Making Championship Memories
Championship seasons are remembered most fondly. There's an immortality attached to winning your last game. For the Rochester RazorSharks in 2011, the most memorable moments of a championship season began early and lasted late.
Rookie Steffon Farley remembers feeling a little overwhelmed even before taking the court in December.
"Coming into training camp sitting in that hotel and hoping, we had fifteen guys, and just to be part of it was a big deal."
Another first year player, Demetrius Howard was likewise impressed by what he saw early.
"It was the first game of the season. We didn't get the win but we showed how we could play. It was a big crowd and we gave them something to look forward to."
Fred Durr remembers a team building exercise as particularly significant.
"The time that we all got together and went bowling and then went out to eat as a group. That was the turning point of the season, when we started to gain unity off the court. That's when we became on the court better."
Part of what helped the RazorSharks turn the corner was a practice session in January when the team did nothing but run wind sprints and shoot free throws. About a thousand of them. A practice tactic coach Rod Baker hadn't used in years.
"My most memorable moment was that free throw day because it was done, not necessarily on the fly, I had in my mind what I wanted to do but wasn't sure how I wanted to do it, and the impact it had on the season. That day was really important for us."
Assistant coach Chris Iverson has to live in Baker's long coaching shadow. So it was an opportunity to step out that sticks out most in Iverson's mind.
"There was one day when I talked to Jerice (Crouch) in practice about being more aggressive. It was one of those moments where he accepted me as a coach. Because I had known him so long, and he accepted me as a coach giving him advice on how to play."
Guard Lonnell Shuler-Jones spent most of the season as the team's most vocal presence off the bench. But he got into a couple of important games too.
"The game when Melvin (Council) went down and the team looked to me to stand it up and play against the Halifax Rainmen. We came out with a win."
The first of three home games against the defending champion Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry was played February 21. The Sharks lost in overtime before the year's biggest crowd. From behind the scorers bench, team co-owner and president Orest Hrywnak was working the headsets.
"It was the night of Presidents day. We had a record crowd and it was deafening. There were so many kids and families on a Monday night, and everyone was so into it. It just made us feel like we're finally here. We're the RazorSharks"
On March 26th the Sharks beat the Bluegrass Stallions. Todd McCoy scored his season high 22 points, most of those late.
"It was that fourth quarter against Kentucky. When I thought I couldn't miss a shot at all. That and the Eric Walton's shot."
Ah yes, Walton's shot. That was the half court ally-oop pass inbounded at half court from Jerice Crouch that beat Lawton 93-91 at the War Memorial March 6. Walton's shot was made possible by another from half court just before the half by Sammy Monroe. That was his moment.
"It had to be when I hit them with a Euro at the half and put in a buzzer beater. I hit them with a Euro-step, ya know one step, two, pump fake and I shot it in."
Following a 2-6 start through a 26 game season to the Premier Basketball League championship, center Jared Carter spoke for everyone.
"The most memorable moment was winning the championship. Afterwards and before, we were tight, we all all together. For me it was the most fun."
And the most lasting.
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Premier Basketball League Stories from April 23, 2011
- Making Championship Memories - Rochester RazorSharks
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