Friday, May 26, 2006

Origins Unknown... Champions KNOWN

Reading, MA - Origins Unknown does it again!

OU once again sits atop the Burbank YMCA Men's League, after winning a classic championship game against Evans last night in Reading, 79-75.

Evans and OU have faced off multiple times in the past year, but none of the games ever featured both teams with their full squads intact. Evans brought a SOLID starting line-up into the game with two very good guards (Zermani and Sartori) and a 6'6" center. Match-ups were key from the start, as Evans decided to put the 6'6" guy on Cap'n Mike and one of the stronger guards on James "Stretch" Hogan IV. Ultimately, these match-ups did force the action to other players on the court, and this is where Shu Patel took control of the game. "We really wanted to stop you and Stretch" said Zermani after the game, "We just didn't know that he (Patel) was going to kill us like that." Patel used a lethal inside/outside comnination of shots to score, while hitting almost all of his 10 free throw attempts. In the crowd, Patel's son, young Soren Patel was equally impressed. "Dad played great," said Soren, "I was so sure that OU was going to win, that I fell asleep in the first half!"

The first half was a back and forth affair, with OU jumping out to a small lead after the first five minutes. Greg Robinson, Patel, Hogan and Cap'n Mike all shared the offensive workload, while Pete Martin relentlessly hit the offensive glass. On multiple occasions, Martin was able to gain position and tap out missed shots or coral rebounds leading to second chance points, impressing his wife-to-be Deana in the crowd. Evans focused on pounding the ball down to the center, who with a 6 inch height advantage, had only moderate success against the stellar defense of Robinson. Zermani and Sartori also hit some timely shots, but their first sub off the bench, Chang, provided the biggest spark making some circus lay ups and open jumpers. Evans caught OU at the six-minute mark, and the teams went to halftime with Evans holding a two-point lead.

At halftime, the OU squad tossed around ideas on how to play the second frame, and one of the common suggestions was to slow down and find the 'right' shot. The 'right' shot was thought to be Patel, Martin or Robinson down low, an open Cap'n Mike three, or an isolated Hogan vs. whoever.

Evans surged to a five-point lead early in the second half, but the game stayed close and when Zermani subbed out of the game for a rest, OU capitalized. Cap'n Mike knocked down two threes... Patel posted up and banked in shots on back-to-back trips, and just like that OU had the lead. From there, OU maintained and then grew the lead through stellar defense, crashing the offensive glass, and a little thing I like to call "THE MVP".

"THE MVP" would be Shu Patel, who scored a game-high 30 points for OU. "I'll tell you right now," said Head Referee Dennis Visconti at the 3-minute mark with Patel at the line, "He's your MVP." Patel knocked down the free-throws, and OU had built a nine-point lead with only a few minutes left.

Evans wasn't quite done, though. Their center decided to step outside and promptly knocked down multiple three-pointers from the top of the key and sideline. OU maintained their poise with the defensive pressure increased, and hit free-throws as Robinson, Cap'n Mike and Patel all hit their charity-stripers.

A scoring gaffe nearly brought the score to 77-75 with only seconds left, but after totalling the book, scorekeeper and DJ extraordinaire, DJ Fish, correctly changed the score to 77-72. A couple more OU free throws....another three pointer by Evans... a quirky OU turnover... a miss at the buzzer by Evans... and the championship run was complete.

Winning the championship not only gave OU the coveted YMCA "League Champions" t-shirts, but also free beer at Chili's courtesy of the losing team. Hooray Beer! Evans actually voiced some surprise following the loss, with several of the teammates saying they were sure they would win. Little did they know that OU had saved their best for last.

The victory gives OU their third championship in five years, and ignited a firestorm of post-game gossip at Chili's about whether this team is a YMCA league dynasty. You are a witness.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Reading, MA – Enjoying their customary post-game beer at Chili’s following the semi-final win over Howse Corp last night at the Burbank YMCA, original Origins Unknowner, Peter “Backwards 4 Muscle” Martin, announced that next session will most likely be his last. Martin, who is getting married in August, is moving to the west coast of Massachusetts, where he will continue writing, inventing, designing, dropping dimes, intimidating opponents, and throwing up over-the-head fast-break lay-ups.

“Losing the ‘Russian MiG’ hurts a lot,” said Cap’n Mike afterwards. “Pete always gave us the edge that helped us to five straight finals, and he has a spot on our team anytime,” he said. “Who knows, things change and maybe Pete will decide to stay to keep the dream alive here with OU.”

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Howse About It! OU Survives Fight To Advance

Reading, MA – To steal a term that I first heard on the Ultimate Fighter reality TV show: “whoever imposes their will, wins the fight”. Last night was a testament to that mentality. For 39 minutes, in the cage known as the Burbank YMCA court, Origins Unknown and Howse Corp exchanged blows until only one team was left standing with their arms raised in victory. When the buzzer sounded, Origins Unknown had survived a hard-fought and gutsy performance from the under-manned Howse Corp to hang on for a 78-72 victory.

Howse Corp, without their Cap’n Rusty and top slasher Dan, took the court with no subs, which played into OU’s run-and-run-and-run game plan. OU used an adjusted defensive strategy, which (looking back) did and didn’t work out as well as intended. OU started with defensive stopper Stretch Hogan d’ing up the versatile Richie Curran. R. Curran took Hogan outside early and hit back to back threes (one was a lucky 24 foot bank shot) to start the game. Eventually, Hogan stifled Curran’s offense and Howse was forced to look elsewhere for points. Meanwhile, OU spread their offense around as Dan Fisher, Cap’n Mike, Shu Patel and James “Stretch” Hogan IV balanced the attack.

