Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Amherst alum article...

News  October 14, 2008

Fletcher Walters and Andrew Olson are just two-fifths of the Amherst players in Germa
Amherst's class unlike any other
By Justin Long

Amherst has consistently produced men's basketball student-athletes that have moved on to play at the professional level, and it is becoming more common for Division III athletes to further their playing careers overseas. But all five members of one graduating class signing professional contracts in the same summer? That's unheard of.

The Class of '08 went 111-12 in four years at Amherst, won the program's first national championship in 2007 and made three consecutive Final Four appearances. Just three months after graduating, Andrew Olson, Kevin Hopkins, Fletcher Walters, Matt Goldsmith and Brandon Jones have all signed contracts to play professional basketball in Germany.

While coach Dave Hixon has seen upwards of 25 players go on to play professionally, he says the Class of '08 has broken new ground. “On average, there's probably one guy in each class that has the potential to play professionally,” says the Lord Jeffs' coach of 31 years. “Going 5-for-5 with one class is remarkable. It's unreal.”

For Olson, furthering his basketball career was an easy decision. “Playing basketball has been the real constant in my life, and I didn't want to stop playing competitively just because the NCAA said my four years were up,” says the reigning national player of the year. “I want to say good-bye to the game on my terms.”

The five members of the Class of '08 represent five teams in three leagues, all in Germany. In a preseason scrimmage, Walters (25 points and nine rebounds) led the Iserlohn Kangaroos to a 12-point victory over Olson (22 points and nine assists) and BBV Hagen in a matchup of Regionalliga 1 teams.

“It was really weird playing against Andrew,” says Walters. “We just kept cracking jokes during the game.”

No alum has helped open doors more than Ben Batory, a 1994 graduate. Batory played for six teams in five countries from 1994-98 and has helped to lay the groundwork for several Lord Jeffs. “The young guys reach out to me from time to time for my advice and networking,” says Batory, who advised Walters on how to market himself and helped Hopkins contact coaches in Europe. “It is important to me that guys get to go over there and play ball, but it's also very important that they do so as Amherst students -- as students of life -- and not as jocks. I try to hold the guys to that Amherst standard and have them learn from my experiences.”

But this is far more than just the chance to have one last go-around on the basketball court -- it is the opportunity to begin a new chapter of life. Goldsmith has already secured an internship with a German consulting firm, Kon.m, courtesy of his new team, TV Werne. “This is going to be one of the most valuable life experiences I will ever have,” says Goldsmith, who had 15 points and eight rebounds in his team's second scrimmage. “To have my friends so close to me is icing on the cake. Every young kid who plays basketball wishes that one day he can play professionally, and all of us are getting to do it.”

Despite the players' early success, being overseas has come with a price. “Leaving the people I care about back home has probably been one of the hardest things I have done in a long time,” says Jones, “but I don't think I could have passed up an opportunity like this in good conscience.”

“The opportunity to continue my basketball career has been a roller coaster thus far,” adds Walters. “The last month has been a huge test of my perseverance. During the end of the first week, I received news that my grandfather passed away from pneumonia. He was my sports idol and a huge hero of mine. It meant so much to me to follow my grandfather's footsteps and sign a professional sports contract.” (Walters' grandfather played for the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Athletics in the 1950s.)

The hardships that come with being away from home make it that much more important to appreciate such an experience -- another of Batory's lessons. “I told the guys to use their time overseas and to make it about more than just basketball,” says Batory. “They'll draw on this experience the rest of their lives, so they need to make the most of it.”

“We are all very blessed to be playing in the same country,” says Jones. “I definitely feel like we are in divine favor with the way basketball has worked out since we've been a part of each others' lives.”

“I could not imagine or plan out a better situation than what we all have in front of us this year,” says Olson. “And it's not so bad to get paid for something that you have always played for fun.”

Hixon will undoubtedly miss his most recent graduating class, as a group of guys so talented comes around maybe once in a coach's lifetime. Still, those who were fortunate enough to watch Olson toss 50-foot alley-oops and make no-look passes to Goldsmith, Hopkins, Jones and Walters can rest easy knowing these classmates are still doing what they love to do most.

More importantly, they're doing it together.

