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More class-work

Some basketball thoughts gathered while waiting for my plumber to thaw a frozen water pipe in my house ...

* How about that basketball week for Bishop Timon-St. Jude? Just to review: A week ago, the Monsignor Martin Association ADs vote them as a Class B school based on strength, meaning that the Tigers are among the bottom four schools in the league. Then they beat the two best teams in the league (Nichols on Tuesday, Canisius on Friday). The thing is, all we should be talking about is what an outstanding job the Tigers did and how exciting the Manhattan Cup playoffs should be (which they should). Except I'm shaking my head that the league made them a B in the first place, and wondering if they can change them back to an A (here's hoping so).

* As far as The News' polls go, we go by enrollment. That means Timon is a large school and Nichols is a small school. When Turner/Carroll was moved up to Class A for several years, we still had them in the small school poll.

* Great to have two excellent posts by two of the state's high school sports statesmen: Western New York (and New York State) super-statistician Paul Hutzler as well as New York State Sportswriters Association president John Moriello.

A couple of points to follow up on the comments by Moriello (read Moriello's outstanding blog at the state sportswriters' site here) -- although I definitely won't compete with his awesome name-dropping.

It's the state Catholic association that deems schools be classified by strength, which is a very important factor. The MMA is just following orders from an entity which consists of only four factions (Buffalo, Manhattan, Brooklyn/Queens, Long Island). Can you see that three of those are not like the other? That means that generally, Buffalo has to go along with what downstate wants, because simply it will get outvoted. Downstate doesn't want Buffalo putting its best teams in smaller (read: weaker) classifications, and I think they've got a great point.

That's why Turner/Carroll was moved up for several years, and why they moved Nichols up this year, and both of those moves make sense. Unfortunately, Catholic schools cannot just be neatly classified by size (see New York City's Catholic superpowers, which, more often than not, have enrollments which are less than AA size). That makes classification very complicated: how do you know how strong teams are before they've played a game?

Should the leagues classify at the beginning of the year? Maybe. But that way, Nichols would be a B, and the Vikings are truly better than that. And, as others have noted, these midseason promotions aren't new: several years ago, St. Mary's on Long Island (I believe during current North Carolina standout Danny Green's senior season) was moved up from Class A to AA based on an outstanding resume.

And spare me the victimization of Nichols, the claim that it's unfair they're being put in Class A. They deserve to be in Class A: they put themselves in that tier by starting 17-0 against not only their outstanding league, but many of the best large schools in Western New York (including five of the top 10: Canisius, McKinley, Riverside [twice], St. Joe's and East). Like I first wrote, it's a promotion, not a penalty. It would certainly be much more unfair, for all involved, if they entered the state playoffs in Class B.

Buffalo's best team should go to the state Catholic playoffs (and the Federation tournament, if they reach it) as an A. Nichols is one of the league's very best teams. So they should be an A. It's that simple.

But while the MMA did the right thing with Nichols, they totally went off base by dropping Timon down. If I'm the downstate Catholic dioceses, Timon being moved down to B is only slightly less agitating than if Nichols stayed a B.

Of course, if there's a school downstate which is putting together an impressive resume like Nichols this season (by beating traditional Class A schools, etc.), those downstate dioceses better move them up, too.

* Some quality reports on various games on here. Just for the record: I left Cardinal O'Hara literally right after the final horn of their loss to Niagara Catholic, so I missed anything that happened at the handshake line.

* And I know the blogosphere can be a little bit of the Wild West of commentary, and most of the comments on this site have been excellent. But if you're going to criticize a high school coach or a program, which you have every right to do, let's try and have it geared towards constructive, fair criticism rather than bad jokes or short-sighted nitpicking. And maybe we should stay away from "I heard" that a coach is going to be fired -- shouldn't we leave the gossip to the kids in the hallways?

---Keith McShea

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