This may be the most exciting time of the year as we have the always interesting holiday party season combined with the always entertaining CRFC playoffs. Both of these events are capable of changing your life forever, so what more can you ask for really? Here is a quick peak are the Stardustís opening lines for both the B2 East and B2 West divisions.
#1 BALCO (9/5): After a pre-season ranking of #6 by yours truly, BALCO finally gets the respect it knew it deserved all along as they had a fantastic inaugural East season and proved that they not only belong, but they are in fact top dog. Everyoneís Favorite Point Guard Matty Oí and the Big Fish Matt Gill have been playing great inside/outside ball of late and they have to be considered the favorites to win it all after that huge comeback win over Serenity Now last week. The key for this team will be to make sure Rookie of the Year candidate Tom Reilly gets involved early as they will definitely need his scoring punch for the playoff run.
#2 Serenity Now (2-1): Will the Good King Adam Kneeland finally get his 1st CRFC title this season? Or will Serenity Now continue to be cursed by the ghost of Cosmo Kramer? Having MVP candidate and league leading scorer the PK Broiler Paul Krezanoski on your squad will certainly help break any curse, but the key for this team will be if Collin Vataha can step up his game enough to be the difference maker that I think he can be. Kneeland has had a great season in the post, but, even though I give him much props just for being out there, Bigshot Tom Biggins has struggled a bit coming back from that serious ankle injury and is operating at only about 30% capacity. Many question marks remain for this pre-season #1 team and itíll be very interesting to see how it all plays out. Remember, Serenity Now, insanity later.
#3 Biogen (4-1): Maybe the toughest team to match-up against in the league with the J&J twin towers of John Schmid and Jeff Bowen. And donít forget their streaky TíNíT backcourt of Todd Cogdell and Van Tran. Thomas Grupee is back as well, but questions remain as to his readiness after that extended sleep study where he was woken up by a blow horn every 37 minutes and then slapped around to measure his reaction. Outside shooting consistency as well as attendance could make it difficult for them to win it all in their inaugural B2 East season.
#4 Ripcord (6-1): Some pretty good value here at 6-1 as this team is capable of beating any team on any given night with the firepower of Slim Shady Ian Tosti and the Iceman Jean Cadet. Ian Whitney has yet again improved his own game from last season and is dying to pass me in the CRFC title count (maybe I should start playing in 5 leagues a season like he does?), but the key for this team will be the streaky shooting of Jeff Nally. If he catches fire, anything can happen as this 4th seed is a very scary and dangerous match-up.
#5 Cha-Ching (8-1): Over the past few weeks, I have seen a lot of changes with this Cha-Ching team. They have finally shown the intensity and fire that I think they have been lacking the past few seasons and I think that is exactly what this team needed. Unfortunately, Rookie of the Year candidate Brian Greenburg will not be healthy for the playoffs with a possible broken bone in his foot. Mike Kuzdeva has had a great all around season and Frank Emery has found his shooting touch of late, but I think the key for this team will be the play of Bryce Gibson. He is one of the leagueís best players, there is little doubt about that, but at times I think he can be a little more assertive on the floor. Hopefully Captain Jared Ciancolo has postponed all of Gibsonís trips to Asia this holiday season.
Mullets (9-1): How the mighty have fallen. Usock Changís master plan of getting rid of JaySar and taking on the leading man role has backfired to the point that the team has already submitted a roster for the winter league with Jay Sarís name on it three times. Dave Colanto is in the running for most the leagueís Most Improved Player award and Danny Oí has had another solid season, but this team will need to really catch fire to contend for the title again this year and keep the dish in Saugus. But I think their game with Biogen will be an interesting one and an upset is not totally out of the question for the Mullets. As Rudy Tomjonavich has said many times, never underestimate the heart of a Saugonian!
