Some disorganized thoughts and observations from what I saw of the 2009 Finis Memorial Cup:
- St. Mary’s: there has been an enormous amount of chatter about how physical (dirty?) St. Mary’s plays. Some online commentators suggested that the team would be banned from further competition because of it. One person was watching them play *just* because he was sure they purposely injured someone he knew. I didn’t see it. But it was also clear that everyone was well aware of the reputation, including referees. It seems that play was adjusted accordingly. Meanwhile, Coach Chris Radmonovich may be leaving to pursue other opportunities, according to some. This is a very curious program that, up until very recently, I knew little about. But one to keep an eye on.
- Mater Dei’s victory is not a huge surprise (CdM was my choice to win the tournament in the TWP poll). The Monarchs were very impressive in their early games at the North-South tourney. Then they proceeded to lose to El Toro. El Toro, Newport, and Mater Dei seem to be interchangeable as second-best in the state.
- My favorite game yesterday: Harvard-Westlake over Bellarmine. The Bells got out to a decent lead before H-W reorganized defensively and got their very simple front-court offense working. With an emphasis on probing for shooting angles, purposeful, limited driving, and undramatic 2-meter play, they can appear to be static. But it all serves a larger purpose: efficiency. They score with perhaps 75% of the effort other teams exert. The plan didn’t work against Sacred Heart earlier in the day. But when it does it’s pleasurable to watch. (Head Coach Robert Lynn is an acquaintance).
- Dan Albano was wrong! Then again, so were 80% of those who voted for the winner of the Memorial Cup on TWP. Only 12% selected Mater Dei to win.
- One fan told me that before the season, the coach of the team he supports meets with parents and tells them that they are simply not allowed to yell at the referees. Very novel. Next time you watch a game think about how often the shouting from the stands is directed at the referees versus supporting the players. That ratio must be 10 to 1. Embarrassing. One kid yesterday: “Hey Mom, stop talking.”
- The Memorial Cup is an excellent tournament. But North-South is even better. Sacred Heart may be the best high school site in the state, all the tournament scores are shared between locations (no need to continuously ask, “do you know who won the so-and-so game?”), nice glossy programs, more experienced referees, less traffic, close to the Dutch Goose, complimentary puffed potato chips…