Semifinal Playoff Action This Week

August 8th, 2023

We finished up the first round of the Summer 2023 playoffs and it went great. We had lots and lots of really close games

Some might ask why first-round games would be so close, but you need only look at the standings and see that a majority of the teams in the League finished within one game of .500 (one way or the other). I've written about this before, but I have to tell you again that its so cool to be reffing a game on my court, look up to see that it's a tie score late in the game, then glance over at the scoreboard on Skippy's Court and see that the game on that court is also tight. Here are some of the scores from yesterday:

55-52, 71-69, 71-68, 49-47, 51-50 (overtime), 72-69, 77-75, 58-55, 55-53, 67-66, 59-58, 46-45, and 61-58. 

That last game, between GGTM and Team UGLY, was one of the best games I've seen in a long, long time. Back and forth, high energy, great athletic plays on offense and defense...and really great sportsmanship, especially for such a tight game. Both teams should be congratulated. Marcel Dean led UGLY in scoring, hitting on several acrobatic drives to the hole and sinking a couple threes. But GGTM countered with the old Amphi trio of Fred Simms, Malcolm Millner, and Lester Medford. Lester has been playing professionally in Italy, but is home for a while and is playing with his high-school teammates.

There was another great game on my court Sunday night, pitting 76ers Minus 7 against Dinosaur Pizza Party. (Apparently, we have completely run out of actual basketball team names.) Dinosaur got off to a horrible start, probably shooting around 30% for the entire first half. Despite having a decided height advantage, they missed several inside shots. Midway through the second half, they were down 15 and it looked hopeless. But then, Dinosaur guard Omar Meziab hit four straight threes and they came back to tie the game. They even took a small lead briefly. I thought that, with their momentum, they would pull away. But the 76ers gathered themselves, grabbed the lead back and pulled out a three-point win.

A long time ago, there was a comedian named Henny Youngman whose act consisted of cliches and jokes you'd heard a dozen times, but because of his delivery, you found yourself laughing at them anyway. My favorite went like this:

Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.

Doctor: Well, don't do that.

I thought about that the other night when we had yet another Knucklehead Flash Mob, guys gathering to act like jerks instead of ballers. I've kept track of things and it turns out that all four games (out of more than 350 this season) in which we have had to stop the game because of inappropriate behavior, all four were at 8:00 at night. It got me to wondering. Why the last game of the night? Should I not schedule 8:00 games?

Before we explore that, let me mention that having the last game(s) of the night start at 8:00 is a relatively new phenomenon for the Tucson Basketball League. Twenty years ago, when we were at the Steve Daru Boys and Girls Club, we occasionally had games that started at 11:00 p.m. and ended at midnight. We had three or four teams made up of guys who worked at restaurants on Sunday and didn't get off work until 10:00 or so. Not only that, our first game of the day was at 8:00 a.m.

Getting back to the present, I wonder if a guy or two who will be playing in the late game has had all day to drink (and/or smoke) and then shows up not in the right frame of mind. Or maybe he's bummed that he'll have to get up in the morning and start the work week. Whatever the case, he's not in the gym for the right reason and soon he won't be allowed in the gym at all.

Some people just don't get it. They think it's perfectly okay to run their mouths non-stop, talking shit to their opponents and berating the refs. They are learning the hard way that it's not okay. I won't give specific examples, but please know that the purge has already begun. 

Two things that will allow us to end on a positive note. First, a few seasons back, there was this team that had a guy would would not shut up. He talked non-stop, constantly complaining and being a complete jerk. His team, which was in the 6th Division (out of 12), won their first-round playoff game. But then, in their second-round game, they had to play a team in the second-highest division and they took a 30-point ass whuppin'. After the game, the team captain asked me why they had been moved up. I said, "Why do you think?" They returned the next season without Mr. Mouth and they are still (happily) in the League.

The other involves a game the other night. Twenty seconds into the game, I called a foul on a shot. The guy I called the foul ion was not happy. He shouted, "Tom, that's a horrible call. That's the worst call!"

As they lined up for the free throws, I said, "Dude, I've got 35 minutes in which I can make way worse calls than that.."

He laughed and we slapped hands.