Tuesday, April 28, 2009

OU Loses First Game (Still Champs Though)

Reading, MA - The spring session of the Reading YMCA Men's league kicked off with Origins Unknown (Winter League Champs) matched up against their finals foe, the Muskets (NOT the Winter League Champs). While the game was a battle from start to finish, and OU did their best to hang with the Musket's big bodies, OU ultimately fell 67-57 in a defensive battle.

OU took the court without 1/2 of their 'meat in the middle', Nick Dutton-Swain. And, with Jay "The J is for Jumper" Wandtdke running behind on the 8:00 tip off, OU had a difficult time matching up with the rugged Muskets to begin the game. While battling immediate foul trouble, OU was able to hang tough until Wandtke laced them up, through solid play down low by James "Stretch" Hogan IV. Offensively, OU had trouble with the intense defensive pressure as well - as Cap'n Mike really struggled to beat his man off the dribble and create space to operate. This lead to too many turnovers, and well contested shots that were not falling consistently until late in the game.

The Muskets also added another young, solid guard to their rotation, which helped spread the floor. But, it was three straight three-point baskets by Crusty Musket original Ralphie which took a four point Musket lead and pushed it to double digits at the half.

OU battled valiantly in the second half, as Danger Dan Fisher made some tough hoops to keep it close. The tired teams counter punched for the better part of the half, with OU making small runs - only to give back points defensively. OU cut the lead to seven with four minutes left, but excellent free throws and dead legs ultimately finished them off.

With a perfect season now out of the question, OU can now focus on getting victory number one against Northwestern Mutual in their next game.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Champions Again

Reading, MA – Weeeee are the Champions, my friends (my 5 loyal readers). That’s right, after 10 regular season games, and 2 playoff games, Origins Unknown is once again back on top of the ever-competitive YMCA Thursday Night Men’s Basketball League. It took a well-rounded effort by the OU crew to take down the Crusty Muskets, but when the game was finished – OU stood victorious with a 76-63 victory that brought them a 4th (I think) overall championship.

The MVP of the game? Could have been Danger Dan Fisher, who battled through foul trouble to have a near-perfect shooting game from the floor and free throw line. Might have been Nick Dominator-Swaggernator, with his bruising low post offensive display. Jay “The Difference” Wandtke certainly changed the game on the defensive end, stymieing the Crusty Mustket bigs all over the court. James “Stretch” Hogan IV and his well rounded game (and 17 foot jumper?) were on display and worthy of inclusion. Heck, even Cap’n Mike and Shu-ter Patel had their moments in the sun, when guarded by the right CM defender!

This was one of those classic all-around team wins. Let’s leave it at that…

As for the game, the first half was the OU team vs. the Muskets one-man show. The solid CM guard was a load to handle on the drive, while he also gave Cap’n Mike fits defensively. When you have 6 players (out of 8) on the floor at 6’3”-6’7”, there isn’t much room to create – and it took the Cap’n a little time to figure this out. Meanwhile, the rest of the OU bunch was doing all the right things offensively and defensively. The CM big guys had their hands full with Wandtke, Dutton-Swain and Hogan on the blocks. And Fisher, Patel and Nolan did enough spreading the court and locking down defensively to help OU to a 36-30 lead at the end of the half.

The second half started with some quick whistles against OU on some ticky-tack fouls, but it was clear the referees wanted to maintain control of the game. As play settled down, OU extended the lead and maintained their cushion – as everyone was making the right plays. Cap’n Mike got to the hole for a hoop and harm, and then Patel drove with a purpose to score over a smaller Muskets guard. Meanwhile, every time OU needed a bucket, they were able to dump the ball into Dutton-Swain or Wandtke in the post, and get one. As time ticked down, CM started to foul, but OU made most of their free-throws down the stretch and started to pull away. The game was called with under a minute left, as both teams congratulated each other and then made their way to Chili’s for post game munchies and tall boys.

OU finishes the season 10-2 overall, winning both playoff games by double digits. They will take a one-week hiatus, and then start their “Drive for 5” the following week. The next session will see some changes and instability as both Hogan and Dutton-Swain will miss some time due to other obligations (This might call for another article).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

OU Crushes Dreams.... Of Dream Team...

Reading, MA – Reading ain’t Detroit… Origins Unknown ain’t Michigan State… But, the teams do have a trip to their respective “Finals” to look forward to.

Origins Unknown dominated an outsized (and outworked) Dream Team Thursday night to earn their way to the YMCA Winter League Finals. The game showcased OU’s strength down low, and also proved that they could win when some players didn’t have their “A” game (i.e. Cap’n Mike).

OU’s height advantage forced the Dream Team into some unfavorable match-ups, and allowed Nick Destroyer-Swain the chance to churn his way to an easy double-double, as he consistently punished his defenders on the block. One sequence saw the Destroyer rebound his own shot at least 4 times before powering it back in over a couple defenders.

OU jumped out to a quick double digit lead within the first few minutes, but saw the Dream Team keep the game close. OU’s defense was also in good form, as the Dream Team’s guard never quite got off the way he wanted to. He was able to make some circus drives here and there, but wasn’t able to get good looks constantly through an excellent rotation of defenders including Danger Dan Fisher, James “Stretch” Hogan IV, and Cap’n Mike. Under the glass Jay “Air Accountant” Wandtke patrolled the lane like Dikembe Mutumbo, keeping his counterpart in check and deterring any others from attacking the rim.

As the Cap’n mis-fired shot after shot, OU kept pressure on the DREAM TEAM on both ends of the court, and a last second turnaround jumper in the lane by Wandtke pushed them to a six-point lead at the half. The second half was all OU, however, and the lead moved to double digits when OU put together a nice 8 point run through excellent patience, cutting and passing. OU braced for a final run by their younger opponent, but the run never came and with four minutes left, it was clear the game was over. Things got a little chippy towards the end of the game, as OU built the lead to 20 and the DREAM TEAM felt like yapping a bit, but it was all good at that point.

OU will meet the Muskets in the league finals for what feels like the 10th time in the past five years. The game will feature some great match-ups and battles, both down low and on the perimeter.