2014-15 Rest of the Metro Preview

This is the 12th preview in my 2013-2014 season preview series.  In this preview, I conclude my look at the teams around the metro with a look at the local independents and any other teams in The Kingdom that I haven't previewed yet and want to mention.  That even includes a couple of EMAC teams I came across last season.  For a list of all the season previews and how they were generated, click here.

CHOF Lions (2013-14 season 12-12, Independent)
The Lions lose 17 points a game from point guard Nate Johnston but return most everything else.  They'll build around an experienced group of juniors.  Leading scorer Kit Piepkorn was good for 18 a night last season.  Tim Rohlf and Anders Strandlund were just under double figures.  Senior Grant Geerdes joins that trio.

Christian Life Hawks (2013-14 season, 15-9, 12-1 EMAC, 1st)
Wing Caleb Wochnick is the lone returning starter.  He was the leading scorer (18.5 PPG) for the regular season EMAC champs.  The next 4 scorers and remaining starters are all gone.  That includes point guard Mick Spangrud and his 18.3 PPG and 10.2 PPG from Aaron Green.  Everyone else is back.  Senior Joey Jaeger returns in the middle.  Jakson Griffith returns at a guard spot.

Community of Peace Tigers (2013-14 season 9-1, ? EMAC)
The Tigers were a mid-level EMAC team last season (due to a couple of home and home series, I'm not sure what their exact league record was).  Junior Marquez Perry returns as a top scoring option.

Cristo Rey Jesuit Pumas (2013-14 season 9-17, 2-3 Twin Cities)
Assistant Stan Clay takes over after head coach Kris Babler took the Rainy River job. 3 of the 4 double figure scores return from last season.  That includes almost 17 a night from Davonte Smith.  Lefty sophomore Jericho Sims should up his 11.5 PPG average.  Lefty forward Brandon Williams is another double figure scorer returning.

FAIR Falcons (2013-14 season 6-12, 0-4 Twin Cities)
The top 2 scorers are gone.  Forward Keith Washington graduated and point guard Markel Aune is now at Bloomington Kennedy.  Freshman Sy Chatman will be a top option. 

Hope Academy (2013-14 season 7-19, 5-8 EMAC)
Leading scorers Christian McFadden and Darrius Ross depart.  They combined for 29 points a night.  Lefty junior Tobias Griffin leads with 13.7 PPG last year.  Soph forward Nate Elifson was good for 9.1 PPG.  Guards Matthew Anfinson and sophomore Dashon Holcomb also return.  The rest of the roster will be very young. 

Minnesota Transitions Wolves (2013-14 season 13-10, 3-2 Twin Cities)
Assistant Bruce Weston took over the Wolves program during the middle of last season.  He'll have to replace 17.6 PPG from guard Willie Parrish.  He has a pair of junior guards who can do that.  Lewis McCaleb scored 17.5 PPG and Isaiah Williams added 10.6 PPG.  James Hancock returns in the middle.  Tramaine Cole is a returning guard.

St. Croix Prep Lions (2013-14 season 14-13, Independent)
Coach Matt McCollister has to replace 3 starters.  That includes their 2nd through 4th scorers.  But talented point guard Michael Gutierrez and 23.6 points per game returns to lead the way.  Junior Quinn Fisher also is back in the starting lineup.  Stillwater transfer Jared Shea will also join the lineup after sitting out last season.  Sophomore Austin Have saw plenty of time last year.  Wade Krueger is the only experienced size.

Spectrum Sting (2013-2014 season, 10-13, Independent)
The Sting return their top 2 scorers.  18 PPG combined from Stefan Mayer and Evan Emmel depart. The rest of the rotation is back.  Junior Zach Knollenberg scored 13.5 PPG to lead the team.  He was also the team leader in assist, steals and blocks.  He's the top returning rebound this year too.  Senior Ben Maki scored 11 points per game. 

2014-15 South Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 11th preview in my 2014-15 Season Preview Series.  To begin week 3, a look at the South Suburban Conference.  The Bloomington schools have departed for the new Metro West Conference.  Farmington and Shakopee replace them from the disbanded Missota Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Apple Valley Eagles (2013-14 season 27-2, 18-0 Conference, 1st)
Apple Valley has won 38 straight games in league play and 24 straight at home in South Suburban play.  Duke commit Tyus Jones (26.3 PPG, 8.7 APG) and forward Dennis Austin (11.4 PPG) need to be replaced.  Defender and shooter Robert Tobroxen will also be missed.  But the Eagles are still loaded and a contender to bring home the gold ball.  Junior center Brock Bertram and soph wing Gary Trent return to the starting lineup as double figure scorers.  Freshman Tre Jones will take over for brother Tyus at the point.  Those 3 are at or very close to the top of their class, not to mention the rest of the program is loaded throughout the levels.  The development of Trent's all-court game will be important to the Eagles success.  Forwards Cam Kirksey and Steve Christiansen have experience up front.  Junior Jordan Bolton provides guard depth.  Scary part is that Christiansen is the only senior of that group.

Burnsville Blaze (2013-14 season 8-19, 3-15 Conference, 9th)
The Blaze improved by 5 wins last season.  The forward duo of Joe Morris and Brett Shepley is back along with point guard Jake Ruffing.  Junior Jason Gumm provides more front court depth.  Guard Zach Smith departs after leading the team in scoring at 14.9 PPG last season.  Donny Parsons is another returning guard.

