.  Bullock was reportedly leading the team in scoring in Italy last summer before getting injured and missing the season. Andy Katz reported that Ed Cooley stated he wouldn’t be surprised if Bullock leads the Big East in scoring.  Friar fans may not expect him to lead the conference in scoring but they can expect him to fill a lot of the scoring void left by the departures of Henton and Harris.  Bullock showed a smooth unforced ability to score the basketball.  When he scored on the first possession of the game you could feel the crowd cheer and exhale simultaneously.

demello w mascot

Another question fans have been asking is who will stretch the defense and open the floor for Dunn. There were times last year that Jalen Lindsey looked like he would be the sharp shooting deep threat the Friars needed to extend defenses and there were times when he looked timid and gun-shy.  Lindsey did not dress for the game last night due to “a violation of team policies”.  Freshman Ryan Fazekas stepped into the starting lineup and proved to be some of the things Lindsay wasn’t. He made a 3 point basket the first time he shot the ball and his 5 attempts from beyond the arc tied with Ben Bentil for the team lead.  Fazekas looked like a shooter not shying away after a couple of misses and his height should allow him to get shots off over what will most likely be smaller men guarding him.  The Friars do not have the same team height around the rim that they played with last year.  After losing two 7-footers this off season the Friars will have to defend and rebound differently than they did last year.  Without a true “rim protector” the defense will have to rely on ball pressure and while last night’s opponent was not a good barometer for how much success they will have on the defensive end we did get a glimpse of their length on the perimeter.  Paint protection and rebounding will be a question to be answered at a later time.  The student section was full and loud.  Was this a product of opening night and the tee shirt giveaway or have the students embraced this team and the hype around its best player?  This question will be answered later this season but for now it was a good to see the turnout as “The Dunk” can be a quiet venue at times and the students’ can really make a difference in the atmosphere.

Steve @fallriverfriar DeMello

EXCLUSIVE: Former Hoya captain Gene Smith gives BigEastHoops24/7 his take on Hoyas v. Orange rivalry in early 80’s


Hoyas vs. Orangemen:  The Rivalry That Defined the Big East

Blog submission by Gene Smith:  NCAA National Champion in ’84, and Captain of the ‘83 and ‘84 Georgetown Hoyas.

Rivalries create legends, legends create history” –Ancient Greek Proverb

On December 5, 2015, the Georgetown Hoyas and the Syracuse Orangemen will renew their storied, legendary rivalry. I played my part in this history from 1980-1984.  Eleven times during this stretch, we Hoyas balled hard to a 7-4 record.

Let’s look back for a moment to the inaugural Big East season in 1979-1980 that set-off this rivalry.  Big John’s famous words “Manley Field House is officially closed “, punctuated the end of the Orangemen’s home-court win streak of 57 straight victories.  In that same year the Hoyas again beat the Orange in the Big East tournament finals 87-81, led by tourney MVP Craig Shelton.  Of the 90 times these two teams have played, no set of games looms larger than those two back-to-back defeats.  It was clear during that season that there was no love lost.

The intensity only escalated when in the ‘80-‘81 season the Orangemen, in the new 35,000 seat Carrier Dome, hosted the 2nd Big East tournament championship battle.  Syracuse beat out Villanova 83-80 in OT, with Leo Rautins tourney MVP.

In my four years, we played the Orangemen 3 times in the Big East tournament and the Hoyas came out of it with a 1-2 record.  In ‘81 they bounced us out in the semis 67-53 on the way to the title; in the ’82 finals we beat Villanova 72-54; in ‘83 the Orange bounced us out again 79-72 in the quarters; and in the ‘84 Big East championship OT game at MSG we added some not needed fuel to this rivalry, winning 82-71.

Syracuse appeared to have the game sealed, and all of the momentum and brilliance of Pearl Washington was on full display. There was a mix-up that involved Michael Graham and Andre Hawkins.  The referee initially signaled for Graham’s ejection but after review, a flagrant foul was given and the game continued with both teams even more dug-in and focused.

We, the Hoya guards, took the Pearl challenge very seriously.  We were defense 1st team and that dog in me had rubbed off on our guard Corps.  My 25 minutes played that game were dedicated to making the Pearl work. We had swept them in the regular season that year, so this game was the challenge all ballers wanted.

On the last play of regulation, Syracuse had the ball and either Sean Kerins or Wendell Alexis inbounded the ball.  I blanketed Pearl like a cornerback.  He did not see or touch the ball. Kerins missed from the corner in regulation, and the rest is history.

