So here we are finally. Thirsty Thursday at the Morse finally coming to a close with the top seeded Silk Nasties taking on the No.2 seeded Genzyme Gang Green squad. For this momentous occasion – here is a breakdown – position by position. Use it as bulletin board material or heck, just don’t read it. But here is some bathroom material to start off your Thursday morning as we get ready for the holiday shutdown at the CAC and in most American companies. Terrible thing is – I think I have to physically show up Friday for work with a meeting at 9am. Yuck.
Oh yeah – fresh off my very first A1 championship in my very first try
I am here to breakdown every position and this huge match-up in the first season of B2 5v5. Who will claim the very first banner in B2 5v5 CAC history and have bragging rights forever?
With the Silksters as the top dog basically running the table (only one loss all season to the Rebels, who made the finals in the uber-competitive B1 5v5 League after leaving) – their players will be listed first.
Steve Barbuto (Silk Nasties) ~ Barbuto has a C League championship and if I’m not mistaken a C League MVP on his resume. Barbuto is the one of two current links between the Silk Nasties and the XJV squad that started it all. XJV just lost a heartbreaker to The Tribe this season in the C League (congrats to Broadway Joe!). Will Barbuto go 0-2 in championship games?
The Barbarian was voted as the 16th and final member of the inaugural B2 5v5 All-Star game SUPPOSEDLY being played after the holidays on Wednesday, January 6th at 8pm at the King School. Steve-O also was injured for the first four of five weeks of the season and has not shown one bit of rust in returning to the starting lineup just in time for the playoff run.
Usually Barbuto is the straw that stirs the drink for the Nasties but Spencer LeFlem has filled in more then admirably and Barbuto is not used to playing second fiddle so he is back in the driver’s seat so as far as Barbuto goes – so does the Nasties.
Strengths ~ outside shooting- if hot- white lightning hot. Can get to the bucket – quick first step.
Weaknesses ~ plays out of control if not hitting outside. Can drive into traffic too much and not find the open man.
Matt Peredna (Genzyme) ~ the man they call Disney. HA! Peredna had an off season this trip through the 5v5. Peredna is a former Defensive Player of the year in B2 4v4 play and can bring it big time on the’d’ end of the floor.
Peredna had a bust out offensive performance in the first round of the playoffs going 3-of-3 from three-land and if he could harness more of that sharp shooting in the finals – Genzyme may be tough to beat.
But something seems off with Peredna this season. Does he yearn for the 4v4 format? Is 5v5 that much different? Did the Gerrity Gate debacle from last season’s C League have him all in a tizzy all season long? Either way – the Matt Peredna that runs with The Turds in B1 and Genzyme in B2 is a little different then the one the 5v5 format sees night in and night out. Even missed out on the All-Defensive team this season – and that is usually a birth right for Peredna.
Strengths ~ Defensive pressure- can be best in the league with the effort. Offensive rebounding. Non-stop motor on the boards for a smallish guard can’t take your eye off him.
Weaknesses ~ consistency from outside on offensive end. No confidence to shoot when in a rut. Can take self out of the game with a few turnovers.
EDGE ~ Silk Nasties
Jerome Layman ~ the second of two ex-XJVers still patrolling the sidelines from this past season’s failed C League championship run. XJV should have won. There – I’ll say it. Layman should be looking at the double dip into the title pool. But now? He’s focused in shutting down the hot shot shooting of Van Tran. In the same mold as Peredna – Layman can get right up in your grill defensively but his go-to move? Straight up three-point marksman. Layman lies in wait on the left wing or left corner for most of the game waiting to make it rain like PacMan.
Layman is a feast or famine character though. He plays like the sixth option in a five-man rotation at times deferring to the rest of the crew for scoring. But if hot – don’t let Layman get hot – he can win games with his downtown daggers.
Strengths ~ 3-point shooting; defense; on-the-fly offense, i.e. plays the transition game with the best of them.
Weaknesses ~ relies on teammates to bail out the offense. Tends to complain too much which in a championship atmosphere could result in technicals galore from my main man Preston running the show. Almost too amped at times. Needs to cool down emotions.
Van Tran ~ Rip Van Tran, shoeman on the Message Boards whatever you want to call him- he can flat out shoot. Van can’t be 5’7″ in heels but somehow always finds a seam in the defense or wide open threes. Van’s been roaming the halls of the CAC for over four years now – not seasons, years – and somehow NO ONE respects the three-point prowess of Genzyme’s one and only Asian Assassin.
