Behind the Mic: Oh, Those Sibling Rivalries…

If you watch our Lafayette basketball games on RCN-TV or WBPH Channel 60, the name Joey Ptasinski should ring a bell… well, three bells, actually. I have been broadcasting basketball games for a long time (43 years to be exact) and Lafayette games for 17 years. I can safely say I have not seen a 3-point shooter quite like Joey Ptasinski. He is accurate, his release is exceptionally quick, and his vertical jump is exceptional. He has made 72-3’s this season alone to hold a comfortable lead in that department in the Patriot League. Joey has made 169–3’s in his career and currently sits in 5th place all-time in the Lafayette record book. You should know that he has done this in less than three seasons, with at least three more games to play this year. He also missed nine games as a freshman due to shin splints. The Lafayette record is held by Andrew Brown who had 285. Joey has a shot at that record.

This past Sunday Ptasinski made five 3-pointers, scored a career-tying 23 points and led the Leopards to a six-point win over arch-rival Lehigh. He shot with his usual deadly accuracy, making five of eight 3-point shots taken, 6-9 overall and was 6-6 from the foul line. In the previous game, he made 4-3’s out of six shots. He is good – he is really good!

However, he didn’t even have the best 3-point shooting week in his own family! Joey’s sister, Anna, set a new school record this past Tuesday with a jaw-dropping 10-12 performance from beyond the 3-point line for Regis Jesuit High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Anna’s head coach, Carl Mattei, said he had never seen anything like it. She tied the state record with three other girls, the most recent in 2012. Amazingly, because the game turned into a route, Anna spent a great deal of time on the bench. She now has 57-3’s for the season in 22 games. Joey’s 72-3’s has come in 27 games. Anna has one more regular season game and then on to the Class 5A state playoffs.

Joey’s career high is seven, both in a game at Regis Jesuit and again in college against Morehead State. No big deal for Anna – she hit seven in a game just two weeks prior! And this sibling rivalry will not end when Anna plays her final high school game. You see, she has enrolled at Lafayette College (poor Joey) and will play basketball for the Leopards.

Anna and her father were at the Kirby Sports Center on Sunday afternoon to watch Joey’s performance. I am sure John Ptasinski was really pleased with Joey’s performance. If Anna is anything like my sisters, she probably just yawned! But, after having met Anna, I don’t think she is anything like my sisters.

P.S. Joey, I feel for you, man!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
1. It sure looked like the US hockey team would accept no less than a gold medal in Sochi. They accomplished that goal. No gold and no medal. They were shut out in the bronze medal game. No “miracle on ice” this time.
2. The University of Oklahoma turned itself in to the NCAA this past May because three of their student-athletes ate too much pasta! In violation of NCAA rules, the three were served an extra pasta buffet at a graduation banquet (they all returned for an additional year of competition). They were required to donate $3.83 to a charity of their choice in order to be reinstated. They decided to donate $5.
3. Congratulations to Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman for attaining 2000 points in his high school career at Allentown Central Catholic High School. The boys’ school record is 2051 points by Billy McCaffrey. Muhammad has at least two more games and probably a few more than that. By the way, there have been four 3,000 point scorers in the state.
4. Wouldn’t you know, however, that the Central scoring record is held by a girl (seems to be the theme this week). Michelle Marciniak scored 3,025 points and is ninth all-time in the state.
5. The District XI basketball champions for boys and girls will be crowned this weekend in four classifications. Then on to the state playoffs. You’re always invited to join us!

 

Behind the Mic: The Shot Clock

The college basketball rules committee is meeting this week to discuss shortening the shot clock for men’s basketball. As I am sure you know, the current shot clock for men is :35 seconds and, ironically, for women it is :30 seconds. I have already written that I feel that the shot clock for women should be the same as for men, certainly not shorter. Now, do I like the idea of the men going to a shorter shot clock?

First, let’s look at the reasons for the discussion. The average scoring this year was 67.5 points, the lowest since 1952. There was also a great deal of complaining that the games lacked action and were boring.

There are two possible reasons for these stats and the complaints. Perhaps there are fewer shots, less shooting talent, better defense, poorer officiating, etc. Obviously, there are many more potential reasons than just having to put up more shots because the clock demands it. It seems like so many bad shots are taken now. The average shooting percentage this year was the lowest in 48 years. The defense is certainly emphasized more than ever and allowed to be more physical. In fact, I would argue that officials are letting much more go on defense. Statistics show that fewer fouls were called this past season than any NCAA season since the stats have been kept. Many college coaches firmly believe that scoring is down simply because of the way the college game is officiated.

