NEW YORK — When Josh Brown first arrived at St. Anthony High School three years ago, he had never played point guard.
“He didn’t play the position until the end of sophomore year,” Hall of Fame St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley told SNY.tv.
“We said to the AAU guys, ‘Try to start playing him at that position. We think ultimately that’s going to be where he’s going to play in college.'”
Three years later, the Temple-bound Brown is the latest in a long line of Hurley-coached point guards to enjoy success and earn a Division 1 scholarship.
After posting 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and four turnovers to lead St. Anthony to their 80th consecutive victory, 43-28 over Brooklyn Boys & Girls in the SNY Invitational at City College, Brown remains unbeaten in a Friars uniform. So does his teammate, Oregon-State bound senior guard Hallice Cooke, who added 12 points in the win.
“It’s a great accomplishment but I’m not too hung up on that, I’m not worried about that,” the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Brown told SNY.tv. “I’m just looking forward to the next game.”
The Friars (15-0) will next face Long Island Lutheran (16-1) in Saturday’s championship game at 4 p.m. St. Anthony won the SNY title in 2011, the last time the event was played.
Lutheran beat Cardinal Hayes, 70-68, in an exciting first semifinal. (See below for more on that game).
A left-hander who can dribble equally well with both hands, Brown is the latest in a long line of Hurley point guards who have helped the Hall of Fame coach win more than 1,000 basketball games, including 27 state championships and 12 New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles.
Before John Calipari was producing an NBA-lottery-pick-point guard every year in Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight, Hurley was churning out Division 1 floor generals.
His legacy of point guards extends back to Phil Robinson, who was Jim Calhoun’s first point guard at Northeastern, followed by Mandy Johnson, David Rivers, Kenny Wilson, Jasper Walker and Bobby Hurley, who led Duke to back-to-back NCAA titles before heading to the NBA. He’s now an assistant at Rhode Island under his brother, Dan Hurley.
After that came Dwayne Lee, Donald Copeland and Elijah Ingram — all on the same 2002 St. Anthony team.
In recent years, Hurley’s point guards have included Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Myles Mack (Rutgers), Eli Carter (Rutgers), Tray Woodall (Pitt), Jio Fontan (USC) and Tyshawn Taylor, now with the Nets.
In three of the last six seasons, St. Anthony has finished unbeaten, with the 6-9 Anderson going 65-0 during his two-year tenure in 2011 and ’12.
“I just think that success starts with coaching that position,” Hurley said. “If you get that guy and he can affect the end of the court offensively and then he can bother the other team’s guy, then he’s affecting the game in both directions.
“And when you have a guy that can affect the game, the ball’s in his hands a lot more because you can start off with it. When you have a big kid who’s very good, you can’t always get the ball to that big kid because teams surround him. But when you have a good guard, you can start with it. And when the court gets open or teams press, that’s his time to shine.”
Three years ago, Hurley opted to mold Brown into a floor general. And after playing alongside Mack and Anderson the last two seasons, he was ready for the leadership role this season.
“You learn about the game each and every day,” Brown said. “It’s just all ears with Coach Hurley. You should just listen to everything he has to say. He’s a great coach of point guards. You can tell by the way his son went to Duke, went to the NBA. so listening to him could help you in the long run.”
Hurley now believes Brown ranks up there with some of his best point guards ever.
“He’s different because he’s still learning this position, but he’s’ really impacting games,” Hurley said.
“He can impact the game statistically right now comparable to Kyle. These kids couldn’t rebound like he could. He blocks shots, he rebounds, he’s leading us in deflections by like 15 deflections. He’s leading us in almost every category right now.”
The latest Hurley-coached point guard now heads into the SNY Invitational final with the programs 80-game winning streak in his care.
FACEY, ATKINSON LEAD LUTHERAN INTO FINAL
UConn-bound forward Kentan Facey isn’t intimidated at the prospect of facing St. Anthony and its 80-game winning streak Saturday in the SNY Invitational final.
“That’s a great situation to be in,” the 6-foot-9, 200-pound Jamaican native told SNY.tv after going for 14 points, 20 rebounds and six blocks as Long Island Lutheran beat Cardinal Hayes, 70-68, in an up-and-down first game.
“Being the team that has the opportunity to stop that [streak] is something we are taking dearly and we look forward to that. We are going to play our best to try to stop the streak.”
Coach John Buck and Lutheran had been 0-2 in their SNY Invitational history but that was three years ago, before Facey and his teammates joined the program.
Four players reached double-figures in scoring including Facey. Chris Atkinson and Tim Quashie scored 13 points apiece and Mical-Ryan Boyd scored 12, including a dunk off the opening tip-off.
After a slow start, Facey went for 11 of his 14 in the fourth quarter when Lutheran outscored Hayes, 24-19. He became more assertive in the paint, something he will need to continue to do as he plays for UConn coach Kevin Ollie next season in the Big East.
“I knew my team needed me,” Facey said. “I knew they needed me to come up big for them, whether defensively or offensively. So that was my mindset coming out.”
Said Atkinson: “He came up huge with blocks, stops, getting rebounds, it was big. It was good to have him down there if you get beat.”
Atkinson, a 5-9 speedy sophomore point guard, also played well down the stretch. He hit four straight foul shots to turn a 64-63 lead into a 68-63 edge in the final 1:19.
After junior point guard Shavar Newkirk hit his only 3-pointer of the game to bring Hayes within 69-68, Atkinson then made 1-of-2 to make it 70-68.
“I really wanted to make that free throw,” Atkinson said.
Manhattan-bound Tyler Wilson (12 points) missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer for Hayes (12-5).
“I think after he got the ball he traveled, but the refs didn’t see it,” Atkinson said. “But I’m just happy that he missed.”
The 6-foot Newkirk, who holds offers from Iowa State, Seton Hall, Providence, Iona, Manhattan, Hofstra, Fairfield, Towson and others, led all scorers with 22 points to go with eight rebounds and six assists. Junior forward Mustafa Jones added 13 points and 11 rebounds.