Eagan Wildcats (2013-14 season 12-14, 8-9 Conference, 5th)
Eagan returns a very good nucleus of PG Bryndan Matthews, SG Chase Seiberlich and swiss army knife forward GT Johnson.  The guards were both double figure scorers last season.  Senior forward Michael Gorder is off to University of Mary.  His 18.4 PPG is the major loss along with some role players up front.  Cole Hibbard will provide guard depth.

Eastview Lightning (2013-14 season 6-21, 2-16 Conference, 10th)
Lanky center Jordan Machacek departs but that's it.  The top 5 scorers and sophomore guard Jameson Bryan all return.  Obi Obeneme was the team's top scorer at 11.7 PPG.  Sioux Falls commit Drew Guebert and Keegan Dixon also averaged double digits last year.  They have experience and shooters. This is a team I don't want to play come playoff time.  I think the Lightning are much better this season.

Farmington Tigers (2013-14 season 19-8, 8-5 Missota Conference, 4th)
The return of senior point guard Zach Speikers will determine much of the Tigers season.  He blew out a knee last last season but averaged 19.2 PPG before that.  Wyatt Ferm is the only other member of the rotation returns.  Forwards Nick Varner and Eli Rockett are gone up front.  Guards Johnny Dittman and Mac Bassett were the rest of the perimeter starters.  The program was strong at the rest of the high school levels last year.  Matt Anderson should step up from the JV to be an important piece.

Lakeville North Panthers (2013-14 season 27-5, 16-2 Conference, 2nd)
Also 33 a night and the clutch play of JP Macura will be impossible to replace.  But the Panthers still have enough to make a run back to state.  Wing Connor Flack is the lone double figure scorer returning at 13.1 PPG.  Look for a breakout campaign from junior wing Drew Stewart.  The lefty has the ability to put up big numbers.  Isaac Brooks and Carl Engwall will fill in for the loss of Bronson Bruneau up front.  Junior guard Cal Pesola will fill the role of departed Alex Reiland.

Lakeville South Cougars (2013-14 season 10-16, 7-11 Conference, Tied 6th)
The Cougars have a nice trio to build around in sophomore point guard Jack Sorenson (20.7 PPG), bruising forward Brenon-Larson Gulsvig and freshman wing Shae Mitchell.  Defender Grant Mosser, forwards Ryan Kretzschmar and Kyle Martin also return with guard Blake Wacholz.  15.4 PPG from Cody Kairis and 4 other rotation members need to be replaced.

Prior Lake Lakers (2013-14 season 16-12, 9-9 Conference, 4th)
The 4 year leadership of Jon Sobaski at the point and his team high 19.5 PPG will be missed.  Kevin McKiernan averaged 7.2 PPG last year and will fill that PG role.  Forward Connor Bair is the top returner at 15.4.  He provides a dangerous versatility of inside scorer and outside skill/quickness.  Austin Heidecker is another frontline returnee.  Seniors Sam Schultz and Lucas Olson and junior Jack Kortes all saw meaningful minutes last year.

Rosemount Irish (2013-14 season 15-13, 7-11 Conference, Tied 6th)
The Irish need to replace the guard trio of PG Garrett Goetz and shooters Cole Northwick and Matt Stephenson. That group combined for 40+ points per game last year.  Shooter Logan Halvorsen and forward Kyle Kaupa return to the starting lineup.  Kaupa has the body to bang but you have to find him at the 3 point line.  Those 2 along with Tyler Hartigan are the top 3 returning scorers.  Gavin Rudoll, Jack Kessler and junior Jared Hanson will look to step into bigger roles

Shakopee Sabers (2013-14 season 24-7, 12-1 Missota Conference, 1st)
Junior forward Steffon Mitchell averaged 12.8 PPG last year.  With the loss of fellow forwards Tyler Weiss (15.8 PPG) and Jake Maiers, expect Mitchell to have a much bigger role.  The lefty continues to evolve into one of the top 2016 players in the state.  Senior point guard Evan Hagen returns to run the point for the 4th year.  Booker Coplin and Tevin Killeen also return on the perimeter. 
  
Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Apple Valley
  2. Shakopee 
  3. Lakeville North   
  4. Prior Lake
  5. Eagan
  6. Eastview  
  7. Lakeville South
  8. Rosemount  
  9. Farmington
  10. Burnsville
Conference Overview:
Apple Valley is so loaded that they are the clear favorite.  After that I see a big jumble in the top half.  Shakopee, Lakeville North, Prior Lake and Eagan all have plenty of important pieces returning but lost their top player.  Shakopee's tradition and last year's finish too much to ignore.  Can't move Lakeville North down much either.  Prior Lake and Eagan also very solid.  That group of 4 I could see in any order.  Eastview and Lakeville South also have plenty coming back but I don't see them at the same level as the others.  They'll battle for 6th.  Rosemount and Farmington have major pieces to replace.  Burnsville will be competitive but hard to see them moving up much.  Those last 3 I could see in any order.