Justin Long is Amherst's assistant sports information director.
Permalink | Oct 14, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Collegiate vs. Olean, NYS Class B Semifinal

Class B Federation semifinal: Collegiate 59, Olean 46

GLENS FALLS -- We're back live from the Glens Falls Civic Center, two weekends after the state public school final four, for the overall Federation championships. The only Western New York team -- boys or girls -- to make it here is the Olean boys team, which won the Class B public school title.

Last year the only WNY team here was the East Aurora girls after their Class B championship (the Blue Devils lost in the semifinals). The last local team to win a Federation title was Niagara Falls, during their historic 2005 season; that was the first time a Western New York boys team won the largest class of the Federation.

Olean (25-2) will take on Manhattan's Collegiate School (25-5), winner of the state independent title in Class B.

4:09 p.m. There's 15 minutes to go until tip off and the teams just arrived on the court. Collegiate just trotted out on the court, while Olean did their pregame huddle-chant-roar thing, then hit the court through a double line of cheerleaders and did a lap of the court as about 50 to 75 students made some noise. It's not the biggest thing in the world, but at the Federation championships, having that kind of support can help. There maybe 500 people in the Civic Center, making the big, old building a little more cavernous than it was when crowds of 2,000 routinely filled it for the state public school final four.

4:14 p.m. Canisius High alum Ben Batory just said hello. He's a volunteer assistant at Collegiate. In 2003-04, he coached Canisius High during one of the more difficult seasons one could think of; he took over for Tom Keenan the year he stepped away from his coaching duties due to his battle with cancer. During the season, Keenan passed away and his players dedicated the season to him.

4:24 p.m. Olean is introduced, then goes into it's floor-dive-huddle-thing.

4:36 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Olean has a 17-15 lead thanks to a three-pointer by sophomore point guard Joe Palumbo just before the buzzer. I must be rusty because I think I missed a basket in my notes somewhere.

4:44 p.m. Our first timeout of the game! Which does NOT help the live blogger. OK, Collegiate called a 30-second timeout holding a 27-23 lead with 2:01 left in the second quarter.

4:48 p.m. Collegiate's Christian Fisch hit a three-pointer from the top of the key at the halftime buzzer to give the Dutchmen the largest lead by either team so far (six) as it leads, 32-26.

4:53 p.m. Some catching up. Both teams haven't played in a while -- Olean two weekends ago, Collegiate won the independent title on March 9 -- but they sure haven't shown it. Sam Moore, Olean's 6-4 senior, opened the game by swishing a three-pointer, which was answered by Collegiate 6-1 junior Harrison Green; then Olean 6-foot senior Chris Weidt hit a three, which was also answered by Green. Jake Houseknecht, who has been bigger than his 6-8 frame for the Huskies in the postseason, finished a very nice post move with a hook for Olean's next basket. Palumbo has been very big for the Huskies, hitting three three-pointers among his 11 points.

4:58 p.m. Some more stats as the teams are about to tip off for the second half: Collegiate shot 43 percent (12 of 28) while Olean came in at 42 (10 of 24). Collegiate hit 5 of 9 threes, Olean hit 6 of 11. Mike Nelson, Collegiate's 6-1 senior post player, has had several smooth baskets inside and leads the Dutchmen with 10 points; Green has nine and 6-6 sophomore Will Bartlett has eight.

5:03 p.m. Olean coach Jeff Anastasia calls a timeout with 5:39 left in the third quarter. A putback by Nelson has given Collegiate a 38-28 lead.

5:13 p.m. Sam Moore follows up a turnover by stealing the ball back, calling a timeout just before he slides out of bounds with 26.9 seconds left in the third quarter and Collegiate leading, 47-34.

5:14 p.m. Collegiate's lead remains 47-34 at the end of the third quarter. That was a 15-8 third quarter for Collegiate, ending with a 6-2 run to push the lead to 13. Collegiate is running its offensive sets excellently while Olean hasn't been able to get the ball into Houseknecht and has been plagued by turnovers and missed shots.

5:16 p.m. Now that's a great way to start the fourth quarter. Houseknecht just slammed in an alley-oop pass from Palumbo on Olean's first possession to cut the Collegiate lead to 47-36.

