Rushdan- again overlooked by hometown media

By (Irish) Jack Ireland
It’s time again to write about my favorite women’s college basketball player and it’s not University of Delaware superstar Elena Delle Donne.
Oh yes, Delle Donne is a once in a lifetime player with so many skills and knowledge of the game. Elena is sdo much fun to watch and has put Delaware women’s basketball on the map. If you have never seen her play, check the home schoele today and get to the Bob Carpeter Center to see her and the 15th ranked Hens in action.
However, the young lady I admire most is St. Elizabeth High graduate and Rutgers fifth year senior guard Khadijah Rushdan.
Who can forget those classic games between St. Elizabeth, led by Rushdan, and Ursuline, featuring the almost unstoppable Delle Donne.
I know some New York and north Jersey papers naturally cover Rutgers on a regular basis in all major sports, especiually football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball
The coverage and feature stories on her bty the Jersey papers and publications, has been impressive.
I was e-mailed a story two years ago that appeared in one of the najor New York papers about Rushdan. It was a great human interest piece on a young girl who fought off serious knee injuries to become a starter in one of the top national Division I women’s program under Hall of Fame coach Vivian Stringer.
Rushdan was highly recruited by Stringer and even made three starts in the first eight games in 2007-08. Then she tore her anterior cruciate ligamet in the right knee that ended her freshman season. Rushdan received a medical redshirt, but it was a long and tedious rehab for Rushdan.

Rushdan battled some serious knee problems in hugh school, yet always came back. I beleive the college injury did prevent Rushdan from becoming a poential All-American guard.
The thing is Rushdan refused to give up and has become one of the best overall players in Rutgers history.
Yet, except for a story here or there or a short brief, our local daily paper (the News Journal) has practically ignored Rushdan.
And we all know how much media attention (written, photo and internet Delle Donne receives.
I do know of one reporter (who I won’t name) who wrote about Rushdan several times in the local NJ Crossroads and even regular sports section.
Lets get one thing straight I am loyal to the end when it comes sto the News Journal. After all I worked there for 35 1/2 years. But, I think Rushdan has been shortchanged during her gutsy, comenback career at Rutgers.
Rutgers goes against the likes of Connecticut, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Stanford on A a regular basis, not to mention several other strong teams in the Big East.
There is no real comparison in the style of play by Elena and Khadijah.
Delle Donne is smooth in every respect, but can be tough inside, great moves and will step out and nail the three.
Rushdan is old school. Hustles all over the court, dves for lose balls, a slasher, excellent defensive guard who can burn you at the offensive end or dishing off to teammates. She rarely shoots the thre, but teams better not leave her alone at that distance in a big spot.
Rushdan has started 107 out of 125 games to date in her career.
For the past two years Rushdan has not only picked up her overall game, but has definitely become Stringer’s leader

Through 20 games (17-3 overall, 6-1 in the Big East Conference), Rushdan is averaging 13.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals for the 11th ranked Knights. Rushdan is shooting 51.6 percent from the field (98-190), up from 41.3 last sdeason.
Rushdan has been under the radar to DelleDoone through high school and college.
Well, Rushdan has proved this year she can do it in the clutch and showed that is a comeback 65-64 conference win over No. 23 DePaul Tuesday (Jan. 24) in the RAC on campus in New Brunswick, N.J..
Rutgers wiped out a 16 point second haf deficit and Rushdan hit the game winning basket with 1.5 seconds left. She scored 24 points, including the last 11 for Rutgers. She single-handily outscored DePaul 11.4 in the final 3:40 of play.
Over the past three games (heading into Saturday’s matchup at Georgetown), Rushdan is averaging 8.7 points in the last five minutes of those contests.
In 125 games Rushdan has scored 1,157, moving into 23rd place on the Rutgers scoring list.
To date she has 57 double figure scoring games (14 this year).
Last year Rushdan stepped up, averaged 11.8 points and shot 74.4 percent from the foul line. She led the Big East in assists (5.2 a game). Khadijah was fourth in the conference in assist to turnover ratio (1.6).
Rutgers posted a 20-13 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national champion Texas A&M.
Rushdan was a second team All Big East selection and named the Rutgers Player of the Year She has been part of three consecutive NCAA tournament teams.
Rushdan and her teammates face a major test when Rutgers host No. 2 ranked Notre Dame on Tuesday (Jan. 31).
Here is something to ponder for you Delaware fans who were used to watching Elena and Rushdan face off in the state girls basketball tournament for four years.
With Delaware and Rutgers both ranked in the top 20, wouldn’t it be great to see the two teams square off in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in March?
That’s a long way off, with plenty of important basketball yet to be played. But, if that happened the local media would be forced to write about Rushdan (I hope) in previewing that historic matchup.
For local fans in Delaware who use the excuse that Rutgers is too far of a daive (not quite two hours), there is a chance next month to travel about 40 minutes to see Rushdan.
Rutgers plays at Villanova (noon start) on Feb. 18. Getting tickets at Nova is not a problem. Get up there and watch the other great Division I player from Delaware and St. Elizabeth. Khadijan is a First State diamond in the ruff.

