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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

SC championship preview

Suburban Final Preview (Time change!): First, and most importantly, tonight's game will be played at 6:30pm, not 7pm as originally announced. There will also be an awards ceremony honoring the Suburban Council all-stars - and player of the year Brad Sheehan - at 6pm. Everything is still at Hudson Valley.

Let's start with this Nisky team: they're dangerous. Shaker is clearly the favorite in this matchup, and should win, but Nisky is good enough that it wouldn't shock anyone to see a close and hard-fought game. Now that they've beaten AP twice, they have something of a resume for this season. They are going to be the #4 Suburban seed in sectionals, and they are definitely good enough to potentially pull off a sleeper upset of a good Big 10 team in the quarterfinals. Probably won't, but they are more dangerous than most of upper-middle class in the Suburban.

Here's what I had to say about them before their first round game against AP: Nisky will be a tough opponent, particularly in their own gym against AP. They finished the Suburban season 9-5 (10-6 overall). As mentioned above, they lost close games to Colonie both last month and last week, and they lost a close game to Shaker. Perhaps their finest moment of the season came two weeks ago, when they jumped out 11-2 on AP and played them even the rest of the way to hand AP their first league loss of the year. Nisky has a pretty balacned scoring attack, with three players averaging about 10 pts/game. They are led by a contingent of seniors: 6'1" Bryan Grastorf, 6'3" Dan Halayko, and 6'3" John Kock (full scoring stats here).

Here are some notes on the game tonight:

1) Let's see how Shaker likes the big gym: The Bison have only played twice this year in settings that weren't high school gyms. That would be the debacle against Lasalle and the heartbreaker against Bishop Maginn. I don't think the court/building/atmosphere had anything to do with the outcome of those games, but it's worth keeping in mind that it is different playing at the big venues: the court is slightly larger, the depth perception to the hoops is different, and the stands are just everywhere. It ain't H-gym. And you can't win the section unless you perform well at the biggest gyms around: the RAAC, Glens Falls, and the Pepsi. So I'd like to walk away from this game thinking the Bison are comfortable in the cathedrals. It's Like Gene Hackman says in Hoosiers:

(to the players, shouting) "I think you will find that the measurements in this gym are exactly the same as in our gym back in Hickory..."

(to the assistant coaches, whisper), "Damn...this place is big."

2) Let's see who shows up for this thing: As I said on Friday, the Suburban Council is doing everything they can to make sure no one goes to this tournament:

-Have the first round on a weeknight..check.
-At a neutral location...check.
-At 6pm...check.
-Have the finals on Sunday night....check.
-During a snowstorm...check.

Ok. So the last one isn't their fault. But still. If you thought the cavernous tiny Nisky gym looked empty at 6pm on Friday, just wait till you see what 4000 seat Hudson Valley looks like tonight. Even a monster crowd isn't going to look like much tonight. I'll go on the record right now: the Suburban Council championship tournament games should be held at the home gym of the highest seed. And I'm not just saying that because Shaker is the highest seed. It's just better for high school basketball to have a small gym packed than a monster gym half full. Not that we'd pack H-gym tonight, we wouldn't. There's only so much attendance you can draw for a non-elimination tournament a week before sectionals. But at least at Shaker the crowd would look respectable. I do expect Nisky to have a decent student section - they were pretty strong at the regular season game. And I wonder if those R-rated Nisky cheerleaders are going to show up?

Look - I could be wrong. But I'm pretty sure it's going to look pretty sparse at HVCC tonight. Speaking of which...

3) The Hudson Valley gym: I noticed in the section 2 basketball tournament handbook that HVCC is again not going to be used for an Class AA games this year. They'll be using home sites for the first round, SUNY-Albany for the quarters, Glens Falls for the semis, and the Pepsi for the finals. The regionals are at SUNY and the state tournament, as usual, is in Glens Falls. That's fine, but I've always liked the HVCC atmosphere for sectional games. It always reminded me of going to games at the old ARC at Siena. The acoustics for cheering aren't great for getting really loud at HVCC, but it's not bad. There's some nice Shaker basketball history at HVCC, too: beating CBA - who only lost 3 games that year, two to Shaker - in the 1992 semi-finals sticks out as the most memorable in my mind. And the regional loss in '92 also occured at HVCC. And man, they look pretty solid, but you can get the HVCC bleachers shaking pretty darn good if you put your mind to it.

4) No more play by play: I mentioned this yesterday, but starting tonight, I'm done trying to write things down at the games. So my recaps will be a little less, um, stellar than usual. I'll still write a decent recap, but you won't get the "every trip play by play" that I've been bringing for the last couple of weeks. I mean, there was no way I was going to be carrying pen and paper around at sectionals, but I've also decided to bag it tonight. I guess I'm just too much of a fan to keep the journalistic motif going in the post-season.

On the other hand, I think the Times Union might be giving me press credentials for sectionals. But I'll tell you this: there's no way I'm sitting on press row if they have one of those "journalists can't cheer" rules. Not only would I not want to be there under that system, but I wouldn't last 2 minutes, either. What? I can't scream at the ref or pound the table as part of a "defense" chant? What about journalists storming the court at the Pepsi after we win the section title? Is that allowed? See, that's how far away I am from that rule.

5) Prediction: I think Shaker makes a statement tonight and wins comfortably - something like a 12 point lead at the end of the 3rd that never disappears in the 4th. Final score: Shaker 66, Nisky 51.

Hope to see you at the game tonight! I'll have a teaser recap up when I get home, and then a full report tomorrow monring.
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