By Dave Warner

The Herkimer Originals ABA basketball team is set to take the court on Oct 26th – Thursday @ 6:00 pm in their White versus Black squad game at Notre Dame HS, Utica, NY.

Team owner Scott Flansburg stated, “It’s very exciting. We have a lot of great guys returning from last year. We attracted some new players from farther away from the top-ranked team in the country. For several weeks last season, Binghamton was #1 in the United States, and three of their players have migrated here to Herkimer.”

He said that he felt their joining the team was a testament to how well-run the organization is.

“We lost our coach early in the season last year, and that really made the season tough. So, to have a team of coaches – all the original coaches have come back full force and taken over this team. They know they have something special,” he said.

Flansburg said that the ABA is all about community involvement. “We integrate different organizations into our half-time shows, shooting contests, putting contests, celebrities just visiting. You never know who’s going to show up at an OGs game. We’ve got some surprises for this season and some new sponsors.”

He felt that many people were looking forward to the start of the season. “The enthusiasm has never been better, but with all the new improvements and additions we’ve put in place over the last several months, getting ready for this season has been truly exciting and humbling. I’m learning as an owner to get out of the way of people who are really good at what they do instead of trying to do everything.”

“It’s been a great learning experience,” he stated.

Head Coach Steven Babiarz is the team’s returning (new) head coach this year. He said he’s been playing basketball for some 30-plus years, went to Notre Dame High School, and won a national title with SUNY Potsdam in the 1980s.

He was a two-time first-team NCAA Division III All-American and was on the Bears’ undefeated national championship team in 1985-86. He was inducted into the Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Photo submitted - Former SUNY Potsdam basketball star Steve Babiarz, center, seen here protecting the ball against the Binghamton Defenders, was inducted into the Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Photo submitted – Former SUNY Potsdam basketball star Steve Babiarz, center, seen here protecting the ball against the Binghamton Defenders, was inducted into the Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

He’s been involved in construction for the last twenty-eight years but is back as head coach because of his passion. “My dad owned a semi-pro team called the Utica Wreckers in the 60s, and I’m just following in his footsteps and trying to bring back basketball to the Utica area.”

Babiarz said he’s excited about the coaching staff.  “We have a variety of awesome coaches.”

“The team itself is simply amazing. For the last six weeks that we’ve been practicing, they’re like a family. They’re jelling great. They’re from all over the country. Ralph Williams is our captain, and he scored 51 points in the All-Star game last year. He’s the best player in the ABA. Fortunately, we got him here to play with us.”

Babiarz said fans will see that “We’re young, we’re fast, and we’re high flyers. It’s going to be very exciting basketball. They’re the best players for this level that you can see, and it’s going to be really exciting. A lot of them have pro experience. They can shoot, they can play defense. I’m really, really excited and passionate about this team because of the talent that we do have.”

All of their home games will be live-streamed by The Creative Outpost, Inc., the parent company of My Little Falls, using interns from our program.

If you’d like to learn more about the team or watch one of their games, visit their new website at https://www.herkimerogs.com/.