Smyrna’s Laney – showing her stuff at Rutgers.
Betnijah Laney was a scoring machine during her scholastic career at Smyrna High.
Laney received a scholarship to Rutgers and has become a real part of the Knights playing roation.
Laney, has started seven of 20 games. The 6-foot swing player is averaging 21 minutes and 6.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and shooting 41.7 percent from the field.
The word is Laney and Rushdan are cousins. Either way they are two Delaware players shining for the powerful Scarlet Knights.


Sals celebrate 100 years of basketball

Congratulations to Salesianum as the school celebrates 100 years of scholastic basketball during the current 2011-2012 season.
The celebration began on Jan. 9 with the Salesianum Basketball Centennial Dinner at the Rev. John Birkenheuer Gymnasium.
Featured speaker was Temple University basketball coach Fran Dunphy. Dunphy has won over 420 games combined, coaching 17 years at the University of Pennsylvania and now in his sixth season at Temple.
Before going on, former players, managers, coaches, alum and friends of the school should mark down these upocoming dates,

Gallagher has four regular season games coming up to honor the basketball alumni.
A spcial secition will be avaiablre for them to sit in. They will be acknowledged and invited to a special reception in the school after the game.
The dates and the era to be recognized are Jan 20 against St. Mark’s (celebrating the 70s and 80s) Jan. 26 vs Howard (celebrate those from 8th & West), Feb. 2 against St. Elizabeth (the 90s through 2011) and Feb. 14 vs Archmere (players from 50s and 60s).
The banquet was the brainchild of present Sallies coach Mike Gallagher and Jon Allison,the school alumni and Communications Director.