5:22 p.m. Collegiate coach Ray Voelkel calls a timeout with 4:14 left in the game and the Dutchmen

leading, 49-38. Houseknecht had a sweet finger roll for Olean's last basket two possessions ago.

5:26 p.m. Fisch just hit one free throw to put Collegiate up, 50-41, with 2:59 left. Weidt hits a three-pointer to cut it to 50-44 with 2:42 to play.

5:30 p.m. Anastasia calls a timeout with Olean trailing, 54-45, with 1:19 to play and Olean 6-2 junior James Chatmon headed to the line for the second of two free throws.

5:35 p.m. There's not going to be enough time for Olean. With 29.4 seconds left, Collegiate leads, 59-46. Olean has missed its last four shots from the field while Collegiate has gone 7 of 10 from the line.

5:36 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Collegiate 59, Olean 46. Collegiate advances to tomorrow's Federation Class B championship against Catholic state champion St. Agnes. St. Agnes beat New York City's Secondary School, 55-51, in the preceding semifinal. 

Class B state public school champion Olean finishes its season 25-3 -- it is remarkably its first loss since the Al Pastor Tournament in early December of last year.

---Keith McShea

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Collegiate vs. Olean preview, Buffalo News

Federation at a glance

0 Comments | Buffalo News, Mar 27, 2008 | by Keith McShea

Schedule: Friday's Class B boys semifinals -- Olean (23-2) vs. Collegiate (24-6), 4:15 p.m.; PSAL-Secondary School (20-1) vs. CHSAA- St. Agnes (21-8), 2:30 p.m. Saturday's final -- 5:45 p.m. All games are played at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Tournament of champions: The Federation brings together the best of the state's associations: Olean is the champion of the NYSPHSAA (public schools); Collegiate School is the champion of the NYSAIS (Alliance of Independent Schools); Brooklyn's Secondary School for Law, Journalism and Research is the champion of New York City's Public Schools Athletic League; Manhattan's St. Agnes is the champion of the NYSCHSAA (Catholic schools).
Federation history: Since the Federation format went to three classes (AA, A and B) in 2004, the public school champ has made three of the four finals, winning two. Malverne won last year; Olean beat Malverne in this year's public school final.

Olean starters: Joe Palumbo (5-6 so.), Sean Donahue (6-3 sr.), Chris Weidt (6-0 sr.), Sam Moore (6-4 sr.), Jacob Houseknecht (6-8 sr.). Key reserves: Ryan Carney (6-1 so.), James Chatmon (6-2 jr.).

Scouting Collegiate: Collegiate is coming off a tremendous championship win over rival Poly Prep in the independent final. They're led in the post by 6-1 senior Mike Nelson while 6-5 sophomore wing player Will Bartlett is dangerous, along with 6-2 junior off guard Harrison Green. Canisius High grad Ben Batory has been a volunteer assistant for Collegiate all but one year since 2000 -- that was the 2003-04 season in which he coached Canisius High.

Bracketology: St. Agnes might sound familiar to local fans -- it beat Bishop Timon-St. Jude in the Catholic school final, 54-40. Secondary School won the PSAL title from the third seed with a 47- 45 win over top-seeded Acorn School for Social Justice.

More on the Web: Check out the buffalonews.com Prep Talk blog for more information and to discuss Olean's chances.

Copyright 2008

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Morning Note...

From: Ben Batory
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 9:07 AM
To: !Rockbay
Subject: Thurs Mkts + Good Read as Intro to 2008...

Futures up slightly on some decent jobs data, which comes as a welcome relief after yesterday’s focus on oil, commodities, slowing economic growth, and inflation.   ADP December private payroll report came in with an increase of 40,000 jobs.  Further, initial jobless claims fell 21,000 to 336,000 last week.  

Iowa caucus tonight kicks off the election season… Latest Intrade.com markets indicate Obama at 65% chance to win, followed by Hillary at 33%. On Republican side, Huckabee at 60% and Romney at 36%.  Intrade is particularly accurate with political elections.

IM upgraded at GSCO.  BTU downgraded at MLCO. URI upgraded at UBS.

