February 14, 2008

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LONGSHOTS: Basketball rounds into form under the cover of Pats football
by Dave Long

OK, with football finally done itís time to move on to my favorite sport, local and otherwise. So here are some thoughts about round ball that have been collecting since I went into football hibernation sometime after the Colts win in November.

See what Sam Carey can do when he really gets in shape ó heís having a nice senior year and has been playing great of late including the 23-point, 16-point submission he turned for surging SNHU on Saturday in a squeaker over Pace.

Things havenít been going quite as well for Central teammate Tyler Roche. His minutes have dwindled as 12-10 BC has struggled of late. And while heís shooting 38 percent, remember John McCain was 25 percent below that in the polls this summer and look at him now.

Itís similar for Luke Bonner. Heís started 15 of 21 for UMass, where heís averaging a hair under two rebounds and shooting 0.36 percent from the field in 13 minutes a game. The good news heís hitting on 37 percent of his threeís ó which is new math for a war horse like me. A near seven-footer shooting better from behind the line than closer in to the basket just doesnít compute for me.

With (yikes) two weeks left in the season it looks like another barn-burner on the girlsí side in Class L Tournament. Winnacunnet, with a string of imposing wins, is tops, but seven teams have a shot.

Trinity and Salem have run off 22 straight without a loss since the Blue Devils beat the Pioneers 49-45 on the opening day of the Class L Boysí Basketball season. The streakís in danger, though, when Trinity meets 10-1 Londonderry on Friday.

Anyone else beside Dave Morissette notice Rivier lost on Saturday when a 75-foot heave at the buzzer by Bruce Cary (the one) found nothing but net to give visiting Mt. Ida a three-point win over his club? Tough way to lose.

I hit one like that to give East Northport Junior High its first win in two years. Still waiting for my second one like it, but that one was nothing but net. Got a kiss right at mid-court from our, letís call her, exuberant head cheerleader Mary Fortuna for my trouble too.

Former West High Coach Tommy Ameen is to local hoops what Commissioner John Habib is to local football. He sends me great stuff. The latest is about Trinityís victory over vaunted Don Bosco in (I want to say) December of 1976. But I zapped the e-mail, so Iím not sure. But if you were a hoopster then, you know what Iím talking about, as it was BIG. And they did it without star Danny Duval too ó who Iím guessing was golfing at the Derryfield with buddy Jim Mason, but thatís unconfirmed.

Although it happens in almost every minor-league city after a while, I wonder if the sharp rise in TV ratings of the rejuvenated Celtics has had an impact on the Monarchs attendance in 2007-08? I know basketball and hockey people donít cross over much ó but with both sharing Wednesday, Friday and Sunday playing dates I know itís why I havenít been to V as much.

The bad news on Kevin Garnettís injury is heís out until after this weekendís All-Star break. The good news is itís forced Leon Powe and Glen Davis to play and theyíve produced. Poweís had a 25-point game and won it in Minnesota with a hustle put-back at the buzzer when he scored 16 - on 8 of 10 shooting. And while Big Baby has consistency issues, he made Tim Duncan work for his 22 on Sunday, as he got three steals, eight boards and nine points in 33 minutes. Iíll take that from anyone against the great Duncan, let alone a rookie.

However, the big leap is from Rajon Rondo. The biggest question mark coming into the season has been solid all year, but the outright star in several games since KG went out. During that time heís averaging 16 points, five assists, SEVEN rebounds per game and shot 53 percent. What I like most is that he gets to every loose ball, including big rebounds.

Anybody seen the Doc bashers like WGAM producer extraordinaire PJ Huot lately, now that heís leading contender for Coach of the Year?

The best game played in town all year is Chris Vetrano dropping 41 on a stunned SNHU as the Hawks rallied to beat the Penmen in December.

If you want to see how big a college basketball fan Monarchs prez Jeff Eisenberg is, tune in to my show on March 8. Last time he called in he was gushing about Memphis State the day they played (and beat) Georgetown. If theyíre still number one, itís going to be hard to get a word in!

