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Girmindl's Ghost

A diary of Shaker High School's 2005-2006 basketball season, a retelling of Shaker's fabled 1979-1980 season, and general commentary on high school hoops, updated daily...

"I like sitting in the back row. I found that sitting against the wall is just easier on your back." -Dean Smith, on the comfort of the H-gym bleachers

If you've never visited Girmindl's Ghost before, I suggest you start by browsing through the articles in the FAQ section on the right. That will give you a better sense of what I'm up to here, and why there's a picture of H-gym to the left.

Feedback is encouraged in the comments and to the email address on the right. If you have specific knowledge of either the 2005 or 1979 team, please pass it along!

Check out Girmindl's Ghost at its second home on Timesunion.com!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Back in the saddle: As noted below, I'm not going to be writing Girmindl's Ghost this year with the same intensity as last year. However, SJC and I went to the game tonight, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to comment. Five things I noticed:

1) It was like bizzaro last-year walking into the H-gym tonight: Everything was the same, but everything was different. Same gym, same smells, same nervous energy in the stands. New scoreboards(!), new uniforms, new juniors. The Sheehan family was in the stands, CBA was scouting the game, and Holmes was yelling at the refs. Tom Maldonado and Chris Caradori were there, but sitting in the adult section. I bought a Twix. I stared at the banners and the '79-80 memorial. It's all the same. But just an odd feeling to be back. It was almost like last season never ended. I guess in all my years of watching Shaker hoops, I was never as invested in a season as last year. Funny how writing about it every day will do that to you. Didn't realize that till tonight.

2) Holy !@%$, they got new scoreboards: I've been on this topic for decades, and I've written about it extensively. It's like all my bitching from last year actually got some results! The new boards are beautiful. Or maybe they're just not from the 1960's. Either way, you could actually see tonight how many fouls each team had! Unfortunately, the sound system has gotten worse, if that's possible. Completely inaudible.

3) The team will be above .500, i 'm pretty sure: they got beat, 60-56 tonight by an ok Amsterdam team. That's the bad news. The good news is that I think they have a lot of room to improve. Eddie sat most of the game still nursing his ankle. The juniors who played looked nervous. And they were a little bit out of sync. But Hooks is going to be a scorer, Eddie is going to be all over the court making athletic plays, and Fallon/Dare/Kahnle all look much improved. I'm optimistic. 12-8 seems like an achievable goal. Obviously, they'll miss Brad/Griff/Hans, but i think the big question is how long it takes them to find their scorer. They look tentative on offense tonight, although part of that had to do with Eddie not playing much.

4) CBA may be unbeatable this year: Sad to say, but it's going to be a bloodbath tomorrow night. Holle, Weaver, and company put on a clinic in the first game tonight. If Shaker is within striking distance at the end of the 3rd quarter tomorrow, that will be a major, major moral victory, in my mind.

4) The 6th man was semi-rocking: Now look. I know quite a bit about the student section and student section cheering. And one truism is that so-so teams and bad teams do not have great student sections. But the 6th man was going strong tonight. It wasn't as loud as, say, the CBA game last year. But it was good. There are new 6th man t-shirts, making the older one somewhat retro-chic, which is cool. It will be interesting to see if 6th man interest fades as the season goes on. I hope it doesn't - maybe enough tradition has been cemented up there that students will come out to watch an above-average, but not great, team. Who knows. They sure love Eddie. His entrance and 3-pointer tonight was electric.

5) God, I was missing high school hoops: What a feeling to be back. And yeah, they lost, and yeah I could write 3000 words about the game, but now that I'm moving to DC it's not even so much about the game for me, it's about the atmosphere. It's something I'm really going to miss, and I think i appreciated it more tonight. Even losing - and in many ways it was a miserable loss - couldn't get in the way of celebrating the return of the high school hoops season.

We'll be at the game tomorrow night. Stop by and say hi if you want. Don't know what i'll be writing about in the upcoming week - maybe nothing. But check back and see, perhaps I'll have 2000 words on some strange topic.


Friday, September 14, 2007

The Ghost is Back!: Well, kinda. I got something like 80 or 90 emails this summer asking if Girmindl's Ghost was going to be following Shaker hoops again for the 2006-2007 season. This really breaks down into several different questions. I'll take them in logical order:

1. Are you going to be going to Shaker games this winter?

Please. Aside from the short period of time when I lived away from Latham, I can't say that I've ever not been a regular at the Shaker hoops games during the last 25 years. Trust me, I'll be there. Ten or twelve rows up, behind the Shaker bench.

2. Are you going to just continue on with Girmindl's Ghost, same as last year?

No. That's not really possible. I've told the story of the '79-80 team, so that really can't be done again. I've written thousands of words about the gyms, the concession stands, and the fans. That tap might be running dry. About the only thing from last year that I can easily duplicate is the game reports, since we'll have a whole new slate of games to go to and talk about this winter.

3. So, are you just going to publish game reports and nothing else?

No. I'm trying to figure out a new "hook" for Girmindl's Ghost. Last year I had a few hooks: the retelling of the '79-80 season was one. Another was the focus on the gyms and the student sections. But I'm not sure what to do this year. I have three really good ideas, but neither really fits in with my work situation right now:

A) Follow the team "John Feinstein"-style, and write a book about the season; use the blog as a drafting board for stories about the team that will go in the book. This won't work because I simply don't have the time right now. I wake up every day and kick myself for not doing this last year. I really feel like I could have written the basketball equivalent of Friday Night Lights if I had done it.

B) Do more writing about the psychology of being a fan. I'm considering this. If you go back and read my confessions of a Bison addict post, I think that's some of the best emotional writing I did all last year. Short of writing a Friday Night Lights-style book, the other high school hoops book I'd like to do someday would be about the psychology of high school sports fans. The problem with this idea is that it could be really boring.

C) Write a history of Shaker basketball. I'm seriously considering this. The positive feeback I got about the diary of '79-80 was tempered by a lot of peoples' interest in learning more about the rest of Shaker hoops history. The downside is that this might take more time than I can afford to invest right now.

If you have any killer ideas, let me know. Seriously.

4. Ok. So what exactly would you say you're "going to do?"

Ah. Who am I kidding. I'll probably just write more stories about the gyms, the fans, and the concession stands. And, of course, the beloved 6,000 word game recaps.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly: Well, let's just lay it on the line.

The good: Bison home opener tomrrow night! It's the Girmindl tournament. And yes, I'll be there, sitting 12 rows behind the Shaker bench.

The bad: Girmindl's Ghost will not be written this year, because...

The ugly: I'm moving to Washington, DC later this winter.

I just got a job at Congressional Reserach Services, doing policy analysis for Congress. It's a job I'm super excited about, don't get me wrong. But I'm still bummed to be leaving Albany. And missing Shaker hoops games is no small part of that.

That said, I'll still be in town for a while. I may or may not do long game recaps here like last year. I dunno. Maybe I'll just occasionally post stuff. Check back and see. And come find me at the games if you want to talk Shaker hoops. I'll still be sitting there, 12 rows us, dreaming about another sectional title.

And if anyone is interested in taking over Girmindl's Ghost, email me...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Girmindl's Ghost, A Tale of Two Teams: Pictured below, Shaker's '79-80 basketball team (left) and Shaker's '05-06 basketball team (right).

I don't know why I didn't compose my final essay for this blog a month ago. I had it all set in my head - a recap of the season's highs and lows, a quick retelling of some of the best stories about the crowds, gyms, and concession stands, and then a wrap-up comparison of the '79-80 team and the '05-06 team.

But i just never sat down and wrote it. At first I thought it was because I was still miffed about the end of the season. And then I kept telling my self it was because I needed some time to get perspective on things. And then I pretended for a few weeks that it was because I was seriously considering writing a book of all this.

And then it was because I was lazy.

Or burnt out on it.

Or whatever.

Mostly, though, I think it's because I don't like writing about things that are sad. It's hard enough to write about losing basketball games - be it the AP game or the Suburban championship game. And I found it almost impossible to write about the end of the line for the '79-80 team - I have something like 10 hours of interview tapes that I've never done anything with because it's just too depressing. But the hardest of all was to sit down and close the book on this year's team. I just couldn't do it, and I didn't know why.

I got an email from Frank Hart '92, one of the stars of Shaker's last sectional title team, a few days after the Albany game. Here's part of it:
It's always sad to see a season come to an end, regardless of a team's record. Oftentimes this is not a matter of whether or not you won a title, or lost in the first round of Sectionals. It's more a matter of knowing that you will never sit in the locker room with the same 15 guys again. This can be very humbling.
And, honestly, I think that's what happened to me. I've watched hundreds of Shaker basketball games over the last quarter century. And I've died a fan's death dozens of times in those bleachers in H-gym. And I would have told you back in November that I couldn't imagine caring more about a sports team than I cared about Shaker basketball. But I would have been wrong.

Because unlike the past two dozens seasons, the thing that kills me most about this season is that we'll never see those 12 guys on the court together again. Humbling, indeed.

So I'm not going try to recap anything here. If you'd like to review the season, I recommend reading through the blog from start to finish. I did that this morning, and it was an exhilerating experience - it captures the emotional dynamics of the season far better than any retrospective piece of writing could hope. And it already got me excited for next year.

So come find me in the bleachers in December. I usually sit in the 10th or 12 row behind the Shaker bench. I've got a great connection for some free Twix. And you know me - I'm always up for telling stories about the great Shaker teams of the past, be it 1979, 1980, or 1992.

And yeah, 2006.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Finally gonna wrap things up: Sorry to all the people I told this week that my final essay for Girmindl's Ghost would be available by now. I just underestimated my work load for the week. But I'll have it for you Monday afternoon, I promise. Check below for the belated entry on Sam's college choice.

