Friday, March 31, 2006

Crusty Muskets Win Leaves OU in "Foul" Mood

Reading, MA - In a very close 61-55 loss to the Crusty Muskets, Origins Unknown played most of the game with four men on the court, while the the cranky-crusty-mother-bleepin-muskets appeared to have five or six (if you add in the refs).

The foul disparity at game's end was somewhere around 21-11. Origins Unknown had two out of five players foul out of the game, and two others had four fouls. Tough to win when the foul difference is that big. Are the Crusty Muskets that good at getting to the line, or was the officiating a little lopsided? Depends on who you ask, I suppose.

The Muskets are a veteran team, chalked full of grey-haired men with solid basketball skills and a very good understanding of how to win. They controlled the pace throughout the majority of the game, and were able to isolate their big men for buckets, freeing up their big 6'6" center Paul (18 points) and Steve Johnson through typically excellent off-the-ball movement.

From the tip, Origins Unknown started out slow, and fell into an early 7-0 hole. The crisp offense of last week's OU win was replaced with too much dependence on one-on-one moves, and the Muskets kept a comfortable 6-8 point lead throughout the first half. Things came to a boiling point with Cap'n Mike and the refs when the Crusty Musket's Lil' Ralphie drew a 'charge' with less than a minute to go in the half. From my view Lil' Ralphie appears to be the king of flopping/whining and basically suckered the ref into making this call because I was about to power over his 5'8" head for the bucket. It wasn't the last bad call, however, as Dan Fisher and Shu Patel were called for ticky-tacky fouls throughout the game, sometimes from half-court, sometimes right in front of the blind zebras.

Even with their poor play and the poorer calls in the first half, OU only trailed 36-30 at the break and felt like they were still in a good position to push the tempo and get back in the game.

At the half, the Muskets got a lift from the late arrival of Leroy Johnson, one of the best shooters in the league. Although Leroy did hit a couple shots, he never gave them a big boost, and the second half ended up being a back-and-forth affair. With 2:30 left, Cap'n Mike hit a streaking Greg Robinson for a fast break lay-up and then Stretch Hogan found an open Shu Patel under the hoop. Just like that, OU scraped it's way back to a 50-50 tie and was in good position to take control of the game.

After a defensive stop, Cap'n Mike missed a long pull up three, and the Muskets rebounded and came down the court where Leroy made a right-back-at-ya three from the wing. OU countered with a bucket to trail 53-52, with less than 1:15 to play. The Muskets brought the ball up against some defensive pressure and found Steve Johnson underneath where he made the basket and got 'fouled'. Steve headed to the line with a chance to extend the 55-52 lead, but he missed the free-throw. Unfortunately for OU, it was a long rebound and ended up in Leroy's hands, where he was fouled immediately. Leroy went to the line and made the first, but missed the second. OU came down, and Cap'n Mike got an open look from the wing, but was long and OU was forced to foul again. One of the Johnson's went to the line again and made two free throws to extend the lead. Cap'n Mike hit a three to cut the lead to three, but the Muskets made their free throws down the stretch and held on for the victory.

OU missed a handful of lay-ups, fought through some questionable calls, and Cap'n Mike made some poor offensive decisions (I can accept responsibility), but even though it was a disappointing loss, OU was in the game until the final minute and should bounce back when Pete Martin returns from his fourth vacation of the winter.

Standings and other game outcomes can be found via the link on the right. OU's record stands at 3-3, with a bye week coming up. Following the bye, OU faces Evans in an important game to help determine playoff seeding. The Muskets climb to first place in the league with their win, sitting atop the standings at 5-1.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Reading MA – 3, 10, 13, 25, 29

Those aren’t my lottery numbers, but they were lucky numbers last night as Origins Unknown had their most balanced scoring game of the year, defeating AJM 80-57.

New to the Reading Y league, AJM showed flashes of potential early as both teams started off trading blows and knocking down shots. AJM had two solid players; a quick point guard and a solid 6’5” inside player (15 points), who did the majority of scoring. Dan Fisher (13 points) started off the game with fast break lay-up off of the tip, and the tone was set. The pace of the game was up-tempo and AJM started strong with some inside buckets and long range jumpers by their big man, but OU matched their efforts with a barrage of three-pointers and back-cut lay-ups.

