Monday, March 29, 2010

Recaps, Week 9

Before we get to the recaps, here's the upcoming playoff schedule:

Thursday, April 8th:

8:15: 5th/6th place classification game (Dunk-a Schoen vs. Team Fouls)
9:00: Semifinal #1: #1 vs. #4 (TBD vs. Beast of Burden)
9:45: Semifinal #2: #2 vs. #3 (TBD vs. Hospital Bombers)

Friday, April 15th:

8:15: Bronze Medal Game
9:15: The Grand Army Cup Championship

Week 9 Recaps:

The Cray's Nest 48, Beast of Burden 44

Shane Ryan's break-out game propelled The Cray's Nest to a 4-point win, putting them in position to win the regular season championship with one more victory. Ryan, who has been bothered by a sprained ankle for much of the season, scored 18, including two foul shots with 7 seconds remaining to clinch the game. He was joined on the score sheet by Vance Tucker and Lars Rasmussen, who each contributed 10 points while dominating the paint, and Jacob Craycroft, who added 6.

The Cray's Nest employed an extended 3-2 zone, and the results were favorable. For the first time this season, guards Rafael and Ismael Rodriguez seemed to be retreating on the perimeter, bothered by advancing guards and the occasional trap. Rafael managed to score 14, while Ismael had 13 in the losing cause. After holding a slim halftime lead, bolstered by Brian Love's two three-pointers, Beast of Burden lost steam in the second half, and only a furious late-game charge kept this one close. Down by 5 with ten seconds remaining, Ismael Rodriguez was fouled shooting from long range, and he converted all three free throws. Ryan received the inbounds, was quickly fouled, and made both ends of the 1-and-1. Rasmussen's harassing defense prevented BoB from getting a quick shot off, and the game ended with their desperation three coming up short.

The Cray's Nest lead the league with a 7-2 record, and can secure the title with a Week 10 win over Team Fouls. Beast of Burden slip to 4-5, but now own the fourth playoff spot by virtue of Dunk-a Schoen's loss.

Layup Line Heroes 39, Dunk-a Schoen 31

The Heroes showed why they were ranked first in the latest power rankings with this convincing win over a desperate Dunk-a Schoen team. Saulo Feliciano led all scorers with 15 points, and controlled the game from the point guard position. His steady hand ensured that the contest would be fought in the half-court set, where the Heroes excel. Keith Gormley, in a tight contest for the league's scoring title, finished with 10 points, while back-court mate Matt Brinkmann added 7. Greg Wyrick and Colby Hall rounded out the scoring with 5 and 4, respectively.

Despite a balanced scoring attack led by Ben Weitmarschen's 10 points, Dunk-a Schoen could never find an offensive rhythm. It's been a recurring problem for the team, and Thursday provided no solutions. They were continuously stymied in their forays into the paint, a credit to the defense of Gormley, Wyrick, and Brinkmann, and the resulting three point shots would not fall. Zach Heinzerling had 7 points, while Mark Lee and Kevin Felder added 6 apiece. Whitney Warren, a member of last season's championship squad, was held to 2.

The Heroes upped their record to 6-3, and can win the title with a victory over The Hospital Bombers and a Cray's Nest loss in Week 10, provided they gain 13 differential points in the process. Dunk-a Schoen had a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive with a win, but the loss relegates them to the fifth place classification game. They finish the regular season against Beast of Burden.

The Hospital Bombers 41, Team Fouls 38

A slick passing game helped the Bombers secure a slim victory over Team Fouls in the late contest. Nate Purinton had his best game of the year, scoring 11 points and connecting on 4 of 6 from the line, to lead the winners. Kerry Brown, the keystone of the motion offense, added 11 of her own, including 3 from downtown. This strong perimeter tandem drew Team Fouls forward, enabling Bob Van Kolken to score 10 points in the paint.

In the end, it was all too much for Team Fouls, who put forth a game effort nonetheless. Andrew Weiner scored 12 points, all from long range, and Zach Smith, Trista Sordillo, and Chris Bonastia added 4 each. They had several chances to take the lead late, but their three point attempts against the Bomber zone would not fall. With ten seconds remaining, down two points, Purinton was sent to the line. He hit the front end of the 1-and-1, but missed the second, giving Team Fouls one last chance to tie. Unfortunately, Chris Bonastia was harrassed from the get-go, couldn't find an open man, and was forced into a bad shot as time expired.

The Bombers move to 6-3 on the year, and stand in second place going into Week 10's match with the Layup Line Heroes. Because they've lost both games to The Cray's Nest, they cannot win the regular season title. Team Fouls falls to 2-7, and will meet The Cray's Nest in Week 10 before facing Dunk-a Schoen in the 5th place classification game.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stats, Standings, Features After Week 9

Fantastic night. Today's post is sponsored by Kyle Singler's heart. He hurts for the greater good.

First off, congratulations to Beast of Burden for clinching the 4th and final playoff spot.

Fun fact: Last night, the league was 39/60 from the foul line, a 65% mark. Impressive stuff.

There may be a lack of playoff drama next week, but here are some things to look out for:

*The race for the scoring crown has come down to Rafael Rodriguez and Keith Gormley. Rodriguez has a slight lead at the moment, averaging 15.8 to Gormley's 15.2, but the big man is still within reach. It's coming down to the wire!

*Speaking of coming down to the wire, Lars Rasmussen maintained his slight lead in the free throw race with a 2-4 performance last night. He's currently shooting 72.5% from the stripe on the year. Shane Ryan is in second place at 72.2%, while two players who are almost eligible are within striking distance. Kevin Felder is 10-14, and 71.4%, while Saulo Feliciano is 10-12, and 83.0%. Both players need 15 attempts to qualify.

*The team scoring title is also neck-and-neck going into the last week. After week 8, The Hospital Bombers took an incredibly slight lead for the first time all year, but The Cray's Nest ripped it back with a 48-point performance last night. TCN has 386, and the Bombers stand at 381.

*On team defense, the Layup Line Heroes hold a 7-point edge on Beast of Burden. They've allowed only 337 on the year.

*The Cray's Nest is one win away from taking the coveted regular season title. A win against Team Fouls, and it's theirs. If they lose and Layup Line Heroes win, the title will come down to point differential.

On to the features...

Player of the Week: Shane Ryan

Controversy! Bias! 18 points, 5-5 at the line, and some heady D at the top of the 3-2 zone secured this one. The ankle shenanigans look to be officially over. It is fucking go time. For his efforts, Shane will get to watch Duke make the Final 4 and punish John Wall for choosing Kentucky over the Blue Devils.

