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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.