Sunday, April 21, 2024

Previews no real guide


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In this week’s ON THE BALL edition, NATION basketball writer Justin Marville continues his weekly review of the Premier League.
SO WHAT HAVE we learnt from the Lakers-Cougars, Pinelands-Sonics regular season matchups now that the play-offs loom for both series?
Absolutely nothing.
Yes, there should be some sort of statistical data to pick at, and tendencies to study, considering that the matchups each featured at least two games apiece over the course of the season.
But good luck trying to get anything resembling a reliable trend from either series bearing in mind the huge circumstances that changed from game to game.
Take for instance the Pinelands-Sonics series, where the latter throttled their rivals by 29 points in the first contest before going on to drop the next encounter by a just as daunting 19-point margin.
Well, you can all but throw out the first result, and any stat derived from it, as the Pine had yet to acquire a certain Jeremy Gill or Corey McDonald while still running a humdrum offence through Charles Vanderpool in the post.
So you think Pinelands’ 19-point win gives a better indication? Guess again.
That blowout just happened to take place in the YMCA, and not the indoor confines of the Wildey Gymnasium or the Barbados Community College (BCC) (the venues for the postseason) – the last of which favours St John’s for their perimeter shooting.
Sonics already had secured their postseason berth, too, though it wouldn’t be quite fair to Pinelands to suggest that the game meant nothing to a St John’s team still battling for seeding.
Then there’s the other series that also just recently witnessed a 29-point rout by Lakers in a game that didn’t feature Cougars stars Adrian Stewart and Ricardo Jemmott for a single minute.
So the closest thing to a dependable sample study probably comes in the form of Cougars’ 102-100 overtime stunner, and even that is somewhat misleading considering the now absent Vanrossi Holder (12 points, six rebounds) played a significant role in that result.
And of course you know who is being tasked with not only the unenviable job of breaking down both series, but also the next-to-impossible mission of predicting an outcome for the matchups.
Yeah, good luck with that.
• Yes, I know I said Lakers’ second-round rout of Cougars was pretty meaningless, but exactly how comfortable could head coach Wade Medford really be feeling about his chances right about now?
Make no mistake, Lakers needed that win for their self-confidence more so than Cougars as they would be entering a series against an opponent that would’ve swept them – without their best two players to boot.
But giving a champion side the confidence of a 29-point margin could only spell trouble heading into a short series where every single, minute advantage counts.
Worse, they afforded Keefe Birkett a slew of open looks and now the country’s best jump shooter is entering the series with a rhythm.
And it’s not like Cougars are exactly clicking on all cylinders right now either, having dropped four of their last five contests by an average of almost 15 points while dealing with some well-publicized in-house fighting.
However, that slide also coincides with Stewart’s absence, and Cougars could very well turn it on for the postseason when their star small forward returns for next week’s postseason.
They could also flame out in a first-round sweep, too, and they would have no one but themselves to blame for boosting their opponents’ belief just a week before facing them.
• That said, if I were Cougars, I’d do everything in my power to avoid playing the postseason at BCC. Or more specifically, playing Lakers there.
I’m sure it’s been drawn to their attention that Birkett is quite fond of the Eyrie venue, but just in case they hadn’t realized, the Lakers shooting guard now has point tallies of 27, 35 and 44 in the friendly indoor confines of that said gym.
It’s not like the men from Husbands are a one-man band at that venue either, as the short arcs and huge rings seriously favour their bevy of jump-shooting guards that includes Andre Lockhart, Adrian Allman, Ian Alexander and Jamar King.
The relatively short length of the court also doesn’t help matters any, with Lakers the best top flight team at changing ends of the floor quickly.


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