Syracuse’s Coach Boeheim went ballistic after the game screaming “the best team did not win tonight”. The rivalry just got reheated.

It was only fitting that in 2013 the Big East, as we knew it with the core members still intact, featured the Hoyas vs. the Orangemen in the semi-finals at MSG.  Of course the game went into OT.  In their Big East swan song, the Orangemen exacted some revenge and bounced the Hoyas 58-55. The Orangemen went on to lose in the finals to non-original Big East member Louisville 78-61, prompting most to say the semi-final game between the Hoyas and the Orangemen was the real finale. I was fortunate to be at MSG that night and bumped into multiple Orangemen, most notably Pearl.  We shook hands, took a picture for a fan, and kept it moving (no selfie). Rivalry personified.

You can follow Gene Smith on Twitter @gsmit8

Check out the below podcast link to hear Gene Smith talk about the 1984 Final Four.


Commentary: NBA players rapping almost never works, so why do so many keep trying?

Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Kevin Durant, Gary Payton, Brian Shaw, Dana Barros, Dennis Scott, Malik Sealy, Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Isaiah Rider, Tony Parker, Iman Shumpert, Damian Lillard and, of course…Shaq have made rap singles and in some cases, entire albums.

Here, we aim to explore the finer points of 5 additional NBA rappers & their songs that warrant commentary.

#5:  Cedric Ceballos, Flow On from the 1994 album “BBall’s Best Kept Secret” (featuring Warren G)

Surprisingly good.  Yes, he takes the rather obvious approach of weaving basketball into the song and video but he pulls it off.  A graduate of Cal St. Fullerton, Ced spent 10 yrs in the NBA as a player but after retirement was hired by the Phoenix Suns as their in-arena emcee.  CC prob could have had a full career in music if that whole basketball thing didn’t happen.

#4: Joe Smith, Heart of a Lion from the 2009 album “The Beginning”

Surprisingly not awful.  Although not flawlessly executed, Joe scores bonus points for degree of difficulty by choosing such a rapid pace.  This could have gone horribly wrong for him…instead it was just good enough to avoid national ridicule which, frankly, should be the goal of all these guys.

#3:  Chris Webber, Gangsta Gangsta from the 1999 album “2 much drama” (featuring Kurupt)

Not surprisingly, it’s bad. Somewhere between calling a phantom time-out and calling games on TNT, this happened.  Not horrific…but just not for him.  Those flailing arms fail to keep the proper rhythm and he’s talking about babysitters and lettuce and whatnot.  Nice try but thank you for stopping.

#2: Jason Kidd, What the Kidd Did from the 1994 album “BBall’s Best Kept Secret” (featuring Money B)

Predictably awful. The breathy-whisper approach may have worked w/ a few ladies over the years but it’s creeps me out in a rap song.  Secondly, using his last name as a play on words in the song and the title is the most unimaginative move in the history of sound.  We’d all be better off if What the Kidd Did was not rap.

#1: Delonte West, Livin Life Fast from the 2011 album “The Lockout”

Oh boy.  This would be an example of that whole ‘national ridicule’ thing if he were a bit more famous but most casual bball fans only know him as the guy with neck-tats who has OCD and banged LeBron’s mom.  Easily the scariest thing about this…it was just 4 yrs ago. Many of these other mis-guided rap songs/vids can be laughed off as “back in the day” kind of stuff.  Not this one. While high and playing video games at Fuddruckers they thought…hey let’s shoot a rap video.  Really Livin the Fast Life at the arcade bruh.

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In-depth Analysis: Chris Obekpa’s shorts. Questions in need of answers.

Baby tigers, blocked shots and short shorts.  That’s how teammate D’angelo Harrison describes Chris Obekpa.  As “C.O.” becomes known around the NCAA for being the shot blocker with the short shorts, we felt the need to answer the burning question, “just how short are C.O.’s shorts?”

According to his teammates, sometimes he takes regular shorts and rolls them up, other times he wears a legitimately undersized pair.  Either way there’s a lot of man-thigh showing so let’s compare his naked quads to some legendary nut-hugger wearing players from the 80’s.

