Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Assorted observations

For my first post on this blog in absolutely forever, I should probably do something grand. But I've just got a little while before leaving for tonight's Milan-Flat Rock girls basketball game (a quick Congrats here to the Milan boys' team, which got their first win of the season Thursday night on the road at New Boston Huron), so instead here's five quickie thoughts from various sporting events I've covered the last few weeks:

1. It can't really come across in our normal game articles (though I've tried to make it clear), but Saline's senior center Kyle Larsen has been playing like a house afire (to borrow a fun colloquial phrase) all season. Other guys he's played against might have been taller, stronger, etc., but not one of them has been any craftier or smarter or more fundamental about playing the low block. I doubt anyone's keeping track of "most And-1's drawn" as a statistic, but I imagine he'd be the area's runaway leader. It's been a blast watching him play.

2. Can't say it's a coincidence that the same game 6-8 center Erik Gunderson returned to the Milan boys' basketball line-up after a brief injury absence resulted in the Big Reds' first win. Without him, Milan didn't have a player on the roster listed taller than 6-2, and frankly, I doubt a few of those guys are quite that tall, even. (If you've never heard, listed heights on a roster sheet are regularly an inch or two higher than a player's actual height ... even in the NBA, sometimes.) It's been admirable, actually, that Milan has been so close to pulling off so many big victories (vs. solid teams from Jefferson and Napoleon, for instance) when they faced such a staggering disadvantage. But it might work out for the best. Milan's shooting and ball-handling confidence seemed to improve with Gunderson out, so I wonder if that, combined with "Gundy"'s ability to keep the boards clean, might make the win in New Boston just the start of things.

3. I don't know enough about hockey to fully explain the difference between the '06-'07 Saline hockey team and this year's model, which is 7-6 currently (following a 10-2 pasting of a Lincoln team they drew a season ago) after losing their first dozen-plus games last year. At a glance, it seems like last year's bunch (with excellent senior players like Grant Phillips and Kelly O'Sullivan) couldn't have been that much less talented than this year's. My guess is that it's two things: 1) last year's team had talent at the top but not as much depth because of the strength of the previous year's team (which went to the state finals), whereas most of the players who absorbed their baptism-by-fire last year came back with plenty of ice time under their belts and much more ready to contribute 2) they started out with a couple of wins and have been able to keep their confidence level high. Of course, it might be something else entirely.

4. The word is that Milan's Lindsey Lammers will be back and playing for the girls' basketball team this season, which is nothing short of miraculous if you saw her injure her knee earlier this season. Put as simply as I can, her body went one way and her knee went in a direction that was not compatible with the way her body was headed. I've watched a lot of sports in my time, and it was the most painful-looking injry I've ever seen in person, in any sport on any level. I felt VERY confident her season was over and wondered if she'd ever play basketball again. Now she's apparently going to be back in just a few short weeks. Unbelievable, and unbelievably good news for a Milan team that could sure use her.

5. Just to give you a sneak peek on next week's column for the paper, it's about cool stuff that goes on at basketball games, and I discuss how much I love the song "The Final Countdown," used as entrance music in Milan and by the pep band in Saline. But I'll use this space to specify that "Carry On Wayward Son" will always and forever be my favorite pep band selection, hands down, no argument.

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