High school basketball hard to figure; is it that good or that bad?

January 18, 2013

Transfer of talents - Cape’s Andrew Grau and Dover’s Nick Spadafino are both juniors and talented football players who played tight end last season for their football teams. Both are all-state caliber players who can play at the next level. Two years ago, Spadifino stepped in as the quarterback and put 55 points on the board in a dramatic 55-54 win at Cape. Nick also plays baseball, and he can crush it. A question was raised in my mind during last Tuesday’s basketball game at Cape won by the Senators in overtime: How do two beastly football athletes who play skill positions on the gridiron not score a single point in an overtime basketball game plagued by turnovers and bad decisions? It's either that basketball is the hardest game to play compared to the others, or it has evolved into a track meet with a round ball but with little rhyme or reason just lots of freestyling. I just don’t know, but for the last 20 years, top-shelf football, soccer, baseball and lacrosse players have opted out of basketball or played it with much less success than their primary sport.

It’s all relatives - It was 50 years ago in the Eastern Finals of the Pennsylvania Catholic Eastern State Championship game between Allentown Catholic and my high school, Bishop Egan, at Saint Joe’s Field House in front of a crazy crowd of 5,000 fans who all needed to go to confession after the game. My older brother Tom, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound rebounding football player on his way to Penn State, grabbed a rebound with both hands and began to squeeze the air out of the ball. Allentown’s star player, a blond, Polish, flat-topped beast about 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds of solid muscle, grabbed it too for simultaneous possession. The ball and Mr. Allentown were thrown into the fourth row behind the basket and it was on like the fight scene in "The Outsiders." Levittown versus Allentown, the main event, everyone charged the court. I saw our own alcoholic cafeteria monitor and religion teacher Father Edwin collar and spin a few people around then drop them with roundhouse rights. Let's face it: you never want to send the sexually repressed alcoholic “celibacy got the best of me” guy into a teenage riot. I could write a 50-chapter book going back 50 years focused on the mayhem I’ve seen break out on the basketball court after fans stormed the court. Muzzled German police dogs with names like Spike and King are good deterrents to this behavior.

Home Depot - I was suddenly and instantly impressed on Jan. 16 down at the Worcester County indoor track meet featuring 20 teams and lasting for six hours that Caesar Rodney had numbered, fold-out canvas chairs from Home Depot while everyone else sat on the dirty old floor. All teams now have their own canopy for outdoors, but bringing a chair to a competition is brilliant. Back when the master, Lee Sibley, coached basketball at Saint Mark's, folding chairs appeared for the starters during time-outs. That way the bench players didn’t have to give up their seats, and no one knew what Sibley was saying except the players who needed to hear. The drawback is if a relative storms the court, we don’t want that person throwing chairs.

Snippets - The only pick I got right in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs was New England over Houston last weekend. I think Baltimore has “more better people” than New England, but if I were betting your money, I’d pick the Patriots. And I’d pick the Falcons; I just think they are better than the Forty-Niners. The good news is, I’m pretty consistently wrong in my picks and in fact still owe Tim Clausen $25  from the regular season online pool he manages.

Chip Kelly comes from Oregon to the Eagles, so that signals the end of Napoleon Dynamite (Nick Foles) at quarterback. Eagles should trade Foles to Baltimore for backups Tyrod Taylor and Dennis Dixon, and ship Vick to Kansas City. The deal works for both teams.

I took a picture of Katie Collins of Stephen Decatur after she won the pole vault down at Snow Hill. Her dad is a close friend of coach P.J. Kesmodel. Katie asked me, “Is the picture for Richard?” "You mean Richard, as in your dad Richard? Who calls their dad Richard?” I could add, who calls their coach P.J. or their grandfather Fredman?

Go on now, git!

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