Saturday, February 23, 2008

OU Dogged In Ugly Loss

Reading, MA - Origins Unknown dropped their second straight game in the winter session Thursday night, losing 68-64 to a re-shaped and re-named Basket Brawlers team. The game was hard-fought, but OU took the Brawlers best punches and came up just short at the end.

The Brawlers are last sessions Free Agents team, with three stellar additions to the roster. To put the improvement in context, OU beat the Free Agents 103-59 in their last match up. This Brawlers team was much different, however. While they still suited up a couple back-yard legends, they also added two younger athletic guard/forwards, as well as a big man who had the night of his life shooting the ball.

For the second time, OU was able to get the entire team together for the game, and the first half showed some encouraging signs as their ball movement and energy was up to task. Cap'n Mike started off the game with one of the best 10-minute stretches of his YMCA league career hitting his first four or five shots, including three "and 1s" - one of which was a four point play. The rest of OU was playing much better team basketball as well. Danger Dan Fisher was able to create space on the drive and find an open James "Stretch" Hogan IV cutting when defenders attempted to help out. Even with some missed shots here and there towards the end of the half, OU was able to stay slightly ahead of the Brawlers. The Brawlers were leaning heavily on a younger slasher and their big man to keep the game tight. The big man was absolutely unconscious from the floor, hitting all-types of shots, including a end-of-the-half fade-away from the foul line.

As seems to be the trend in the last few games, OU slowly started to sputter once the second half got underway. Whether it is fatigue, or just bad luck, the crisp passing and movement stopped, and baskets became harder and harder to come by. On top of this, OU wasn't getting many calls and the Brawlers were in the double bonus with 10 minutes left to play. The frustration continued as OU started turning the ball over in uncharacteristic situations, giving the brawlers a small cushion. Down six with under 1:15 left, OU had a chance when Shu-ter Patel hit a long three to cut the lead in half. OU fouled with under a minute left and the Brawlers missed the free throws. OU came down with a chance to inch closer but an errant three missed and they were once again forced to foul. The Brawlers missed their free throws yet again, and Cap'n Mike drove and got fouled hard slashing across the baseline. Unforgivably, he missed BOTH free throws (after making all four previous chances). The Brawlers big man corralled the ball, and was fouled where he calmly made the free throws, building the lead back to five. Cap'n Mike drove quickly down the court and hit a lay-up, but after another made free throw, it was too little too late.

The loss drops OU to 2-2 on the session with an upcoming game against Intervale.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Heart Breaker

Reading, MA – It wasn’t quite a Valentine’s Day massacre, but the annual battle between Howse Corp and Origins Unknown certainly left OU bruised and heartbroken, suffering a 74-66 loss.

Howse Corp and OU go back years on the court, and several players from both teams actually play together in other leagues and tourneys. This familiarity can be a good thing for both teams, as they tend to know each others strengths and weaknesses. Howse Corp, however, seemed to take better advantage of this last night; as they defended, rebounded, chased and pushed their way to victory. OU didn’t play as bad as the previous week, but they didn’t do quite enough to win either – and still have some work in the gym and on both ends of the floor.

The first half encompassed a good energy from both teams, but Howse was finding their way to most loose balls, as well as several second chance rebounds. Too often, OU was not aggressively boxing out or going towards the ball for rebounds - and against a scrappy team like Howse, that doesn’t work. Offensively, OU was certainly under pressure while trying to create for themselves. Meanwhile, Rich Curran from Howse was having a stellar game from the inside and outside, and proved to be a tough match-up for any of the OU bunch.

After a quick Howse run, a Cap’n Mike technical (that makes two this session for folks counting at home), and the subsequent free throws, OU was down 14 points quickly. Chris “Big” Johnson arrived a little late, but came into the game to stop the bleeding before even getting a chance to stretch out. But, the point spread didn’t change much as the half wound down, and OU went into the break down double digits.

Clearly frustrated, OU made a medium run to open the second half. Slippery James “Stretch” Hogan IV made back to back post moves, and Dr. J Greg Robinson made a runner to cut the lead to eight. Howse held their ground however, and kept the lead through some more great play by Curran. With time running out, OU made one final push. It was a typical OU effort – as they refused to give up even though it was clearly not their night. Cap’n Mike knocked down two three pointers, but then blew a drive that would have chopped the lead to four. From there, Howse made their free throws and OU flat ran out of steam.

The loss drops OU to 2-1 on the session, with an upcoming match up against league newcomer Basket Brawlers.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Indifferent Victory

Victories can come in many different forms, and inspire many different emotions. For example, you have the famous Duke vs. Kentucky game in 1992 when Christian Laettner hit “the shot”.

