Monday, March 08, 2010

Basketball: Just desserts ...

This is the beginning of a big two-week stretch for a bona fide hoser hoops addict in Ontario.

The NCAA Tournament is a week and a half away. In CIS, the women's tournament is this weekend in Hamilton and the Carleton Ravens will host the men's championship next weekend.

Of course, a little farther down the pecking order, there's the Ontario high school championships, which tipped off today (current Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Devoe Joseph's old high school team, Pickering, was upset this afternoon at the quad-A championship).

Personally, it's impossible not to be seeking out scores for the Waterford Wolves at the single-A tourney, Ontario's smallest classification. Wolves coach Dan Avey was subject of a favourite column (reproduced below) back in the day on the old Simcoe Reformer sports beat. One of his teams was on the receiving end of an 100-33 loss against one of the big schools in the league. Dan high-roaded it afterward, and all these years later, here he is with a pretty good small-school team, which beat Cornwall Holy Trinity in their first game today.

It goes to show what goes around comes around, in a good way. Anyway, it's a story for the Reformer's current sports guys, Jacob Robinson and Jeff Dertinger, but it's nice to see Dan Avey get his reward for his commitment to youth.
February 13, 2006


Normally, the coach of a 9-1 basketball team doesn't sound so frustrated.

As he politely gave his side of what happened in the first basketball game at the new Simcoe Composite School gymnasium last Tuesday, James Warman's voice carried the kind of edge that comes when you're defending the indefensible.

Warman says he would "gladly issue an apology" for letting his Simcoe Sabres junior boys team run up 100 points against Port Dover that day.

That's good to hear. There is no defence for what Simcoe did to an all-Grade 9 team that had just five players that day and didn't win a single game this season.

For the No. 1 Sabres fan, principal Bob Foster, seeing a team win 100-33 — the type of score that needs a 10-dollar adjective put in front of it — presents a real dilemma.

"We don't disrespect another school by apologizing for working hard," Foster said. "I know if I was on the wrong end of a high score, I would feel patronized if someone apologized to me for it.

"I know our school wishes every game was close. Five-point games are the best games. That's where everyone learns something."

It's hard to have that in a league that has AAA schools competing against single-A schools. Warman's team also had a two-week exam break followed by games against the two non-playoff teams before the playoffs.

"My whole thing was to keep my team motivated," Warman said. "I was trying to work in some new things we'll need for NSSAA (playoffs) or for a CWOSSA qualifier."

Lakers coach Dan Avey declined to comment. When I outlined Warman's predicament to Port Dover teacher and coach Derek McConnell, his comment was, "Well, too bad."

In McConnell's view, this was no ordinary one-sided wipeout. Not after the Sabres played full-court man-to-man defence throughout the second half in what Warman admitted was an effort to reach the 100-point plateau.

"I just don't think you do that at the expense of other kids," McConnell said, adding, "The coach (Avey) and the kids handled it well, but I don't want it to discourage them."

'GO FOR 100'

At halftime, Simcoe had allowed just five points and scored close to 50, but Warman wanted to keep his guys interested.

"When the guys decided to go for 100, I said, 'fine, if you think you can, go for it,'" Warman related. "I didn't think they could, but I offered them the challenge."

In hindsight: "It was maybe not the right call."

Veteran SCS coach Chris Harvey said after the game, he spoke with Warman - "we wanted to give him some options" - about how to handle a similar situation.

For instance, what about having the clock run the entire second half? Simcoe could have kept pressing, but would have fallen short of 100 points and there would have been no controversy.

"Running the clock would have been a good idea," Warman said.

Clearly, Warman realizes nothing good came out of this.

"He is a good young coach that ended up in a situation that neither team ended up benefiting from," Harvey said on Thursday.

That young coach is understandably feeling frustrated for catching flak. But there were drawbacks to thinking only of this week's playoffs.

"People are making a big deal of it and I didn't see it coming," he said. "It's become a big deal, and I'll gladly issue an apology."

Addressing the dilemma is better than apologizing. It appears SCS realizes what kind of message it sends when the first basketball game sees a team needlessly pounding on an overmatched team.

Foster knows that isn't the kind of image that truly reflects his school. SCS is in a privileged position these days, thanks to publicity generated by the new gym. It's kind of sad the junior team's 100-point binge came in the first basketball game there.

"For us, it's a learning experience as well," Foster said. "Since it happened, we've talked about it — what we do the future if that situation comes up again, what would we expect of the other team if we were on the other side. Hopefully we can go from there."

I'm told that last Tuesday, SCS fans applauded the Lakers' Cody Mummery for hitting a three-pointer right before the final buzzer that cut the margin of victory to a mere 67 points.

Clearly, SCS is showing a little remorse. As well it should.

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