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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: 2/12

Game Recap: SC Final vs. Nisky, 2/12/06

Executive Summary: Nisky 54, Shaker 48. A sloppy, sloppy performance by Shaker and a fine job by Nisky. Shaker was just never really in this one. They led 9-6 midway through the 1st, but then Nisky went on a 8-2 run and Shaker never really recovered. The rest of the game played pretty even, with Shaker making small runs to cut the lead to 5 or 6 and then Nisky bumping it back up to 8 or 10. Not a great way to finish the regular season, but it's a lot better than having this happen two weeks from now. Shaker finished 16-4 for the year, the best regular season record for the Bison in 25 years. Final score: Nisky 54, Shaker 48. TU box score here. Times Union article here. Shaker drops to 16-4 (14-2 Suburban Council). Next game: either 2/21 or 2/22, sectional 1st round vs. TBD, probably at Shaker.

Full Report, Better now than two weeks from now: Arrived at HVCC just after 6pm to see the all-star awards ceremony, which was very nice but very low key. Had SJC, my mom, and SJC's mom (who teaches Shaker) in tow. Other notes:

1) Yup, it's a ghost town: HVCC is a huge gym - it seats about 4000 and has enormous bleachers behind both hoops. And it's pretty much empty. No one is sitting behind the hoops, the bleachers on the other side of the gym are about 1/3 full, and the bleachers behind the team benches (where we are sitting) are maybe 1/2 full. Ugh, this game should have been at Shaker.

2) Memories, memories: We're sitting behind the Shaker bench about 12 rows up, and I find myself staring at the bleachers across the court from up. It feels like yesterday I was 8th grade watching the 1992 regional finals, the place was packed, and oh my god was it loud. I actually walked over there at halftime and stood up in the seat I had in the Shaker student section 14 years ago. Shaker got killed in that game, but for one moment - they took a 3-2 lead on a Jamie Haver 3-pointer on their first possession - everyone in that section thougt we were going to win the state title. I can still see that shot going in.

3) I forgot my camera: I'm such an idiot. I forgot my camera again. Stupid. Email any photos you have to me and I'll put them up.

1st Quarter

Like I mentioned yesterday, I didn't keep notes last night, so this all from memory. Shaker started Brad, Hans, Duclos, EC, and Griff. Brad won the tip, but it went to Nisky. The teams traded misses and turnovers for a few trips. Nisky was playing man-to-man and pressing after made baskets. Shaker had turnovers galore - travels, bad passes, etc. Brad got the ball inside and seemed to score at will a few times. Eddie hit a three and another hoop. It was 9-6 Shaker, even though they weren't playing that well. Then it caught up to them. Nisky went on an 8-2 run to close the quarter. 14-11 Nisky, end of one. Shaker not playing well at all.

1st quarter notes:

1) Sloppy, sloppy: The two main nemesises (nemesiss? nemi?) for Shaker came back tonight - turnovers and defensive rebounding. Nisky got so many freebies off Shaker throwaways, it made me sick. Shaker actually shot the ball pretty well this quarter - it was more that they weren't taking very many shots. Ugh.

2) No love from the refs: On the first possession of the game, Brad got the ball in the post, spun to the baseline and dunked it. Only he was called for a travel. It was that kind of night - I don't think that was an incorrect call, but it's the kind of thing that you often get away with if things are going well. They weren't going well last night, and Shaker got called for violations and fouls at all the wrong momnets.

3) Where's the 6th man/cheerleaders/fans? Turns out if you have a largely meaningless game on Sunday night at 6pm during a psuedo-snowstorm, you don't get a 6th man. Nor do you get cheerleaders, apparently. The Nisky cheer squad is there, but the Shaker cheerleaders are nowhere in sight. And the fans for both teams are pretty lethargic. It was a lot more intense at the Colonie game on Thursday, and that wasn't exactly a barnburner. But hey - at least they have a "press row" table set up on the other side of the court. It may be a meaningles tournament, but the Times Union is here to cover it! Alrighty, then.

2nd Quarter

More of the same. They just don't look all that into it tonight. And it's not that they aren't playing hard or aren't trying. It's just that energy that you sometimes see - say at the beginning of the senior night game against Saratoga - isn't there. Nisky opens the quarter 6-2 to take a 20-13 lead. Shaker bounces back on a Brad dunk and a Duclos runner. The teams then trade baskets to 25-21 and then Nisky drills a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. What a dagger. 28-21 at the half.