Honorable Mention: Nate Purinton and Saulo Feliciano

Purinton scored 11 points, hit two threes, and was 4-6 from the line in the Bombers' tight 3-point win. His clutch foul shot at the end pushed the lead to 3, and allowed his team to play swarming perimeter defense without worrying about the 3. Team Fouls couldn't get a shot off, and the Bombers positioned themselves to take second place outright in week 10.

Feliciano scored 15, and hit 3 of 4 from the stripe on the way to dismantling Dunk-a Schoen 39-31. His steady point play and driving ability kept the Schoeners off guard all night, and his play has helped elevate the Heroes to the top of the power rankings.

Both players will receive posters of Greg Zoubek screaming at the camera after laying down a furious jam on that total asshole Chris Kramer.

Past Players of the Week:

Week 1: Lars Rasmussen (retroactive)
Week 2: Ismael Rodriguez (retroactive)
Week 3: Geoff Nelson
Week 4: Rafael Rodriguez
Week 5: Jordan Glickson
Week 6: Keith Gormley
Week 7: Bob Van Kolken
Week 8: Vance Tucker

The King's Court: Week 9

Rule, GABL! GABL rules the waves! G-A-B-L never will be slaves!

Sir Prolificus (points): Shane Ryan, 18

Dr. Charity (foul-shooting): Shane Ryan, 5-5

Narrowly edges out Ismael Rodriguez (4-5), Matt Brinkmann (4-6), Nate Purinton (4-6), Bob Van Kolken (4-6), and Saulo Feliciano (3-4)

Captain Long-Range (three-point shooting): Andrew Weiner, 4

The Earl of Baskets (field goals): Ryan, Feliciano, R. Rodriguez, 6

The Duke of D: Matt Brinkmann, Greg Wyrick and Keith Gormley, for containing the big bodies of Dunk-a Schoen and owning the interior.

The Dime Baron (week's best pass): Bob Van Kolken, for a quick no-look dump pass to Jeremy Forsythe in the paint.

The Marchioness (best female performance): Kerry Brown, who connected on 3 treys, played inscrutable point, and collected 11 points in a win over Team Fouls.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Power Rankings! Previews! Week 9!

The latest power rankings have just been released, and I think you'll all be astonished to find out that the #1 team is...

1) Layup Line Heroes

Coming off three straight wins, including two against playoff teams, the Heroes are riding high. Their fanbase has never been more confident, and autograph requests are pouring in by the thousands. Center and spiritual leader Keith Gormley is in a tight race for the scoring crown, and new addition Saulo Feliciano has charmed an entire nation while giving the team an extra punch from the perimeter. Meanwhile, the Double Steves, Krakauer and Reiter, continue to contribue solidly from the guard positions, and psychological warrior Colby Hall plays the Dennis Rodman role, getting in the heads of opposing stars. And let's not forget Dan Abrams, the tough-nosed guard who sacrificed parts of three different teeth in last week's overtime thriller against Team Fouls, or Amy Hauck, the gritty defender who takes pride in closing down the top of the zone.

But perhaps the most underrated story of the year for the Heroes is the emergence of Matt Brinkmann, whose point and rebound production have skyrocketed over the season's second half. His heroics and interior muscle have redefined the team dynamic, and will continue to propel the Heroes throughout the postseason. Yes, all is good in Layup Line Land. It seems like there's no way they can ever lose.

2) The Cray's Nest

You can't argue with winning. Try, and you'll just get frustrated. Seriously, form your best arguments, bring them to me, and I'll just find the nearest computer, load up this blog, and start chanting "Stannnnn-dings! Stannnn-dings!" while pointing at the screen. At 6-2, TCN are atop the GABL, though almost none of their wins have been pretty. In fact, their team slogan is "screw around for thirty-five, call timeout and come alive." This refers to the team's seeming ability to play raggedy games, find themselves facing a deficit, only to come back in the final minute and win in crunch time. Jordan Glickson has two game winning shots with under ten seconds remaining, Vance Tucker has one, and last week Tucker upped the dramatics a notch with the league's first buzzer beater against Dunk-a Schoen. Another early win against the Hospital Bombers was close throughout, and only one win, early against the Layup Line Heroes, wasn't a nailbiter.

Lars Rasmussen spearheads the Nesters attack, averaging 14.6 points per game, and he and Tucker have been largely responsible for the team's success. Jacob Craycroft adds a third powerful presence underneath, and most teams have been incapable of contending with this fierce trio. Gene Walsh has been a steady hand at point guard, and Glickson's last second theatrics are well known across the eastern seaboard. Jane Rizzo, who will miss her first game of the season tonight, has been a constant defensive nuisance to opponents, and won the Marchioness Award in Week 6. The success of The Cray's Nest may well depend on Shane Ryan, who has struggled in a season marred by injury. In 5 games, he's only managed to average 8.2 per game, and his three point shooting has been inconsistent. Team reports indicate that coaches and players are optimistic that his ankle has healed, and tonight will be a breakout game.

3) Beast of Burden

Semi-comfortably entrenched in the fourth and final playoff spot, Beast of Burden are a team on the rise. The mid-season doldrums appear to be over as Rafael Rodriguez and his brother Ismael are back to their old selves, scoring a blue streak and harassing opposing guards nonstop. Rafael is the league's leading scorer, averaging 16.0 per game, while Ismael averages 13.4. Both players have hit 12 3-pointers over the course of the season. The rest of the unit seems to be gelling both offensively and defensively. Kyle Pilkington and Pat Waldo do the heavy lifting down low, while Brian Love and Kieran Valla provide outside threats and smothering defense. Robin Luna, one of the league's most intense defenders, has been hell for opposing guards.

Beast of Burden is at its best when Ismael is hitting from long distance. His high arcing shot can be deadly, but at times this season it's had such an extreme trajectory that it hits the support beams above the basket. His success will determine whether BoB can find their way past the first round of the playoffs.

4) The Hospital Bombers

Ranked #1 in a previous power poll, the shine has come off the Bombers as the season wears on. In the past three weeks, they've lost to The Cray's Nest and Beast of Burden, and many think they were extremely lucky to beat Dunk-a Schoen. In last week's loss to BoB, it became abundantly clear how much they depended on Geoff Nelson's 7 threes in their win the first time those teams met. Despite strong performances from guards Steve Friedman and Kerry Brown, it has been difficult for them to generate consistent offense.

