Sports Editor’s Playbook, Monday, March 12, 2012

Patrick Newell

Several hours after Norwich lost to Bishop Ludden, a post-game comment from NHS head coach Tom Collier struck a chord. “Bishop Ludden was the better team, and the better team won,” he said. “It’s hard for us to accept that, but that is what sports is all about.”
When you’re playing for a championship, only one team hoists the trophy, and its players are the last ones smiling. Too often you hear parents, fans, and often players and coaches making excuses for losing. Many coaches, gracious in defeat, will follow the comments post haste with the obligatory “would’ve, could’ve” rationales. I have no doubt, behind closed doors, Norwich’s players and coaches wished they had shot the ball better over the first three quarters. By our count, shooting 10-for-39 (25.6 percent) will not win too many titles at this level of basketball.
Matching up the advantages and disadvantages, Norwich was the better established perimeter shooting team. The Gaelic Knights were more of an up-tempo team that created easy buckets off of its defense or in defense-to-offense transition. Only one starter, Cameron Littlejohn, averaged at least one three-pointer per game, and Ludden made just one three-pointer in its 12-point win over the Tornado.
Norwich, meanwhile, made 115 three-pointers this season. It wasn’t Norwich’s team record for threes by a long shot, but the three ball keyed a 20-point comeback victory for the Class B title. The three-pointer was certainly a big part of the Norwich offense all season, and Kyle Edwards, Dennis Oralls, and Eric Walling proved themselves adept from long range. Norwich had plenty of good looks from 20 feet last Saturday, some of the same shots that went in one week earlier against CV. Overall, the Tornado made less than 20 percent of its three-point attempts, a statistic again summed up perfectly by Collier: “Sometimes the shots just don’t fall.”
That’s just basketball.

Are you a student of bracketology? This week we’re running the brackets for the men’s basketball March Madness Contest. As was the case last year, the first four games are a virtual gimme if you wait for the results before submitting your entry. Let me remind you: Those first four games (Tuesday and Wednesday) may be “gimmes,” but they are not “freebies.” If you leave that section of the bracket empty, I will gleefully mark them wrong with my red marker. (Or black, depending on which sharpie still has ink left.) I believe I am still scarred from my college freshman year when my English teacher had more words written in red than the entirety of my essays. Monday’s entry was on page 10, and if you’ll notice, we’re handing out $75 to this year’s winner. If you play your cards right, we may even snap a photo of the grand champion. The deadline to hand-deliver entries is this Thursday at 12 p.m. Mailed entries should by postmarked by Wednesday, March 14.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat.