This is Guarden State.

If you found your way here, I’ll bet you already have a sense of what I’m doing. But for posterity’s sake: I’m Adam Zielonka, and this is the newsletter where I cover college basketball around the state of New Jersey. I publish multiple times a week during the season, bringing you game coverage, analysis and feature stories about Rutgers, Seton Hall, Princeton, Monmouth, Rider, Saint Peter’s, Fairleigh Dickinson and NJIT hoops.

The backstory

It was the summer of 2021, the COVID-19 vaccines had rolled out and a return to something resembling “normal” in the sports world was on the horizon. That meant the return of in-person media coverage, and I needed to find a way in, if for no other reason than to avoid working from home full-time. I felt the basketball programs at Rutgers and Seton Hall were under-covered, at least by the national media, so the idea for this project was born. It just needed a name. “Garden State but we spell it with a ‘u,’” I told myself. “Like guards in basketball.” Well, it’s not changing now.

Who I am

I’m a sports journalist who’s previously worked for the Washington Times and the Capital-Gazette (Annapolis, Md.), along with freelancing for several outlets like the Associated Press. Now I’m a sports editor and writer for the wire service Field Level Media. I lived in Maryland for four years, but I’m a Jersey boy, raised in Somerville and currently residing in Mercer County.

Why subscribe?

Starting in Season 3, I plan to write three editions of the newsletter per week but keep one of them behind a paywall for subscribers only. The stuff you’ve come to expect from my first two seasons, the twice-weekly stories and updates from across the N.J. college hoops landscape — that’s all staying the same. I’ll just be increasing my own output, long as my plans come to fruition.

This has only ever been a side gig for me, and I hate asking for money. But by subscribing for $5/month or $30/year you would be supporting Guarden State by putting gas in my tank and a coffee in my hand when it’s time to head out to the next game. Thank you for considering!

Subscribe to Guarden State

Independent coverage of New Jersey college basketball.


Sports journalist in the great state of New Jersey. It's pork roll.