Monday, December 30, 2013

Boys Sectional Forecast #1 thru 12/30/13

Just to clarify things to start off, there are two games on the 30th I don't have yet, Greenwich v Maple Hill and Cambridge v Mechanicville.  The good news however is that Gloversville did have another Section 2 game on their schedule and that one is included.

Just a reminder, the Forecast only includes games against Section 2 teams, thus their records are only against Section 2 teams as well.  I also rank the AA teams 1 through 16 instead of how the Committee does it split between the Big 10 and Suburban.

Class AA
(1) Guilderland      5-0
(16) La Salle     2-4
(8) Bethlehem     2-2
(9) Columbia     3-3
(5) CBA     5-1(12) Niskayuna     1-3
(4) Ballston Spa     6-1
(13) Albany     3-3
(3) Green Tech     2-0
(14) Bishop Maginn     1-6
(6) Shaker     5-2
(11) Schenectady     4-4
(7) Shenendehowa     4-1
(10) Saratoga Springs     4-3
(2) Catholic Central     5-0
(15) Colonie     0-6

Let me start by reminding everyone that the model is made for the end of the season.  The regression model takes information at one point in time and compares it to other information at the same point in time.  This one specifically compares the information for a full season, not information through December.  While that would be cool to do, I don't have the resources to do it like that.

Anyway, I'm on the record as saying I think Green Tech is the favorite in this field and nothing has happened to change my mind as of yet.  The problem is they've only played 2 in-section games and with their current enrollment, they are competing with the past performance of CBA whose standards have been set pretty high.  Meanwhile, Guilderland is also undefeated, but at a much lower standard.  Ballston Spa is the other glaring weakness in the early season model.  While 6-1 is impressive, the only competitive team (in AA) they have played is Shen and they lost to them by 25.  You'll see them drop back in due time. 

It's still too early for me to give a good top 5.  I'd like to see CBA and Catholic Central play as well as Shen and Shaker.  My guess might be Green Tech, Guilderland, then some combination of CBA, CCHS, Shaker and Shen, however their head to head meetings play out.

Class A
(1) Scotia-Glenville     7-0
(16) Bye
(8) Hudson Falls     3-4
(9) Mohonasen     1-6
(5) Queensbury     3-2
(12) South Glens Falls     1-6
(4) Averill Park     4-3
(13) Bishop Gibbons     0-6
(3) Troy     4-1
(14) Cobleskill     0-5
(6) Amsterdam     2-5
(11) Burnt Hills     0-6
(7) Glens Falls     3-4
(10) Lansingburgh     1-7
(2) Gloversville     5-1
(15) Bye

So, Gloversville is still the 2 seed, but it's a whole lot closer now than before with just 0.009 separating them from Troy.  There aren't a lot of mediocre teams in this bunch and most of the higher seeds would probably win in this bracket.  The most news worthy point to see here is that Scotia's rating is 0.992 of a possible 1.000 and they are 0.187 greater than Gloversville.  They are the closest thing to a lock in the Section at this point in the season.  I really don't see how this plays out any other way than Scotia and Troy in the final with, at this point, Scotia the favorite. 

You'll also notice I left off Albany Academy.  This is because they don't play in our Sectionals.  If they decide to, I'll put them back in.  In case you're wondering, they would be a solid 4th right now, but again with only limited in-section games.

Class B
(1) Mekeel Academy     4-0
(16) Corinth     4-3
(8) Johnstown     5-2
(9) Coxsackie-Athens     4-1
(5) Voorheesville     4-1
(12) Taconic Hills     3-2
(4) Mechanicville     7-1
(13) Catskill     3-1
(3) Cohoes     6-1
(14) Schalmont     4-3
(6) Watervliet     4-2
(11) Stillwater     4-4
(7) Ravena     3-1
(10) Schuylerville     5-2
(2) Hoosick Falls     5-0
(15) Hudson     4-3

Not rated: Ichabod Crane, Broadalbin-Perth, Cairo-Durham, Tamarac, Fonda-Fultonville, Granville, Chatham, Greenville

Every team in the field is at least .500.  This has the potential for the most volatility over the remainder of the season just because they are all so closely matched.  You'll also notice that the Colonial Council, while not in the top 2, holds the next 5 spots.  The Committee will never let this happen, and it probably won't end this way anyway, but it does show how competitive the league is.  I actually don't have too much to disagree with so far.  You might be able to flop a few of them but not by more than a spot or two and at this point, it's not going to make much difference.

