Fein did not get a chance to sit down and chat with his new guard at the time but spoke highly of him, highlighting his leadership and his feel for the game. “His leadership,” Fein said of Chiozza’s greatest advantage. “He can control the game, control the tempo and has a great feel for the game. He is a big time competitor. He had a lot of success in college, a lot of success last year, and even this year in the G League. Someone on the defensive end who can get into people, make people uncomfortable, and run the team on the other side. I am looking forward to working with him.”
Martin believes his defense is the main area he will make an impact for Long Island … and maybe get some time with Brooklyn. The Nets two-way vows to bring his defensive energy to every game he plays in and will serve any role Shaun Fein and the coaching staff want him to fill. “I bring a little bit of everything, mainly defense,” Martin said. “I bring energy and I know I can bring that every game. Most of the time you know your shot is not going to be there every night but your defensive energy has to be there. I feel like that’s one thing I can bring everyday. Just bringing that energy, bringing that defense, and let the offense follow.” “Bringing whatever the team wants me to do, whether it is on the defensive end or the offensive end and rack up as many wins as we can.”
Harris is part of Hoops2O Hoops, aka “The Water Boys,” founded by professional athletes many of whose roots go back to the University of Virginia, Harris’ alma mater. Malcolm Brogdon, the Pacers point guard, initiated the program along with former NFL defensive end Chris Long, a two-time Super Bowl champ. Long put together a video on the group’s mission… “Malcolm is very passionate about it. He had spent some time in Africa growing up,” Harris told the Nets’ Tom Dowd. “He had seen the need for clean drinking water and it had a pretty profound impact on him. He talked to Justin and I about it. Originally, he threw the idea out to Chris. And then one thing led to another.”
The expanded group includes Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Milwaukee’s Donte DiVincenzo, Detroit’s Tim Frazier, and two more recent Virginia players, Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter. They’ve even recruited their college coach, Tony Bennett, as the Hoops2o Head Coach. Through social media and initiatives and in-person events like a meet-and-greet Harris and Temple did earlier this year, they generate contributions toward the goal. “Each guy they have a goal where they, to build a well, it costs $45,000 and each guy their fund-raising goal is 45K,” said Harris. “Everybody sets out to raise 45 individually, and then you get five wells. We raised over a quarter of a million dollars last year. You hold different fundraisers, different events just to help raise money and awareness, and then we all contribute ourselves as well.”
As one of the returnees on a team with eight newcomers, Kurucs was passed on the depth chart by multiple players until he recently found his stride. After such a promising rookie season in which he averaged 8.9 points per game on 45 percent shooting, Kurucs is averaging 4.3 points on 46 percent shooting this year. He still has the second-half of the year to prevent a sophomore slump, but given the Nets’ depth at forward and uncertainty surrounding his court case — he’s facing multiple domestic violence-related charges stemming from a September arrest — it’s hard not to wonder about his long-term future with the organization.