Weather forces waiting game that benefits no one

Snow-related postponements breed worries about conditioning

February 13, 2010|By By Glenn Graham

The last time Mount St. Joseph boys basketball coach Pat Clatchey had his whole team assembled, during practice Feb. 4, he made sure to set down some common-sense rules in anticipation of missing time because of the snow.

He told his players to avoid pickup games, don't do anything crazy in the snow and stay away from Snickers bars.

Snickers bars?

"Yeah. I told them not to eat any Snickers - don't be satisfied because we still have unfinished business and they have to stay focused and they have to stay hungry," he said.

With the two major snowstorms that have wreaked havoc throughout the area, the No. 1 Gaels' unfinished business - like all other teams' - is in a frustrating holding pattern.

Since a 69-68 win at No. 2 St. Frances on Jan. 31 that locked up the Baltimore Catholic League regular-season championship and the top seed in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs, the Gaels (26-2) have been together for only two practices. With the postseason looming, Mount St. Joseph is impatiently sitting on a 16-game winning streak.

"Basically, you worry about conditioning, timing and rhythm of your offense, and also the kids keeping their competitive spirit. The snowstorm puts you in a complacent condition. But everybody is in the same boat so we just have to wait it out, and when we get back, we have to hit the gym running - literally," Clatchey said.

At Milford Mill, the No. 8 Millers are 16-3 with five straight wins, and they have a firm hold on a berth in the Baltimore County championship game.

Coach Albert Holley said he likes to front-load his schedule to make sure the team can comfortably get all their games in, and that is paying dividends now. The Millers' 55-47 win over Franklin on Feb. 3 put them at 7-0 in league play with games against Perry Hall, Catonsville and Woodlawn still to be played.

"My main concern is with the week or so off, we would lose our rhythm and then have to rush things to get games in. And that means you're not going to have much practice time before you play games," Holley said. "My hope would be that we keep in consideration and understand that the student-athletes - after a week or so off - need the time to get back in the gym to get ready."

For Milford Mill junior forward Isaiah McCray, that time can't come soon enough.

He has been doing his share of push-ups and sit-ups in the house, dribbling the basketball around and even helping his mother with some housework. But aside from texting and talking on the phone, he hasn't had a lot of interaction with teammates and coaches.

"It's been a tough time because we haven't been together as a unit like we are during school," McCray said. "But I know we'll stick together, and when we do get back in playing mode, we'll be fine. Our key is staying focused and getting in the right mind-set. We have to keep everything positive, and when we do get back, we need to bring a lot of energy."

At Annapolis, coach John Brady did a Google search that provided him with some reassurance in regard to conditioning.

"What it said is if you're in top-notch condition for two months, a couple weeks is not any great deal because you can get it back quickly, so I'm not really worried about it," he said.

Brady, whose No. 10 Panthers are 15-1 this season, believes the layoff could actually be a positive for his team.

"I think we'll be mentally refreshed and rejuvenated about things," Brady said. "I'm not concerned about the other stuff because we were in great condition to begin with and we're deep."

He will get to test the theory in a hurry as the Panthers are set to travel to No. 4 Arundel today for a 1 p.m. game that will play a big role in deciding first place in Anne Arundel. The Panthers last practiced Feb. 1 and were able to play one game since - a win over North County on Feb. 4 - leaving Brady concerned about the possibility of injury. He hopes he can get his team to the gym earlier for additional time to stretch and warm up.

"My concern is not about conditioning or rusty skills, but any muscle injuries that could occur," Brady said. "A game and practice are two different things. A practice is something you can ease your way into and through, but you can't tell the kids to ease into the fourth quarter."

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