Today we celebrate the Springbrook High School boys basketball team – 20-2 and headed to the Maryland state Class 4A playoffs as a favorite – led, in part, by my smartphone-loving, soft-spoken stepson Isaiah Eisendorf.
(Let me clarify “soft-spoken:” He doesn’t talk to me.)
At times, Isaiah is I-sational.
He is the team’s second-leading scorer (12.5 points per game) and top rebounder (10.9), and he also leads the Blue Devils in steals and blocked shots.
Still, there are holes in his overall game.
Someone explain to me how he can slam-dunk but can’t rake leaves. He can find the open man but can’t take out the trash. He can crash the boards but can’t cut the grass. And, of course, like most teenagers, his head is always buried in his Samsung Galaxy.
He might be coachable on the court, but I have no authority over him off the court.
(I found out there’s a big difference between being a father and a stepfather. When Isaiah’s dad tells him to go to his room, he goes to his room. When I tell Isaiah to go to his room, he books a suite at the Ritz-Carlton.)
Occasionally I complain to his lovely mother, Toni, aka She Is The One (And Then Some), but Isaiah’s the apple of her eye. If he’s got a cold and I’ve got a ruptured appendix, she’s making him a bowl of chicken soup before she drops me off at a bus stop to go to the doctor.
On the other hand, if Isaiah ever spoke to me, I’m not sure what I could tell him. At 17, he’s already taller, stronger and faster than me, and he might even be smarter than me.
(I know his younger sister Mia is – sometimes I have conversations with her, and only she knows what we’re talking about.)
The terrific thing about this Springbrook team is they’re class kids, with smarts. The average GPA for the team’s 14 players in the second quarter this school year was 2.93. The cumulative GPA over the high school careers of the all-senior starting five – Isaiah, Alex Evans, Tavon Ngangum and the Robinson twins, Andrew and Aaron – is 3.01.
Andrew not only is the team’s leading scorer at 16.2 points a game but he also has a weighted GPA of 4.04. He’s a double threat: Like his brother, he has a silky smooth jump shot – it’s cashmere in flight – and he’s sports editor of the school newspaper.
(I love Andrew and Aaron. In the history of twins, I rank them just above Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Robin and Maurice Gibb, Ronde and Tiki Barber and Randy and Jason Sklar and just behind Romulus and Remus, Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, Dick and Tom Van Arsdale and Patty Duke and her identical cousin.)
Last season Springbrook was a disappointing 13-10. This season – now on an 11-game winning streak – 17 of the Blue Devils’ 20 wins have been by at least 10 points, powered by a nice combination of ball movement and sticky man-to-man defense.
The team is coached – somewhat loudly – by the venerable and cranky Tom Crowell, ably assisted by Darnell Myers, Kirk Davis, Rob Harmon and Brian McCarty. The coaches sometimes yell at the players and sometimes at themselves.
(Meanwhile, the parents are yelling at the coaches. Why? Because they know better. To which I say: Coach Crowell has a 190-32 record at Springbrook, with three state titles in nine seasons. And you folks want him to change his ways? The man is 66 years old – he was this way when he was 33 and he’ll be this way when he’s 99.)
It’s pure theater watching Crowell during a timeout. “We’re not playing a LICK OF DEFENSE!” he shouts at his players during the Oxon Hill game. Who says “lick of defense” anymore? That’s worth the $5 price of admission alone.
Another time as he ends a searing lecture to Aaron Robinson over various malfeasances, Crowell asks him, “DO YOU HEAR ME?!?” Uh, Coach, everyone did. Every statement Crowell makes in the huddle ends with an exclamation point. He’s so emphatic, Vladimir Putin could hear him in Sochi.
Then again, during the Northwest game, I saw Crowell do something different: He sat down next to Isaiah on the bench, put his arm around him and gently told him a thing or two. Heck, I’ve tried that – it doesn’t work. Better to text him.
Ask The Slouch
Q. On a scale of 1 to 100, how unwatchable is the NFL scouting combine? (John Horn; Spokane)
A. Frankly, I find the three-cone drill riveting. Also – and I know I’m showing my usual bias here – it’s the MLS scouting combine that strikes me as monotonous and low-scoring.
Q. Bob Costas had pinkeye. Keith Olbermann has shingles. Has The Slouch ever been knocked off the air by an ailment? (Bernard Atkins; Carmel, Ind.)
A. Yeah. It’s called NobodyWantsToHireMe- Itis.
Q. What’s the difference between writing a column and writing a tweet? (David Crane; Albany, N.Y.)
A. About five hours and 5,000 characters.
Q. If poker were an official NCAA sport, would the “student-athletes” be suspended for keeping their winnings? (Jerry Kohn; Skokie, Ill.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.