Interesting things happen in Union men’s basketball games that often go unnoticed. Less interesting (but perhaps more entertaining) things happen in intramural games. To help see these games more clearly, two of our writers (Michael Chapman and Caleb Lay ) put together their thoughts on lower-division intramural action.
The Union EDGE team understands the secret of basketball by Caleb Lay
The EDGE team won one of my favorite games of the year due to their grit, effort and ability to play as a team. They understand the secret of basketball: being a truly great team requires 5-8 people to fully buy into playing for each other and understanding what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are.
Danny Turchick was the team’s point guard that had a vast array of dribble moves and wasn’t afraid to pull from deep, Drew Grisham was a shotmaker from inside the paint, Ethan nailed midrange shots, they had four role players (Josiah Murphy, Binh Morris, Johnny Mitchell and Lil’ Andrew Campbell) that knew how to keep the offense moving and provide support from the bench and Brock Hunt was a force on the boards.
Turchick told an opponent before the game he was going to make it rain from deep and that’s what he did, hitting at least five three-point shots. Hunt had one of the most absurd stat lines I’ve ever seen, recording at least 20 points, 30 rebounds, three assists, four steals and 10 incredible hustle plays. It was a beautiful game and was a reminder of why basketball is so great.
Christian Brown can drill it from three by Michael Chapman
Christian Brown, the starting shooting guard for This Is How You Rebound, might be the greatest shooter in the history of lower-division intramural basketball.
Brown was one of the stars in lower-division this season. He drained countless off-balance shots from well behind the line that energized both his team and the often-friendly crowd.
Oh, and did I mention he holds the Arkansas state record for most three-pointers made in a high school contest? He hit 13 threes in one game! That ranks ahead of Arkansas legends such as Malik Monk, Mike Conley Jr. and NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen. I honestly have no clue why this kid is in lower division.
The Nephews have moves too by Caleb Lay
I followed around a lower division basketball team this year as a semi-legitimate beat reporter. The team, Uncle Drew and the Nephews, won the championship last year and, as I’ve already mentioned, they added a few more pieces this year to repeat. They did repeat this season so they’re basically the Golden State Warriors except they actually won the championship after putting together a historic season, but I’m done praising just their big three of post-grads (Reinhard, Wells and Bell). This one’s for a couple of the other guys on the team.
Austin Rogers: Rogers can be the best player on the floor not named Adam Reinhard when he’s feeling it or decides to enforce his will on his opponents. He’s a bruiser on the boards, consistently grabbing offensive rebounds and knows how to get take his shots close to the basket. He’s the Andre Iguodala of The Nephews.
Luke Parrett: Parrett is one of the few players in lower division with grown-man size and strength that still knows how to put the ball in the hole. There were times this year when the big three couldn’t score, so McCormack would go on scoring streaks by himself, dominating opponents down low or using nifty midrange game. The thing that truly differentiates Parrett from other lower division players is his knack for finding the soft spot of zone defenses to make opponents pay with his consistent shot from 12-18 feet. He’s the Zaza Pachulia of the Nephews (if Zaza was actually good and likable).
Luke McCormack: McCormack was also a player possessing grown-man size and strength that knows how to score. There were times this season where having both Luke’s on the floor was unfair for other teams because they couldn’t defend the sheer size of the guys. McCormack’s surprising trait was his ability to make plays. He had possessions where he looked like peak Bill Walton, saving a ball from going out with a behind-the-back pass. forcing a turnover and making a crisp pass to a teammate for the assist all in the same possession. He’s some kind of Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut mix for the Nephews.
Troy Smigielski: There’s only one thing anyone needs to know about Smigielski— he’s really fast. He’s so fast he makes fast people look… not fast. Here’s an example: in one of the regular season games Smigielski showed up late and got in the game when they were already up by a bit. In less than one minute, he stole the ball and quickly scored on a layup which caused the refs to call the game— Smigielski’s so fast he only needs one layup to win a game. He’s the Leandro Barbosa of the Nephews.
I could never be a head coach by Michael Chapman
I was standing next to my team’s bench, trying to will our guys back into the game. We were down by six with two minutes left and I knew I had to give some kind of insight to the guys during this timeout that would somehow get us a win.
Coaching a winner-take-all playoff game (albeit, it was just lower-division intramural basketball) was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Until this night, I had never coached anything in my life, and every single possession mattered.
To make matters worse, I was just a last-minute sub-coach, so I was trying to trust a bunch of guys who I had never met, and, moreover, a bunch of guys were trying to trust their new “head coach,” who they had never met (to be fair, I was totally unqualified to be coaching a playoff game).
I honestly don’t even remember what I said in that huddle. All I remember is that we lost the game and my guys weren’t going to get a shot at the title. I was far more devastated than is reasonable for any loss, particularly in lower-division intramurals.
I am exceptionally bad at dealing with losing. Whether it’s sports, video games, or anything else even remotely competitive, I absolutely cannot stand the thought of losing anything. This game was no different.
After a week or so of mourning, I did get over it, but I couldn’t deal with losing games like this all the time.
I think I’ll stick with writing about basketball for now, at least until I mature a bit.
A Hero Establishes a New Order by Caleb Lay
At the start of the men’s upper division championship, Stephen Neu, senior and player for the Half Court Heros (not a typo, that’s their official name), scored the first points of the game on a half court shot.
“I knew right then we would win,” Jay Bishop, junior forward, said.
They did just that, jumping on a surprised Lambda Chi that was undefeated until this game. The Heros led the whole game, with Graham Draper, Neu and Bishop leading their team, and Union into a new era of intramural basketball, as it is the first team that wasn’t faculty or fraternity to win men’s upper division in a long time. (At least six years, probably more. I just don’t want to do that kind of research.) Hopefully, this trend of upper division being a an open race for the championship will continue as the years go on.