Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Here they are, at long last. Consider this the CRAPPY SPORTSWRITING VERSION (unless you considered the rest of the recaps that version, in which case: good one).

MANHATTAN - The Cray's Nest was knocked from its tree by an unlikely Beast of Burden Thursday night, while the Hospital Bombers conducted an air raid that made Team Fouls cry foul, and the Layup Line Heroes said 'thank you very much' to Dunk-a Schoen in an effort that was positively heroic.

Layup Line Heroes 51, Dunk-a Schoen 34

Things looked bad for the Heroes going into this game, and some thought they would be caught unaware by their opponents. Luckily, they had a hall pass...a Colby Hall pass, that is. The former Jayhawk scored 19 points to lead his teammates to their second win of the year. He and Keith Gormley scored well over half of the Heroes' points, and on the way took a pound of flesh...or should I say a pound of Fleisch...from Dunk-a Schoen. And while Heinz may have 64 flavors, Zach Heinzerling only scored 10 points, while Ben Weitmarschen must have had a few Weit-Russians before the game, as he only scored 8.

Beast of Burden 48, The Cray's Nest 38

"Call me Ishmael" is the opening line of one of the world's most famous books, but after dealing with Beast of Burden, all The Cray's Nest could say was "stop it, Ismael!" I'm referring, of course, to Ismael Rodriguez, who scored 16. Rafael Rodriguez, his brother, got into some double trouble with 22. It's the first loss of the season for The Cray's Nest, and their three high scorers, Gene, Vance, and Lars, should have been called Spleen, Ants, and SARS. Am I right? Rough one all around. PS, Beast of Burden cheated, the league is still reviewing this one.

Hospital Bombers 49, Team Fouls 39

Steve Friedman overdosed on gumption last week, scoring 19 points to spearhead the lastest Hospital Bomber massacre. This week, their center of operations was the burn ward, and Nate Purinton, Bob Van Kolken, and Kerry Brown added to the carnage with 10 each. Zach Smith and Kyle Ervin had 12 apiece for Team Fouls, but they might as well have stayed home and cried themselves to sleep. Why? I'm not sure, but this is probably the worst recap ever. I promise to try harder next week. I love you all.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You Guys Are Going To Hate Me

I forgot the book again. My mind is in a few different places. BUT HOLY SHIT, RECAPS AND PREVIEWS TOMORROW! WHOA! HOW AWESOME WILL THAT BE?!?!?!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Week 4 Recaps Delayed

Forgot the book at home, will post them tomorrow. So sorry.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Standings, Stats, EXTENDED Features after Week 4

Have at it!

Power Rankings!

A brand new feature that has only existed, until now, in my head. For the first time all year, THE CRAY'S NEST IS BOOTED OUT OF THE #1 SPOT!!! Controversy! Anger!

1. Hospital Bombers
2. Beast of Burden
3. The Cray's Nest
4. Team Fouls
5. Layup Line Heroes
6. Dunk-a Schoen

Player of the Week: Rafael Rodriguez

A lot of great candidates made this one a tough choice, but in the end this had to go to Rafael Rodriguez, who scored 22 points, hit 6 of 7 from the stripe, and helped Beast of Burden give The Cray's Nest their first loss of the year. For his efforts, Rodriguez will be awarded an extra missed foul shot in the individual stats spreadsheet.

Honorable Mention: Steve Friedman and Colby Hall

Friedman scored 19 to lead the red-hot Hospital Bombers over resident scrappers Team Fouls. At 54 years old, "Granpappy" Friedman (as his teammates call him) is a living testament to the power of hard work and self-belief, and his performance gives hope to America's elderly during the medicaid crisis.

Hall also tallied 19, and gave Layup Line Heroes a much needed second scoring option. By taking the pressure off center Keith Gormley, he opened up the Heroes' offense and spurred them to their second win of the year.

Both players will receive a velcro hat featuring the tattered logo of the Seattle Supersonics.

Past players of the week:

Week 1: Lars Rasmussen (retroactive)
Week 2: Ismael Rodriguez (retroactive)
Week 3: Geoff Nelson

The King's Court: Week 4

A new feature honoring the top performers of week 4 in specialty categories. Some of these are subjective.