I like the Millrats bringing in relatives from the original ABA to play for them. Newcomer Cedric McGinnis is the nephew of George McGinnis. The latter played for Bobby Knight at Indiana before joining the Pacers and later became a major Boston Garden villain with Lloyd Free and Darrell Dawkins with the í76ers. Iím not going to hold that against Cedric, especially since he gives the Rats nice size at 6í9íí and some scoring punch after averaging 22 a game last year.

Aside to GM Ian McCarthy: if you want suggestions for other ABA relatives to bring in, here are the top five on my wish list: Marvin Barnes, Darnell Hillman, Louis Dampier, Lavern Tart and Doug Moe. Sixth man ó the Ice Man, George Gervin.

Speaking of Knight, which blank do you fill in for the just-retired icon ó good, bad or ugly? For me, itís all of the above, as if Joseph McCarthy and Anne Coulter were right and we needed to beat the red menace to save the free world by winning a basketball game Iíd pick him to coach over anybody. Of course, Iíd pick anybody over him for a lot of the other things too.

Finally, with the Cs playing great and Pau Gasol going to L.A., could we have a Lakers-Celtics final in the offing? Hope so ó after that loss to the Giants this depraved area needs something big!

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts the Absolute Sports Experience at Billyís Sports Bar in Manchester each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon that is broadcast live on WGAM Ė The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.


2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue

1/31/2008 Foxboro lads earn pats on the back, and old Celtics mystique makes sense
1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
1/10/2008 Grumpy old Dolphins are lost at sea on this one
1/3/2008 The primary concern is getting a clear picture
12/27/2007 The annual sports awards close out 2007
12/20/2007 Holiday gifts for the deserving and not so deserving
12/13/2007 Jets land in Foxboro as pat go number 14
12/06/2007 To include or not to include Ellsbury ó that is the questione
11/29/2007 Yanked from the sports pages in the Big Apple
11/22/2007 Here's what I'm thankful for at Thanksgiving
11/15/2007 Waiting game leads to a series of random thoughts
11/8/2007 OK ó it's week nine and I'm ready to talk
11/1/2007 Finally a little shut-eye for a sleep deprived nation
10/25/2007 A rocky mountain high for Red Sox Nation
10/18/2007 Time to go to the mailbag
10/112007 Who'd more popular, Patriots or Red Sox
10/4/2007 IA weekend chock full of nuts, chokes and great moments
9/27/2007 I hate to say I told you so...
9/20/2007 Media and fan bias shades the severity of sports crime
9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
7/12/2007 Masse still a honeymooner in local baseball culture
7/5/2007 Brown Monster a big Fisher Cat hit
6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
6/21/2007 The future is now for the C's come Thursday night
6/14/2007 Homers create bonds among fans for generations
6/07/2007 Sox win by losing two of three this weekend
5/31/2007 Lutz of things to think about
5/24/2007 Down 2-0 Mís for playoff payoff
5/17/2007 Baseballs' conventional wisdom is for the birds
5/10/2007 The Rocket lands in Gotham during Monarchs' playoff break
5/3/2007 Raiders say "No Moss" in fight with talented wideout
4/26/2007 A little history on the ancient Sox and Yanks rivalry
4/19/2007 Lessons to be learned from Robinson, Monarchs and I-Man
4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
4/5/2007 Stanton his case on a variety of current topics
3/29/2007 Sox spring back into action on Monday
3/22/2007 A guide for having fun on NCAA hockey weekend
3/15/2007 The madness of March kicks off on Thursday
3/8/2007 Jumping through hoops after an odd season
3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
2/8/2007 Talking a good game ahead on all-sports WGAM
2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
1/18/2007 ESPN polls are fanning the flames of national lunacy
1/11/2007 Patriots marching to MIami promised land
1/4/2007 Predictions for 2007
12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
12/14/2006 Mailbag open for busines at a time filled with questions
12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
11/30/2006 Does Fenway frankness roll to the negative side?
11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect
11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did

02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Heroís death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The†Demonization of Johnny Damon

Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat