Gophers men open a new season dreaming of a return to mediocrity

The worst team in 120 years of University of Minnesota men’s basketball, the 2015-16 Gophers, played three non-conference games in a tournament in Puerto Rico, eight in Williams Arena and one in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Gophers forewent the eight-team November tournament in an exotic location for this season, in order to pack the non-conference schedule with more home games. The regular season now has 31 games and 13 non-conference games: 11 at Williams Arena, another in Sioux Falls and at Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Why is it the Gophers seem to play Florida State 80 per cent of the time in this tired event? The Seminoles are as indifferent to having the Gophers come to Tallahassee as we are having them come to The Barn. The change in the non-conference schedule means that Gophers’ season-ticket holders were given the privilege of paying for three more full-priced non-conference games. Those ticket holders number a modest 6,239 as of Friday morning.  These thick-skinned loyalists do get Arkansas and St. John’s (1-17 in the Big East last season) as home games, but there also are more yawners to pay for this time, including this murderer’s row of home games from Dec. 6 to Dec. 23: New Jersey Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern, Northern Illinois, Long Island University-Brooklyn and Arkansas State. You will notice there’s one ingredient missing from Richard Pitino’s non-conference schedule this winter: No games against teams from South Dakota. The Gophers went 0-2 in The Barn vs. the Coyotes (South Dakota) and the Jackrabbits (South Dakota State) last season, and Richard doesn’t want to hear the jokes about his rodents being the poor cousins to South Dakota basketball anymore. Just for giggles, I looked up the 1971-72 non-conference schedule, when Bill Musselman arrived and instantly turned Gophers’ basketball into a major preoccupation for Minnesota’s sporting public. The Gophers had eight Continue Reading

Here’s what’s open and closed on Presidents Day in New Jersey

The third Monday of every February is a time to remember past presidents (or at least one) and, for some, enjoy a day off work. Presidents Day, known also as Washington's Birthday, is a federal holiday, meaning many government institutions will close. Here are some key businesses that will and won't be closed on Feb. 19:The United States Postal Service will not deliver mail on Presidents Day, but UPS and FedEx will operate as usual.  Most banks, including Federal Reserve Banks and Wells Fargo, will be closed. TD Bank will be open Presidents Day.Montclair State University, Passaic County Community College, Bergen County Community College, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers campuses are open.William Paterson University and Berkeley College are closed. Stevens Institute of Technology is closed, but the library will be open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.Most public schools will be closed to observe the federal holiday, and many private schools will do the same. Some schools might be in session to make up for weather-related cancellations.The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and bond markets will be closed.Trash pickup will vary. Check with your local provider. Department of Motor Vehicles offices across the U.S. will be closed.Courts will not be in session.Most department stores and retail shops will be open, many offering Presidents Day sales. Most restaurants will also remain open. Costco and Sam's Club will be open regular hours on Presidents Day.The new Dave & Buster's in Willowbrook Mall in Wayne will be open its normal hours, 11 a.m. to midnight.Paramus Park Mall: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.Willowbrook Mall: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.Garden State Mall: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.Rockaway Mall: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.Most grocery stores will be open. Presidents' Day: Here's what to do with your kids when they're off Presidents Day deals: Check these out if you're shopping today A look inside: Continue Reading

New Jersey man’s suit against NYPD over surveillance records goes to state’s highest court