Sir Prolificus (points): Rafael Rodriguez, 22

Dr. Charity (foul-shooting): Rafael Rodriguez, 6-7.

Narrowly edges out Ismael Rodriguez (5-6), Vance Tucker (6-8), Zach Heinzerling (5-6), and Keith Gormley (5-7). A great week for the foul line.

Captain Long-Range (three-point shooting): Ismael Rodriguez, 3

The Earl of Baskets (field goals): Steve Friedman, 8

The Duke of D: Kyle Ervin, for dogging the Hospital Bombers and getting several steals in a losing cause.

The Dime Baron (week's best pass): Steve Reiter, for a beautiful thread-the-needle dart from half-court to Colby Hall.

The Marchioness (best female performance): Kerry Brown, who scored 10 points and unleashed a ton of fancy-pants dribbling on a befuddled Team Fouls squad.

Recaps Monday!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week 4 Previews: Shit-Talkin' Version!

8:15 - Dunk-A Schoen vs. Layup Line Heroes

Team Profile: Dunk-A Schoen

Leading Scorer: Whitney Warren
Record: 1-2
Nickname in Good Times: The Thank You Kindly Kids
Nickname in Bad Times: Hunk-a Shame
Strengths: Good looks
Weaknesses: Scoring baskets
Playoff Outlook: Iffy
Power Ranking: 5 of 6
Best Fake Player: Anton "The Mean Way" Greenway

Team Profile: Layup Line Heroes

Leading Scorer: Keith Gormley
Record: 1-2
Nickname in Good Times: LL Cool H
Nickname in Bad Times: Layup Line Zeroes
Strengths: Crunch time scoring
Weaknesses: Any-other-time scoring
Playoff Outlook: Poor
Power Ranking: 6 of 6
Best Fake Player: Argyle Dunhammer

Pertinent Pre-Game Quotes:

Whitney Warren: "I'm just glad we're playing each other."
Keith Gormley: "This will be a holy war...between two very minor religions."
Tom Fleischman: "The stakes are high. Let's be honest, the winner of this game is the immediate favorite in the 5th/6th place game in week 11."

Gambling Information

Favorite: Dunk-a Schoen (-6)
Over/Under: 14

9:00 - The Cray's Nest vs. Beast of Burden

Team Profile: The Cray's Nest

Leading Scorer: Lars Rasmussen
Record: 3-0
Nickname in Good Times: The Motherfucking Bee's Nest
Nickname in Bad Times: What bad times?
Strengths: Everything
Weaknesses: Forgot to sign up for a better league
Playoff Outlook: Ha.
Power Ranking: 1 of whatever.
Best Fake Player: Nigel "Bloody Good" St. Clair

Team Profile: Beast of Burden

Leading Scorer: Ismael Rodriguez
Record: 1-2
Nickname in Good Times: Feast Side
Nickname in Bad Times: Society's Burden
Strengths: Comebacks
Weaknesses: Not coming back all the way.
Playoff Outlook: Decent
Power Ranking: 3 of 6
Best Fake Player: Spike the Time-Travelin' Collie from 1936 Indiana

Pertinent Pre-Game Quotes

Jane Rizzo: "Ain't scared. Aint never been scared. Jane Rizzo don't scare."
Robin Luna: "I'm so scared."
Vance Tucker: "I'm healthy, but I might just operate the score board so it doesn't get too ugly."

Gambling Information

Favorite: The Cray's Nest (-103)
Over/Under: 105

9:45: Team Fouls vs. The Hospital Bombers

Team Profile: Team Fouls

Leading Scorer: Andrew Weiner
Record: 1-2
Nickname in Good Times: Dream Howls
Nickname in Bad Times: Loose Bowels
Strengths: Shooting
Weaknesses: Ever stepping inside the 3-point line
Playoff Outlook: Bubble-sitters
Power Ranking: 4 of 6
Best Fake Player: Dr. Mordecai Omnibus

Team Profile: Hospital Bombers

Leading Scorer: Geoff Nelson
Record: 2-1
Nickname in Good Times: Bomb Squad
Nickname in Bad Times: Hospital Bombers (seriously, this name is sick)
Strengths: Anger
Weaknesses: Dribbling
Playoff Outlook: Solid
Power Ranking: 2 of 6
Best Fake Player: Jennifer "Stop it, y'all!" Tyler

Pertinent Pre-Game Quotes:

Jake Berkowitz: "Here are three things more disturbing than our team name: Hitler in a bikini, burning children's books in front of actual children, and our defensive strategy against Kyle Ervin."
Kyle Ervin: "I have...I have a concert that evening. A musical performance."
Nate Purinton: "I plan to draw technical fouls against people."