Class C
(1) Hoosic Valley     8-0
(16) Middleburgh     1-5
(8) Berlin     2-2
(9) Schoharie     3-2
(5) Greenwich     4-2
(12) Rensselaer     3-3
(4) Saratoga Catholic    7-2
(13) Berne-Knox     3-2
(3) Duanesburg     6-1
(14) Hadley-Luzerne     3-4
(6) Mayfield      5-1
(11) Waterford     4-3
(7) Maple Hill     4-2
(10) Canajoharie     4-3
(2) Lake George     6-0
(15) Fort Plain     2-3

Not rated:  Cambridge, Whitehall, Galway

This is not the bracket it was last year for sure.  Not a single Colonial team and only two Wasaren teams (in the top 16 that is).  There is sure to be a scare somewhere along the way, it seems there always is, but HV and LG appear destined for a rematch in the title game.  They are the only two teams that are even remotely close to a final four rating through Decmeber.  Compare that to the B bracket where two teams are significantly over and two more that are closer than the 3rd team in the C bracket.

It may not be deep, but the top may be just as good.  The big difference I see between the two classes is their number of scorers.  Mekeel has 3 scorers over 12 ppg and 2 more over 8 ppg.  HV has two over 18, but no one else over 7, while LG has one over 30 and none over 7.  The game is about scoring more than your opponent (that team usually wins), so we'll see what's better to have.

Class D
(1) Germantown     5-0
(16) Hawthorne Valley     0-4
(8) St. Johnsville    3-4
(9) Northville     3-5
(5) North Warren     4-3
(12) Doane Stuart     2-5
(4) Hartford     4-2
(13) Warrensburg     1-5
(3) Fort Ann     4-2
(14) Sharon Springs     0-4
(6) Heatly     4-4
(11) Salem     3-3
(7) Loudonville Christian      3-3

(10) Fort Edward     3-4
(2) Argyle     6-1
(15) Bolton     0-6

Not rated:  New Lebanon

I still believe Argyle is the team to beat here, but that doesn't mean they can't be beaten.  Germantown has won in the past and it's certainly not out of the question this year either.  These are the closest 1-2 seeds in the Section and probably the only serious contenders with Argyle having already beaten the current 3, 4 and 5 seeds by an average of 20 points.

If you want to give a team an A for effort, you can hand it right over to Heatly.  They haven't won a non-league game yet, but the four teams they lost to have an average enrollment over 4 times their own, with only 56 kids to choose from (fielding a team of 12 would require 1/5 of the total student body both boys and girls), and have a combined 15-7 record excluding their wins over Heatly. 

Just got the Greenwich v Maple Hill score (Greenwich by 17) and dumped it in just to see what happened.  Greenwich jumped over Spa Catholic and Maple Hill dropped below Berlin.  One score, two changes.  A lot can change from week to week, especially this early in the season.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What we've learned is....not much

Reporting on the Holiday Tournaments is always sparse and this year is no exception.  They are usually on weekends and due to them being Holiday Tournaments, they happen around Holidays at which times most people prefer not to work, myself included.  The point being not all the scores have been reported yet, and I haven't even had a chance to look at the girls scores at all, but I did have a few thoughts to relay.

The first being we didn't learn much so far.  Except, we have confirmation that Scotia is really good having beaten Newburgh and Schenectady.  Schenectady may not be great this year, but they are most likely the fourth best team in the Big 10.  Which provides a really good data point since they play Troy twice.  Schenectady has now lost to both teams, Scotia by 7 and Troy by 6.  Can we just play the Sectional final now?

Another thing we know is that Bishop Maginn really isn't, or shouldn't be a AA anymore.  They have an enrollment comparable to Saratoga Catholic who is a C and less than that of Bishop Gibbons who has been an A for a long time, not to mention the addition of Green Tech as another non-public school within the Albany school district.  They beat Saratoga Catholic by 8 and lost to Voorheesville, a B school by 13. 

Now for the things we don't know....still.  There are conflicting scores between the Colonial and Wasaren with Greenwich beating Ichabod Crane by 15 and Voorheesville beating Stillwater by 33.  Mechanicville previously beat Stillwater by 20 and Ichabod by 3.  Stillwater beat Greenwich by 7.  Just to make it more fun, Stillwater beat Saratoga Catholic (albeit from the WAC not the Colonial) by 12, while previously losing to Schuylerville by 21, while Schuylerville lost to Saratoga Catholic by 23.  If you want an answer as to how all of that can happen and make any sense, let me know when you figure it out.  My best guess is that Stillwater, who is at the heart of most of these conflicting scores, is highly inconsistent. 

Another point of intrigue, staying in the tangled web, is Hudson Falls beating Corinth by 3.  Hudson Falls has played both Corinth and Hoosic Valley, who they lost to by an average of 30.  Corinth has lost to Lake George by 20.  Using unsophisticated techniques, that makes Hudson Falls 17 points worse than Lake George (since they are 3 points better than Corinth, who is 20 points worse than Lake George).  Not a great point of reference, but until/if Lake George and Hoosic Valley play, the only one we currently have.  We'll see how that changes when LG plays Corinth for the second time.