When Samir Hashmi sued the New York Police Department five years ago for access to records he believed it had kept on him, he did not expect to become a torch bearer for open government.But on Tuesday, the Paramus native heads to New York State's highest court, the Court of Appeals, in a potentially precedent-setting case that's being closely watched by open-government advocates and media companies.Hashmi sought records after reading news reports that the NYPD had secretly monitored Muslim houses of worship and businesses in New York and New Jersey, as well as student groups at 16 Northeast colleges, including Rutgers University, where Hashmi was a student. "I’m no less American than anyone else," said Hashmi, 29, a lifelong New Jersey resident. "My rights were violated and I was surveilled for expressing the First Amendment on campus. I want to make sure that Muslims feel safe to express themselves on college campuses and everywhere else in this county."Other students requested records and were told that none existed. But the NYPD informed Hashmi that it could "neither confirm nor deny" the existence of such records — a response an appellate court ruled was justified.  More: Paramus man, despite ruling, pursues police surveillance records More: Paramus man's lawsuit could have effect on release of police information More: Action continues on remaining lawsuit against NYC police surveillance of North Jersey Muslims Omar T. Mohammedi, Hashmi's lawyer, said the NYPD's reply was the first time he knows of that a local agency attempted to use the so-called federal Glomar response to deny a records request. But it wasn't the last; since then, two states have incorporated the "neither confirm nor deny" reply as policy — including New Jersey. Hashmi's appeal represents two combined cases — his own and Continue Reading

New Jersey math professor predicts New York Mets to make 2017 playoffs

The New York Mets will make the playoffs but the Yankees will finish two games below .500 and out of the postseason, according to annual analysis by a New Jersey math professor. Bruce Bukiet, 58, a professor of mathematical sciences, uses a complicated statistical model before each season to guess how all of baseball's 30 teams will finish. His track record has been consistently accurate, with last year's prognostications one of his best ever. Bukiet, who teaches at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, successfully predicted eight of the ten playoff teams. "I've been doing it for many years," Bukiet said. "I do pretty well against these so-called experts." He got right all of the five playoff teams in the National League. And in a rare feat, he precisely forecasted that the St. Louis Cardinals would miss the postseason by just one game. "That's what happened," Bukiet said. "But that's luck. The model is going to be off several games even if you have the probability of winning just right." This year, he believes the Chicago Cubs will once again be a major powerhouse, finishing with a league leading 104 wins. The Los Angeles Dodgers will tie that record and grab the top spot in the West, according to his prognostication. But it is a major feat to predict all the playoff teams. Last year, he failed to foretell the ascension of the Baltimore Orioles of the continued success of the Texas Rangers. This is his 19th year using the math model, a system largely based on how players performed the previous year. "It's kind of neat that with just math and a little of insight that one can do as well, or better, as some of the so-called experts," he said. But he struggles to evaluate rookies, and is constantly tweaking his breakdowns. "I need players who have a track record," he said. The evaluation used to take his entire spring break week to compile. Continue Reading

The 9/11 attacks robbed New York’s skyline of its swagger — and the rebuilding failed to get it back

The terrorists won (aesthetically, at least). As we mourn the losses of 15 years ago this Sept. 11, it certainly doesn’t help that New York’s iconic Lower Manhattan skyline is a generic disappointment. Just look at the picture on top of this page. If you glanced quickly, you’d think you were looking at the skyline of Boston or Detroit. Or Toronto. It’s ironic that for the past 20 years, film producers have been shooting in that Canadian town to save money on “New York” scenes — but given what Ground Zero looks like today, don’t be surprised if the same filmmakers start shooting in Lower Manhattan when they want to simulate Toronto. The post-9/11 rebuilding effort failed to create something truly monumental. Let’s be clear-eyed: It’s not that New Yorkers loved the Twin Towers. Most of us hated the paired plinths from the moment they were completed in 1973. But the same could be said of Parisiens and the Eiffel Tower when it was erected in 1889 — but like our World Trade Center, it eventually became an indelible symbol of the city that once scorned it. New York’s Twin Towers inspired awe. The replacement building, One World Trade Center, inspires aw. There’s 15 years worth of blame to go around for the colossal failure of imagination represented by the untwinned tower. Many blame the dullards at the Port Authority, which owns the land where the towers fell. Others blame Larry Silverstein, who controlled the lease and sought the fastest solution to the problem of his lost rent. Cost-cutting developer Douglas Durst, brought in later to trim the budget, also deserves some scorn. The one good idea architect Daniel Libeskind’s initial master plan was the off-center spire that would mirror Lady Liberty’s torch. But the Continue Reading

