Monday, March 24, 2014

A Busy Offseason

The offseason is always busy.  Everyone will be preparing for next year as they always do but there may be another reason this offseason will be busy, and not one we are accustomed to.

Michael Kelly of The Recorder tweeted the other day that the moving of Amsterdam and Schuylerville to the Foothills and with Mechanicville's intention to leave the Colonial for the Wasaren there could be upwards of a dozen schools switching leagues this offseason.  Though he didn't speculate which schools they might be, he mentioned the Big 10 and Colonial as leagues looking to add.  So with that in mind I thought I'd do a little of my own speculation.

Unfortunately for the Big 10 there aren't many schools out there that fit into their mold that aren't already in their mold.  Their other problem is the girls only gave 6 schools while the boys have 8. Six teams does not a league make and the one team that makes the most sense, Green Tech, doesn't have a girls team.   The closest counterpart to Green Tech for the girls would be Albany Leadership who is also currently an Independent. Their main problem is they are only Class A.  That's less of a problem on the girls side as the Big 10 currently has a Class B school in Bishop Gibbons but you can imagine league officials' hesitancy to add an A that has not yet proven their worth.

Regardless the move makes sense but you have to wonder if Holy Names would consider the move to the Big 10.  I read a commenter say the Colonial is a better league than the Big 10 and while there is some truth that the Colonial's depth is unparalleled, the top of the Big 10 is better than the top of the Colonial.  Albany and Troy have both been title contenders in the past two years and Catholic Central is always solid. Playing those teams six times is arguably just as tough as running through the Colonial every year.  It's also a higher profile league being the home to AA schools.  I believe it benefits Holy Names to make the switch. Who knows whether they agree or not.

The only other viable option (excluding someone jumping out of the Suburban fish tank which I don't think is likely) is of course, Albany Academy.  I know the issues with this being the girls are only a C school.  I actually think it would improve their ability to recruit if they were in the Big 10.  We all know parents want the best for their kids and if they had the opportunity to play on a big stage it may be just enough incentive. 

I am of the opinion that all four of these schools should move into the Big 10 which would at least give the boys a full 10 teams (as their name suggests is true anyway) and would leave the league looking like this:

Boys                                        Girls
Albany                                     Albany
Albany Academy                     Albany Academy
Bishop Maginn                         Albany Leadership
CBA                                        Bishop Gibbons
Green Tech                              Bishop Maginn
                                                Catholic Central
Bishop Gibbons                        Holy Names
Catholic Central                        Schenectady                
Troy                                         Troy

Unfortunately, the only other girls team does not have a boys team is Emma Willard and while they are a B, I have a hard time seeing a team make the jump from the CHVL to the Big 10.

It’s not imperative that Holy Names moves as the girls would still have 8 teams without them but I think it’s a natural fit, unless Academy chooses not to move.

Regardless of what Holy Names does, the Colonial Council is also in play for adding teams.  They have 9 on the boys’ side and 11 on the girls (if Academy and Holy Names both moved out they would be even at 9 each).  With 9 teams, they don’t have to add anything and could just simply cease having divisions.  League officials have said as much as being the plan if they don’t add another school, however that does leave them with 16 league games which is a high ratio when the season is only 18 games.  It doesn't leave the schools much opportunity to test themselves outside the league (or take a couple games off playing cupcakes as some like to do).  

Luckily for the Colonial there is at least one school out there that makes a ton of sense, and they would be Mekeel Christian Academy.  I don’t think anyone can argue that MCA is misplaced in the WAC South where they very rarely lose a league game.  They are a solid B school on the boys’ side and solid C on the girls which fits nicely into the Colonial dynamic.  If the Colonial adds a school to their roster, this would be my guess.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t other schools that could make the move as well.  My bet for the next in line would be Maple Hill.  There was some talk about them going to the Wasaren before Mechanicville made their intentions known, but I actually think the Colonial makes more sense.  They are a lot closer to the teams in the Colonial and while they are a C and not a B like MCA, they have a respected sports program in many different sports and they are already in a league that features a majority of schools with greater enrollments than their own.  I don’t think this will be the play, but I can see how it makes sense.    

Another option would be to go in a completely different direction and pull a team from the Suburban, someone like Mohonasen.  While they are an A, they aren’t anywhere close to being a AA as Averill Park was when they left the Colonial.  Also unlike Averill Park, Mohonasen has had very little success in the Suburban and playing in a tougher league hasn’t provided them the advantage other schools get come Sectional time.  I actually like this move a bit more than Maple Hill as it helps both parties, whereas Maple Hill is doing just fine where they currently are.  I might even be talking myself into this being more likely than Maple Hill.

There are two other choices that make some sense, but I don’t think are likely to happen, Burnt Hills and Saratoga Catholic.  Both are a lot farther away than the 3 previously mentioned and while it makes some sense for Burnt Hills much in the same way it does for Mohonasen, it doesn’t feel as though it’s as natural a fit.  For Spa Catholic, in terms of size, talent and their current misplacement it makes sense but the distances may just be too great, and for me it doesn’t cure enough ills to make it worthwhile.  The Wasaren is a much better fit for them (and I don’t think they are looking to go to 9 or 10 teams). 

We may end up seeing a Colonial Council that looks something like this come fall:

Mekeel Academy

Ichabod Crane

To get to the dozen teams Mr. Kelly was talking about you need think more unconventionally, more in line with Schuylerville’s leaving the Wasaren.  So what other teams could switch it up and move to another league? 

Bishop Gibbons and Lansingburgh:
They are currently one of two A schools in the Big 10 with the departure of Amsterdam and the only B school for the girls Big 10.  Watching two Big 10 schools jump ship is hard to imagine, but I've thought for a while they were out of their league playing in the Big 10.  It would also cause huge problems for the girls as they would be down to 5 teams before any other moves might take place.  You might have to consider merging the Big 10 and Suburban if that were the case and just doing 3 or 4 divisions with a playoff at the end for Sectional seeding rights.  Lansingburgh has only one other place they could even consider, the Big 10.  Being from Troy it could work out, but I don't see this move happening as they would essentially be competing with Gibbons for last every year.  It would help solve some of the girls problems though.

Ravena and Ichabod Crane:
Both are currently in the Colonial and I once read that Ravena was looking to move over to the Patroon.  It makes sense both geographically and by enrollment and if Ravena makes the jump, you might see Ichabod Crane go with them.  It would increase the competition a bit in Patroon.  If both those schools go, you might see another domino fall in….

Maple Hill and Rensselaer:
Both of these schools are solid C’s and it may make sense with the addition of two more A/B’s for them to seek refuge somewhere else.  For Maple Hill, the Colonial and Wasaren make sense and for Rensselaer, the CHVL and potentially the Wasaren (less so).  I don’t think you’ll see Rensselaer go unless Maple Hill goes first.  If you leave them as the lone C it would sort of force their hand a bit. 

Granville and Cambridge:
I know the reason for Granville’s move to the Wasaren, but they just haven’t been competitive on a consistent basis and it’s not like the Adirondack doesn’t already have a B school in Corinth.  Cambridge’s enrollment has been declining consistently and should be a D pretty soon.  Given their proximity to Salem, Argyle and Hartford (not to mention Granville) I could see them moving to the Adirondack as well.  And if both of these schools left you could see Maple Hill and Saratoga Catholic filling the void in the Wasaren.

To recap, the teams, in order of the most to least likely to change leagues, (or join a league if they weren’t in one before) are below and their most likely destination based on my own speculation:
  1. Green Tech (Big 10)
  2. Albany Leadership (Big 10)
  3. Mekeel Christian Academy (Colonial)
  4. Ravena (Patroon)
  5. Albany Academy (Big 10)
  6. Holy Names (Big 10)
  7. Mohonasen (Colonial)
  8. Bishop Gibbons (Colonial)
  9. Maple Hill (Colonial, Wasaren if #9 happens)
  10. Granville and Cambridge (Adirondack), if they go, I think they’ll go together
  11. Saratoga Catholic (Wasaren)
  12. Rensselaer (CHVL)
  13. Ichabod Crane (Patroon), a move back would be to admit failure, doubt it will happen
  14. Burnt Hills (Colonial), ditto to #12
  15. *BONUS* Rensselaer, Waterford or Berlin (Wasaren), if all else fails