Gambling Information:

Favorite: Hospital Bombers (-9)
Over/Under: 93

Monday, February 15, 2010

Week 3 Recaps

MANHATTAN - When the dust had settled Thursday night, four teams sat together at the bottom of the standings, all with a record of 1-2.

Hospital Bombers 45, Beast of Burden 44

Geoff Nelson sent an electric shock through the league in Thursday's early game, hitting a world record 7 3-pointers to give the Hospital Bombers a narrow victory over Beast of Burden.

Against the league's toughest frontcourt defense, the Bombers came out hot, running up a 24-13 halftime lead on good shooting and even better ball movement. Beast of Burden couldn't find an offensive rhythm, and things looked hopeless as they congregated during the intermission. But a strategic transition to a full court press gave them new life in the second half. They crawled back over and over, narrowing the gap until their surge to the lead seemed inevitable. But whenever things got too close, Nelson's hot hand held the fort. With 23 points total, he scored over half of the Hospital Bomber points, and it was enough by millimeters to secure a retreating victory.

Rafael Rodriguez scored 18 points, including a clutch 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 1 with 4 seconds remaining, and Ismael Rodriguez tallied 17 in the losing cause. Nate Purinton had 9 for the victors, and center Bob Van Kolken made his bones early with 7 points in the paint. Kieran Valla added 5 for Beast of Burden.

Team Fouls 43, Layup Line Heroes 32

Jubilation erupted as the buzzer sounded in game 2, giving Team Fouls their first win of the season. "The monkey is off our back," Zach Smith shouted in the joyous post-game melee, echoing the sentiments of a relieved organization. Smith and teammate Andrew Weiner led the winners, each notching a trio of treys and scoring in double digits (11 for Smith, 13 for Weiner). But it was the contributions of the rest of the team that made the difference, and differentiated this win from previous losses. No member of Team Fouls went scoreless; Dave Polen had 6, Captain Kyle Ervin 5, Trista Sordillo 4, and Chris Bonastia 3.

Variety, however, was not the strong suit of the Layup Line Heroes. Keith Gormley, with 26 points, had an astounding 81% of his team's offensive output. Matt Brinkmann turned in a workmanlike performance on the boards, and Dan Abrams and the Steves (Reiter and Krakauer) had solid defensive performances, but the offense was resoundingly one-dimensional. Even Gormley, the league's leading scorer, couldn't overcome Team Fouls by himself. The Heroes (1-2) will have to seek out some diversity if they want to rediscover their competitive edge in the future.

The Cray's Nest 29, Dunk-a Schoen 27

In a performance that will be sadly outshadowed by Nelson's earlier fireworks, Vance Tucker led The Cray's Nest to a stunning win and kept the perfect season alive. With Lars Rasmussen, Shane Ryan, and Jordan Glickson out of action, Dunk-a Schoen seemed to have a slight advantage. But led by Tucker, the Cray's Nest circled the wagons and kept Dunk-a Schoen from ever finding a workable offense. The 2-3 zone they instituted was nearly impenetrable, and poor shooting on both sides kept the score close.

As time wound down, Dunk-a Schoen managed to recover slightly and tie the game at 27. But Tucker, who ended with 12 points, drove left and scored the winning basket with 13 seconds remaining. Warren's desperation 3 at the buzzer fell just short, and The Cray's Nest had managed the unthinkable. Gene Walsh contributed 7 points for the winning side, including a clutch late 3, and Jane Rizzo had 4. For Dunk-a Schoen, Whitney Warren matched Tucker with 12, and Tom Fleischman had 6, all in the paint.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Standings, Stats after Week Three, Plus NEW FEATURES!

Here we go! A crazy four-way tie among teams at 1-2. Only the top four will make the playoffs. Excitement!

