By Sean Brennan In our latest installment of 'Getting To Know,' we chat up the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, Seton Hall's Desi Rodriguez (198-F-96). Desi dishes on why coming to Seton Hall along with his former teammate Isaiah Whitehead was a no-brainer, why he doesn't think he gets lost in the shadow of teammates Angel Delgado and Kahdeen Carrington, why Pirates head coach Kevin Willard thinks Rodriguez is a 'dog,' - and Desi agrees - why he may be a little 'crabby' off the court, why being the last team to defeat Villanova last season before the Cats' championship run is motivation for the Pirates this year and when we can expect a Seton Hall sighting in the Top 25.
BIGEAST.com: When you were playing at Lincoln high School in Brooklyn with Isaiah Whitehead, did you guys ever discuss going to college together or did it just turn out that way?
RODRIGUEZ: 'During our senior year when we started gelling and playing well together we definitely started talking about going to school together. I wanted to play with him and keep the combination going. So when Seton Hall offered me I didn't think twice about it.'
BIGEAST.com: So you, Isaiah, Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado arrive at Seton Hall like you're the Fab Four. Did you guys ever feel any pressure, because of the hype surrounding that recruiting class, to live up to the high expectations?
RODRIGUEZ: 'We didn't feel any pressure. We're all tough and aggressive and we're competitors so we didn't feel any pressure. We knew we could become great, so coming in together and working on our games and just playing together more has turned out well.'
BIGEAST.com: So Isaiah has left for the NBA, Angel is leading the BIG EAST in rebounding and is a double-double machine and Khadeen is second in the conference in scoring. Do you ever feel like maybe you get less attention than your teammates?
RODRIGUEZ: 'I don't look at it that way. I just want to play my game and help my team win and everything will come out of that. I let my game speak for itself and if people don't believe in my game, I don't pay any attention to that. I just come on the court, give my best effort and try to win games.'
BIGEAST.com: For someone who hasn't seen you play, what kind of player is Desi Rodriguez?
RODRIGUEZ: 'Coach (Kevin Willard) calls me a 'Junkyard Dog' and I think I'm that kind of guy. My all-around game has come around very well. I'm able to shoot the ball very well now and get to the basket. I'm an aggressive kind of guy and I'm competitive so I always want to guard the best player on the other team, if I get a chance. I'm a winning guy. That's always my goal. If I finish the game with two points and we got a win I'm still happy. I'm very unselfish and just want to win.'
BIGEAST.com: Tell me something about yourself that even Pirates fans don't know about you. Do you have any hobbies or hidden talents away from the court?
RODRIGUEZ: 'This year I got a new apartment and I've been cooking a lot. I'm a great cook now. A lot of people wouldn't know that I'm a great cook, but I am.'
BIGEAST.com: So what's your specialty?
RODRIGUEZ: 'Seafood. The other day I made some crab legs with shrimp and broccoli. Sometimes I cook for my teammates. We all cook for each other and see who is the best. It's like a competition.'
BIGEAST.com: When Isaiah left for the NBA what was your reaction and what do you say to people who thought Seton Hall would struggle this year without him?
RODRIGUEZ: 'It was weird. I was kind of depressed, but I was happy for him, too. I was depressed because I thought we could come back this year and be a top 10 team and win another (BIG EAST) championship. But we still have a chance to. We still have a great team. I'm happy for him the way he is playing (with the Brooklyn Nets). But it also opened up a lot of opportunities for the rest of us to get looked at and prove people wrong. A lot of people, with Isaiah leaving, said we wouldn't be the same team but I think we are. It's hard to replace Isaiah Whitehead, but then again we still have Khadeen Carrington, we still got myself, we still got Ismael (Sanogo) and we still got Angel and we added two freshmen (Myles Powell and Eron Gordon) and two transfers (Madison Jones and Jevon Thomas) and those guys are playing great for us. So we're looking forward to finishing the BIG EAST (season) strong and going into the BIG EAST Tournament and finishing that off strong, too.'
BIGEAST.com: Seton Hall won the BIG EAST Tournament last year and put the Pirates back on the map but then you lost your first-round NCAA Tournament game to Gonzaga. Did that leave a bad taste in your mouth and is that your motivation for this season?
RODRIGUEZ: 'Yeah definitely. All of us were nervous about that game. It was our first time in the NCAA Tournament and on the big stage. That was kind of a tough test for us, but knowing we were there last year and knowing the feeling of a bad loss makes us more hungry this year. Seeing Villanova take it all and knowing we were the last team to beat them, that kind of motivated us more. It's our goal to get back to the NCAA Tournament and try our best to win some games.'