Also, there's a faculty vs. student charity hoops game at Shaker on May 23rd, 7pm. Hope to see yo uthere.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Today (4/18) in 1980: Dewey defeats Truman, TU-style! Sam Perkins was scheduled to make his college choice annoucement at 2pm today, but the Times Union thought they had figured out the big secret by early this morning. Thus, they ran this splash headline across t the sports section:

Well, as well as know, Sam picked Carolina. But as the press conference got started in the Shaker auditorium, everyone thought it was UCLA. When Sam said "North Carolina," not only could you figuratively hear a pen drop in the auditorium, a number of them actually were dropped. Here's the TU mea culpea from tomorrow, 4/19/1980:

And, of course, Sam's very own "Dewey-defeats-Truman" picture:

That was the last major headline Sam made as a Shaker basketball player, and the last headline made by the mighty '79-80 Shaker basketball team.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Today (4/4) in 1980: The '79-80 Shaker team saw its senior stars play one last game as the Suburban Council held its annual Exceptional Senior game tonight. All three senior starters on the Shaker team - Perkins, Brundige, and Meehan - were invited to play. And as luck would have it, the game was held at Shaker, meaning there would be one last gasp of the '79-80 magic in the H-gym. A large crowd showed up, much larger than normal for this all-star game, most of them to watch Perkins play one last time. Dean Smith was in attendance, as was Jim Boeheim. Before the game started, Perkins was honored for making Parade Magazine's All-American 1st team just three days earlier. Here's the photo from Parade magazine:

Sam is in the upper right corner. Other members of the first team were: Derek Harper, Doc Rivers, Vern Fleming, Earl Jones, Russel Cross, Charles Sitton, Gary Springer, and one high school junior, Pat Ewing.

The Exceptional Senior game was played under "fun" rules - no pressing and no zone defense - and the players had a good time with it. As expected, Perkins dominated, scoring 32 points, grabbing 18 rebounds, and blocking 8 shots. And for only the 3rd time all season, he was on the court when the game ended, slamming home one of his 5 dunks as the buzzer expired on his Bison career. His "South" team won the high scoring contest 110-85. Here's a shot of Sam putting in a jumper over North's Dave McClure (Shen):

Brundige added 4 points for the South. Meehan did not score, but nicely directed the offense throughout the game. And when it ended, the Shaker seniors walked off the court to a standing ovation. It was over.

Still, one question remained - where was Sam going to go to college? No one could say for sure. Dean Smith was still hopeful - "He hasn't told me no" - but declined to comment any further. Sam said he would be making his decision in the next week or two, and would have an announcement sometime after the Shaker basketball banquet on April 13th.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Today (3/30) in 1980: Sam Perkins played in the McDonald's High School All-American game in Oakland, California. The game featured (and still features) 24 of the best high school players in the country, divided into two teams that practice together for a few days and then play one game against each other. After a press conference with the media and the rest of the Shaker varsity team at the McDonald's on Route 9 in Latham, the team escorted Sam to the Albany airport for his departure to California.

Throughout Sam's career at Shaker, there had always been a small minority of onlookers who doubted that he was truly a national-caliber player and a big-time college prospect. They typically argued that he didn't play agaisnt big competition and that he wasn't strong enough physically to bang down-low in the ACC. Now, much of this was quieted when Sam had huge success on the U.S. Junior National team during the summer of '79. But the doubters were still around even by the end of the '79-80 season.

It's also noteworthy that Sam had not yet dediced on a college yet, although he was down to four schools: UNC, UCLA, Syracuse, and Houston. It wasn't like the McDonalds all-American game wasa going to change any of the scouts' minds - every college in the country wanted Sam. But it was going to be a showcase - good or bad - of Sam playing against top competition on national TV for all to see.

Sam did not disappoint. Although his East team lost the game 135-111, Sam showed that his amazing rebounding ability was not going to be slowed at the college level. He grabbed 24 rebounds, setting a McDonald's All-American game record that still stands today. He also added 12 points, including one magnificent dunk, although he shot somewhat poorly from the field as his outside shot went on vacation for the afternoon. Although his 12 pts/24 boards line wasn't good enough for game MVP (that was shared by Russell Cross and Doc Rivers, each who scored 20 points), it was obvious to all who saw the game that Sam Perkins was going to dominate college basketball. Not someday, but right away.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One shining moment: Went to the Shaker basketball banquet last night, had a great time. As promised, I will write the season-ending recap this week. First, I got lazy, and then I wanted to wait till after the banquet. So it's coming, I promise.

I did manage to get a hold of this video last night. Converting it to "web-usable" makes it kind of grainy, but if you were sitting there that night, it won't matter. For those that weren't there, I'll set the stage: Shaker is playing CBA, the defending sectional champs, in the finals of the Girmindl tournament. The H-gym is close to sold out, and the place has been rocking all night. Down 9 at the beginning of the 4th quarter, Shaker has staged a furious rally, and now has the ball out of bounds with 9 seconds to go, down 1. Now, turn the volume on your computer WAY up, and then hit play. [video courtesy of the Sheehan family]

Aside from the obvious, two things that make the video great are:

1)the guy (I think it's Mr. Sheehan) who screms "GET IN!" right before the shot goes down. That's literally what everyone in the whole place said at the exact same moment.

2)the high pitched screaming of "GEORGIA TECH! GEORGIA TECH!" by someone - don't know who - in the adult section in the seconds after the shot goes in. Just great.

To read about the details surrounding that shot, read my CBA game recap. To hear Brad talk about the shot, read the beginning of my interview with him.

Back later this week with the season wrap-up.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Today (3/11) in 1980: Shaker, the undefeated #1 team in the state, played in the sectional finals vs. CBA. The largest crowd in section 2 basketball history - a standing room only crowd of over 7,000 fans - came out to watch. This game was supposed to be a major stepping stone on the way to greater achievements -the regional and state tournament - and another showdown with Mt. Vernon - loomed in the coming weeks. Win or lose, it was the final local game for Shaker. It was supposed to be a blowout.

Instead, 7,000 people watched the most stunning upset in Section II history:

We'll talk about it in detail in the next few days, but for now just a few quotes I gathered about the game, and one story:

Tim Cain '81: "It was the kind of game you just try to block out of your mind."

Jeff Tuecke '81: "After it was over, in the days afterwards, I remember being more embarressed than anything else."

Sam Perkins '80: "I was shocked. I realized it's always possible to lose, but I never imagined it would happen so quick, all at a sudden."

John Brennan '81: "I still, 26 years later, don't know how we lost. I still can't believe it."

I don't remember this game. I was there, but i was only 2 years old. What I do remember is that this game crushed many peoples' spirits, dramatically. Specifically, I remember what it did to my father. He honestly never got over it. It wasn't like it was a big deal in my childhood or anything, but I can say it directly shaped my sports-related upbringing. Anytime - and I mean anytime - I talked about an upcoming sporting event being a definite blowout, my father would shake his head and say something like, "Don't forget, CBA beat Shaker. Anything is possible."

Twelve years later, when Dad and I went back to Glens Falls for the 1992 sectional title game, he had us get there about an hour early. He took me to the seats where we had sat in 1980 - he had memorized the section, row, and seat numbers - and we sat there for a good half hour just staring at the empty court, while he retold me the details of the game, quarter by quarter. It was like listening to someone describe a funeral. And in a lifetime of watching and talking sports with my father - be it the Giants, Yankees, Knicks, Orangemen, Saints, or hishigh school baseball team - I never saw him get as sad as he did talking about March 11,1980.

CBA beat Shaker. Anything is possible.

Full report about the actual game, and plenty of stories, coming over the next few days.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Today (3/10) in 1980: Shaker did not play. Next game is tomorrow, 3/11/1980, sectional finals vs. CBA. Many onlookers were disappointed that the matchup was Shaker and CBA. For weeks, people had been wondering if Big 10 champ Mont Pleasant - who CBA had upset in the semifinals - could give Shaker a game. Now there would be no way to ever find out. Here is the Times Union preview of the championship game:

It's tough to make out the headline, it reads "Shaker, Greenwich on the spot." (Greenwich, led by Tony Traver, was a powerhouse small school in section II.) That's Perkins on the far right, and CBA coach Bill Telasky in the other picture.

The Bison looked to be an overwhelming favorite to repeat as section champs. They had simply dominated and outclassed virtually every opponent in section 2 over the past two season. At 23-0 and ranked #1 in the state, they looked poised to get their long awaited rematch with Mt. Vernon in the state tournament, this time perhaps with the upper hand. More than a few observers, to put it mildly, were looking past CBA.

And that wasn't simply because the BIson were so good. It was mostly because CBA didn't matchup well with the Bison at all. Their frontline players stood 6'4, 6'1, and 6'1, giving up almost a full five inches a man to Shaker's frontline. And Shaker had feasted on such teams all season long, most recently Troy in the section semifinals, who they beat 72-40 with Perkins, Cain, and Tuecke outscoring Troy's frontline 48-6. Back earlier in the week, when a number of area coaches were asked if Shaker could be beaten by any of the other semi-finalist, they answered that it was unlikely, but if it happened it would definitely be Plesant or Troy, since CBA just had no way of staying with Shaker inside.

Even more to the point, CBA had been anything but dominant during the regular season. They began the season 1-4. Since then they were a very respectable 16-2, but their resume was anything but spectacular - they were a very pedestrian 12-6 in the Big 10 during the regular season. One thing they did have going for them was their coach, Bill Telasky. He was widely considered to be one of the best coaches in section 2, and he had put together a masterful gameplan to beat MP in the semis, using a box and one on Plesant poin guard Mark Suasville to deny MP center Brendan Mitchell the ball.