Before stats, a quick note: a substitute player's stats will count for the team stats of the team he's subbing for, but not for his individual stats. Example: Steve Reiter subbed in last night for The Cray's Nest. He scored 4 points. Those 4 points go into the team total, and any foul shots he made or missed would have counted for the team free throw percentage. But those 4 points will NOT count for his individual stats. A player is only credited for points he scores playing for his own team.


Player of the Week: Geoff Nelson

Nelson hit a league record 7 3-pointers, including 4 in the second half, while leading the Hospital Bombers to a thrilling 45-44 win over Beast of Burden. He scored over half of his team's points. Geoff will receive a used set of steak knives and a miniature wooden likeness of former NBA great Rick Barry.

Honorable Mention: Vance Tucker and Keith Gormley

Tucker scored 12 points and led a depleted Cray's Nest squad to a 29-27 win over Dunk-a Schoen. His driving layup with 15 seconds remaining was the difference in the game. The stunning win preserves their dream of the GABL's first undefeated season.

Gormley set a league record with 12 field goals, and tied another with 26 points, in Layup Line Heroes' losing effort. He accounted for 81% of his team's points.

Both players will receive $10 gift certificates to Big Sarge's NBA Emporium on Roosevelt Avenue in Topeka, Kansas.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 3 Previews

We've got three very interesting match-ups on tap for week three as teams vie for position in this dog-eat-dog league.

8:15: Hospital Bombers (1-1) vs. Beast of Burden (1-1)

The evening's main event comes early with this clash of emerging aspirants. Both are coming off emphatic victories, yet both still have something to prove.

The Hospital Bombers, underdogs last week, took down Dunk-a Schoen in a game that was never as close as the 46-40 final score indicated. The inspirational win, in which no player reached double digits, has them brimming with confidence, and their week one loss is now a distant memory. Beast of Burden also rebounded well in week two, blowing out Team Fouls to level their record and stake a claim with the league's elite. The winner of this game will establish themselves as the league's second best team, and have an early edge in the playoff race.

Why Beast of Burden will win: Guards Ismael and Rafael Rodriguez, along with Robin Luna and Brian Love, play the best defense of anyone in the GABL. It's 36 minutes of hell going against their frontcourt, and the Hospital Bombers don't have the ballhandling skills to overcome the pressure. Swingman Kieran Valla and the bigs, Patrick Waldo and Kyle Pilkington, will be undersized, but still capable of at least containing the Bombers' big men. On the offensive end, the brothers Rodriguez bring a hot shooting touch (Ismael is the league's leading scorer), and Brian Love broke out in a big way last week with 8 points. They'll score enough to get the job done against a team that can't handle their intense pressure, and already allows the most PPG (50.5) of any team in the league.

Why The Hospital Bombers will win: After a strong effort against The Cray's Nest, they showed last week that they might be the league's best passing team. The pressure defense from Beast of Burden may give them some temporary problems, but they have size and athleticism in spades, and won't be intimidated. Expect them to exploit the offensive boards in a big way. On the defensive end, they'll completely shut down the interior with a strong zone, and Beast of Burden will be forced to shoot for their lives. With the hustle of players like Geoff Nelson, Jake Berkowitz, Kerry Brown, and Avi Kent in the frontcourt, that strategy won't be sustainable for long. Purinton, Bob Van Kolken, and Steve Friedman will win this game on the glass.

The Upshot: Can defensive pressure win the day for Beast of Burden, or will The Hospital Bombers escape the worst of it with timely passing, and slowly build a lead on a solid foundation of size and defense?

The Favorite: The Hospital Bombers (-4)

Over/Under: 66

9:00 Team Fouls (0-2) vs. Layup Line Heroes (1-1)

There's a lot at stake in tonight's sandwich game. The winner will have some much-needed momentum going into the season's middle third, while the loser will find themselves in the league cellar, facing an increasingly disenchanted fan base and media scrutiny.

