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Sunday, March 01, 2015

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I didn't see the early games, but caught most of the second half of the first A semi and the entire second game. Coach Simon has done a great job. He has guys who are willing to scrap with anyone. They held it close through the 3rd and for a bit in the 4th before Canisius superior talent took over while putting the game away.

Timon/Nichols was an entertaining game. While many things change, the Tigers no matter who is on the roster stays the same. They are always tough and difficult to play against. Add some nice talent to the mix and it makes for a fun team to watch. They played well enough to win but just couldn't convert down the stretch which ultimately was the difference. Nichols meanwhile went toe toe with the Tigers and did a nice job not panicking when Timon got off to a strong early start. Miner is a beast in the lane with great footwork and hands. Cam Lewis as usual was a tough match up with his length and ability to get to the rack off the bounce. Will Johnson was a treat to watch. He has a sweet J, able to get to the hoop and is very good with the ball in his hands. I look forward to watching his career develop. Kudos to Tanner Schmitt! Not easy for someone with his talent to come off the bench. To his credit he's doing what the coach wants even if he disagrees with it. I saw no signs of him hanging his head or pouting. Not easy! But he deserves much credit as a lesser character person would be a tumor to the squad under those circumstances. Equally important he seemed to steady the team when he subbed in a few minutes into the 1st quarter. He also help clean up the defensive glass where Timon had some early success.

Is Canisius a team of destiny? Can Nichols put up a fight in the final? To be determined?

Where have all the MMAA fans gone? No comments 7 hours after the semis?!! Back in the day, you know before centercourt was CENTERCOURT there would have been at least 30 comments by now.

One word of advice for the boys at Nichols, you can never ever jog back in transition defense. It doesn't take talent to bust your butt to prevent easy baskets. You did a pretty poor job today. You best figure out how to sprint EVERY time not once in a while! Effort is key if you want to be successful in high school and in college. Make it a priority!!

Stafford Trueheart is the best player in MMA and the reason that Canisius is the best team. He is the only serious contender to Zac Panibianco for player of the year. His quickness and athleticism allows him to dominate the paint at both ends of the floor.

Having said that Nichols size will give them a chance to contest Canisius defensively and finish down low offensively. If they can limit Canisius' runouts and force them into a halfcourt game where they need to consistently to convert jump shots, they can stay in the game. on the other end Nichols needs to pound the ball down low and try and get Trueheart in foul trouble. Nichols has the personal to pull off the upset, unfortunately they have not shown the will to use their size advantage at the basket, instead running a perimeter orientated offense.

I would think that Nichols will sit in a zone and make Canisius make jump shots, if they do, it could be a long night for Nichols. On offense, Nichols really need to get the ball inside as PBJ stated not only to try and get Trueheart in foul trouble but to attack the offensive glass which they did last year when they surprised (it wasn’t an upset IMO) Canisius last year. To me the key match-up will be how effectively Canisius can control Cam Lewis. If they allow Lewis to run the offensive from his forward position it creates a lot of problems for any team. However, Canisius has some excellent on-ball defenders (Justin Jones and Josh Hoffman) who will try and dictate the pace of the game via defensive pressure. Should be an interesting game, too bad it conflicts with the North/Falls game.

With respect, the Nichols win over Canisius can't be viewed as anything but an upset. Not only the biggest of the year, but the biggest in several years. Canisius came into that game with a winning streak against Monsignor Martin opponents that dated back to 2012. They were three-time defending Manhattan Cup champs that hadn't been played closer than 12 points by any team from WNY that season, including Nichols.

Nichols, meanwhile, came in an 8-5 mark in the MMA after having been swept by St. Mary's in the regular season. You're only "surprised" by the teams you're supposed to beat, and losing to a team you're supposed to beat is called an upset.

For my money, Canisius losing that game, with that team, led by a point guard who now starts for Montverde Academy, was about as big an upset as I've seen locally, except for the Jonny Flynn incident.

2009 Class A quarterfinal game where a lowly Cheektowaga team beat the #1 seed and a loaded (Dom Jackson and Dallas Gary) East High team is biggest upset in my recent memory. Other than Nichols beating Canisius last year.

Those are the top three in my time as well:

Sweet Home over Falls (Johnny Flynn) in 2007

Cheektowaga over East (Dallas Gary of Coppin St) in 2009

Nichols over Canisius (Howard Washington) in 2014

Although it would have to be characterized as an upset, anyone who saw the first game last year between Canisius and Nichols would have realized it was a possibility.

Nichols had the requisite size and ability to score down low against the Crusauders and not allow them to leak out in transition for easy points. The Vikings also were able to protect the basket on defense which left Caniusius as a perimeter oriented jump shooting offense, which they are very inconsistent at. They were not able to generate any offense and Nichols was able to run better halfcourt sets.

The difference I've seen this year is Canisius has involved their big men more on offense instead of settling for jump shots , they've picked up their pressure and kept Nichols on the perimeter and in the first game Reed was making open looks from 3.

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