But with his veteran-ness comes age. Van has slowed a little and it shows on the defensive end. Also Van’s vertically challenged game hurts in the paint when teams start to focus on mismatches with taller guards. Don’t mistake Van’s pint-size image for a weakness though as the 130% max effort on both ends of the floor makes up for any shortcomings in the height or defensive mismatch departments. Its just getting tougher for Van to keep pace with bigger guards but the effort is never questioned.
Strengths ~ can be best outside shooter in the game tonight. Feisty on defense and is a leader on the floor despite relenting the point guard duties to Peredna.
Weaknesses ~ smallish physically and can be taken advantage of in the post with bigger guards (not stronger -cause pound for pound, Tran hold his own just fine).
EDGE ~ Genzyme
John Carolan ~ how appropriate – Christmas Carolan is coming to town! The last time Christmas was at the Morse for a Championship tilt ~ his XJV C League team was dispatched 42-14. Not only that – and I quote:
Really Christmas Carolan? I had 89 headlines cued up with Christmas music, Christmas carols, holiday cheer for all and you pull a two-point stinker? Tis the Season, Christmas Delivers Championship. Really? Really John? And then sit for the final six minutes of the game watching your fellow XJV-ers hustle to the bitter end? MVP-runner up?? Really? Really-you must be from Philly where they boo all things Christmas.
He was the MVP Runner-Up and pulled that on the big night. Is he having nightmares still? But that was then and this is now. Oh yes – I wrote that exactly one year ago.
This season? He pulled down an All-Defensive Team Award in B2 5v5 to show I’m paying attention. Carolan’s length can frustrate shooting guards and bring some bigger power forwards to their knees. Carolan is almost averaging 14 points on his own this season and close to the double-double average this season.
But Carolan is almost too quiet. He is the anti-Layman. This helps 80% of the time as teams tend to not pay attention to Carolan’s game especially on the offensive end. He can shoot, drive to the rack, pull up for the 15 footer – yup, a do-it-all PTP-er. His lack of flamboyance is an asset to the Silksters but if he is in a funk – the Silksters engine starts to sputter too cause a lot goes through Carolan (or should).
Strengths ~ can defend anyone and any position. Help defense is real strong. All-around player on both sides of the ball. Can score from anywhere – not at will – but a complete offensive package.
Weaknesses ~ disappears WAY too often
(see complete story ~ http://www.crfcbasketball.com/ww_past.php?leagueID=116&leagueSET=12&week=13 )
Finally – Carolan can defend anywhere on the court but he needs to bring his A game because�
Patrick Lawson ~ the scoring champion in the very first B2 5v5 season can boast he was the first to do it. Lawson is undeterred by the haters and will fire away from anywhere – and I mean anywhere – on the court. Sometimes he can be totally offensive or the total offense. Lawson will dictate the flow of this game with his scoring if he can consistently get to the rack. Carolan will most likely get the assignment to stop him from doing this – but Lawson has a comparable motor and can run all night long.
His penchant for going into funks can sink Genzyme though. Lawson has a tendency to keep shooting when teams almost dare him to fire away from three land instead of killing people to the rack. On or off ~ he’s shooting and makes no apologies.
Strengths ~ Offensive juggernaut. Can score 30 with some effort and determination. Best pure scorer on the floor. First step to the rack – has huge strides making his slashing game difficult to defend. Very even-tempered ~ can’t be rattled and epitomizes the “it’s just a game” mentality.
Weaknesses ~ tends to settle and rarely finds the open man. As in settles for three-pointers from 30-feet away. Will slack on defense if not prodded. His laisse-faire attitude lends to doing too much and can take Genzyme out of their flow.
EDGE ~ Genzyme
Spencer LeFlem ~ now LeFlem would never be mistaken for a true power forward and Carolan probably is considered the power forward but for match-up purposes, LeFlem lands here since Carolan should be guarding Lawson who is always on the perimeter.
I’ve patted this dude on the back so many times my hand print must be inside his jersey permanently. But LeFlem didn’t win the MVP by accident. His shooting, his toughness, his leadership on the court. All spelled M-V-P. He stepped up his production across the board when Barbuto went on the disabled list. Funny thing? From I see in the stat sheet – LeFlem is a true rookie to the CAC. A Rookie won MVP? Now that is rare. And LeFlem is a rare superstar.