One final note.  I ran the Forecast for the boys and girls prior to the tournaments just to see what they look like.  They are a bit a mess at this point just with the lack of good information on some of the teams.  Gloversville may be the prime example being ranked ahead of Troy.  Being undefeated with two of your five wins over a team with better than 150 more students than you will do that.  I'm not too concerned about it.  Either they'll lose by a ton to Scotia and drop or win and earn their place.  Regardless, it's these type of things that make me shy away from posting the Forecast too early. Unfortunately, you may see them still sitting there as they don't play against another Section 2 team until January 3rd. 

Since there is a light schedule on Monday, I'm going to work on the Forecast then and hopefully have something out prior to the games on Tuesday night.  In the meantime, if I can get a couple hours, I'll write up some thoughts on the girls, if not, have a happy and safe New Year. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Weekend Games

The four days after Christmas are filled with games from Holiday Tournaments.  As I've mentioned before, these games can give us a great deal of information with regards to how the leagues match up with each other and makes it a great deal easier to rank the teams in each class.  There are over 50 games in boys and girls basketball in these four days so let's see which are the ones to watch.

Boys Basketball
LaSalle v Shaker, Schenectady v Columbia:  These are the only two games currently on the schedule (as we don't always know the second game matchups due to the winners of the first not yet being established) between the Big 10 and Suburban.  Shaker may be the only one here with playoff aspirations, but sometimes comparing the middle of the pack in each league is just as useful as the teams at the top.  If we see a decided victory, or better than expected showing by either league we may be able to give one of the leagues an early advantage.

Newburgh Free v Scotia:  This is less helpful from a Sectional standpoint than a State standpoint.  Newburgh is a AA school and usually a pretty good one so if Scotia can hang with them or even win, that says a lot about their chances if they make it to March's State Tournament.

Ichabod Crane v Greenwich, Stillwater v Saratoga Catholic:  This will only be one data point for the Wasaren against each of the Colonial and WAC, but both should be valuable.  Greenwich and Stillwater are probably the 3rd and 4th best in the Wasaren in either order.  Ichabod is mid pack in the Colonial so the later meeting between Hoosick Falls and Greenwich should give a good feel for Hoosick Falls' "place" in the B bracket with all the Colonial teams.  Saratoga Catholic is the best team in their division in the WAC, and this game can help solidify the standing in the C bracket and validate their earlier win over Schuylerville.

Heatly v Cohoes, Mechanicville v Heatly, Galway v Doane Stuart:  The CHVL is usually the weakest league in the section and I don't anticipate Heatly to compete in these games but all three are good data points for the CHVL.

Hudson Falls v Corinth:  Hudson Falls is coming off a 20 point loss to Hoosic Valley and averaged 30 point losses in their two contests.  Corinth plays Lake George twice, one already in the books as a 20 point loss.  It's not a direct common opponent, but may tell us something depending on how it turns out.

Girls Basketball
Ravena v Albany Leadership, Scotia v Holy Names, Hoosic Valley v Ichabod Crane:  Ravena is a pretty solid B school and though they probably aren't on anybody's top contenders list it's a good match up to see how competitive Albany Leadership may be in Sectinoals.  Holy Names, gets a good look at another solid A squad.  While the A bracket may ultimately come down to Troy and Averill Park, Holy Names can make themselves it a 1a, 1b, 1c situation if they can convincingly take down Scotia.  Hoosic Valley currently has as many losses as they had in the entire regular season last year and a lackluster performance against Ichabod could add another.  On the other hand, a solid victory here, tells us a little bit more about where Tamarac sits in the B field, whether alone at the top or side by side with Watervliet.

Catholic Central v Colonie, Tamarac v Johnstown, Berne-Knox v Maple Hill:  All three of these games a year ago would have been the top of my list of must see.  This year however, the importance just isn't there.  Colonie is having a down year and a loss of any margin probably won't tell us much.  While I think Johnstown is a solid B, unless they completely over perform expectations, there won't be much to talk about.  Much like Colonie, Berne-Knox just isn't the same team this year and while Maple Hill may be near the top of the C, if they beat a mediocre C, regardless of league, it's just not that much help.

The girls are a little different than the boys in that the top teams in each class are usually a large margin better than the middle teams.  They just aren't as competitive on average from top to bottom as the boys so the information isn't useful.

Either way, enjoy the games if you can, I'm sure I won't have the opportunity.  But I'll be watching the scoreboard, no doubt.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

State of the Section (Boys Edition)

So I'm a little late getting this out and for that I apologize.  December has been a lot more chaotic that I'm accustomed to and this blog, being a hobby and not a job, has suffered.  The upside to being late in this case is that we have more information to look at and it should provide a better indication of where things stand.  So, without further adieu, the State of the Section....

If I had to call it right now, I'd give the League title to Germantown.  Both they and Heatly are undefeated in League play, but Heatly has played all the weaker teams, where Germantown has played all the more competitive teams, both schedules exclusive of each other.  While Berlin and Waterford, both class C schools are having decent years so far, I don't see either as competitive in Sectionals.  Berlin has lost to Greenwich by over 20 and while Waterford has faired better in its non-league games, they lost to Berlin by over 20 themselves.  The only real threat come Sectional time in this group has to be Germantown.  They have had playoff success in the recent past and it seems clear they are the best team in the League.