Second quarter notes:

1) Missed opportunities: The turnovers continue, and now they are missing some shots that seem like they should fall. Sometimes it's second chance misses in the paint, other times it's blown fast breaks. It just seems like nothing is working. Griff got called for traveling twice in the quarter - one was legit but the other was a little ridiculous. The little thing are just not clicking. And that's too bad because...

2) the defense looks pretty good: Nisky is moving the ball around well and getting some good looks, but they are just shooting the lights out, often under pressure. Shaker's defense seems solid, but Nisky is making some great plays, often at the buzzer of the shot clock.

3) Brad is having a nice night: 12 points at the half, and pretty much having his way inside.

4) A tight bench for Holmes: Just the starters, Hooks, Vernon, and Schaller see time in the first half.

4) They are certainly in the game: it's only a 7-point lead, and I mention to SJC that they are certainly capable of beating Nisky by more than that in the second half. In fact, the first half felt like both teams kinda underperformed on offense. But particularly the Bison. Eleven points in the first? Ten in the second? That's not goot. Very frustrating.

Shaker's scoring looked like this at the break:

Brad 5 2 12
TD 1 0 2
EC 2 0 5 (one three)
VC 1 0 2

Total 9 2 21 (two three pointers)

Halftime notes:

1)Still no cheerleaders: I've spotted the Shaker cheerleaders, they are now standing in position, maybe half a squad's worth. But they have yet to do a cheer. Very strange. I wonder what that's about. Somewhere in the back of my head I'm thinking this has to do with a travel cheerleading trip that took away some of the team, but who knows.

3rd Quarter

The third quarter starts slow for both team, just like the 1st quarter. A bunch of turnovers each way and a bunch of missed shots. Griff then gets a hoop and Hans is fouled on a three pointer. He makes all three shots and all of a sudden the Bison are within 30-26. Man, they just have to get over the hump here. But it wasn't going to happen. Nisky goes on an 8-0 run that includes two three pointers. Two of the shots on the run were hit at the shot clock buzzer after Shaker played very good half-court defense. Just backbreaking. The Bison add hoops by Brad and Griff to close the quarter, but it's 38-30 Nisky. Not good.

Third quarter notes:

1) Awaken the Shaker cheerleaders: They did their first group cheer at 5:58 in the 3rd, with Hans on the line shooting foul shots.

2) Coach Holmes gets hot:After Shaker pulled to within 30-26, Nisky called a timeout. During the timeout, Shaker must have spilled some water on the court, because the return to action was delayed while the Shaker coaches mopped up the floor with warmup shirts. Just about summed up the evening. Then when the action returned, the refs blew two calls in a row right down by the Shaker bench. I think the combination of Shaker playing poorly and the reffing going south got to Coach, because he let them have it from the bench for the next minute or two. Most animated I've seen him all year. I'm sure the cleanup in aisle three after the timeout didn't help, either.

3) Continued sloppiness: The turnovers continued unabetted, and the rebounding is just not there on the defensive end. It's not so much that they are getting outjumped or anything, it's just that the longer rebounds are consistently being chased down by Nisky and not Shaker. It's almost the opposite of Thursday night, when they got virutally every loose ball against Colonie.

4) It's just one of those nights: There's not really anyone to blame here. It just happens like this sometimes: Nisky is hitting shots all over the place, Shaker is dribbling it off their feet, the rebounds are going the wrong way, the calls are going the wrong way, shots are rimming out. It happens. It's actually amazing to me that they are only down 8 right now. They can still win this game with one excellent quarter.

5) And the fans aren't helping: It's a real graveyard in the Shaker section. Some combination of: not that many people, very few students, an ultimately unimportant game, a cavernous gym, and Nisky stemming every Shaker run before they really get it close. If the fans are any barometer, there not going to win this game tonight.