Conference MVP: Steffon Mitchell - Shakopee

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Gary Trent Jr, Tre Jones - Apple Valley
  • Jameson Bryan - Eastview
  • Jack Sorenson, Shea Mitchell - Lakeville South
  • Garrett Mitchell - Shakopee
Conference Games to Watch
  • Lakeville North at Shakopee - Jan 9th
  • Apple Valley at Lakeville North - Jan 13th
  • Shakopee at Apple Valley - Jan 16th
  • Shakopee at Lakeville North - Feb 10th
  • Apple Valley at Shakopee - Feb 13th
  • Lakeville North at Apple Valley - Feb 17th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Chanhassen at Apple Valley - Nov 25th
  • Apple Valley at Minnetonka - Nov 29th
  • Shakopee vs East Ridge - Nov 29th (Anoka-Ramsey Classic)
  • Hopkins at Shakopee - Dec 4th
  • Apple Valley vs Waukee (IA) -  Dec 6th (Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Shakopee at Waconia - Dec 9th
  • Prior Lake at St. Paul Johnson - Dec 12th
  • Apple Valley vs De La Salle - Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka) 
  • Eagan vs Orono - Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka) 
  • Lakeville North vs Minneapolis North - Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)  
  • Eden Prairie at Lakeville North - Dec 20th

2014-15 Tri-Metro Conference Preview

This is the 10th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  Week 2 of the 5 week long series concludes with a look at the remade Tri-Metro Conference.  6 members leave to form the IMAC.  The MSHSL then adds Holy Angels, Columbia Heights and Fridley after the Missota and North Suburban folded.  So that leaves 9 teams but with a west class 3A vs east class 2A split, expect more changes to come.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Academy of Holy Angels Stars (2013-14 season 11-15, 5-9 Missota Conference, 6th)
The dynamic duo of forward Charlie Koontz and shooter Taylor BonGiovanni (AKA Bon Jovi on my stat sheets) and their 40 PPG will be tough to replace.  Most of the rest of the rotation is gone too.  Sophomore Sam Boehne is a piece to build with for the future.
 
Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2013-14 season 15-10, 6-4 Conference, Tied 3rd)
The league's leading scorer Tedkye Clark returns after scoring 24.5 PPG last year.  Seniors Tyrell Beasley and Romell Carr also return to the lineup.  Sophomore Devonte Prince is the 3rd leading returning scorer.  Wing Sammie Watkins and his 14.7 PPG is the biggest lost.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2013-14 season 19-8, 10-4 North Suburban Conference, 2nd)
The Hylanders coming off an impressive season where they had a chance to reach 20 wins and win the final North Suburban conference title.  A loss on the final night at Totino-Grace cost them both.  Double figure scorer Colton Williams needs to be replaced.  Jarrett Baptiste scored 16.1 PPG as an inside force last year.  He leads a group of 4 returning starters.  Montroy Scott and Tak Anwey give the Hylanders athletic options on the wing.
 
Concordia Academy Beacons (2013-14 season 14-13, 5-5 Conference, Tied 6th)
The Beacons need to replace double figure scorers Will Preble and Austin Moldenhauer (27 PPG combined).  Point guard Roger Moore Jr returns to run the show.  He was the team's top scorer at 18.8 PPG to go with 5 assists a night.  Seniors Sam Root, Jacob Falk, Connor Johnson and Kyle Leistkow all will contribute.  Root is the top returning scorer of that group at 8.4 PPG.  Junior Chris Carlson will also be in the rotation.

De La Salle Islanders (2013-14 season 26-3, 10-0 Conference, 1st, AAA State Champion)
The 3-time defending state AAA champion Islanders are still loaded and the prohibitive favorite to win it all again.  That's despite losing D1 talents Reid Travis (Stanford) and Geno Crandall (North Dakota) along with James Lawson (D2 Sioux Falls).  Minnesota commit Jarvis Johnson returns at the point.  Sacar Anim should be a bigger offensive option this year and is a stud defender on 1 wing.  North Dakota commit Josh Collins is the other wing.  Sophomore star Goanar Mar and Jeff Daubanton provide some up front options who can also play facing the hoop.

Fridley Tigers (2013-14 season 15-8, 6-6 North Suburban Conference, Tied 5th)
The top 5 scorers and 6 members of the rotation all depart.  Each player in that group averaged between 9 and 11 PPG.  Center Jonathan Conyers is the top returning player.  His 8.8 PPG will need to drastically increase this season.  Tessy Pal gives the Tigers an option on the wing. 

St. Agnes Aggies (2013-14 season 7-20, 0-10 Conference, 11th)
Leading scorer Nick Turch and his 24.5 PPG need to be replaced.  Guard Jake Gutzmann also departs. Those were the 2 most effective scorers for the Aggies.  Luther Missoh is the top returning scorer at 5 PPG.  Upperclassmen Alula Tesfay, Peter Vaske and Alex Davis return to the lineup.  Sophomore Darius Lopez should be one of the better offensive threats.

St. Anthony Huskies (2013-14 season 5-22, 2-8 Conference, 10th)
Leading scorer Noah Bluth and his 14.6 PPG depart.  Ben Peterson averaged 13.2 PPG, lefty Nick Peterson averaged 7.3 PPG.  They are the top 2 returning scorers.  Guards Nick Knutson and Cole Richmond also return.  Kevin Omodt returns in the middle.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2013-14 season 17-12, 5-5 Conference, Tied 6th)
Assistant Coach Jay Wendland takes over the Crusaders program.  He has a talented group of juniors to build around.  Plus only 1 member of last year's rotation departs.  The trio of point guard Aage Rovney, forward Ade Lamu and center Trenton Krueger combined for 47 points a night last year.  Rovney is a solid lefty PG who can also shoot it.  Lamu is an athletic wing and Krueger is one of the best post players in the league.  Josh Arndt and Jason Rupprecht also return in the backcourt. 

