These were the sights, sounds, and smells outside the SFDS gym last Saturday morning. But relax, fair citizenry, the Seville has not been resurrected. The sadistic Graybeard schedule maker slipped crack of dawn (10 a.m.) Saturday games into the mix.
With the early sun stabbing its way through the windows Blue faced off against Blue. Apparently the league outfitter has trouble with primary colors. Anyway, after wiping away some morning eye boogers players realized the uniforms were actually light blue and dark blue. And once the uniform confusion cleared, fans were treated to the most exciting game of the young season. An overtime thrilla, no less.
The first five minutes was played under deafening noise. Knees creaking, ankles cracking, backs snapping,---all the beautiful music of early morning basketball. And surprise, once the caffeine kicked in so did a pretty good game.
Light Blue welcomed Billy Collins to the fold, just a week or so after eye surgery. The only ill-effect of the procedure seemed to be the ugliest set of lens-less safety eyeware you ever did see. Something like those pointed rhinestone things women used to wear in the fifties. Collins ignored the taunting of Richie Ryan and Gary Carroll (aka Harold Sprewell), noted safety goggle aficionados. In fact, he stuck it to the "brothers from a different mother" for 10 first half points.
On the darker side, Leaper Howley, Dan "Shoefly" Conlon and Pete Brady combined for 26 as they took a 34-32 half-time lead.
The second half was a see-saw battle the whole way: did you see what I saw? Asked one fan after another.
What they saw was the Haley’s Comet of Hoops. Bill Nolan, ace of the 3-point arc, sacrificed his long range bombing to crash the boards and box out on the "D." That kind of effort against carbo-loaders like Shaq Armstrong and Jack (Butcher of Belle Harbor) Weber tells you all you need to know about Nolan’s circulatory pump. The question is, will you have to wait another 76 years to see it again?
Regulation ended tied at 64-64. Which meant OT. Which in this league brings to mind Old Testament---the period in which Gary Carroll was born. You’d think he wouldn’t have much spunk left for extended play. But Goggleman turned as hot as a burning bush and hit two huge hoops (are they any other kind in overtime?) and helped break the back of the Light Blue crew.
League observers think Gary Sprewell is playing the best ball of his storied career. The silver southpaw doesn’t disagree, "The last time I felt this comfortable on the court was during the Eisenhower Administration."
One player, we’ll just call "Sybil" hit two free throws with eight ticks left to put the game in the bank.
Collins led his squad with 26 and Brian King tossed in 19---which is just about the amount he’ll have to pour in weekly if this team is gonna make a run.
The morning’s second game featured the Men from Maroon against the Red Devils. Starting this early in the day led to some embarrassing brain-lock---even before tip-off. Long Haired George, groggy and running late, arrived still wearing his hair net. Greg Raphael showed up wearing black socks---and worse, played in them. Big Bob Risi looked like he was sleepwalking through his "I’m still on the job" dream: coffee in hand, cigarette in mouth, snarl on face.
The game itself had a few potential sub-plots: two unbeaten teams, the playing return of Kevin Boyle, and a warts and all (so to speak) Boyle, (Chris) versus Boyle (Kevin) matchup.
The Men from maroon came out percolating and raced to a 10 point half-time lead. Kevin Raphael, showed up with his game face (and his father) to score 11 in the half.
But his effort went for naught as the Marooners demonstrated a perfect second half collapse. After scoring 48 in the opening frame, they managed a paltry 15 in the second half and in the process snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The Red Devils, effective as the Marooners were inept, scored 40 to notch a comfortable 78-63 win.
But take this one to the safety deposit box: Maroon will not deliver another stinker like this the rest of the way. Editor Boyle was pathetic in his return and can’t get worse; J.D. Donovan played like Tiny Tim instead of the white Tim Duncan. Greg Raphael will likely wear white socks in the future and Tom Beachball Carroll will be able to play without the need of an oxygen tent as he gets into shape.
Many fans agree that the Red Menace are the early season chalk. Ah, but with such talk comes overconfidence. On his cell phone after the game, red-shirted Magic Edwards was overhead re-scheduling family vacation plans to avoid a conflict with the championship game. "Hey Mo, you telling me the Catskills won’t be sunny a week later? Gimme a break." Even Tom McVeigh, another red, admitted that he changed a tee time in anticipation in the finals. Don’t let your press clippings go to your head, fellas.
From the "somewhere in the world it’s past noon" department: Jim McCool delivered the breakfast of champions to the assemblage after delivering an air ball from the foul line.
Skipper Edwards turns 49 this week. His birthday wish: break my leg and put me out to stud. The man’s got charisma.
Three weeks into the season and still no sign of shorts with pockets. The few league tightwads are loving it.
Where have you gone Helen Brady?
PS: Machine Gun Kelly had the week off.The lovely Pat McVeigh felt that the players’ wives section in the stands was a little cramped Saturday. League officials will try to remedy the situation.
Haggard, hunched souls with vacant stares and coffee breath shuffle outside St. Francis DeSales. Untied sneakers, wild hair, unshaven mugs. The random, sudden, and funny sound followed by that odd aroma….