LONGSHOTS: Jumping through hoops after an odd season
by Dave Long
I don’t know what you think, but it’s been a pretty weird basketball season from where I sit. Not that all the stories were bad. Quite the contrary — there have been some really compelling stories to follow. It’s just that the whole season has seemed out of sync. It started when Lebron James didn’t play a second in his visit to the V and has stayed that way the rest of the year, at least to me. So in no particular order here’s a list of the good, the bad and the ugly from the 2007 basketball season that is winding to a close.
My favorite stories are Keith Dickson getting his 400th career win and the great race in girls’ Class L, where as many as eight teams found themselves jumbled at the top at one time or another. The Central boys’ remarkable 46-game winning steak that was ended by Nashua South was cool to see, as was the clutch play of its girls in ending Timberlane’s string of 18 straight on Sunday. And speaking of Central, I almost forgot, seeing alum Dave Morissette (class of ’68, I think) leading Rivier to its first-ever tournament appearance.
On the down side is the chaotic, injury-plagued Celtics season and no Division II post-season action in town for the first time since the Carter administration. At 6-20, SNHU had a season that can only be described as surreal and then there was the odd sight of Stan Spirou wanting nothing to do with congratulations after a win over crosstown rival Saint Anselm because the team’s second win, and his 450th overall, came in the second week in January.
The telltale sign it was a truly weird year was UNH playing long after the Hawks and Penmen were done. Especially in a 10-19 season that included a loss to Franklin Pierce. I’m guessing it hasn’t happened since Bill Haubrich senior was coaching at the U when Carlton Fisk and Jeff Bannister played there, who became more famous later: Bannister for competing in the decathlon at the ill-fated 1972 Olympics in Munich and Fisk, of course, as a Hall of Fame catcher.
Then there was so much attention focused out of town following the likes of the former Trinity duo of Luke Bonner and Chris Lutz, along with Corey Hassan and Tyler Roche getting varying degrees of playing time in the Division I ranks. And former Mr. New Hampshire Basketball Chris Burns had a very nice year at Bryant, where he went for a career-high 36 in February.
By the way, Roche moved into BC’s starting line-up last week. However, after a one-point, one-rebound, one- assist outing in 11 minutes in Sunday’s loss to Georgia Tech, I wonder if he stays there in the ACC Tournament. If Al Skinner leaves him there, I bet he does something good, although I’ll admit I’m biased on this one.
Speaking of BC, Memorial alum Kindyll Dorsey closed her career by scoring 14, when the 13-16 Eagles were knocked out of the ACC Tournament by Virginia Tech 60-54.
Anybody have another nominee for best game of the year besides the 35-point, 15-rebound submission by Amanda Kania in a 54-51 West upset off Concord?
Were there more last-second heroics this year? Memorial’s Loick Muyuka was the big one here of course. He won three straight that way in January alone. The biggest dagger came in a 50-49 win over Trinity. Whitney Fremeau did it with a runner with six ticks left in a important 38-37 Central win over Nashua North and last week, in being like Mike, Jordan Laquerre drained one to beat Dover 62-60 and Steve (last minute) Rice buried a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining to give Trinity a 57-55 win over Nashua South.
The loudest rumor floating around local circles has the former Trinity running mates contemplating finishing their career on North River Road. Playing time reportedly is one issue, so transferring SNHU would make basketball sense. Neither would have to sit out in D-II, as Bonner did after leaving West Virginia for UMass. It also makes sense for the rebuilding Penmen, who need ready-to-go players and not untested freshmen. Nobody officially is saying anything, but the persistent rumor has been making the rounds for sometime.
A big-time shooter who can bury the weak side three is one role the Penmen desperately need filled for 2007-08, so Lutz would be a perfect fit there. They haven’t had anybody who could do that since Timmy Lee was money in the bank way back when.
Yes Saint Anselm may have finished around .500, and we’ve told you about SNHU, but each has a freshman who’ll bear watching. Carenza Giovanni and Paul Chergy each showed major flashes coming down the stretch in very strong freshman seasons.
Despite an 18-game losing streak, a chance to finish with the league’s worst record and a personal prediction they’d finish around .500, I remain optimistic about the Celtics. Yes, I know that sounds crazy. But while there’ve been some disappointments (like Kendrick Perkins) their troubles will pay dividends. The most obvious is the draft position they will gain. But their flood of injuries forced Doc Rivers to play the youngins more than he wanted. And while they couldn’t close out games, the expanded PT will accelerate the development of the core who’ve shown flashes. At least to me.
I’m sure the Sam Bowie-Michael Jordan saga keeps GMs pondering Kevin Durant and Greg Oden up at night. But even though Durant looks to be the more NBA ready Greg Oden, I’ll take the aircraft carrier even if he takes longer to develop. I listened when Red Auerbach told folks questioning taking Larry Bird a year early when the Cs needed immediate help, “Do you have any idea how short one year is to wait?”
Although, in the words of Bill Parcells, I reserve the right to change my mind after I’ve had a better look at them in the tournament.
And finally there was the radio play-by-play announcer from my playing days at Plymouth State embroiled in the bogus Ray Buckley case, which this week included a truly ludicrous letter (even for him) to the UL from Joe Kelly Levasseur supporting both parties. But after the charges came up emptier than Hillary’s story for why she voted to send troops to Iraq, PSC should consider throwing in-the-ozone Steve Vaillancourt out of its Hall of Shame, er, Fame.
Dave Long is host of Home Team Saturday with Dave Long and Company, 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday morning on WGAM (1250 AM in Manchester and 900 AM in Nashua).