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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 Tourney Preview

Suburban Council Tourney Preview: The Suburban Council Tournament begins tonight at 6pm in Nisky's old new crappy gym. Here's a look at the four teams:

Shaker: The Bison come in riding a 9-game winning streak and a 13-1 Suburban record (15-3 overall). Their only league loss was a 61-57 overtimes loss to AP back in December. They barely beat Nisky in a game they had seemingly put away early, and they overpowered Colonie 59-51 a few weeks ago. Since we spend plenty of time talking about Shaker here, I'll offer some advice to opposing teams: the key to beating Shaker is to pressure them into turnovers, collapse on Sheehan without giving up too many easy three-pointers or other open shots, and hope they simply don't out-talent you. I recommend a full-game zone press and a matchup 2-3 zone that severely collapses into the lane in the halfcourt set. And don't get into foul trouble.

Colonie:The Red Raiders have had a surprisingly good season while flying under the rader with most of the observers in section 2. They have an 11-3 league record (13-5 overall). The three losses were the Shaker game mentioned above, a double-overtime thriller to AP, and an overtime loss to Columbia. They have beaten Nisky twice, once by seven points and then last week on the last play of the game. That's a far more impressive resume than anyone wants to give them credit for. They have two serious scorers in 6'0" senior guard Chuckie Lattimer and 6'2" senior forward Kashan Hatches, both of whom were recently picked to the Suburban Council All-star team. One weakness for the Raiders is free-throw shooting: they shot only 60% as a team for the year.

Nisky: 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).

AP: Averill Park is somewhat of an enigma to me this year. They have a great record, 13-2 in the Suburban (15-3 overall), they hung tough with CBA, and they were pretty impressive in the 4th quarter and overtime in their victory over Shaker. But I'm still skeptical. They looked pretty pedestrian for three quarters against Shaker, and the Bison never should have let them back in the game. After running off 11 straight league wins to start the season, they lost to Nisky, which is forgivable except that they followed it up by mailling one in at home against B. Spa. That's a disaster. So I don't know. Maybe they are good enough that they could be competetive in the AA sectionals. Maybe they are going to get the doors blown off them by Glens Falls and Gloversville in A. Who knows. Averill Park is led by a balanced attack - a trio of guards - 6'0" senior Jared Morine, 6'1" senior Jordan Vickers and 6'3" junior Adam Haines - and 6'7" senior center Sean Macari. Team scoring stats here.

Predictions: I like Shaker over Colonie, 65-52. And as much as I'd like to see a Shaker-AP rematch, I'm going to take Nisky over AP 58-56.

Six things I'm going to look for tonight:

1) Player Intensity: The Suburban Council Tournament is wierd. The regular season is over, but the elimination playoffs haven't started. That makes for an odd situation. On paper, these games are important. In reality, teams can get caught up looking ahead to sectionals. I don't think it will be a problem for the Bison tonight - this is Colonie, after all, but who knows. It's actually more of an issue for...

2) Fan intensity: I doubt we will see a sectional-like atmosphere at the game tonight. I might be wrong - this is Colonie - but two things make me think it might be a normal-sized crowd: first, the early start. Playing at 6pm probably will reduced the attendance. Second, the neutral site. I'm still miffed about that. This game would draw lots more people at Shaker. Bottom line is that this isn't an elimination game, so there's no reason to expect fans to treat it like they treat sectionals. I'm very curious to see what kind of 6th man shows up tonight.

3) Inside / Outside game: During the first half of the season, many teams went man-to-man on Shaker and tried to play Brad closer to straight-up, at least before he got the ball. In the last few weeks, we've seen a lot more slouching into things that look like matchup zones in order to deny him entry passes and also to completely bother him when he does get the ball. The result has been more open looks for the Shaker outside shooters. That's a good thing, because now the Shaker guards have started to really look for their shot more often. Tonight I'll be watching this closely, with particular attention to the play of John Hans, who has not only been looking for his shot more recently, but also has been draining it.

4) Gym crappiness: After the Bethlehem game, I celebrated in print the fact that there would be no more crappy gyms this year. And then after I wrote it, I actually got a little bit depressed: turns out I like the crappy gyms, at least a little bit. Who knew! Lo and behold, a higher power has intervened, and it's back to Nisky we go! I actually took a little bit of flak from some Nisky readers in the past month for berating their school so bad. But whatever, have you seen that place? They're lucky they passesd their bond issue, because Niskayuna High School is literally falling apart. So don't start crying to me about how it doesn't suck. If the taxpayers are forking over $95 million to fix it, that means it sucks. The only thing to hope for now is that they implode that gym. Or at least build a second exit.

5) Defensive Rebounding: I pretty much alternate between getting upset about the turnovers and getting upset about the rebounding. I think I'm going to watch the rebounding closely because I don't want to even think about possibly having turnover problems. Not with sectionals just two weeks away.

6) Good pictures: A few days ago, I called for pictures from the season. I got a bunch of emails, thanks to everyone who sent shots in (keep them coming). Nisky's gym is small enough that I think I might get some shots myself.

Hope to see everyone at the game! Stop by and say hi... Let's go Sha-ker!
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