Friday, January 22, 2010

Friendly Fire

Reading, MA - In soccer, there is a phrase for a less-meaningful match between two countries that typically get along - It's called a "friendly". Such was the case last night at the Burbank YMCA, as Origins Unknown took on Howse Corp in early season play. The game, however, turned chippy in the second half and marred an otherwise competitive match up that Howse prevailed in.

As most readers (Hi Mom) know, the Howse and OU relationship goes back several years, with both teams enjoying success at different stages. James "Stretch" Hogan IV and Cap'n Mike have even played for Howse on different occasions and consider several of their players good friends. The games are typically well-played, hard fought, and close.

The game started out cordially enough, and OU ran out to an early lead thanks to fantastic pace and ball-movement. Howse brought 8 strong to the game, which in a 4 on 4 league is often too many, and struggled to find the right mix and rotation on the court. Meanwhile Hogan, Danger Dan and Cap'n were dicing the defense for buckets and leaving frustrated Howse players in their wake. With less than three minutes in the half, OU had opened up an eight point lead and seemed to be in control. But, after a timeout, Howse regrouped and went on a quick run to pull back within two as the half came to a close.

The second half saw Howse wisely change up the defensive assignments, and a fatigued OU team started to wither under the up-tempo style being played. Once-open shots for Cap'n disappeared, and OU started to panic and force themselves offensively. OU was working hard, but out of rhythm shots and too many one-and-done trips started to unravel the ol' bunch. Costly turnovers, and Howse capitalization (mainly by Nick, Dennis, and a smooth new guard), left OU in a hole 10 minutes in.

As the game wore on, both teams started to tire and at some point, the teams started directing their frustrations at each other. Words were exchanged between a Howse newcomer (a 275 lb offensive lineman from Boston College) and Hogan, and quite frankly, that is when things started to get a little fuzzy. I can say, with absolute certainty, that the BC big fella and I exchanged some words in the heat of the moment on the next trip up the court, that his girlfriend told me to shut up from the sidelines, that I made a shot and kindly dedicated it to her, and that I then was given a technical foul when I was trying to tell the guy to put the whole thing behind us.

As you can see from the photo snapped at the game, Cap'n Mike was ceremoniously thrown off the court by his opponent, as Pete the scorekeeper looked on.
With only minutes remaining though, OU had lost whatever was left of their composure, and never made a big dent in the lead even though Hogan (Jim Friggin Hogan IV) knocked down a three from the top of the key. This could be the new weapon in future games!!
The loss leaves OU 1-2 on the season with an upcoming game against the top team, Intervale. It also marked the end of a three-year run for Cap'n Mike's Nike Air Jordan 9.5's, which broke down for good at halftime, and are now resting in peace.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

OU Splits First 2 Games in 2010

Reading, MA - It's been an exciting off-season for Origins Unknown since they were last seen shuffling around the hardwood at the Burbank YMCA. Cap'n Mike and Doubleteam Dan Rasanen both added baby girls to their respective families. And, of course, the team enjoyed a six-week break where they tirelessly worked on their stamina and hoops skills.

In their return to the court, OU squared off against their recent nemesis - Kickin' Time. Not much about the teams had changed since KT ended OU's season last year with a 10 point win. In fact, that's pretty much exactly how this game went as well, as OU was downed once again by the well-rounded KT team.

OU played decently at times, and was always within 5 points - but was never able to quite get over the hump. Each OU player made key mistakes as the game wore on, and KT capitalized on some late turnovers to keep control and get the win. "We played pretty sloppy tonight," said Cap'n Mike. "But, the it's a long season and we'll continue to improve."

OU's second test came against Stiffler's Mom, who provides an interesting match-up for OU. Minus Big Dan, OU's front line looks a little meek compared to the 6'3", 6'5", 6'6" group that SM trots out. But, this deficiency is also an advantage in OU's case. While SM was able to abuse the good guys on the blocks from time to time, they also had a difficult time matching the speed and inside-outside game that OU threw at them.

Although the stats would show that OU gave up too many offensive rebounds, they also converted on many of the forced turnovers by their ball-handlerless opponents. SM's very capable big-man was kept in check by James "Stretch" Hogan IV, who played a possessed game on both ends and OU gained ground by trading threes for twos at certain points, also shooting well from the charity stripe. The game was physical and no picnic for the refs, as the teams seemed to take issue with many of the calls.

After building an eight point lead in the second half, and seeing it evaporate with less then 4 minutes remaining, OU dug in their heels and willed their way to victory. A key jumper at the top of the key by Danger Dan Fisher, followed by Brian Jonesy and Cap'n Mike going 4-4 from the line down the stretch, led to the three point win.

The split gives OU a 1-1 start in the league, which is stacked top to bottom yet again with talent.