At any rate, it was time to play. Tomorrow night, 3/11/1980. Glens Fall Civic center. 9pm. I'll be there, sitting on my father's lap about 15 rows up, even with foul line. Game report tomorrow.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Coming soon, I promise: I know I said that I'd have my season-ending year in review essasy up by now, but two things have gotten in the way - my real work and, more importantly, my continued thinking about the sesason. I thought it would be easy to write the final essay, but turns out it isn't. So keep checking back. I'm sure I'll write it in the next week or so.

I'm not going to the CBA-Proctor game, although I kind of wish that I was. I'm going out of town Saturday night. However, I'm planning on being at the AP-Malone game and I have tickets to the UAlbany-Vermont game Saturday afternoon, so I'll be spending plenty of time at the RACC. Hope to see you there!

Today (3/9) in 1980: Shaker did not play. Next game is 3/11/1980, sectional final vs. CBA. I'll have a full preview of the game tomorrow.

I was hoping to have my interviews with Tim Cain '81, John Brennan '81, and Jeff Teucke '81 ready to go today, but I've been bogged down with work this week. I have about 4 hours of tape recordings to transcribe, and I haven't had time to do it. Hopefully, I get to that next week.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Today (3/8) in 1980: Shaker did not play. However, the other sectional semifinal took place. The morning Times Union ran the following headline:

Everyone was looking forward to a Shaker-Mont Pleasant showdown for the title. Dave Bleau, coach of MP, however, wasn't as optimistic. He had this to say:
Someone told me the other day that the only interest left seems to be whether or not we can stay with Shaker. I told him that the real pressure game is [tonight against CBA], not next Tuesday.
Mont Pleasant had already beaten CBA twice during the season, and had not lost since mid-December. But it was not to be. The Brothers played nearly a perfect game, and the headlines in the paper tomorrow told the story:

Here's an excerpt from the article:
CBA of Albany, loser both times it played Big 10 champ Mont Pleasant during the regular season, upset the Red Radiers 65-55 Saturday night at the Glens Fall Civic center and earned a berth in Tuesday's Class A finals against undefeated Shaker.

"I'm giving these guys off Sunday and I'm going to enjoy this one myself," CBA Coach Bill Telasky said. "I won't start thinking about Shaker until Monday."

Maybe Telasky won't be able to come up with a master plan to stop Sam Perkins and Company Tuesday, but he certainly pushed all the right buttons to beat Mont Pleasant. The key to the game was the box and one CBA played against Pleasant point guard Mark Sausville. The Red Raider floor leader was held to 10 points (only two field goals) and was into many turnovers.

Brendan Mitchell, Pleasant's 6-6 junior star, scrored 25 points but was not the dominant factor he had been against other Big 10 and Section II teams, including CBA. One of the reasons Mitchell failed to dominate was because CBA kept Sausville from getting the ball to him down low.

"Their boxing Sausville was a definite surprise," said Pleasant Coach Dave Bleau, who saw a 19-4 season end on a sour note and one game short what had been the anticipated Class A showdown agaisnt Shaker and a duel between Perkins and Mitchell.
So there you have it. It's Shaker (23-0) vs. CBA (17-6) on 3/11/1980 for the sectional title. We'll preview the game in the coming days.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Greatest section 2 final ever?: Maybe. But definitely the best basketball game I've ever seen in person. CBA 71, Albany 69 (2 OT). All three finishes - regulation, overtime, and double overtime - included lead-changing or tying hoops in the last 10 seconds. Simply amazing. I'll write more about it tomorrow.

Tonight's game: I highly recommend going to tonight's game. Even though Shaker isn't playing, there are few things more enjoyable than watching a sectional title basketball game. The game is at 7pm down at the Pepsi. Tickest are just $6.50 and it is general admission. There should be a really good crowd. SJC and I will be there, and we'll be sitting in Broadway Joe's having a beer before the game. Stop by and say hi. Prediction: I can't see CBA losing this game, although I think it might be closer than many people are saying. CBA has beaten Albany three times this year, but twice in overtime. I'll go with CBA, 68-60.

One other note: AP beat Glens Falls last night in the Class A title game. Congrats to the Warriors for representing the Suburban well. A lot of people thought Glens Falls was unbeatable, but AP was able to bang inside and play team ball well enough to hold off 33 from Fredette. Their next game is Friday night at the RACC, regional finals agaisnt Malone.

Today (3/7) in 1980: Shaker met Troy in the sectional semifinals. The sports section cover headline says it all:

That's a picture of Sam jamming home 2 of his 27 points, with Cain facing the hoop in the foreground.

The biggest crowd ever to watch a section 2 basketball game at the time - 6,181 - showed up for the first ever section 2 game in the Glens Falls Civic center (the record was broken later this week in the finals). They watched the Bison turned in an absolutely dominating performance, dismantling Troy 72-40. From the Times Union:
Shaker's latest triumph...was a textbook example of awesome power on offense and intimidation on defense. Nowhere was Shaker's supremacy more evident than on the front line, where Perkins and his two junior forwards, 6-6 Tim Cain and 6-5 Jeff Tuecke, outscored their Troy counterparts 48-6. Troy center Jon Berkeley, who averaged 18 points/game during the regular season, could manage only two because of Perkins' intimidation.
The Bison scored the first eight points of the game, and Perkins recorded a block on each of Troy's first three posessions. At the end of the 1st quarter, it was 17-7. In the 2nd, Cain began to hit from everywhere and Troy continued to shoot poorly. The Bison led 35-15 at the half. Perkins had 15 in the first half and Cain 13. Troy shot an unbelievably awful 5-for-31 from the field in the first half.

The second half proved to be no different. The Bison won the 3rd quarter 19-12 to take a 54-27 lead at the end of three, and they crusied home in the 4th. Perkins, Cain, and the rest of the starters were removed from the game with 4:39 remaining, to a standing ovation from the Civic Center crowd. The second team played out the 4th and the game ended 72-40.

Perkins finished with an incredibly stat line: 27 points on 12-for-13 shooting, 25 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots. His only miss was on attempted tip-in off a missed shot. Incredible. Cain finished with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Chuck Meehan added 14 and Tuecke 6.

Said Girmindl after the game, "My kids [the Shaker team] have been looking forward to these playoffs for half of the Suburban Council season. Now you're going to see the real Shaker team."

With the win, the 23-0 Bison advance to the 3/11/1980 sectional finals, against the winner of the Mont Pleasant - CBA game, which takes place tomorrow night, 3/8/1980, at the Civic Center.

Here's the partial boxscore:

Shaker (72) Perkins 12 3 27; Cain 6 3 15; Tuecke 3 0 6; Brundige 2 0 4; Meehan 5 4 14; Mitchell 0 1 1; Roe 1 0 2; Brennan 1 0 2; Barker 0 1 1. Totals 30 12 72.

Shaker 17 18 19 18 - 72
Troy 7 8 12 13 - 40

Record: 23-0 (3-0 playoffs)
Next '79-80 game: 3/11/1980, sectional championship vs. TBD, at Glens Falls.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Today (3/6) in 1980: Shaker did not play. Next game is tomorrow, 3/7/1980, sectional semi-finals vs. Troy in Glens Falls.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Searching, searching: I found this interesting. The tracking software I have on Girmindl's Ghost allows me to see what phrases people searched for if they found the site through Google. Some recent Google searches that led people here:

Albany high game John Hans
John Hans shaker elbow
Erwyn suspended Shaker elbow
John Hans Albany basketball elbow cheap

And my my personal favorite:

I hate Devyn Erwyn

Maybe it's reassuring that that last one gets you to Girmindl's Ghost. Maybe not.

Today (3/5) in 1980: The question looming on everyone's mind, delivered as an above the fold splash cover story in the Times Union:

The article first reviewed Shaker's amazing dominance this season: An undefeated record, an average margin of victory of 29 points, only three games that included meaningful 4th quarter play,and only one victory by less than 12 points. It then turned to the question at hand. Could Troy, Mont Pleasant, CBA stop Shaker short of the state tournament?

The article interviewed three coaches (Don Bassett of Catholic Central, Damian Fantauizzi of Saratoga, and former Bishop Maginn coach Don Weaver). Here was the general consensus, offered by Weaver:
"I don't feel Shaker will get beat this year."
However, the coaches did agree that anything was possible:
"Any high school team is beatable when you get down to this part of the season," said Bassett."
Still, it was going to take a particular set of circumstances to pull of the upset:
All three coaches feel that if anyone is capable of preventing Shaker from comleting a second consecutive perfect record against Section II competition, it will have to be Troy or Mont Pleasant.

"CBA just gives away too much height," said Bassett. "They would have to take the air out of the ball, and even that will be very difficult."
The three coaches were then asked what it would take to beat Shaker:

Bassett: "It's not going to be easy...Troy [Shaker's semifinal opponent] will have to try to beat Shaker down the floor, and use some halfcourt traps...And Mont Pleasant will have to keep Mitchell out of foul trouble...Shaker can get by with Perkins on the bench, they can just move Cain inside...you're not going to beat Shaker by shooting from the outside - and you can't go into the game thinking you're going to beat Perkins by taking him away from the basket on defense. You have to score from the inside, but you have to pick and choose your spots for going to the basket." Bassett also thought Shaker might actually be easier to beat this year, despite having a much more dominating season that last year. "Last year, if you collapsed on Perkins, Mike Sally would just kill you from the outside. I don't think either of Shaker's guards this year [Brundige or Meehan] have that kind of range."

