Cardozo coach, star have eyes on history

By Joseph Staszewski

Ron Naclerio and Rashond Salnave can each earn a piece of history this season.

The year will begin with the longtime coach Naclerio, likely at home Dec. 1, moving past retired Campus Magnet and Andrew Jackson head man Charles Granby as the PSAL’s all-time winningest boys’ basketball coach with 723 victories. Should Cardozo, one of the league’s top teams, win its second Class AA city title in three seasons, it would make Salnave, a senior—along with fellow seniors Tareq Coburn and Amir Tutt, both of whom played very limited minutes two years ago—in the first group of players in program history to claim two crowns.

“It’s like a magical run all over again,” said the Monmouth signee Salnave. “I want to write the final chapter the right way. Hopefully the history is what it all turns out to be.”

Naclerio’s piece of that history is assured at some point his season, since he needs just two wins to claim the mark. A Facebook page and logo have already been created and a video tribute is in the works. Signs around the school tell students to come out to see the Judges face Francis Lewis Dec. 1, and Naclerio is expecting a strong turnout of former players, teammates and friends.

“People out of the woodwork are calling me,” he said. “[Former NBA player Duane] Causwell is flying up out of Atlanta, guys that played for me, teammates of mine are coming, guys that I haven’t seen in a long time. That’s what is nice about it.”

Salnave’s piece of history won’t come quite that easy—and he knows that all too well.

He experienced winning a city title as a sophomore, making the two winning free throws in the closing seconds. After that victory, he said that his goal was to get at least one more before he graduated.

“It should have been last year,” said Salnave outside Cardozo’s gym with his head down.

The Judges made back to the final again last season, but they couldn’t overcome Wings and current Georgetown forward Jesse Govan in a 50-46 defeat. Govan scored 17 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Salnave’s potential tying 3-pointer bounced out with 26 seconds left in the game.

“We were so close last year,” Naclerio said. “We could have gone 0-for-2 in the championship the last two years or we could have been 2-0. You have to be that good and be that lucky.”

Dozo will certainly be good this season, led by the senior backcourt of Salnave, Coburn and Aaron Walker, arguably the best trio in the five boroughs. Whether it’s good enough to allow a season that begins with history to end with some more is still to be seen.

The Judges will just have to go about getting it one piece at a time.