Wayzata vs Armstrong, what we learned

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  It may be a holiday week, but thanks to technology I still took the day to review last night's Armstrong at Wayzata game.  Wayzata coming in ranked #5 in the AAAA poll.   No Isaiah Chatman in the middle for Armstrong, he was in street clothes.

  • The blowout score 83-65 is a little deceptive.  While Armstrong did get down 15 in the 1st half, they did cut it all the way down to 5 with 12 minutes left.  It was only a 9 point game with 5 minutes left.  Then a couple of defensive breakdowns to leave shooters for open 3s and it gets out of hand in a hurry.
  • Both teams will play a ton of guys.  That means a minimum of 10 both ways.  That depth not only does the obvious to keep the starters fresh, but it also provides a ton of options to mix and match based on who they're playing.  Wayzata gets a chance to show that on Saturday with how they choose to play Carter Brooks and Nate Reuvers.
  • Armstrong definitely has 2 guys who can provide the bulk of the offense in Jubie Alade and Race Thompson (37 combined).  As a 3rd guy, Simon McManus had 8 off the bench in the first half.  Nobody else besides the big 2 had more than 1 field goal in the 2nd half though.  14 total field goals for Thompson/Alade, 9 for the rest of the roster.
  • Speaking of Race Thompson, he continues to impress.  He did what you expect inside and added a couple of threes to boot.  Not to mention, a nifty push of the ball in transition, behind the back dribble and finish.  I worry about the rest of roster being too reliant on him though when they have other guys who are also able to step up.
  • Wayzata didn't shoot it well in the first half but hit 6 of their 9 3s in the 2nd half.  There is no team in the state more dangerous from 3. 
  • For Wayzata's offense, I really like what they do with a post player as a foul line screener.  They'll start 2 guard with it, 1st guard passes and cuts, 2nd guard Hawk cuts off the high post.  Post pops and they can get into offense from there.
  • For Armstrong's offense, they're now using the Blur screen idea on passes to the wing.   Will be interesting to watch that as the season progresses.  
  • Great Wayzata balance and unselfishness on offense.  4 starters in double figures with 10, 12.13 and 14 points.  Plus Ryan Lindberg leading the way with 15 off the bench.
  • MN-Moorhead commit Johnny Beeninga quiet in the 2nd half, but his attacking was very productive in the first half.  Showed he could hit the pull up off of that too.  That's a shot that in the modern lexicon can be highly criticized (based on points per shot data and shooting percentages).  However, if teams need to stick with shooters, that's a going to be an available quality shot that a point guard needs to hit.
  • Armstrong will learn a lot from this first game.  Sloppy play early got them behind 26-11.  Then down the stretch, leave Lindberg on a kick out for a 3, miss a dunk and give up a 3 point play, then leave Sowada for 3.  Game goes from down 9 to 17 in about a minute and any chance is lost.  Lesson there is that the little details add up quickly against high quality competition.
  • Armstrong did try some 1-2-2 3/4 court pressure and run and jump.  That did show some success.  If you can really get after it on the defensive side, you might be able to force some mistakes from Wayzata.

Delano visits the city

Late change of plans takes me to St. Paul Central to see their home opener against Delano.  The night starts badly as I think I'm being smart waiting for the concession to clear out before the JV game.  So right after its starts, its empty.  Brilliant!  Only to find out, they have to do a new batch of hot dogs.  I settle for the popcorn instead and let's just say that trade was a FAIL!  Another half liter of water adds to the beverage ticker.  Maybe Thanksgiving will mean I'm thankful this water idea is over.  Who knows.

Song of the Day
None - All songs played are too inappropriate for here

Number of Teams I've Seen: 8 (4 courts, 2 new)

Beverage Ticker: 24 ounces (190 Calories) + 2 liters (0 calories)
6 days (5 possible game days), 4 games, 2 scrimmages added on

  • Pepsi: 12 ounces (150 Calories)
  • Sprite: 12 ounces (140 Calories)
  • Water: 2 Liters (0 Calories)
Hot Dog Ticker: 0
Pizza Ticker: 3

Game Time:
Guard Jack Beckman on the bench with crutches for the Central and that's a big loss.  That leaves Sam Gubbrud to carry their offense and he does that. A putback, score and a spin for 2 put Central up 10-9 at 10:45.  Central giving me my first taste of THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE for the season.  Soph Calvin Wishart attacking the paint for Delano with a pair of drives and splitting 2 free throws.  Central counters with 2 hoops to tie the game at 16 at the 6:35 mark.  From there its all Delano.  Wishart still atacking, Matt Kreklow with a hoop and bonus free throws.  24-17 as Delano takes time at the 3:22 mark.  At that point they go to a 2-3 zone the rest of the game.  Central immediately gets a nice kickout for 3 against it.  That's the only FG for the Minutemen in a 12-4 Delano run to end the half.  28-20 Tigers at halftime.