Fantauzzi: The key is to collapse on Perkins and pressure the ball out front. "You have to deny Shaker the easy pass...and your guards have to be able to hit from the outside, that will open things up. But you have to be patient."

Weaver: He thinks the key to beating Shaker is smart defense. His Maginn team had Shaker on the ropes during the previous seasion [a 50-49 Shaker victory] and he shared his game plan with the paper. "We forced Perkins to the outside wing, which was exactly what we wanted to do. Unfortunately, he made 9 of 10 long ones to beat us. But that is what you have to do. Double Perkins and try to box out their forwards...Mont Pleasant might have the best chance...Maybe Mitchell can contain Perkins. The real question is whether their forwards can matchup with Cain and Tuecke."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Today (3/4) in 1980: Everyone was gearing up for the upcoming week of basketball. The schedule looks like this:


Fri., March 7th, 1980 (7:30pm): #1 Shaker (22-0) vs. #13 Troy (11-11)
Sat., March 8th, 1980 (7:30pm): #2 Mont Pleasant (18-4) vs. #3 CBA (16-6)


Tuesday, March 11th, 7:30pm: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner

People were getting very excited about the prospect of a Mont Pleasant-Shaker showdown. MP had one of the few players in the area - 6'6" Brendan Mitchell - who had shown (in a preseason scrimmage) any willingness to even challenge Perkins inside. And after last year's sell-out crowd of 4,500 at the Siena ARC for the Catholic Central-Shaker title game, everyone was confident that the new Civic center would be filled to capicity of Tuesday's title game.

The Times Union ran pretty good previews and coverage of the games all week long. Most of it suggested Shaker simply could not be beaten. One exception to that was Al Hart, who had written a rather ominous column a few weeks back, arguing that maybe Shaker could be beaten in the sectionals:
Undefeated Shaker has to be the overwhelming favorite to capture the Section II, Class A basketball tournament. But I think that...they can be beaten.

I know. Shaker is [unbeaten] this year and has lost just one game in the past two years. And 6-foot-9 Sam Perkins is one heck of a performer. But I think Mont Pleasant, for one, can beat Shaker.

Why? Brendan Mitchell, Mont Pleasant's junior ace, is 6-foot-6 and could hold his own against Perkins. Richard Dix and Bobby McDouglad can neutralize Shaker forwards Tim Cain and Jeff Tuecke, and Pleasant's backcourt of Mark Sausville and Vic Isabella is - in my opinion - far superior to Shaker's. True, Shaker has a better bench, but MP coach Dave Bleau has his team in good shape and he might not need to rotate more than 6 or 7 players...that is, if they meet.

Then again, perhaps [no one will come close] and this treatise will be pointless. I'm just saying that I don't think a Shaker trip to the regionals on March 14th should be taken as a foregone conclusion. The Big 10 plays some pretty good basketball, too.
Most observers thought this was utter nonsense. And, as we'll see tomorrow (3/5/1980) in a Times Union cover story, even the coaches of those "pretty good" Big 10 teams didn't have a whole lot of hope that they were going to take down the Bison.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Erwyn Suspended: Here's the link. Here's all the info I have:
(Albany) - One of Albany High School's star basketball players will not be on the court when the Falcons take on the Schenectady High Patriots in the semi-finals this weekend. 6-foot 8 forward, Devyn Erwin, was caught on video elbowing Shaker point guard, John Hans, in the face during Sunday night's game. Hans suffered temporary vision loss and a chipped tooth. Erwin was never penalized.
During an interview with CBS6 News on Thursday, Albany Schools Athletic Director Frank Owens said the decision was made to allow Erwin to play. But on Friday, Section 2 league officials decided Edwin will have to sit the bench for this weekend's game.
That's probably a good result. Obviously, it won't put John's teeth back together, but maybe it will send a message that will prevent this kind of thing next year.

I'll be writing my season wrap-up for the '05-06 year tomorrow. Look for it sometime over the weekend.

Today (3/3) in 1980: Shaker did not play. Next game is 3/7/1980, sectional semi-finals against Troy, at Glens Falls Civic Center. Click here (and scroll down) for the 1980 Class AA tournament bracket.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

State playoffs: If you are interested in tracking the remainder of the New York State basketball playoffs, this website provides brackets and scores from every section. Very handy.

Rumors: Not much to talk about today, but rumors are flying over at syracuse.com that the Albany player who knocked out Hans might face some discipline. Someone said that WTEN showed a tape of it, but I haven't seen it yet. I also don't know the extent of Hans' injuries, although from what I gather he's pretty much fully recovered, save for a few chipped teeth. And obviously, that's the most important thing in all of this.

As I said on Sunday/Monday, I didn't have a great view of the incident because of my relative location to it in the bleachers. So I'm going to reserve all judgement now until I see the tape. I can tell you that my intial reaction at the time was that it was more than just a incidental collision. But that was largely based on seeing Brad very adamantly protesting to the referee about it. I've heard various eyewitness acounts - ranging from "it was totally an accident" to "obviously intentional" - so I'm pretty sure I'll need to see the tape to make a judgement.

However, I did have an excellent view of Brad going down at midcourt in the 1st quarter, because I was sitting on press row at the time. In my opinion, that one was hardly accidental. It was a pretty clear takedown. But again, if a tape exists, I'd like to see that before drawing any real conclusions. One thing that bothers me about what I'm hearing is that both incidents (the takedown of Brad and the elbow to Hans) came directly after the Albany player had their shot blocked or otherwise was stifled on offense. That might indicate that it's not dirty play per se, but instead a lashing out in anger or frustration.

Of course, I have no idea how discipline works in these situations, and even less of an idea of what kind of disciplinary action - if any - is appropriate. I do know that the goal of any discipline system should be to prevent this kind of stuff from happening in the first place. But the best way to do that? No clue. If it's clear that the elbow to Hans was intentional, then I'd think the same system used to discipline an on-court fight would be appropriate. I don't know what that system is, but it's probably a suspension for one or more games, depending on the severity and the prior record of the offender.

I'll update you when I find out more.

UPDATE: Just saw the Erwyn/Hans video on WTEN. Here's what I learend from the broadcast:

1)Albany High has reviewed the two tapes and has determined that it "was not conclusive that it was intentional" and thus they have decided not to discipline Erwyin.

2)The Section 2 executive committee is going to meet tomorrow AM to review the tapes and consider disciplinary action.

Oddly, one thing the news said is that Albany called Erwyn's old coaches to inqurie about this, and they all said he was a choir boy on the court. That doesn't seem possible, given what I've heard people say about his on-court behavior.

Here was my take from the tapes: It's pretty tough to judge. It's not a classic sucker-punch and he doesn't do anything that makes you go, "oh man, he's simply trying to deck him." But he does raise his arm as he runs by, for no apparent reason, and that's more than a bit strange - it's not a natural motion, you don't just do that running down the court. Put it together with my other observations of his play, and other people's descripton of his play, and it looks pretty intentional. If I were the arbiter, a one-game suspension seems appropriate, with a stern lecture about harsher future consequences.

Still, it's not so blatant that the section 2 committee is definitely going to suspend him. I guess we'll see tomorrow.

Today (3/2) in 1980: Shaker did not play. Next game is 3/7/1980, sectional semi-finals against Troy, at Glens Falls Civic Center. Click here (and scroll down) for the 1980 Class AA tournament bracket.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Simply Chilling: [This has nothing to do with Shaker hoops, or even high school hoops, but I had to post it.]

I hear this commerical has been out for a few weeks, but I just caught on to it. Play this video (make sure the sound is on). If it doesn't give you chills, then either:

1) you aren't old enough to remember these moments.
2) you aren't human.

I've watched it 10 times, and I'm still mesmerized.

A letter from Coach Holmes: Coach Holmes asked me to share this letter with all of my readers, so I'll do just that. I'll be back later this week with a wrap-up of the season. This was a fantastic year, and the loss to Albany is, for me, already fading as I look back upon this truly magnificent season.

Anyway, here's Coach:
Dear Matt:

Please share this with the readers of Girmindl's Ghost. We have truly had a season to remember. As disappointing as it was to end it, it is even harder to face that we won't be together again for any more games, practices, and team gatherings. I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to thank some people for their part in our success.

First of all wanted to write to express a sincere thank you to you for everything you have done to promote our team and school. It has been tremendously refreshing to read all your insights and observations.

I would really like to thank our students, specifically the "6th Man" Group for your outstanding and spirited support. Our players were so lucky to have fellow students and friends so supportive. Believe me, they were very grateful. You've shown us what true school spirit is all about!!

I would like to thank our parents for your unconditional support throughout the season. I realize how huge a commitment having a son that plays Varsity basketball is and how big the demands are. I certainly appreciate the sacrifices you have made on behalf of your son.

I have a fantastic staff to work with. Shawn Hennessey is a former player of mine, who played on our 1991-92 championship team, that did an exceptional job as Modified Coach developing his players and the team concept. Dan Bonono coached our Freshmen team to an 18-2 record and helped our program in a lot of ways (scouting, open gyms, camps, ect.) My J.V. coach and office partner Steve DeMarco has been a solid and loyal member of our staff for all but one of my sixteen years as Varsity Coach. He is most definitely a "program first" coach and always will be. I can't even express in words how fortunate I am to have Varsity assistants like Mike Brehm and Steve Sheffer, but I'll try anyway. Mike is an outstanding coach in his own right and compliments our team with his tremendous knowledge and communication skills. He keeps everyone loose with his keen sense of humor and mannerisms. Steve is a "do anything and no task too small" type of guy. He would do any thing for our program, cares deeply for our players, and is all about Shaker Basketball. During the bulk of the season, Steve, who works for the U.S. Postal Service, was working nights staring at 1:00 A.M. and sometimes 3:00 A.M. to noon. He rarely, if ever, missed practice, unless his job required him to travel out of town. I can't think of a coach, in my position, who is as lucky as I am to have such great guys and friends to work with.

