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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

Game Recap: 12/29/05

Game Recap: Tourney vs. Maginn, 12/29/05

Executive Summary: Ultimately, the same result as last night - a close loss - arrived at in completely different fashion. Shaker played well the entire game, and had a 53-46 lead with 5:59 to go in the 4th, only to give the game away to Maginn. Up 2 with the clock winding down, Maginn tied the game with a layup off a nice play with 2.4 seconds left, and (after a few timeouts) then stole the inbounds pass and got a game-winning layup. The Shaker crowd was actually visibly stunned for about 90 seconds after the game ended. Very depressing. On the bright side, Shaker played well on offense and defense most of the game, and at times extremely well. Brad was great tonight, Griff was a monster on the offensive boards, and Tom Duclos had his best game of the year. You can't kill them for this loss - if they had won the game, we'd all be writing about how well they bounced back. Final score: Bishop Maginn 67, Shaker 65. TU box score here. Shaker falls to 6-3 (4-1 Suburban Council). Next game: 1/3/06 at Niskayuna.

Full Report, Nightmare on Lark Street: Got to the Armory about 7:40 for the 8:00 game. I hadn't been to the Armory for a basketball game since the Patroons moved to the Pepsi in 1993, and I hadn't been there at all since my last indoor track meet there in 1995, but it's the same as ever. Five things that stuck out to me about the venue:

1) Still a great place to watch a basketball game: I really think the Armory is an amazing basketball venue. It's a huge place, but it just doesn't seem like it. You actually get the sense when you're watching the game that the place is smaller than H-gym, because every seat in the house has the illusion of being right on top of the court. You look around and you can see that the building is cavernous, but you still feel far closer to the court than you do in the 10th row of the H-gym bleachers. It's just great. The downside of this is that every crowd there looks tiny. You're right on top of the court, you feel like the place is smaller than H-gym, but the seats are way less than half-full. Two guys near me said things like, "sparse crowd, eh?," and I tended to agree with them, but it's an optical illusion. It was actually a pretty good crowd. The only downside is that it's impossible to get that place loud. Even when the Patroons were drawing near sellouts, it was never that loud in there. That still sucks.

2) What a difference a real sound system makes: SJC turned to me during warmups and said something like "is this what it would be like at Shaker if we could hear the announcer?" It's just great to hear a booming voice coming over a PA when Brad rams one home or Hans hits a three. It actually makes the game measurably more enjoyable. Obviously, Shaker is never going to have that kind of quality PA in H-gym, but it'd be a hell of an upgrade to actually hear the announcer at the home games. They even read through the preamble of the section 2 code of conduct before the game. Maybe they do that at Shaker too. Who knows?

3) A Twix bar is priced according to the laws of the modern economy: As I've written previously, the price of a candy bar at Shaker home games has been fixed at 50 cents since at least the Reagan administration. Not true at the Armory. I paid $1 at halftime.

4) Those new "luxury boxes" Jim Coyne has been raving about are ridiculous: When he decided to redo the Armory, Coyne announced that he'd be adding luxury boxes. I was eager to see this. Didn't disappoint, at least on the comedy level. First off, they're at the end of the Armory, above the seats behind the hoop. Who wants to watch a game from there. Second, they're not luxurious, and they're not boxes. Bascially, it looks like you get the same seating as everyone else, except that you have a private door to your seats, a small bar to put food on, and (I'm not making this up) a halogen lamp that looks like it belongs in the dorm room of a college freshman. Yikes.

5) I like the new scoreboards: Above the seats on each side at midcourt, there is a nice scoreboard that looks like it also does video. They didn't have the video turned on, but even so, it looked like a nice touch.

All in all, the experience made me want to go to a Patroons game, so I guess that's a good thing.

