Friday, March 1, 2013

'Rewarded! And Redemption..'

        'The-Club-at-ThePub' gathering, while a success for Panther fans and alums, did not translate into a lucky charm for 'TheBoys' chances against Epley, Mayer and Co., coming up short in a heart stopping OT loss. Whether Midd would've had converted the chance to tie with under 35 seconds on the clock will never be known. A Zebra's misconception of what constitutes out of bounds on a tipped ball gave the rock back to Williams, we had to foul and that was it. Tough medicine to swallow, and a long bus ride home. But from my skybox these thoughts can be offered. Learn something from the outcome. Then turn the page. Go write another chapter. The ball's in your hands. Salem and the big goal are still out there on the horizon.

      At 22-3, TheBoys were rewarded by the ncaa, with not only the sixth consecutive bid in Midd history (and by the way, now the second longest streak in the country) but a home game in the opener. The PantherFaithful will be rejuvenated after their draining trip to the fiefdom of Lord Jeffrey, and will be on the edge of their seats looking for TheBoys to take charge of Curry early. Curry comes in with an athletic, high-scoring trio, lead by Sedale Jones (22.1 ppg) , a big strongman in Stephens (16+ppg) and Paplambros (also at 16). Have not seen this group but analysis of the running box scores at Amherst, and others, is helpful. They clearly want a high tempo game, but think that their defense is somewhere below having too many holes in a block of swiss cheese. Trailing Amherst at 32-38 with 6:00 left in the first half, they gave up a 24 to 10 'run' to Toomey and his pals, and were toasted by the half at 62-42, never got closer and were buried 117-96. Twice after that they let teams get to the century mark, and neither Nichols nor Eastern Nazarene have the reputation or firepower of an Amherst. In two other games against WPI ( now 25-2) and MIT(20-5), they suffered major collapses down the stretch. WPI slapped them around with an 18-2 burst over a four minute stretch under six minutes, and so did MIT. Why cite facts and figures? Like any historian will tell you- what happened in the past forms the basis of what occurs in the present. Ah! The value of a Middlebury education. All these catastrophes for Curry occurred on the road, and more were out of conference. Attention 'Colonels' - welcome to Pepin. This is the second season. You play to earn every advantage, so that when you get there you can make it pay off. Saturday's hosting is an early reward.

      On paper the match-ups look to be in our favor. On the court, the view from the skyboxes is that they will be more so. Presume that NolanT., DPOY in the nescac, will see if he can fit the cuffs on Jones. This kid can squeeze off a lot of shots (he fired up 14 of 26 vs. Amherst), so keeping him from getting to the basket, or finding his best spots on the floor is paramount. Nolan as the disruptor of their 'O' opens the door to putting more pressure on other parts of their game. Joey, Jake and James get first call on Papalambros and A.Jones. Pedro matches up with Stephens down low in a bone on bone battle. It'd be great if the zebras let them decide it without much interference. And we also have NateB. to call on off the pine, when we need some spark on either end. If they want to run, bring it on! In the open floor with our passing game, and the weak-side cutters, Curry should have the problem keeping pace. And in the halfcourt game, it looks like they have problems defending. Curry is definitely 'do-able' and it should be without any need for the halftime lamaze sessions that this season has often produced. Midd moves on - to the ostensible meeting with Cortland State. 
      Whether Pepin is a second round site depends on how the ncaa weighs the strength of Cortland's region. But we'll deal with that after Saturday. It has been another remarkable season, but it's time to take it further, and this where our G. trio, and our ncaa experience are keys to this next round of thrills. Since for all but one, it will end on a somber note, enjoy the journey. Relish the moment. Scream for it. Slap high fives. Savor the memories it creates, because you never know when we're going to get back here. And to these great seniors- Nolan, Jake and Peter- should this be a last hurrah at Pepin- you've been exemplary, on the court and off. Thanks - is hardly enough.

      And remember: "down 'The Alibi' stairs, past MooseProvoncha's gas pumps, down the hill from the Panther's rock, and off the thirty-five second clock, nothin' but net". Be well. Clubbo.  

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