Monday, March 17, 2014

Albany Academy v Scotia FOR REAL

Congrats to the Hoosic Valley, Scotia and Green Tech boys for winning the State Championships this weekend.  Section 2 enjoyed another good year at the State level (two in a row).  I hope you're all enjoying it because it's rare.  Mr. Sinkoff told us on the broadcast yesterday that Section 2 won only 6 State titles from 2002 to 2013, four of which were in 2013.  

For HV the season ends on a win and though they are losing some parts, including Mike Pierre, whose performance on a twisted ankle in both the final four games was impressive, John Rooney will be back and I've heard their JV team was pretty good this year.  We'll see if it's enough to compete with a Wincowski who ended the previous season with a loss, not to mention several other quality teams.

Green Tech and Scotia's seasons continue with the Federation tournament this weekend.  This will include the much anticipated matchup of Scotia and Albany Academy on Friday night.  I had to go back and reread my own article on the subject as many of you have as well.  At the time, Albany Academy had proven to me they were better than Scotia.  While that still may be the case you can never predict how taking a month off will play on Albany Academy's legs (although it didn't seem to matter much last year).  I wish I could tell you who was going to win, but there are more variables now than there were then.  

For the record, the model had Scotia ahead of Albany Academy at the end of the season.  Not that it matters much at this point.  Scotia has proven themselves worthy of the task and it's interesting to note that their closest game in the post season was against Troy in the Section 2 final.  Just as Academy was peaking when I wrote my original article, it appears Scotia is now.  

As for Green Tech, they played and lost to Long Island Lutheran already this year by 16.  However, just as Scotia peaked during the postseason, Green Tech did as well.  It almost feels as if they coasted a bit during the regular season which might be easier than you might think when you're not playing in a league.  

Regardless of how this weekend turns out, it's sure to be fun to watch and I'm enjoying the fact that we still have something to pay attention to.  Good luck to all the teams representing Section 2 this weekend and to Albany Academy if they make the final (when you don't really care who wins, root for Section 2).

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday at the Civic Center

Firstly I have to give it to Laura Amato, James Allen, Will Springstead and the others who are able to tweet, watch a game and prepare for articles due hours later. I could barely get something typed and my thoughts had changed. Ultimately I gave up trying and just enjoyed watching a really good game between Hoosic Valley and Spa Catholic.  It was fantastic theater and I was amazed at how both teams were willing and able to take the ball to the rim.  Four of the first five HV possessions were layup attempts and both teams I believe took more shot attempts in the paint than out of it.

When I got there it was about midway through the third quarter of the class D final.  They had a great finish as well.  It was a one possession game for what seemed like most of the fourth quarter.  I had to leave before the B game or I would have been cabbing it back home but apparently I didn't miss much with Voorheesville crushing B-P.  I'm sorry I missed the A final as Scotia defended their title in double OT against Troy.

Back to the game I did watch.  HV seemed to miss a couple early opportunities to grab a large lead.  SCC held it at bay long enough to give themselves an excellent chance in the fourth quarter.  The officiating was pretty good with very few defensive fouls called on all those drives to the hoop, however there were more charges called in one game than I can ever remember.

One thing about this game was that neither team did anything remarkably different in the second half.   HV's shots just weren't falling and SCC's were.  I do want to point out that what SCC employs isn't so much a press as there was hardly any trapping involved.  They do use full court pressure.  That may be due to HV's ability to break it I suppose but after reading about it following their win over Rensselaer I was expecting something very different.  Finally, the winner of the unintentional comedy award goes to Coach Calhoun who was almost taken to the floor by his assistant after the final buzzer.

Congrats to all the winners today.  Argyle and Scotia repeated and Hoosic Valley is the only school to win both boys and girls titles.  Good luck at States.