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. De La Salle
  2. St. Croix Lutheran
  3. Columbia Heights
  4. Brooklyn Center
  5. Concordia Academy  
  6. Fridley
  7. Holy Angels
  8. St. Anthony 
  9. St. Agnes  
Conference MVP: Sacar Anim - De La Salle

Conference Overview:
No doubt about De La Salle at the top.  St. Croix Lutheran and Columbia Heights both have good talent coming back, I see them battling for 2nd.  But with St. Croix Lutheran playing the east half of the schedule (league is using a division schedule), that saves them a loss.  Plus they host Columbia Heights in the only meeting.  Brooklyn Center and Concordia played 2 tight games last year, expect a good battle there for 4th.  Fridley and Holy Angels both have a truck load to replace so they'll battle for 6th.  St. Anthony could jump into that group with their returnees.  St. Agnes will be young and without their top dogs, hard to see them scoring enough to move up.

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Davonte Prince, Deshawn Pickford - Brooklyn Center
  • Sage Booker, Gabe Kalscheur - De La Salle
  • Sam Boehne - Holy Angels
  • Cahlil Golden, Darius Lopez - St. Agnes
Conference Games to Watch
  • Columbia Heights at St. Croix Lutheran - Jan 27th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at De La Salle - Jan 30th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Thomas Academy at St. Croix Lutheran - Nov 25th
  • Simley at St. Croix Lutheran - Dec 2nd
  • De La Salle vs North Scott (IA)- Dec 6th (Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • St. Paul Academy at St. Croix Lutheran - Dec 9th
  • De La Salle vs Apple Valley- Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Minnehaha - Jan 8th
  • De La Salle vs Chicago Morgan Park (IL) - Jan 10th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Eden Prairie at De La Salle - Jan 13th
  • Columbia Heights vs TBD - Jan 24 (E Metro Showcase at Johnson)
  • Armstrong at De La Salle - Jan 31st
  • De La Salle vs Kimberly (WI) - Feb 7th (Border Battle at Cretin-Derham Hall)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 14th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Breck - Feb 17th

2014-15 St. Paul City Conference Preview

This is the 9th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the St. Paul City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Central Minutemen (2013-14 season 20-7, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
High scoring wing Rayeon Williams and 18.8 PPG depart.  Soph Kelson Valentime will likely replace one of the league's top posts, Kalu Abosi (11.4 PPG), inside.  Junior lefty Sam Gubbrud put up over 13 PPG last year and will be a top option this season.  Abdi Muse, Garrett Gardner and Jakobi Jackson will all see expanded roles.

Como Park Cougars (2013-14 season 11-16, 6-6 Conference, 4th)
Leading scorer Demetrice Mitchell was good for 13+ a night and will lead the way this year. 3 double figure scorers and all but 1 other member of the rotation need to be replaced.  There is a bit of help on the way as the JV squad represented St. Paul in the Twin Cities Game.

Harding Knights (2013-14 season 5-20, 3-9 Conference, 5th)
Leading scorer Dalontray Nins was the only double figure scorer for the Knights and he departs.  But the next 4 scorers return to the lineup.  That includes guards Malik Samuel and Donovan Adesoro and forwards Michael Williams Jr and Layvontae Allen Jr.   While there is experience, the talent level will keep them in the lower half.

Highland Park Scots (2013-14 season 11-16, 8-4 Conference, 3rd)
Leading scorer Isaiah Brower and 12.1 PPG depart from a group of 4 of the top 6 scorers.  Small perimeter players Kwashon Collins-Westlund, Emanuel Murphy and D'Anthony McAdory-Beckman return to the rotation.  Collins-Westlund averaged almost 11 PPG.  Once again there's no returning size of note.

Humboldt Hawks (2013-14 season 4-19, 2-10 Conference, 6th)
Demond Dawson returns after leading the league in scoring last year at 19.3 PPG.  He's one of only 2 seniors returning from last year's 16 member all-conference 1st team.  A pair of double figure scorers join him on the perimeter.  Terel Haughton-Lyons and Marion Moore combined for 25 PPG a night.  Its another city roster lacking size.

Johnson Governors (2013-14 season 27-3, 12-0 Conference, 1st)
The balanced Govs lose 3 double figure scorers including interior option Peirre Conwell.  But Johnson ability to reload is why they've shared or outright won the league title for the last 11 seasons (93-2 in last 95 league games).  They haven't lost a conference game at home in almost 10 years (Jan 28, 2005).  PG Jalen Mobley is the most explosive scorer in the league.  He returns with 16.7 PPG.  Lanky Justus Murphy will enforce the law inside.  Eric Elliot is the other double figure scorer coming back.  Andre Smith, Sedrick Clark and Malik Jones all saw plenty of minutes last season.  Expect the usual waves of defense and Mobley to make clutch plays when necessary.

Washington Eagles (2013-14 season 8-16, 1-11 Conference, 7th)
The Eagles jumped out to a 7-1 mark through Christmas thanks to a very soft schedule.  Then the new year and conference play came and Washington lost 13 straight and 15 of 16 to end the season.  Lefty senior Robby Sanders returns after scoring 13.2 PPG.  Sophomore Curtis Bell should reach double figures this season after 8.4 PPG last year.  Leading scorer Da'Vonte Adams and his 13.3 PPG are the biggest loss.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Johnson
  2. Central
  3. Highland Park
  4. Humboldt 
  5. Como Park 
  6. Harding
  7. Washington
Conference Overview:
The more things change the more they stay in the same.  Johnson will reload and be a heavy favorite.  Central and Highland Park logically slot in behind them.  The bottom 4 will be very weak.  Humboldt suffered 2 close losses to Como Park last year (111-104 in one) but they overcome them this year.  Como Park blasted Harding twice so I can't flip them.  Washington and Harding will battle to stay out of the cellar.