With Barbuto back though – LeFlem struggled to reach double figures in the first round of the playoffs but was back in form last week with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Solid to say the least.
Strengths ~ he is the MVP?! He is solid all around. Shooting from outside, driving when needed, can rebound in the paint despite being on the wrong side of six-feet tall. Knows when to toss em in from downtown or go bang inside with the big boys – basically knows his limitations and exposes others.
Weaknesses ~ can’t seem to find top-dawg flow with Barbuto back – but that may have changed last week. Shot selection can be erratic and can be defended on the perimeter.
James Porter ~ total enigma. One night ~ he is firing on all cylinders, can score in bunches, and looks like the man amongst boys. The next night? Can’t handle the ball, has difficulties finding passing lanes.
Porter’s attendance has been an issue and Chris Harvey has been forced into duty more then usual for the Evil Empire. Porter can hit it from outside but despite his height advantage in the B2 – he rarely ventures into the paint on offense.
Strengths ~ outside shooting, can defend small guards on perimeter.
Weaknesses ~ shies away from contact in the paint. Does not slash nearly enough for his size and ability. Can be forced into turnovers off the dribble.
EDGE ~ Silk Nasties
Brian Kimball ~ mid-season I had a lame attempt at linking him to a soap opera star on the Message Boards. It didn’t stick. But what does stick is Kimball stingy defense in the paint. Averaging a block a game and 11 rebounds a night manning the middle. Kimball is a little clunky on the offensive side of the ball averaging only 8.6 PPG in a league built for big men to shine. He gets plenty of touches especially with the Silksters firing from downtown 10-12 times a night and Kimball doing all the boarding he can.
Strengths ~ takes up plenty of space. Tough and strong in the paint. Can’t be moved off block easily. Can outrebound anyone.
Weaknesses ~ limited offensively against tougher defenses. Can’t score much from outside 10 feet. Very right-handed.
Scott Mulholland ~ simply put Scott was runner up for the MVP this season AND won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. His offense has improved all season long and can now be counted on as a force with his back to the basket.
Easily gets into foul trouble which hurts Genzyme quite a bit as they are small on the front lines without Mulholland. Needs to temper his shot-blocking expectations. While he led the league in blocks and Player Rater – tends to get out of position looking for the next big bug swat.
Strengths ~ Defensively – there is no one better in B2 5v5. Game-changer in the paint. Had nine blocks in the first round alone so teams need to be wary driving to the hole.
Weaknesses ~ can be up-faked repeatedly ~ leaves feet too often. Out of position on offense as his expanding offensive game takes him outside the paint more then he should when he could be dominating the offensive glass and posting up with the best of them.
EDGE ~ Genzyme
Silk Nasties – when fully staffed – are the deepest team in the league. Gowell, Bisson, and Kopriva all play important roles in the offense. Gowell and Kopriva really give Kimball big help on the boards in a pinch while Bisson spells Layman from outside the arc and is definitely spunky enough to steal a few rebounds from time to time with his underrated jumping.
Genzyme features the very unselfish Chris Harvey and Keith Palos along with the sixth ‘man’ of the year ~ Erin Johnson. All three of these players defer a little too much to the starters as Harvey can play with anyone in B2 especially with his patented baseline fade away and probably doesn’t shoot enough. If Harvey and Palos can combine for 12-15 points off the bench ~ it could be the difference for the Gang Green.
EDGE ~ Silk Nasties.
Well – as you can see – the head-to-head match-ups are dead even 3-to-3. The difference though? Silk Nasties have both victories from the regular season over Genzyme. In week 7, 60-47 and in the final week of the regular season, 58-56.
So Genzyme got close in the second tilt with four players in double figures but the sharp-shooting Van Tran fell short with only six points. Easily the difference as both teams were fully staffed with Barbuto and LeFlem really starting to click together.
So looking back to Week 7 in the 13-point win for the Nasties – LeFlem and Carolan did the damage while – again – Van Tran was held to six points.
Note to Genzyme ~ get Van Tran off to a hot start. Simple game plan.
Note to Silk Nasties ~ continue to frustrate the Asian Assassin and it seems to be the key to victory with or without Lawson leading the game in scoring.
Vegas Line ~ Genzyme vs. Silk Nasties (-7.5)