By: Jeremy Leveille
At the NH AAU State Tournament this past weekend I had a chance to speak with Pembroke Academy boys basketball coach Matt Alosa, as well as Jamie Timbas (father of Dominic Timbas), Patrick Welch as well as numerous other local coaches. Here's what I think about Pembroke being denied a schedule, Timbas being ruled ineligible and Welch being stripped of his Player of the Year award.
The latest development? The Manchester schools have agreed to put Pembroke on their schedule.
Pembroke Being Denied a D-I Schedule
For those who don't know what happened, click here: http://www.concordmonitor.com/sports/11603068-95/pembroke-academy-boys-basketball-faces-backlash-no-schedule
So Pembroke wins back-to-back Division II state titles, they successfully petition up to D-I to play tougher competition, and now the D-I principals and A.D.'s get together and refuse to put them on the schedule.
"It wasn't us the coaches that did this to Pembroke, let's make that clear" said one Division I head coach. I would have no problem playing against them."
The D-I principals and A.D.'s got together after the season ended to discuss the issue. This organization made the decision, not the NHIAA.
"Since when is there some organization that's not even associated with or overseen by the NHIAA that has the power to blackball a team?" said one veteran D-I coach to the NH Notebook over the weekend. "I could understand if Pembroke wasn't in good standing with the NHIAA, but they are. I already told my A.D. that I'll play them. I'll play them twice, home and home and drop Keene from my schedule. I like the competition."
According to previous reports, at the meeting where this was decided, the principals and A.D.'s for every school in Division I were present at the meeting and came to a unanimous decision to exclude Pembroke from the D-I schedule with no involvement from the NHIAA.
"That's not true" said Matt Alosa. "Pat Corbin from the NHIAA was there. He got up and made his case against us before they voted. He stood there while the vote happened, and everyone voted, one by one. It wasn't an anonymous vote. And it wasn't a unanimous vote either, it was 17-2."
So what exactly has Pembroke done that's so wrong?
"We didn't break any rules" said Alosa. "They tried to say we went against the spirit of the game. Since when is their a rule called the spirit of the game?"
According to reports, the D-I principals and A.D.'s claim Coach Alosa has been recruiting players from other districts through the Granite State Raiders, an AAU program in the Concord program run by him and his father Frank Alosa (former Trinity head coach).
"I don't recruit players" Alosa told the NH Notebook. "People want to play for us just from word of mouth. I don't go out and find players, they come to me. People talk, and they know if their kid wants to play basketball there's only about 6 or 7 places for him to play and this is one of them. It's just like how if your kid wants to play lacrosse he should go to BG and play for that guy."
Other reports say that there is someone either with the NHIAA or on the board of D-I principals and A.D.'s who has a past beef with Frank Alosa.
"All Frank has done is help kids for 40 years" said Matt Alosa. "Kids love working with him."
From talking to a variety of coaches over the weekend at the state tournament, it was hard to find anyone who not in favor of Pembroke getting a schedule next year.
"I like playing against Pembroke" said one Division II head coach. "It is better competition for us, and that makes my kids more committed to basketball."
"I did hear some coaches in our division complain, they felt like they should have won the championship instead" said a different D-II head coach. "But I thought by them moving up to Division I it would solve that. I don't know what anyone in D-I could have a problem with."
"Pembroke did not do anything wrong" commented a local prep school coach."
In fact, things are already looking up for Pembroke.
"Just the other day the Manchester School District A.D. agreed to put us on the schedule for each of the Manchester schools" said Alosa. "We think other schools will soon follow."
My take? Let Pembroke play. Pembroke is helping to raise the level of play in NH basketball and that's a good thing. Timberlane and West are moving down to D-II, and now with Pembroke moving up to D-I it only makes D-I a more competitive division, top to bottom. And considering all of the top players who are leaving the NHIAA for prep school anything that makes NHIAA basketball more competitive is something we should embrace, not hate. After all, don't try to tell me Pembroke is the only basketball program in the state with a head / assistant coach who also coaches AAU. It's happening all over the state, yet Pembroke is the only one who gets penalized? What are they going to do, make it a rule that you can't coach both high school and AAU? Yeah, good luck with that. The amount of turnover among NHIAA basketball coaches is bad enough as it is. Pembroke wants to move up to D-I to play tougher competition - let them.