That offense hinges on the play of Bob Van Kolken, one of the league's top centers. Usually a reliable force underneath, Bob won Player of the Week Honors against Dunk-a Schoen. But he had a quieter performance in the loss to Beast of Burden, and it affected the larger team. Defensively, they allow only 40 points per game, aided in large part by the constant hustle of Jake Berkowitz and Nate Purinton, along with the resilient board presence of Jeremy Forsythe. The path ahead is unclear for the Bombers, who seem to need explosive offensive performances to win ballgames. The question of who will fill that role in the near future is an unsolved mystery.

5) Dunk-a Schoen

In many ways, Dunk-a Schoen are a mirror image of The Cray's Nest. They have plentiful tall bodies, are strong inside, have players who can drive and players who can shoot. But in other ways, they are completely opposite. Instead of 6-2, their record is 2-6. Instead of winning multiple close games, they have lost multiple close games. And instead of perching atop the standings, they dwell in the cellar.

The story of Dunk-a Schoen is a classic tragedy; a team full of potential, who even still inspire fear in the hearts of 'superior' teams, but who could never pull it together when it counted, and who succumbed to bad timing and bad luck. But the epic downfall was not for lack of talent. The roster is full of great athletes with more than enough basketball skill to succeed. Whitney Warren, Tom Fleischman, and Zach Heinzerling are intimidating presences down low, while Kevin Felder and Ben Weitmarschen can light up the scoreboard on a whim. Katie Stokien excels at inside defense, and Mark Lee functions as an extremely competent point guard and occasional three-point threat. But aside from an outstanding performance against Team Fouls in Week 6, the pieces haven't quite clicked. They have two weeks left to earn respect and an outside shot at the playoffs.

6) Team Fouls

It's been a rocky road for Team Fouls, who an enraged fanbase has dubbed "the little team that couldn't." At 2-6, they are tied for last place, but their point differential of -40 has effectively eliminated them from playoff contention. Like Dunk-a Schoen, though, some of those losses have come in heartbreaking fashion. Glickson's famous three pointer ruined them in Week 5, while last week's valiant effort against the Layup Line Heroes fell short in overtime.

Though they are perhaps the league's most entertaining team, playing a wide open style featuring the assassin-like shooting of Andrew Weiner (25 threes on the year, almost double any other player), it has not proved sustainable. They allow 44 points per game, worst in the league, and have only been to the free throw line 41 times, fewer than half the total of any other team. Chris Bonastia and Kyle Ervin play intense perimeter defense and are threats on the drive, Zach Smith can shoot the long ball and hold his own down low, Trista Sordillo is a sharpshooter from close range, and Dave Polen's jump shot has been pinpoint all season, but they lack a true post presence. This hurdle has been too much to overcome, especially in the nailbiters. They'll have to settle for a good finish in the 5th/6th place game, and hope 2011 brings happier conclusions.

Note: Power Rankings aside, the parity in the league has been pretty astonishing this year. No team is unbeatable, and no team is a walk-over. Close games have far outnumbered blowouts. Competition is king. Kudos to all.

Week 8 Previews

8:15: Beast of Burden vs. The Cray's Nest

Fighting for their playoff lives, Beast of Burden will need strong guard play to overcome the post advantage of Lars Rasmussen and Vance Tucker. TCN will be missing guards Jordan Glickson and Gene Walsh, so Shane Ryan's play will be critical.

Favorite: Beast of Burden (-4)

9:00: Layup Line Heroes vs. Dunk-a Schoen

Going into the game, Dunk-a Schoen will know whether they still have a shot at the fourth playoff spot, and this knowledge could influence their play. Regardless, they'll want to prove something to themselves and the league, and their size should limit Gormley's scoring production. The upset radar is on and blinking.

Favorite: Layup Line Heroes (-2)

9:45: Hospital Bombers vs. Team Fouls

A win here will ensure that the Bombers avoid seeing The Cray's Nest in round one. It's unclear how much Team Fouls will have left in the tank, and they will likely have trouble with Van Kolken, Forsythe, and Purinton underneath.

Favorite: Hospital Bombers (-7)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recaps, Week 8

MANHATTAN - The playoff race began to look clear as the lights dimmed on week 8 of the GABL. March Madness extended its flaming hand into the lower east side, and three close games led a breathless league into the home stretch.

Layup Line Heroes 42, Team Fouls 38, OT

Keith Gormley and Saulo Feliciano have become quite the two-headed monster. The two combined for 31 of the team's 42 points in a thrilling battle that secured a playoff berth for the Heroes. In the first half, Feliciano couldn't be contained, and he tallied 10 points as his side took an 18-14 lead into the half. But coming out of the break, Team Fouls stormed back. Despite missing captain Kyle Ervin, they were able to ride Andrew Weiner's hot hand back into contention. Weiner had 18 points, including 4 threes, and Team Fouls played their hearts out to salvage some hope of postseason play. But Keith Gormley was up to the task, scoring 9 second-half points to keep the Heroes afloat.

As time wound down, Team Fouls had the ball with only seconds on the clock. Unfortunately, they couldn't muster a good look, and both teams took a brief rest before the extra session. There, the Heroes scored twice, courtesy of Gormley and captain Greg Wyrick. Team Fouls could not muster any offense, and after 2 minutes, their dream had ended.

The Heroes move to 5-3 on the year, and are tied with the Hospital Bombers for second place, and will have a chance to take it outright in their Week 10 match-up. Team Fouls falls to 2-6, and though they aren't yet mathematically eliminated from the postseason, the road ahead is daunting.

The Cray's Nest 32, Dunk-a Schoen 30

In what has become a theme for both teams, points were awfully difficult to come by for the majority of the game. Dunk-a Schoen's tall lineup stymied the Cray's Nest offense, which was out of synch from the very beginning. But on defense the league's top team were equally staunch, shutting down the three-headed monster of Zach Heinzerling, Kevin Felder, and Ben Weitmarschen. The three combined for only 23 points, thanks in large part to the interior defense of Vance Tucker. For the Cray's Nest, Lars Rasmussen turned in his usual workmanlike performance, scoring 13 points and hitting 5 of 6 from the line. Jordan Clickson tossed in 8.

The Cray's Nest held a slight lead for most of the game, but that changed in the final five minutes, as Kevin Felder hit four big foul shots and scored another field goal. With 30 seconds left, Dunk-a Schoen held a 30-27 lead. On the ensuing offensive possession, Jordan Glickson nearly stepped out of bounds before finding Shane Ryan on a crosscourt pass. Ryan, who had been rendered useless to that point, hit the game-tying three. A Dunk-a Schoen turnover gave The Cray's Nest the ball with 3 seconds remaining. After a failed inbounds play, Glickson lofted a perfect pass over the defense, finding Tucker open underneath the basket. He converted the lay-up as time expired, and The Cray's Nest had pulled out yet another thrilling win. Tucker pranced to the far sideline as teammates mobbed him and the crowd shouted their approval.