New Jersey Institute of Technology student fatally shot during robbery at Tau Kappa Epsilon frat house

A New Jersey Institute of Technology fraternity brother was fatally shot at the school's Tau Kappa Epsilon house during a robbery Monday morning, authorities said. Joseph Micalizzi, 23, lived in the frat house with his chapter brothers near the Newark campus, according to the school. He was shot around 3:30 a.m. and died at University Hospital. "I don't know of anyone who did not like him," his father John Micalizzi told the Daily News from the family's Freehold home. "He was a standup guy ... He was always a leader of the group." He said his son had been preparing for his finals, and planned to pursue a master's degree in mechanical engineering management. "He wanted to be a manager. He discovered he was good at managing people," his father said. Police have not named a suspect, and no arrests have been made. But the school said in a statement there is "no imminent threat" to the campus. The college offered a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the shooter's capture. Micalizzi was studying mechanical engineering in his second year at NJIT, after transferring there from Brookdale Community College, and was a dean's list student, the school said. "He was very involved in his studies, very involved in the community of Greek life," one frat member, who asked not to be identified, told the News. "It's honestly a shame to see him go ... I think it was just a robbery and he was at the wrong place at the wrong time." TKE members changed their Facebook profile pictures to the chapter's logo Monday in a show of solidarity for their fallen brother. This is the second shooting in the past month to rock a college campus in Essex County. Rutgers University student Shani Patel, 21, was shot to death during an April 10 encounter inside his off-campus apartment, according to   Continue Reading

New Jersey Institute of Technology stuns No. 17 Michigan 72-70 in Ann Arbor

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Before Saturday, New Jersey Institute of Technology basketball was best known for its NCAA record 51-game losing streak. The Newark school went 702 days without a win 2007-2009, including an 0-29 season. Saturday, the school erased that shame with one of the biggest upsets in Division 1 basketball history, shocking No. 17 Michigan, 72-70, in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Honestly, this wasn’t in my game plan,” NJIT coach Jim Engles said. “Coming into the season, I sort of penciled this one in as an ‘L.’ I have to readjust my whole process here, as to, ‘We just beat Michigan. I don’t know, maybe we should be in the Top 25.’ “I don’t really know what to say.” How about this: The team that played for the national title less than two years ago just lost to a team whose “arena” doubles as a campus fitness center. Damon Lynn made a critical 3-pointer with less than three minutes to go and finished with 20 points to help NJIT pull off the major upset. Engles, now in his seventh year at NJIT, has been through a lot. He inherited a program that went 0-29 the year before his arrival, eventually snapping the 51-game losing streak after losing his first 18 contests. He and the team were perhaps the biggest losers of the last bout of conference realignment, when the majority of the Great West Conference folded into the Western Athletic Conference, leaving NJIT as the only independent basketball program in Division I. “I may appreciate winning more than anyone in the country,” Engles said. “When I go into a season — and I hate to say it this way — it’s hard to win.” NJIT is left hoping that someone, perhaps in the America East or the Northeast Conference, will take notice of the team whose gym boasts a capacity of 1,500. “We’re doing everything we need to do to get in a Continue Reading

