Friar Basketball

Live from Wolfboro, NH – Gerard Coleman versus Ron Giplaye

It would take a lot to get me to Wolfboro, New Hampshire on a 22 degree night in early December.  Gerard Coleman and Tilton taking on Ron Giplaye and Notre Dame Prep was plenty.  Coleman made sure the two hour plus ride was worth it.  The future Friar was sensational in an exciting 78-77 win over Notre Dame.

Setting the stage:

Brewster Academy is hosting a four team invitational this weekend with Brewster and Maine Central in the opener and Tilton and Notre Dame in the second game on Friday night.

This weekend will provide a big test for Coleman and Tilton.  As a Class B NEPSAC school they are only allowed four post-graduate players, as opposed to Class A teams that often feature teams with anywhere from 7-12 D1 players on their roster and have unlimited postgrads.

When Tilton won the National Prep Championship a year ago it was considered a shock.  And that was with a McDonald’s All American in Alex Oriakhi and fellow UConn Huskie freshman Jamal Coombs-McDaniel.  Both players are gone and this is truly’s Coleman’s show.  After watching them on Friday night I can’t imagine they have more than three D1 players on that roster (Coleman, freshman Goodluck Okonoboh, and Ryan Canty).  Coleman is the only returning player from last year’s championship team with D1 plans.

While Giplaye’s Notre Dame Prep plays NEPSAC schools regularly they are actually an independent, featuring a roster full of seniors.  In addition to Giplaye, Notre Dame features UConn recruit Cleveland Melvin, an explosive 6’8 leaper who impressed, and Memphis commit Antonio Barton, the brother of Brewster’s Will Barton.  The last I checked ESPN had ND Prep ranked as the 4th rated prep team nationally with 11 projected D1 kids.

And the hosts?  All Brewster has is Will Barton (#5 nationally according to ESPN), Syracuse commit CJ Fair (#59 per ESPN), two high major 6’10, 250 lb plus big men in Mo Walker (Kansas, Pitt, Georgetown in the running) and Richard Peters (Oklahoma), a top 60 junior point guard (and Friar target) in Naadir Tharpe, and a couple of D1 wings with Melvin Ejim (Iowa State) and Austin Carroll (Rutgers, son of former Celtics head coach John Carroll).  This roster is good for a #2 ranking nationally on ESPN.  And that might be short changing them.

That’s a really long-winded way of saying that Gerard Coleman and Tilton would have their hands full this weekend.


ND Prep versus Tilton:

Thanks to traffic, poor Mapquest directions, gas attendants who weren’t much help, and being the last man on Earth without a gps I showed up for the game with 13 minutes to go in the first half as Coleman made a tough layup to tie the game at 19.

The final ten minutes of the first half featured little from Giplaye and a few nice drives by Coleman, but not enough to keep ND Prep from racing out to a 36-28 halftime lead.  NDP was allowed to get out in the open court and attack and during those final 10 minutes it looked like they just had too much depth for Tilton.

Here were my halftime notes:

  • Quiet Giplaye
  • Coleman attracting a ton of attention
  • Feels like the game is on the verge of getting away from Tilton – first five minutes will be huge.  Gut check time for Coleman – does he come out aggressive?

What became evident very early was Tilton’s reliance on Coleman.  Coming into this weekend I had underrated the difference in depth between ND Prep and Tilton.  With Friars playing for both teams I wasn’t pulling for one team over the other, but I found myself hoping Tilton could make an early run in the 2nd half as it felt like a game that was slipping away at the end of 1.

Insert amazing second half by Coleman here.

On the first play of the second half Coleman grabbed a steal in the fullcourt press and converted a tough layup.  A minute and a half later he threw down a dunk to make it a one point game.  Did he come out aggressively?  You bet.  An eight point lead was gone instantly.

