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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

Sectional quarterfinal preview

Sectional Preview, Quarterfinals: The real battle begins tomorrow afternoon at SUNY. Eight teams remain. Before we get to the game previews, a few notes:

1) Go to the game: I guarantee you that Albany High will have a large and loud fan base there tomorrow. Don't let them turn a netural-site match into a home game. Game time is 5:30 tomorrow. Probably won't start on time since they onl allow 1.5 hours for each game, but get there on time anyway. Worst case scneario is you have to watch the end of the CCHS-Maginn game. God forbid. In fact, my advice is to get there early enough to watch the entire Maginn-CCHS game. Or just nag your wife enough that you can do the entire quadruple-header. Also, don't just pick out any old seat at the RACC - find the Shaker section and sit in it - people tend to cheer much more loudly when they are congregated together.

2) One year ago: Shaker busted out of sectionals in this round last year, on this court, on a Sunday afternoon, to an inferior Troy team. The Bison led by as many as 9 points in the 4th quarter before Tiki Mayben lit up the gym for something like 15 points in th 4th. Very depressing. Even more depressing because right before the Troy surge started, I turned to SJC and said, "looks like they are going to win this one going away" or something like that. So don't do something idiotic like that this year.

Let's preview the games in order as they will happen tomorrow :

Nisky vs. Schenectady, 1:00
: Ok, I'm just going to come out and say it up front. I like Nisky to win this game. They impressed me in the Suburban Council Championship game. They had absolutely no problem with Amsterdam on Wednesday. And they play very well together. Grastorf, Halyako, and Ritter are all scoring threats, and they tend to move the ball around well and get open shots. If they shoot well, they can beat anyone. They've won 8 of their last 9, and they've done it playing well.

That said, the reason I'm picking them is because Schenectady looks pretty listless right now. In their last two games, they've gotten blown out by CBA and played a surprisingly close game with Bethlehem. They clearly have more talent than Niskyauna, but it's not always used well. Lyons is prone to foul trouble and silly turnovers. And they have lapses of selfishness. If Schenctady brigns their 'A' game, they win, perhaps easily. But ff they show up with anything less or undermestimate Nisky, they are in trouble. Call it a wild pick, but I get the feeling this is the game Schenectady self-destructs. Originally, I picked SHS, but after the 1st round, I don't trust them one bit. Nisky 61, Schenectady 54.

CBA vs. Columbia, 2:30: I tell you, the schedule for Sunday really turned out as poorly as possible for me. Here's my ranking of how much I care about seeing each game:

Shaker-Albany: I'll be there. period.
Nisky-SHS: I'd really, really like to see this game.
Maginn-CCCHS: A definite passing interest.
CBA-Columbia: Very, very little interest.

Thus, you can see the problem. The two games I really want to see are 5 hours apart. Given that SJC is not going to want to sit through all four games, my sense is that I'm going to end up either just going to the two late games, or I'll end up going to all four games, sitting through the first two alone. Anyway, I can't imagine Columbia even keeping this one close. Normally, when a team's top four scorers are outside gunners, you say that they can hang with anyone if they shoot well. But that was proven untrue back in December, when they shot the lights out of the H-gym new gym - Zampier had 41 points and 9 threes - and still couldn't stay with the Bison. I think he'd have to score 50 tomorrow to make this a game. CBA is just going to have a field day on offense, particular inside. It's just too mucha for Columbia to handle. Sure, CBA didn't look great on Wednesday, but it was senior night and they did start their bench seniors. CBA 71 Columbia 53.

3) CCHS vs. Maginn, 4:00: This is the only matchup of the day where the two teams have already faced each other this year. Early in January, Maginn won by two in overtime. Two weeks ago, Maginn blew out CCHS, although John Barna, CCHS's center, did not play. And that's important. He could be the key to this game. Maginn isn't a great inside team, and they are particular weak with rebounding. CCHS might be able to exploit this. Still, it's hard to pick against Taylor Battle - he's one scary opponent. In the month of February, he's gone for 33, 43, 36, and 33, and made 17 three pointers. Teams have beaten Maginn both ways this year - either by holding Battle in the low 20's or by shutting everyone else down. But I think he goes crazy tomorrow. I'll take Maginn, with Battle scoring 38 or more. Maginn 68, CCHS 51.

4) Shaker vs. Albany, 5:30: Most commenters over on the syracuse.com forums seem to think this will be the best game of the day. That might be true. Albany plays an unptempo game, has some very good, athletic guards, likes to press, and has a nice inside player in Erwyn. Shaker, well, I don't think we have to review Shaker's strengths here. We've done enough of that this year. These two teams actually met in a preseason scrimmage, and played a tight game there.

Seven keys for the Bison if they want to win tomorrow, probably none which will surprise you:

#1) Ballhandling: This is the main issue as I see it. Break the Albany pressure with a minimum of miscues, and the Bison win this game. That's easier send then done, of course.

#2) Rebounding: No cheap baskets. And plenty of cheap ones for us.

#3) Brad's touches: It'll be interesting to see how Albany tries to defend Brad. From what I understand, they are a man-to-man team, but most opponents have found little success with that this year against the Bison.

#4) Jumpshots: Shaker shot very well two weeks ago against Colonie, not as well against Nisky and Queensbury. That makes a huge difference in a game like this, especially if Albany is really going to push the tempo off missed baskets with long rebounds.

#5) Tempo: Shaker needs to play their game tomorrow, and not get into a running war with Albany. Patience on offense will be rewareded with baskets, I'm convinced Shaker can beat Albany consistently in the half-court set. But I'd prefer not to start a track meet with a team that is very athletic and uses presssure well.

#6) Guard defense: Despite all the attention Erwyn gets, Albany's top scorers are actually guards, and they hit a lot of threes. The Bison have had mixed results against good guard play this year, and on occasion they've been torched by it. Can't happen tomorrow.

#7) Fan support: Check out htis stat: if Shaker brings a serious crowd this year, they win. In the game where they brought a lackluster crowd against a good opponent - AP, Maginn, Nisky - they've lost. Might be a spurrious correlation, but I wouldn't take any chances. It's time for the 6th man, and for the Shaker adults, to roar.

I'm actually pretty confident right now. I think the Bison will come to play tomorrow, and I like the matchup. Shaker 66, Albany 56.

And here's the bracket if you are interested:

Hope to see you at the games tomorrow! Lets go Bi-son!!!!
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