I have much more to say on Gallagher later in this blog.
The emcee for the night of memories was Kevin Reilly, who played baseketball for the Sals, but made his name in football with Salesianum, Villanova and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The speakers, who did not go overboard on time, spoke about certain eras.
Jim McFadden, class of 1946, and Don Hutton (1954) talked about the Boys from 8th & West, the site of the school before the present location of 18th and move to 18th Broom opened.
It should be noted that Sallies played in the Philadelphia Catholic League for 24 years from the 1920-21 season through 1944-45. Sallies had a small enrollmrent of boys at the 8th & West localtion.
Former coach Angelo Rossi, spoke about the early years at 18th and Broom (60s, 70s and 80s. His 1981-82 whose 1981-82 team was 21-3, losing to Wilmington (48-42) in the state finals.
Rossi (1968) excelled in football and basketball at Sallies.
Brandon Baffone (1993) and Gene Delle Donne (2005) talked about the Salesianum program today.
And that brings us back to Coach Mike Gallagher.
Gallaher, who is assistant principal and in charge of discipline at the school, was a standout football player at Salesianum and West Chester.
He served as a long-time assistant football coach under George Glenn before being named to succeed Mike LaPenta as basketball coach in 1988.
During those years, his teams have played in 20 state tournaments, reached the semifinals once and the championship game three times. He began his final year with a career 305-209 record.
I don’t what to hear about the Gallagher critics that pop up every time Sallies falls short of this or that.
Gallagher has dedicated so much of his life to molding young men in the Salesianum tradition morally, education wise and on the basketball floor.
Gallagher is truly a teacher of young men. Even if you don’t agree with Mike’s coaching methods or the final won-lost record the last several years, Gallagher is a great teacher, motivator and model for young student-athletes.
The emotions came through at the dinner when Baffone and DelleDonne presente3d Gallagher with a plaque from the school administration for his outstanding coaching career. He received hugs from his two former players who made it a point in speech to talk about the coach they so respected.
His teams
Gallagher also received a hug and special comments from Rossi as well.
Another thing about Gallagher. His teams are prepared and have a work ethic (practice and games) that is second to none in the state.
The present Sallies squad of 2011-2012 has a chance to do something that no other team has ever done in school history.
These kids can give Coach Gallagher a special season he will never forget. Winning a state title is the ultimate for any team, but that isn’t the most important thing.
If this club continues to play its heart out and wins as many games as it can, it will be a major part of the Salesianum basketball tradition. After all – you are all wearing the Sallies uniform of the 100th anniversary team. No one can take that away from you.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. In last Friday’s 63-61 win over cioy rival and ninth ranked St. Elizabeth, senior guard Devin Harmon hit a big three-point in the closing half minue to put his team ahead for good.
The impressive thing is that Harmon was playing, despite battling the flu that entire day.
Gallagher was trying to save Harmon for the right time and he didn’t play as much because he was far from 100 percent.
Harmon told Gallagher he was feeling good, even though he wasn’t in top form. His quote in Saturday’s News Journal was “I really didn’t feel that great, but I had to do what I had to do for the team.”
Harmon finished with 12 points, making all four shots he took. That’s a memory from this Centennial team Gallagher, Harmon and his teammates should never forget.
There are some people in the state (coaches, fans, former players etc.) who think Salesianum doesn’t have that much basketball tradition.
My response to that is you don’t have any idea what you are talking about.
Lets start with coaches like the great Jim Hagan, Father Birkenheuer, Vinnie Scott, Lou Bender, Frank Brady, Angie Rossi, Mike LaPenta and Coach Gallagher.
Salesianum hasn’t had any first team Al-Staters in many years,but that doesn’t mean there were not good players on those squads.
Salesianum was 21-4 (2003-04)and had no first team All-Staters. If there wasn’t any tradition how did Sallies go 21-4, losing by just five points in the finals to talented Middletown.
When it comes to great players and All-Staters, Sallies has had more than their share. Lets remember Jim McFadden, Don Hutton, Vinnie Scott, Tom Hall, Clarence (Tootsie) Brown, Frank Kaminski, Bert Sheing, Bruce Kelleher, Dave Sisko, Ed Szczerba, “Pistol” Pete McLaughlin, Bob Minutella, Tom Nagle, James White, Joe Gallagher, Kevin Booth, Michael Thomas, a two-time All-Stater and 1,000 point scorer at St. Joseph’s University , Tracy Peal, Danny Stroud, Kyle Stem and Gene DelleDonne.
Stroud is the all-time leading scorer at Sallies with 1,363 points. Thomas is one point behind Stroud with 1,362.
These names just scratch the surface of a great tradition.
Salesianum has a pround and winning basketball tradition. On its 100th anniversary the state and al Sallies alumnishould congratulate them.
And my comment to Mike Gallagher. Class, honor, respect and a constant winning drive.

Great job my friend, but there is still some more to do. You can never sell Gallagher or his team short. This team is special and will play with that competitive spirit the rest of the way.

