It was another full slate of basketball action in NH, and here is what I'm thinking:
First, from the game I was at...I was covering Dover/Salem for WGAM Friday Night Lights. Pinkerton beat Salem by 18 on Tuesday night, and Dover is better than Pinkerton. So I was expecting an easy Dover win. And Dover was up 8-0 and 10-2 early on, so at first it appeared I would be right. But Salem scratched and clawed their way back into the game. There was at least 5 lead changes in this one, which made it fun to watch. Lots of runs, too. Dover started off 8-0, Salem had a 20-8 run to take the lead, then Dover closed out the half on a 13-3 run. 8-0 run Salem early in the third followed by a 12-0 run Dover late third-early 4th. These are two teams that rely on the outside shot a lot, especially Dover. And when those shots stop falling that's when the opposition can make a run. And that's why there was so many runs tonight. The two teams made a combined 17 three's, including 5 for LaRosa, 5 for Duffy and 3 for Burt. People will look at Salem's record and say they're 0-3 they must not be very good. But Dover is my #1 team right now, and with 1:49 left in the game Salem was only down 53-51 to them. Salem is not a bad basketball team. They just have a lot of football players on their team. LaRosa's the only one who plays hoops year round. Gallant plays volleyball, Cannone, Lorenz, Henrick and Matthews all play football. These kids took an entire 4 months off from playing basketball. They're still getting into basketball shape, which is of course different than football shape, and still transitioning from football/volleyball season into hoops. Plus Analdo Vasquez, who got big minutes for Salem during summer and fall leagues, suffered a season ending injury right before the season started. Back to Dover though for a second. Yes, I have them ranked #1 right now, but there is really no clear cut favorite in Class L this year. I keep saying that any one of those top 5 teams (Dover, BG, Merrimack, Trinity, Memorial) could be #1. Dover's weaknesses are that they rely on the three ball too much, so that when the shots aren't falling they can suffer offensive dry-spells. Now when this happens, not only are you not scoring, but outside shot misses = long rebounds, and long rebounds = fast break opportunities for the other team. That's why Dover is vulnerable. Their other weakness is depth. Robert Mahan got in the game for about 30 seconds tonight, but other than that Coach Romps only played 6 kids all game. This could catch up with Dover later on in the season, especially against a team like BG who plays 10 players at least. And if one of Dover's 6 key players were to get injured they would be in trouble. The other side of this debate is that the Green Wave only need 6 players to win. I can back that statement up with 3 points. Point #1 is that last year Memorial made it to the title game by playing a 6 man rotation. Very rarely did anyone besides Chevrefils, Gendron, Brandon, Sowa, Reyes or Couture make it into a close game a season ago for the Crusaders and they were fine. Point #2 is that these 6 kids that we're talking about for Dover are really in great shape. Burt, Dube, Al-Darraji, Faustino, Duffy and Taveras are all perfectly capable of playing big minutes. They're all in great shape and never seem to get winded. Point #3 is that Dover is such a good team that there will surely be some times when they are blowing a team out and will be able to rest their 6 key players then. True, there are 15 or so legit teams in Class L so there aren't many easy games. But Dover still has a schedule that includes dates with St. Thomas, Concord, Spaulding, Timberlane and Goffstown. At least four of those games, if not all five, should be opportunities for Coach Romps to rest his starters. On a different Dover note, they play BG next Thursday night in a battle of my current #1 vs. #2 teams in Class L. Now that I have to see.
Now, on to some thoughts on other games tonight...The first final score that I was really surprised by was Pembroke 51 Lebanon 27. Before this game, I think I had Lebanon at #1 and Pembroke at #6 in my Class I Power Rankings. So if anything I thought Lebanon would be favored, even on the road. But on paper I thought these were two pretty evenly matched teams. Just shows you how crazy Class I has been so far this season...I guess before I go too much further I have to talk about Milford/Pelham, the game of the night. I wasn't really surprised with the result in this one, though. I thought Milford would win in a close one and they did. Going into the season I had these two teams as the top 2 teams in Class I and that's how I have them now. Milford vs. Souhegan on Tuesday should be a good one this upcoming Tuesday night...Sounds like Memorial and Pinkerton had a good one tonight in Derry. I guess Shomari Morgan played but was only at 60-70%. That surprises me, because when he sat out the final of the QCIBT, I talked to Coach Fitzpatrick and he seemed to think it was a pretty minor injury. I figured he would be back Tuesday and be fine. Pinkerton is a decent team, but I don't think they would have played Memorial that close if Morgan is 100%. Pinkerton is solid, but they'll need their guards to step up. The group of Park, Williams, Curry, Light and Colbert. Those 5 players will determine how far the Astros go...I know that South isn't the same team without Jake Nelson. But it's still surprising to see they lost to Goffstown. Goffstown lost to Bedford on Tuesday, and in the Keene State Holiday Tournament they lost to Plymouth, ouch! Even without Nelson, South has some a lot of speed and athleticism. I would think on talent alone, guys like Basora, A.Muccioli and Joseph could have gotten them a win over Goffstown...Getting back to Class I, Portsmouth 61 Kingswood 43 was another final that raised my increasingly bushy eyebrows. I know that Portsmouth only lost to Pelham by three on Tuesday night. But Kingswood was 4-0 heading in, including a win over a good Merrimack Valley team (which beat Pembroke over the holiday break). I thought this could have gone either way, and if anything Kingswood would be favored. I haven't seen Kingswood yet this year. But I've seen Portsmouth twice, and they seemed like a team that was still trying to figure out a rotation. They, like Salem, also have a lot of football players who were still trying to shake off the rust. I expected a slow start for the Clippers, so to beat Kingswood by 18 is surprising. It's still early in the season, though.
That's all I've got for now. Personally, I find game stories boring. They're all just facts and stats, no real opinions or insider info. And many of them have way too many quotes. I also find long stories/articles boring to read, so I will try and keep my posts shorter from now on. I hope you enjoy this less formal "sports talk style" of writing. Stay tuned...