Delano stays with the zone and slams the door with the 1st 10 points of the 2nd half.  Mitchell Kurtz with a bunny, then a nice triple off inside out action from Kreklow to end that run.  It all elementary from there.  Central getting outside looks that won't go in.  They did have a fairly easy time getting the ball to the high post.  But that was no help against Kreklow in the middle.  He was swatting shots inside all night against the smaller Central lineup.  A couple of inbounds sets push the lead to 21.  Central get as close as 13 with 6:30 left thanks to a banked in 3.  This one was really in no danger thought.  Delano wins 54-39.
Post Game
Sam Gubbrud leads Central with 15 points all of those in the 1st 30 points before garbage time.  Shawn Blanchard Jr with 7 off the bench.  Jack Beckman's shooting would have been a definite factor for them against the zone.  Interesting that they tried to Ice the side euro ball screen offense but they gave up a number of easy baseline drives to the rim on it.  No backside help and no resistance from the big who would normally sag to take that away.  The tough opening schedule continues next week with St. Paul Academy and Orono.

Calvin Wishart leads Delano with 19 points.  Could have had 25 as he left a bunch at the charity stripe.  Very aggressive trying to get to the rim and drew a ton of fouls.  Matt Kreklow adds 10 points and may very well have had 10 blocks.   I counted 1 possession where he had 3 alone.  He definitely will need to get stronger at U of Mary but you can't discount his length. The other 3 starters add 8, 8 and 9 points to provide great balance.  Though they got 0 points from the bench.  They host Sauk Rapids-Rice on Saturday.  Lots of underclassmen getting quality minutes in that game.

To the Southern Fringe

Monday night is often an opportunity to venture in the unknown,  Whether that's a team or a location, it provides a nice change of pace.  On this night, its a trip to Farmington so see St. Agnes take on host Christian Life.  Quality home crowd as expected for the EMAC squad.  Quality concessions include pepperoni pizza and another half liter of water (WHAAAAAAT!).  But to make up for that offense, I did spy the large individually wrapped brownies.  Well worth the investment too once I unwrapped the rubik's cube like puzzle that was the plastic wrap around it.  Yum. 

Song of the Day
Alabama - Song of the South

Number of Teams I've Seen: 6 (3 courts, 2 new)

Beverage Ticker: 24 ounces (190 Calories) + 1.5 liter (0 calories)
5 days (4 possible game days), 3 games, 2 scrimmages added on

  • Pepsi: 12 ounces (150 Calories)
  • Sprite: 12 ounces (140 Calories)
  • Water (Aquafina): 1 Liter (0 Calories)
  • Water (Kirkland): 500 ml (0 Calories)
Hot Dog Ticker: 0
Pizza Ticker: 3

Game Time:
Gary Smith 6 quick points for St. Agnes in this one as he was attacking the rim with no answer.  2 of those 3 hoops in a 9-0 run for an early 11-3 Aggies lead at 11:35.  He'll sit the rest of the half due to a technical foul.  Christian Life with 8 turnovers already.  The lead balloons to 27-8.  Then Christian Life spurts behind 10 straight from Jakson Griffth.  His 2 drives are enough for Aggies coach Frank Webster.  He brings back his starting crew with the lead down to 31-20.  Christian Life coughs it up 3 straight possessions and the lead is quickly back to 19.  The margin is 50-27 St. Agnes at the half thanks to 25 St. Agnes turnovers.

