ORADELL, NJ - While St. Joseph's of the Atlantic Ten is adamant about not being called St. Joe's, the Oradell grade school has gone by that name for years.
Always enjoyed this league and very happy to get back after not working it (choosing other leagues) the last two years. In the 5-6 level there is no pressing (thank the lord for common sense) and six minute quarters. The older group can press but not with a lead of ten or more points. Both levels do not have the three point field goal though it is almost humorous to see a wide open player shoot from beyond the arc rather than take another dribble for a closer shot.
5-6: St. Joe's (Oradell) 28, St. Andrews (Westwood) 8
From tap to final buzzer, St. Joe's was in command. As a good team, they have a luxury on this level of a few players able to run the floor and finish. Number three was especially impressive with her ability to get out and run and score in half court as well. On the subject of half court, the St. Joe's girls do run a nice zone offense with ball and player movement.
7-8: St. Joe's 29, St. Andrews 23
As was the case in game one, a pre-game prayer was led. Blessing players, coaches, fans and yes, officials. Today is 'senior day' at St. Joe's - the last scheduled home game. Parents are called to the floor and given flowers as their senior (eighth grade) daughters are recognized. A wonderful idea that more grade schools are starting to incorporate.
St. Andrews is improved but struggles to shoot from the outside. St. Joe's zones but that is their normal game plan. At one point they are cruising with a 10-4 lead. We are in 'game management' (close calls to losing team) mode. St. Joe's mass substitutes and slowly St. Andrews, on the strength of a good player (number 4), gets back into it. The lead is seven when starters are reinserted by Joe's. At that point they have lost momentum but do have enough to hold off the visitors.
Post game my partner Sean O'Brien says to me, "You should avoid full scale subbing; leave a point guard and/or center on the floor." Agreed as there have been times like this when the starters re-entered, they could not hold off the rally. Subbing four or three at a time is fine, my choice would be to leave a point guard on the floor to direct the offense and defense.
First time I worked with Sean in about five years. He's a very good official and makes a point of 'studying' how coaches interact with officials. We both have stories of a coach who can't stand us yet we get along with one who a lot of officials can't deal with. Point out in Division I men (no names will be used as both parties are still active), there is a coach who cannot stand a certain official who is one of the best around. It happens. As Sean says, "Like in business the human dynamic, not just calls or no calls, takes effect."
Overall, a very good day. The only setback was the snack bar only had Doritos, no hot dogs today.