Some things that fell off my laptop the past few weeks.
* One coach told me before the season that this was one of the worst years for City League basketball teams. It looks like he was right.
In terms of good teams from top to bottom, this has to be one of the City League's worst years? After Allderdice, there isn't much. Perry is down. Oliver is down. Brashear appears to be down. Trying to find a third team to rank in the City League behind Allderdice and Obama is awfully tough. This week, it will likely be 3-6 Carrick.
* Shaler basketball player Geno Thorpe had a pretty big reputation coming into the season. I think he has only enhanced it so far.
I haven't seen Thorpe play yet this season (I'll see him next week), but it has been impressive what he has done so far. He scored 34 at Central Catholic the other night.
* I heard how talented Kason Harrell was before he got to Hempfield. He's now a freshman and scoring 20 points or more in a few games. Anxious to see this 6-2 ninth grader play.
* A senior player who has really impressed me this season is Plum's Nolan Cressler . Two years ago as a thin sophomore, he was pretty much an outside shooter and that's it. Now, the 6-3 senior guard does everything on the court and he has I would love to see his shooting statistics for the season. He doesn't miss much.
I've seen Cressler once and will see him again tomorrow when Plum plays at Woodland Hills in a big game. Cressler has signed with Cornell of the Ivy League. Wasn't Cornell in the Sweet 16 two years ago? I think he'll do well there.
* Micah Mason doesn't have much help around him this year at Highlands. Heading into the week, Mason was averaging 34 points a game. No one else on Highlands' team was averaging more than five. And it's not because Mason is taking 35-40 shots a game. There just isn't much to Highlands after Mason, although the Rams could still make the Class AAA playoffs.
* Keystone Oaks is opening some eyes this season. The Eagles are off to one of the best starts in school history at 7-1, and they are averaging 76 points a game.
* Two sports parent stories I have to comment on.
First, the funny one. I was at a recent basketball game, just as a fan, and was sitting behind parents of a player (I won't name the school, simply to protect the innocent). There weren't many people at the game so you could often hear the coach calling defensive signals to his team. He would often call "Blue 50." Like many teams, "50" is a call for half court man-to-man. And after a while, it was obvious that "Blue" meant his team was playing straight man to man, and not trapping.
Anyway, after about the fourth or fifth call, the wife turns to her husband and seems a little perturbed, or maybe just confused: "I don't know why he keeps saying that," she says. "There is no number 50 out there and neither team is wearing blue."
Most certainly a memorable parent quote.
Now, the sad parent story. How ridiculous it is that one problem parent constantly sends ANONYMOUS letters to athletic directors, school principals, school board members, the WPIAL and sometimes even other schools, trying to get a coach fired, just because things haven't worked out for their son/daughter. The letters are filled with hogwash and untruths. Of course, the parent won't sign the letters, thinking he is hiding, even though everyone knows who they are from. It has happened before and I know two schools where it is happening now. It's a sad, sad commentary on some parents. To those parents: "C'mon, man."
* I don't think enough is being made of what the Duquesne womens team is doing this season, at least in terms of the makeup of their team. Coach Suzie McConnell Serio's squad is 12-3 and talking about wanting to make the NCAA Tournament . And most of her top players are from the WPIAL. Of the eight players who have seen the most playing time, five are from the WPIAL - Upper St. Clair's Alex Gensler, Southemoreland's Vanessa Abel, Beaver's Carly Vendemia, Washington's Jocelyn Floyd and Baldwin's Belma Nurkic.
You'll be scratching your head to remember a local Division I college team who has done so much with local playes. The Robert Morris men had some NCAA teams with local flavor. What the Duquesne women are doing reminds me of Pitt's 1973-74 team that made the Elite 8. That team's top players were all from the WPIAL and City League. That year, there was a Sports Illustrated picture of six Panthers atop Mount Washington - Billy Knight (Braddock), Keith Starr (Quaker Valley), Tom Richards (Moon), Kirk Bruce (South Hills), Mickey Martin (Baldwin) and Jim Bolla (Canevin).
* The new WPIAL football conferences won't be released until Jan. 17. That's when the Board of Control will approve them.