Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011

Patrick Newell

– Monday and Tuesday nights, I took in games that featured the only remaining unbeaten basketball teams in Chenango County. Monday, Norwich was able to extend its unbeaten record to 9-0 winning at Oneonta, and on Tuesday, G-MU matched its six wins of last year pulling away from Harpursville to stay perfect on the season. The two schools have done nothing but win, but the way each club has gone about depositing those games in the victory bank is much different. You might equate Norwich, in financial terms, as a blue-chip, high-interest-bearing stock, while the Raiders are your typical steady earner that yields a pleasant quarterly dividend.
The Tornado offense is the trendy Dribble-Drive Motion Offense popularized a few years ago by former Memphis coach John Calipari. The offense requires excellent dribble penetration to generate close-range shots, draw fouls on defenders or lead to kick-out passes to wide-open teammates as the heart of a defense collapses around a penetrating guard or forward. The past two years, Norwich has flourished in the offense winning a Section IV crown in 2009 while finishing as a runner-up in the sectional finals last season. Norwich is off to another great start and is poised to make another run at a sectional championship later this winter.
G-MU’s offense is more conservative, and is based on fundamental offensive sets, player motion, screens, and working the offense from the inside out. Option number one for the Raiders is to get the ball to the inside post player or find a teammate cutting to the basket for a layup. As the shot clock winds down, the range of the shot attempt extends from short to middle to long range. Unless a player is completely wide-open, you will almost never see a Raiders player shoot a three-pointer early in the 35-second shot clock. Under head coach Bill Hartman, G-MU is content to stay patient on offense, and it plays tremendous halfcourt defense. Despite sporting a green roster that had one senior starter last year, the Raiders only gave up 43 points a game in finishing with a 6-11 record. The downside is that G-MU had trouble scoring points. This season, Hartman has his team putting a few more points on the board while giving up less than 35 points a game.
Be it an old-school formula (G-MU) or a newfangled, flashy offense (Norwich), at the end of 32 minutes of play, every win looks the same in the record books.

– Any night of the week, the possibility exists that I will report on a sporting event in which something completely unique happens. Such an occurrence happened Tuesday night when Otselic Valley’s longtime coach, Ron Graham, phoned in a result from the Vikings’ basketball game against the Tyburn Academy girls. Final score: OV 50, Tyburn Academy 2. The two points is the lowest total I have ever printed for a varsity basketball game, and Tyburn Academy did not make a single field goal the entire game. It was limited to single free throws in the first and fourth quarters. Graham will be the first to say that his team is not a juggernaut this season. In fact, his club was coming off its worst loss of the season, a 65-19 shellacking to Morris on Dec. 30. Graham summed up both outcomes: “There’s not much you can say when you lose a game like we did to Morris, and there’s not much you can say when you win a game like we did tonight.”

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