Smith is back to start the 2nd half but only for 3 seconds.  Defending the inbound on the tight sideline, he slaps the ball while in the inbounders hand.  That's an automatic T and he's gone.  Tough break as it's not malicious but correct by rule.  His absence doesn't hurt the Aggies.  The lead is 26 before Christian Life gets a field goal that's not a layup.  4 more turnovers for layups and a Brandon Plasch triple push the lead to 32.  We hit the running time margin just before 9 minute mark and its done from there.  St. Agnes wins 87-48.

Post Game
Jakson Griffith very aggressive attacking the rim for Christian Life.  He leads the Hawks with 22 points.  Caleb Kurz with 8 on 6-6 free throws (half of those 8 pts, technicals).  Definitely a lineup that I can see struggling to score.  The big number of the night is turnovers as I had the Hawks for 40 of them on the night.  That number speaks for itself.  They are off for 2 weeks before hosting Math and Science Academy.  That's their only game between now and December 15th.  Very rare for a team to have that open of a stretch in the schedule.

Brandon Plasch with 4 triples on his way to 22 points to lead St. Agnes.  Liam Skulley chips in with 17.  Center Alula Tesfay too athletic to deal with.  He adds 12 inside.  The man to man pressure was too much for Christian Life.  However, the Aggies will need to address the number of fouls as they gave up 34 free throws.  The soft EMAC part of their schedule next week continues as they have 3 more games vs the EMAC.  All of those are at home in their new gym.  That includes Community of Peace, Charter Stars and North Lakes.

Weekly 360 Windmill - Nov 22 2015

Introducing the Weekly 360 Windmill.  Its my look back on the week that was and a look ahead to the week that will be.  Of course the only 360 I know is to go all the way around the buffet table, but we'll give this a shot anyway.  So with that in mind, here goes.

Week 1 Thoughts
Farmington opened their season with a pair of easy wins against the 2 weaker Rochester teams.  Good confidence builder for that group vs a couple of section 1AAAA foes and it shows they belong outside of the dreaded 1st round game vs Lakeville North or Rochester John Marshall

Staying in section 1AAAA, a very good win for Lakeville South on the road at New Prague.  Especially when you consider they did it without PG Jack Sorenson in the box score.  That gives the Cougars the very early inside track on the 3 seed in 1AAAA.

St. Paul Academy is getting used to a new coach.  They start 2-0 with road wins at St. Croix Prep and Rochester Lourdes.  But it took them a while to pull away at SCPA, where a blowout was expected.  Expectations are high there, I'm watching to see what they look like come the tough stretch in mid-December vs St. Croix Lutheran and Mountain Iron-Buhl.

Statement win for Orono at #2AAA Marshall as the Spartans are off to a 2-0 start.  Expect them to jump into this week's AAA poll and stay there.

Good home wins for Cristo Rey over Concordia and North St. Paul over Chisago Lakes as those teams look to take the next step.

Week 2 Look Ahead
Monday has a light schedule.  The Post-Hanson era at Maranatha begins as they host Como Park.  Its also the beginning of the John Robinson era on the boys side at Como Park.  With a talented feeder school, I think they can start keeping some kids and he had success on the girls side.  Things looking up for the Cougars.  Also a rivalry matchup as PACT visits Spectrum in the first of 2 meetings this year between future MCAA foes.

Tuesday is the first night of the season where we have a full slate of games.  It has a pair of games that immediately stick out.  First is Armstrong at Wayzata.  Stiff test for Armstrong to start the season as they look to plug in last year's undefeated JV guys with 3 returning guys.  In the other game of note, #6AAA Mahtomedi visits Chisago Lakes in what could be a state tournament preview.  Chisago Lakes was the top seed in 7AAA last year and they have their top 3 back to get there again.  Forward Carter Duncan was not in the box score vs North St. Paul.  His size will be needed against Mahtomedi.  Sleeper games, Park Center at Brooklyn Center, Prior Lake at Waconia and Simley at Byron.  Soph Mike Coble vs senior Jack Stensgard in that last game is a very compelling matchup.

Wednesday night has 1 game.  St. Paul Harding at Richfield.  The drama that is the battle for the 8th seed in section 3AAA.

Friday is quiet in the metro but Osseo and Bloomington Jefferson will be at the Duluth East tourney for the weekend.  Jefferson vs #8AAA Hermantown and Osseo vs Duluth East are a couple of interesting games there.