Adirondack League
Sticking to the D's, Argyle appears best suited to make a late season run from the Adirondack.  They are undefeated in League play to date with their closest call being a win over Hartford by 14.  While that certainly isn't a margin that can't be overcome on any given day, the odds are definitely in their favor.  They have retained some key players from last year's State Title team and I would label them as the favorite at this stage in the season for the Sectional title this year as well.

The other team to watch out for in this League is, of course, Lake George.  On the surface it feels like they haven't been as dominate as they were last year, but their MOV of 29 is only two points lower than last year's total.  They are they inverse of Argyle in that they lost several key players from last year's squad, but retained their best, where Argyle lost theirs.  I'm really interested to see how these two teams match up against each other and what it means, if anything different than what we currently believe, to how Lake George stands in Class C.  Right now, I still believe they are the team to beat, or at the very least, the team with the biggest bulls-eye on their backs.

One of the teams that may cause a challenge for Lake George in the C bracket is Saratoga Catholic.  They are sitting at 7-0 and have a close win over Canajoharie and a convincing win over Schuylerville.  Canajoharie is probably the second best team in the North, but with two League losses already, I don't see them making up the necessary ground.

The South is going to be again dominated by Mekeel Academy.  Schoharie and Duanesburg will fight it out for second and may throw a scare into someone in Sectionals, but I wouldn't call either contenders.  Mekeel's season last year ended a little sooner than their seed, and the forecast model, thought it should.  I still believe they should move into a more competitive League, but either way they are going to be a tough out at the end of the year.

The D's shouldn't factor into the League or Sectionals at all.  There are times a .500 D school from the WAC can put things together for a title, but I'm not sure any of them will be .500 nor will it matter if they were.  There are a couple really good teams at the top of the D bracket and middle of the road in the WAC won't be enough this year.

Wasaren League
My first thought here is that Hoosic Valley is the best team in the League, but in this League that doesn't necessarily mean you will win the League.  HV just came off a 5 point win over Stillwater.  Stillwater lost to Schuylerville by 21.  Schuylerville beat Tamarac by 3 and Tamarac lost to Waterford by 2.  So either that means the whole League is down this year (which doesn't make sense since HV's only major player loss was their Center who didn't score in their 3 point loss in the C final to the eventual State Champion Lake George), or you better not let your guard down for a single night or you might take a really bad loss.  The Wasaren has been that way a long time and I expect it is again.  Ultimately, I think it comes down to HV or Hoosick Falls and realistically, those two are probably the only hope the Wasaren has of a Sectional Champ as well.  HV is a top three C school and HF has yet to be determined, but may be top 5.

Patroon Conference
I know a good curse word that would adequately describe the Patroon Conference.  Currently, the only undefeated team in the League has a 12 point loss to Middleburgh on their non-league schedule.  Hudson and Catskill are probably the most dangerous, but each of them has a loss already that you wouldn't expect to see.  That being said I think either of them could knock off someone unexpectedly come Sectionals.  The Patroon usually plays at a more frenetic pace than other leagues and it can catch teams off guard who aren't used to playing that style.  Unfortunately, I don't see any of them as a huge threat in either the B or C bracket.

Colonial Council
If it weren't for Cohoes this might be another League without a clear frontrunner.  There are a lot of teams in the Colonial and with what appears to be a somewhat down year for Watervliet, it's up for grabs.  There isn't a lot of evidence to support it, but I feel like the B champion is going to come from this league.  Cohoes, Mechanicville, Watervliet, Voorheesville, even Ravena, Ichabod Crane and Schalmont all appear to have good teams this year.  I can't tell you who it's going to be, but I have history on my side that one of them will figure it out.  Hopefully the Sectional Forecast can give us a better idea.  I can't wait to run that by the way.

Foothills Council
Scotia-Glenville.  That's all you need to know.

Suburban Council
I've been looking forward to this one because there is a team in here that I did not expect to see at 5-0 at this point, mostly because they were playing Albany Academy in that span, but Guilderland is 5-0 and they did beat Albany Academy.  That's not to say that AA can't be beaten, but Guilderland won 11 games last year so I didn't expect it to be them especially when Shen lost by 20 to AA.  To back that up Guilderland beat Shaker by 17 the other night.  Maybe the point is moot because the class AA Champion isn't likely to come from this League (or any League at that rate) but Shen, and Shaker are probably the other top teams in the Suburban so what Guilderland has done to this point is rather impressive.

As for the class A schools.....Scotia-Glenville.  That's all you need know.

