WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ–After taking a trip to Philadelphia on Wednesday, November 19th, GMC Hoops followed that up with a trek down the Jersey coastline to Central Monmouth County, and the town of West Long Branch, where Division I Monmouth University is located. The reason for the visit was to see Marquis Jones, a former standout at South Plainfield High School, and his teammates from the University of Rhode Island take on the Hawks from the Northeast Conference.
I began my trip after 3:00 PM. Got gas on the way after using about a half a tank for my trip to Philly the day before. So, I didn’t get out of South Plainfield until about 3:30 PM. I wasn’t worried though because I had a general idea of where to go. This was the farthest trip I’ve taken down Route 36. I took it south through Keyport and Hazlet, Middletown, and eventually ended up in Atlantic Highlands, which led me to Sandy Hook and Sea Bright. Following the coastal evacuation route into Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, I travelled very slowly since the speed limit was reduced on this one lane highway.
I eventually got into Long Branch, and after some difficulty, followed the road, which had become County Road 57 to Cedar Ave. Using the directions off the Internet, I took Cedar Ave a couple miles until I reached Route 71 North. Not too far from there was Monmouth University. Arriving on campus at about 4:30, I parked in the visitors area, and walked around campus for a bit in the very cold weather. I got myself into the Student Center, and sat down for some dinner at 5:00 PM. After that I headed to the gym, where I got my media credentials. Over the next hour, I got myself situated between long time URI beat writer, Paul Kenyon of the Providence Journal, and Ray Cella, associate commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference. They were both very nice, and we talked a lot about basketball.
Kenyon was very impressed with Jones, and feels he is a very good fit at point guard for this team since the former SPHS star doesn’t try to do too much, and gets the ball to everyone else. Jones ended up playing a team high 23 minutes, handed out 6 assists, committed one turnover, swiped two steals, and grabbed a rebound. His floor generalship helped Rhody put together a balanced offensive attack led by Keith Cothran (18 points), Jimmy Baron (15 points), Kaheim Seawright (13 points) and Delroy James (10 points) in an 85-62 Rams’ victory over Monmouth.
A player that really impressed me with his efforts was former Union standout, Travis Taylor. The freshman made his first four shots, and didn’t miss until midway through the second half. Taylor ended up going 7 of 9 from the floor for 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists in 30 minutes of playing time. His former coach, Tony DiGiovanni, who had previously coached at Piscataway and New Brunswick, was in attendance along with his assistant, Frank DeLuca, who was a standout player in his own right at North Brunswick before moving on to play prep basketball at Solebury Prep in Pennsylvania. Taylor played more like a sophomore or junior out there with no fear. As long as Taylor is there, Monmouth has a bright future.
Two games down, and more to go. There has been some changes to the college schedule, but we’ll figure out a way to make it work.