As the players came out to warm up, I surveyed the scene. Taylor Battle doesn't look like much, physically, that's for sure. He's only about 6 feet tall. In fact, the whole Maginn teams looks rather small. But you can definitely tell simply by watching warmups that's Battle's a gamer. He has that swagger. The crowd looked to be about 60-65% Maginn and 35-40% Shaker, although Maginn's cheerleaders were in the house and Shaker's were absent. On the other hand, the Shaker 6th man looked to be about 20 strong, and I couldn't really see any organized Maginn student section.

1st Quarter

Shaker started Sheehan, E. Cross, Hans, Duclos, and Griff, with Eddie covering Battle in the man-to-man. Brad won the tip, but then missed a soft turnaround in the lane, and Maginn put in a quick basket. 2-0. Tom Duclos then put in a bucket on a nice drive - the first of many on what was his finest night that I've seen - and then Shaker took the lead on a post move by Brad. I definitely got the feeling that Maginn was going to have a lot of trouble with Shaker's inside play. Griff grabbed a number of offensive rebounds in the 1st quarter, Brad was swatting away and chaning tons of Maginn shots in the lane (as well as cleaning up everything on the defensive glass), and it seemed like Duclos and Brad were muscling around in the lane without a problem. Eddie Cross hit two nice mid-range jumpers in a row, and Brad put down a thunderous dunk off a baseline spin move to really get the crowd going. Vernon Cross added a bucket and Griff put one in on an offensive rebound. It was 20-14 Shaker at the end of the quarter. Forget thirty-seven tonight, they'll have that at the half. The 6th man put together a few nice stretches of "boink," but it wasn't particularly effective in the spacious, sound-killing Armory.

Three big things I saw in the 1st quarter:

1) Maginn is like a slightly better version of the Troy team that beat Shaker in the sectionals last year: It was almost uncanny. They have a legitimate all-area star in Battle, but just like Tiki Mayben he's a whiner and he mopes when he doesn't get his calls or his shots to fall. Or if his teammates don't do what he wants them to do. The team has a fair amount of talent, but they don't play well together at either end of the court. Instead, they kind of just look to get Battle the ball, and when they don't, he yells at them. I can't tell you how much they remind me of Tiki's Troy team from last year. But just like Troy, watch out if the star gets hot - Battle was getting to the hoop quite easily last night, and you could see that he had the confidence to shoot from 22+ feet. He was definitely a danger to go crazy offensively, just like Mayben did in the 4th quarter last year. Overall, Shaker seems like a superior team, as Maginn (like Troy) is athletic and has some talent, but really doesn't play together well.

2) Tom Duclos was ready to have an excellent game: This was apparent from the first posesssion. He was high-energy the whole way, and getting himself involved more than usual. He was getting outlet passes and moving the ball up the court quickly, looking to create shots for himself, and generally giving fits to the Maginn defense.

3) Shaker was using quite a different rotation of players: Midway through the quarter, Bogdan came into the game with Dare, and then a bit later Weinhemier saw some time, and so did Fallon when Brad took a seat for a minute or so. On the other hand, Hooks didn't play nearly as much as he has in previous games.

2nd Quarter

Brad started the 2nd getting a rest on the bench, but that ended after Maginn made the first two baskets of the quarter. Hans responded with his only hoop of the game, a three pointer, to stop the run, but Maginn generally outplayed Shaker throuhgout the quarter. Or really Shaker outplayed itself - the sloppiness came back in a few spots. And they didn't get back on defense. Two times in particular, Battle got out ahead of everyone on a missed Shaker shot and he got easy breakaway layups. Brad continued to dominate in the post, though, Maginn simply couldn't stop the entry passes or his post moves. He also had the highlight-reel play of the night in the 2nd, as he got a breakaway tomahawk jam off a nice pass by Duclos. Dare added a hoop inside, but Battle got two layups off steals to end the quarter on a sour note, and Shaker took a 31-29 lead into the locker room, having lost the quarter 15-11. I headed down to the concession to get a Twix.