North Jersey neighborhood groups to discuss development Saturday

Is ongoing development in Bloomfield, Montclair and other North Jersey municipalities benefiting residents?Neighborhood associations will gather in Bloomfield on Saturday, June 10, to discuss the development of neighborhoods in North Jersey in keeping with what has been referred to as Transit Oriented Development.The group North Jersey Neighborhoods Connected will meet at Bloomfield College between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. for the forum entitled “Neighborhoods and Development: Can we Co-Exist” The event will be held in Westminster Hall with parking available at 225 Liberty St.Experts from various groups will discuss the costs and benefits of Transit Oriented Development, which are mixed-use developments near public transportation hubs that include mixtures of apartments, offices and retail spaces. DEVELOPMENT: North Jersey becoming an apartment haven EDUCATION: 'Small acts' define your life, Booker tells Bloomfield grads GOVERNMENT: Montclair Planning Board grills company on arts plaza FOOD: Renowned chef from Bloomfield dishes it out at NJPAC Bloomfield has seen a series of developments in recent years, including The Green at Bloomfield, a recently constructed mixed-use building on Broad Street.“My fear and the fear of many of is that taxes are going to go up despite the fact that they say that they’re not,” said Susan Sotillo, secretary of Bloomfield's Halcyon Park Neighborhood Association. “There’s a lot of concern about younger people coming in. Where are they going to put all these children?”Bloomfield’s Planning Board also recently approved a six-story apartment building to be comprised of two levels of parking and 176 residential units at 26-34 Farrand St.Speakers at the Saturday forum will include the following: Bloomfield Councilman Ted Gamble, co-founder of the Friends of Watsessing Park Conservancy Bloomfield preservationist Richard Rockwell Colette Santasieri, Continue Reading


WITH THE START of another hurricane season less than six weeks away, professors and students from Pratt Institute are rushing to help Gulf Coast residents recover from last year's devastating storms. The Pratt Center for Community Development has just received a grant of nearly $267,000 from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department. The money will be used to come up with plans for redevelopment of New Orleans East, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. The community is located along Lake Ponchartrain, north of the lower Ninth Ward. "It's a suburban development that is predominantly black, but there's a significant number of white families, and recently a large number of Vietnamese families moved in," said Ron Shiffman, an architect and professor at Pratt. The two-year HUD grant was awarded to Pratt, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the New Orleans chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Prof. James Dart, an architect from New Orleans who teaches at New Jersey Institute of Technology, said, "The work the grant supports will make what the students do in studio seem considerably less abstract. They will learn how a neighborhood truly works, both architecturally and socially." Students and teachers have visited the community twice. They helped with cleanup efforts and surveyed the neighborhood house by house to identify damaged homes, houses for sale and properties that homeowners had returned to. Because many of the people who returned must do extensive repairs, teachers and students prepared brochures for the work ahead. "We want to share information on rebuilding homes so they are not as vulnerable to mold or flood damage," said Deborah Gans, an architect and associate professor at Pratt. Students also have visited a nearby displaced persons camp to conduct interviews. "One reason many people haven't moved back is schools," Gans said. "Parents don't want to move before June. Continue Reading

John Nash’s son Johnny in ‘deep grief’ after parents’ fatal New Jersey Turnpike crash

The schizophrenic son of famed math genius John Nash was struggling to find his footing Monday two days after his father and mother were killed in a New Jersey Turnpike car crash. A disheveled-looking Johnny Nash returned to his parents’ Princeton, N.J., home after finalizing plans to bury his father, whose own struggles with mental illness were dramatized in “A Beautiful Mind,” and his mother, Alicia. Dressed in a long-sleeve brown shirt that appeared to be stained and holding a journal, a pen, and card that had “Happiest Birthday” written on it, the grieving son did not say a word as he walked back into the house that is also his home. TWITTER USERS REACT 'BEAUTIFUL MIND' JOHN NASH'S DEATH “He’s in deep grief, he’s in great distress,” said Dr. Debra Wentz, who heads the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies and has been a family friend for 20 years. "He just needs some time and space. It is a shock, but he's dealing with it well. The other son is also very upset." Wentz was referring to John Stier, who is Nash’s son with his first wife and lives in Massachusetts. He does not suffer from mental illness, she added. Alicia Nash always feared what would happen to Johnny once they were gone, Wentz added. “There was always a premonition,” she said. “She worried because they were aging, that at some point they would not be around forever. They worried as any parent would, especially as parents whose son is dealing with a very chronic and serious mental illness." Wentz said the funeral for Nash, 86, and his wife, Alicia, 82, will probably be private followed by a public memorial. “The Nashes were very generous in sharing their life story, and of course their accomplishments,” she said. “But this is a private moment for the family as well.” The couple was heading home after a trip to Norway on Saturday when their cab crashed Continue Reading