BIGEAST.com: The other day against DePaul, you shot 9-for-9 from the field in the first half, including 5-for-5 from three-point range. Have you ever had a half like that before in your life on any level?
RODRIGUEZ: 'No. That was really exciting for me. I was kind of in the mode when I was making everything. I thought making my first two layups really got me going. My team got me the ball so me going 9-for-9, that came from my teammates knowing I was the hot hand and them going back to me. So I appreciate them.'
BIGEAST.com: If coach Willard said to you, 'Desi, I need 18-20 points from you,' are you the kind of player who could deliver that kind of production?
RODRIGUEZ: 'Yeah I think I'm capable of doing that. Teams scout us very well, especially me, Khadeen and Angel, so I take that in consideration and kind of let the game come to me. Coach always tells us don't go out there and try to force anything because it will mess up your game. But 18 points a night is something I could do just going off the offensive glass and getting out in transition.'
BIGEAST.com: Do you think fans around the BIG EAST and college hoop fans in general know who you are or do you feel you need a breakout year this season?
RODRIGUEZ: 'I think they know me very well. Some people call me 'Dunkin' Desi' and some people call me 'Long-Range Desi' so I think a lot of people know me and a lot of teams know me. I think last year was my breakout year and this year I'm trying to get some more recognition.'
BIGEAST.com: Four of the top 15 teams in the country are from the BIG EAST in Villanova, Creighton, Butler and Xavier. Are people going to see Seton Hall cracking the poll before long?
RODRIGUEZ: 'That's our goal, too, to get in the Top 25. Our conference is one of the toughest conferences. Every night we got to bring it. Every team in the BIG EAST is tough and competitive so we got to bring energy every night. We got a week-long road trip right now and we got to handle our business against Marquette (Wednesday night) and Providence (Saturday afternoon) and then we go to Villanova (Monday night). So as long as we take care of business the poll will put us in the Top 25. We just got to keep winning. If you keep winning everything else will fall into place.'
Walter Hodge selected the top Virgin Islander playing abroad in last week's games - 2 days ago
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Here is the weekly review of the top performing U.S. Virgin Islands players, who play currently abroad. This week's number one is an international point guard Walter Hodge (183-86). He led ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket to a victory over the closely-ranked JDA Dijon in the French ProA in Saturday night's game.
Here is the weekly review of the top performing U.S. Virgin Islands players, who play currently abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an international point guard Walter Hodge (183-86, college: Florida, currently plays in France). He led ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket to a 1-point victory over the closely-ranked JDA Dijon (10-18) 74-73 in the French ProA in Saturday night's game.
Hodge was MVP of the game. He recorded 19 points and added 4 passes in 24 minutes on the court.
ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket (14-14) is placed ninth in the ProA.
It's Hodge's first season with the team.
Hodge has relatively good stats this year: 13.0ppg, 1.8rpg, 5.7apg, 2FGP: 55.8%(82-147), 3FGP: 41.7% and FT: 79.5% in 28 games he played so far.
He has a dual citizenship: U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rican.
Hodge is currently a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to an international forward Ivan Aska (201-90, college: Murray St., currently plays in Greece). He led PAOK to an easy victory against the closely-ranked Lavrio (11-15) 82-65 in the Greek A1 last Wednesday.
Aska recorded 13 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists.
PAOK Thessaloniki (14-12) is placed fifth in the A1.
This season Aska has relatively solid stats: 10.4ppg, 5.0rpg, 2FGP: 51.2% and FT: 71.4%.
He is another player who holds two passports: U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rican.
Aska is in the roster of the U.S. Virgin Islands senior national team.
#3. The U.S. Virgin Islands player who performed third best last week abroad was an international center Frank Elegar (208-86, college: Drexel, currently plays in VTB United League). He led his Russian team Enisey to a victory against the tenth-ranked Avtodor (7-16) 97-92 in the VTB United League on Sunday night.
Elegar had a double-double by scoring 12 points and getting 11 rebounds. He also added 3 assists, 3 blocks and 3 steals (was perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line) in 31 minutes.
Enisey Krasnoyarsk (13-10) is placed sixth in group A.
It was his team's fifth consecutive victory in a row.
They will play only one more game in the VTB United League Regular Season. And that game will be critical.