Saturday has the 1st showcase of the season at Anoka-Ramsey.  6 games there including Marshall vs Stillwater and Moorhead vs Elk River in an 8AAAA battle.  But the biggest game of the day is #5AAAA Wayzata at #8AAAA Lakeville North in the afternoon.  Skill and shooters all over the place in that game.  If Lakeville North can keep Reuvers and Brooks both on the floor, I think that forces Wayzata to play bigger rather than a more comfortable 4 out group.  Later in the south metro #1AAAA Apple Valley has their home opener against Minnetonka.  Sleeper game: Sauk Rapids-Rice at Delano in a game full of talented underclassmen.  Cam Jackson vs Calvin Wishart and Cody Landwehr vs Keegan O'Neill are a pair of quality matchups of sophomores in that game.

New Mustang helps topple Heritage

On the first part of the journey, I was looking at all the games.  There were parents and birds and game clocks and things.  Its off to Breck for their opener against #8A Heritage.  Biggest crowd I've ever seen in my games at Breck.  Very vocal for the freshman and JV games too.  No food and I continue to try the water theme for beverage.  The Emperor and Her Majesty are in town so The Emperor makes a special guest appearance with me.   Like any nobility, horses are a part of The Czar's culture.  So between that, seeing Mustangs on this night and for Her Majesty who never gets enough credit here, here is today's tune.

Song of the Day
America - Horse with No Name

Number of Teams I've Seen: 4 (2 courts)

Beverage Ticker: 24 ounces (190 Calories) + 1 liter (0 calories)
2 days, 2 games, 2 scrimmages added on

  • Pepsi: 12 ounces (150 Calories)
  • Sprite: 12 ounces (140 Calories)
  • Water (Aquafina): 500 ml (0 Calories)
  • Water (Kirkland): 500 ml (0 Calories)
Hot Dog Ticker: 0
Pizza Ticker: 2

Game Time:
Breck sets the tone inside and does it immediately.  Center Justin Bergerson with 2 hoops, frosh David Roddy for 2.  Breck 6-0 in the 1st 1:35.  Roddy with a putback and 2 free throws.  Backup center Sam Willey off the pick and roll for 2 more.  Timeout Heritage at 10:26. Roddy goes coast to coast with a rebound for 2 free throws.  19-7 Breck at 9:18.  Heritage star CJ Woda finally gets a shot to go in as he banks in a 3 and Ben Allen follows that with a bomb of his own to force a Breck timeout.   19-13 Mustangs at the 8:28 mark.

That timeout works as the Mustangs go on a 11-2 run.   Roddy still doing work inside with a putback and post score.  During that run Woda had to sit with his 2nd foul.  That run forces him to come back in as Heritage trails 30-15 just inside the 5 minute mark.  Bergerson ended the run with bonus free throws and then adds 6 of the next 8 as the Breck lead balloons to 38-20 just before the half.  New coach Marcus Hill goes deep into his bench to end the half.  Heritage takes advantage and a turnover becomes a Zach Johansen 3 just before the buzzer.  The 8-1 Eagles run cuts the Breck lead to 39-28 at the half.  Bergerson and Roddy combine for 28 inside.

Woda puts back a miss with 14:40 left to cut the lead to 9.  He puts back another miss as Heritage hangs around but then he has to sit with his 4th foul with 11:17 remaining.  The lead goes back up to 16 thanks to Roddy.  He makes a free throw off an offensive rebound and a nice dive vs the zone and Bergerson finds him for the layup.  Textbook playing vs the zone.  Tanner Scott makes a 3 and Johansen follows it.  He has another 3 go in and out which would have cut the lead to 7.

Roddy hits the high post jumper to beat the zone again.  Woda returns at the 6:23 mark and Heritage has only lost a point on the scoreboard but time is running out.  54-42 Breck leading at that point.  Woda scores the next 8 Heritage points as the Eagles try to rally.  Johansen with a drive for 2 more and the lead is down to 8 with 1:11 left.  Breck runs out after a Heritage timeout and its a hard foul on the break.  Breck will get free throws but they get a technical in the process.  Breck makes 1 and we shoot at the other end.  Johansen makes both technical free throws.  Heritage with the ball down 7 and still 1:06 left.   But Breck plays 30 seconds of great defense and Johansen misses a tough 3.  Breck doesn't close it out well by missing 3 front ends in the last 30 seconds (plus a couple of turnovers and missed dunk after Woda came back) but they hang on to win 61-57,