Big 10
I've already touched briefly on the Big 10 and I already want to amend what I previously said.  Somehow I wrote off CBA because they lost to Troy.  While I still think either Catholic Central or Troy will eventually turn out to win the Big 10 title, CBA certainly shouldn't be written off so early.  Catholic Central is still young and Troy still lost a huge portion of their starting lineup from last year, both in size and numbers.  Both Catholic Central and CBA should have a fair chance in Sectionals especially if they can gain some valuable experience throughout the season.  And here, with Troy, is the only major question mark for Scotia-Glenville.  We missed out on that match up last year when Troy chose to play in the AA bracket even though their enrollment put them in class A.  It may have been a better match up last year, but still Troy is the only real threat for Scotia.  It may be too early to predict anything, but if I had to predict something it would be these two in the A final.

I'm going to skip past Albany Academy since they don't participate in our Sectionals which is still a travesty to great basketball match ups. 

When I spoke earlier about how the Suburban wouldn't likely have the AA Sectional Champion, I was referring to Green Tech.  They toppled CBA in last year's tournament and only narrowly lost to Troy in the final.  Returning Jamil Hood as a Senior has to put them as the favorite this early on.  Unfortunately, like Albany Academy, the majority of their games are out of Section so we really won't know too much anytime soon about how they stack up. 

So there you have it.  A complete rundown of girls and boys basketball by league and class.  Hopefully, time will better permit my participation from now on.  The Sectional Forecast is on its way as well. 

**Just so the Foothills folks don't fee left out, I'll say a few words.  This league will really be a fight for second.  Gloversville has the early upper hand and Queensbury may have a shot and the B schools shouldn't be a factor in much of anything.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

State of the Section (Girls Edition)

I think we're far enough in at this point that we can take a preliminary look into how each league is shaping up and who the contenders are for league and sectional titles.  Without further adieu, the State of the Section...

The CHVL has schools from three different classes, B, C and D.  Emma Willard is the lone B school and are currently 1-2 on the year with losses to Waterford and Heatly.  That doesn't speak well to their chances in either the class or the league.  Class C is made up of Waterford and Berlin.  Waterford appears to be the prohibitive favorite again this year, but their margin of victory this year is 19.5 compared to last year's 35.4, which included two losses.  They don't seem to have the same fire power they had a year ago when they were convincingly knocked out of the sectionals in the first round.  I think the C bracket is down a bit on whole this year, but even if they manage to beat our Heatly for the CHVL crown, I don't think they'll be serious contenders come February.

Speaking of Heatly, they and Germantown headline the class D teams consisting of Loudonville Christian, Doane Stuart, New Lebanon and Hawthorne Valley.  Either Heatly or Germantown could contend for the CHVL title, though Germantown has already lost to Waterford by a mere 3 points.  If the CHVL has any post season hopes it lies here in the D bracket with these two teams.

Adirondack League
The Adirondack is one of the larger leagues in Section 2 and also has teams in classes B, C and D.  The story here is in the D bracket.  Last season the final four were all from the Adirondack League and it really wasn't all that close.  If I had to guess I'd say that it is just as likely to happen again this year.  Fort Edward and Fort Ann who met in the title game last year are both undefeated to start this season. Warrensburg has already lost to Fort Edward by 16 and North Warren lost to Fort Ann by 11.  Both are 3-0 in their other games and I wouldn't be surprised if they made a run even though they'll probably fall short.  Hartford, Argyle and Salem round out the D teams.

Of the C teams, Whitehall, Lake George and Hadley-Luzerne, only Lake George appears to be any threat.  They are undefeated in league play and lost to Greenwich by 12, only 3 points worse than Hoosic Valley could manage.  Bringing Hoosic Valley finally back down to Earth is the main reason the C field is down, but it should allow for a much more competitive bracket.

The lone B is Corinth who have losses to Fort Edward and Lake George on their schedule to date.  They'll probably finish middle of the pack and won't be a threat in their bracket.

The WAC is more like two leagues since the teams don't play each team at least once, but for these purposes I'm going to combine them.  Unlike the Boys, where Mekeel Academy is classified as a B school, all but three of the teams are C schools.  The D's, Sharon Springs, Northville and St. Johnsville are currently 2-8 combined in the Section with both wins coming against one of the other three.  Needless to say, that's not a good sign.

The C schools, first in the North, are Canajoharie, Fort Plain, Galway, Mayfield and Spa Catholic, and then in the South, Berne-Knox, Duanesburg, Middleburgh, Mekeel Academy, and Schoharie.  The North teams have already played a number of games and it's bottle necked at the top.  Canjo is 4-1 in league play losing to Fort Plain by 9.  Fort Plain is 2-1 losing to Mayfield by 1 and beating Galway by 5.  Galway beat Mayfield by 10 and is 3-1 and Mayfield is 2-2 with that previously mentioned big win over Fort Plain.  I'm not even going to venture a guess on this one.  Typically when it appears this close in league play, none of them are strong enough win Sectionals.

The South schools have barely played any in-Section games.  Berne-Knox lost in the sectional final last year and even though it was by a wide margin they will probably be somewhere near the top in their division this year.  Unfortunately, their one point loss to Mekeel Academy doesn't help things.  With the limited information we have to date, I'll say one of those two wins the league and makes a decent run in sectionals.

