Monday, January 25, 2010
Weekend in Review..Wins, losses & thievery.
A very nice win over Wooster on Friday night, and a tough loss Saturday to Mansfield Senior. Finished the tough 4 game stretch at 2-2. I know the team doesn't want to hear about moral victories, but Senior is a solid team and deserving of their top 10 state ranking. Our kids played tough and showed me that they can hang with a team like the Tygers. Games like this can only help us down the road. And hey look, we're still ranked.....so no big whoop right? To me, it won't matter until March (ok, late February).
The Wooster game was the best atmosphere in our gym in a long time. Let me repeat in big and bold letters....the Wooster game was the best atmosphere in our gym in a long time. It's been a while since ticket availability has been a problem, but that was the case Friday night. Wooster brought a big crowd (although they started to thin out in the 3rd quarter when down by 20) and Orrville fans were packed in too.
What's great is that, from what I heard, fans are starting to believe again. Gone were the whispers of displeasure and apathy, they were replaced with whispers of fans reminiscing about the glory days. Things I heard with my own ears include "this reminds me of the Firestone game" and "remember when they broadcast the games on closed circuit TV?" and "we used to wait in line at 4:30pm just to get a seat."
Now maybe this was just a game with our rival, and came nowhere close to the hype and anticipation of the game with NATIONALLY ranked Akron Firestone in 1992, and that we're nowhere close to having to deal with overflow crowds every game...but it does tell me that the fans are starting to think happy thoughts again, and right now, that's a very good thing.
We saw the Riders jump on the Generals early and not let up. We saw Jake Bolyard hit some long bombs, and Zach Wasson throw down a fierce dunk...we saw the Riders play strong D and go 20 for 23 from the free throw line, and almost unheard of feat. Lastly, we saw a team that seemed to be having fun (gasp!).
What struck me most was not the long 3's or the dunk, but a sequence late in the game...almost all players on the floor were reserve players. Most of the time, you'd expect a lot of 1-on-1 play and guys looking to "get theirs" this late in the game. But what I saw made me smile. The guys worked the ball around until a nice bounce pass from Drew Brenner to Derek Graber led to an easy basket. It had to be at least 30 seconds worth of patient half-court offense. Even late in the game, even with backups, the kids are playing in control and looking to execute an offensive game plan.
In my humble opinion, that's all coaching, and though he'd be the first to deflect it, Coach Slaughter deserves a lot of credit for the way this team is palying.
Zach and Jake
Tremendous weekend for the 1-2 punch. Each scored 24 on Friday and 27 on Saturday. Zach pulled down 26 rebounds over the 2 games and went 23 for 27 from the free throw line, including a perfect 10 for 10 against Wooster.
In the last 6 games, Zach is averaging 22 points per game, scoring no less than 18 in each of the past 6.
Both he and Jake are inching ever closer to 1,000 career points, Jake has 818 and Zach has 793...but also in play now is the fact that Orrvile has never had teammates average 20+ points per game in the same season. If the trend continues, it may happen this year.
Schedule gets a tad easier, but the Riders will still need to play to their level of ability, not down to their opponent. They travel to Northwestern on Tuesday then are home to West Holmes & Ashland over the weekend.
Looking ahead as only I can, there's no reason the Riders can't win every game left on their schedule. Northwestern, Triway, Madison & Wooster are the remaining road games. West Holmes, Ashland, Clear Fork, Lexington, & Wadsworth are the games left at home.
Tournament seeding draw is Feb. 14th in case you were wondering. With a win over Smithville already and a matchup with Triway looming, the Riders can prove their case for a #1 seed in the Wooster district.
Well, the magic finally ran out in a 9 point loss to Mansfield Sr., but credit to Coach Alberts and his staff and players for quite a run of good basketball, and some amazing heroics at the end of several games. The luster is not off the season by any means. We'll see how the team responds.
If anything, I'd guess the team is a little angry....having ipods and other personal property stolen from the Mansfield Sr. locker room (an area that was supposedly locked) tends to make people grumpy. I'll spare the lecture and outrage and just say this...."You Stay Classy, Mansfield."
Two Player(s) of the Year???
As of this date, it's possible that the boys and girls player of the year award may both go to Orrville players. On the boys side, Jake Bolyard is clearly 1 of the top 3 players in the conference along with Cheathem from Madison and Watts from Senior. Jake was robbed of the award last year (refresh your memory here), but if he keeps this pace up, they can't give it to anyone else.
On the girls side, Hannah Plybon is certainly the 2nd best player in the OCC behind Mansfield Senior's Rachel Mahan (only a junior)...and may grab a few votes, but Mahan is having a solid year....and the stars would really have to align for a freshman to take the honor.