One thing I noticed in the first half was that the refs were calling a very loose game. Not many fouls at all. Brad was 2 for 2 from the line in the fisrt half, and that was all of Shaker's FT attempts. Pretty much the same story for Maginn - I'm not even sure if they took a free throw in the first half. Shaker's scoring looked like this at the break:

Brad 6 2 14
Duc 2 0 4
EC 2 0 4
Grif 1 0 2
VC 1 0 2
Hans 1 0 3 (one three)
Dare 1 0 2

Tot 14 2 31 (one three)

Shaker shot the ball extremely well in the first quarter, not quite as well in the 2nd. But overall a very good effort in the 1st half, with a few giveaway baskets that let Maginn stay close.

3rd Quarter

The third quarter was frustrating in the way that many Shaker games have been frustrating this year - they built a lead and were on the verge of pulling away, but just couldn't get over the hump. The starting five were back on the floor to start the quarter, and the teams played even for the first few minutes. Duclos made a nice three point play off a great pass by Griff, but Maginn hung tough and it was 36-36 with 6:09 left. Shaker then went on a 11-3 run that I thought was going to put the game away. Griff made some foul shots, Brad hit a short jumper on the baseline and then another thunderous dunk, and Dare put in two layups off very nice interior assists from Bogdan. Maginn called timeout at 47-39 and the Shaker crowd stood up to applaud the run. But then Battle immediately dropped a 3-pointer, got a steal and made a layup, and it was back to a game. Griff got a putback basket and it was 49-44 at the end of three.

4th Quarter

A 4th quarter I'll never forget, and a last 10 seconds that I'll forever wish I could forget. After Brad rimmed out a turnaround, Maginn got a basket. Brad then hit one in the post, Shaker got a stop and Tom Duclos threw down a breakaway dunk that was simply electrifying. It was one of those breakaways where my thought process went like this: yeah, go Tom, oh my god is going to try to dunk it, I hope he's got the hops, yesssss, well i guess he's got the hops, my lord. I've never been so wrong worrying if someone had the ability to drop a flying one-handed dunk in my life. Great moment. Shaker was up 53-46, 5:59 to go, timeout Maginn. Again, looked like they were going to pull away.

Immediately, however, Maginn got a hoop, a steal, and a three point play to cut it to 53-51. Absolutely maddening. Every time they got a lead, they gave it right back. With 4:30 to go Brad got a putback hoop after Griff got another great offensive board. Then Maginn cut it to 2 on an easy basket and Griff got an offensive foul on the next trip down the court. With 3:29 to go, Geddings hit a 3-pointer and Maginn had their first lead since 2-0. This is not good. Duclos hit a layup off a great pass from Brad out of the post to retake the lead, 57-56. Battle then made two foul shots after Vernon fouled him driving to the hoop. Shaker got the lead back after Duclos was fouled,made 1 of 2, but Griff got another offensive board on the second shot, got fouled, and also made 1 of 2. Shaker got a stop and Brad hit a soft jumper. 61-58.

Griff got called for a foul on a defensive rebound, sending Battle to line, and he made both. As Shaker brought the ball up the court, Brad got fouled while trying to get position inside, and got to the line for a 1 and 1, but he missed. Battle then hit a three and Maginn had the lead 63-61. Brad scored in the paint to tie the game, and then Battle threw the ball away on an out of control drive. It was a questionable call, and the Maginn fans let the ref know what they thought. But the call stood and Shaker had the ball. As they brought the ball up the court, they curiously didn't go to Brad in the post. Instead, they brought Brad out top and isolated Griff in the low post, who got fouled on the entry pass. Hey, that works for me. He made both from the line, and Shaker had a 65-63 lead with 25 seconds to go. Timeout Maginn. Thank God we're probably going to pull this one out, just don't let Battle fire a three here.