Lastly, I can't say enough about our team. I had great, great kids who believed in our program and staff. Our Seniors were outstanding leaders who gave every ounce of energy they had to the team. As it has been documented, I had to literally kick them out of the gym after every practice. I had serious doubts about our underclassmen before the season. They were quickly squashed when the season started and when they were thrown in the fire in our first tournament. I am very excited about the potential and progress of this group for the future.

I can't believe how how lucky as a coach I have been to have a player like Brad Sheehan. Not just because he is a scholarship player going to ACC school, or scored over 1,000 points, or been on two Suburban Council Championship teams, or player of the Year in the Suburban Council. It's because he is a fine young man that is all that is right about high school basketball. He is the whole package: serious student, dedicated player, great teammate, and a quiet, but effective, leader. The rest of our Seniors have been a group that I'll never forget and always treasure our association and journey together. There is no doubt in my mind they will be successful in whatever endeavors they choose.

As much as I don't want to admit it, or give in to it, our journey is over. It's a team and a season I'll never forget and, once again, thanks to everyone who made it such an unbelieveable ride.


Coach Holmes

Today...er, yestrerday, idunno, (2/29) in 1980: Shaker played its sectional second round game on leap year day in 1980. So today we're kinda covering two days of history. Nothing much happened on March 1st, 1980, so we'll just pretend today is February 29th.

If you recall from the 1980 Class A sectional bracket, Shaker's game today was a quarterfinal matchup against a well-known opponent, Burnt Hills. The game was scheduled for 7:30pm at Mechanicville Middle School. (Now that's a whole other story - for some reason, in the late 70's and early 80's, tons of sectional games were played at Mechanicville Middle School. I assume that it's the old high school and that it has a huge gym, but i can't say for sure. If someone out there knows the story, let me know).

If you recall, Shaker twice handily beat Burnt Hills during the Suburban regular season, although each time they had some early problems. In early January, the Bison shook off a poor first quarter and won going away, 63-38. Then in February, Shaker had only a 5 point halftime lead before running away in the second half with a 68-46 victory. There's an old saying in college and high school basketball that it's "hard to beat a team three times in one year." Logically, that's a really dumb statement, but it is true that the third matchup between teams is often a better one than the first two.

And it held true tonight. Burnt Hills gave the Bison everything they could handle, and Shaker was flat the entire evening. Luckily, the came alive for one fabulous 19-2 run in the middle of the game and won without too much trouble late, 65-54.

The first quarter played very tight, with Shaker winning 14-12. Said Coach Girmindl, "We were flat. Very flat. It's tough to play a team the third time." In the second quarter, Burnt Hills really turned up their game. Using a slowdown offense and hitting their shots, the Spartans took a 24-18 lead with 1:30 to go in the half. Shaker had yet to trail at halftime all year, and the crowd smelled a gigantic upset.

But the Bison came alive. Jim Howard hit two free throws and then stole the inbouds and scored, cutting the lead to 24-22. Burnt Hills then tried to stall of the last 75 seconds of the half, but after missing with less than 10 seconds to go, Tuecke quickly got the rebound out to Meehan, who hit Cain on the run for the tying layup as the buzzer sounded. 24-24 at the half.

The beginning of the third quarter was the turning point of the game. The Bison opened the second half on a 13-2 run, and never looked back. Brundige and Meehan turned up the pressure on the Spartan guards, and Perkins came alive with his inside game. Burnt Hills played the Bison close to even the rest of the way, but never got the lead to less than eight. The final was 65-54, the closest game of the season for Shaker except for the close call against Saratoga. It was also the smallest margin of victory for the Bison against a Suburban opponent during the previous two years ('toga was not in the Suburban yet).

Perkins finished with 28 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks. Cain added 11, Meehan 9, and Brundige 7. The Bison improved to 22-0, but certainly looked shaky doing it. They would have to put up better performances in the coming weeks if they hoped to win the section, and eventually the state, title.Said Girmindl after the game, "A close game was good for us. From now on, they're all going to be tough."

In other second round sectional play around the league in 1980:

#13 Troy upset #5 Linton
#3 CBA beat #7 Saratoga
#2 Mont Pleasant beat #6 Albany

That means the bracket looked like this for the semi-final round:

What good fortune for the Bision, getting to play the #13 seed in the semi-final!

Here's the partial boxscore from the B. Hills - Shaker game:

Shaker (65) - Perkins 9 10 28; Cain 5 1 11; Tuecke 3 0 6; Brundige 3 1 7; Meehan 4 1 9; Howard 1 2 4. Totals 25 15 65.

Shaker 14 10 24 17 - 65
B. Hills 12 12 12 18 - 54

Record: 22-0 (2-0 playoffs)
Next '79-80 game: 3/7/1980, semi-finals against Troy, Glens Falls civic center.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Confessions of a Bison addict: This is part two of my recap of the quarterfinal overtime loss to Albany that ended Shaker's season. (You can read part I - the actual game recap - here. I'll be back in a few days with a recap of the whole season.)

It's cliche to write about how much a sports team can mean to people and how much it hurts to lose the last game, and I usually hate reading such stories in magazines or newspapers. I hate them for two reasons:

1) if you aren't a true fan of the team that is being discussed, you can never really relate to what the author is saying.

2) most sports writers themselves aren't real fans of the teams they write about, so they don't actually know what it feels like for the actual fans when the team loses. Instead, they are just trying to remember what it was like the last time their team lost, and translate that feeling to the current situation. Usually fails.

So this essay is only for real fans of Shaker basketball '05-06. If you weren't at the game Sunday, or if you didn't have trouble sleeping that night, don't bother reading it. It probably won't make any sense.

Confessions of a Bison addict

Repeat after me: It's just a high school basketball game.
Repeat after me: It's just teenagers playing a game for fun.
Repeat after me: It's not important in the grand scheme of things.
Repeat after me: It's just a high school basketball game.

If only I could get myself to believe any of that.

Sometimes I wish I didn't care. That I would wake up tomorrow and not think about Shaker basketball at all. And I could go to the games and not be devastated when they lost. That I could stop wondering "what if" about this season, 1980, 1992, and all the rest of it. But I can't. I just can't.

Over the last 36 hours, I've quickly cycled through the five classic stages of grief a number of times. You can pretty much get through all of them in about 10 minutes. Then you just go back to the beginning and start again, and you do it maybe 500 times in a row and 500 more times before next fall, and that's that. So that's what I did yesterday. Judging from my email, any number of my readers did the same: some cried themselves to sleep, some didn't sleep. Some sleepwalked through work and school on Monday, some never really woke up. Some people distracted themselves with silly chores, some spent hours daydreaming about what could have been.

How sick is it that we can model our psychological response to high school basketball like we model our response to death?

Let's start from the beginning.

Stage 1: Denial. I prefer to call this one "shock." I still can't believe they lost that game. Actually, that's not true. With 1:30 to go in the 4th, down 53-48 without the ball, I was mentally preparing myself for about a 60-54 loss. So I can believe that they didn't win. What I'll never believe is how it happened. No way. It was like I was watching some sick version of Hoosiers, in which after Hickory hit the winning shot, they just forgot to end the film and instead they spliced in the finish of the Shaker-Maginn game from Christmas break. I mean, have you ever seen such a horrifying finish - up 2 with 20 seconds to go, get scored on, turn it over and give up a game winner to some kid who hasn't scored all game - happen twice in one season? Nope. Not possible. It didn't happen. I'm still dreaming it. Vernon's steal and layup actually won the game. Shaker got a stop, made their foul shots, and ran out the clock. I'll see you in Glens Falls on Saturday night. Did you hear Mark Lyons isn't playing? I think we have an excellent chance.

After game 6 the 2003 NLCS, it was observed that several dozen people never left Wrigley Field. The game ended just after midnight EST, and a number of people simply sat in their seats till the sun came up, staring at the field. I don't think I could have sat in the RACC bleachers all night, but I could have gone an hour or two. Unfortunately, I wasn't given the chance because I was already starting to feel a deep, mellow...

Stage 2: Anger. The first person I was mad at was my mom. That sounds dumb, but you weren't there when she was trying to tell me how "this is what makes high school basketball so great." That would be bad enough an hour after it ended. She was going full bore before we had gotten out of the RACC. Ugggggghhhh. Still, I've heard this all before from my mom - wasn't it just one year ago she was giving me same speech after the Troy game? - so I was very easily capable of tuning her out.

I quickly turned my anger to other, more easily hatable, targets:

#1) The referees. UGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I cannot BELIEVE those idiots called that foul on Vernon in the overtime. Talk about deciding a game with the whistle. They hand't called a rebounding foul away from the ball all freakin' game, and then they decide to do it with 25 seconds left in overtime? Exhibit 2: the foul on Schaller in overtime. Yeah, that was probably, by the book, a foul. But they had called 6 fouls the entire 4th quarter/overtime. No way that shot was going anywhere near the hoop, and no way Schaller's "foul" made the difference on the shot. Just garbage. Either of those calls aren't made, Shaker wins. It's that simple. But I'm not done yet. I'd seriously like to know what game they were watching in the first half. Every time they did blow the whistle, it was for something silly, like a touch foul on a dribble in the halfcourt set. And then every time someone got clobbered - Griff and Duclos come to mind in the first half (not to mention a few Albany drives) - not a peep. Here's a post-game email from Joe B., sums up this aspect of things great:
That was the worst officiated game i've ever seen, on any level, in any sport, on any continent, including Antarctica. You wanna talk about gettin screwed with ur pants on well we got pretty well doinked. Absolutly rediculous. Maybe i'll send u other thoughts when i stop wishing i knew the names adresses and fears of the refs.
I mean, first off, that's high comedy. But mostly I was glad when I got that email, because it proved I wasn't delusional.