The balance and pace of the OU attack was at a seasons-best and while AJM started to tire, the torrid tempo lasted through the half for OU. Cap’n Mike (29 points) knocked down several long-range jumpers and Jim “Stretch” Hogan (25 points) slashed to the bucket going over, and around, their big man. There were some sugar-sweet passes made to cutting OU players, with Pete Martin (3 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds) dropping a doozy of a dime to Cap’n Mike under the hoop with four minutes left. No word on whether Cap’n Mike made the lay-up. With the unselfish offensive onslaught in full effect, OU built the lead to 17 at the break.

In the second half, OU spread the offense around like some warm strawberry jam. Greg Robinson (season high 10 points) hit multiple shots, and also helped control the offensive and defensive boards. Martin had the “did-he-just-do-what-I-think-he-did” moment of the night, when he took the ball to the hole, and promptly turned 180 degrees to throw up a shot backwards and over his head. Cap’n Mike contributed to the madness by hoisting up three straight missed three pointers on ONE trip down the court. Instead of making the wide-open jumpers, he opted to pad Greg Robinson’s offensive rebounding numbers. But, it was all in good fun at this point with OU cruising and the only outcome in question being the final score of the Duke vs. LSU game. Unfortunately, Duke wasn’t able to balance the scoring as well as Origins Unknown, and ended up getting bounced from the tourney, much to the displeasure of this writer.

After last week’s bitter loss to Howse, this was a great bounce-back win for OU and generated smiles all around after the game. Speaking about the win, Dan Fisher said in the post game interview, “Now I don’t have to be angry all week.”

With the win, OU climbs into third place in the standings with a 3-2 record. Next week is an upcoming grudge match against the Crusty Muskets at 8:30 pm on March 30. The Muskets are the defending YMCA League Champion, beating OU in the finals during the fall session. OU and the Muskets have combined to win the last four championships, and have a history of chipiness and general distaste for each other, dating back years. Should be fun!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hoops Hangover

Last night at the Y, the Curran brothers (via Stoneham, not Dublin) celebrated St. Patrick ’s Day early by powering Howse Corp past Origins Unknown 76-57. According to the quickscores site (link on right), Richie and Dennis Curran each netted 23 points in the win. But, this writer thinks Dennis was probably closer to 30. Of course, the only evidence I have is the running-in-my-head-constantly memories of his 10 lay-ups and 20 free throws (felt like it anyway).

A frustrating game all-around gave a new definition to “March Madness”… and left the OU bunch just-plain mad.

OU got off to a quick start, taking an early 10-point lead through some good ball movement and knocking down their open looks. Pete Martin knocked down a three-pointer, Shu Patel hit two short jump hooks in the lane and Stretch Hogan once again commanded the paint. The quick start seemed to deflate Howse for the first 8 minutes, but unfortunately, the lead was short-lived as Howse clawed back into the game through their balanced attack and solid defense. Contributing to the Howse comeback, OU missed a number of open lay-ups and short shots and ended up trailing by 2 at the half.

In the second half, we seemed to lose our legs a bit on defense, and fell into an eight point hole pretty quickly. The game felt close, but to be honest it was a bit of a blur, and the next thing I knew, we were down 15. We fought back, briefly, and cut the lead to eight again, but that is as close as we could get. Some costly turnovers and defensive miscues ultimately helped dismantle us, but the key to me seemed to be the hesitancy and lack of flow on offense. My guess? We simply lost our “game-legs” and ran out of gas. While we were able to contain most of the Howse gang, Dennis and Richie pounded it down low and played a great game overall.

OU is 2-2 in league play, while Howse is now 4-0. This was Howse’s first victory over OU in the past 4 meetings.