Instead of other schools complaining about Pembroke, they should get their team in the gym and worker harder.
The only schools who are complaining here are the ones whose players are leaving for Pembroke. Well maybe you should build a program and your players won't want to go to Pembroke instead. Maybe try getting a new coach, maybe have your coach do more extensive work with the team during the off-season. Step up to PA's level.
So what has Pembroke done wrong, because their coach also coaches an AAU team? Give me a break! There's over 20 coaches out there who coach both high school and AAU (either as a head or assistant coach). Welcome to the year 2014. Not going to name names, anyone who was at the state tourney this weekend for more than an hour could probably name 10 of them.
Timbas Being Ruled Ineligible
For those who aren't familiar with this situation, click here: http://www.concordmonitor.com/sports/12000969-95/eligibility-ruling-on-pembroke-academys-timbas-expected-soon
"Dozens of kids have repeated 8th grade" said Jamie Timbas, Dominic's father. "They're just picking on Dominic because they were already coming after Pembroke for the whole schedule thing. At the meeting with all of the D-I principals and A.D.'s one of the A.D.'s came over and said they were going to try and take Dominic's eligibility."
Timbas attended 8th grade in Bedford, moved to Pembroke and then Timbas repeated 8th grade in a home schooling program.
"He was an outcast at Bedford, that's why we went to Pembroke instead" said Mr. Timbas. "Dominic knew the kids at Pembroke and felt more comfortable with them."
Mr. Timbas did not say that Dominic was recruited to Pembroke by the Alosas, and he did not say that Dominic repeated 8th grade for basketball reasons.
My take? It's not up to the NHIAA to determine what is best for another parent's kid. If a family wants to move to a different town they have the right to. If they want to home school their kid for a year they have the right to. You get 4 years to play high school basketball. Dominic Timbas has only played 3 years. He should get one more. Like jamie Timbas said, there's dozens of players across the state who have repeated 8th grade. I'm not going to name names, but during some of the AAU games I saw this weekend you could look out onto the court and half the kids out there repeated 8th grade. If you take Timbas' eligibility this will just turn into a witch hunt where they investigate every kid out there. And if they do that then the kids will just start repeating 6th or 7th grade instead. As long as you don't have 19 year olds out there playing NHIAA basketball let it be.
Welch Stripped Of Player of the Year Award
For those who aren't familiar with this story, click here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2009375-new-hampshire-hs-basketball-player-of-year-loses-award-after-obscene-tweet
Now there's no question the tweet that Welch posted was a mistake. It was very poor judgement on his part and very poor sportsmanship. You should win with class and lose with class. A teenage kid said something in the heat of the moment after playing in a championship game. It was a mistake, but Welch did delete the tweet just 15 minutes later, and then he drove all the way to Portsmouth High to apologize. It would have been a different story if he left it up there and didn't apologize to anyone. But he deleted it only 15 minutes later. So yes, I do think the punishment given to Welch by the NHBCO was too severe.
With that being said, don't be surprised if from now on all coaches make it a written policy and have their players sign that they will not tweet after a game or make any tweets directed at an opponent. In this age of facebook, Twitter, instagram and texting you have to be careful what you put out there.
I did speak with Welch over the weekend at NH states but not about this. I figured he had already had enough people badgering him about it. But when I did speak to him he was polite, mature and cordial, just like anytime I've interviewed him after a game. He clearly has learned from this mistake and would like to put it behind him and move on.
"I'm going to Notre Dame Prep for a year and then see what happens" Welch told the NH Notebook. "I've been going there lately to work out with the team. Their point guard from last year is coming back, so I'll probably play more at the 2."
Notre Dame Prep is a prep school which plays a very competitive schedule and is one of the top basketball programs in the northeast region.
Keep checking the NH Notebook for more coverage from this past weekend's NH AAU State Tournament