#2) Albany. I'm not going to single anyone out, partially because I don't like to bash high school kids, but mostly because I don't know their names and I don't care. What a bunch of cheap shot artists. Who the hell is their coach, John Krease? I just kept picturing Karate Kid in my head. "I don't want him beaten. Out of commimssion. Do you have a problem with that?" Bad enough that they kept trying to "sweep the leg" against Brad. But the coup de grace was when that one kid got embarressed by Brad blocking him twice in a row and decided to cold-cock Hans with an elbow. Unreal. And look, I have a lot of respect for the high-pressure style of play Albany uses - this isn't whining about pressure or intense basketball. That's great, and Shaker could learn a lot from them in that category. But some of it is just too much. There's no room in high school hoops for intentionally trying to hurt people. But, of course, if the refs aren't going to punish it, it's pretty damn hard to deter.

Stage 3: Bargaining. I've never understood this stage. It's supposedly when you bargain with God to take away the grief, like "I'll go to church every day for the next 10 years if you go back in time and have Schaller make his 1-and-1." Hmmm. Well, I guess I did say that, but that's not the point. I do my bargaining before the game. Consequently, by the time they lose, God has already failed me and Shaker basketball. Games like Sunday won't make you lose your faith that God exists, but they certainly will make you wonder if there is any justice in the world. The rules of Karma are a bit hazy, but here's one that I was pretty sure existed, until Sunday:
Those who try off the backboard alley-oops in the 4th quarter of tied games will be condemned not only to miss said alley-oop, but also to lose said game, preferably via last minute collapse.
As soon as Albany missed that razzle-dazzle dunk, I knew the Bison would win if there was any justice in the world. And then it all came together in the last minute. But apparently, there isn't any justice.

Stage 4: Depression. This is my personal favorite, if only because it allows you to do some logical second-guessing, just to twist the knife a little further. And Sunday night, there were just so many: what if Hans doesn't get hurt, what if Schaller or Vernon makes even one foul shot in overtime, what if King misses one of his free-throws, what if Jordan doesn't hit that three, what if Brad didn't hur this ankle last week, what if Duclos doesn't lose his shoe, what if Brad tips the ball backward in overtime, what if the 6th man just cheered a little louder, plus all the reffing calls we've already discussed, and so on. Basically, when you lose by two in overtime, every single play can be second-guessed. However, two of my favorites are:

1) What if the scorer's table got the number of Albany fouls correct? This one might burn me up forever. When Albany got it's 6th foul of the second half, somehow the scorer's table decided it was only their 5th. Trust me, I was keeping track and I was furious at the time, although it didn't seem like that big of a deal. Fast forward 20 minutes, and Vernon is fouled on the floor in overtime with the score tied at 60, Albany's 9th charged foul but actually their 10th. See the difference? Instead of two shots, Vernon goes to the line for 1-and-1. Just shoot me.

2) What if I hadn't pulled an enormous Karma mistake? After Brad hit to make it 62-60 and Albany missed, giving Shaker the ball back with 40 seconds to go in overtime, I screamed down the aisle to my mom to get out my camera. I wanted to have it ready to take a picture of the scoreboard when the game ended. How much of an idiot am I? See, that's Karma. I'm such a loser.

Here's a couple signs you know your depressed:

You remember things you never knew you knew: You're sitting eating dinner after the game with your wife, neither of you have said a word in 15 minutes, and all of sudden your wife quietly states, "Hooks had such a good look at that three pointer midway through the third. That might have really changed things." To which you calmly respond, "Yeah, that was a great look. He was squared up perfectly. And it's funny, because I was just thinking about that short jumper Brad missed from the baseline in the second quarter." And then you both nod your heads and continue on.

You over-fantasize the alternative outcome: By Monday evening, I had firmly decided that if they had just won on Sunday, they were probably going to win the state title, or at least make the final four and lose a close game to Mt. Vernon. Seriously, is anyone doubting that outcome at this point? Not me. That's how delusional you get about these things. CBA? We'll kill 'em. Mt. Vernon? No problem! It's the natural consequence of losing - you never wonder who you would have lost to down the road, just who you would have beaten.

Stage 5: Acceptance. The good thing is that it only takes a few days to start to come around from a loss like Sunday. Some people think that it depends when you lose - like if you lose like that in the state title game, it's worse. That's not true. It's always the same. Doesn't really matter.

And I don't mean I'm completely over it. First off, I'll never totally get over that game, just like I'll never totally get over the regional game in '92, or even the Maginn game in December. And I don't mean mostly over it, that will take a little longer, too. But a good start. Besides, it's nice to wait a few days, anyway. if Schenectady kicks the crap out of Albany Saturday night, you'll take a lot more satisfaction out of it if you're still raging mad about Sunday. In fact, I reccommend a theraputic trip up to Glens Falls for that. Some good basketball to see, as well.

Ultimately, I relearn the same simple lesson every time this happens. I don't know how I forget it, but I do. And then it all becomes clear again, like it did this morning. The lesson goes something like this:

Repeat: Only one teams wins the state title. Everybody else loses.
Repeat: You'd feel just as bad losing by 40 as you do losing by 2 in OT.
Repeat: You'll never truly feel the highs unless you also feel these lows.

Think back to the best moments of this season: maybe Brad's shot against CBA, or Duclos jamming the alley-oop pass to open senior night, or even the incredible 6th man that showed up at the RACC Sunday and blew the doors off the other student sections. And then think back to the best moments in Shaker basketball history: Perkins hitting the winning shot in overtime of the '79 sectional title game, or maybe Kanders laying the ball in to win the '92 title.

None of those moments would be remotely interesting if you don't accept that Sunday night can happen. And if you never experience a game like Sunday night, and you never lay in bed wide awake thinking about it, and you never spend an hour or two daydreaming about "what if," well then you'll never really know how good it felt when Brad's jumper went in against CBA, or when Perkins banged home his hook shot agains Catholic Central.

So today, I'm more chipper. All the great moments of the season are coming back into my mind, and I'm starting to realize again that you're better off caring than not caring. And sure as the sun rises, I'll be back in those bleachers next fall, dreaming the same daydream about the state title we're destined to get one of these years.

In the end, it all boils down to this: my mom is right. Sunday night was why people watch high school basketball. And it's why you and I watch it too. Unless we were going to win the state title, this was the way it was going to end.

Now, if I could just get myself to believe that load of crap, I could stop thinking about that foul called on Vernon Sunday night. Or the foul shots. Or the sectional title.

If only they had won. At least we could have continued to daydream for another week.

Today (2/28) in 1980: Shaker did not play. Next game is tomorrow (well, sort of - it’s leap year in 1980), 2/29/1980, the sectional second round against Burnt Hills.

Monday, February 27, 2006

By the way: If you haven't seen the video of the kid from Greece-Athena, watch it ASAP. No other sport creates moments like this. Long live high school basketball.

Acknowledgements, 2005-06: First off, if you haven't read the Albany game recap yet, start there. Then maybe check out what's next for Girmindl's Ghost in the coming weeks. Then come back and read this post.

Before my readership disappears, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank the multitude of people who helped make the 2005-06 portion of Girmindl's Ghost such a joy to write this year. No matter how much it looks like an individual effort, writing projects are always reliant on dozens of people to make them work well. Girmindl's Ghost is a testament to that truth.

Without further ado, I'd like to thank...

First, the team. Non-fiction writing is only as good as the subject you are writing about. You guys made it easy. Congratulations on an outstanding year, and thanks for all the memories. No one is soon to forget this team, least of all me.

I'd like to thank a few people on the team in particular. Matt Bodgan first contacted me way back in the fall when I was initially considering following the team for the year. His encouragement and interest in the project ultimately spurred me to do it. He also sat for an extended interview that really gave me a feel for the team.

Brad Sheehan contacted me early on in the season when I was still feeling out my style and figuring out how I was going to do things. He offered me continuous insight into the mood of the team and was always available to answer any questions I had via email. Brad also sat for an extended interivew and discussed all aspects of the team with me.

Ryan Dare, Tom Duclos, and Vernon Cross also sat for interviews, the latter two of which still have not been published. Their candidness was indispensable to my understanding of the team, and my continued thinking about its dynamics.

I was probably more optimistic than a writer should be about the season. I had planned on conducting two or three player interviews this week, and maybe a few more before the title game the week after. My apologies to Hans, EC, Griff, Hooks, Schaller, Fallon, and Kahnle. I certainly wished I could have talked to all of you before it was over. In fact, I probably still will, since I'm toying with writing a book about all of this. So don't forget anything, fellas.

Coach Holmes was enthusiastic about the blog from the moment he found out about it, and he was always available for a quote or just to talk Shaker basketball. I conducted one extended interview with him, and I wish our second one - scheduled for after Shaker won the section title - was going to happen. Coach Brehm was always available to chat, and I wish I had taken him up more often on it, as he was very helpful.

Second, the students. Perhaps the single thing I love most about high school basketball is the intensity of the fans. And this year's Shaker students were among the best ever in that capacity.

