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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

Today (12/15) in 1979

Today (12/15) in 1979: Shaker did not play. Next game is 12/18/1979, home vs. Bethlehem (see full schedule here).

Here's a frequent question: How dominant exactly was the 1979-80 team? Well, I'm not going to give away the actual game results - you'll have to read the recaps as the season goes on. But I thought I might address this question quickly with some archival and statistical work that I've done.

From a public opinion point of view, it is common consensus that they were the best team ever in section 2. Most coaches at the time - many who had been coaching for decades in the area - were saying that without hesitation. And it's hard to think of a team since 1979-80 that has been even close to getting that kind of talk about them. Also, the 1979-80 Shaker team was considered a heavy favorite to win the state title. There certainly hasn't been a team since then with that distinction. Here is a cover story from the Times Union sports section in 1980, just before the sectional playoffs began:


It's important to note that the article was not just asking if anyone in the section could beat Shaker, it was pondering if anyone in the state could beat Shaker. And the general consensus was that it was possible, but unlikely. On any given night in high school basketball, anything was possible, but you probably don't want to bet your own money on it. People were looking foward to a possible sectional championship game between Shaker and Big 10 champ Mont Pleasant (20-2 during the regular season, the game never happened because Mont Pleasant was upset prior to the sectional final), but most people were simply interested in whether Mont Pleasant could give Shaker a competetive game or not. No one was picking them to win. People kind of wanted to see Shaker tested - except for one early season scare, Shaker hadn't played a meaningful 4th quarter all year.

Strictly based on rankings, the 1979-80 team was one of the best in the country. They spent the entire season ranked #1 in the NYSPHSAA class AA poll and ranked #1 in the NYSPHSSAA overall poll. For national rankings, Shaker fluctuated in the teens in the High School Hoops Weekly national poll, spending most of the year at #11 or #12, never cracking the top 10. Since it is quite difficult to compare basketball teams across states, the national ranking has to be taken with a grain of salt. But they were clearly the top NYSPHSAA team (the previous year, in 1978-79, they were never ranked higher than #2 in the NYSPHSAA Class AA poll and #3 in the NYSPHSAA overall poll, which is where they finished. Mount Vernon, who beat them in the state semi-finals and went on the win the state title, was the consensus #1.)

Of course, instead of just looking at rankings and opinions, you might want to look at the actual game statistics for team, and see what they can tell you. A lot of legends and rumors have developed over the years about the 1979-80 team - how much they won their games by, how many points Perkins averaged, and so forth. Using box scores from the Times Union from December 1979 to March 1980, I reconstructed the team and individual scoring for Shaker and it's opponents. (I don't have the actual stat sheets, so some of the legends - like Perkins,Cain, and Tuecke combining for 50 or 60 rebounds in a game - are as of now unverifiable. I am looking into acquiring them, however). As it turns out, many of the legends are true. Here is the data:

Individual Scoring statistics

Here are the season averages and high game for the top 5 scorers on the 1979-80 team. As you can see, definitely impressive - they were getting 47 points/game from their frontline - but not out of this world:

Perkins 27.5 (42)

Cain 10.3 (18)

Teucke 8.8 (21)

Meehan 7.2 (14)

Brundige 5.9 (16)
More impressive, however, are the team scoring statistics:

Team Scoring Statistics

Team average: 75.4
Opponents: 47.3

That's an average margin of victory of 27.9 points! In Suburaban Council league games, the average margin of victory was 31.8 points! Five times during the yeare they won by 40 or more points. This undoubtedly held down the scoring averages of the Shaker starters, since they often didn't play much more than the first half. In seven games, Shaker scored more points in the first half than the opposing team finished the game with. Perhaps the biggest blowout was January 4th, 1980, when the Bison beat Columbia at home by 47, and at one point in the 2nd half had a 56-point lead after going on a 31-0 run. Thirty one!

The height of the front line

This is another topic that is much up for debate. Legend would have it that Shaker's front line in 1979-80 was taller than most college teams at the time. That's probably a stretch, but not much of a stretch. Everyone seems to agree that Perkins was 6'9", but there really isn't much consensus on how tall Cain and Teucke were - various newspaper estimates range from a low of 6'5" and 6'4" to a high of 6'8" and 6'7". One problem is that they may still have both been growing - they were, after all, just juniors in high school. My best information says that Teucke was 6'6" and Cain was 6'7", but I have not interviewed either of them yet, so I can't say for certain.
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