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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 II

Midterm Review, Part II: Yesterday, in Part I of the review, I handed out midterm awards and grades. Today, I'm going to talk about the remainder of the season.

Let's review the facts of the matter first:

1) Shaker is currently 9-3 overall and 7-1 in the Suburban Council. They have beaten Amsterdam, CBA, Guilderland, Columbia, Shen, Burnt Hills, Niskayuna, Saratoga, and Ballston Spa. They have lost to Averill Park, Lasalle, and Bishop Maginn. According to the Times Union, they are the 5th best Class AA team in the area, behind Schenectday, CBA, Albany, and Bishop Maginn. That's pretty much bullshit, but hey, if anyone knows high school hoops, it's the TU.

2) They have the following regular season games remaining:

Jan. 13Colonie
Home7:30:00 PM
Jan. 17Guilderland
Away7:30:00 PM
Jan. 20Mohonasen
Home7:30:00 PM
Jan. 27Bethlehem
Away7:30:00 PM
Jan. 31Shenendehowa
Home7:30:00 PM
Feb. 3Saratoga Springs
Home7:30:00 PM

3) The postsesason looks like this: After the regular season, the Suburban Council tournament is held for the four best teams in the league. It's a two game affiar. After that, the four-round Class AA sectional tournament begins, culminating with the finals on March 7th at Pepsi Arena. After that is the redgional finals and the state tournament. We'll worry about that when the time comes.

Given that fact pattern, what makes sense to say about the remainder of the season in terms of goals?I have four goals for the team during the second half of the season:

Goal #1) Run the table in the Suburban Council. That means winning at home against Colonie, Mohon, Shen, and Saratoga, as well as road games at Guilderland and Bethlehem. Six games, six wins.

What it will take to achieve this goal: Tonight against Colonie is clearly the toughest challenge remaining on the regular season schedule. Colonie has been playing well and looks to be a contender for the Suburban Tourney title. Mohon (2-9) and Bethlehem (3-9) are not very good this year, and Shaker has already beaten the other three teams.

Probability of achieving: If they play well tonight and play reasonable well the rest of the way, this is a very reachable goal.

P.S. Isn't it just rediculous that Shaker and Colonie only play once a year now? Whoever thought up these divisions clearly doesn't understand the local rivalries.

Goal #2) Win the Suburban Council Tournament. That means most likely beating a team like Colonie or Columbia, and then beating Averill Park.

What it will take to achieve this goal: Putting together two quality performances in a row. In the regular season loss to AP, Shaker played well enough to win for 3.5 quarters. It needs to be four next time..

Probability of achieving: High, if they play to their potential.

Goal #3) Get a good seed in sectionals. Preferably the #3 seed or better.

What it will take to achieve this goal: This will mostly take care of itself if they complete goals #1 and #2. That would leave them at 17-3, with an 11 game winning streak. It would include at least one victory over Colonie and probably a victory over Averill Park. If they can do that, they will definitely be the highest Suburban seed in the AA sectionals. And it would be a travesty this year if the Big 10 had the top 3 seeds. I mean a travesty.

Probability of achieving: Moderate. I don't see any glaring reason - besides the old "you're bound to lose at least one along the way" argument - why they can't make this happen. Maybe 16-4 or 15-5 is more realistic, but I think 17-3 is certainly a possiblity. Anything worse than 15-5 is a disaster, as far as I'm concerned.

Goal #4) Win the sectional title. March 7th, Pepsi Arena. Eddie Cross sitting on the rim like Tommy Mitchell after Siena won the 2002 MAAC tournament.

What it will take to achieve this goal: It will almost certainly involve consecutive wins that look like this: beat Bishop Maginn, beat CBA, beat Schenectady. So that's going to require top level play, but that almost goes without saying when you get to sectionals. They'll also have to be able to handle the pressure of playing in Glens Falls and down at the Pepsi.

Probability of achieving: Fair. I don't see anybody blowing the Bison out this year. Remember, they haven't lost a game by more than 3 points yet. And we're not talking about Schenectday 2002 or CBA 2005. These are good teams, but they are also teams that will be scared of playing Shaker. If the Bison peak at the right time, they can win this thing.

Keys to acheiving these goals:

#1) Consistent effort: Both within games and across games. You have to win four games in a row to win the section, so you might as well get used to going on long win streaks now. But more importantly, you have to shut the door on teams when you have them beat. Shaker has just begun to do this in the past few weeks. It cost them the game against AP and Maginn, and it almost cost them the game against Guilderland and Columbia.

#2) Fewer turnovers: Shaker will blow teams out if they turn the ball over less than 12 times. Heck, they might blow teams out if they keep it under 18. If the pressbreaking improves and the turnovers disappear, they will be very tough to beat.

#3) Solid Rebounding: For some reason, the defensive rebounding has been shakier in the last few weeks. Has to get better, since rebounding is one of the key advantages the Bison have over almost every team they play.

#4) Overall Improvement: Teams that stop getting better in January and February don't often get a chance to play in March. That's just true. In some ways I'm glad Shaker isn't 11-0 right now, because that kind of record can mask weaknessses. Would we really be talking about the turnovers and the pressbreaking and the consistency if they had held on against AP, Lasalle, and Maginn? I doubt it. The next four weeks are a time to sharpen the game, not wait around for the postseason.

#5) A Bench Hero: It's not unusal for someone on a high school hoops team to individually really pick it up in the second half of the season. This would be huge for the Bison. Don't know who it will be - maybe Hooks? Bogdan? V. Cross? But whoever it is, it will be huge.

Other notes for the remainder of the season:

1) Shaker has three Friday night home games remaining. Tonight against Colonie, next Friday against Mohon, and the season finale against Saratoga. Fan support needs to be high at these games. The H-gym new gym is an intimidating place for visiting teams, even more so when it's crowded and loud. Just ask Luke Weaver.

2) Treat the post-season games like home games. If you normally go to the home games, make sure you go to the post-season games. Since they are played on neutral courts, the team that brings more fans gets a huge advantage. Plus, going to a crowded high school basketball game at HVCC, Glens Falls, the RAAC, or the Pepsi is a great experience.

3) I'll be sitting in the student section for the season finale. I've been planning for most of the year to spend an evening with the 6th man this year and write an essay about it for Girmindl's Ghost. I haven't climbed the bleachers on that side of the gym in 10 years, and I'm really looking forward to it. It was supposed to be tonight against Colonie. But we're going out of town for a wedding. Sucks. I've rescheduled for the season finale against Saratoga, which is also senior night. So come out and make it something worth writing about.
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