Tom Maldonado, Chris Caradori, and Joe Bianchino were invaluable to me throghout the season. They were constantly available to answer questions, offer opinions, and even write game recaps when I couldn't make it to the game. Tom and Chris sat for an extended interview about the 6th man, giving me great insight into the current Shaker student body.

Tom, Chris, and Joe also convinced me that it would be a good idea to come sit with the students for the game, perhaps the most memorable night of the season for me. They were excellent hosts in the 6th man, and despite my being 10 years older than them, they never once treated me like an adult. Thanks, guys.

Other students were extremely helpful to me that night. I did short interviews with perhaps 15 or 20 students that night. Particular thanks to Kyla and Moe, who did extended interviews via email to help me fill out my story. Throughout the season, 6th man members wrote emails, talked to me at games, and otherwise helped me understand both the team and its fans.

Third, the adult fans. I never imagined so many people who sat in the Shaker bleachers would read Girmindl's Ghost. It was actually a little awkward by January. I was something like a B-list celebrity in the bleachers, and that's definitely something I'm not completely used to. Luckily, virtually all of the feedback I got in the bleachers was positive.

Particular thanks goes to a few people. The Sheehan family was always quick to talk to me, give me some insight about the team, and generally be very receptive to my inquires. Bill Hooks gave me plenty of information, and not to mention more than a few Twix bars, all of it unsolicited but very appreciated.

I also had a large contingent of adults who I never met in the bleachers but got to know pretty well via email. Although they are too numerous to mention, they were all helpful with their candid assessments of the games and the team, and for continually reprimaning me when my bias or judgement was a bit off. Thank you.

Fourth, the tech-side. Despite me constantly tearing them to shreds, the Times Union stuck with me. For that I'm grateful, because they helped me reach a far wider audience than I ever could have imagined. Mike Huber was a patient and keenly helpful boss who was able to give me quick and friendly technical support, day after day. Jim Margolis was extremely helpful in accomadating my incessant requests for aditional exposure and hype for the blog.

Fifth, the readers: I never expected thousands of people to read Girmind's Ghost. But that's what happened. I was sincerely flattered that so many people enjoyed following a Shaker hoops season through my eyes. It was gratifying to know that there are other people out there who love high school basketball, even if they don't have a connection to the team. Thank you for the kind words, helpful critiques, and reassuring support during the season.

Finally, I'd like to thank my wife, Sarahjane. Sarah was an enthusiastic supporter of Girmindl's Ghost from the first day I mentioned it as an idea in the Spring of 2005. She loves high school basketball almost as much as I do, so it wasn't a big chore to get her to the games. But it did require a lot of understanding on her part when she had to sit in the bleachers alone as I conducted an interview, or chatted with people in the hall, or went off to sit in the student section. She never complained once. Her willingness to spend entire dinners talking about the team was remarkable, and her ability to see things at the game that I often missed was a godsend. Ultimately, her love and support was the reason I was able to juggle the pressure of work and school and blogging as well as I did. Thanks you, sweetie.

On the other hand, I wouldn't expect anything less from a girl I decided to ask on a date while I was sitting in the student section.

I'm sure that I'm leaving plenty of people out right now (I'm aware that I haven't mentioned anyone who helped me with the '79-80 stuff - that will come later), and for that I apologize.

Again, thank you.

Girmindl's Ghost, the aftermath: First off, if you haven't seen the game recap from the Albany game, check it out. Here's a description of what lies ahead for Girmindl's Ghost over the next few weeks:

#1) Albany recap, part II: I don't have the heart or the perspective to write this esssay yet. Maybe tomorrow. Check back and see, I'll probably have something either then or Wednesday.

#2) A review of the season
: I'm gong to wait a few days to let it all sink in, and then write a final essay on the 2005-06 team.

#3) The '79-80 team: We still have that dream to crush. For the next two weeks, I'll focus my attention on the final days of the 1980 sectional tournament. I also finally got in touch with Tim Cain '81, and I think I'll have an interview with him soon.

#4) Girmindl's Ghost, the book: I'm still seriously toying with the idea of writing a book based on all of this. I think it could be really good. I'd probably need to take a year off to do it, since I'd need to do about 100 interviews, but what the heck. It's more fun than my regular job.

Sectional Recap, Quaterfinals:

Executive Summary: Albany 64, Shaker 62 (OT). Anyone who was at this game will not soon forget it. It had everything, good and bad. There was great play, there was sloppy play. The Bison scored at will and took a huge lead. The Bison couldn't hit the ocean and fell way behind. Brad scored his 1,000th point. Hans got knocked out of the game on a cheap elbow. It was just that kind of game. At multiple points, it seemed that each team was dead in the water: the Bison were down 53-48 with 1:30 to go, ahead 54-53 with 20 seconds to go, down 56-54 with 10 seconds to go, and up 62-60 with the ball at 25 seconds left in overtime. In each case, one of the teams made a great play. Albany just made the last one. All this said, I'm still in shock. They had this game won, twice. And yet they didn't win. And now it's over. Final score: Albany 64, Shaker 62 (OT). TU box score here (it's wrong). Shaker finishes the season 17-5.

Full Report, Ask me about it in 20 years: I arrived at the RACC in time to watch much of the Maginn-CCHS game, which turned out to be a blowout. I brought along a nice contingent: SJC and my mom are with me, and SJC's parents will be meeting us here shortly. Other pregame notes:

1) The RACC is great: As I mentioned last week, the RACC is a great place to have the quarterfinals. It's just a great basketball atmosphere: the student sections can sit in bleachers behind the hoops that are really close to the court, there are comfortable chair-back seats at teh center courts, and the place can get pretty loud. Probably the main downside is the parking situation at SUNY - you have to walk like half a mile, and boy was it cold yesterday.

2) Early game results: Schenectady beat Nisky by 3, CBA beat Columbia by 13, and Maginn blew out CCHS. So the Bison are the only hope left for the Suburban Council.

3) Enormous 6th man: The 6th man has wisely chosen to stand in the bleachers behind the basket. Smart move. They are really close to the court. And there are a ton of them. And they are really loud. You can hear them throughout the RACC, just great student fan support. Albany has no equivalent organized student section. Neither did Maginn or CCHS. Only Shaker seems to have a playoff-quality student cheering section today.

4) Warmups: No one is under any illusions about how this game is going to go. Shaker has a more offensively disciplined team, and Brad is the best player on the court. Albany has a higher level of athleticism and will almost certainly try to pressure Shaker into turnovers. Both teams look pretty crisp in warmups, and everyone seems excited. Let's get it on!

1st Quarter

Shaker won the tip, but immediately tuned it over for an Albany layup. Albany then stole the inboudns for another layup. Oh, no. Not tonight, fellas. Hans answered with a three pointer, and Brad got a foul shot and a hoop. 6-4 Shaker. That's better. The teams traded misses, Albany hit a three, Duclos made a driving hoop, Brad hit again, and Eddie made a shot. 12-9 Shaker. Albany made another 3, Duclos made another layup, and then Albany got a basket right at the buzzer on a putback. Ughh. 14-14 at the quarter.

1st quarter notes:

1) Rough, rough game: Albany had four fouls in the first and Shaker two. It could easily have been triple that for both teams. The refs are really letting things go, at both ends. But it definitely helps Albany, since they play the pressure style defense. Griff got clobbered in the lane twice in the first quarter, and no calls. The kind of plays that just simply can't be clean blocks - two or three defenders get him with the body as he went up. That spells trouble. There were also some questionable plays by Albany in the first: Brad was tripped up coming down the court in what looked like an intentional shove to me by an Albany player. He complained to the ref, but there wasn't a call.

2) Turnovers: If Shaker can get the ball in the halfcourt set, they are the better team. They spotted Albany 4 points to start the game and a cheap one at the end. Otherwise, Albany had just two threes and 1 hoop in their halfcourt set. The Bison look pretty good, but not great, in the halfcourt. But they are giving away a lot of turnovers to the pressure.

3) Huge 6th man: The 6th man is really loud, and they are visibly annoying the Albany players on the court. At one point, Albany was on the foul line (missed both) and one of their rebounders was jawing with the 6th man - that can't be good for keeping your head in the game. The 6th man also got into it with the Albany mascot, which was fun.

4) Duclos shoe: Duclos lost his shoe on the second Albany steal and basket of the game, and that was the moment I really thought they were in big trouble: they had turned it over twice, they were down 4-0, they hadn't take a shot yet, and Duclos was playing defense with one shoe. It was not a good sign. But to their credit, they weathered the storm quickly and got back into it.

2nd Quarter

The first 4 minutes of the second quarter was probably the best basketball I saw the Bison play all year. They went on a 13-3 run that almost blew Albany out of the gym. They were so close to ending this thing early, I can't tell you. Hans opened the quarter with a long three from the corner and was also fouled, for a 4-point play. Brad hit a shot jumper from the baseline and a post basket, Hans put down another three and then Hooks hit a two point jumper. All of a sudden, it was 27-17 and the Bison had the ball. Wow. They had a number of posessions up 10, but never got the extra 4 or 6 pont run that could really have buried Albany psychologically. Albany got two hoops in a row, Hooks hit another 3 to make it 30-22, but then Albany finished the quarter on a 6-2 run, and it was 32-28 Shaker at the half. I headed out to the concession for a Twix.

Second quarter notes:

1) John Hans came to play: Hans looks so confident from behind the three point line right now. I believe he's 3 for 3, or maybe 3 for 4. Doesn't matter, though, because if he's going to shoot like that in the second half, this game is over. Albany doesn't seem to have an answer for him. Hooks looks good, too.