After a grueling win in week one, Layup Line Heroes played a lackadaisical game against The Cray's Nest. Most experts agree the effort didn't live up to their true ability, but that remains to be seen. They'll be looking to shake off that loss, while Team Fouls desperately searches for a winning formula of their own. After going up 20-10 at the half in week one, it's been a steady downhill slide. That collapse, and last week's disheartening defeat at the hands of Beast of Burden, have raised questions about their offensive viability. Fans are anxious to see whether they'll come out tonight with renewed vigor and resolve, or if the hits to their confidence have been too great.

Why Layup Line Heroes will win: Keith Gormley, averaging 17 a game, leads a talented offense that starts at the high post. Their size and passing acumen will break down the Team Fouls defense, and guards Colby Hall, Steve Reiter, Dan Abrams, Amy Hauck, and Steve Krakauer will have room to maneuver and shoot. On defense, they'll play a hard collapsing zone that limits Team Fouls to outside shooting, a strategy that's failed them two weeks in a row. Matt Brinkmann and Greg Wyrick will provide extra size in the paint, and against an opponent that plays small, they'll wreak havoc on the offensive boards.

Why Team Fouls will win: The two losses so far have been a bit deceptive. In week one, the pressure of a loud gym may have affected them, and it's important to remember that they didn't succumb until overtime. In week two, a permissive ref let Beast of Burden's aggressive defense go unchecked, and Kyle Ervin's early ejection cost them a good deal of offense. Additionally, David Saie was absent. Things will be different tonight, when Ervin's slashing abilities will be on full display. Zach Smith's size, Chris Bonastia's quickness, and the guard play of Allison Cline and Trista Sordillo will open things up for Team Fouls' offensive centerpiece, Andrew Weiner. Leading the league with 7 3-pointers, he's a pure shooter who can never be left alone, and Layup Line Heroes won't have the manpower to keep him in check all game.

The Upshot: Will we see a new Team Fouls tonight, or can the Layup Line Heroes reduce them to stationary shooting, and break them down with superior offense?

The Favorite: Layup Line Heroes (-2)

Over/Under: 79

9:15: The Cray's Nest (2-0) vs. Dunk-a Schoen (1-1)

The final game of week three features the league's last undefeated unit against a team many in the press have labeled underachievers. Dunk-a Schoen have yet to put forth a true 'group effort,' but it's not for lack of talent. If they want to change their fate, they'll have to do it against the league's best.

After dominating their first two opponents, The Cray's Nest's outlook has soured a bit in the past week. Shane Ryan suffered a sprained ankle over the weekend, which is expected to keep him out for 2-5 weeks, and guard Jordan Glickson will also be missing from tonight's game. A depleted roster may make them vulnerable to a Dunk-a Schoen team looking for a big statement win, but they still have one of the league's top scoring duos in Lars Rasmussen and Vance Tucker.

Why Dunk-a Schoen will win: The loss of Ryan and Glickson takes away from TCN's fast-break and ballhandling game, and will be a key factor in tonight's contest. With less to worry about from the perimeter, Dunk-a Schoen can focus their efforts on shutting down Rasmussen and Tucker underneath. Whitney Warren, Ben Weitmarschen, Tom Fleischman, Katie Stokien, and Zach Heinzerling provide some size with which to undertake that task, and it will be the first time The Cray's Nest has faced such a big front line. With only five on the opponent's active roster, Mark Lee shouldn't face much pressure at point guard. Offensively, Whitney Warren and Heinzerling are due to put together big games, and all the size should nullify Rasmussen and Tucker's prodigious rebounding ability. Last week, Ben Weitmarschen proved to be a legitimate offensive threat, and he'll ride that momentum into this week's game.

Why The Cray's Nest will win: They're undefeated for a reason, and that reason is rebounding. Lars Rasmussen has been a holy terror on the boards, and Vance Tucker is equally fearsome. This won't be the first time they've faced big men, and even though the overall team size of Dunk-a Schoen is more than they've seen, it shouldn't deter them from getting second chance opportunities, and denying them to the enemy. Jacob Craycroft adds an imposing physical presence to the lane, while Gene Walsh's deft shooting touch and quickness will pose a threat from the outside, even in the absence of Glickson and Ryan. Jane Rizzo's staunch perimeter defense will highlight an effective zone that won't have to worry about outside shooting. It's unlikely that Dunk-a Schoen will top their season average of 38 points per game tonight.