Wasaren League
The Wasaren took a big hit this year with the graduation of arguably the league's best player and Hoosic Valley has already lost to Greenwich this year.  Cambridge rounds out the C's here as Hoosick Falls was hurt by the reduction in the B/C cutoff numbers falling over by only 4.  The C bracket should be more competitive this year and I expect Greenwich and Hoosic Valley to be in the thick of it.

Unfortunately for them, the League title is probably off limits as Tamarac looks really strong again this year and I fully expect them to go undefeated in league play having already beaten Hoosick Falls by 19 (not to mention only losing to Shen by 14.  Just to put that into perspective, Shen has 1,978 more students than Tamarac which means they got roughly 1 extra point for every 150 additional students.  The rest of the Wasaren League has 2,057 students.  Makes you wonder how Tamarac would do against a Tamaracless Wasaren All-Star team).  Regardless, Tamarac may very well be the team to beat in the B bracket if they can overcome the Colonial B's.  Granville, Schuylerville and Stillwater are the other B's and don't figure to be a factor.

Patroon Conference 
Once again this year, the Patroon looks like it will begin and end with Maple Hill who has broken and maintained their record league winning streak.  Their one threat here won't be the other C school, Rensselaer, but rather from one of two B's, Hudson and Greenville.  All three are currently undefeated but you can see from their average margin of victory (27.25 for Maple Hill, 19.3 for Hudson and 6.3 for Greenville) that Maple Hill is probably going to continue their supremacy over the three teams already mentioned and the rest of the B schools, Cairo-Durham, Catskill, Chatham (all three winless in the league thus far), Coxsackie-Athens and Taconic Hills.  What this likely means is that the only team with a solid chance at Sectional glory is Maple Hill.  And that chance is probably better than average.

I would say Hudson has an outside chance in the B bracket, but the field is pretty deep with a couple teams at the top that seem far better equipped for the task.  Ultimately, I think they'll fall well short.

Colonial Council 
One of three leagues that refer to themselves as a "Council", they lay host to only two classes this year, A and B due to the shift in enrollment cutoffs.  Of the two A's, Holy Names and Lansingburgh, Holy Names boasts opportunity to do some damage in the league and in sectionals.  They lost in the final to Troy last year after narrowly beating Averill Park in the final four.  I wouldn't put it past them again this year currently undefeated at 3-0.  I have feeling these three teams could very well be in the same position in the final four this year.

Earlier I mentioned how when a league is evenly matched that typically doesn't bode well in Sectionals.  The Colonial Council may be the exception.  The only problem with that theory is that Watervliet may be significantly better than the others.  Ichabod Crane and Voorheesville have both gotten off to a good start, and though Ravena has not, I wouldn't count them out of making a late season run like last year.  Schalmont already has two wins as well, but lost to Watervliet by 14.  Mechanicville, Fonda-Fultonville, Cohoes, Albany Academy and Cobleskill will be fighting it out for the middle of the pack within the league and in class B.

Foothills Council
The big change in the Foothills this year is the rejoining of Gloversville who hadn't played in each of the past two seasons.  They join Scotia-Glenville, South Glens Falls, Queensbury, Glens Falls and Hudson Falls as the class A teams.  The B's are Broadalbin-Perth and Johnstown.  There isn't much to go on yet as no one has played more than one in-league game.  The teams with wins are Broadalbin-Perth, Hudson Falls, Queensbury and Scotia.  With the limited information thus far I would put Queensbury and Scotia with the best chances to take home the league title.  Queensbury beat Glens Falls by 11 who beat Hoosick Falls by 17 who lost to Tamarac by 19.  That's a good sign for them if they are on the same level as Tamarac.  Either way, the A bracket looks pretty tough this year and while I'm not counting out Queensbury or Scotia, it will be tough to compete with Troy, Holy Names and Averill Park.

Suburban Council
Speaking of Averill Park, they are one of three A schools in the Suburban and also the best by a wide margin over Burnt Hills and Mohonasen.  They've already done something they were unable to do last year by beating Bethlehem and with that win I'm inclined to give them the early "favorite" tag in the A bracket. 

The Suburban crown may be a little tougher as they are loaded with AA schools.  Ballston Spa, Guilderland, Colonie, Niskayuna and Saratoga Springs shouldn't give them too much trouble, but the remaining schools, Bethlehem, Shaker, Shenendehowa and Columbia may. Of those, Shaker, Shen and Bethlehem are probably the teams to most watch out for.  Before the games started I would have given the nod blindly to Bethlehem and while that may turn out to come true, it can't be classified as a given anymore (if it ever really could).  These three teams will not only be fighting it out for the Suburban title, but likely, along with Albany, the AA sectional championship. 