That was certainly a locker room full of joy afterwards. But, you might also have a victory like the one Origins Unknown experienced last night at the Burbank YMCA, when they defeated NuImage 66-52. A victory that feels like a loss. A victory that can only leave a team saying, “We can only get better, right?”

NuImage showed up with only four players, of which two can be seen on their company Website ( OU, meanwhile, had the full compliment of six players for the first time in a while. The first several minutes of the game seemed to foreshadow a blow out, as OU jumped out to a quick 14-4 lead.

But, just as quickly as the lead was built, NuImage came right back and took the lead halfway through the first half. Completely overmatched on paper, NI scrapped their way through sheer will, and too many open shots. OU was struggling mightily to find a flow, and much of the offense seemed to be stagnant, with too much one on one and not enough passing. No one on the OU team seemed to have their typical sure hands, or springy legs. Frustrated and unable to put any run together, OU limped into halftime losing by 3, in what was one of the ugliest halves in recent memory.

OU knew that they would eventually get their game together enough to win, but it took longer than expected. The teams played even for the first six minutes of the second half as OU continued to look dysfunctional. But, NI finally ran out of luck with twelve minutes left as one of their players fouled out of the game, leaving only three left to try to hang on to a two point lead. The three NI players left dropped into a zone, but were quickly overtaken by the OU crew offensively. Finally hitting open shots, in open space, OU immediately scored 15 points to take back the lead and cement it for good. With just under three minutes left, and the game clearly out of hand, NI waved the white flag and the final whistle blew.

Though the victory was at times ugly, OU knows that the best is yet to come – and will certainly be sharper when they face next week’s opponent Howse Corp.

Friday, February 01, 2008

New Jersey - Same Results

Reading, MA - In an eventful and somewhat unusual game, Origins Unknown returned to action Thursday night and picked up a win against league newcomer Untouchables, 72-64.

Origins Unknown suited up four of their six regulars for the 10:00 pm match up, going without Shu-ter Patel and Dr. J Robinson. The guys that did make it modeled the much-anticipated new OU uniforms - a sharp, dark navy-blue design, which tend to fit a little on the long side. Looking good and playing good, however, are two different things.

Taking the court for the Untouchables were a few gym-rat type young players, as well as a few 'chuckers'. After the first handful of buckets, it was obvious that they had two scorers and then several role players to fill the holes. The two scorers provided a good energy at the start of the game, hitting some tough shots and making some athletic defensive plays (including a come-from-behind block on a Cap'n Mike layup).

From the get-go, Cap'n Mike was not appreciative of the vibe that the league rookies were putting out, and quickly lost his temper with one of the "Touchables". After taking a jumper in the face, Cap'n Mike quickly came back down and stuck a long three while his nemesis chirped "I'll give you that". Not satisfied with just the made basket, Cap'n Temper quickly checked the flavor of gum that the young man was chewing and ended up getting a technical foul on their way back up court. "I didn't like the fact that this kid was coming into a league that we've paid our dues in, thinking he could talk to me like that," said Cap'n Mike. "Do you think Kevin Durant is going to talk (expletive) to Garnett the first time they meet and get away with it?" Video of the altercation can be found here (notice Stretch coming off the bench in the suit). (YouTube Clip).

No word on whether Cap'n Mike actually thinks that he is on the same planet as Kevin Garnett.

After the technical foul, OU seemed to settle down a bit, and got back on track to build a small lead. Chris "Big" Johnson picked up where he left off last session and dominated the over matched big man for the Untouchables. Every time that OU slowed down and posted him up, it seemed to result in a low post score or an open shot for a teammate. With constant pressure and movement, OU built a 10-point lead heading into halftime.

The second half was similar to the first, and although OU was playing poorly, they were never threatened by the Untouchables crew. Danger Dan Fisher - having one of his toughest games recently - continued to work the off guards over on defense while Johnson and Cap'n Mike kept OU a step ahead from the offensive end.

None of the OU crew was without their mistakes during the game. James "Stretch" Hogan IV ended up with 15+ points, but blew a fast break layup - not once, but twice on the same play. Danger Dan may have ended up with an unusual double-double with 10+ points and 10+ turnovers. Cap'n Mike made 6-7 three pointers, but missed 10-15 others. And, Johnson (the most steady OU'r) missed some bunnies and got bailed out by a foul on a fast break dunk attempt (so close!).

With that being said, OU puts the rocky performance and the win behind them, and moves on to week two with a 1-0 record. Next week they take over a re-shaped Nuimage team who lost a close battle with the Warriors in week one, but looks improved.