Conference MVP: Jalen Mobley - Johnson

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Kelson Valentine - Central
  • Curtis Bell- Washington
Conference Games to Watch
  • Johnson at Central - Jan 6th
  • Central at Johnson - Jan 30th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Central at Minneapolis North - Dec 12th
  • Johnson at Eden Prairie - Dec 16th
  • Central at Roseville - Feb 6th
  • Twin Cities Game - Feb 21st (Minneapolis Champion)

2014-15 Minneapoils City Conference Preview

This is the eighth preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Minneapolis City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Edison Tommies (2013-14 season 9-18, 0-12 Conference, 7th)
All 5 starters and 7 members of the rotation are gone.  That includes 3 double figure scorers topped by wing Joseph Anderson.  Post option Jonah Togbah also is gone.  Junior Travis Moore is the top returner at 3.8 PPG.  DeShaon Felix-Twiet is the other returning player.  The Tommies currently have a 14 game losing streak in league play.

North Polars (2013-14 season 19-11, 10-2 Conference, Tie 1st)
Larry McKenzie took the Polars from worst to 1st in 1 season.  The Polars made their 1st appearance in the Twin Cities Game since 2010.  Their big 2nd half run of 14 wins in 17 games ended with a close loss to Maranatha in the section championship game.  Don't think coach McKenzie will let the Polars forget it.  The roster is still young but is still loaded.  The explosive duo of Tyler Johnson (20.1 PPG, tops in the league) and lefty Jamil Jackson (15.2 PPG) returns.  Point guard Patrick Dembley transfers in after being Richfield's leading scorer last year.  Soph Isaac Johnson also averaged double figures last season.  Freshman Odell Wilson and senior Randy Mathews provide inside depth.

Patrick Henry Patriots (2013-14 season 9-15, 6-6 Conference, 5th)
The Patriots suffer 1 big loss in leading scorer JJ Jefferson and his almost 20 points a night.  But the rest of the rotation is back.  Not to mention the JV squad won the conference last season.  Jacarius Ford returns at the point.  Juniors Ibrahim Mohammad and Julian Jackson returns inside.  Ramaa Hudnell and Jermal Davis return on the wings.  That's the next 5 scorers with Ford, Mohammed and Davis all averaging double figures. 

Roosevelt Teddies (2013-14 season 8-20, 2-9 Conference)
Coach Rob Mestas has the Teddies on the rise.  Leading scorer London Cobbs returns along with wing Elijah Hannah Jr.  That duo was good for almost 30 points night.  Guard Arione Farrar returns to Roosevelt after spending last year at Park Center.  He averaged 12.5 PPG there and should easily be good for that this year.  There's no experienced size though.  The future has some promise as the freshman squad won the league last year.

South Tigers (2013-14 season 15-12, 7-5 Conference, 3rd)
Leading scorer Kenley Farrow and his 18.6 PPG will need to be replaced.  Guards Payton Bowdry and Taron Myers both return after averaging double figures last year.  Kyle Lumbar and Darrius Clinton also return.  Romeo Barber's size will need to be replaced as there's no experienced big man returning.

Southwest Lakers (2013-14 season 12-14, 6-5 Conference, 4th)
Leading scorer Lanick Knight returns with 17 points a night.  The other 3 double figure scorers all need to be replaced including almost 16 per night from Cam Ross.  AJ Ray and Keion Alexander return to the lineup.

Washburn Millers (2013-14 season 16-10, 10-2 Conference, Tied 1st)
Football star Jeff Jones and Quinton Garvis both averaged double figures on the wing last year.  Post George Clark also averaged double figures. All 3 need to be replaced.  Kevin Gleason returns as a pass first point guard.  Evan Shepherd returns on the wing, he was the team leader in scoring at 16.8 PPG last year.  JoBreil Powell provides another scoring option.  Noah Burke and Charlie Irmiger should provide some size

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. North
  2. Henry   
  3. Washburn   
  4. Roosevelt
  5. South
  6. Southwest
  7. Edison
Conference Overview
The Minneapolis City is as deep as its been in many years.  North is the clear favorite and a state title contender in class A.  Washburn and Henry both return high quality pieces and should battle for 2nd.  Roosevelt is the best of the rest and with their backcourt trio, they're very dangerous.  But the lack of size puts them down a notch.  South and Southwest will fight for the 5th spot with top players from last year returning.  Hard to see Edison winning a game in the league this year either.

Conference MVP: Jamil Jackson - North

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Savion Scott - Henry
  • DJ Hunter, Ahzerik Rodgers, Isaac Johnson, Odell Wilson Jr - North
  • Brennan Hawkins - Southwest
Conference Games to Watch

  • Washburn at North - Dec 9th
  • Henry at North - Jan 9th
  • North at Washburn - Jan 23rd
  • North at Henry - Feb 12th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Roosevelt vs St. Paul Academy - Nov 29th (MN Transitions tournament)
  • Washburn at St. Thomas Academy - Dec 2nd
  • Henry vs Hill-Murray - Dec 13th (Breakdown Tipoff at Minnetonka)
  • North vs Lakeville North - Dec 13th (Breakdown Tipoff at Minnetonka)
  • Henry at Orono - Dec 18th
  • Holy Family at North - Dec 20th
  • Washburn at Hill-Murray - Jan 3rd
  • Minnetonka at Henry - Jan 13th
  • Washburn at Waconia - Jan 15th
  • Maranatha at North - Jan 17th
  • North at Armstrong - Feb 9th

2014-15 Suburban East Conference Preview

This is the 7th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Suburban East Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they were generated, click here.

Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (2013-14 season 24-8, 15-3 Conference, 2nd)
The Raiders slayed the dragon known as Apple Valley and then were a JP Macura bomb away from the state championship game.  3 Division 1 level perimeter players all return after averaging double figures.  Sam Neumann put up almost 20 a night.  He torched Roseville for 45 and blew up for 39 and 9 triples at the Timberwolves Shootout.  He'll attend Montana State.  Point Guard Donnell Gresham will attend Northeastern.  He averaged 12.1 PPG and took his game to another level down the stretch of last season.  Glue guy Joe Rosga was good for 17+ per game.  Frank Delaney saw time inside.  Add in the possible interior return of Ohio State football commit JaShon Cornell after taking last year off and you have a contender for the state title.

East Ridge Raptors (2013-14 season 23-5, 16-2 Conference, 1st)
Despite seeing their entire front line go down with injuries, the Raptors still won the league title.  That forced some young guys into the lineup and that experience will pay off this year with a senior laden lineup.  Guard Sid Tomes leads the way at 16 points a night.  Sleeper Freddie Gillespie should be back from a knee injury suffered during the offseason to man the middle.  Football star Seth Green also returns and should be a bigger factor.  Bobby Remke and Bobby Franks will see time up front.  Colin Masgai will see time in the backcourt.

Forest Lake Rangers (2013-14 season 7-20, 3-15 Conference, 9th)
The Rangers return 6 of their top 8 scorers.  Guard Matt Degendorfer's 15 PPG will need to be replaced.  Lefty wing Connor Knutson also averaged 15 PPG and is the top option.  Junior guard Noah Alm will see time in his 3rd varsity season.  Fellow guard Toby Boyer also returns.  Avery Morse provides some size. 
   
Mounds View Mustangs (2013-14 season 22-6, 13-5 Conference, 4th)
Star forward Ryan Kaczynski is the top returning scorer in the league at 22.2 per game.  He's a physical forward who can play inside or out and a quality rebounder too.  Mounds View will have to replace their next 5 scorers from a very balanced lineup.  But there is depth.  Guard Hunter Sorenson and wing Nate Albers both saw time last year.  They also have big Max van de Werken to work the middle

Park Wolfpack (2013-14 season 3-23, 0-18 Conference, 10th)
Park currently is suffering through a stretch where they are 2-97 in league play over the last 5+ seasons.  Former St. Bernard's coach Ed Cassidy returns to the high school ranks after a brief break.  But for a program in serious rebuilding mode and for him not being a build it from the ground up type, I find the hiring very strange. No double figure scorers return so there's not much to work with.

Roseville Raiders (2013-14 season 13-14, 10-8 Conference, 5th)
Roseville will try to rebound from a season where they didn't reach lofty expectations.  Starting in January they finished the season on a 5-10 stretch.  3 of the 4 top scorers return.  That includes guard duo of Kobe Critchley and Kyler Briggity along with leading scorer Jesper Horsted up front.  That trio combined for 37 PPG last year.  Quinn Johnson, Joh Farmer and Henry Benson provide quality perimeter depth.  Look for Josh Christiansen to fill the front court.

Stillwater Ponies (2013-14 season 13-15, 8-10 Conference, 6th)
Stillwater loses double figure scorer Nick Ogren and defender Brian Branch.  Junior Wyatt Blinkhorn will step into the defensive role.  The top 3 double figure scores do return and provide a great base to build off of.  Albany commit Kyle McKinley mans the middle at 12.1 PPG and is a shot blocking presence on defense.  Matt Anderson is a bulldozing forward at almost 14 per night.  Connor Gamble had a great summer knocking down shots from everywhere.  He put up almost 15 a night.  The Ponies need to find a ballhandling option to get Gamble off the ball where he can focus on scoring.

White Bear Lake Bears (2013-14 season 11-16, 7-11 Conference, 7th)
White Bear Lake needs to replace lefty scorer Tanner Hinck and his 22.4 PPG (2nd in the league).  The next 3 scorers are back to provide some punch.  Trey Anderson and Andy Lockwood work the outside.  Connor Bosch will work in the inside.

Woodbury Royals (2013-14 season 20-9, 14-4 Conference, 3rd)
Former South St. Paul head coach Kent Getzlaff takes over the program.  The cupboard is fairly bare as all 5 starters and almost all of the rotation need to be replaced.  That includes the league's leading scorer Matt Ambriz and almost 26 PPG.  Forward Ben Rizzardi  (13 PPG) and wing Isaiah Coddon (14.2 PPG) are also major losses.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Cretin-Derham Hall   
  2. East Ridge
  3. Stillwater 
  4. Roseville 
  5. Mounds View 
  6. Woodbury 
  7. Forest Lake
  8. White Bear Lake
  9. Park
Conference Overview:
Hastings moves to the new Metro East Conference so that means Park is guaranteed to move up 1 spot.  On the other side, CDH is the clear favorite.  After that, the next 4 teams all have good pieces coming back.  I could put them in just about any order.  East Ridge gets the nod because of the depth playing last year and getting it done.  Stillwater took the last 2 from Roseville so I'll move the Ponies up.  Roseville and Mounds View split so call that a coin flip for 4th.  I'm betting on Woodbury's ability to rebuild to stay in a group with Forest Lake and White Bear Lake.

