By BRENDAN McGAIR
The boysâ€™ basketball division tournaments may be in vogue at the moment, but itâ€™s never too early to look at the field comprising the 16-team open state tournament. With a nod to Shea High assistant coach Henry Coleman, hereâ€™s what the top 16 looks like following Tuesdayâ€™s playoff action:
1. La Salle (18)
2. North Kingstown (17)
3. Classical (17)
4. Cumberland (14.6)
5. Mount Pleasant (13)
6. North Smithfield (13)
7. Westerly (12.8)
8. North Providence (12.8)
9. Coventry (12)
10. Barrington (12)
11. Shea (11.2)
12. Prout (11.2)
13. Cranston West (11)
14. Hendricken (11)
15. Hope (11)
16. West Warwick (10.4)
A few observations:
-- With La Salle and North Kingstown each losing Tuesday in the Division I quarterfinals, Classical has an excellent chance to bypass both teams and claim the top overall seed. Classical can tie La Salle for No. 1 with a semifinal-round win against Bishop Hendricken Friday night.
-- Teams appearing on this list that cannot strengthen their position include La Salle, North Kingstown, Mount Pleasant, Westerly, North Providence, Prout and Cranston West. Mount Pleasantâ€™s 71-66 loss to Coventry was undoubtedly welcomed with open arms in North Smithfieldâ€™s camp. The Northmen can take over fifth place outright with a victory over Johnston in the Division III semis Friday night at Roger Williams University.
-- Like Mount Pleasant and North Smithfield, Shea and Prout also have an equal amount of power points. With the Crusaders done, the onus falls on the Raiders to take care of business against West Warwick Friday in the Division II semifinals at Bryant University.
-- The other Div. II semifinal pits Cumberland and Barrington. When the two sides met Jan. 15, the Eagles handed the Clippers their worst loss of the season, 77-35. Undoubtedly, Cumberland head coach Gary Reedy will remind his players of what went drastically wrong that night.
-- The idea of allowing teams to keep earning points during the divisional tournament is good in terms of generating buzz, but hereâ€™s another suggestion. Why not take the three division winners, and based on the final point total, slot them first, second and third for the state tourney? Itâ€™s of the opinion that winning the division should come with an additional perk, and there appears no better one than awarding the highest possible seed.
Prior to taking a radio job with the Seattle Mariners, Aaron Goldsmith was asked what advice he would give to those who would be taking over in the broadcast booth with the Pawtucket Red Sox. With Wednesdayâ€™s announcement that the PawSox have hired Jeff Levering to make up one half of the clubâ€™s two-man booth, Goldsmithâ€™s words of wisdom certainly have a timely factor of them.
â€śThereâ€™s no doubt that whoever the PawSox bring in is going to be a phenomenal talent and someone that more than likely we will be hearing in the major leagues one day very soon,â€ť Goldsmith said. â€śWhen I got the PawSox job, itâ€™s hugely flattering that youâ€™re following a long line of terrific broadcasters like Dan Hoard, Dave Flemming, Don Orsillo, all those guys.
â€śThe whole time I kept telling myself that you canâ€™t ride those coattails because no matter what, youâ€™ve got to produce,â€ť Goldsmith added. â€śThe bottom line is that youâ€™ve got to sound good and bring it. As much of a boost as being able to say that youâ€™re a broadcaster for the Pawtucket Red Sox is â€“ and thereâ€™s no doubt itâ€™s a huge boost among the minor-league ranks â€“ at the end of the day, itâ€™s up to you. You have to live up to the standards to the guys before you have set, but itâ€™s a lot of fun and every broadcaster wants to work in an environment like that.â€ť