The Cray's Nest are all alone in first place at 6-2. A win next week would likely clinch the regular season title. Dunk-a Schoen falls to 2-6, and will have to hope for a lot of help if they dream of a playoff run.

Beast of Burden 40, The Hospital Bombers 35

The Hospital Bombers are suddenly looking quite vulnerable, while Beast of Burden seem to have emerged from the mid-season doldrums. Led by Rafael Rodriguez, returning from a one-game suspension, they avenged a week 3 loss by dominating the Bombers on both ends. Rodriguez scored 14, while brother Ismael Rodriguez had 11 and three treys, but the big story was the point production elsewhere. Kyle Pilkington, Brian Love, and Pat Waldo combined for 14 points of their own, and their strong interior play stunned the ineffectual Bombers.

Kerry Brown led the losers with 10 points, but center Bob Van Kolken had an unusually quiet game, mustering only 5 points on limited touches. Nate Purinton and Steve Friedman scored 6 apiece, but neither could make a lasting dent in the Beast of Burden defense, which is statistically the league's best. Even Geoff Nelson, the sharpshooter who hit 7 3s the last time these teams met, could only muster one from long distance. On the other end, Rafael Rodriguez could not be stopped from penetrating, and when they managed to contain him, a kick-out to Ismael or Love usually produced points.

The crucial win moves Beast of Burden back to .500 at 4-4, and only one win away from making the playoffs. The Hospital Bombers fall to 5-3, but clinch a postseason spot by virtue of losses by Dunk-a Schoen and Team Fouls. However, they now find themselves in danger of slipping to fourth, and having to face The Cray's Nest in roud one, a team they typically have great trouble against.

Stats, Standings, Features After Week 8

This edition sponsored by Nolan Smith's crossover.

Quite a week in stats! The race for scoring king is heating up, as Keith Gormley gets to within one tenth of Rafael Rodriguez at the top of the charts. Meanwhile, Andrew Weiner is running away with the three-point shooting title, while Lars Rasmussen stays atop the free throw shooting ranks as Kevin Felder and Saulo Feliciano struggle to become eligible (minimum 15 attempts).

On to the features...

Player of the Week: Vance Tucker

Along with post-mate Lars Rasmussen, Tucker managed to stave off a daunting Dunk-a Schoen front line. While controlling the boards and preventing easy shots, he played a big part in holding the league upstarts to 30 points. Then, on the last possession of the game, he received a pass from Jordan Glickson and scored the league's first true buzzer beater, giving The Cray's Nest a 32-30 victory. For his heroics, Tucker will receive a set of leftover McDonald's hamburger wrappers once touched by Knicks legend Larry Johnson.

Honorable Mention: Saulo Feliciano and Rafael Rodriguez

Feliciano, in just his third game in the GABL, scored 16 points to lead the Layup Line Heroes to an overtime win over Team Fouls. His two threes in the second half proved to be daggers, and the victory ensures that the Heroes will be in this year's playoffs.

Rodriguez, returning from a one-game suspension, controlled the pace of play at point guard, scoring 14 points and playing strong perimeter defense. His strong play enabled Beast of Burden to avenge their week 3 loss to The Hospital Bombers, and takes them one step closer to clinching a postseason berth.

Both players will receive New Jersey nets keychains, and a gift certificate good for one tour of the Nets home arena, whatever it may be called.

Past Players of the Week:

Week 1: Lars Rasmussen (retroactive)
Week 2: Ismael Rodriguez (retroactive)
Week 3: Geoff Nelson
Week 4: Rafael Rodriguez
Week 5: Jordan Glickson
Week 6: Keith Gormley
Week 7: Bob Van Kolken

The King's Court: Week 8

And the GABL shall reign forever and ever!

Sir Prolificus (points): Andrew Weiner, 18

Dr. Charity (foul-shooting): Kevin Felder, 5-6

Narrowly edges out Lars Rasmussen (5-7) and Matt Brinkmann (3-4)

Captain Long-Range (three-point shooting): Andrew Weiner, 4

The Earl of Baskets (field goals): Gormley, Weiner, Feliciano, 7

The Duke of D: Brian Love, for tenacious perimeter D on The Hospital Bombers.

The Dime Baron (week's best pass): Jordan Glickson, for a gutsy over-the-top pass to Tucker on the final possession.

The Marchioness (best female performance): Kerry Brown, for a double-digit performance in a loss to Beast of Burden.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Recaps, Week 7

MANHATTAN - It was a week for the grinders in the GABL. Hot offenses were shut down, while the D-units circled the wagons. This was Big-10 style basketball, circa 1997. No frills, no fuss, no fancy frolicking. And not much scoring.

Hospital Bombers 35, Dunk-a Schoen 33

Are Dunk-a Schoen cursed? The GABL world is abuzz with the idea of hexes and voodoo and other mystical phenomena as Dunk-a Schoen missed layup after layup in what will forever be known as 'the game that got away.'

Coming off a dominant victory over Team Fouls, the Schoeners had a chance to storm back into the playoff race with a win over the undermanned Bombers. Geoff Nelson, Nate Purinton, and Steve Friedman were all absentee, and the game set up as a wonderful opportunity. But staunch defense by the Bombers, tough inside play by Player of the Week Bob Van Kolken, and a slew of missed gimmes by Dunk-a Schoen doomed them to this close loss.

Zach Heinzerling and Ben Weitmarschen both reached double digits for the losing side, scoring 13 and 12 respectively. But stars Whitney Warren and Kevin Felder were held in check for most of the game, and Van Kolken's 13 points, along with 6 each from Jake Berkowitz, Avi Kent, and Kerry Brown, were enough to secure the win. After last week's narrow loss to The Cray's Nest, the Bombers are back in a tie for first place, though the tiebreaker favors their rivals.

Team Fouls 33, Beast of Burden 24

Without star point guard Rafael Rodriguez, Beast of Burden looked lost. Their offensive options were fairly limited, and a stolid defensive effort by Team Fouls kept them mired in a game-long slump.

Andrew Weiner, shooter extraordinaire, led Team Fouls with 12 points, including 3 from behind the arc. Chris Bonastia added 6, and sub Brian Filiatraut dominated the boards and scored 6 of his own. For Beast of Burden, Robin Luna had a season-high 9 points on several nice drives, while Ismael Rodriguez was double-teamed on the perimeter and could only muster 6. Brian Love had a three in each half to round out the scoring.

The win brings Team Fouls to 2-5, only one game out of playoff contention. Beast of Burden falls to 3-4, holding on to the fourth and final post-season spot.

