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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

Ten things I'm looking at...

Ten things I'm watching tonight: First, a quick note. I realized that I was getting a lot of emails because i didn't turn on the possibilty of anonymous commenting in the posts. It's on now. Comment away.

My wife can't make the game (7:30, home, against Columbia) tonight. That's good because I'll be able to keep stats and a running diary of the game without feeling guilty about neglecting her, but it's bad because I'll feel like be the loser who's at the game alone. So stop by and visit - I sit about 4 or 5 rows from the top of the Shaker adult section. I'll be wearing a Yale sweatshirt.

Anyway, ten things - basketball and otherwise - I'm watching for tonight, in no particular order:

#1 - Team defense: I like what I've seen so far at the defensive end of the court. The intensity is high, the discipline is good, and the chippy fouls are kept to a minimum. And now that there's a shot clock in section 2 hoops, it pays off a lot more than it used to. The offense is playing well, but I think the defense is the most feared aspect of this team right now. The 2-3 zone has been particularly effective, but occasionally has led to cheap opposing rebounds (see #8).

#2 - the security situation in the student section: As I wrote a few days ago, I'm intrigued (but not really surprised) that the students have been reigned in a bit compared to my personal recollections. On the other hand, it probably makes for some high comedy to watch the "cheering police" in action. Honestly, I can't think of a job I'd be less interested in doing, especially if it's a volunteer position. Actually, it's probably a hall-monitor gig, I think I saw one of them collecting admission money last week. As a side note, I'm not going to be making my triumphant 1st-time-in-a-decade visit to the student section tonight - but I have scheduled an appearance there for Friday, January 13th against Colonie.

#3 - sloppy turnovers: In the last two games, there have been a number of unforced errors - bad passes, poor ball handling, and some marginal decisions, particularly in transition. I chalk a lot of this up to it being early in the season, so I'm hoping another week of practice has helped the team gel on this front. You'll never eliminate all of it - this is high school hoops - but Guilderland isn't even close to in that game last Tuesday if Shaker executes a bit better.

#4 - Coach Dopp's goatee: Ed Dopp - phys ed instructor and varisty baseball coach - was my elementary gym coach at Southgate and one of my favorite teachers of all-time. He's just great with kids. He was also a connoisseur of facial hair styles throughout my school career - clean shaven, various mustaches, occasional beards, and the like. So you can imagine how I almost jumped out of my seat last Tuesday when SJC spotted him rocking a full-on, Jack-McDowell-in-the-90's goatee. I, of course, somehow missed it and never got a clean look. But I will tonight.

#5 - poor oficiating in our favor: I'm pretty Zen about high school refs. Those guys work damn hard for not much money and they take tons of abuse. I fully accept that they are going to blow 3-5 calls a night, and I don't believe they do it with any bias one way or another. I don't let it get to me. But I do feel like I can objectively say that Shaker got a the raw end of the majority of the horrendous calls last week. And i'm not talking about your garden-variety non-call after Brad gets demolished in the lane - that happens twice a quarter. I'm talking about the really ridiculous stuff: phantom backcourt violations, obvious missed over-the-backs on rebounds, rediculous possession decision on balls out-of-bounds. You name it. Have you ever seen officials conference on routine out-of-bounds calls as much as they did against Guilderland last Tuesday? I think my favorite call was a foul on V. Cross (I think) that was called a shooting foul even though the kid took a dribble and then threw a bounce pass after the call. Hillarious. And man, if there's one thing that can get Coach Holmes going, it's garbage refereeing. That's intense. So yeah, I'm hoping we get our just desserts tonight.

#6 - the Bison mascot - I honestly can't remember the last time I saw the Bison mascot patroling the area between the cheerleaders and the student section. For sure in 1995. But I can't say I remember it being around the last few years. Maybe it's gone now - that costume was the rattiest looking piece of garbage ever. But if that's the case they should bring it back. It's not like they don't have a strong student cheering section right now. Somebody must be willing to put that thing on, even if it's got 20 years worth of sweat in it and smells like a hockey equipment bag.

#7 - offensive touches for Brad: I like how the Shaker offense tends to take what it's given. When Brad's open or defenders aren't cheating toward him, they go to him. When he's triple-teamed or there's lots of cheating toward him, they tend to look elswhere. And I think that's good. But sometimes they go 6 or 7 trips down the court without ever getting him the ball inside the 3-point line. If it's because of triple-teams, fine. Sometimes they do try to force it in to him from the right wing (and, my god, he catches some insane seal-off passes!), but it's more often a bit too much the other extreme - they go elswhere too quickly. Good things happen when Brad is involved, and I'd like to see him get touches more consistently. Not forced passes, but more looks.

#8 - defensive rebounding: Brad, Griff, Tom, and Ryan have been pretty much in control of the glass so far this season. It's definitely a huge plus. But in both games I've attended, I've seen 2 or 3 breakdowns where box-out assignments have been missed and people have stood around while smaller opponents grabbed boards and got second-chance looks. Now admittedly, against Guilderland there were a lot of awkward rebounds off of all the long-range shots. But it still an area for improvement.

#9 - An 6 minute wait in line for a Twix that costs 50 cents: Um, actually I can guarantee that, even if I manage to fall into a 15 year time warp.

#10 - A solid blowout: I'm really not in the mood for a close game tonight. I got my fill of that last week against CBA and Guilderland, not to mention Sunday during the Giants game. Plus I'd like to get a look at some of the Shaker reserves who haven't seen much action since the Amsterdam game. So how about it this: the starters come out one at a time to standing ovations at about the 7 minute mark of the fourth quarter, the student section can get into a rousing rendition of "Warm up the bus," or "The wheels on the bus," and we can move to 4-0 without having to call any timeouts in the last minute.
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