The Upshot: Will Dunk-a Schoen capitalize on the missing elements, or will Rasmussen and Tucker be enough to preserve an undefeated season?

The Favorite: The Cray's Nest (-3)

Over/Under: 82

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Week 2 Recaps

MANHATTAN - Week Two of the GABL proved to be a contentious, grueling stretch of basketball. Nobody who made it through unscathed will ever forgot the horrors and triumphs of Thursday the 4th.

Beast of Burden 56, Team Fouls 36

Held in check during week one, Ismael Rodriguez broke out in big way, leading Beast of Burden with 26 points, including 4 3-pointers in the second half. His torrid shooting came amid an otherwise chippy game, which sometimes devolved into a test of brutality. Late in the first half, for example, Robin Luna and Kyle Ervin earned the year's first ejections after their tug-of-war for a loose ball extended past the whistle.

The outcome of this game was never truly in doubt, even before the untimely loss of Ervin. Beast of Burden ran out to an 11-point halftime lead, bolstered by Rafael Rodriguez's 10 points, and it was clear from the get-go that on this particular night, Team Fouls would have trouble handling their frontcourt pressure. Their various appeals to the referee for more attentive policing fell on deaf ears, and the long slide into defeat had begun.

Brian Love and Kyle Pilkington had strong games for Beast of Burden, scoring 8 and 6, respectively, while Andrew Weiner was a bright spot for Team Fouls, scoring 11 points and upping his league-leading 3-pointer total to 7.

Hospital Bombers 46, Dunk-a Schoen 40

Energized by being labeled underdogs before the game, the Hospital Bombers turned in a true team effort to earn their first win in league play. Although no player scored in double figures (Nate Purinton came closest with 9, including 7-8 from the foul line), everyone contributed to the hard-fought win. Jake Berkowitz scored 7, most of them in the second half, and Bob Van Kolken's post defense nullified Dunk-a Schoen's potent attack.

Ben Weitmarschen turned in a great performance for the losers with 16 points, but stars Whitney Warren and Zach Heinzerling were held in check for most of the contest, combining for only 13 points. Without this offense, Dunk-a Schoen could never generate the momentum needed to unseat the impressive victors.

Steve Friedman and Kerry Brown, who missed action in week one, provided a huge boost for the Bombers, scoring 7 and 6, respectively. The win puts them squarely among the league's elite, and serves notice that the bitter taste of week one's loss will not linger. Dunk-a Schoen, meanwhile, have serious questions to answer, and may be on the look-out for a free agent guard acquisition.

The Cray's Nest 50, Layup Line Heroes 34

Lars Rasmussen, the "King of Glass," extended his vicious reign on the offensive boards, scoring 15 points and asserting his presence in the paint. Together with Vance Tucker, who scored 12 points of his own, he completely overcame and annihilated Team 5's size advantage.

It was a disappointing showing for the Heroes, who could not conjure up any offensive spark in response to the Cray's Nest's defensive strategy of overplaying and denying star center Keith Gormley. Without this high-post catalyst, their offense stumbled and faltered. Despite the intense focus, Gormley managed to score 17 the hard way. But his teammates had an off night from beyond the arc, and the tight zone from their opponents utterly stymied any hope of penetration. Dan Abrams managed to score 5 points and nab several steals in the losing cause.

For the Cray's Nest, now the league's last undefeated team, Jordan Glickson added 10 points, most of them on fast break opportunities. In his return to action, captain Jacob Craycroft scored 4 points.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recaps will come on Tuesday!

Hey friends,

I left the score book at work, and I'm home today. Will get the recaps up tomorrow morning! Sorry for the delay.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Schedule Updated with Team Names

Don't miss the stats and standings update below, but here's the updated schedule with actual team names.

Standings, Stats after Week Two

Here we are, ladies and gents:

Note: Team 2 (Captain: Kyle Ervin) is now known as "Team Fouls." Team 5 (Captain: Greg Wyrick) is now "Layup Line Heroes."

For the record, playoffs will feature the top 4 teams in the league. There will also be a 5th/6th place game the week of the semi-finals. Here's the order of priority for how playoff teams are chosen and seeded:

1) Record
2) Head-to-Head
3) Point Differential

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Week Two Previews

It'll take a lot for Week Two to live up to the high-stakes pressure-packer games of its predecessor, but these match-ups might do the trick.