Layup Line Heroes 46, The Cray's Nest 35

Led by Keith Gormley and Matt Brinkmann, the Heroes owned the interior against the league's top rebounding team, a feat never previously accomplished. Despite strategizing at length, The Cray's Nest could not find a foothold inside, and cold outside shooting doomed them to their second loss.

Gormly led all scorers with 17 points, including a crucial 3-pointer late in the game, and Brinkmann had 11 to go along with his many rebounds. On the perimeter, Saula Feliciano played an impeccable point guard, setting up his teammates and scoring 12 points of his own. A late surge from The Cray's Nest threatened to narrow the gap, but excellent free throw shooting kept them at bay; as a team, the Heroes were 13-15 from the line, far in excess of their usual 54% mark.

Lars Rasmussen led the Nest with 8 points, and worked hard underneath, while Shane Ryan and Gene Walsh scored 7 apiece. But Ryan and Vance Tucker, who came in averaging over 10 points per game, were held in check throughout, and seemed sluggish at times. Jacob Craycroft, team captain, added 6 points in the losing cause.

With the win, the Heroes are alone in third place. The Cray's Nest falls to 5-2, but remain in first by virtue of the tiebreaker.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stats, Standings, Features After Week 7

This post sponsored by Jon Scheyer!

Feature Time!

Player of the Week: Bob Van Kolken

This was certainly a tough decision, but Bob's dominating inside presence led The Hospital Bombers to a grueling 35-33 win over Dunk-a Schoen. The crucial win moved them to 5-2, and away from the middle of the pack. Bob had to contend with the superior size of the opponents and establish the post game almost on his own. He managed 13 points and a lot of rebounds, and forced Dunk-a Schoen to play a perimeter offense. For his hard work, Bob will be invited to a June 7th meet-and-greet with Duke legend JON SCHEYER. The event will take place at the Asheville, North Carolina Knights of Columbus.

Honorable Mention: Matt Brinkmann and Andrew Weiner

Like Van Kolken, Brinkmann slugged it out underneath against a strong back line. For the first time this season, The Cray's Nest lost the interior battle, and Brinkmann takes much of the credit. He also scored 11 points, doubling his season total, and helped keep the Layup Line Heroes in third place.

Weiner continued his hot shooting, hitting 3 treys to increase his league leading total to 21. Two came at crucial junctures in the second half, holding off Beast of Burden rallies and spurring Team Fouls to their second win of the year.

Both players will be awarded a first edition copy of "Where's Jon Scheyer?", a book inspired by the "Where's Waldo?" series.

Past Players of the Week:

Week 1: Lars Rasmussen (retroactive)
Week 2: Ismael Rodriguez (retroactive)
Week 3: Geoff Nelson
Week 4: Rafael Rodriguez
Week 5: Jordan Glickson
Week 6: Keith Gormley

The King's Court: Week 6

Long Live the GABL!

Sir Prolificus (points): Keith Gormley, 17

Dr. Charity (foul-shooting): Zach Heinzerling and Saulo, 6-7.

Narrowly edges out Shane Ryan (4-5).

Captain Long-Range (three-point shooting): Andrew Weiner, 3

The Earl of Baskets (field goals): Gormley, 7

The Duke of D: Chris Bonastia, for his effort shutting down Ismael Rodriguez.

The Dime Baron (week's best pass): Kevin Felder, for several passes that sprung Dunk-a Schoen fast breaks.

The Marchioness (best female performance): Trista Sordillo, who scored 4 points, took some hard fouls, and played smothering D in Team Fouls' win.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Week 7 Previews!

8:15 – The Hospital Bombers vs. Dunk-a Schoen

Following a close loss to The Cray’s Nest, The Hospital Bombers may be particularly vulnerable against their long-time rivals. Dunk-a Schoen, though only 2-4, seem to be peaking at the right time. Last week’s rout over Team Fouls marked the emergence of a more cohesive unit, and the addition of Kevin Felder may be the spark they needed to contend with the league’s elite. But the journey is only beginning, and every win is important if they hope to make up for lost time.

Felder, Whitney Warren, Ben Weitmarschen, and Zach Heinzerling provide the main offensive threats for Dunk-a Schoen, and all play a similar slashing style. Ball-handling and height should not be a problem. Defensively, they’ll have much to contend with. The Hospital Bombers boast one of the league’s more efficient offenses, spearheaded by Steve Friedman and Geoff Nelson. Last week’s poor performance figurs to be an anomaly, and Dunk-a Schoen will need to find a defensive answer for their scoring prowess. Experts speculate that they may utilize a 3-2 zone, with tall defenders spread across the perimeter to discourage three-point shooting. The Bombers, meanwhile, are known for a tough man-to-man defense that will be challenged by the athleticism and size of their opponents tonight.

In the latest power rankings, the Bombers slipped to second while Dunk-a Schoen leaped to third place. But the Vegas odds may be more indicative of what the public is thinking; in a move nobody could have foreseen even a week ago, Dunk-a Schoen is actually favored by two points.

9:00 – Team Fouls vs. Beast of Burden

The 1-game suspension of leading scorer Rafael Rodriguez is sure to take its toll on Beast of Burden as they face the GABL’s last-place team. Ismael Rodriguez will have to pick up the slack, but scoring may become more difficult in the absence of a true point guard. The play of Kieran Valla, Brian Love, and Robin Luna will play a big factor in tonight’s game.

Team Fouls is known for its passive offensive style, which hurts them against teams who control the boards. Tonight, though, they may have a shot to at least break even. Kyle Ervin plays bigger than his height, and Zach Smith and David Saie have been known to mix it up on the glass when necessary. If they can assert some kind of presence against the Beast of Burden interior, they’ll have a shot to pull off the upset.

In the absence of second-chance points, this game may come down to the long distance attacks. Ismael Rodriguez and Andrew Weiner are two of the best three-point shooters in the league, and if one goes cold while the other stays hot, it could be the difference in the game. Due to Rafael’s suspension, the spread is much closer than it would otherwise be. At the moment, Beast of Burden is favored by a single point.

9:45 – The Cray’s Nest vs. Layup Line Heroes

The Heroes have shown a knack to earn the big win when it really counts, and at 3-3 they’re still very much in the playoff discussion. Tonight, though, they will have their hands full with a Cray’s Nest team who matches up very well against their offense. In their first match-up, TCN employed a tough 2-3 zone that limited the Heroes to outside shots, which was never their strength. Keith Gormley managed to score on precise foul-line jumpers, but it was nowhere near enough to overcome the onslaught on the offensive end.

