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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day Two Recap

Team Turean Connor 49
Team Mr. Rhodes 46

Usually when a team's performance can be described with 3 Ls (Lazy, Lethargic, and Lackadaisical), they almost always end up with the Big L, a loss. Not the case today, for Connor's squad (1-1), who narrowly escaped this afternoon with a victory over a Nick Norals-less Team Rhodes. Brandon Webb scored a team-high 21 points and Connor added 10. Webb, doing his normal "I'm too cool to try my hardest for fear that I might look bad if I fail" routine sealed the deal in closing minutes with a couple of fast-break lay-ups. Daniel Palm, pre-occupied with jeers he was receiving from the crowd, chipped in a couple of buckets using his vaunted "no defense, basket-hanging" strategy. Xavier O'neal, who was clearly disappointed with his team's lack of a killer instinct in the first half, needs to call a team meeting and find a way for this group to reach their potential before it's too late.
Team Rhodes (0-1) competed mightily with only four players for a large portion of the first half. Rhodes implemented a devastating two-two zone which left Connor's squad befuddled and unable to score. Upon Kier Carmichael-Smith's late first-half arrival, it looked like Rhode's group was well on their way to victory. Clearly, the best defensive team in a league, they played much harder and seemed to end up with every loose ball in this contest. Pair that unmatched effort with Squirt Polk unleashing an array of behind-the-back dribble maneuvers and acrobatic finishes and you had Team Rhodes holding a two point lead with just under five minutes to play. The lack of bench however, proved costly, as they simply did not have the energy to thwart off Team Connor's uninspiring comeback effort.

Coaching Blunder: Seeing that Team Rhodes only had four players, it was inexcusable for Connor to not have his team press and make it an up-tempo style of ballgame. That's like playing baseball against a team without a right-fielder and continuing to have your players pull the ball as opposed to having them be smart and go the opposite way. Coach Connor needs to realize that it is not always about the Johnnies and Joes, but more about the X's and O's.

Coaching Wonder: Team Rhodes' 2-2 zone had all onlookers in the crowd comparing the coaching move to Bob Huggins brilliantly deciding to go with a 1-3-1 against Kentucky in the elite 8 in this year's NCAA tournament. It's a shame that this team ran out of gas in the second half, otherwise this quite possibly could have gone down in basketball lore as one of the greatest coaching strategies of all-time.

Team LaQuinn Parks 52
Team Denzell Smith 40

Team Parks (1-0) proved themselves to be one of the more complete teams in the league. They moved the ball, screened well, played solid on and off the ball defense, and consistently made the extra pass. As I predicted would happen, Mario Sawyer helped make the game easy for his teammates by dishing out 11 assists. The recipients of his unselfishness were Parks, Courtney Ealy, and Kyle Begusa who contributed 11, 14, and 13 points respectively. Ealy, in particular proved why he is one of the Top Ten freshman in the state according to He had a plethora of no-look passes (even threw in a couple of unnecessary spins afterwards) and dazzling finishes at the rim. His performance was marred a tiny bit by one Siler-like missed dunk. The problem with this was not the missed dunk, but rather the fact that Courtney himself knows that he can't dunk, yet still tried knowing this fact. That's the equivalent of getting married to someone that you know, with undeniable certainty, will end up in a divorce or, on a smaller scale, choosing to to drink a milk-shake, knowing that you're lactose intolerant. As a great coach of mine used to say, "If you can't dunk, lay it in Courtney."
Denzell Smith chose to sit himself and two other Team Smith (0-1) top players to start the game as a creative attempt to satisfy the "Everyone must play five minutes" rule established by Commissioner Rodgers. This move definitely demonstrated Smith's ability to think outside the box, but it creatively backfired. Although Smith came in immediately and banged a three to cut the lead to two at the ten minute mark, Team Parks had already established an offensive flow that proved insurmountable. Marques Hudson did provide some comic relief for the crowd by doing something that had never been done in KBA history, he airballed and bricked a free throw in consecutive trips to the charity stripe. Congratulations Marques on that lofty feat!

Coaching Blunder: Kehinde Ogunleye had two points and one near standing ovation in one minute of action. After doing the math, assuming that Ogunleye would have played the entire game, he would have ended up with 60 points on 30 for 30 from the field and 30 near standing ovations. You have to wonder what Smith was thinking in the way he distributed minutes to his players and whether or not he'll get Ogunleye more tick next time.

Coaching Wonder: Coach Parks, started using a Hockey-style substitution method late in the second half, in which he sent Sheldon Blanton into the game as it was in progress. Basketball rules dictate that subs can only enter the games during dead ball situations, but this sneaky move by Parks went unnoticed by first year refs Afure Obaebor and Imitri Baker (Because we all know after his first game that there is no D in Dimitri). Parks, knowingly or not, ended up looking like an innovator and proved himself as a rising star in the coaching ranks.

Team Patrick Glostner 53
Team Jeff Jones 38

Even with Kevin Swanson about as disinterested in this game as a vegetarian at a butcher's convention, Team Glostner (2-0) was clicking on all cylinders in their rout of Team Jones. Remy Price was phenomenal once again. Corey Williams distributed the ball and knocked down some big shots and Patrick Glostner used his RonArtestian-like motor to grab loose ball after loose ball. This core of Glostner, Price, Williams, and Swanson was simply too much for the over matched roster of Team Jones. In fact, this roster my be too much for everyone in the league with the exception of Team Parks. If they could ever get Kevin Swanson off of the B-Webb "I'm too cool to try my hardest for fear that I might look bad if I fail" All-star team, they would be unstoppable. Until then, they leave themselves open to an upset.
Team Jones may have found their way to the bottom of the KBA rankings after this one due to their complete lack of team cohesiveness. Cash Jones certainly got his, finishing with 19 points and six alienated teammates, on 8 for 68 from the field. Aerius Fitch picked up the first technical foul of the season as well due to kind words that he sent referee Denzell Smith's way. The complete lack of team unity left Jeff Jones saying after the game that "I'm ball before family." Does this mean that cousin Cash may be on the trading block for potential KBA suitors? I'm hoping that this is not the case and that instead, Cash learns the valuable lesson that Michael Jordan learned circa 1991 that without John Paxson, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and Bill Cartwright, he would never win an NBA title. With that said, there was one bright spot for Team Jones in this game, and that was the fashionable Taiwo Ogunleye. Taiwo competed with a phenomenal short-sleeved, red and plaid, button-down shirt under his jersey. I have to think that if any representatives from Nike were in attendance, that they would have to consider adding this to their upcoming summer sportswear line.

Coaching Blunder: Jeff Jones really needed to take a time-out to let cooler heads prevail in this one. Having a sit down with Cash and Phillip Strong could have got everyone back on the same page and allowed his team to make a run in the second half. Instead he allowed things to boil over and focused his efforts on keeping the "Jeff Jones" face to minimum this game (only 3 appearances).

Coaching Wonder: Patrick Glostner was absolutely outstanding during pre-game, timeouts, and half-time delivering Vince Lombardi-like speeches to rile up his guys and get them to play hard. He has clearly earned the respect of his players.