So I finally got a chance to see Minnesota Transitions today. I saw Kevin Noreen play a couple of years ago, but he's grown like a weed since then. The rumor mill says that Transitions may have played without a couple of starters. That I don't know, but I do know that Minnehaha played without star Taylor Sparkman. He's out until late in the month with a broken left hand. A shame too because this matchup should have been up and down and Sparkman vs Kevin Noreen would have been a blast.
To the game, Minnehaha starts out 6-0 and after a 15-10 lead they get 8 in a row to lead 23-10 and it looks like this one is over. Transitions goes man and Minnehaha gets very sloppy in their half court offense with numerous reckless turnovers. Combine that with a couple of lapses against the Transitions inbound play for 3 and its 32-29 Minnehaha at the half. Transitions gets no calls going to the basket as the refs are letting the inside stuff go for the most part. But Kevin Noreen is putting his head down and initiating the contact and that's not helping the cause.
Transitions gets the 1st 4 points of the second half to lead 33-32. We go back and forth to a Minnehaha 42-40 lead with 7:07 left. Transitions gets back to 44-43 with about 5 minutes left. At this point, MTS falls apart. Minnehaha goes on a 9-0 to break it open. Kevin Noreen can't hit anything and can't get a call. Minnehaha gets a couple of turnovers and layups as part of the run. Final score is 62-46. Kevin Noreen with 15 pts and a bunch of assists. I think of him as a poor man's Isiah Dahlman. Tall lanky guard who scores a bunch for a small school but doesn't have the big time athleticism.
As previously promised, here's my evaluation of MTS now that I've seen them play.
First, their other assistant coach (no not you coach Miller, the older guy) needs a serious talking to from John Sherman regarding bench decorum. On more than 1 occassion Sherman told him to be quiet and he refused with the refs breathing down the bench's neck too. He's very lucky he didn't cause a critical T. Not to mention what appeared to be arguing with Sherman. If he would have been on my staff I would have pondered sending him to the locker room or firing him on the spot.
The MTS offense was all about Kevin Noreen. No motion, no nothing. Just get Kevin the ball and go. I liked the Dirk Nowitzki concept of getting him the ball at the foul line via posting. Once he realized that he wasn't getting calls, he needed to focus on shooting over his defender instead of forcing the ball into a crowd to attempt to draw a call. He'll learn that over the next 2 years. There were multiple occassions when Minnehaha was able to play sound position defense and totally stifle any offense from MTS because of nothing being run. This was true in man or zone. The best offensive stuff they ran all day was their dirt simple inbound play that they've used for years and for some reason still works. That alone was 6 of Kyle Noreen's 9 points. Inexecusable from Minnehaha. I can't evaluate the running game because they didn't have the chance to get out and run. Jaron Jackson can be a nice second option for them, but if you have success against Kevin Noreen, you'll win. I think a diamond and 1 would really take them out of anything they want to do. Minnehaha really didn't make much of an effort to deny Kevin the ball, their thought was to help once he got it.
As to the MTS Defense, simply awful and that's being nice. They started in a 2-3 zone trap and nobody covered the high post. Then the adjustment was made to have a ball-side wing play the high post. WHAT??!!! Poorly designed, poorly executed, poor results. Minnehaha shredded this to get the early lead.
In their man D, Kevin Noreen did a good job of not leaving his feet in post defense. Minnehaha tried to post him up numerous times and got absolutely nothing out of it. I like the thought of trying to make him work on D, but this idea didn't go over well. When Minnehaha ran their man stuff with their cuts (LA or Denver), with any patience (as demonstrated late in the game) they got layups at will as MTS continually let Minnehaha get wide open going to the basket off of screens, didn't get in front of cutters and trailed them as they cut to the basket to get those layups. They also were outhustled for most of the game.
While Transitions was tough enough to stay in the game, this was really about Minnehaha failing to take advantage of opportunity. As poorly as Transitions played, this should have been a blowout. MTS is very similar to Oh Day Aki because they're athletic, run no offense and don't play defense. The difference is that they have a stud player to get points for them where Oh Day Aki does not.
Where do they fit in section 4A? Obviously Minnehaha is not the type of team they'll have to deal with. In A ball, Noreen is a matchup nightmare and will get his. Minnehaha has the type of athletes to have a chance against him. Where do I seed them in the east subsection of 4A. I put them #3 behind CHOF and St. Agnes (which is consistent with the current QRFs), but Tuesday's game is big for that purpose as it could move CHOF clearly to the #1 spot with a win (since CHOF also beat St. Agnes at St. Agnes). Yes CHOF got hammered by NLA, but NLA won't be in the discussion. I think MTS beats most of the west subsection. A game with Heritage would be very interesting and the SW Christian game will be entertaining. If they play MCA, they get blown out as MCA is a bad matchup for them. Bigger star, more athletes, more discipline, more size.