Lars Rasmussen, Vance Tucker, and Jacob Craycroft are pure danger on the boards, and have led The Cray’s Nest to first place in the league. Gene Walsh, Jordan Glickson, and Shane Ryan are capable of scoring from the perimter, and Jane Rizzo’s perimeter defense was good enough to earn Marchioness honors last week. A win tonight will clinch a playoff spot, and unless they suffer a severe let-down after last week’s dramatic victory, they should have an easy time.

As of post time, The Cray’s Nest was favored by 13 points, the highest spread yet this year.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Recaps, Week 6

MANHATTAN - A lively week in the GABL saw The Cray's Nest assert themselves as the league's best team, Beast of Burden suffer a disastrous meltdown, and Dunk-a Schoen take steps to fulfill their early potential.

The Cray's Nest 37, Hospital Bombers 35

In a grinding, punishing, pugilistic battle, The Cray's Nest outlasted The Hospital Bombers in a clash of the league's best. Though they only trailed once, at 22-21 in the second half, the Nesters were never far in front, and it was all they could do to hold on for victory. Lars Rasmussen turned in another stellar performance, scoring 13 points and teaming with Vance Tucker to form a stolid defensive interior. For the Bombers, Bob Van Kolken gave as good as he got, scoring 14 points underneath and leading a fierce challenge for control of the boards. With 30 seconds remaining, Shane Ryan (9 points) drove by an unidentified player who may have been an illegal ringer for the go-ahead layup. The Bombers responded with a baseline jumper by legal ringer Noah Davis to tie the game at 35. After a timeout, Lars Rasmussen could not find Vance Tucker on a set play, and was forced to throw the ball deep to Shane Ryan. The pass found its mark, and Ryan whipped the ball to a cutting Jordan Glickson (6 points), who laid it in for the winning bucket. The Bombers had 4 seconds remaining, but Van Kolken's missed shot came after the buzzer, and The Cray's Nest moved to 5-1, and first place outright.

The Bombers will have many regrets looking back. Coming into the game, they'd been averaging 4 3-pointers a contest, but they could only muster one Thursday, a bank shot by Nate Purinton. Their normally prolific offense was shut down by the Nest, and Geoff Nelson and Steve Friedman, each averaging over 10 points per game, were held to 6 combined. The Cray's Nest answered some questions about their toughness after a series of close contests saw their early shine somewhat diminished. They'll have a chance to increase their momentum this week, when they'll be heavy favorites against the Layup Line Heroes.

Layup Line Heroes 33, Beast of Burden 28

In what may be a turning point of the season, the Layup Line Heroes moved back to .500 and defeated Beast of Burden for the second time this year. They scored over half their points on the line, shooting an impressive 17-25 in a game full of controversy. In the first half, the referee called it tight, and Beast of Burden's aggressive style began to work against them. It was tied 17-17 at the half, but as the second half began, Beast of Burden began to pull away. Kieran Valla hit two three-pointers, Robin Luna hit two from the foul line, and the result everyone expected seemed to be transpiring.

Then all hell break loose. After arguing a foul call, Rafael Rodriguez was given a technical. He proceeded to sprint down the floor and slap the opposite backboard, at which point he was ejected from the game. Incensed, he sprinted at the referee and had to be held back by several players. The game was delayed, and when the dust had settled, Keith Gormley hit three of four foul shots to eat into Beast of Burden's lead. Without Rodriguez, that lead quickly vanished. Ismael Rodriguez, normally one of the league's best shooters, went cold from the floor, and Beast of Burden couldn't muster any offense for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Gormley excelled underneath, scoring 14 points to help the Heroes pull away. Greg Wyrick added 10, including 6-7 from the line, in his best performance of the year. Those two, combined with Matt Brinkmann, dominated the interior and led the Heroes to a crucial win. Their playoff hopes are alive and healthy at 3-3, while Beast of Burden drops to the same mark.

For the altercation, Rodriguez was given a one-game suspension, which is incredibly poor timing for Beast of Burden, who face the woebegone Team Fouls in what might be a must-win game this week.

Dunk-a Schoen 59, Team Fouls 32

When the year began, many experts predicted that Dunk-a Schoen would be one of the two best teams in the league. Their first half, though, was an utter disaster, full of embarrassing losses and chemistry issues. But after annihilating Team Fouls in Week 6, those initial predictions are looking a lot less ridiculous. Whitney Warren scored 15 points and looked like the championship-winning star from last season, while newcomer Kevin Felder and Ben Weitmarschen added 11 each for the victors. Zach Heinzerling and Mark Lee scored 10 and 8, respectively, and Tom Fleischman played a strong game on the boards, adding 4 points of his own. It was a total team effort for Dunk-a Schoen, and they hope it will serve as a springboard for a late-season run and a playoff berth.

For Team Fouls, a tough year just got worse. Kyle Ervin and Chris Bonastia played valiant games in the frontcourt, scoring 9 and 8, but sharpshooters Andrew Weiner and Zach smith could never really find their form, and the team had little to no presence on the interior. The loss dropped them to 1-5 on the year, and they currently sit in last place. Redemption may be possible this week against Beast of Burden, who will be missing the GABL's leading scorer, but crawling back into playoff contention may be a Herculean task.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Stats, Standings, Features After Week 6

Here we be.


Player of the Week: Keith Gormley

Let's face it: the media does not go easy on the Layup Line Heroes. It's a hostile city, and they've faced some fire, but one or way another these dudes find a way to win the important games. Keith Gormley has led the way all season, and yesterday's 14-point performance gave them a huge 33-28 win. His 6-7 performance from the foul line was the difference in the game, and his defense nullified the Beast of Burden interior attack. For his efforts, Keith will be presented with a stick of chewing gum from an early 90s Fleet basketball cards package which featured Manute Bol (cards not included).

Honorable Mention: Bob Van Kolken and Whitney Warren

Van Kolken, facing a difficult task against Cray's Nest bigs Lars Rasmussen and Vance Tucker, proved himself to be one of the league's premier post players with a strong 14-point performance. Though his team lost by two, Van Kolken left it all out on the floor.

Warren regained his form from last year's championship season in Dunk-a Schoen's break-out win against Team Fouls, scoring 15 and wreaking all kinds of terror in the lane.

Each player will be allowed to share a YMCA locker room shower with former Arkansas Razorback great Scotty Thurman.

Past Players of the Week:

Week 1: Lars Rasmussen (retroactive)
Week 2: Ismael Rodriguez (retroactive)
Week 3: Geoff Nelson
Week 4: Rafael Rodriguez
Week 5: Jordan Glickson

The King's Court: Week 6

Let subjectivity reign!

