By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
To mitigate the hunger of a fan base starved for more Kronum League action, we’ll be bringing brief weekly updates of current adult rec league action, in addition to a weekly question-and-answer session. For further Kronum information, you can check out the league’s official website at www.kronum.com.
A Kronum veteran wedgeback, Steve Botta was the second leading scorer on the Throwbacks a season ago, sitting 2nd on the team in scoring at 13 points per game, while also finishing 4th in saves and 7th in save percentage in the league. He joined this week’s Q&A to discuss the intricacies of his game and what it will take for the Throwbacks to reach the next level.
You’ve been involved with the sport nearly from the beginning [Steve joined the Throwbacks prior to Season 2]. How did you originally hear about it and what were your thoughts on first seeing the game and getting out on the field?
I heard about it from [Joe] Ferrigno, we used to play soccer together. He reached out to me and invited me out to whatever it was that was going on at Gable [Park]. I don’t even remember what I was thinking, however long ago that was, five years ago (laughing). It was interesting, I did enjoy the whole handball/soccer concept because I played goalie in soccer. It was fun and a little crazy. I like to compete and I’m an athlete so it was fun to just get out there and compete at that point.
Given your background as a soccer goalie, I talked about this last week with Pete [Weiss], but what do you feel are the main differences in playing the position in Kronum versus in soccer?
The approach is only similar in the sense that it’s very quick, especially anything within the box in soccer. Within 12 yards [in Kronum], it’s very quick and obviously it can come from a hand or from a foot. But it’s very different. I was actually talking last week with [Pete] about how different it really is, because you’re used to it coming off feet all the time, so when it’s coming off the hand, it’s more anticipation than it is reaction. You can kind of bait them one way and hope they’ll shoot the other so you know where it’s going, but you have no idea where it’s going other times.
I’d say among the wedgebacks in the league, you probably get out onto the middle of the field more than anybody offensively. How do you pick your spots for when to venture away from the net and what does your team do to adapt to those runs of yours?
That’s definitely communicated amongst the team. Joe [Ferrigno] wanted me to run through the middle on occasion to give the defense something else to think about during the game. Regardless of what quad I’ll shoot at, the coverage is good because one of the crossers on either side of my net will cover the net if I’m not back in time, and I’ll cover their spot defensively. It’s nice to know that if I come into the middle, a ranger offensively might filter out to where I usually am on offense which will give me full range in the middle. Then, if I can’t get back on defense in time, there’s coverage there by the defense. It’s definitely a whole team effort rather than maybe me just picking my spots to do it.
You were one of the leading scorers for the Throwbacks last season, but your team didn’t really have the one guy going out there and scoring 30 points per game like some other teams in league have. What did you guys do to generate offense in the absence of maybe that one big arm?
I think for us it was a more of a team effort than any one guy. I think the first three, four games last year we were kind of searching for somebody to step up and be that 30, 35 ppg person and it didn’t seem like anyone was doing it. I think we gave people the opportunity like [Steve] Farris, Brian [Marron], myself, [Ryan] Kirby with his feet, to spread the wealth around. We felt it was kind of an advantage. Later in the season, it may not have reflected on how many games we won, but the scoring if you look at the scoresheet, it was 10, 10, 15, 15, maybe a 20 in there for Fariss or Brian or myself. It was very evenly distributed and we felt like it was a huge plus because it wasn’t just one guy for the defense to focus on or a 1 and 1a situation. More or less, we all have the ability with our feet so you have to pay attention to everybody there, and then, anybody can score, so you have to watch out for everybody.
Would you say there’s any one missing piece for you to jump up from the middle of the pack or is it just about everybody progressing a little bit more and going about it that way?
It’s great that we have everybody that’s able to score, but I think that one missing piece would be a big arm. I think we have that big arm on the team already in Brian Marron. He started to show what he could do [toward the end of last season] and kind of came into his own to maybe give us an inkling that maybe he is our big arm that we could go to. We can filter him into the middle too at some points. So I feel like we’re well-rounded but it wouldn’t hurt to have that one big arm to have defenses focus on a little bit more.
