Tonight is the night fellow Mans. Two teams remain standing and one will be hoisting the “Kenny Kup” tonight. The great thing about this championship is that it truly features the best two teams in league. My editor Josh Levin gave me the responsibility of writing for tonight’s Joe League final. With such a big responsibility I needed time to ponder on who is going to win this match. It was a driving me crazy. I thought about every scenario, and every x-factor. So what better solution then to fly back home and rediscover my roots. I packed up the family and flew up to Manchester, New Hampshire. So as I entered Manchester, I admired the scenery, spoke to some locals, and drank a few local brews. But still, I had no idea what I was going to write about and who I was going to pick. While at my parent’s house, I found some old pictures of me and my buddies up at the White Mountains. There was this amazing picture of us in the White Mountains after hours of herbal meditation. In those days, I was in top notch shape and that’s when I was playing my best basketball. That was the year my team played Concord, NH and I was assigned to guard current San Antonio Spur Matt Bonner. That was definitely a highlight of my basketball career. Bonner absolutely destroyed us that game by the way. The “Red Rocket” was a beast in NH. So I decided to drive up to the White Mountains and do my thinking 3,000 feet above sea level.
While up there I actually saw some North American Black Bears. To be fair they weren’t in the wild, they were at a place called “Clarks Trading Post”. They had a bear show and one of the stunts the bears were doing was playing basketball. The trainer bounced a basketball to a 325lb bear, and the bear caught the ball. The bear then proceeded by carrying the ball over to a small basketball hoop and finished with authority. I sat there and thought to myself. Holy shit, if a Black Bear can catch a basketball and dunk it, anything can happen. From the draft to today, experts have been all over Max Blum’s Y-pers. They are the deepest team in the league from 1 to 8. So realistically they have to be the odds end favorite to win this game. However I guess anything can happen, like a bear dunking a basketball. So then I thought. Can EB O’Reilly really win this game? They got here by beating the number 11 seeded Wrap Shack and number 7 seeded Lucha Cartel. Can they take down the number 1 Y-Pers? I still do not know. So I decided I needed more time to think. I ended driving South on Route 3 to a town called Woodstock, NH. I stopped at a little restaurant called “The Rustic River Restaurant”. It’s a restaurant that was converted from a summer cottage to a restaurant. I walked into the restaurant and the first thing I saw was a stuffed Bear’s head on the wall. Hmm…. Is this a sign? I just saw a bear dunk a basketball, now there is a stuffed bear head on a wall. So granted a bear may be able to dunk, but mankind still shows its strength and dominates the bear. Then I thought, well I guess anything can happen but it really looks like the bear ends up losing at the end of the day. So I went outside to the porch of the restaurant and I ordered a fresh beer and cheeseburger. There was a small river flowing through the back of the restaurant called “The Lost River.” It looked pretty cool. I saw a few kayakers come by and it made me remember why I loved growing up in the “Granite State.” Finally I finished my burger and I headed down Route 3 to 93 South. As I was driving down 93 south I took the exit for Meredith, NH and stopped at Lake Winnipesaukee. I stopped by the lake and admired the beautiful mountains over this gorgeous lake. From here I started to really collect my thoughts and wonder, who is going to win this game? I thought about the bear dunking the ball, I thought about how the “Old Man on the Mountain” is no longer on Franconia Notch, I thought about the Bear head on the wall, and BOOM!!!!! It hit me. I’m sitting here in one of the most beautiful places in North America and I’m struggling thinking about who’s going to win the PMBL Joe’s Championship. Life is simple up here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The same should be said about who’s going to win this game.
Y-Pers has been the sexy pick all year. This team has probably the best guard combo in the league with Alex Kroupa and Jeff Gilman. They all play very well together and they’re smart. Brad Troyan has had an MVP type season and their bench is incredible. On the other side, Neer’s team is led by Jake Kind and Chad Goldstein. With a strong front court of Adam Bluestein and Chad Jaffe, they are one of the most complete teams in the league. So I’m going to keep this simple, just like life in New Hampshire. Here are the 3 keys to victory for each team.
They must find a way to contain Jake Kind. Jake went on an offensive tear and put up 30 points on Lucha Cartel. If they can stop Jake, they should win.
They must keep Chad Jaffe and Adam Bluestein off of the boards. These guys are very aggressive players and they limit second chance opportunities. If Y-Pers can win the offensive rebounding battle, they should win.
Limit Turnovers. EB O’Reilly plays very good defense and they cause turnovers. If Y-Pers can limit turnovers, they’ll have a huge advantage.
Put Chad Jaffe on Brad Troyan. If Neer doesn’t put Chad on Brad, then they lost immediately. Chad is a defensive guru. If Chad blankets Brad, I honestly believe he can hold Brad to single digits in points and rebounds. That’s absolutely critical. I keep watching these Y-Pers games and teams seem to think Brad can’t shoot a 3 pointer. HE CAN!!!! Chad- do yourself a favor and DO NOT LET HIM SHOOT THE 3!!!!
Rebound, Rebound, and Rebound. Limit their second chance opportunities. If you can keep Y-Pers off the boards, you can win.
Be Physical. Y-Pers needs to be pushed around. It’s tough with Alex Kanoff and Joe Janos. But you need to be physical. As your sponsor Ed O’Reilly once said, “Last time I checked this was a “Man’s” league. Don’t be a pussy.” That certainly applies here.
I think this is going to be a no brainer. EB O’Reilly won last week because they were the better team, however, with Jake Kind burying 3 pointers with a hand in face certainly helped. A wise man once said, “You live and die by the 3.” No offense to Jake, but I’ve seen him put up 30 points with his offense and then go 2-13. I think that happens tonight. I think Y-Pers wins this game and they win big. Alex Kroupa and Jeff Gilman are going to give EB O’Reilly headaches all night. I just can’t see EB winning the rebound matchup and Y-Pers will cruise. Like all season, it’s going to be tight at the half, but in true Y-Pers fashion, they will pull away in the second half and Max Blum will be holding the Kenny Kup tonight.
Y-Pers 58 EB O’Reilly 46.
Game MVP: Alex Kroupa