Sir Prolificus (points): Whitney Warren, 15

Dr. Charity (foul-shooting): Keith Gormley, 6-7.

Narrowly edges out Greg Wyrick (6-8), Lars Rasmussen (4-5), and Matt Brinkmann (4-5).

Captain Long-Range (three-point shooting): Kevin Felder, 3

The Earl of Baskets (field goals): Van Kolken and Warren, 6

The Duke of D: The Cray's Nest, for holding The Hospital Bombers to one 3-pointer (a bank shot).

The Dime Baron (week's best pass): Two passes this time. To quote GABL play-by-play announcer Ted Sherlock: "Rasmussen running out of time, nobody's open...he hurls it downcourt! It's long to Ryan...he whips it to a wide open Glickson,'s good! OH MY! WHAT HAVE MY EYES JUST WITNESSED?!"

The Marchioness (best female performance): Jane Rizzo, for a full game of smothering defense on the wing of the zone, and several surprising rebounds among the tall trees.

Recaps Monday!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Week 6 Previews

8:15 - The Hospital Bombers (4-1) vs. The Cray's Nest (4-1)

After tonight, there will be an undisputed top team in the GABL. Can The Cray's Nest enact a repeat of their week one victory, or have the Bombers improved beyond the point of defeat? In the latest power poll, experts chose the Bombers as the top team, while The Cray's Nest was dropped to third, despite owning the tiebreaker for the #1 seed. Results in the past three weeks seem to confirm this analysis, and the Bombers' dominance stands in stark contrast to TCN's escape acts. In the night's marquee match-up, questions will be answered.

If the Bombers have a weakness, and they may not, it's in the ballhandling realm. The Cray's Nest will look to exploit their lack of a true point guard. Shooting guard extraordinaire Geoff Nelson may find himself with more dribbling duty than usual, while Steve Friedman and Kerry Brown will have to carry a heavy frontcourt load. On the boards, Jeremy Forsythe, Bob Van Kolken, and Nate Purinton will have to contend with two of the league's best rebounders in Vance Tucker and Lars Rasmussen. Defensively, they'll have to shut down those two and contain the shooting prowess of guards Gene Wash and Jordan Glickson, who have been improving each game. The possible return of Shane Ryan could also add a new wrinkle to the Cray's Nest offense. Jacob Craycroft adds a third body to the rebounding equation, while Jane Rizzo will provide pressure from the defensive wing. On the offensive end, the Bombers will look to Van Kolken to assert his presence inside in order to create open looks beyond the arc for Nelson and Purinton. It will be crucial for The Cray's Nest to prevent penetration by Friedman and Brown, and to guard the middle of the zone without conceding the easy outside shot.

Favorite: Hospital Bombers (-4)

9:00 - Beast of Burden (3-2) vs. Layup Line Heroes (2-3)

Beast of Burden will be looking to avenge their week one loss, while the Heroes desperately need to create some distance between themselves and Team Fouls in the standings. While the Brothers Rodriguez will be leading their team on a quest to take second place, Gormley and Colby Hall will be trying to maintain an unsteady grip on the fourth and final playoff spot.

In week one, the Heroes were able to contain Ismael and Rafael Rodriguez, holding the entire team to 32 points. But as they've found their rhythm, the entire Beast of Burden team has gelled, and this low point total should be exceeded easily. The Heroes need to take advantage of their superior height; if Gormley and Colby Hall can mix it up down low, they should be able to at least achieve a healthy rebound margin. But the glaring question for the Heroes is how well they can handle the intense defensive pressure from the BoB frontcourt. If they discover an effective method for beating the press, their size gives them a fighting chance to win. If not, the mission becomes impossible.

Favorite: Beast of Burden (-8)

9:45 - Team Fouls (1-4) vs. Dunk-a Schoen (1-4)

Though neither team can be pleased with their first half performance, they can take solace in the fact that they're still very much in the playoff hunt. Team Fouls, in particular, needs only to defeat Dunk-a Schoen and the Heroes in order to earn the 4th seed. But the stakes tonight are high; a loss makes the journey all but hopeless.

Dunk-a Schoen have yet to find offensive chemistry, but they'll own a distinct size advantage tonight. Ben Weitmarschen, Zach Heinzerling, Whitney Warren, and Kevin Felder have the potential to make things miserable for the Team Fouls interior. On the flip side, Kyle Ervin, Andrew Weiner, and Chris Bonastia may give Dunk-a Schoen headaches in transition. It's an interesting clash of styles, and one that ended in an overtime victory for Dunk-a Schoen in week one. Tonight's outcome is utterly unpredictable, and a win, for both teams, is utterly imperative.

Favorite: Pick 'em

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Mid-Season Report: Part Two

Part One is here. We're doing reverse order power rankings. On to the top 3...

3. The Cray's Nest (4-1)

After a blistering start, the league's top seed has come back to Earth in the past three games, holding on for two close wins and dropping a third to Beast of Burden. Despite their knack for winning, this stretch has exposed some weaknesses in their varied arsenal. One of the league's top rebounding teams, they benefit from the strong play of Lars Rasmussen and Vance Tucker, who typically dominate the boards, and average 17 and 12 points per game, respectively. Jordan Glickson, who hit the game-winning 3 against Team Fouls last week, averages 7.8, while point guard Gene Walsh contributes 7 per game. Shane Ryan chipped in with 11 ppg before going down after week 2 with an ankle injury. His return this week is doubtful, though he expects to be back for week 7.

As a team, The Cray's Nest are one of the top offensive units, averaging 46.8. But this total is a bit deceptive; after two weeks, they averaged 55, and have had trouble scoring since. Meanwhile, their somewhat lackadaisical approach to defense in the first two weeks cost them when the offense dropped off; the loss to Beast of Burden came about because of difficulty stopping the Brothers Rodriguez. Still, there are positives for the team to build on. They make it to the line 14 times per game, second only to Dunk-a Schoen, and they make those chances count. They have the highest free throw shooting percentage in the league, at 61%, thanks in large part to Rasmussen's remarkable 77% rate (best in the GABL). And rebounds should win them enough games to stay comfortably inside the playoff race. But their resolve will be tested in the season's second half, and it won't take long- week six's game against The Hospital Bombers is a rematch of their opening win, and promises to be a much harder journey this time around. And due to the recent vulnerability, the target on their back widens with each passing game.

2. Beast of Burden (3-2)

The Brothers Rodriguez, Ismael and Rafael, are the league's stop scoring duo, and they undoubtedly anchor this surging team. But though no other player averages in double figures, Beast of Burden are a cohesive unit from spots one through seven. In fact, they are the only team in the league to boast a perfect attendance record. This unity has paid dividends; after a rough beginning, featuring two close losses to the Layup Line Heroes and the Hospital Bombers (one point apiece), they have congealed into a basketball machine wherein each cog performs its assigned role to perfection.