8:15: Team 2 (0-1) vs. Beast of Burden (0-1)

In the early game, both teams will be looking to rebound from a close loss in week one. Team 2 will be bolstered by the return of Kyle Ervin, their captain, and will look to add an element of quickness and movement to their game. Last week, after going up 20-10 against Dunk-a Schoen, a vigorous man-to-man defense exposed their offensive set as somewhat stationary and predictable. They'll be turning to Ervin and guard Chris Bonastia to spark fast breaks with aggressive defense, which should, in turn, free up sharpshooter Andrew Weiner (14 points in week one) to hit from the outside. Zach Smith, a strong presence for Team 2 and a legitimate swingman, will continue operating inside and outside the lane, while Trista Sordillo and Allison Cline provide harrassing defense from the perimeter. Team 2 will be missing David Saie.

Beast of Burden, meanwhile, have quickness in spades. Unlike Team 2, their offense lacked some stability in week one as they suffered a narrow loss to Team 5. Ismael and Rafael Rodriguez lead the Beast of Burden attack, and along with guards Robin Luna, Brian Love, and Kieran Valla, may find an easier time converting against the smaller Team 2. Pat Waldo and Kyle Pilkington, who had workmanlike performances against the significant size of their last opponents, should find more freedom in the lane. On the flip side of that coin, Team 2's ballhandling skills should keep their turnovers to a minimum, and Beast of Burden's success will depend on how well they can create opportunities from the offensive set without relying on fast break points.

Favorite: Beast of Burden (-1)

9:00: Dunk-a Schoen (1-0) vs. The Hospital Bombers (0-1)

The 9pm game showcases two of the stronger post players in the league, as Zach Heinzerling and Bob Van Kolken get set to do battle in the painted realms. Heinzerling, who led Dunk-a Schoen to an inspiring victory in week one, will be joined by Whitney Warren, a born slasher who can score from anywhere on the floor. He spent the first part of last week's game finding his rhythm, but the kinks are out, and The Hospital Bombers can expect the offensive theatrics the league witnessed in Warren's championship run from a year ago. Tom Fleischman, Ben Weitmarschen, and Katie Stokien, all above 6 feet, give Dunk-a Schoen the distinct size advantage, while Katie Kinsey and Mark Lee have the unenviable task of slowing down the opposition's guard play.

Geoff Nelson, Nate Purinton, and Avi Kent provided no shortage of fireworks in last week's loss to The Cray's Nest, netting 6 3s in their comeback effort. Their task this time around is to prove that they can muster the same hot streaks against a man-to-man defense, which Dunk-a Schoen is likely to employ. Despite the presence of big bodies like Van Kolken and Forsythe, and the energy of captain Jake Berkowitz, they'll need to find success from beyond the arc against their larger opponents. Slick passing and ballhandling will be the necessary catalysts, and how well they manifest may determine the outcome of this game. Newcomers Steve Friedman and Kerry Brown will provide an unknown element off the bench.

Favorite: Dunk-a Schoen (-5.5)

9:45: The Cray's Nest (1-0) vs. Team 5 (1-0)

The Cray's Nest are riding high after a 61-point performance in week one, the highest production by any GABL team. Team 5's defense provides an interesting conundrum for their system. While they may find more room on the perimeter, it's likely the inside will be clogged with size as Team 5 tries to limit the second chance points that proved so valuable in TCN's first victory. Lars Rasmussen, week one's high scorer, will again make his bones on the offensive boards, where he was able to find easy baskets and draw fouls. Putting Rasmussen on the line is a dangerous proposition; he's 8-8 on the year. Vance Tucker, a star of last year's league, continues to provide a scary offensive threat, and the shooting of Jordan Glickson, Gene Walsh, Jane Rizzo, and Shane Ryan will be crucial.