Drago (12-1): Losing Josh ìMVî Piekarski this season was a difficult adjustment for this team, but they have improved as a team throughout the season to be competitive. Sean McNabb and Most Improved Player candidate Mark LeFave have had great command of the post of late, but the problem all season log has been this teamís ability to put up points on a consistent basis. And like the great Neil Diamond in the 70ís, a move out west has to be on their minds. ìL.A.ís fine and the sun shines most of the timeÖî
Millenium (14-1): This team has been hampered by injuries all year long as Mr. Fantasy Stat Fred Bermont and Kevin Huestis are presumably out for the remainder of the season. ìThe Busî Ken Doyle has stepped up his game to keep his team competitive and try to carry it on his back, but without Bermont and Huestis this team has very little hope at a title shot after backing into the playoffs thanks to Ian Whitney and his Ripcord men. And without Bermont, I have an opportunity to have a very pleasant and cheery holiday season.
#1 Genzyme (8/5): Is this the year for Genzymeís long awaited 1st CRFC title? League MVP candidate Mike Knemic and Rookie of the Year candidate Mike Santos lead their team into the playoff s after a superb regular season where they rattled off 9 straight wins. It is their league to lose, but that has been true before for this team. I think Deep may have his team finally focused enough to win it all, even though I havenít seen him in a few weeks, so he may be vacationing in Tahiti right now and not be focused at all.
#2 A Tribe Called Monkey (7:2): After a brief mid-season slump, the Tribe is back on track behind the always entertaining Broadway Joe Andrade and always reliable Brian Gowdy, who takes the extra time to call me sir when he is complaining to me about a call. That is really classy, I must say, and I appreciate it ñ kudos to whomever raised him. The key to this team will be the improved play of Akhil Goel as his outside shot has improved with the birth of his new baby. Team play will be the key to this teamís success, but they do have the firepower to win it all.
#3 Fred Roberts (5-1): The Cooz has assembled a very fine team built around MVP and Rookie of the Year candidate Ken Abrahamson. Newcomer Chris Simpson has been a great addition on both ends of the floor all season long as well, and the improved play of both the Matts have this team playing very well heading into the playoffs. Does the Cooz have another trick up their sleeve for the playoffs? Stay tuned.
#4 B Squad (5-1): This squad has played inspired ball all season long and this weekís game against Genzyme was a good barometer for them. Justin Amad is a dominating inside presence on both ends of the floor and floor general Steve Horton has been playing well of late, but at times, the B Squad brand of basketball is just like my reffing ñ haphazard and very tough to figure out. Mike Salamas can be streaky at times, but when he is hot, he can hit from anywhere. I also think Tim Walling has more points in him as well if he gets the touches.
#5 ALS-TDF (7-1): With MVP candidate Shaq and point guard Myron, this team can play with anyone. Attendance has been a challenge for them all season long as not having a sub may take a toll on them come playoff season. But if they can get Mr. Williams to their playoff games, they will be very tough to beat and itíd change this entire playoff picture.
#6 Expos (10-1): After sneaking into the playoffs on the last night of the regular season, this team suddenly finds themselves with the 6th seed. Tough to tell what will happen with this team as Mike Louca can carry them if he gets hot, but if gets cold, they donít have a lot of high scoring options. Jeff Kushmerek looked good in the post last week and seems to have recovered from his injury, so he could add some scoring punch.
#7 Ladies First (9-1): A great opening season for the Ladies First as they continue to surprise the men with some good old fashioned basketball fundamentals. Erin Johnson is a Rookie of the Year and possibly an MVP candidate in her own right – love seeing her just abuse guys on the break. Terra Curtis continues to be a woman amongst men in the post as she was 1 rebound shy of averaging a double double, but this teamís problem all season long has been defensive rebounding against bigger teams. If Weslander, Robinson and Johnson can put together a nice shooting night from the outside and Terra can hold the fort down low against Gowdy, they will give Broadway Joe and the rest of the Tribe all they can handle.
#8 Wheelers (15-1): The Wheelers finally have some size to play with as Pierre has done some overseas mid-season recruiting. And anytime you have Jad Jennings in the backcourt along with Pierre, the opposing team is going to have some match-up problems. But theyíll need to defend the inside much better than they have all season in order to give Genzyme a run for their money.