* side note: Obekpa is listed at 6’9″ so for fairness, we chose 2 comparative players also listed at 6’9″.  this matters b/c in adults, the femur (thighbone) is the largest bone in the body and accounts for 26.7% of a person’s height, on average.

obekpa with bird and magic take 2

So clearly in this pic, Magic & Bird are wearing legit tighties while C.O. has on the more blousy, rolled-up version.  In this case, with all 3 players standing relatively still, the best look goes to Obekpa mainly b/c of the extra space in the crotch-area.  A little extra thigh is ok as long as it’s not accompanied by and outline of your onions.

obekpa and birdobekpa and magic

In a jumping motion, C.O. fares well again.  Bird has a little bulge happening there which nobody needs to see.  And we’re dangerously close to seeing Magic’s family jewels on the far right.

The scientific rigor of this analysis may be skewed by 2 uncontrollable variables:

1. Magic’s kneepads cover some lower-thigh giving a possible illusion of less exposure.

2. Chris & Larry have thinner legs and “hind-quarters” than Earvin therefore taking up less real-estate inside those trunks.

The verdict:  Obekpa must stick with the rolled-up, blousy version of his daisy-dukes. This will help him play his best, still market himself as the short-shorts guy but avoids the bananna-hammock issue.

And if Chris gets carried away with this, and needs an intervention, the content below should fix it.

obekpa with richard simmons

Follow @BigEastTourney for more hard-hitting analysis of these critical issues

Best Tweet–Worst Tweet: Cheick Diallo NOT going to St. John’s

This was crappy news for the Big East since Diallo chose Kansas so there are no “best tweets” this time…chose the 2 worst tweets.

#2  Obnoxious overuse of a descriptive noun

diallo 4 motors

For the love of Christ, enough.  He has a lot of energy…fantastic.  How about flexing your journalistic thesaurus with descriptors like ‘work ethic’, ‘drive’, ‘persistence’ etc. rather than repeating buzz words.  Ugh.  Annoying just writing about it.

#1 Oh, Fran…don’t.

Diallo worst tweet

Thought Fran was ok dude…til this.  When you crowbar “just got back from a run” into a tweet you’ve entered hardo land.  You have a mere 140 characters to comment on Diallo’s new home and you spend the first 24 of them pumping up your own schmenzer while concurrently attempting to make us feel like slobs?  ZERO reason for that info.  100% irrelevant to the topic. This is bad.  His PR guy should go nuclear and pull the “Fran’s account got hacked” defense to try and save a little face.  Brutal…gives me douche-chills just thinking about it.

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UPDATED: 12 best (worst) of Joey Crawford. #11 is new.

Watching Joey Crawford putter up/down the floor during 2015 NBA playoffs inspired me to re-visit his work.  Now attempting the impossible; determining which moments are douchier than others for this angry little troll.  New set of batteries in the douche-meter so here goes:

#12  Down Goes Crawford (Pt 1)

One of the funniest but only scores 5 on the douche-meter.  If he didn’t run like such a douche he would have scored a 0.  He owns some of this.

#11 Down goes Crawford (pt 2)

From 2015 playoffs. This is becoming a bit too common, no?  At what point do we get this guy a walker?  Very funny but only slightly douchey.  Another 5 on the scale.

#10 Joey impersonates Ed Grimley

Also, funny but not overly douchey.  Just a little excessive enthusiasm.  Douche-meter reads 6.

#9 Joey gets in the way…Part I

First rule of officiating is to stay out of the way.  If you’re too old, fat & slow to run your “ref lane assignments” then realize it & jog down while out of bounds.  Douchometer 6.5

#8 Twinkletoes Crawford

Way to make yourself the focal point Jo-Craw.  Your excessive enthusiasm mixed with your douchiness and the result was both funny and cringe-worthy.  Douche score 7.

#7 Joey woke up with a thick hair stretched firmly across his ass

Not sure exactly what Bargnani said, but I’ll bet I’ve said much worse to the checkout lady at the supermarket & she takes it in stride like a champ.  Significantly impacting the game b/c your in a bad mood. Your random irritability earned you 7.3 douche-points on this one, Joe.

#6 Hardo move of the month

This was on pace to be an all time douche move…until he said ‘thank you’ then grabbed his nuts.  That helped keep this one down to a 7.5

#5 Joey gets in the way…Part II

In the Redick one…Joey was just to fat & slow to get out of the way, here he still has enough juice to move but chooses to pirouette off Curry’s hip rather than slow-up.  Big difference leading to an 8 on the douche scores.