Team 5, in last week's victory, used court smarts to triumph at the end. Against the Cray's Nest, however, they'll need to top their previous total of 33. Assuming the brunt of that task is Keith Gormley, post-player extraordinaire, who knocked down 17 against Best of Burden. Captain Greg Wyrick, Colby Hall and Matt Brinkmann provide additional size, while guards Steve Reiter, Steve Krakauer, and Amy Hauck should experience a nice sense of relief in the absence of fierce defense from the Brothers Rodriguez. Scoring will not be as difficult against The Cray's Nest, who have not made a secret of their offensive priorities, but the question for Team 5 is whether they're capable of becoming truly prolific. If they can maintain a steady scoring pace, eliminate easy shots on defense, and contend with Tucker and Rasmussen on the boards, victory is a real possibility.

Favorite: The Cray's Nest (-1.5)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Week One Recaps

MANHATTAN - Week One of the Grand Army Basketball League got off to a scintillating start last Thursday, thanks to three tight games and the year's first overtime contest.

Dunk-A Schoen 36, Team 2 35, OT

Zach Heinzerling and Whitney Warren led Dunk-A Schoen back from a 20-10 halftime deficit, scoring a combined 14 points in the second half and overtime to secure a thrilling one-point victory in the season opener. Warren, largely shut down in the first half, found his rhythm early in the second stanza, and Dunk-A Schoen overcame a staunch defensive effort with an offensive breakthrough. Heinzerling's overtime free throw was the difference in the game, and a last-second heave by Team 2's Andrew Weiner, in the face on intense pressure, could not draw iron.

It's a tough loss to stomach for Team 2, who played without their captain Kyle Ervin. An early barrage of precision shooting by Weiner vaulted them to the early lead, and their collapsing zone defense seemed impenetrable. Weiner led all scorers with 14 points, but only 3 came in the second half. Zach Smith played a strong interior game, notching 9 points, while guard Chris Bonastia had success driving the lane, scoring 10. A halftime Dunk-A Schoen adjustment from zone to man-to-man effectively nullified their attack, however, and the second half turned into an offensive slog.

Tom Fleischman and Ben Weitmarschen also turned in strong efforts for Dunk-A Schoen, combining for 10 points, all in the second half, and double digit rebounds.

The Cray's Nest 61, Hospital Bombers 49

In the night's highest scoring game, Lars Rasmussen led the Cray's Nest with 18 points, including 8-8 from the foul line. He spearheaded a commitment to offense that kept The Cray's Nest in front throughout. Shane Ryan (17 points) and Gene Walsh (9) got the victors off to a fast start, combining for 19 points in the first half. When defensive adjustments by the Hospital Bombers slowed them down in the second half, Rasmussen and Vance Tucker (9 points) picked up the slack.

Despite the final margin, the Bombers kept the game close throughout, thanks in large part to timely shooting by Geoff Nelson (12 points), Nate Purinton (11 points), and Avi Kent (10 points), all of whom hit 2 three-pointers. Bob Van Kolken played a strong game underneath, notching 12 points and many offensive rebounds.

As in game one, a late defensive adjustment made the difference. Calling a timeout with 9 minutes left and the Bombers within three, The Cray's Nest switched first to a box-and-one defense, then briefly to triangle-and-two, and finally to straight up man-to-man. The effort to stymie the hot shooting of Nelson, Purinton, and Kent paid dividends, and The Cray's Nest were able to pull away.

Team 5 33, Beast of Burden 32

A brilliantly designed out-of-bounds play with 10 seconds remaining lifted Team 5 to a stunning victory over Beast of Burden. Colby Hall (10 points), serving as player-coach, drew up the winning formula, which utilized leading scorer Keith Gormley (17 points) as a high post decoy. Steve Reiter received the inbounds, whipped a pass to a flashing Gormley, who absorbed the collapsing defense and fed Hall for the lay-up. Beast of Burden had a final chance to re-take the lead, but a last-second three hit the support beams above the basket.

Gormley's post play led Team 5 back from a 19-14 halftime deficit. Beast of Burden ran out to the early lead with strong perimeter defense and hot shooting by Ismael Rodriguez (14 points). Rafael Rodriguez added 10 points, including a crucial late 3-pointer, but it wasn't enough to derail the Team 5 comeback.

It was a bruising, defensive battle, and in the end size barely overcame quickness. Greg Wyrick, Team 5 captain, added 5 points to the winning effort. Kyle Pilkington and Pat Waldo, doing the heavy inside lifting for Beast of Burden, combined for 6.