Two memorable quotes from the game… Dan Fisher reminded me that with Stretch at the foul line, we're down 10 or 12 in the second half and I walked up to him at the 1/2 court line and said "Fish, set me one and I will toss up a 3-Bomb." Honestly, I might have been delusional at this point in the game – I don’t even remember saying that… yikes. The second quote was when we got their lead down to eight with four minutes left. I remember yelling “Let’s go blue”, to which Richie Curran responded “It’s too late”… Ouch.

OU is back in action against AJM next week at 8:30. AJM is new to the league, and their record currently stands at 2-2. The league talent is at an all-time high, and games are closer than ever.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"Trey" Bien

It was ON last night… And, even though this wasn’t the Thursday YMCA league, I have decided to drop a post in here!!

This was my “other” league - in Stoneham. This one is a 5 on 5 league and the competition is pretty stiff. I play with Stretch and some of the guys from our Thursday-night nemesis, Howse Corp. We have a solid all-around team and play pretty well together. We are all in good shape and like to run and shoot.

Anyhooo, we were playing the Sharks, which is a pretty good team with two big guys who clog up the middle pretty well. I would guess that one is 6’6”, a little goofy, but effective. The other is 6’5”, but w-i-d-e… like a older-white-balding Robert “Tractor” Trailor type.

The Sharks dropped into the obligatory “I’m-35-and-don’t-do-man-to-man-defense-anymore” extended 2-3 zone, and we start to pick ‘em apart right from the beginning. We set up a guy at the free throw line and just started whipping the ball around. We didn't break out into a lead right away, but it was imminent.

Why am I writing this stupid post about myself, you ask?? Well, it’s because I made my first three… which was a good 3 feet behind the line. And, even though I haven’t played much since Max was born, I decided that it felt pretty good. I ended up making another 3 or so in the first half, and I can’t remember any of them being right on the line. I was pulling up from 3-4-5 feet behind the line… no lie – Ask Stretch.

I made another 3 or 4 in the second half too… It felt good sucking the air out of their defenders. It felt good when they changed to a box-and-1 and we promptly ripped open a 15 point lead because the middle was so open. It just felt good.

We ended up winning 79-71, but it was never close in the second half. It was a nice win for us… and a fun game for me. That’s all. Pattin' myself on the back... And, givin JJ some props for being the best shooter I have ever seen (even though he stuggled against UNC).

It's my blog - so I can do that.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Patel has "Shu"-ters Touch in OU Win

Reading, MA – Last night at the Y, Himanshu “Shu” Patel (above) lead a balanced five-man attack as Origins Unknown took control at the five-minute mark and never looked back, routing The Warriors – 70-44.

Patel, playing some of the best ball of his storied career, pushed the tempo until the last whistle and showed a well-rounded offensive arsenal, including three three-pointers and a couple threes 'the-hard-way’. He finished with a session-high 27 points by this writer’s count.

The Warriors showed a lot of heart, even though they were clearly over-matched by the younger, fresher OU squad. They briefly took a 10-8 lead in the first half, but it was the last lead they would get a sniff of, as OU built the lead up to 10 at the break, 30-20. The second half turned into a track meet for OU, as they easily pulled away to a comfortable win.

Stretch Hogan also contributed mightily to the win, with a workman-like effort on the glass and in the paint. Dan Fisher and Greg Robinson were able to spread the court successfully, and find the basket or the open man to keep the offensive flow in tact. Fisher had some crafty moves in the paint, but more importantly, set the table with his stellar defensive effort.

Cap’n Mike, showed a bit of rust after his three-week hiatus from the court. After hitting the first shot of the game – a pull-up three – he went cold….then hot….then cold… ending up in double figures, but not without the help of about 20 shots and some patient teammates.

Pete Martin hopes to return to full strength for the next OU match-up, after battling a cold this week and missing the game. The gray-bearded referee made the statement of the game saying, “You guys aren’t the same without Pete… I don’t know where he is, but you need to get him back”. Then adding, “He’s the personality of your team… I really enjoy it when he is here!” And, NO, I am not making this up.

OU has a bye for the week of March 9, but will return to the court on March 16 at 6:30 for another sure-fire epic battle with Rusty, Al and the boys of Howse Corp.