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Tigers Sports

Bruce-Led Linden Set To Embark On New Season In Post-Wade Era By JR Parachini

Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2008 by By JR Parachini For sidelinechatter.com

Bruce-Led Linden Set To Embark
On New Season In Post-Wade Era
By JR Parachini
For sidelinechatter.com

Although the Linden boys' basketball team lost the services of a First Team All-State player in Desmond Wade to graduation, the Tigers may have another one in 6-10, 205 pound senior forward David Bruce.

It's now up to Bruce - who has given a verbal commitment to attend St. Joseph's, Pa. - to prove he is good enough to merit such lofty praise.

"He's finally starting to see the light," Linden head coach Phil Colicchio said. "Perhaps it was getting his college commitment out of the way.

"He had his ups and downs this summer and he suffered for it. He's better for it too."

Bruce had signature games last year - such as his career-high 34-point, 18-rebound effort in a 74-57 home win over Irvington and led Linden with 16 points and eight rebounds in its 47-38 Union County Tournament semifinal win over Union at the Dunn Center and also paced the Tigers with 18 points in their 49-44 home win over Plainfield in the North 2, Group 4 semifinals.

However, there were clunkers at Union in the regular season and vs. Piscataway in the North 2, Group 4 final.

"He's improved an awful lot," Colicchio said. "Away from the basket he's facing up a little bit and has played some wing for us.

"His strengths are still his rebounding and blocking shots, which I think he does as well as anyone in the state. He may be the best big man in the state."

Colicchio said that in scrimmages Bruce has scored more, with the Tigers making a real good effort of trying to get the ball into him.

"He's now the focal point," Colicchio said. "Our kids realize that we need to get the ball to him in the low post. There he can be pretty unstoppable."

Sophomore Elijah Hodge (5-10) is the point guard, with Bruce joined in the front court by 6-5 senior forward Tevin Calhoun, 6-2 senior forward Romell Bateman and 6-4 junior forward Qadeer Lewis.

"Our strength is in the front court as we're as big as we've ever been," Colicchio said. "We're starting four bigs and one guard."

When asked what Linden basketball is like post Desmond Wade, Colicchio said: "We had to move on after players such as Jamaal Tate, Tony Wilson and Michael Henderson and we managed to do quite well.

"It's never easy when you lose a great player. Such is the life of a high school coach.

"You just strap it on and play. It's a big adjustment for me moreso because we're so young in the backcourt.

"I've been blessed with seasoned guards. These kids are okay and Hodge is still only a sophomore and a lot will be placed on his shoulders this year. Some of the other guards we have coming back do not have a lot of playing time."

Bateman, who Colicchio says plays more like he's 6-8 with the way he goes after rebounds and gets them, led Linden with 10 boards in its UCT semifinal win over Union. You might see him filling up the hoop a bit more this season.

"He's really stepped up his game," Colicchio said. "His game has changed a lot. He's extremely powerful inside, a Charles Barkley type of player.

"He's handling the ball for us too and taking it out on the wing at times. He's been creating matchup problems for people in the pre-season. Since we have just one guard, it will be handling the ball by committee."

Lewis is a player that Colicchio will be counting on a lot more this season as well.

"He's scoring more and is playing better around the basket," Colicchio said. "He had a really good summer for us and has grown up since his sophomore year. He's a leader and a captain of our team."

Colicchio said the team captains for the upcoming season include Lewis and senior guard Billy Bourgouin.

"Our own expectations are the same," Colicchio said. "Players graduate, but we still try to go out and win titles.

"Each team, every year, is its own team. Last year we were fortunate enough to win the conference again. This team has not won anything yet. We will try to win another one."

Colicchio also feels that this might be the strongest the Watchung Conference has ever been.

"Talent wise, Plainfield has a bunch of veterans returning and a new coach (former South Plainfield coach Jeff Lubreski) who is very good and has been around," Colicchio said. "Elizabeth has a player like senior Raymond Graham, who competes and has been playing since he was a freshman.

"Irvington is so well-coached and you have teams like Shabazz and Newark East Side - night in and night out is very challenging.

"I see our conference this year as similar to the Big East - really good players and really good coaches. Union is another team on the uprise and has gotten better and better."

LINDEN BOYS' BASKETBALL

2008-2009 ROSTER:

SENIORS (9)

24-Romell Bateman (6-2) forward

2-Billy Bourgouin (5-9) guard

12-David Bruce (6-10) forward

22-Tevin Calhoun (6-5) forward

14-Kevin Jackson (5-10) guard

23-Jaleel Sterling (6-4) guard-forward

4-Walter Durham, guard

25-Daishon Barr, guard

5-Andrae Pearson, forward

 

JUNIORS (5)

30-Qadeer Lewis (6-4) forward

20-Jarrett Calhoun, guard

3-Bryan Glinsky, guard

10-Bart Gallo, guard

15-Anthony Wellington, guard

 

SOPHOMORES (3)

1-Elijah Hodge (5-10) guard

25-Justin Philippe, forward

13-Daniel Thompson, guard

 

LINDEN TIGERS 2008-2009 SCHEDULE:

Dec. 19 at Plainfield, 7 p.m.

Dec. 20 vs. Science Park, 7 p.m.

Hoop Group Tip-Off Classic at Union

Dec. 23 vs. Irvington, 4 p.m.

Dec. 27, 28, 30 Christmas Tournament

at Paterson Catholic

Jan. 3 St. Dominic of Oyster Bay, New York, 7 p.m.

Jan. 6 at Westfield, 4 p.m.

Jan. 8 at Shabazz, 4 p.m.

Jan. 13 Elizabeth, 4 p.m.

Jan. 17 vs. St. Benedict's, 6:15 p.m.

Dan Finn Classic at Jersey City Armory

Jan. 20 at Irvington, 4 p.m.

Jan. 22 at Newark East Side, 4 p.m.

Jan. 27 Shabazz, 4 p.m.

Jan. 29 Plainfield, 4 p.m.

Jan. 31 Scotch Plains, 1 p.m.

Feb. 3 at Union, 4 p.m.

Feb. 5 at Kearny, 4 p.m.

Feb. 7 at Mount Vernon, 8 p.m.

Feb. 10 Newark East Side, 4 p.m.

Feb. 12 St. Anthony, 7 p.m.

Feb. 15 vs. Oak Hill Academy, 3 p.m.

in Prime Time Shootout

at Sovereign Bank Arena, Trenton

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