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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

Midterm Review, Part I

Midterm review, part I: Shaker has played 12 games through today, and that's pretty much the midpoint of the season. There are 7 league games left, the Suburban Council tournament, sectionals, and then the state tournament and the federation tournament. Shaker could have as few as 7 more games or as many as 16, so to me, this is a pretty good time to take stock of where we are. Today's Part I will be awards and grades. Tomorrow's Part II will be an essay looking forward to the second half of the season.

Without further ado, let's begin with the awards. And the winners are...

Best one-game performacne by a bench player:

Winner: Had to be Hooks against Columbia. 18 points, with 5 three balls. Just an outstanding shooting night.

Honorable Mention: Bogdan against Maginn (3 great assists); V. Cross against B. Spa (9 points)

Best one-game performacne by a starter (non-Brad):

Winner: Duclos in the Maginn Holiday Tournament. 13 points against Lasalle and 14 against Maginn. Great hustle and effort. He simply played inspired ball.

Honorable Mention: Griff against Columbia (12 points, a zillion boards); Hans against CBA (12 points, 2 threes, excellent decisions, all-tourney team); E. Cross against Nisky (9 points) or Spa (12 points)

Best one-game performacne by Brad:

Winner: CBA game. 13 points, 15 boards, 13 blocks, two monster jams, a nasty rejection of Holle on a breakaway, and the game winning shot with :04 to go. Perhaps the best all-around game I've ever seen a Shaker player produce.

Honorable Mention: Columbia game (28 points, including many mid-range jumpers); Saratoga game (30 points, 25 in the second half)

Best dunk:

Winner: Duclos against Maginn. A breakaway jam, an early takeoff, and a tomahawk slam. I actually got nervous when he was about to dunk it, wondering if he had the ups. Definitely put my mind to easy on that one. Remember Dee Brown at the 1991 Slam Dunk contest, leaning into his "arm over the face dunk"? That's what Duclos looked like, just great extension in the air.

Honorable Mention: Brad against Maginn (breakaway tomahawk). V. Cross against Columbia (or Guilderland or AP - can't remember).

Best 6th man cheer:

Winner: "Warm up the tractor," performed in the waning moments of the Burnt Hills game.

Honorable Mention: "You're not worth it," directed at the Columbia students section; "What is th-is," directed at the CBA student section while mimicking their wierd hand-jive thing.

UPDATE: (7:45pm) Reader N.W. reminds me about the "Fourth-year junior!" chant that was directed at Holle during the CBA game. Sure, it's mean, but that's goddam funny.

Most amusing opposing coach:

Winner: Hands down the guy from Averill Park. I'm still not sure if he was a coach or a student. Just ridiculously enthusiastic. It's simply outrageous for an adult to be chest bumping with teenage ballplayers. But there he was. Unreal.

Honorable Mention: None.

Best opposing gym:

Winner: Saratoga. That place is boss. Sure, the chain-link rope is silly and who forgets to photocopy the programs, but the Blue Streaks definitely have the premeir sound system, the premeir concession stand (if you excuse the lack of Twix) and very comfortable bleachers.

Honorable Mention: Niskayuna. Just kidding. That place is a dump.

Best performacne by a Shaker opponent:

Winner: Adam Haines, Averill Park. He just killed us in the 4th quarter and the overtime. And he's not even usually their top scorer. Just a disaster.

Honorable Mention: Taylor Battle, Bishop Maginn; Alex Zampier, Columbia.

Best "I can't believe it" facial expression:

Winner: Griff, after getting called for a phantom foul in the 3rd quarter of the Columbia game. I thought he was going to explode.

Honorable mention: Brad, after getting tackled in lane at Saratoga; Coach Holmes, after the smack on Hans that you could hear in the 10th row of the bleachers wasn't called.

Best overall game:

Winner: CBA game, no question. Simply the best early season basketball game I've ever been to.

Honorable Mention
: Nisky; Columbia.

And now, the grades:

Offense, halfcourt: A. This is an excellent unit, but occasionally they get themselves into trouble by not moving the ball around or dribbling too much. Usually, however, they execute very well. Brad gets his looks, open men are found, shots are hit. The offensive rebounding is a big plus.

Offense, transition: C+. They don't look to run as much as you might think. And when they do, there are often unforced errors.

Offense, overall: A-/B+. This is a solid offensive unit that can score on anybody.

Defense, halfcourt: A-. Just like you'd expect from a Holmes-coached team, the breakdowns are rare. The individual defense is solid all-around, and they usually make the opponents work for their points. Still, they give up too many easy rebounds and second-chance points. And with Brad in the lane they could probably pressure the shooters a bit more on the perimeter.

Defense, transition: B. The image that comes to mind is Taylor Battle sneaking away for 3 or 4 cherry-picked layups. Not good.

Defense, overall: B+. There's room for improvement here, but it's not a major concern.

Rebounding, offensive: A. One key to the team's success this year has been offensive boards. Griff and Brad have both gotten a ton of second-chance points. Just huge.

Rebounding, defensive: B. This might be based on expectations - they have the personnel to dominate the glass, and they often do. But sometimes they have breakdowns that lead to easy second-chance points for the opposition.

Steals / Turnovers: C-. This is the achilles heel of this team. They haven't handled pressure particularly well. On most nights, they'll have almost 20 turnovers, some nights close to 30. Their safe and solid defensive practices don't produce a ton of steals, but then again they don't get beat off the dribble very much.

Three point shooting: B. They don't look for 3's that much, and that surprises me, because when they take them, they tend to make them. With Brad attracting so much attention inside, you'd figure they'd fire more triples than they do. When Hooks has gotten hot, he's as good as any of them. John Hans doesn't look to shoot much, but he has also been reliable.

Pressbreaking: B-. This isn't as big an issue as some people think. They turn it over a lot more in the frontcourt or during standard transitions. Still, they don't tend to get a lot of points off of broken presses, and that's what supposed to happen when you beat a press. Could use some improvement. Looked a lot better recently.

Bench play: A-. The bench is very deep - on any given night you can expect to see Dare, Hooks, Bogdan, V. Cross, Fallon, and Schaller get playing time. They tend to play pretty well.

Coaching: A- I don't know what to say about Holmes this year. He's got them playing pretty darn well - they're 9-3 with losses by 2, 3, and in OT - but on the other hand I'd like to see the turnover issue corrected. I can't point to anything I would call a coaching mistake, although I'm not crazy about when he sits Brad down at the end of the 2nd quarter. Still, they seem prepared for every game.

Intensity: A. This is an emotional team, and it's for the better. Griff is a tremendous motivator, Brad is a quiet but determined leader, and the Duclos and John are high-energy players. It makes you wonder where it goes during the periodic second-half lapses.

Individual game grades:

Amsterdam: A. You have to beat bad teams.
CBA: A. Great performance, especially when down in the 2nd half.
Guilderland: B-. Sloppy, should never have been close.
Columbia: B. Just enough to win.
Shen: A-. Solid.
AP: B+/A-. The only bad stretch was the last 3 minutes + OT.
Burnt Hills: B+.
Lasalle: D. And that stands for disaster.
Maginn: A-. Funny thing is that I thought they played really well.
Nisky: B+. Should have won this one in a blowout.
Saratoga: A. That's a solid effort.
Ballston: A. You have to blowout the bad teams.

Coming tomorrow: An outlook for the second half of the season.
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