My notes read like a Gerard Coleman highlight reel:

  • Coleman fouled shooting jumper with 16 mins to play… Coleman steal to make it 40-39… slick right handed reverse (he’s a lefty) to put Tilton up 1… kid could be a terror in a full court press..  he just answered my halftime questions.
  • 13:00: GC is holding the ball out, palming it in one hand while scanning the defense.  Who’s the last guard to do that at PC?  As I write that he put the ball on the floor for a quick layup.  Tilton now up 49-42 with 13:00 minutes to go.  What a turn around.

And notes from the final 10 minutes:

  • 9:00 – tough and-1 by GC fading on a 12 footer to tie it at 58.
  • 61-58 Tilton.  Why isn’t Giplaye playing?
  • 5:30 Nice floater by GC with 5:30 left – they can’t keep him out of the paint.   We have a player.  Tilton leads 67-63.
  • 4:30 Coleman to the basket, 69-63.
  • 3:58 GC grabs an offensive board, gets fouled and hits both.  71-66 Tilton.
  • 76-73 with a minute to go.  GC hits both free throws to put Tilton up 5.  He has played the entire 2nd half.
  • ND misses layup with 3 seconds to go and misses three point heave at buzzer!  Tilton survives 78-77.

In Summary:

Gerard Coleman: the notes speak for themselves, but he was a complete force in the second half.  He missed the only 3 I saw him take, but he got to the basketball at will to the point where I would have questioned why he didn’t continue going inside if he started shooting jumpers.

The jumper is a work in progress, but ND Prep, again #4 nationally, could do absolutely nothing to keep him out of the paint.  I find myself torn between wanting to spread the word about what a player PC has, while also tempering the expectations of fans who will expect the second coming of Kobe Bryant.  He was the clear cut best player on the court and willed Tilton to a win tonight.

I’ll summarize his game this way: those Friar fans who like Vincent Council are going to love Coleman.  He simply blew by defenders off of the dribble and when paired with Council the Friars will have two guards who could live in the paint.  He’s good off of the bounce and effective finishing at the basket with an array of leaners and nifty layups.  If the jump shot ever joins the party he could be scary.

Ron Giplaye: Without knowing who Ron Giplaye was I highlighted his name when I saw him at URI last February and asked “Who is this kid?” Tonight, I came in fully aware of him and questioned where he was.  Literally.

He might have had a solid first 8 minutes for all I know, but from the time I got there I don’t believe he converted a field goal.  In my halftime notes I wrote of how he had a quiet first half and how I hoped he’d emerge in the second.  He barely played in the 2nd half, heading to the bench two or three minutes into the half and never seeing the court again.

In another twist of irony, when I discovered Giplaye a year ago I was there to watch Johnnie Lacy.  After a poor first half Lacy was benched by NDP coach Ryan Hurd and I came away seeing about as much of Lacy as I did Giplaye tonight.

On this night he had no impact.

Others:  Ryan Canty is a better athlete than he looks.  He blocked two or three shots in the first half and seemed to have good timing defensively, but his playing time was limited in the second.  He has a good build and the aforementioned athleticism, but probably has some work to do to play at the Big East level.

Goodluck Okonoboh: Cousin of UConn frosh Alex Oriahki hung tough for a freshman playing against D1 ready big men.  Certainly worth keeping an eye on going forward due to his athleticism.

Cleveland Melvin: Sorry, Friar fans.  UConn found another good one.  Plays a lot bigger than his 6’8, 195 pound frame.  Great athlete with a lot of bounce who can finish from 15 feet in.


  • Brewster slaughtered MCI, 72-44 tonight and faces Tilton tomorrow at 4.  Will Barton versus Gerard Coleman is a headline, but the story will be the depth of Brewster’s roster.
  • Coleman’s final stat line: 32 points, 6 rebounds.
  • New Hampshire Friar fans should head to Brewster Saturday for what should be a good afternoon of basketball.  Giplaye and ND Prep take on MCI in the afternoon tilt and you can get an initial impression of Naadir Tharpe while watching Tilton trying to pull a monster upset.