Ismael and Rafael vie each week for leading scorer (Rafael currently leads the GABL with 18 ppg), but the true strength of BoB is their defense. They allow 39 points per game, tops in the league, and the pressure from their guards has been particularly upsetting to opposing frontcourts. They also excel at the line, hitting 59% of their free throws while averaging 4.0 3s per game and scoring 46 points. Their point differential is by far the league's best, and they're a mere two points from an undefeated record. Still, those two losses are not insignificant. In both cases, Beast of Burden started slow, and their late surge fell short of victory. Did intimidation play a role, or does it just take them more time to find their rhythm? If a championship run is in the cards, this question requires an emphatic answer.

1. The Hospital Bombers (4-1)

The Bombers' week one loss to The Cray's Nest seems, a month later, like ancient history. At 4-1, they are technically in second place, but nobody would argue for anybody else as the league's top team. They've now notched four wins in a row, and have done so with great shooting, a strong board presence, and tireless defense. This may be a team without a superstar (Geoff Nelson and Steve Friedman both average 12 points per game, while Bob Van Kolken has lately emerged as a legitimate post threat with 10.8 ppg), but they benefit from a total lack of weakness. Of their 8 players, any 5 can take the floor at a given time and fulfill the necessary functions of an elite basketball team. This depth makes it difficult for opponents to find any breathing room, and simultaneously ensures that no single Bomber will succumb to fatigue.

Their statistics are irreproachable. They score 47 points per game, best in the league, and hit a competent 53% of their foul shots. They allow 43 per game on defense, a number which hovers around the league's average, but which has lately been far lower. Still, they have something left to prove against The Cray's Nest. Some have speculated that certain players on that team hold a psychological edge over the Bombers dating back to last season, and that this played a large role in the week one result. Also, the Bombers have tended to flag late in games, allowing teams like Beast of Burden and Team Fouls to make close games out of potential blow-outs. If they can learn to turn in 36 minutes of optimal performance, though, it will be extremely difficult for any opponent to keep them from an ultimate victory.

The Mid-Season Report: Part One

We're halfway through, and it's time to examine the state of the league. Let's take a tour of our six teams, in reverse power ranking order.

6. Dunk-a Schoen (1-4)

It might be difficult for the Dunk-a Schoen faithful to remember in these tough times, but they actually opened the season with a thrilling OT win over Team Fouls. Trailing 20-10 at the half, they regrouped during the intermission and found a way to prevail. Since then, their fortunes have changed for the worse. It's been four straight losses for the Schoeners, with the low point coming in a week 3 loss to the Cray's Nest, who were missing two of their top 3 scorers. They could only muster 27 points in that game, and on the season they're averaging a league-worst 36 points. They're also second-to-last in free throw percentage, and are 4th in defensive efficiency.

On a positive note, the recent acquisition of Kevin Felder has given them another scoring option. He's yet to take them over the hump, however, and certain chemistry issues remain unsolved. Besides Felder, who has only played two games, no player averages double figures. Ben Weitmarschen comes closest at 9.8 ppg, while Whitney Warren (8.8) and Zach Heinzerling (8.0) are not far behind. If they hope to reverse the negative trends, a good chance comes this week against Team Fouls, the only squad they defeated in the season's first half. Failure to right the ship will likely mean that the task of making the playoffs is too great. For the league's cellar dwellers, it's now or never.

5. Layup Line Heroes (2-3)

Amazingly, one of the Heroes' two wins came against Beast of Burden in week one. A brilliantly designed out-of-bounds play by Colby Hall gave them a 33-32 victory and an early start on the playoff rush. Since then, the fates of the two teams have been utterly divergent. While Beast of Burden has surged to third in the league, the Heroes have struggled, and currently maintain a tenuous hold on the 4th and final playoff position. Their second win came against Dunk-a Schoen, but a better estimate of their quality came against Team Fouls in week three, when an 11-point loss dropped them below .500. If they cannot avenge that loss in the season's second half, it's likely they'll fall out of the playoff race.

While their defense is second best in the league, allowing only 41 ppg, the offense has not done its part. Keith Gormley paces the Heroes with 16.2 ppg, while Colby Hall contributes 11.5. After these leaders, though, the drop-off is significant; no other player averages more than 4 points per game. As a team, the Heroes average only 36.6, a full 10 points lower than every team above them in the standings. This is compounded by the passive nature of their offense, which has earned only 52 strips to the charity stripe, second-worst in the league. Once there, the struggle continues; they are the only team under 50% from the line. The Heroes have always lacked diversity, and if that issue remains unresolved, the season's second half could be long. It will take a stunning victory to keep them in 4th place, and something approaching a miracle to raise them to the level of the league's elite.

4. Team Fouls (1-4)

Despite having one fewer win than the Heroes, Team Fouls has shown evidence of real class in the past three weeks. Starting with their lone win against LLH, continuing with a valiant effort in a losing cause to the Hospital Bombers, and culminating in last week's heartbreaker against The Cray's Nest, they've demonstrated the wherewithal to compete against the league's best. The importance of this week's clash against Dunk-a Schoen cannot be underestimated; in order to have a chance at the playoffs, they need to stay within a game of the Heroes, and winning against the league's other 1-4 team is an absolute must.

Team Fouls sits at the middle of the pack in scoring, with 41 ppg, but over 40% of this total comes from the long ball. Andrew Weiner leads the aerial attack with a league-leading 16 3s. His 15-point average is complemented by Zach Smith and Kyle Ervin, who contribute 9 apiece. Their glaring weakness, though, is the interior. They seem to have no interest in the attacking game, earning only 24 foul shot attempts on the year, fewer than half the total of any other team. This retreating style is reflected on defense, as well, where they concede a league worst 45.8 ppg. And while two more wins may be good enough to earn the 4th and final playoff spot, they'll need to establish an inside presence if they hope for anything more than a one-and-done postseason experience.

Part Two coming later today...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Standings, Stats after Week Five, and One Feature

Player of the Week: JORDAN GLICKSON!

Mr. Money came through with a big 3-ball at the end to give The Cray's Nest a tight win over Team Fouls. He wins a lock of John Wooden's hair.

Past Players of the Week:

Week 1: Lars Rasmussen (retroactive)
Week 2: Ismael Rodriguez (retroactive)
Week 3: Geoff Nelson
Week 4: Rafael Rodriguez

Mid-Season Report coming tomorrow.