(Actually by Saul J)
So holy cripes. This season was great. The first half of the season saw a bunch of teams jump out to early leads in the standings & a few fall way back. But all of the teams in the B2 5v5 West were insanely closely matched. Towards the end of the season the standings started to reflect that fact.
Coming into the playoffs there were 3 teams tied for 1st place. In order to find the actual rankings, you have to look at head to head match-ups. ESPN beat 44 Minutes of Hell in their matchup. 44MOH beat 603. And 603 beat ESPN. So clearly, none of these teams deserves 1st place based on head to head records. Next the tie breaker looks at head to head point differential. Lo & behold. All of these games were decided by exactly ONE point each. WOW. So next you have to look at point differential vs. common opponents, and 603 came out on top.
So beyond the top 3 teams, there were 3 teams tied for 5th place. And even the 8th place team (The Men The Myths The Legends) were a solid match for most of the teams — they just got unlucky and had trouble finishing games off.
So let’s break down some playoffs predictions. Since the seeding is so close, there’s bound to be some upsets.
-603 vs. The Legends: I’m not going to sugar coat this. 603 looks great. The Legends don’t have enough scorers. 603 should win this one.
-PrimioTickets vs. Black Inside: this is a classic finesse vs. brute size/strength matchup. I think the Black Inside will be able to hang, but they will ultimately not be able to contend with the size advantage Primio brings.
-44 Minutes of Hell vs. Just the Tips: this is one that could go either way. On paper, Just the Tip-Offs should be a pushover, but (except for last week) they are showing great form coming into the playoffs. The first half of their season without Warren Whyte was pretty grim, but they have a decent chance to knock off the 6-3 44 Minutes of Hell.
-ESPN Highlight vs Oxford Boys: This matchup will be the closest. Both teams have the fire that drives winning teams, and they have the talent to match. No predictions, except that it will be an exciting game.
Regular season awards
Sniper Award: Joe Tilton. He didn’t lead the league in 3-point shooting, but he played such a specialized role, and always seemed to be able to find his 3 pointer whenever his team needed it most.
Best Role Player: Has to be Greg Ney. He’s a force to be reckoned with. His job is to clean up the glass and get put-backs when he can. He’s a wall down low. He doesn’t have a great shot, but The Men The Myths The Legends get their money’s worth out of him.
Best undersized player: Tight race between Nick Cicchetti (603), John Muccio (PrimioTickets.com), Micah Shapiro (Just the Tip-Offs), and Pierre Thelusma (Black Inside). All of these guys consistently grab more rebounds than their size dictates they should be able to. But I think it has to go to Pierre Thelusma. He’s the most active player on Black Inside, and he puts up numbers you’d expect from a guy 6 inches taller.
Best Point Guard: Between Antonio Sanquentin (ESPN Highlight) & John Rodier (44 Minutes of Hell). Both of these guys had some sublime assists this season, but the award goes to Sanquentin. He really plays with that playground looseness & creativity that makes his squad so much fun to watch.
Best Dunk: Brendan Sullivan (PrimioTickets.com). Actually there was only one dunk this season, but it was pretty emphatic; a nail in the coffin type of dunk. Like if the other team hadn’t already given up, they probably should now type of dunk.
Best Basketball IQ (the Scalabrine Award): Dave Shapiro (Just the Tip-Offs). Not that Shapiro plays like Scalabrine, but he consistently makes his team better in tangible and intangible ways. He plays the coach out there, calling plays & changing up the defense. And when nobody else can, he finds ways to score.
Most efficient scorer: Andy Ong (Black Inside). This guy is a phenom. Not only is he scoring almost 18 points per game, but he’s draining almost 4.5 three pointers per game. And the most amazing part is that his 3-point percentage is above 50%. He’s hitting 53%. And he can drive to the rim, or pull up for a J. He’s the most consistent and efficient offensive player.
Top candidates: Fernando Rosario (ESPN Highlight) – Dave Shapiro (Just the Tip-Offs) – Mike Malley (The Men The Myths The Legends) – Steve Gorynski (603) – Brendan Sullivan (PrimioTickets.com)
All of these guys played great seasons. At any given point their respective teams wouldn’t have had much of a chance without them. Rosario has the best arsenal — hitting 3s or driving the lane, there’s nobody in this league who can defend him 1 on 1. Shapiro put his team on his shoulders night after night and carried their offense. Malley is his team’s only true shooter, and without him they wouldn’t have any outside threat at all. Gorynski put up some career numbers this season — he was in the top 10 in points per game (2nd place), 3-pointers per game (8th), rebounds per game (1st), assists per game (6th), steals per game (6th), and free throws per game (3rd). Sullivan turns his team from a 7th or 8th place squad into a team that’s just 1 game back from first place. In terms of the sheer numbers, Gorynski is far and away the MVP. But in terms of the impact he has on his team, I have to say that Brendan Sullivan is this year’s MVP. His defensive presence puts fear into his opponents. He has a smooth stroke that’s accurate out to the 3-point line. And above and beyond, he’s the player who has improved his team the most this season.