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Philadelphia Daily News
NOT ONLY the greedy start asking for presents barely a week after Christmas.

Then again, the basketball squad of Ss. Neumann-Goretti High was merely requesting something it had been promised, and deserved. Namely, a tour bus that actually worked.

You know how transporation miseries are considered a Public League staple? Well, N-G’s players and coaches can now relate and, even though the school’s nickname is Saints, no one will mind if they let loose with a blue word or three.

It was allllllll figured out.

The Saints would board the tour bus in South Philly, travel to Warminster to meet Archbishop Wood in a Catholic Blue game, then head from there to Wheeling, W.Va., where today at 2:45 they’re scheduled to meet St. Vincent-St. Mary, of Akron, Ohio – LeBron James’ alma mater – in a showcase event that also features Catholic League squads North Catholic, St. Joseph’s Prep, Roman Catholic.

One problem: Once the bus arrived at N-G, a broken fuel line was discovered.

“That really messed up our minds,” Tony Chennault said. “Instead of worrying about this game, it was, ‘Are we even going to be able to go to West Virginia?’ ”

In time, after piling into three cars and rushing to Wood, Chennault and his teammates learned a lesson. Even when vast disappointment could be on the horizon, full attention must be paid to current tasks.

N-G survived, 60-46, as Chennault, a 6-2, 180-pound junior wing guard already committed to Wake Forest, collected 22 points, six rebounds and three assists. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wed, Dec. 17, 2008
Daily News Sports Columnist

D.J. RIVERA played for Saint Joseph’s last season. D.J. Rivera is playing for Binghamton this season.Welcome to the new world of the “hardship waiver.”

It was no secret that Rivera was not getting along with St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli. The sophomore wasn’t happy with his playing time. Everybody knew he was going to transfer.

Everybody also knows transfers must sit out a year at their new schools. Not anymore, at least not in cases where a player’s new school applies for, and the player is granted, a “hardship waiver.”

Hardly anybody knew about the 1991 rule until Tennessee used it before last season on behalf of Tyler Smith, who had been at Iowa and wanted to come home to be with his very ill father in Tennessee. The NCAA granted Smith a “hardship waiver.” He did not have to sit out a year and played last season with the Volunteers.

Rivera, a high-flying scorer at Neumann-Goretti, is averaging 20.3 points and 6.6 rebounds for 4-3 Binghamton, of the America East Conference.

In the summer of 2007, Rivera was alleged involved in an incident in which he was the victim.

Apparently, Binghamton made that incident and Rivera’s reaction to it the centerpiece of its appeal to the NCAA. David Eagan, Binghamton’s associate athletic director for compliance, wrote in an e-mail: “I can confirm that the NCAA granted D.J. Rivera a hardship waiver allowing him to compete this year. In addition, we are not at liberty to discuss any specifics, in accordance with student privacy issues.”

The NCAA has loosely defined the basis for a winning appeal as “circumstances that are out of the control of the student-athlete.” Which is nice enough and quite vague.

The NCAA obviously ruled in Rivera’s favor, as he is playing. It is perfectly within the rules and, in Rivera’s case, might very well have been for perfectly legitimate reasons. The rule was put in to be athlete-friendly by an organization that has often been accused of being autocratic.

Like so many NCAA rules with good intentions, however, the “hardship waiver” rule has the potential for abuse. After the Smith case, players around the country are suddenly homesick and discovering ill relatives, trying to find a way out of a situation they do not like, without having to sit out a year.

More and more appeals are being made. Somehow, the NCAA has to sort through what is legit and what is not. Good luck.

It isn’t exactly free agency, but players are now more likely to be recruited successfully off a school’s bench if the prospective new school can convince that player it can get him a “hardship waiver” and he won’t have to sit out a year. Third parties will be getting in players’ ears telling them they can get them a “hardship waiver.”

The National Association of Basketball Coaches would like the NCAA to revisit the rule and get rid of it. The rule is there to help an athlete in a difficult circumstance. Which is a good thing. How often the rule is now being used may be less of a good thing.

Steve Pickens, Philly Hoops Recruiting Analyst

After Cardinal Dougherty’s 42 point loss to Neumann-Goretti last friday, the scene was set for the Cardinals to take on the Burrs of West Catholic Monday night. All eyes were on West’s senior center Ade Barek of the Burrs who was the tallest player on the floor and glided through the air during warm-ups. From the opening tip-off, it seemed the Burrs seemed had this one for sure by possesing more size and atheleticism.

After a very close game, the Burrs pulled out a slim 2 point win 43-41. West Catholic scored at will at the begining of the game but the Cardinals made defensive adjustments and the game stayed within their reach. The strong play of senior center Norman Dorsey Poles with put backs and mid-range shots made it impossible for the Burrs to shake free from the Cardinals.

Coach Heimerdinger apparently prepared his team well to play tonight because when the first quarter came to an end West Catholic was only ahead by 4 points. As the game progressed the Cardinals began to gain confidence with every play. Throughout the second quarter the Cardinals had everyone involved on both ends of the floor. CD point guard Brandyn Wims also ignited the offense by making spectacular assists and shooting with a sweet lefty stroke. The fans began to get involved going into the second half after the Cardinals pulled to within 1 point. Brandyn Wims came back onto the floor picking up from where he left off at the half. Getting his team involved and showing solid ball handling ability he wooed the crowd after a series of ankle breaking hesitation drives to the basket.

Sophomore guard Aquil Younger made acrobatic drives to the hole and attempted to take control of would ultimately turn out to be a hard-fought win for the Burrs. Numerous turnovers and blown layups along with missed free throws kept the Cardinals hanging around late, but at the end West proved to be the better team on this night by pulling out a close win.

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