As an attorney and lawmaker, impartiality is part of who Assembly Minority Leader Jon M. Bramnick is. That all goes out the window when the basketball team he once tried out for takes to the court, though.
“I’m blinded by my passion for the Orangemen,” said Bramnick (R-Westfield), who’s representing Syracuse this afternoon as NJBIZ Brackets action gets under way. Bramnick this year comes in as a No. 1 seed, but faces a feisty opponent in Lynn Buckner, of Reckitt Benckiser, who’s playing for her alma mater, UNC Asheville.
Bramnick is plenty confident, though. “The Bulldogs don’t have a great defense, and they’re going up against a top pick with a great offense,” Bramnick said.
Since sophomore center Fab Melo was pulled out of the dance, Bramnick is gunning for guard Dion Waiters to lead the fight to the Final Four. But no player can trump the legacy of point guard Dennis DuVal, the “no-hands dribbler,” Bramnick said.
“I tried to walk on the team once, but it only lasted about an hour. Actually, the guy took one look at me and said, ‘Don’t waste your time.'” Bramnick said. “I used to play intramural basketball with (head coach) Jim Boeheim, but I have a lot more experience observing the sport from the bench.”
Though Bramnick believes losing to Cincinnati in the Big East semifinals “shook them up,” he expects an easy first-round win for Syracuse.
Fred Alworth, an attorney with Gibbons P.C. and a University of Connecticut alum, knows all about what it takes to win the NJBIZ Brackets title — he walked away the winner last April. But defending the prize will not be easy, as the Huskies’ South Region opponents include the top-ranked team in the nation, the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
But Alworth’s journey to repeat titles begins today, when his Huskies take on the Iowa State Cyclones, represented by Christi Shaw, of Novartis, in the opening round. Alworth said UConn’s two talented big men — forward Jeremy Lamb and center Andre Drummond — can lead the team to victory.
“You can never count out the Huskies — no one thought they were going to have the run that they did last year,” Alworth said.
Alworth said the 2011 NJBIZ Brackets trophy is kept in the Gibbons trophy case at its Newark office, among other awards the firm has won, “under lock and key, amongst our most cherished possessions.”
“Last year was a blast, it was an honor to represent UConn in the inaugural NJBIZ Bracket event,” Alworth said. “Everybody needs a little more fun in their daily grind, and I hope the rivalry, trash talking and maybe even philanthropic side bets continue between the business participants. I think it would be a fantastic tradition, and a fun distraction from the daily business life.”
Meanwhile, Allison Dorsey, of BASF, is not feeling so confident for her No. 16 Western Kentucky University, which is up against Insurance Council of New Jersey president Deana Lykins‘ No. 1 University of Kentucky. What she’s most excited about is watching a good old “Kentucky throwdown” at none other than the KFC Yum Center.
“Kentucky is nothing like New Jersey,” Dorsey said. “When you live in the middle of the country, there’s not much to do entertainment-wise but watch sports. You can bet it will be absolutely nuts.”
According to Dorsey, tonight’s matchup will look a lot like the Hilltoppers’ First Four game, in which her team fell far behind Mississippi Valley State but picked up the pace for a marginal comeback victory over Alvin Rew, of Automatic Data Processing.
“As long as they come back up from being down this time, they’ll win it,” she said.