As Battle brought the ball up the court, the Shaker defense looked good. You could see the intesity best in John Hans, who was down in his crouch, eyes fixed on his man. What a moment. Battle held the ball forever - probably too long- and didn't start his move until there were less than 6 seconds to go. He drove the lane, but Brad was there, and Battle executed a nice pass in the paint for a Maginn dunk. Damn. 65-65, 2.4 seconds to go. Timeout Shaker.

After the timeout, Shaker lined up, but Maginn took another timeout. When the action came back, Griff was taking the ball out under the hoop, unguarded. Brad was at the opposite foul line, Hans and Cross were at midcourt on the sidelines, and I'm not sure where Duclos was. When the ref gave Griff the ball, he ran the baseline, then came back down the line, and attempted a pass to Brad, who was running toward the ball and had just crossed midcourt. Jesse Smith, however, intercepted the pass, got to the hoop, avoided Griff, and put in a wild layup. Then the buzzer went off and the game was over. Just like that. It was over. Are you kidding me? Except I didn't actually think that, I was literally stunnded.

Six things about this play and its aftermath that I will remember for a very long time forever:

#1) Seemed like a strange play for Shaker to run - I was surprised Griff didn't throw it right to Hans, who was relatively unguarded on the sideline at about midcourt. I thought they might get him the ball and try for a pass to Brad at the foul line, hoping he might get fouled or get a good look for a quick shot. Instead, it looked like the play was to get it to Brad at midcourt, who would then try to hit Hans or Cross on the wing for a jumper? I don't know.

#2) Griff actually made a great play after the steal - it was probably a bad decision to throw the ball toward Brad at midcourt, but once the steal happened, I thought Griff almost saved his own day. Many players would have just stood on the baseline stunned as Smith jammed the ball home, but Griff had the prescence to try to defend the layup. In a tough as hell spot - he couldn't foul him, Griff forced him to take a ridiculous spinning layup, which almost didn't go in. It was actually a circus shot, one of those that misses 80% of the time. Still can't believe that went in. Uggh.

#3) I've never been so stunned by a basket in my life - the closest thing I can remember is the Lou Roe three-pointer at the buzzer against Siena in the 1991 NIT third round at the Pepsi arena. But even that doesn't compare. I - and I think most of the other Shaker fans - were literally paralyzed by the play. I didn't get angry. I didn't get upset. I literally just sat there. I saw the players on the court - Brad looking around like Charles Witherspoon in the 1983 NCAA final, Hans slinking over to the bench, Griff and Holmes recreating the Fred Brown / John Thompson moment from the 1982 NCAA final - but I didn't have any reaction besides observing it. I heard the Maginn fans - jesus the Armory seems loud all of a sudden - but I didn't react to that either. The only thing I remeber thinking is thank god this isn't the sectional finals, or I would have just had a heart attack. I didn't really do anything until...

#4) Brad kept his composure just long enough to get his all-tourney trophy: The first thing I actually remember thinking after the basket is, Geez, I can't believe Brad is walking up to the announcing table in a composed manner. I give him a lot of credit for that. And I still do. Bad enough that they had to calmly shake hands with Maginn after the game, but how you could sit through the award ceremony 90 seconds after this happened is beyond me. Even worse is having to walk up to that table and get your tropy. I'd be ready to run out on Washington Avenue and kill someone. Of course, I felt a slight satisfaction watching Brad (slightly, but deliberately) slam his trophy into the ground when he sat back down, and then not even bother to take it with him.

#5) Griff was not able to keep his composure much beyond the handshake: Griff's an intesne player, and I've never seen him more intense than sitting on that bench during the award ceremony. I felt so bad for him. He played such a great game, and I hope he doesn't take this loss on his shoulders personally. On the bench afterwards, he was part distrought - at himself I think- and part angry, although at the time I couldn't figure out his anger. It really didn't look like a foul on the steal, and the kid made a tremendous spinning layup. In effect, I was basically too stunned to think about the situation, because it wasn't until I was walking out of the Armory that I started thinking about....