2) Brad swatting everything: Brad had 4 or 5 blocks in the first half, and that was a huge problem for Albany. Much like Colonie, Albany relies on dribble penetration to get to the hoop and get baskets, but Brad has turned them away quite a few times. He probably has half a dozen phantom blocks in addition to the actual ones. Brad also got 2 or 3 of his first half baskets on that alley-oop play, which seemed to baffle Albany. He never jammed one, but it was good for three easy layups.

3) Griff momentarily out: Griff headed to the bench at one point with what looked like a groin pull. Not good. Luckily, he returned less than a minute later.

4) Could go either way: My father-in-law and I were in agreement on this much: if Shaker plays well in the 2nd half, they probably win. But Albany could certainly beat them by 5 points if they don't play well, so this is anybody's game.

Shaker's scoring looked like this at the break:

Brad 5 1 11
EC 1 0 2
TD 2 0 4
Hans 3 1 10 (3 threes)
Hooks 2 0 5 (1 three)

Total 13 2 32 (4 three pointers)

3rd Quarter

A total disaster. Well, almost a total disaster. Albany won the quarter 12-3. I guess it could have been a lot worse. Shaker simply couldn't break Albany's press. The Falcons switched to a diamond zone trap, and it really rattled the Bison. Albany kept the trap going in the halfcourt, so even when Shaker got the ball over the timeline, they faced a lot of pressure. Luckily, two things were happening at the other end. One, Albany wasn't making shots. Two, Brad was blocking or phantom blocking everything in sight. Albany ran off the first 10 points of the quarter to make it 38-32, but then with 1:50 left in the quarter Hans finally got Shaker in the scoring column with a three, and it was only a three point game. Albany added another buzzer beater basket to end the quarter 40-35, but overall i was relieved. They had really weathered a storm there, and to only be down five was extremely fortunate.

Third quarter notes:

1) Summed up the bad parts of the year: The third quarter was a good representation of Shaker's trouble throughout the year. The turnovers were just killer. They literally couldn't get the ball up the court at one point. Their pressbreaking just wasn't up to par. I think they should have used Brad more at mid-court. He's such a big target and he passes well. Instead, they kept trying to move the ball up by having the guards pass it back and forth. And when they did break the press, they didn't punish Albany by going to the hoop with it. Instead, they slowed it down and got into their offense.

2) Brad's touches: And even in their offense, they took a whole lot of jumpshots. Brad only got the ball in the psot once in the 3rd, I think. And he missed a post move that he usual makes. It was that kind of quarter.

4th Quarter

A quarter of basketball I'll never forget. Never. Shaker opened the quarter on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 40. Brad simply took over the game, scoring Shaker's first 10 points of the 4th. He was unstoppable. It really made you wish they had just gotten him the ball every time down the floor in the 3rd quarter. Turnaround jumpers, drop steps, post moves, the whole package. When Brad tied the game at 40, he also went over 1,000 points on the season. They stopped the game to recognize him. The teams traded baskets to make it 42-42 with about 5 minutes to play, and then Albany ran off 7 straight to make it 49-42. During that stretch, two things happened: first, Erwyn gave Hans a hard elbow to the face, knocking him out of the game with what looked like a concussion. It sure looked like a cheap shot to me, but I didn't have the best view. Unreal. Second, Albany had a breakaway layup opportunity and tried a "pass off the backboard for a dunk," which they missed. If there is any justice in the world, Shaker would win this game. What a bunch of thugs and showboats Albany is. Brad answered with a basket and a foul shot, but Albany got a hoop and a foul shot too, and it was 51-45 with under 3 to play. Eddie hit a 3 from the corner to make it 51-48, but Albany got an easy basket to make it 53-48.

There was only a 1:20 to play, Hans was sitting on the end of the bench slumped over. And Albany had the ball. It did not look good. Shaker got a stop and Eddie got to the line for a 1-and-1 and calmly made both shots. 53-50, less than a minute to go. I thought Shaker might start fouling, but they just went to a press. At the other end of the court, Vernon got a great steal and got it to Hooks, who drove to the hoop and dished to Schaller for a layup. Yessssssss! I've never seen someone so nervous to take an open layup. But Schaller hit it, and the entire crowd was now on its feet. 40 seconds to go. Albany inbounded and got near halfcourt, but again Vernon got a steal and broke for the hoop. He made an amazing layup and easily could have got a foul call too, but holy shit the Bison are winning! Holy shit! It was truly the most improbable moment. Down 5 just 40 seconds earlier, the Bison had taken the lead without Albany ever getting a shot off. Oh my lord, they're going to win this game!!!!!!!!!!! Albany, to their credit, did not panic. They took a timeout and brought the ball down the court with about 25 seconds to play. I thought Shaker should use a couple of fouls (Albany wasn't in the bonus) whenever Albnay drove, but the Bison chose to stay home and play tough. Jamil Jordan then calmly drained a three pointer from the wing. Ughh. Great shot under pressure. 56-54 Albany, timeout Shaker. There were about 14 seconds to go. The Bison inbounded the ball, Albany pressing. They got it up the court and Schaller had it in the corner. He got it to Hooks at the wing who fired a pass into Brad in the post, and Brad hit an uncontested layup with 5 seconds to go. Yeaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The crowd went absolutely nuts. Albany got a timeout and actually got a good look at the hoop, but couldn't score. We're going to overtime.

4th quarter notes:

1) I can't believe it: I literally can't believe they are in this game. When they were down 53-48, I really thought the season was over. Just huge plays by Vernon. His steal and breakaway layup was probably the single most exciting moment of the season. It just was unbelieable that they had the lead.

2) The Hans sucker shot: I didn't have the best view of it, but it certainly looked like a cheap shot to me. Albany was coming down the court on offense, and Erwyn was late getting down the floor. He ran by Hans, put his elbow up, and all of sudden Hans was laying face down on the floor. Give me a break. That's thug basketball. Brad began arguing with the refs immediately after it happened, but to no avail. It really made it all the more dramatic that they came back. With Schaller at the point, you're not exactly going with experience. But Steve did a great job.

3) The backboard dunk: I would hate to coach Albany. They have so much talent on that team, but they do things sometimes that would just kill me as a coach. The breakaway layup that they pissed away trying to do an alley-oop jam was unreal. Maybe you excuse that in a regular season game up by 25, but in a playoff game that's tied? Give me a break. If Shaker had won, that would have been the play recurring in Albany's coach's nightmares all summer.

4) Brad on a mission : Brad simply would not be denied in the 4th quarter. He had 11 points and was simply a monster at both ends. I've seen him take over a game and carry Shaker on his back, but not like that. It was amazing.


Just a wild four minutes. And enough what-if's to last a few years, at least for me. Albany got the first basket, but Brad immediately tied it with a post-move. It really looks like Albany has given up trying to guard Brad, it's that ridiculous. He's just scoring at will. The teams traded misses and turnovers for a few minutes. Then Albany missed and Schaller was fouled brining it up, putting him on the line for a 1-and-1 with 2:10 to go. He missed the front. Uggggh. I think I'm going to have a heart attack. Albany scored, but then Brad answered immediately with a lay in off a nice move. 60-60. Then ALbany missed, and Vernon was fouled with 1:09 to go, putting him on the line for a 1-and-1. Please, Vernon. Just make the first one. Please. He missed. Albany brought the ball up and missed a shot with about 50 seconds. Shaker came down and Brad scored again, another post move. Unstoppable. 62-60 Shaker, 40 seconds to go. C'mon, just one stop and make some foul shots!!!!! C'mon!!!! And they got the stop! Even better, they got numbers on a break. They got the ball to Griff charging to the hoop, and he dished off to Vernon for a layup. Vernon was, in my view - delirious as it was - clobbered trying to put it in, but no call, but Schaller got the rebound!!!!! But wait, there's a foul called on Vernon for going over the back on the board. Ugghhhhh. Still, they're up 2 with 20 seconds to go. Albany brings to ball up, doesn't get much of a look and misses a jumper. But wait, they called a foul on Schaller on the shot. Geez, that was the game right there. Marquis King gets to the line, about 8 seconds to go. He calmly made both foul shots, and he deserves a ton of credit for that. Huge high pressures situation. Shaker inbounds all the way to halfcourt, and Vernon brings it up the right side quickly. For a moment, Brad looks open in the lane, but Vernon doesn't pass it. Then somehow, Albany gets a steal on the wing and flings the ball back the other way. It looks like they are going to get a breakaway layup, but the kid pulls up near the three point line, thinking time is expiring. He fires with about 2.2 seconds to go, and misses. But he follows his shot and gets a tip right at the buzzer. And it counts. 64-62 Albany. Game over.

I was literally stunned. I looked around, and it definitely wasn't how it was supposed to end. Brad was laying face down on the court near the three point line. Griff was sitting at midcourt with his head in his hands, and Hans was still on the end of the bench - I'm not sure he even saw or knew what happened, his head was still in his hands the way it had been for the last half-hour.

It was so errily similar to the Maginn game, I can't tell you - Shaker up two, less than 30 seconds to play, lose on a steal and a breakaway to a kid who scored his only 2 points on the last play of the game. Just a horrible way to lose. I can't even describe it right now.

And I'm not sure I'm going to even try, until tomorrow. It's worth it's own essay, and I'll give it to you then when I've had more time to think about. It was just over so quick. It was just over so quick.

Here is the partial boxscore. Note that it's wrong, because it doesn't have Vernon or Schaller's missed 1-and-1's:

NameFGFTFTAFT %3-PtPoints
Eddie Cross12367%17
Vernon Cross100--02
Tom Duclos200--04
Pat Fallon000--00
John Hans022100%414
Brian Hooks100--15
Steve Schaller100--02
Brad Sheehan1244100%028

And here is the quarter log:

Albany 141412168 64

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