There’s a ton of conjecture out there on both the boys and girls sides of the Gr. Lawrence Christmas tournament … and it’s future.
I will tackle a few of these pieces, one at a time for all to chew on over the long holiday weekend.
There is no official yet, but it sounds like the Gr. Lawrence Tech’s boys and the Lowell High girls most likely will be out.
Certainly, calls are out to Haverhill, maybe even St. John’s on the boys side. Couldn’t tell you who on the girls.
The word is out that the tourney is trying to move back to Merrimack. I’ve heard some absurd things over the years, this one might be number one.
Have you been over Merrimack lately? There just isn’t a ton of room. Parking is tough. The gym was small in the past, and will be again. Kids can run around and stretch out at Lawrence, not at the Mack.
I can remember sneaking in their through the back door, just because I knew people, when the fire chief, had locked it down for overcrowding. That will definitely happen again.
There is little or no allure to Merrimack, especially now that LHS has the fieldhouse.
There is space, room for people to move and park.
LHS has a bigtime feel.
I asked Tim Finn why they are moving out of Lawrence. Is someone afraid that the Lancers are skimming the pot, allowing people in free, too many people on the payroll, etc.
He’s heard none of that, just that Merrimack is a better venue. I couldn’t disagree more.
Now, does Lawrence have a fault or two? Sure… The concessions could use an upgrade. We don’t have to run out of pizza in the middle of the first game. we could add to the menu. I like Trips 100 times more than the next guy, but how about something a little different once in a while.
I love the idea of the open space on the end of each baseline. Would love to see it used for pre/post game student/alumni gatherings or something like that.
Lawrence isn’t just a good option. It’s the best one.
The boys tournament is a couple clicks from “Great” It’s not in distress. It’s solid, to superb. Make it “young fan” friendly and it’s fine.
So, let’s say we find a suitable replacement for the Reggies. St. John’s, the Hillies, whoever.
I state to people that seeding the tournament properly is the top priority, so we don’t get Andover-NA in round one, followed by Central-NA in round 2 and a ho-hum final.
“The coaches will never go along with it,” is the absolute most repeated response. “Central is too good.”
To which I say, “Shame on them.”
I think of one of the alltime greats, late Methuen High football coaching legend Larry Klimas. Who whined about Central more than Larry? NOBODY! I heard it when I was in junior high, high school, college and in my years at the Trib when Larry roamed the sidelines.
Larry complained all the time. Then, he went out and fought tooth and nail to beat the Raiders. Larry made his teams stand up and fight. His teams never backed down from Central.
The hoop coaches should do the same. Seed the tournament fairly on a year-to-year basis.
And if Salem’s Rob McLaughlin or Methuen’s Matt Curran or any coach complains about it and threatens to leave, I call on every hoop alum from the said school to go nuts about it.
THIS IS NOT TO SAY THEY WOULD COMPLAIN … BOTH GUYS ARE SOLID, BUT I JUST USED THEM AS RANDOM EXAMPLES!
Any Methuen alum or player who doesn’t look forward to a battle with Central … in hoops, football, chess, tiddly-winks, whatever … shouldn’t get a uniform.
So back to the seeding. Get a committee to seed the field correctly, using history, returning players, Hoops for Hope, etc., as measuring sticks.
Let the coaches do it, listing teams 1-7 (not including their own) or let me do it, whatever.
If you don’t seed, my thought is then you have to go to two four-team divisions, an A and a B.
Now, A and B … Let’s take 2012 for example.
A. Lawrence, Andover, CC, NA
B. Salem, Pink, GLT and Methuen …
I wonder in my heart if those Methuen kids and coaches aren’t kicking and screaming about playing down. The competitor in guys like Curran, and Cooper Hamel, and Sicard and TGB tell me they want the big boys.
So no, you’ll never satisfy everyone. But was Pete Rosinski satisfied when he and the Astros drew CC like five straight years by random draw in the opener? No.
It’s time to use some imagination with the boys tourney, sure. I’ve been saying that for 5 years now, but it’s not broken. It needs a tweak or two, not a venue change.
Again, every time I say something I get shot down by the same naysayers, so we will see.
All I can say is that a lack of imagination has brought the Christmas tourney to the point where I’m told, each of the 16 teams were given a $100 scholarship.
To me, that is laughable. With those crowds, that’s a slap in the face to the athletes who compete.
As for the girls, I again like NA as a venue. I like the re-shaping of the fields, trying to bring in bigger, better teams. I went to the girls semis this year, and honestly saw decent crowds. Andover, NA and CC all draw enough to pay the bills.
The rest of the teams don’t.
Love to see the Pentuckets, Archies, Westfords, teams with tradition and strength, invited in.
The first step is a solid 8 teams. And in the girls case I’m all for seeding and divisions.