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Dimes and such

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Songbird, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    By Alexander Wolff

    An ancient Green Mountain rule of thumb holds that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Which would mean that, by attracting 40 players to our open tryout camp last weekend, we just might have found a Vermont Frost Heave.
    In fact, based on the effort and attitudes of the attendees, we could probably do a lot worse than fill our entire roster from among those who showed up—guys like Leo Williams, a 39-year-old Air Force vet from southern New Hampshire; and Curtis Smith, a former Plattsburgh State player who did a turn last season with the ABA’s Boston Frenzy; and Keven James, a 6’7” student body president from Emmanuel College in Boston.
    Coach Will Voigt told the assembled aspirants that he has been involved in scores of such camps, and that players inevitably cut themselves. Someone is late, or pouts, or dogs it. But that was hardly an issue last weekend. And while the ball was good, and the effort better, the most amazing thing might have been the absence of a single audible profanity over three days. Maybe we shouldn’t be starting a basketball team, but a New England chapter of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
    Well, O.K. There was one exception. One camper, moping because unretracted side baskets at the Rice Memorial High School gym prevented him from showcasing an apparently lethal jumper from deep in the corner, walked out in the middle of the Saturday session. When a Frost Heaves staffer caught up with him on his way to the parking lot to invite him to rejoin us, this malcontent said he’d have a cigarette and think about it.
    As Coach V says, guys cut themselves.
    Here, then, notes from a diary:
    Day One
    The tryout starts at 3 p.m., but shortly after 1 a camper is already in the gym: 6’6” Kerry Lyons, who haunts the rec leagues and parks of northern Vermont when not selling suits on Burlington’s Church Street. While Lyons warms up, Williams, who played his college ball at Diablo Valley J.C., pulls a reversible jersey out of the pile: No. 39. He considers it, then says, “Might as well wear my age.”
    Coach V spends the better part of an hour installing a very simple offense for the weekend. It has two virtues. One: Its simplicity is such that we’ll get to see what players can do when allowed to make a lot of decisions on their own. And two: If a guy can’t run this stuff, he can’t run anything.
    I briefly address the campers. Tell them that basketball requires the constant balance of freedom and unity. Remind them that “freedom and unity” also happens to be the motto of the state of Vermont.
    Having booked measurements on everyone, assistant coach Wayne Lafley breaks the campers up into four teams. At least Wayne has the good sense to choose Spurs, Pacers, Nets and Nuggets, names of former ABA teams that, in today’s NBA, still exist. (When Marty Blake took over Pittsburgh’s quailing ABA franchise in the early Seventies, the team needed a nickname, so he called a friend at the Cincinnati Zoo. “I need the name of an animal that’s ferocious but almost extinct,” he said. Blake’s buddy nominated a bird called the condor, and one season later the Pittsburgh Condors went the way of the most of the rest of the ABA.)
    Games run on two full courts. The guards are under strict orders to feed the post, or pass to the wing and cut through, so neither scrimmage deteriorates into a chuckfest. We break for the night, warning the players to get their rest, and show up late the next morning at their peril.
    At dinner that night, all the coaches toss a buck on the table and guess how many campers won’t be back for Day Two. Guesses range from zero to five.
    Day Two
    Scott Caulfield, our strength and conditioning coach, wins the pot: Every last camper is back. What’s more, no one is late, and a new player, a lefthanded forward from Swanton, Vt., named Jordan Ostrander, has hit town during the wee hours from a temp job in New York City.
    This is the meat of the camp, two sessions of games, with a two-hour break in the middle of the day. Ostrander hardly seems road weary, and his lively legs around the basket stand out in the post-poor crowd. But for the most part, the players are hard to sort out. “It’s easier to tell who can’t play than who can,” says Dave Fredrickson, the legendary Vermont high school coach from Bennington, who’s coaching one of the teams.
    Sort them out we must do, however, with a round of cuts. To a tense group Coach V announces the names of the players who’ll be back the following morning. Whereupon the most remarkable thing happens. Unbidden, every single last camper—those cut and those we’re inviting back for the camp’s final day—huddle up for an all-for-one and one-for-all.
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Day Three
    Is that? Could that be? Why yes, it is Taylor Coppenrath, dressed and ready to go for the 48-minute-long, 24-second-clocked all-star game that will cap off the weekend.
    Coppenrath has been back home in West Barnet, Vt., laying low before this week, when he’s due in Orlando to play for the Indiana Pacers’ summer league team. This is the highest quality run to be found in the state, and far be it from us to turn him away. A season in Greece, playing for Euroleague entry AEK of Athens, has allowed him to fill out across the shoulders, yet he hasn’t lost any of the sure-handedness, or smart feet around the basket, that helped the University of Vermont upset Syracuse in the NCAA tournament two Marchs ago. Making the NBA is any guy’s dream, and we’ll be thrilled if we have a hand in helping him realize his.
    Coppenrath winds up with 34 points and 12 rebounds, an emphatic reality check for everyone in the gym. But a handful of others play well enough to earn an invitation to our veterans camp in three weeks. They include Ostrander, who crafts his way to 23 points and 10 rebounds; Courtney Dennison, a 6’7” post player from Southern Vermont College, who bags 13 points and nine rebounds; 5’10” Chris Dorsey, who led the NAIA in assist-to-turnover ratio at Lyndon State last season, and passes out eight dimes this morning; and the most consistent player in camp, 6’5” David Stantial, a Keene State product who knocks down five threes in the finale.
    Others invited back: John Huggins, an all-conference player at American International, the school that produced Mario Elie; Nick Pelotte, an energetic Mainer who played the point for Plymouth State; the brothers Robertson, Manny and B.J., who both starred at nearby Burlington High before playing at Eastern Connecticut and St. Michael’s, respectively; and three other Vermonters, Dana Martin (Stowe’s North Country High and Skidmore); David Hannah (Randolph High and St. Lawrence); and the early-bird, Lyons (Milton High and Lyndon State).
    “I’ve never been at a camp where not one guy cut himself,” Coach V tells the players before we break camp. I think he missed Mr. Lethal Corner Jumper’s ciggy-butt break. But the sentiment is as sure-footed as a Taylor Coppenrath post move.

    For more information on the Vermont Frost Heaves and to order team gear, go to www.vermontfrostheaves.com.

    * * * * * *

    This was Alexander Wolff's piece on the Frost Heaves tryout camp this weekend in Burlington. I went to the 1st day because my part-timer tried out.

    Having been here a while I've gotten to read many opinions on the slangification of language, and here Wolff uses "dimes" to mean assists. Do bigtimers get a pass on this? Or do only guys like Billy Bob Bunkhower of the Bumblefuck Lancer get skewered for getting slangy with it?
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