Oil continues to push $100/barrel.  If it sustains $100, stops could be elected and high level of option activity is expected.

Also worth noting that a CNBC reporter – last night around 6pm on Fast Money – announced he had leaked information that MLCO would be announcing another $10B write-down in the near term.  

Announced Deals

Rockbay News: UBS maintains Buy rating and $81 tgt on NAVZ, DAI GY (as DaimlerChrysler) paid $30M in 2007 for violating govt fuel efficiency standards, dR reports PHH unable to find another suitor, QVT ups GCO stake to 10.3%, CITI cautious on SLM and cuts tgt to $21, BofA reiterates Buy rating for CVS ahead of Q4 results, CVS sss +1.8%,

Vito’s Trivia:  The answer to 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 is an interesting number.  Any guesses, without using a calculator?

Yesterday’s Answer:  We are currently at 5 minutes to Midnight on the Doomsday Clock…

BONUS – attached letter is a good intro to 2008…

Arlington econometrics -- January 1, 2008
Scotty C. George -- Senior Managing Director
Who’ll Stop The Rain?
Even the most successful hot streaks are due an inevitable rest. Thus, because of an extended bull market phase, the markets are showing signs of directionless fatigue.
Compared with years past, last year was the least successful for finding global opportunity and earnings accelerators. In fact, commodities price push erased nearly one half of one percent from global output. The data clearly shows, even if analysts are loathe to accept, that inflation in core costs, goods and services, and currency imbalances are beginning to show an impact upon spending patterns.
As inflation creeps, the impact upon industrial research and development, discretionary spending, food, healthcare, and fiscal policy resonates even stronger. Consumers are not keeping pace with the stealth tax effect of diminished spending power.
In turn, the financial markets are affected in two ways. Obviously, the first effect of cost creep is the viability of earnings power. Given that market timing and asset allocation are determined, in part, by profit potential, the diminution of earnings velocity adversely effects the momentum of stocks as well as the breadth of equities participating in such growth. But the second, and more complex to evaluate, factor which limits equity acceleration is the psychological impact of feeling “poorer”, of not feeling as if one is keeping pace with savings and capital gains expectations. In all facets of life, failure to meet one’s expectations for performance can be a serious obstacle to overcome, even if the perceptions are misguided.
Real or not, the perceptions which overlay today’s trading landscape are nefariously doing more harm than good.
In my opening commentary last year (Jan. 1, 2007) and throughout the balance of the year, I warned against the devolution of trends that many perceived as immutable strengths. For example, in addition to my early warnings about pricing pressure, I warned against the insidious valuation explosion in stocks and real estate, that was leverage (margin) inspired and built upon unsustainable hyperbole. The most obvious threat to capital gains expansion is always the manic velocity of the latter-stages of a secular bull cycle. Sure enough, just as a generation of dot.com enthusiasts discovered a decade ago, foolishness coupled with leverage can bring a trend to a screeching halt. This time, the erosion of fundamentals, and the discarding of prudent portfolio methodology brought down the real estate markets and took stocks (as well as most financial instruments) down with it.
One difference between this decade’s collapse and last, however, is that more “grey-hairs” got caught in this downdraft. Unlike the twenty year old “nerds and geeks” who postulated that the technological new paradigm was for real (in 1997), this latest mess was built upon the na├»vete and gullibility of pre-retirees and the nouveau-riche who had always thought that real estate was a “lay-up” investment. Many failed to remember the 1980’s, during which real estate values declined, causing similar pain.
The guilty also includes grey-hair culprits from the boardrooms of the globe’s financial services megaliths. Getting fat and wealthy off the backs of the uninformed is nothing new for Wall Street. This time, though, the composition of synthetically engineered products, highly leveraged and highly speculative, was too intricate even for the insiders. The golden goose was slain by its owners.
I also find fault with the custodians of fiscal and monetary policy. Politicians spent the previous decade with their eye on globalism, succeeding in principle to turn the global economy into a reality. However, at the risk of leveling the playing field, some of the “have-nots” became too emboldened, demanding their fair share at the table. In the process, equal access to capital eradicated territorial rights and borders, diminishing the impact of the superpowers.