Elegar has reliable stats this year: 13.8ppg, 9.4rpg, 1.5apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 67.2%(88-131) and FT: 72.3% in 20 games.
He has both U.S. Virgin Islands and Guyanese nationalities.
Elegar is also a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands senior national team.
#4. Center Craig Williams (206-89, college: TCU, currently plays in Japan) could not help Orange Vikings (27-27) in their last game on Sunday. Despite his very good performance the fourth-placed Orange Vikings (27-27) were edged 75-73 on the road by the second-ranked Dragonflies in the West group.
Williams was the top scorer with 30 points. He also added 6 rebounds and made 2 blocks.
Williams' stats this season are: 13.4ppg, 8.3rpg and 1.6apg.
He is also U.S. Virgin Islands national team player.
One more player who has never been selected to any of national teams, but has U.S. Virgin Islands passport:
#1.Marcus Georges-Hunt (196-F-94, agency: Pensack Sports, college: Georgia Tech, currently plays in NBA) managed to help Orlando Magic in a victory against the Detroit Pistons (36-45) 113-109 in the NBA last Wednesday.
Georges-Hunt scored only 4 points in 10 minutes.
The Orlando Magic has 29-53 record this season.
The Regular Season already ended in the NBA.
This year Georges-Hunt averages: 2.8ppg and 1.8rpg in five games he played so far.
He has a dual citizenship: U.S. Virgin Islands and American.
Other top U.S. Virgin Islands players, who play abroad:
SEATTLE - Game matchups for the 2017 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam were announced Tuesday by tournament directors. Eight men's and eight women's Division-I college basketball teams will compete in the 18th annual Paradise Jam held Nov. 17-25, 2017 at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The men's tournament, held Friday, Nov. 17 through Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, features Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer, Quinnipiac, and Wake Forest. Te... [read more]
SEATTLE - Game matchups for the 2017 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam were announced Tuesday by tournament directors. Eight men's and eight women's Division-I college basketball teams will compete in the 18th annual Paradise Jam held Nov. 17-25, 2017 at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The men's tournament, held Friday, Nov. 17 through Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, features Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer, Quinnipiac, and Wake Forest. Teams will compete in a bracket-style tournament over the four-day event.
Mercer will tip off against Liberty in the opening game of the 2017 men's Paradise Jam. Drexel and Houston face each other in the second game of the afternoon session, before Quinnipiac and Colorado compete in the first game of the evening session. Drake and Wake Forest will conclude opening-day action in the final matchup of the day.
Losing teams will compete in their second game the following day, Saturday, Nov. 18. Winning teams will have a one-day respite, before facing off in the semifinals, Sunday, Nov. 19. All teams will return to the UVI Sports and Fitness Center, Monday for the championship round. The seventh-place game will open the final day of competition, followed by the fourth-place game, third-place game, and championship game to crown the 2017 men's Paradise Jam champion.
The women's tournaments will take place Thursday, Nov. 23 through Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. The tournament fields includes Butler, Drexel, George Washington, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The women's tournaments feature two four-team divisions competing in round-robin play for separate tournament championships.
Butler, West Virginia, Drexel, and Virginia Tech will compete in the Paradise Jam Island Division. Vanderbilt, George Washington, Wisconsin, and Syracuse will compete in the Paradise Jam Reef Division.
The opening day of the Island Division will feature Butler vs. West Virginia and Drexel vs. Virginia Tech. Second-round matchups include West Virginia vs. Drexel and Virginia Tech vs. Butler on Nov. 24. In the final day of the Island Division on Nov. 25, the Bulldogs will face the Drexel Dragons and West Virginia will face the VT Hokies.
Vanderbilt and George Washington will tip off the women's Reef Division, Nov. 23, followed by Wisconsin vs. Syracuse. In second-day action George Washington will face the UW Badgers and Syracuse will face Vanderbilt. The 2017 Paradise Jam will conclude Nov. 25 with Vanderbilt vs. Wisconsin and George Washington vs. Syracuse.
Game times and viewing options will be announced at a later date.
The 2017 Paradise Jam features nine alumni teams, including four past Paradise Jam champions on the women's side. Five men's teams, including Drake, Drexel, Mercer, Quinnipiac, and Wake Forest, have previously competed at the Paradise Jam. Four women's teams, including Syracuse, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, have each previously competed and won the Paradise Jam.