Irish Jack returns to action

After a seven week absence, Irish Jack returns with his first blog of the New Year.
I kind of went on the disabled list there for several weeks after brecoming ill and undergoing major surgery. I
just didn’t have the push to blog or even respond or send e-mails.
I;m feeling good again and raring to go with my weekly blog. Sorry for just disappearing for nearly two months.
Irish Jack returns with a bang on Saturday Jan. 7.
A tribute to my friend Tom Mills
To say I was upset over the passing of New Castle’s Tom Mills on Dec. 6 would be an understatement.
I first got to know Tom while writing stories about his amazing small bowel (stomach) intestinal trasplant on St. Patrick’s Day, seven years ago.
The thing is while the transplant saved his life and gave him a better quality of life at the time, medical complications affec4ed him for the next several years.
The past two years Tom spent more time in the hospital (University of Pittsburgh, Christiana and Wilmington Hospitals) than he did at home with wife Terri and the children they both love so much.
The real story about Tom Mills is the inspiration he was to literally hundreds of people. If you met Tom Mills just once he was sure to touch your life.
Tom was one of the bravest, kindest, caring persons I have ever met.
Tom loved coaching field hockey and softball at the high school level.
Until his health prevented him from coaching on a regular basis he was on his way to completely turning around the Delcastle High field hockey program.
He started out with just a junior varsity program and had put together a competitive varsity team before illness forced him to give up that position.
Tom Mills was a difference maker. He afected young people (high school athletes) in a good, positive way. There aren’t that many coaches, teachers and other adults with that gift.
Just two days before he passed away several girls who had played for him at Delcastle came to visit Tom one last time. His wife told me it was quite an emotional moment for these young ladies who loved Mills as a coach, and more important as a man who cared about them as a person.
Tom was not a complainer, although he suffered a great deal.
I learned so much about life and faith in God from Tom. He had a strong trust and deep ties to his Catholic faith.
After I came home from the hospital myself in late November, I wasn’t checking my e-mails. Finally, I did that and there were three calls from Tom. Each time his voice much weaker that the previous call.
I panicked and then talked to his wife and realized how bad the situation had become.
I am so grateful to Terri and the Mills family for letting my wife and I visit Tom just hours before he passed away. I cried like a baby, knowing I was about to lose a trueand lasting friend.
Tom Mills went from being a coach I wrote about, who had this remarkable transplant, to a man I would trust my life to. What a great human being.
Most of all Tom loved his wife Terri dearly and cherished his children, grandchildren, and niece and nephew
. Even though his medical bills piled up and piled up, with little help given to him bny the state or other organizations who should have been there to help this family, he kept on battling. Tom and his wife continued to raise and have custody of their two grandchildren and a gread niece and nephew.
They not only gave them undying love, but kept them fed, healthy and attending school.
One person who should be mentioned and commended is StateSsenator Karen Peterson of Newark. Thanks to her help and intervention, Tom was able to received a much needed operation last year at the University of Pittsburgh.
While Delaware and Pennsylvania argued over whose health insurance were going to pay for it, Peterson was there to make it possible. And she isn’t even in Tom’s New Castle district. This is one politician who stepped up to the plate and answered the call.
I knpow first hand how much Tom appreciated her help.
Tom Mills was an orphan, raised at the prominent Hershey School in Hershey, Pa.
Several of the men he went through Hershey with were at his funeral Mass. His brother and great friend Billy gave some moving comments about the man they loved and respected.
Tom Mills- you are the best. You will always remain in my heart. A winning coach at all levels, especially in the game of life.

Way to go Jeffrey Lurie
I would like to comment on the press conerence owner Jeffrey Lurie had with the media earlier this week, announcing Andy Reid would return for a 14th season as Eagles head football coach.
It’s no secret that about 95 persent of the media (print, TV and those wonderful talk show hosts) want Reid out and out now as coach.
Even though I think it might be a good time for a change, I’m glad it didn’t happen for two reasons.
Firest and foremost I think Reid deserves another year to try and right the ship and get the Eagles back in contention for the 2013 Sup0er Bowl.
But, maybe the biggest thrill I had was the way Lurie stuck it to the media.
Through the first part of his press conference he went on about how upset he was with the just completed 8-8 season that left a team with high expectations (starting the season) out of the plauyoffs.
The tone of his comments made a great deal of the media wondering if he really would pull the plug. They sure were hoping so.
Then, Lurie came up with the big curveball and announced he wanted Reid back next season.
Geez, guys, that’s a shame you didn’t get to trash Reid a little more in your columns, talk shows and TV reports when he was down and out of a job.
The thing is,if Reid is fired next year, he’ll have another job as quickly as he wants one.
Despite the major disappointments of not winning a Super Bowl and only reaching the big game once, Reid is recognized as one of the best coaches in pro football.
The Philadelphia media (which includes my former employer the News Journal) thinks he is arrogant, clueless in many coaching situations.
]Unfortunately, most Eagles fans, these so called-die-hard young fan base, trash him every chance they get.
I was a mmbher of the sports media for over 40 years. I have a great deal of respc6t for my collegues at the News Journal (even though we don’t always agree) and many of the Philly media.
Talk show host are another matter. Their job most of the time is to be negative, especially when a team doesn’t reach expectations.
I get so sick of all the negativity that I turn them off almost as quickly as I put the station on the radio.
I used to love to listen to sports talk and criticism is part of the game. I did some of it myself during my career.
But, to constantly do it, is down right depressing for me after awhile. And I’m not so sure these so called experts really know that much about what they are talking about.
So, while so,me media types called Lurie gutless for not making the move, jhe’s my sports hero for the week. And, owners don’t usually get that call from me very often.
Way to gpo Andy. Now, lets get this team on the right track and make a run next year.
Thing is, if Reid doesn’t make the Super Bowl and win it, these media types will still want him out. Reid can handle all that. He’s been doing it for 13 years in Philly and that says something about the man.