Post Game
CJ Woda leads Heritage with 25 points.  He had 11 of the last 15 Heritage points after coming back in with 4 fouls.  He struggled to finish against the Breck size early in the game but attacked late to keep Heritage in it.  Zach Johansen with 4 3s and 16 points.  Ben Allen and Jack Vander Top combine for 9.  The Eagles will need more from those 2 to be the section contender that they expect to be.  Heritage struggled with their shooting and had no match for the size or athleticism on Breck's front line.  The Eagles are off until after Thanksgiving.  They'll host Concordia and Maranatha to open December.  Then a big matchup with #2A Central MN Christian on Dec 12th which unfortunately is not part of the Tip Off Classic.

Freshman David Roddy leads Breck with 16 of his 27 points in the first half.  Not sure how well he projects long term in the basketball world, but the 6'3" forward showed he can play.  He had an early rejection of a drive, a couple nice touch passes inside, handled the ball out on the floor and attacked the rim off the dribble and via offensive rebounding.  He was their QB in football too and you'd never believe it by looking at him (built like a TE or LB).  Center Justin Bergerson added 18 points.  Both challenged shots at the rim, grabbed most of the rebounds and were far too much to handle.  The Mustangs host Rochester Lourdes on Tuesday before starting a tough stretch where they have 6 out of 7 away from home during the rest of the calendar year.  3 of those are neutral site games.

Spartans steal the Magic trick

Its the start of the 2015-16 season.  Once again it takes me to the Wright County Conference for a non-conference opener.  This year its Monticello at Orono.  But we get the Intermediate School gym thanks to a concert at the high school.  Its jersey night in the Orono student section and we get some classic McGrady and Carter original Raptors jerseys.  Plus an old school Larry Bird Indiana State jersey to boot.  Cheese pizza from Dominos and I bypass the Gatorade (WHAT????) for a healthy bottle of water.  Today's tune comes to us courtesy of the sound system.

Song of the Day
X Ambassadors - Jungle

Number of Teams I've Seen: 2 (1 court)

Beverage Ticker: 40.907 ounces (190 Calories)
1 day, 1 game, 2 scrimmages added on

  • Pepsi: 12 ounces (150 Calories)
  • Sprite: 12 ounces (140 Calories)
  • Water (Aquafina): 500 ml (0 Calories)
Hot Dog Ticker: 0
Pizza Ticker: 2

Game Time:
The start is slow but Tommy Schyma puts back a miss just over 3 minutes in to break the ice for the season.  Orono finally gets their offense going.  Sam Sustacek with a pair of jumpers.  Soph Thomas Lecy off the "Badger" BLOB for 3, Cody Stoe with a bomb and Max Bjorklund to the rim.  Sustacek goes to the post spin move to finish the 14-2 run over 5 and a half minutes.  14-4 Orono just outside the midway point of the half.  Schyma with a stepback 3 to break that run.  Lecy with back to back bombs and Stoe converts a steal.  22-9 Orono at the 6:17 mark.  Orono's 1-1-3 zone causing some grief.  Monticello star PG Matt Todd ignites a 7-0 Magic run with a triple and a layup off a turnover.  Orono lead down to 22-16 at 5:10.  Noel Mshihiri with a nice cut for 2 a drive for 2 more.  Orono takes a 33-22 lead to halftime.  Lecy with 4 bombs for 12 points off the Orono bench.

Schyma carrying the Magic offense to start the 2nd half.  He makes a free throw, a 3 and 2 more all in the 1st 2 minutes.  Stoe with a nice post feed and follows it baseline side and gets it back for an easy deuce.  Then Monticello misses a layup and Mshihiri converts a bunny on the other end in a critical 4 point swing.  Jack Anderson with a 3 and 2 easy drives with no help D coming over.  Monticello coach Jason Schmidt not happy with his squad's defense.  44-30 Orono with 12:45 left.  Lecy then adds his 5th and final 3 of the night to push the lead to 17.