The 19th Annual Sun Stroke All V.I. Hoop Classic kicks off Saturday, April 15, 2017. There will be a Celebrity Basketball game beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Ronald Charles Gym at St. Croix Central High School. There will be a Women's High School All Star game at 6:30 p.m. and a Men's High School All Star game beginning at 8:00 p.m. The Celebrity Game will be highlighted by Brandon Royal of this year's NBC The Voice, Paebak along with other Virgin Islands artists and media personalities. T... [read more]
The 19th Annual Sun Stroke All V.I. Hoop Classic kicks off Saturday, April 15, 2017. There will be a Celebrity Basketball game beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Ronald Charles Gym at St. Croix Central High School. There will be a Women's High School All Star game at 6:30 p.m. and a Men's High School All Star game beginning at 8:00 p.m. The Celebrity Game will be highlighted by Brandon Royal of this year's NBC The Voice, Paebak along with other Virgin Islands artists and media personalities. The Special Guest of the evening will be the return of 2005 Pro Bowl Selection and Crucian Hanik Milligan. This tournament has been successfully used to showcase the best high school basketball players in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands since it's inception. This year Sun Stroke has solicited the services of Max Ivan of D1Nations from Arizona to provide professional evaluations of the players that could lead to scholarship opportunities. In addition to Saturday night's activities there will be an Open Run at noon in the presence of Mr. Max Ivany for talented underclassmen that were not selected to the All Star game and players just out of high school at noon. This emphasizes the purpose of the event which is to provide talented basketball players an opportunity for athletic scholarships. The event is also loads of fun so in that vein the Miami Heat Mascot Burnie will be performing and there will be giveaways from the tournament's primary sponsor Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. This event has also highlighted the biggest names in VI music as well as the best basketball players in the territory. Two of the best young bands on St. Croix in Hypa Aktiv and In-Stylez will work together to entertain the crowd in the post game Jam Session that ends at midnight. The band that gets the crowd most involved gets a bonus. Admission for this event is $10. EVERYTHING is covered by the event organizers at no cost to the players and coaches. The event is sponsored in part by Tim Duncan, adidas, The Department of Education, Banco Popular, Bates Trucking, United Sporting Goods and Sun Stroke Promotions. This year's High School All Star selections include:
St. Croix Women's Selections Jendeyi Williams, St. Croix Central High Rashanika Williams, St. Croix Central High Jahnyra Donovan, St. Croix Central High Ah'Zyah Lake, St. Croix Central High Sydney Fleming, Good Hope Country Day Parissa Terrell, St. Croix Educational Complex Sedeja Fieulleteau, St. Croix Central High Shanyce Horsford, Educational Complex Breyanna Roberts, Educational Complex Shania Barnes, Central High Coached by: Head Coach Donald Bough, Central High
St. Thomas Women's Selections Jahnia Simmonds, Ivanna Eudora Kean High Nailea Nicolas, Ivanna Eudora Kean High Delma Baron, Ivanna Eudora Kean High Shauliqua Fahie, Elmore Stoutt High (Tortola) De'Jah Vigilant, Charlotte Amalie High Tecoya Martin, Ivanna Eudora Kean High Rhea Benjamin, Charlotte Amalie High Taylor Robinson, Antilles Replaced by Da'Jah Vigilante, Charlotte Amalie Taria Southwell, Charlotte Amalie High Laresha Martin, Eudora Kean
Coach Derek Heyliger, Eudora Kean St. CROIX Male Selections Shakeem Alcindor, Educational Complex Zion Jones, Central High Kahdeem Horsford, Educational Complex Ashoy Simmonds, Central High Christian Rassmussen, Good Hope Country Day Jakeem Auguste, Central High Diante Brooks, Good Hope Country Day Trejon Ali, Central High James Richardson, Educational Complex Darian Dowling, Home School Replaced by Kimani McIntosh, Central High
Coach Earl Baker, Good Hope Country Day St. THOMAS Male Selections Devon Freeman, Eudora Kean Akil Greig, Eudora Kean Dwayne Lynch, Charlotte Amalie Emari Howe, Eudora Kean Replaced by Terrell Lake, Charlotte Amalie Cam Newton, Antilles Clail Dieudonne, Charlotte Amalie Issa Tatem, Charlotte Amalie Lestin Wiltshire, Elmore Stoutt Ty Massaquoi, Gifft Hill Joshua Farell, Antilles Head Coach Boyd Todman, Charlotte Amalie
Rashidi Clenance Sun Stroke Promos/Win Mill Sports Bar
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