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Jan. 13, 2005

Slump continues as JV Blazers throttled at home

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
JAN. 12, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM

Since Winter Break, disorganized play and carelessness resulting in turnovers, has plagued the Blair JV boys basketball team. If tonight's 13-point loss to the Sherwood Warriors, which was never close, wasn't rock bottom, it sure felt like it. Blair was out rebounded in big numbers, failed to make lay-ups consistently, and committed at least 20 turnovers in a 49-36 loss, the Blazers' third in a row.

Blair (6-4) now appears to be a caricature shell of the team that got off to a 6-1 start; a team that was able to run and score with every team in the county. Since what has become known as The Great Roster Purge, Blair is 0-3, much to the anger and frustration of head coach Richard Porac, who cited turnovers as the main problem plaguing this team now.

"Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers,” he replied when asked why the game ended the way it did. "If we're letting the teams we play get 20 more shots than us, they're always going to win,” Porac said. All three losses in this stretch have come at home.

Porac's anger was evident, as he lambasted the team behind closed doors. He made the players stack the chairs in the gym after the game when an assistant asked Porac to organize them himself.

He blames his coaching for a lot of the problems facing the team currently. "We struggle to run; that's coaching and that's my fault. There's a lot of stuff out there that's my fault.”

The Blazers hardly hustled at all tonight, and they were also reluctant to get to the basket, shooting just eight free throws all night. To make matters worse, they only made three of those foul shots.

The team looked sluggish once again out of the gate, showing a lack of intensity and focus once again. The poor first quarter dug the Blazers a hole, and they trailed the Warriors (8-2) after the opening frame by the score of 14-7.

Sherwood was much more aggressive in attacking the basket tonight. The referees seemed reluctant at times to call what appeared to be obvious fouls, but the Warriors still managed to get to the free throw line 21 times, making 13 of those freebies, the margin of the game.

The Blazer defense was solid, holding their second straight opponent to less than 50 points in regulation. Porac switched between a 2-3 zone and a man-to-man system. Still, the Warriors were able to get to the basket to exploit the Blair defenders who couldn't get set in time to take a charge.

Blair did get some energy off the bench once again tonight with the substitutions of Darius Smith and Joshua Brown. Although they left minimal marks in the scoring column, Smith had four assists and three steals in limited time, nearly all of it coming in the fourth quarter when Blair tried to make a run that ultimately fell short.

Tori Patton had nine points and 11 rebounds, just one point shy of a double double. Matt McLain has shown marked improvement this season, and tonight he had 10 points and seven rebounds in the contest. Edwin Joyner was a monster on the glass tonight, snaring 12 rebounds, seven of which were offensive.

Even with the efforts of those three big men for Blair, Sherwood still controlled the game from start to finish. They had 15 offensive rebounds, and star Kenny Malloy had a night to remember, scoring 21 points while bringing down 15 rebounds, eight of which were offensive.

The Warriors avoided any foul trouble whatsoever, getting called for just seven fouls.

Blair attempted a rally late, pulling within seven with three minutes to play. But despite getting four offensive rebounds on the next possession, the Blazers were unable to make just one lay-up during the sequence; a failed sequence that sealed the third home defeat in a row.

"We're just going to struggle until we limit turnovers and until we make lay-ups,” Porac said. "And we're not showing any hustle, either.”

Even late in the game, following baskets, knowing well that full court press was necessary, some Blazers on the floor ran all the way down to the other end to let Sherwood walk the ball up.

But for Porac, the game came back to turnovers. Possession after possession, Blair squandered chances to get back into the game, blowing them with bad turnovers before ever getting a shot off.

"Simple math,” Porac said. "If other teams take 20 more shots in a game than us, we'll lose every time. The headline for this story should be 'turnover city.'”

Cheesy as it is, the lackadaisical play of the team is conveyed in the phrase. It was also conveyed in tonight's final score, with Blair only scoring 36 points total. Porac worries that his players aren't getting his philosophies.

"If the kids aren't getting the message,” he said, "then I guess it's my fault.”



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  • The Big Question on January 13, 2005 at 11:02 PM
    What in tarnation is the "Great Roster Purge?"
  • jv on January 14, 2005 at 11:38 AM
    where everyone gets moved up to the var
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on January 14, 2005 at 6:09 PM
    Read the last two game reports prior to this. Its all the JV stars who've been called up to varsity.
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