Yesterday I got to speak on the phone with Greg Anthony, a former NBA star who’s now a basket- ball analyst for Turner Sports. He’s going to be covering the upcoming Coaches vs. Cancer tournament that Seton Hall is going to be playing in this weekend at the Barclays Center aired on TruTV.
Anthony won a championship at UNLV where he was coached by Jerry Tarkanian and played alongside Larry Johnson. Coach Tark became someone I looked up to after reading about how he dealt with players in Chris Herren’s book “Basketball Junkie.” Every suspicion I had about Tark being a consummate role model and leader was confirmed by Anthony’s idolization of his former coach.
“Coach Tarkanian was kind of a father figure to a lot of us.” Anthony said, “He gave us a lot of opportunities that maybe other people wouldn’t. But he also drove us hard and made sure we were ac- countable for our actions on and off the court and he put us all in a situation where we could be successful.”
Anthony was pleased to reminisce about his old college days, but he made a point that there was nothing greater than taking home a national championship.
The conversation shifted naturally to Seton Hall’s coach Kevin Willard and Anthony was impressed by Willard’s basketball education.
“It’s not just the fact that his father is one of the all-time greats but obviously his relationship with Coach Pitino as well, so you’re not going to get a better mentoring experience in that regard.”
Anthony went on to talk about this year’s Seton Hall team, impressed specifically with the play of Sterling Gibbs and his ability to get to the free throw line. Not specific to Seton Hall, Anthony was excited to see how the new Big East conference was going to turn out.
“In years past, when the Big East was the Big East, you had a better perspective because you know what it took to be successful in the conference. You know who the players were going to be but you don’t have that pace anymore. You don’t know what the style of the Big East is going to be anymore.”
The next part of the conversation was my clear favorite. I got a laugh out of Greg Anthony. I don’t do many cool things, but this was definitely one of them.
We were talking about how sensitive the new hand-check rules in the NCAA were and I mentioned that the first game Seton Hall played where they were truly affected by these rules was against Niagara. Niagara’s best player was Antoine Mason, son of Anthony’s former teammate Anthony Mason.
Anthony Mason was known for his physicality being one of the roughest, toughest players in the NBA. I joked with Greg Anthony about how Mason wouldn’t last very long in this sensitive new NCAA and I got a legitimate laugh.
All joking aside, Anthony approved of the new rules that the refs put into play this season.
“Believe it or not, I like the rules. I’ve always been a believer in freedom of movement and basketball is a game of rhythm and you can be equally as effective defensively without having to rough people.” Anthony said, “I think as the season progresses you’re going to see the foul calls come down and I think the quality of play will go up. So I’m all for it.”
Gerard Gilberto is a senior journalism major from Breezy Point, N.Y. He can be reached at gerard. email@example.com.