I agree with the coaches. The shot clock does not need tampering. It is time to officiate the game as it should be and the game will change. Reward offenses that work for a good shot, not a desperate one. The physical play of college basketball is in two words, too physical!! Call the fouls that should be called and defenses will adjust. Scoring will go up if much of the pushing and shoving is eliminated.

If the NCAA wants to change the shot clock, take a closer look at women’s basketball.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. Sergio and Tiger had a war of words this past week in The Player’s Championship. Sergio accused Tiger of not being very well liked on the tour and Tiger accused Sergio of being a whiner. Finally, a little bit of NASCAR in golf. I like it! PS – I bet both golfers were probably right about the other.

2. I have been on vacation the past two weeks and, for the most part, away from news and sports. Good food and good times take the place of reality quite nicely.

3. The sport that was most available during my vacation was soccer. I just don’t get it. Looks like fun to play, but I just cannot get excited about one goal every 45 minutes or so. Shorten the field, eliminate off-sides (think basketball fast-break here), take a few players off the field and you will have more goals and more excitement.

4. I want to thank Scott Barr and Randy Kane for being guest bloggers the last two weeks. Wrestling and auto racing were their topics. It was nice to give those sports some space here.

5. It is good to be back at the desk and I am looking forward to the LVC high school baseball championship this week. Behind the mic is where I like to be.

The Real March Madness – Behind the Mic – March 18th

The brackets are out!! Everyone starts the week with high expectations to be the best in their various investments into the various pools (for amusement only, of course). I have been invited to participate in nine and the list could still grow. After all, it’s only Monday. So I have started my research and I have come to the conclusion that research will most likely do me absolutely no good.

This was probably the most unpredictable college basketball season in recent history. First of all, a tell-tale sign that this is the “Year of the Whaaatt?” is that the defending national champions, the Kentucky Wildcats, are not even invited. Add to that, there were six teams that were #1 at some point during the season. So if you think you are knowledgeable about college hoops this year, you are probably going to be a loser. This will be the year of the upsets. If there was ever a time to actually get your wife, girlfriend, nerdy husband, or boyfriend involved in your selections, this is the year. If you happen to go that route, prepare yourself for the “I like their colors”, “Their nickname is cute”, “What state are they from?”, “I like teams that begin with B”, etc. I know for those of us who are purists, this kind of babble can make one wretch. But, mark my words; this year might be that year! You can wretch now while making your picks or wretch later when you are tearing up the sheets with your picks on them.

The #1’s are Louisville, Kansas, Indiana, and Gonzaga. My basketball brain tells me to go with Louisville. They are the hottest team right now, just won the Big East tournament, and seem to be in a very favorable bracket. So, should you pick them to win it all? Don’t do it!! Too obvious. This should not be the year to pick the favorite.

Of the #1’s, I kind of like Gonzaga. Their schedule made them a mystery team, but I find it fun to root for them in the post-season. The #2’s look strong – Duke, Miami, Ohio State, and Georgetown. But, can one of them go all the way? Flip a coin, throw a dart!

So, who do I like?

Midwest – Memphis as a sleeper, but I pick Louisville.

West – Still like Gonzaga; don’t like Ohio State; New Mexico has a shot.

South – Michigan led by Trey Burke; Georgetown, maybe.

East – Bucknell!! (Just seeing if you are still with me). It should be Indiana, but don’t count out Miami.

Do I have to pick a national champion? Wait until I call my wife.


 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. I am beginning to get the sense that teams that know they are in the tournament don’t care much anymore about their conference championships. Plenty of #1 seeds did not make the tournament finals.
  2. I mentioned Bucknell, the Patriot League champion, up top, but how do I think they will really do? Mike Muscala is the best offensive and defensive player in the League. If he gets backcourt help, they can shock Butler. However, Butler already has beaten Indiana and Gonzaga. This is a very tough draw for the Bison.
  3. 40 years ago, Allentown Central Catholic became the first parochial state champions in the PIAA. They beat four undefeated teams in their last five games. It is really strange this year not seeing them in the state playoffs.
  4. As I write this, the Bethlehem Catholic Golden Hawks are the last Lehigh Valley team alive in the state playoffs. To me, they look like a state champion. They have size, speed, intensity, and, most importantly, talent. Go Hawks!!

PS – Don’t bother me until after April 6. I will be checking my NCAA pool! I want to see how my wife did.