#6) How in the hell did that kid get that shot off in 2.4 seconds?!?!?!: This literally never occurred to me at the time of the hoop. I was too stunned by it. But as I was walking out of the Armory, I started to get pissed. That kid intercepted the ball closer to midcourt than to the three-point line, which means he caught it in the air, took 2 or three dribbles, spun to avoid Griff, and then threw up the shot. Can that be done in 2.4 seconds? Yeah, but it's not particularly likely. And then the buzzer didn't really go off until the shot was already through the hoop. Geez, did they just get jobbed on this one? I don't know. But I never questioned it at the time. Not that it would have made any difference last night, but it was pretty suspicious.

And I'm not saying it was malicious. The volunteers who run the clocks at high school basketball aren't out to job anyone. But it seems more than likely that the clock started late there. And that's too bad. Doesn't excuse Shaker's loss - it wasn't that play that lost the game for them, it was any number of individual plays - but it certainly made me mad in the car on the ride home.

That's when I switched over from stunned to rip-roaring pissed off. Somewhere on route 9 in Loudonville. I'm pretty zen about it now, but I was definitely upset last night. I think my most irate moment on the drive home was when my wife tried to calm me down by saying, "well, don't you at least feel some sympathy for CBA now?" Thanks, honey. Just shoot me.

Just so I know I'm not crazy, I got the following email this morning from a reader, with a subject line of "how?" and just one sentence in the email:
Is it possible to go from half court to the basket, cross over, spin in the air and shoot, all in 2.4 seconds?
Uggh. Too depressing to think about when you put it that way.

Anyhow, here's the partial boxscore for Shaker:

NameFGFTFTAFT %3-PtPoints
Eddie Cross200--04
Vernon Cross100--02
Ryan Dare300--06
Tom Duclos62367%014
John Hans000--13
Griff McLoughlin25683%09
Brad Sheehan123475%027

I'm not really pissed anymore about the final play. I'm more upset that they put together a good game at both ends of the floor and didn't get a win. They were the better team tonight, and it was really just a few bad minutes of defense that cost them the victory. Uggh. There were bright spots - Brad is continuing to dominate, Griff is just a monster on the boards, and Tom Duclos sprang to life last night in a way I've never seen him play.

I got this quick note from Shaker student Joe Bianchino:
Well, I was only half wrong (in my prediction from yesterday). Brad and Griff played an inspired game. Brad exploded everywhere and Griff played a gritty game. I thought my prediction was going to be right, i'm standing there with a couple left in the 4th thinking sweet redemption. But apparently the jinx was on cause everyone in the place was thinking that too. Shaker dominated and should be sitting at home with a win right now. Oh, and Bodgan's defense was amazing.
Yeah, that's pretty much right. I didn't touch on Bodgan's D at all, but he did guard Battle pretty well when he was in there.

At any rate, time to move on.I can't think about this game anymore.

Summary and notes

Jesse Smith had 4 points on the night for Maginn - the basket that tied the game and the one that won it...Battle finished with 26 points and 4 three-pointers...Brad had about 7 or 8 blocks, but at least 10 other phantom blocks, Maginn was really changing their shots in the lane...don't bother with the Times Union recap, it's wrong in at least two spots***....And don't get too upset by all this, they did play well. And it could be alot worse, this could have happened in early March.

Final score: Bishop Maginn 67, Shaker 65. TU box score here. Shaker falls to 6-3 (4-1 Suburban Council). Next game: 1/3/06 at Niskayuna.

***Both the first and second setences are incorrect. The first says Shaker had a 9 point lead with 4:43 to go, but that's wrong. Shaker's largest lead in the 4th was 7, 53-46. Maginn scored the first five out of the timeout to cut it to 53-51. Second sentece, also wrong. The game was tied at 63 all and Griff made two free throws to take the lead. The TU thinks Shaker was up 65-61 and Maginn made a basket. That's just not correct. I know it's picky, but how can the paper screw up both facts that they open a story with?
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