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Fairfield Prep to scrimmage national-power St. Anthony’s

Saturday at Alumni Hall features the old school versus new school, the Hall

Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Hurley has won more than 1,000 games as a coach at St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City, N.J.

of Famer against the businessman.

Granted, it’s just a preseason game-scrimmage between Fairfield Prep and St. Anthony’s of New Jersey, but the Prep community– deservedly so– is treating this like an awfully big deal.

Consider that St. Anthony’s– Jersey City, N.J.’s historic power– is coached by Naismith National Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Hurley, the same Hurley who fathered former Duke great Bobby Jr. and Seton Hall standout Danny Hurley.  Bob Sr. has amassed more than 1,000 wins in his coaching career.

“It’s an unbelievable accomplishment,” Danny Hurley told MSG Varsity reporter Brian Fitzsimmons’  for his 2011 book Celtic Pride. “To win as many games as he has, to coach the amount of years he has, it’s amazing.”

And, no surprise, according to MSG Varsity, the Friars are stacked again in 2012-13.

“Defense will still be the team’s hallmark and guard play will continue to be strong with Hallice Cooke, Josh Brown and Tarin Smith,” MSG’s Mike Kinney wrote. “The Friars’ 65-game winning streak is one shy of tying the program’s own modern-day New Jersey record for consecutive wins.”

Cooke, according to Fitzsimmons, is being signed to play at Oregon State and Brown has committed to Temple.

Suffice it to say, St. Anthony– ranked No. 9 in the USA Today’s Super 25—  is the best team Prep will compete against all year. Plus with Hurley’s added star-power, it’s a great get for the Jesuits on their preseason schedule.

“I think it’s great,” Prep coach Leo Redgate told me Monday. “I don’t care if we lose by 40, I want my boys to know what a premier program in the country looks like.”

As a New Jersey-native, I know what the name “St. Anthony” means. Redgate also appreciates what playing a team of that cache will do for his club.

“They’re arguably one of the best in the nation over a 20 year period,” Redgate said. “It’s a no-lose situation for us. We’ll gain confidence and experience and that’s why I wanted it to be our final tune-up before the regular season.”

Leo Redgate has loaded Fairfield Prep's preseason scrimmage schedule in preparation for the Jesuits' hellacious regular season.

Tickets for the scrimmage will be $5 and all proceeds will benefit St. Anthony’s. The cash-strapped Catholic school has threatened to close its doors in past, with Hurley’s profile serving as one of the main reasons it remains open.

St. Anthony’s plight has been well-chronicled by columns, books and even a TeamWorks Media documentary. The Friars are not alone in that regard, either. Fellow New Jersey basketball-powerhouse St. Patrick — of Elizabeth, N.J. — nearly closed after the threat of closure due to financial ruin.

Fitzsimmons’ book chronicled St. Patrick’s near-final season, as did the HBO documentary “Prayer for a Perfect Season.”

Redgate, meanwhile, has loaded his team’s scrimmage schedule. The Jesuits scrimmaged Staples on Monday, then will play St. Joseph on Thursday.

Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper organization. Follow him on Twitter here.

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