#4 Joey ignores video evidence, ejects Taj Gibson w/ flagrant-2

Nothing Joey loves more than determining outcome of NBA games.  Another ref was right on top of this but noooo…Joey has to come puttering in to take over from 40 ft away.  Anyone thinking video replay of Dellavedova’s initial leg-lock causing Gibson’s kick would change Joey’s megalomaniacal mind was mistaken.  Ejecting Taj with a flagrant-2 for a relatively mild response to Dellavedova’s actions is the most Joey Crawford move in the history of Joey Crawford moves. Douche-factor 8.5

#3 Joey piques

Little tense today Joe?  The rod up his ass has a rod up it’s ass.  Ejecting a future HOF’er for laughing on the bench has the douche-o-meter pegging  9.

#2 Hardo move of the year

Just a straight up hardo, asshole, douchebag move berating a mop guy in public.  9.5

#1 The worst

So…if you’re too top-heavy to stop and bump a player out of bounds, just call a foul on the guy nearest you?  Honestly why not just call Billups for a flagrant 1 while you’re at it…he (you) weren’t making a play on the ball.  He literally shoves Jones out of bounds and immediately points to Billups and says ‘you did that’. The pinnacle of incompetent douchiness.  A perfect 10.

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1984 Hoyas “feeling it” v Kentucky. So were the Fat Boys.

Old sports clips/pics can really take you back.  Old songs can do the same. Combine the two (from the same year) and it’s like hopping in a time machine.

The 1984 Final Four saw 1 seeds Georgetown and Kentucky battling nip and tuck for a trip to the title game.  Until the Hoyas went on a 23-3 run to close out the game in stunning fashion.  Safe to say they were “Feeling it” in the second half:

Coincidentally, 1984 also saw the release of the Fat Boys top single, “Can you feel it?”. Guessing coach Thompson played this for his squad at halftime.  Genius.

5 minutes of funk. VCU buzzer beater. 1984 NCAA tourney. Whodini vs. Peppas ?

Five minutes of funk.  1984, the 6th seeded VCU Rams squared off vs. Reggie Lewis and the Northeastern Huskies in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament.  VCU wins on a Rolando Lamb jumper at the buzzer but the final 5 minutes features Lamb v Lewis in a great back & forth:

Meanwhile in 1984, the Peppas weren’t yet the Peppas we’ve come to know & love but a few hundred miles up rt 95 in Brooklyn, Whodini was releasing their “Escape” album with the classic track “5 minutes of funk”.  Players riding to these games w/ headphones, heads bobbing…yeah, pretty sure this was on repeat mode for most of em:

All of this made us wonder.  The VCU athletic band (Peppas) and bandleader Ryan are known for being unconventional…and they already have a DJ.  Might we hear them play some Whodini at the 2016 Atlantic 10 bball tourney? Imagine the Gold Rush Dancers moving to this?  OMG.

Follow us @BigEastTourney for more of…whatever this kind of stuff is

Top Rap hits –> Top bball recruits to Big East: 1987-88. Word Up.

The Sr. HS class of 1987-88 put several great players into Big East programs, led by the quartet of Mourning, Owens, Sealy & C. Smith.  (UPDATE: Eric Murdock, PC guard)

That same year also saw top hits released by Big Daddy Kane, Eric B & Rakim, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee and Public Enemy.

Old school player bio’s are fun trips down memory lane but we can take an even more vivid visit by linking players to top releases of that year.  Ones they likely had in their cassette decks. (I know we did)

Alonzo Mourning probably practiced those mid-range jumpers to Kool Moe Dee’s release “how you like me now”.  Cool, but with a little attitude…sounds about right.

alonzo mourning

The late Malik Sealy (boogie-down Bronx) may have been drawn to the smooth but powerful style of Big Daddy Kane (Bed-Stuy Brooklyn) who released “the wrath of kane” in 1988 before heading to the Redmen (storm) of St. Johns.

malik sealy 

Chris Smith, the consummate floor leader for Uconn, HAD to like the beat of Eric B and Rakim’s “follow the leader” released earlier that year.  Smith prob got an early copy since his Bridgeport facility was only a short ferry ride across the LI Sound to Eric B/Rakim’s studio in Long Island.

chris smith

Finally, the “chill” nature of one LL Cool J had to appeal to Billy Owens; known to be relatively quiet/relaxed but still dominant on the floor.  “Going back to Cali” was a hit in 87 while Owens was considering “going up to Syracuse”.

billy owens

UPDATE: Eric Murdock (aka the man of steal) was a sophomore at Providence College in 1988 when Public Enemy released “It Takes A Nation of Millions…” album.  Safe to assume the man of steal spent more than a few car rides head-bobbing to P.E.’s classic track “black STEEL in the hour of chaos”.

eric murdock