Three quick threes from Nolan and some pull-up jump shots from Fisher helped OU jump out to an 8-point advantage towards the end of the half. Howse was relying on a bevy of back-cuts by Dennis Curran and others to keep the game close. With seconds remaining, Al Hamilton hit an over-the-head lay up off his own miss and Howse was able to cut that lead to 4 at the break.

The second half was when the game turned into an all-out turf war, with both teams expanding maximum energy on both ends of the court (and everyplace in between). Early in the half, Cap’n Mike and Al Hamilton got into a verbal battle, with both players losing their cool and exchanging words. Hamilton responded with his play(for once) by hitting a key three from the side, and giving Howse the lead. Not to be outdone, Nolan took the ball quickly back up court, and when the defense collapsed, he threw a dart to an open Greg Robinson under the hoop for the lay-up (attempt). Hamilton 1 Nolan 0.

Both teams continued to scrap in the second half, as different players stepped up for both teams. With buckets hard to come by, Stretch Hogan put the OU bunch on his sholders, with huge back-to-back twisting baskets in traffic. Hamilton again responded for Howse, by taking his game down low and posting up on several occasions. The “shot heard round the court” last night, was delivered by Shu Patel at the 2-minute mark, when he drained a three from the sideline, giving OU the three point lead. After getting a defensive stop, OU brought the ball up into aggressive defensive pressure but were able to keep their poise, as Howse was forced to foul. Nolan, Patel and Fisher combined to go 8-10 from the line in the final minutes, to seal the win.

The victory vaults OU into the finals for the 5th straight session. There, they will match-up against Evans, after they beat the always tough Crusty Muskets 76-72 in the night’s other semi-final. Evans and OU agreed to play the finals, not only for the YMCA League Champions T-Shirts, but also beers at Chili’s following the game. This lit a fire under the always-thirsty OU bunch.

Friday, May 12, 2006

First Round Knockout By OU

Reading, MA – The “playoffs” in any sport usually bring a certain level of excitement for the players and fans. There is a heightened energy when the playoffs start, and even more-so in a one-and-done, win-or-go-home, scenario. Such was the case, last night, in the first round of the Burbank YMCA Men’s Basketball League playoffs. Origins Unknown weathered a good start and some acrobatic shots by the young Hustlers, and used well-balanced scoring and defense to dominate the final 30 minutes and cruise to the 88-68 win.

With Dan Fisher and Shu Patel out of town, all four remaining OU players took it upon themselves to step up their game, and did-so, by each scoring in double figures and leaning on each other to make the right plays at the right time.

The Hustlers did bring eight players, enthusiasm, and a small crowd with them to the game. And, although they did make some noise on offense, they were not able to maintain any momentum. The first half featured some textbook off-the-ball movement and weak-side passing by the veteran OU team. OU focused on exploiting the height and player mismatches throughout the first half, which helped get everybody involved. Frequently, that exploitation included posting up the smaller defender and going right over them, or dumping the ball to the weak-side for lay-ups. Even without subs, the constant pressure from all four offensive options helped OU open up a ten-point lead at the half.

Greg Robinson held a shooting clinic for the Hustlers in the second half, as he powered OU ahead for good by making 6 of 7 shots from the field. Robinson finished the game with 20 points, and was a key to keeping the offense balanced, as legs began to tire. Although it took a few minutes to get warmed up from a late arrival, Pete Martin had an excellent offensive night as well. After sitting at half-court and stretching his hamstrings out during a teammates free-throw, Martin went on to score 10 points (including a timely three pointer), while dishing the pill for lay-ups when the defense collapsed.

I could probably just cut and paste this paragraph from my other posts… but, James “Stretch” Hogan IV had another monster double-double in the win, scoring 22 points and grabbing many-a rebound. The Hustlers simply had no answer for Hogan under the hoop, as he used his crafty moves and excellent footwork to penetrate their defense.

Cap’n Mike contributed to the win, scoring 32 points. He also capped the game off by getting a baseline pass and doing a poor-man’s Michael Jordan up and under lay-up to a few unimpressed “oooohs and ahhhhs”.

The win sends OU into the second round of the playoffs for a match-up against second seeded Howse Corp. Howse Corp finished the regular season with a 6-3 record, but lost their own Cap’n Rusty to a freak band-saw accident towards the end of the season. It is unclear who will be on the court for Howse in the next round, as they had a fluctuating roster for much of the year. No matter who shows up, it is sure to be a competitive game as both teams have a long history of on-the-court battles. Howse got the best of OU back in week 6, but OU is determined to bounce back in the rematch.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Let the OU Championship March Begin

Reading, MA - After the final week of the regular season wrapped up last night, the commissioner of the Burbank YMCA Men's Basketball League, Jenn Cotton, released the playoff seeds and schedule.

Origins Unknown secured a #3 seed with a 5-4 record, and will match up against The Hustlers in round 1 next week. The Hustlers enter the playoffs with a 4-5 record, having been blown out by OU in both team's final regular season game.

Reached for comment at an undisclosed location, Jim "Stretch" Hogan answered questions for the media this afternoon, and provided some perspective on their first round match-up. When told that The Hustlers would be their opponent, Hogan said "Haaa". Then, Hogan turned his attention to reeling in another beautiful bass.