4th Quarter

There was never really a moment when I thought they were going to pull it out, but there were several moments when you thought they had a crack at it. Hans opened the quarter with a 3, and then teams traded misses, turnovers, and baskets. It was 40-35 and Shaker had a couple of opportunities to get closer but missed. Then Nisky got two hoops in a row. 44-35 and I thought it was over. But Shaker hung tough, getting a foul shot from Brad and another Hans 3 to make it 44-39. Timeout Nisky, and the Shaker crowd got into it the game for the first and only time of the night. Shaker got the ball back and got it inside but missed two close chances that could have gotten them within 3. The teams traded lots of missed trips and then a hoop, and it was 45-41 with about 1:35 remaining. Shaker got a stop and had another real chance, but missed. Holmes and the Bison worked some wonderful clock management over the next 35 seconds, getting fouls, baskets, and timeouts without using much clock at all. It was good to see that they could shuffle offense/defense in and out of the game and work it well. They got to within 48-45 with 58 seconds to go, but then oddly decided not to foul right away and 15 seconds ran off the clock. Then disaster struck. Nisky missed both foul shots of the double bonus but got a hustle rebound off the second miss. Then they made one and missed the second, but again came away with the ball. That was the game. Nisky made their shots by and large for the rest of the game, Hooks added a (basically) meaningless three to make it 52-48, and it ended 54-48.

4th quarter notes:

1) Offensive breakdown: The offense looked good in the 1st half when they weren't turning it over. The second half they looked worse. Brad didn't get many looks until the last minute or so when Nisky was tight on the 3-point shooters, and the ball movement wasn't great either. I think this was partially because...

2) Nisky's pressure bothers them: More than any other opponent this year, the Bison have had problems with the Nisky press. It totally takes them out of their halfcourt game. They spend a lot of time and energy getting the ball up to halfcorut, and then they don't seem in sync on offense. That was true in both games this year.

3) No help from the refs: I mean none. They called Griff three or four times last night for travels, two of which were things that usually are let go. Vernon and Hans both got called for touch fouls that could have been breakaway steals. Nisky actually got called for two offensive fouls in the 4th that spurred the Shaker mini-run, but it wasn't enough. It's sad when this Shaker team only gets to the line 9 times, but that was teh case tonight. On the bright side, they made 8 of them.

Here is the partial boxscore:

NameFGFTFTAFT %3-PtPoints
Eddie Cross100--15
Vernon Cross100--02
Tom Duclos200--04
John Hans055100%211
Brian Hooks000--13
Griff McLoughlin200--04
Brad Sheehan83475%019

And here is the quarter log:


Niskayuna 14141016 54

Coach Holmes had this to say after the game (quotes courtesy of Spotlight writer Matt Rucinski '07, read his full article here):

“We need to be more confident. We can handle the ball, but we just lose our confidence. We make some mistakes and it starts to snowball on us.”

Holmes attributed much of the loss to Niskayuna’s outstanding intensity. “They out-hustled us. They got loose balls and they got offensive rebounds. The little things are what beat us, and that was a hungry (Niskayuna) team.”

“We are relieved that we have nine days to get ready. We will use this as motivation, and with the character that we have, we will regroup.”

That sounds about right. Here's a picture from TU online. They have the caption, "Nisky's Dan Halyako blocks a shot by Shaker's Brad Sheehan." I might have titled this one, "Brad Sheehan gets killed in the lane once again with no foul called."

Five major things to sum up:

1) No big deal: You can't win them all, and it's a lot better to lose now than to lose two weeks from now. If anything, this should fire them up for sectionals.

2) They had a great regular season: 16-4 is the best Shaker regular season record in 25 years. That's something to be very proud about.

3) 10 days to get it ready: The Bison have a long stretch off now before the first round of sectionals. Plenty of time to get ready for the big push.

4) No more second chances: It's simple: the seniors are only going to lose zero or one more high school basketball game ever. And if/when they lose, that's it. Career over. From here on out, it's serious. I'm sure they are well away of this. But it's just as important that everyone reading this is well aware of it. Because...

5) No more second chances for fans: In some ways, sectionals are overblown. Nothing that happens in the next month of basketball is going to erase the fact that this was a great team that had a great season. However, the next month can also immortalize this team forever in both Shaker history and section 2 history. Anyone who saw this team play will remember how great they could be, but if they can win at least four games in the next three weeks, everyone will remember how great they were. And believe it or not, the fans are going to play an important role in that: so go to the games, scream your lungs off, and make sure that you did your part for the team. No excuse not to pack the new gym next week for the opening round.

Summary and notes

I'd be in favor of abolishing the Suburban Council tournament, or at least thinking about changing it up a bit...The sectional seedings are announced wednesday night, Shaker will be the #1 Suburban team, probably with a first round game against Troy on 2/22...

Final score: Nisky 54, Shaker 48. TU box score here. Times Union article here. Shaker drops to 16-4 (14-2 Suburban Council). Next game: either 2/21 or 2/22, sectional 1st round vs. TBD, probably at Shaker.
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