A new era in NFA basketball

To say I got off on the wrong foot with Matt Brown would be a bit of an understatement. Matt is about to begin his career as the varsity head coach of the Newburgh Free Academy boys’ basketball team. He is taking over a program amid challenging circumstances, to say the least, most notably the controversy surrounding rampant class-cutting by former players.

Matt’s job is, first and foremost, to bring stability to the program. He will face intense scrutiny from the administration, Board, parents and community members — many of whom should have been paying closer attention to past teams — who are trying to ensure that players are quality students working toward college educations.

So when I wrote that I thought ex-NBA/St. John’s/Duke player Roshown McLeod was the best candidate for the position, Matt was understandably miffed. But as I pointed out to him, never have I thought that Matt was incapable of doing a superb job. I just thought, quite simply, that Roshown was the ideal candidate. Anybody who thinks I was criticizing Matt as a basketball coach is dead wrong.

Matt has sufficient experience, especially in the Newburgh district, to do a fine job. But he can’t do it alone. He will need help from parents and others directly or loosely affiliated with the program, i.e. administrators, teachers, AAU coaches, community organizations. All these people have some responsibility in pointing these kids in the right direction.

And let’s not forget personal accountability. I’ve heard story upon story of fine folks in the Newburgh community trying to properly guide kids, only to see their efforts devoured by the kid choosing the streets. Kids must make the right choices. They must discipline themselves to resist the temptations of the streets. They must understand that they can realize their goals by doing well in school and chasing a college degree. 

I’m not rooting for Matt Brown to win a single game. I don’t care if his first team finishes 0-20 — and neither should all the folks who profess to be chiefly concerned about players doing the right thing off the court — as long as his players work diligently toward, at minimum, earning a high school diploma.

I am rooting for Matt Brown to help restore stability to the Newburgh Free Academy boys’ basketball program. But it’s hardly a one-person job.






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    Ken McMillan

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