Conference MVP: Sam Neumann - Cretin-Derham Hall

Underclassmen to watch:  

  • Daniel Oturo - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Devin Adams - Roseville
  • Michael Jones, David Alston, Jeremiah Coddon, Jake West - Woodbury
Conference Games to Watch
  • Stillwater at Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 4th
  • Roseville at East Ridge - Jan 6th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at East Ridge - Jan 13th
  • East Ridge at Stillwater - Jan 16th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Roseville - Jan 16th
  • Roseville at Mounds View - Jan 20th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Stillwater - Jan 20th
  • Roseville at Stillwater - Jan 27th
  • East Ridge at Roseville - Feb 10th
  • East Ridge at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 17th
  • Roseville at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 20th
  • Stillwater at East Ridge - Feb 20th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Chanhassen at East Ridge - Nov 22nd
  • Roseville vs Armstrong - Dec 13th (Breakdown Tipoff at Minnetonka)
  • Stillwater vs Eden Prairie - Dec 13th (Breakdown Tipoff at Minnetonka)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall vs Champlin Park - Dec 13th (Breakdown Tipoff at Minnetonka)
  • St. Thomas Academy at Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 23rd
  • Hopkins at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 6th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall vs TBD - Jan 10th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • East Ridge vs Minnetonka - Jan 19th (MLK Classic at Minneapolis Henry)
  • St. Paul Central at Roseville - Feb 6th
  • Stevens Point (WI) at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 7th (Border Battle)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 14th

2014-15 Northwest Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 6th preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  Week 2 begins with a look at the expanded Northwest Suburban Conference.  The league adds 3 teams courtesy of assignment from the MSHSL.  Irondale, Spring Lake Park and Totino-Grace were all looking for a home after the North Suburban disintegrated.  That means the league will split into 2 divisions, brilliantly named North and West.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Andover Huskies (2013-14 season 14-14, 9-10 Conference, 5th)
3 of the top 4 scorers including Connor Wilkie and his 17 a night depart.  A pair of starters and reserves are back for the Huskies.  Guard Jake McNallan put up almost 15 per night and is the top returning threat.  Zach Swanson returns to fill a front court banger role.

Anoka Tornadoes (2013-14 season 4-23, 3-16 Conference, 10th)
Anoka loses 5 of their top 6 scorers from last season.  Dillon Hansen is the lone returner of those 6.  He scored 6.6 PPG last year.  Anoka did play people much tougher down the stretch last year.  However, with all of the losses to the roster, they may not make it out of the cellar.

Blaine Bengals (2013-14 season 10-18, 6-14 Conference, 9th)
The Bengals finished the regular season with a 3-12 stretch including the last 8.  3 of the top 4 scorers depart including 21 a night from wing Jason Travis.  Junior Kyle Cappard will have to handle the ball and be the top scoring threat (11.8 PPG last year).  Senior Andy Leo along with juniors Ben Scherer and Nik Keller will be a big front line.  Point guard play and shooting will be major concerns for the Bengals.

Centennial Cougars (2013-14 season 12-14, 9-10 Conference, Tie 6th)
Former De La Salle star Travis Bledsoe takes over the head job.  Kevin Grow's 19 points a night and rebounding will need to be replaced.  Junior guard Tyler Peterson is the top returnee at 15.6 PPG.  No other returning player averaged over 6 PPG.

Champlin Park Rebels (2013-14 season 25-3, 18-1 Conference, Tied 3rd)
Once again Champlin Park should be one of the top teams in the state.  They do lose point guard Ian Smith and underrated forward Brennan Witt who were double figure guys.  The elite perimeter trio of JT Gibson, Marty Hill and Jeremy Johnson is back and was worth 35 points a night.  Sophomore McKinley Wright should step right in to the point guard role.  Sophomore Theo John is a top 2017 prospect in the state and should see a bigger role in the front court.

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2013-14 season 1-26, 0-20 Conference, 11th)
The Cardinals currently hold a 40 game losing streak in the NW Suburban.  The top 2 scorers return.  That includes the top returning scorer in the league in Chris Buckley.  He put up over 22 PPG per night.  Tim Nguyen was also a double figure player at almost 11 per game.  After that, youth takes over and the rebuilding process continues.

Elk River Elks (2013-14 season 16-11, 9-10 Conference, Tied 6th)
Clay Elrod was the team leader in points and rebounding last year at 18.6 and 6.1 per night.  That's a big loss from the rotation but the 8 other members of the rotation all return.  Guards Mitchell Weege and Matt Keller will provide the offense.  Trent Pink will be an interior guy.

Irondale Knights (2013-14 season 1-25, 1-13 North Suburban Conference, 8th)
The Knights went to a youth movement last year and it was ugly.  The only win was over equally bad St. Louis Park.  But like the Orioles most everyone returns.  Junior Uwana Etuk-Akpan just reached double figures last season at 10 per night.  The next 3 scorers also return.  Keavan Fikes leaves the center spot.


Maple Grove Crimson (2013-14 season 19-9, 13-7 Conference, 4th)
The underclassmen stepped up and were 3 of the top 4 scorers last year.  That includes star point guard Brad Davison, center Reed Nikko and guard Tywhon Pickford.  Kayode Awosika also had a productive year as a front court reserve and will see that expand this year with the loss of forwards Matt Lindgren (11.3 PPG) and Jake Sterling.