Big 10
The Big 10, thus called even though they only have 7 schools, is the only league without a "league", "council", or "conference" designation.  They also lay claim to last years AA and A sectional champions.  Albany may not be as good as last year, but they and Catholic Central are still at the top of the AA schools.  Luckily, they, along with Troy have all played Amsterdam to date, with margins of victory of 8 for Albany, 11 for Troy and 28 for Catholic Central.  That may mean that Catholic Central is the better of the three or it may just be noise as it's just one comparison point.  Regardless, Catholic Central lost to Hoosic Valley by 3 (in an event that is unique to girls basketball where C schools are just as good as AA schools at the higher skill levels), while Tamarac, who will probably win the Wasaren, lost to Shen by 14.  If it's true that Catholic Central wins the Big 10, that probably means the AA winner comes from the Suburban this year. Bishop Maginn and Schenectady, the other AA's won't be involved.

The A side looks much brighter for the Big 10 however, with Troy and even Amsterdam having a good showing thus far.  Even though Bishop Gibbons won't compete, I would expect Troy to make a deep run again this year.  Again, the same rules apply here as they do in AA, but with Averill Park the only threat from the Suburban, as opposed to Shen, Shaker and Bethlehem in AA, the odds are better they can repeat. 

The lone Independent squad this year is Albany Leadership.  They are competing in the A bracket this year but it's too early to say how they stand.  They have two wins in the books over Gloversville (who hasn't had a team in two years) and Rensselaer (a weak C school) both by large margins.  We need to see them play a larger school who is able to give them a contest to see how they translate to the A bracket.  They may be a surprise however, so we need to keep our eyes on them.

Coming up in a few days I'll get the boys State of the Section out and we are rapidly approaching the end of the year and the first sectional forecast.  Can't wait...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Early Season Upsets?

I'm just typing in tonight's games into the database trying not to pass out on the keyboard and I just saw a score that I had to say something about.  The Averill Park girls just beat Bethlehem by 10 points.  I'm fairly certain beating the team that lost in the AA championship game returning both Giacone sisters would classify as an upset.  There are lots of times, especially early in a season you see a score and think it may be surprising but you really just don't know what it means until you can see more scores to give it some clarity.  I'm not a big talent scout so I really have no idea what Averill Park had coming up this year from JV, but seeing this score certainly propped my head up a bit.

On the boys side, Stillwater beat Greenwich tonight by 7.  On the surface it doesn't seem like a big deal.  The Wasaren teams seem to be fairly comparable with the exception of Hoosic Valley and Hoosick Falls.  The scores aren't adding up so far and this one may turn out to be an upset when we look back on it.  Stillwater beat Tamarac by 9, and Greenwich and Granville by 7 each.  Tamarac beat Granville by 25 and Greenwich lost to Hoosic Valley by 17 who beat Granville by 37.  We'll find out soon enough.

If you look in the Adirondack League there are also some strange scores going around.  Lake George has already had two 2 point wins over two teams Argyle has beaten by a combined 44.  Lake George seems to play better when their backs are against the wall so this isn't necessarily foretelling their demise but it's definitely worth paying attention to.  It does make me start to think that Argyle may be the team to beat in the D bracket.

I'm going to be working on the State of the Section updates this upcoming week.  I was hoping to get them out this weekend, but the past week was total chaos and I just didn't have the time to work on it. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Winners Win

Friday night was a good night for the 2012-2013 Sectional Champions in boys basketball with Troy, Watervliet, Lake George and Argyle all bringing home wins.  I don't know how the Big 10 is going to shake out just yet, but Troy has a big win over CBA already under it's belt and early indications are that the city of Troy could very well own the Big 10 title at year's end.  Catholic Central put up an impressive victory over LaSalle as well and it seems likely one of those schools will come out on top.  If CBA can't beat Troy, which they did both times last year, it doesn't seem likely they will have enough to win the title.  Catholic Central on the other hand showed some upside last year and returned most of their top players where Troy, CBA and LaSalle lost theirs.

Troy may also be competing in the Class A bracket this year.  Their enrollment, like last year, says they should be.  I'm interested to see how they would compare to Scotia, who is the class of Class A otherwise.  It's almost more interesting to me than if they go up to AA as they did a year ago, where Green Tech seems poised to take hold.  

Watervliet also lost their two best players to graduation and narrowly earned a victory over Fonda.  Fonda has played and lost three games this year all to other Class B schools with the Watervliet loss being by the fewest number of points.  Given how well Cohoes played against Broadalbin-Perth who beat Fonda by 17, Cohoes has the early upper hand in the Colonial, with Mechanicville hot on their heels.  Ichabod Crane has only played one game and won, and Schalmont's 39 point loss was by only one more than Cohoes' 38 point loss both to Scotia.  The best two teams from the Patroon last year are currently a combined 0-3 and Schuylerville has a 20+ loss already on their books.  I don't know who the favorite is yet in Class B.  It may even be someone I didn't mention, but based on the early results we may not know for a while.