Todd tries to bring the Magic back with a slick assist to Schyma and 4 free throws in an 11-2 run.  49-41 Orono with 10:05 left.  Stoe with a bomb to push the lead back to 13.  Schyma with a steal and score before Sustacek picks up his 4th foul.  54-43 Orono with 8:29 left at that point and maybe there's 1st last chance.  But the Magic defense doesn't hold up.  Bjorklund give and go for 2, Nick Perinovic off the Princeton chin cut for a layup, Stoe runs for a layup after a bad Magic miss and Bjorklund another cut for a bunny.  Then an offensive rebound is tipped out to the foul line, 1 more pass to Stoe on the right wing.  That 3 is the final backbreaker.  65-49 Orono with 3:30 left and they are out of danger.  Orono wins the season opener 70-55
Post Game
Monticello gets 21 points from their soph point guard Matt Todd.  He struggled from the field (I had him 6-19 or so) and had some moments where he was clearly pressing trying to bring his team back. But when he turns it on, he is really fun to watch.  Tommy Schyma gave him some help with 16 points.  Beyond that, the Magic really struggle to find offense.  Defensively, they didn't get stops to get themselves back in it.  The schedule doesn't get easier as they host #3AAA Rocori next weekend in their Thanksgiving tourney.  Then a trip to #6AAA Mahtomedi looms in 2 weeks.

Orono gets great balance from their crew.  Cody Stoe 3 triples on his way to 17 points to lead the Spartans.  Soph Thomas Lecy 5 3s off the bench for 15 points.  Sam Sustacek 11 points inside.  He took a nasty spill in the 2nd half and had his head bounce off the floor but did return.  Jack Anderson gives them an inside/outside threat at the 4 spot, Noel Mshihiri gives them an athletic defender.  Colton Codute was in foul trouble trying to guard Matt Todd but he gives them another shooter and ball handler.  Scary to think that the only senior in their rotation is Sustacek.  That 8 man crew includes 3 sophomores.  While the offensive execution wasn't there on opening night, the Spartans still showed plenty of cutting acumen for easy hoops.  Cody Stoe also was able to sneak out in transition too.  They visit #2AAA Marshall on Saturday then a matchup over Thanksgiving vs under appreciated Chisago Lakes in the Monticello tourney.

Play of the Day: Badger
Orono BLOB
Start 4 low with a shooter on the backside block.  Ballside block spins out and screens across, ballside corner screens in for the shooter.  Screeners slip as needed.  Simple and very effective.

They'll also get you on SLOBs with a double backscreen for their big after he inbounds it  They can also get their post over the top on the ballside block or have him flash to the ball for a blind pig look.

2015 Spring Lake Park Jamboree Thoughts

Off to the annual Spring Lake Park Jamboree.  This north metro fest brings 12 teams together for 1 regularly timed half of a game.  Shirt of the night award goes to the shirt with "Trust the Weather Man" on it, brilliant  In addition to a Sprite for the Beverage Ticker, our food is Sausage Pizza Pizza!  Very nice crowd on hand.

Beverage Ticker: 24 ounces (190 Calories)

Pepsi: 12 ounces (150 Calories)
Sprite: 12 ounces (140 Calories)

Jamboree Results:
Session 1: Osseo def Columbia Heights 40-17
Session 2: Mounds View def Irondale 23-21
Session 3: Spring Lake Park def St. Francis 19-17
Session 4: Blaine def Totino-Grace 26-25
Session 5: Maple Grove def Fridley 41-23
Session 6: Forest Lake def Coon Rapids 23-17

Mounds View will be a grind it out, struggle to score type team which fits coaches Dave Leiser and Dave Bratland well.  After seeing their JVs last year (before enjoying some amazing root beer floats I might add), I expected more offensive punch.  I don't read much into Spring Lake Park's upset of St. Francis.  St. Francis played a ton of guys and I think their traps over the long haul would turn this game into a rout.  A couple of fun inside battles with Ben Scherer and James Streeter in 1 session and Tessy Pal and Reed Nikko (Net Gain teammates in the summer) in another.  Maple Grove was up 24-4 in an 8 minute layup drill before their bench gave some of it back.  Brad Davison slowed a touch by the late end of the football season.  Fridley will bother people with their athletes and running, but halfcourt offense will be harder to come by.  Their 2 games against neighboring rival Brooklyn Center promise to be quite entertaining with the same style of play on both sides.  Coon Rapids practice jerseys red with the white retro stripe across the chest was a nice blast from the past look.