Osseo Orioles (2013-14 season 22-8, 15-5 Conference, 3rd)
Last year the Orioles suffered their most losses in league play in the Tim Theisen era.  Osseo usually reloads but this could Theisen's worst year.  Gone is the standout trio of PF Ian Theisen (South Dakota St) W Wheeler Baker (Albany) and PG Jordan Dembley (Liberty).  That trio combined for 50 points and over 17 boards per night.  Only 2 members of the rotation return.  That includes Upper Iowa commit Elliot Kane at the shooting guard spot and his 7.4 PPG.  Guard Allen Anderson can handle time at the point.  Beyond that there's no meaningful varsity experience.

Park Center Pirates (2013-14 season 10-18, 6-14 Conference, 8th)
Its a new era at Park Center.  Former Minnetonka head coach John Hedstrom is the new AD.  Former North St. Paul boys and Stillwater girls coach Gerard Coury takes over the reins.  4 of the top 5 scorers are gone.  Isaiah McKay's shooting and almost 19 points a night are gone.  Guard Arione Farrar transferred back to Minneapolis Roosevelt to cost the Pirates another 12.5 PPG.  Inside presence Isaac Matthews was the other double figure scorer to depart.  Junior guard Amani Hooker returns but there's not much after him.  He'll need to drastically increase his 13.3 PPG to keep the Pirates afloat.

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2013-14 season 21-6, 16-3 Conference, 2nd)
Coach Greg Miller returns a very talented lineup.  The top 3 scorers, wing Evan Nolan, guard Jerome Dixon and forward Sean Burns combined for 42 a night.  Junior wing Jubie Alade had a breakout year off the bench.  Point guard Tre Tate also returns to the lineup.  Valuable wing Melvin Newburn has transferred to rival Robbinsdale Cooper and forward Ryan Casperson's toughness will be missed.

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2013-14 season 14-14, 9-5 North Suburban Conference, 4th)
Coach Grant Guzy has to replace all 5 starters from last season.  That includes 21.3 PPG from guard TC Robinson, shooter Collin Price and athletic forward Devonte Skrebes.  Junior Jake LeVahn will man the middle.  Junior guard Aaron Flink and sophomore forward Zach Ojile will also join the starting lineup.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2013-14 season 23-6, 11-3 North Suburban Conference, 1st)
The Eagles also have to replace all 5 starters.  That includes 25 and 10 from North Suburban MVP Reggie Meyer.  Maxwell Walker and Cole Wagner should man the backcourt.  TJ McDonald and the big body of junior James Streeter should make up the front line.

Predicted Order of Finish

North Division
  1. Champlin Park 
  2. Elk River 
  3. Blaine   
  4. Andover  
  5. Centennial   
  6. Coon Rapids  
  7. Anoka  
West Division
  1. Robbinsdale Armstrong 
  2. Maple Grove  
  3. Osseo
  4. Spring Lake Park
  5. Totino-Grace
  6. Park Center 
  7. Irondale
Conference Overview:
The West should see a great duel between Armstrong and Maple Grove for the top spot.  The rest of the west is rebuilding.  So I'll default to Osseo for 3rd as you can't discount their ability to reload.  Put Spring Lake Park, Totino-Grace and Park Center in a hat and mix.  Irondale in a major rebuilding mode so I don't see them bouncing off the bottom.

In the north, expect Champlin Park to run away with that.  Since they gave Armstrong fits last year and don't play at Maple Grove (only meeting is in Champlin), I'm predicting the Rebels sweep the slate.  Elk River is clearly #2 in the north with their 8 returnees.  But like the west, there's a major drop off at 3.  Centennial, Andover and Blaine all split with each other last year.  Blaine has so much size and a decent wing/out of position PG in Kyle Cappard coming back that I have to pick them third.  But the guard play and their lack of defense last year (surprising for Mark Arzdorf team and a team with weak guards) make me not like that pick.  Andover could take that from them.  Centennial goes to 5th as they adjust to a new system.  Coon Rapids and Anoka will battle for the final spot.  Once again I'll go out on the limb and pick Coon Rapids to get it done.

Conference MVP: Brad Davison - Maple Grove

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Braeden Mischke - Anoka 
  • Tim Leo - Blaine
  • Theo John, McKinley Wright - Champlin Park
  • Sam Carver - Coon Rapids
  • Jack Burger - Elk River
  • Brendan White - Irondale
  • Brad Davison, Jack Hutchinson, Tywhon Pickford- Maple Grove
  • Mar Mar Hughes, Zach Theisen, Tyler Kittelson - Osseo
  • Oliver Sudue - Park Center
  • Race Thompson - Robbinsdale Armstrong
  • Zach Ojile - Spring Lake Park
  • Rocky Kreuser - Totino-Grace
Conference Games to Watch
  • Armstrong at Maple Grove - Dec 19th
  • Champlin Park at Armstrong - Jan 13th
  • Maple Grove at Champlin Park - Jan 20th 
  • Maple Grove at Armstrong - Feb 17th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Champlin Park vs Hopkins - Nov 29th (projected Hopkins tournament final)
  • Maple Grove vs Hopkins- Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka) 
  • Armstrong vs Roseville - Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka) 
  • Champlin Park vs Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 13th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)  
  • Armstrong at De La Salle - Jan 31st
  • Armstrong at Minnetonka - Feb 3rd
  • Minneapolis North at Armstrong - Feb 9th
  • Eden Prairie at Maple Grove - Feb 9th