The C schools should provide some good entertainment again this year.  Lake George squeaked by with a 1 point win over Hartford on a Joel Wincowski bucket with time winding down.  Until someone beats him, and them, handily I have a hard time calling anyone else the favorite.  Hoosic Valley would have to be the second choice and they've already put up wins over Hudson Falls and Greenwich.  I like the scheduling play at HV putting an A school on the calendar, even if they aren't one of the better ones and playing in the tournament at Waterford this weekend.  Variety is good for a team with lofty goals.  The other team that has impressed me so far is Saratoga Catholic who is now 3-0.  We don't yet know how impressive their win over Schuylerville was, but I can't wait to find out when the Wasaren League gets deep into their schedule. 

Class D could be a toss up as well.  Argyle has gotten off to a good start, and Hartford can't be counted out after their showing against Lake George and Northville also has a couple of good wins.  Other than Germantown, the CHVL D's look to be having a down year.  Regardless, it has to be a more competitive field than last year now that Joey Lufkin has graduated.

I'll be dedicating some time to the girls side as well.  Sorry I wasn't able to get to it here. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mercy Mercy Me

I've never been a fan of the mercy rule.  Being incredibly bad at something you thoroughly enjoy is something everyone should experience in their lives.  I have the honor of filling that column on more than one occasion (and several weekends each summer on a golf course near you).  I can honestly say I've learned more doing the things in which I'm dreadful than the things that I excel.

Sometimes you see a score you'd rather not.  I feel bad for the kids on the wrong side of that score having been there myself (I once gave up 19 hits and 13 runs in 4 2/3 innings), but the lessons from those scores can prove valuable later in life whether you realize it or not.  I would have gladly played and lost than not played at all (I did both at one point or another).  It was my love of baseball that introduced me to statistics after all (and I did pick two guys off first base that day, even if the first baseman dropped one of them). 

So, while I'm sorry to see what I saw tonight, I do believe the lessons learned from it are worth the price.  I bet each one of those kids has something positive to say about their performance, even if it's only a pick off at first.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Easy Come, Easy Go

In my last post I mentioned how well the Broadalbin-Perth boys started off with two solid wins in their first two games.  Well, they followed that up with a 20 point loss to Cohoes yesterday.  With the loss comes the increasing likelihood that their two wins were against lesser teams and the decreasing likelihood they will be around to make a strong push in March.  I tend not to take too much stock in any one game result, and would caution anyone else to do the same, especially in the upper classes.  Twenty point margins however aren't your typical losses for serious contenders within their own class. 

In tonight's games, Troy and Albany Academy put up big numbers on Bishop Maginn and Shen respectively.  If Troy stays in the A bracket this year, this kind of performance could be a sign of good things.  I'm going to operate under the assumption Albany Academy won't be competing in Section 2's sectionals this year as well, but a 20 point win over Shen is a good start to anyone's season.

I think Rensselaer is my early season darkhorse in the C bracket.  They had a good run in Sectionals last year and are off to a good start this year winning their first two games.  As an early sign the girl's C bracket may not change much, Waterford already recorded a near 50 point win over another CHVL team (which apparently a good two-thirds of Class C could do regularly if last year's sectionals are any good measure) and Hoosic Valley just beat Catholic Central by 3 after losing their best player to graduation. 

There isn't a ton of information to analyze yet, but scoreboard watching, even this early can be interesting.  I have to go input some scores so I can go to bed sometime before tomorrow.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Opening Weekend

The season has started and already there are tidbits you can pull from the action.  On the boys' side, the two teams that really stand out are Broadalbin-Perth and Saratoga Catholic.  BP won both of their games over Cobleskill and Fonda, both schools in their class and both games by solid margins.  Saratoga Catholic also won both of their games, each by over 20 points, both over schools in classes above them.  It's tough to know what that means for them at this point, but it certainly can't be a bad thing.

Saratoga Catholic's second win was over Schuylerville, who according to the Post Star lost its coach after last season to retirement.  That may have been a sign they didn't have the same level of talent coming back this year, but Schuylerville hasn't had too many bad seasons in recent memory so any down year is somewhat shocking to see, especially this early.  The Wasaren League in general didn't have a great weekend.  Stillwater also lost by 20 points to Mechanicville, and though Hoosick Falls and Greenwich each won their openers by respectable margins, HF's win was over an Argyle team that lost one of the best players in the Section last season (though his brother may not be too far behind making 8 threes) and Greenwich beat an historically weak Berlin team.  Argyle may still be a contender in March, but the loss of Joey Lufkin to graduation can't be overlooked.

On the girls' side, not much looks out of place.  The Colonial council started strong again with Cohoes and Watervliet each picking up fairly easy wins over Ballston Spa and Bishop Maginn.

Overall there isn't much to go on yet, but as I have stated in the past, these non-league games go a long way to telling us how these Leagues match up with each other, and ultimately how things could turn out in Sectionals.  For now though, that's a long way off.  The games aren't even in the model yet.  The busy Holiday weekend slowed me down a bit.  Speaking of which, I hope everyone had a great Holiday.

Now we can sit back and relax, Basketball is finally here.