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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

'toga preview / notes...

Saratoga preview / odds and ends : Shaker plays Saratoga tomorrow at 7:30 in the H-gym new gym. I'll be there, and I'll be sitting standing in the 6th man. We're previewing today because I'm planning on publishing my interview with Coach Holmes tomorrow.

Shaker beat Saratoga back on January 3rd, 68-57 in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score indicates. The game was notable for a few reasons: the 25 point explosion Brad had in the second half, the very impressive play of Saratoga star freshman Jordan Stevens, and the viciously effective road 6th man that Shaker brought with them. Saratoga is only 3-9 in the Suburban, but they have some weapons. Stevens is just a great player - he's really fun to watch - and you can't believe that he's only a freshman in high school. They also get some offense from their guards, Prickett and Bishop. Still, I expect Shaker to win this one handily. Shaker is just way too much for this team.

Since I'll be standing in the 6th man, I'm not going to attempt to keep stats tomorrow night, but here's what I'll be looking at:

1) Turnovers, part I: Crisp passing. I thought the single biggest cause of the turnover debacle (which turned out to be officially 28 turnovers) against Shen was lazy passes. We spent the whole game telegrahing and then soft tossing many of the routine passes: post entries, secondary fast break passes, and perimeter passes. Some of the passes are bad decisions, but most of them are good ideas that aren't executed particularly well.

2) The great views you get from the student section: I can't tell you why the student section is the particular section that it is in h-hym the new gym, but I can definitely say that it gives you the best overall view of the game, all things considered. This fall into two general categories.

Category #1, View of the game: The student section is definitely the place to be if you only care about the game. First off, you see both benches and the coaches from the front. That counts for more than you think. You can really get a sense of the mood of the team, and if there's a bad call you get to see all the great facial expressions. Also, if you don't sit too close to the baseline, you can see the scoreboard on the hallway end of the gym at the same time you observe the action at that end of the court. That means if Shaker has the ball late in the game, you don't have to constantly be turning your head and taking your eyes off the court to check the clock. Can't do that in the adult section. (I had always noticed this, but I never thought it was a big deal until the CBA game this year, when I found myself craning back and forth to check the clock and the game in the final 25 seconds.)

Category #2, View of the fans: It's fun to be near the cheerleaders, and not facing their backs. That's just true. Additionally, since the Shaker adult section is next to the visitng team section and the Shaker student section is next to the usually empty 4th section, you get the illusion in the student section that there are a lot more fans at the game than there actually are. It's also really fun - especially if you haven't done it in 10 years - to sit with a view of the Shaker adult section. I'm actually really curious to see what it looks like this year. It's been an absolute funeral parlor for the last few games, and that can't make for the best view from the student seats. And let's not forget, if you sit in the student section, you don't hvae to walk by the memorial to Julius and the '79-80 team as you enter the gym. Maybe that's why it's such a funeral parlor in the adult section.

The only real downside of the student section is that you can't see the student section. It's true, you're standing in it, but it's kind of like trying to view your house from the front porch - you can't really get a great feel for the overall picture. Of course, that's only a big deal if you're a regular in the student section. If you haven't sat there in 10 years, it's pretty neat to be...

3) Sitting Standing in the student section: I can't remember exactly the last time I sat in the student section - it was almost certainly some night in February '96, but I can't say for sure. At the time it didn't feel like a memorable moment. That's partially because you don't have a sense of things like that ending when you're 17, but it's also because the team wasn't very good and the student section just wasn't that memorable my senior year at Shaker. I'll write more about this on Saturday, but there really is a vast difference in observing a game from that section of the bleachers. Everything is different - it's hotter, it's more crowded, the politeness quotient is way down. The game even seems longer over there. And it definitely seems more important. I'm a bit apprehensive about tomorrow night, but I'm also really looking forward to it. I can honestly say I never thought I'd sit there again. And no, I'm not buying you beer. So don't bother asking.

4) Turnovers, part II: Ballhandling. Two main concerns here. First, staying in control during transition situations. That was a source of numerous turnovers on Tuesday. Second, dribbling inside the 3-pt. line. I noticed a lot of sloppy drives to the basket on Tuesday. The one area that I'm not that concerned about is the press breaking. I thought that was generally ok on Tuesday, and it has been a lot better as of late. Also, Saratoga didn't use any full court pressure in the first meeting, so I don't expect the Bison to face much - if any - pressure tomorrow.

5) Turnovers, part III: Actually, I don't know what turnovers, part III would be. I just wanted to say again that I'm watching turnovers.

6) Senior night: I wrote last week about how much I hate senior night on the road. Well, senior night at home is really awesome. It definitely gets the crowd pumped up, and I guarantee you we'll get some tears in the Shaker adult section. Heck, don't be surprised if I report on Saturday that I saw some tears in the student section. It kinda jumps up on people that way sometimes. Not always, but sometimes. And, of course, we'll get the following starting lineup tomorrow: Brad, Griff, Hans, Vern, and Duclos. Wow. Should be great.

Prediction: Shaker in a romp, 75-49.

Other notes: Here's another email about the private school aspect of the Big 10:
Imagine what Shaker would be like if they had the following players that live in their district but go to private school:

Taj Alexander – LaSalle
Greg Holle – CBA
Luke Weaver – CBA
Joe Zappone – CBA
John Cahill – CBA (Pretty sure)

Colonie would have Talor Battle as their Point Guard. Voorheesville would have Kellen Byrnes as theirs. Albany High would have Malcolm Austin, DeAndre Kennedy, Jalaun Taylor, Terron Victoria, Kyle Dignum and Jamaal Smith on their team.

Private schools really do add to the Big 10 and make it tough for the Suburban to keep up and private schools have no geographic boundaries to restrict them like public schools. Amazing the impact, especially on an already solid Shaker team.
It almost makes you want to boot the private schools out of the leauge. Almost. But what it really fires me up to do is win the section title this year. We already beat those turncoats once, I can't wait to do it again. Speaking of which...

If the sectionals started today: I'm pretty sure this is what the bracket would look like:

Big 10 #1 (Schenectady/CBA)
Suburb #8 (Saratoga)

Big 10 #5 (Lasalle)
Suburb #4 (Columbia)

Big 10 #3 (Albany)
Suburb #6 (Guilderland)

Big 10 #7 (Amsterdam)
Suburb #2 (Colonie)

Big 10 #2 (CBA / Schenectday)
Suburb #7 (Bethlehem)

Big 10 #6 (CCHS)
Suburb #3 (Nisky)

Big 10 #4 (Maginn)
Suburb #5 (Shen)

Big 10 #8 (Troy)
Suburb #1 (Shaker)

I can't wait. See you tomorrow.
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