Stewards of global monetary policy have been easing credit for years, setting the stage for ineffectual lending and the crisis which now surrounds us. Rather than anticipating third world demand, bankers found themselves responding to natural disasters, cyclical boom cycles, and legendary ego-driven capital expansion. Despite specific lessons of history, decentralized money supply accentuated the ideology of risk-based lending. Cheap money exacerbated the problem. To their credit, the French recently announced that they are going to forego micromanaging the spending/credit crisis and remain focused upon curbing the long term inflation impact of core cost price increases. We must respond to the crisis, yet our bankers are doing a very poor job sorting through the bubble’s collapse.
Caught, as we are, in the midst of this downdraft, the application of methodology becomes the most crucial element of achieving investment success going forward. I still believe that pockets of earnings acceleration exist. However, my recent findings conclude that the number of global equities which qualify using this primary screening process is diminishing, the numbers of sectors to be included is narrowing, and the cause of earnings expansion lies more in pricing power than unit volume growth.
Applying specific criteria to equity analysis should also require a discussion of humanistic factors. Quantitative analysts, like me for example, are usually mathematicians or engineers who apply strict scientific analysis to our data. We must also learn to think beyond the science and add theories of psychology and the humanities to our physics.
An advantage of scientific analysis is its objectivity. By filling volumes with strict review and processes we create efficient patterns of execution. We are able to identify and measure technical and numerical imbalances in the markets, and to provide strategies and solutions at a faster, more determined, pace.
On the other hand, the disadvantage of our science is the quantification of impact these imbalances might yield to the end-user, the client. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see negative history repeat itself as each generation of “nouveau-tycoon” feels that they are different this time, and somehow immune from the fatal flaws of ego, greed, and hyperbole.
In this coming year the markets need somehow to recalibrate, as if the excesses and pain never happened, to create an equilibrium starting point from which to render a new ideology about risk and reward, just as a golfer “shakes off” a bogey and proceeds to the next tee. Banks need to reconstitute their lending practices to avoid the expansion of credit risk. Similarly, global monetary boards must adjust their perspective from growth to inflation, and worry about the devastating effect of the depletion of natural resources upon the planet.
Into the first part of this year, I believe we will see an overhang of the downtrends that started last summer in the world’s financial markets. Obviously, the workout is quite complex. Its effects will resonate upon the rich, the poor, east and west.
Higher inflation and interest rates are unwitting cousins in the next decade. Emergence of global pockets of industrial, scientific, and economic strength can be the surprise player of next season. The gestation period for a new globalization is unknown. We do know, however, that fiscal policy as well as cultural influences will play the most significant impact upon the flow of capital and the profit potential for regional equities. Whomever demonstrates the qualities of building for the future will attract the most capital and the most political goodwill. In particular, the United States has a unique burden to rebuild a moribund moral dynasty that could be capable of sustaining a new humanism as a beacon for capital, talent, and expectations.
The markets can sense fear as surely as one fighter can sense the weakness of his competitor. Unfortunately, the markets don’t perform well in a negative vacuum. They stop lending, speculating and improving when there is no optimism. The bigger problems overwhelm everything during a psychological retreat.
My clients will note that our cash levels grew from the beginning of the year to the year-end, as we secured profits and rebalanced into strong leadership sectors. Performance on accounts was, in most cases, higher than the benchmark S&P, with significantly fewer dollars allocated to equity ownership in our models. Therefore our story this year is that we “did more with less: less risk, less equity exposure”.
My work indicates that opportunities exist for markets to accelerate in agriculture, energy and health issues, but with the imperative for leaders of the political and capital markets to coalesce to create policies whose effect is to promote the quality of life.
Indeed, in the short term, we must acknowledge slowdowns in wages, jobs creation, and earnings acceleration. But fear is not an option. Not every stock will struggle in 2008 nor will the economy “fail”. As with all cyclic phenomena, bottoms will become staging areas for an acceleration into new tops. Look for capital gains potential in agriculture, healthcare, energy, industrials, and internet technologies. Keep your cash handy because liquidity, not leverage, will prove to be the factor that jump starts the next upward cycle in the financial markets later in the year.
Asset Allocation:
Equity 38%/Fixed Income 30%/Cash 32%