Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Henry Sibley Takes It on the Chin

The Henry Sibley boys have had quite a run over the past 4 years: 99 wins and 23 losses, and 2nd and a 3rd place in the Class AAAA tournament. I ran into former Sibley coach Dean Verdoes at a ballgame the other day, and he marveled at the fact that he had had 1 Division 1 player in 20 years as Sibley coach, while the Warriors had 5 in the past 5 years: 4 of them are Trevor Mbakwe, Chris Halvorsen, Mike Brusewitz and 7-footer Jake Krueser. I think he may also be counting Mike Rostampour, class of 2010, who is now playing JC ball in Texas. And this is not to mention Anders Halvorsen and Peter Leslie, who are playing at St. Thomas, and Jordan Jackson, who is with Rostampour in Texas.

So nobody's feeling too sorry for Sibley now that they're 3-and-9 after losing at Mahtomedi last night 61-55. (In the interest of full disclosure, my cousins play for Henry Sibley. I'm not going to embarrass them by telling you who they are. But though I live a half-block outside the Mahtomedi school district, I'm most interested in Henry Sibley's fortunes in last night's game.)

Part of the problem is that they're still playing a schedule fit for a top 10 team. They've played match games in three tournaments against #1AAAA Hopkins, #1AA Plainview-Elgin-Millville and #5A Maranatha, losing them all. Then there was a 12-point loss at #2AAAA Tartan, though that's a conference opponent whom they've always played twice a year and whom they had beaten twice a year every year since 2006 for a total of 9 straight wins.

Then, of course, there's last night's loss to an 8-5 Mahtomedi team who they've also played twice a year in the Classic Suburban Conference, and whom they had defeated 11 straight games going back to 2005.

What's the problem?

Judging by last night's game, there's a couple things. They just didn't put the ball in the hole, shooting 33 percent en route to a 35-32 half-time deficit, and then 29 percent in the 2nd half, and 31 percent overall. There were plenty of opportunities (70 field goal attempts), lots of them in the paint. But Sibley's starting front line shot just 5-for-23 according to my unofficial stats. Guards Dante Grant, a junior, and Adam Heussner, a sophomore, were not the problem, on the other hand, hitting 14-of-24 shots for 29 points between them.

Then there was the defense, which gave up way to many uncontested baskets, especially on back door cuts. Mahtomedi guard Dan Ferrazzo and post Dane Schmid were especially effective at finding the cutter, or Ferrazzo was just as likely to be the cutter along with most of the Zephyr perimeters. Mahtomedi also executed at least a half-dozen classic fastbreaks, which they usually finished with style, with guards Andrew and Zach Lindquist participating as both the scorer and the trigger.

Sibley's only lead of the night came at 3-2 on a Grant 3, but the Warriors missed their next 4 shots to fall behind 9-2. Ten minutes later they were 5-for-17 and trailing 29-16, but suddenly they made 5 in a row--3 by Grant and 2 by Heussner, plus a pair of FT by Jake Golberg--to get within 33-29 at about 2:00. A Heussner steal and 2 at 0:22 made it 33-32, but that was as close as the Warriors would come.

That's because the 6-9 Schmid dominated the first 5:30 of the second half with 3 buckets, including a terrific fallaway from 10 feet out on the left baseline and then a fastbreak layup at 13:30. There were 2 blocks and a board mixed in for good measure. Sibley, meanwhile, had made just 2-of-11 shots, and a timeout didn't stop the bleeding. At the 10 minute mark it was 47-37. The Zephyrs lead hovered between 5 and 11 the rest of the way.

A put-back by reserve guard Dajoun Davis got the Warriors within 47-42 at 8:35, but they immediately gave up an easy back door layup and a nice catch and shoot, both by Mahtomedi reserve Christian Smith, and the lead was back to 9 and then 11. The closest approach short of the final score was 7 at 4:21 but, again, the Warriors missed their next 2 shots and 2 FT. And at 60-53 Sibley missed 3 second chance opportunities as the clock ticked down from 0:39 to 0:10. Finally Grant converted the 4th second chancer but by then time was running out.

Still, the Sibley cupboard is not bare, as guards Grant and Heussner are a junior and sophomore, respectively. Inside players Jake Golberg and Alex Stafford are both juniors as well, and 9 other underclassmen are on the Sibley roster.

In addition to Kreuser, Jackson and Rostampour, the Warriors also lost coach Tom Dasovich over the summer, and assistant coach Lernell James moved up as head coach. No wonder there are growing pains. From what I saw last night, getting the Warriors back on the winning track might be as easy--or as hard--as finishing with the ball once you've pushed it into the paint. That, and shutting that darned back door.


  1. I've attended just about all of the Sibley games and not only agree but will push it a little farther "Somebody please step up". I've overheard sidebar comments about bad coaching, coach James is doing a great job, put the ball in the basket once and awhile and we will win alot of games.

  2. Thanks for your comment, doug. I'm hopeful about the offense, less so about the D.