You’re playing in the rec league here [with the Farris Wheels squad]. Are there any aspects of your game you’re working on in particular or is it more just about staying sharp for you?
I think it’s a little bit of both, more so developing yourself as a player. I know I try to use it not only to get a run in, and that’s fine, but you’re practicing the things you do well, to get better at them, and the things you don’t do well also. I’m going to try maybe some drop kicks, or some hook throws, or some fours that maybe I haven’t before to see if I could expand the repertoire.
I wanted to ask you, where did the hook throw originate?
Goalie. That’s how you throw as a keeper and why not bring it to the Kronum round, I don’t know.
That hook shot through the rings earned one of the original Kronum catch-phrases with the ‘Botta-Bing’ back in Season 2. What did you think when you first heard that one?
I’m been hearing Botta-Bing my whole life, so hearing it on a professional website for Kronum was pretty nice.
This interview was slightly edited for conciseness and clarity.
Adult Rec League Week 6 Action
(4-2) Twerk Horses 101, (4-2) Dirty Mike and the Boys 92
These two teams traded blows as though bonus points were awarded for scoring within the first 5 seconds of the play clock. But with the weapons available on both sides, who could blame them? The Boys opened up a 9-point lead at the half after a crazy sequence where a deflected 4-pointer went in and on the ensuing clear attempt, Kyle McGrath fumbled the ball to allow Joe Petrino to scoop it up and drain yet another 4. However, McGrath more than made up for the gaffe with two 8-point kronums in the second half, including one with under two minutes left to break open a close game and propel the Horses to victory.
(3-3) Bronum 95, (2-5) Urban Legends 76
When they have their full line-up on the field, Bronum can put forth as dangerous an offensive attack as any in the league. Phil Cavalcante did his usual damage from both the cross and flex areas, Shaun Stevens was his normal efficient self on the outside, and Ryan Coyne scored in just about every way imaginable on the night (drop kick, ring shot from the flex, you name it). The Legends nearly made a game of things with a few minutes remaining when Kevin Glover hit a ring shot from the flex zone, but Bronum quickly responded and piled on the lead to pull back to .500 heading into the second game of their double-header.
(4-3) Bronum 84, (3-4) Farris Wheels 81
Playing their second contest on the evening, Bronum proved the double dip can be pulled off, hanging on late to prevail over a feisty Farris Wheels club. The Wheels put up a staunch defense all night, led by the wedgeback James Thomas, who got a limb on seemingly every shot Bronum could throw at him in his quadrant. With the usual suspects back at it offensively for Bronum, they had the 3-point lead and a penalty shot with under a minute remaining. However, Steve Botta came away with the huge save on the penalty shot, and was able to keep the ball in play for a teammate. Unfortunately for the Wheels, they turned the ball over before they were able to clear to the middle for a final go-ahead shot attempt, and without a timeout, had to watch the final seconds tick off on a Bronum victory.
(4-3) Air Pops 73, (1-6) Ole Miss Alum 59
In what was a tight defensive battle between these two clubs, the Air Pops’ offense soared just a bit higher to prevent Ole Miss from earning their first winning streak of the season. The Pops were led by the play of Mike Quintans in the middle, who hit a number of big cross shots, including one in the final seconds of the first half to give his team a 5-point lead going into the break. Veteran Matt Parsons also made his presence known on the outside, both scoring and helping jump-start the backdoor game that he’s helped popularize with the Jet Sets over the years. Ole Miss could never get the big shot down the stretch to pull back into the game as the Pops tallied the relatively easy victory.
(4-3) nWo 98, (4-2) The Prospectors 95 (shootout)
This exciting contest was close throughout, with the Prospectors pacing their attack through the scoring prowess of Dan Geiger in the middle and Anthony Barbera on the outside. nWo remained within striking distance thanks to a kicked 8-point kronum from Ryan Kirby early in the game, as well as some big 4-pointers from Brian Marron. After a Rob Sanchez shot tied the game in the closing seconds, nWo made a huge save on a Luke Dougan shot attempt to force a shootout. In the shootout, Geiger, Kirby, and Barbera all completely missed the net with their shot attempts, before Marron finally buried home his attempt for the nWo game-winner.