"I was watching tapes of our games, and it seemed like we weren't playing defense and hustling, and part of me thought it was my fault. Maybe I was getting old," the longtime Judges coach said. "I didn't get a job that I wanted to get at St. John's, and maybe that affected my judgment early in the season."Undefeated at 11-0 in Queens II-A doesn't sound like rock bottom, but in the mind of Naclerio, who watches basketball with the eye of a movie critic, Cardozo wasn't playing with passion, and in non-league losses to Rice and Lincoln they had gotten trounced.So Naclerio instituted a no-hustle, no-play rule last Monday in practice and ran his players as if they were on a track team. The result was a 77-73 upset win over Xaverian Sunday in the Super Six Invitational at Madison Square Garden."He never ran us like that in practice," said Vic Morris, who led Cardozo with 24 points. "He thought that we needed to do something different. When we play good teams, we weren't stepping up. He was trying to get us to play harder."Despite leading 46-31 at the half, Cardozo (16-2) almost lost the game in the final seconds. Xaverian (8-4) cut the lead to a basket with 7.9 seconds remaining and called a time-out to run an inbounds play. The result was a fade-away 3-pointer by Brian McKenzie that never had a chance, and Morris converted two free throws to preserve the win. According to Xaverian coach Jack Alesi, the right man got the ball, but the play crumbled as soon as he touched it, causing the Clippers to drop its third game in a row."He (McKenzie) was in the situation, he was supposed to be in - a one-on-one situation to drive the ball," Alesi said. "This is an inexperienced junior at Madison Square Garden who took a fall away three. You would have to think we're the biggest idiots in the world to diagram that play, but that's not what we diagrammed."Xaverian erased the halftime lead with a 19-2 run in the third quarter. Clipper senior point guard Levance Fields, a stocky playmaker who committed to the University of Pittsburgh, scored 10 of his game-high 32 points during the quarter. But he never saw the ball in the waning seconds because his coach feared he might get double-teamed."The coach can blame the players as much as he wants for not executing," Alesi said. "The bottom line [is that] the buck stops here."Naclerio issued a similar ultimatum to himself, claiming that he had gone "soft" on his players after he didn't land a coaching position with the St. John's men's basketball team in the off-season. To show his new dedication, he ran his players before a 103-58 win over John Bowne Jan 11."If they weren't in a guy's (face), they were coming out," Naclerio said.Senior point guard Marques Cox stayed on the floor with an important steal that kept Cardozo ahead, 75-71 with 33 seconds remaining. Xaverian's Saiquon Stone was fouled hitting a turn-around jumper in the paint to make it 75-73, but he missed the free throw, and McKenzie took it upon himself to attempt the game-winner."We were looking to turn-up our effort defensively," said Cox, who finished with 6 points and 4 assists. "We were amped before the game. We were looking to show people what we could do."Even though the Judges played with renewed vigor, the offensive attack stayed the same: They bombed away from long distance, shooting 51.6 percent from the field and they made 6-of-12 3-pointers in the first half. Junior Wes Frederique finished with 11 points and hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that kept Cardozo ahead. Drew Gladstone scored 14 points.Before the game, both coaches agreed by telephone to insert their subs at the start of the second quarter. The Judges went on a 9-0 run with James Peters getting two steals and a layup to lead 27-18."Obviously, that didn't work out to well for us," Alesi said. John Adams 42, Edison 37. Rashad Phillips had 8 points and 10 rebounds for John Adams Monday (8-13) in a non-league game.Bryant 76, Bergtraum 41. Paul Cline had 20 points and 10 assists and Johnny Barnes and Tony Dennison had 15 each for Bryant (16-5) Saturday in a non-league game.Springfield Gardens 77, Art and Design 50. Melvin Clarida scored 17 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and Trevor Marson had 16 points for Springfield Gardens (17-2) Saturday in a non-league game. American Studies 62, Queens Vocational 40. Andre Smith scored 17 points for American Studies (10-1 Queens B) Saturday.Flushing 76, Bowne 69. Vernon Teel scored 49 points on 17-for-31 shooting for Flushing (15-6) Friday. He also grabbed 16 rebounds.August Martin 73, Far Rockaway 57. Darrell Craig led August Martin (4-7 Queens A-III) with 25 points and 10 rebounds last Thursday.St. Francis Prep 58, Holy Trinity 48. Jeremiah Adegbola had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead St. Francis Prep (10-5) to a non-league win Saturday.Christ the King 64, Bishop Loughlin 44. Akeem Gooding had 12 points and Rob Hampton added 11 for Christ the King (11-1, 3-0 CHSAA 'AA') Friday night.Bishop Ford 68, McClancy 64. Jakaria Thomas had 22 points and 9 rebounds, Carl Green had 20 points and William Green added 18 points, including 5-of-6 from the foul line in overtime to lead Bishop Ford (4-6 CHSAA 'A') Friday night.Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.
©2005 Community News Group
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