The Czar travels and a Sam Dower interview

The Czar returns after a trip to see the Brewers/Astros game in Milwaukee last Saturday night. Its an annual cancer benefit trip that the Crown Prince (my brother) puts on. Over $900 raised this year putting the event over $2,000 for the last 3 years. Always lots of fun and we had the Miller High Life guy ("For 16 dollars I'll be a macadamia nut" guy) come over to our tailgate group. Fun moment.

In doing some catch up reading I came across an interview that The Kennel Report (Gonzaga student blog) did with Sam Dower and his AAU coach Marquise Watts of Net Gain Sports. This is from July 2nd and is well done. Though the comparison to Kevin Garnett may be a little much. Click here to read the entire article.

(Czar's Note 7/30/08, there are also 2 other interviews there as well)
July 29th
July 9th

Day 3 scores from Las Vegas and Orlando

Here's how the MN teams fared in Las Vegas and Orlando on Day 3.


  • 43 Hoops def Wedman Pumas 52-49 and then def Juice All-Stars 78-70. Mike Bruesewitz with 20 points in the bracket game.
  • Magic Robertson def Indiana Dawgz 68-61 and then def Derek Smith All-Stars 92-86. Carlos Emory with 31 points in that game.
  • Net Gain def Midwest Mission 63-55. That means that all 3 teams in the Adidas event move on to the final 32 tomorrow.
  • MN Select Kruger def Texas Bluechips Silver 61-48 with a big 2nd half. Maurice Hernandez leads the way with 13 points. Noah Kaiser with 12 and Justin Harding with 10. Select Kruger now in the final 16 of the 2nd place finishers bracket at the Reebok Championships
  • MN Select DeKok lost to DC Triple Threat 77-69 in a game I watched online. Read about it here.
  • ECI MN lost to SW Titans 17U Red 63-57 yesterday. Jordan Aaberg with 17 in that game. They def Inland Reebok II 75-58 in bracket play. The twin towers were a force in this game. Aaberg with 27 and Kurt Mickelson with 14. They're in the final 16 of the consolation bracket at the Reebok Championships.
  • Howard Pulley def Martin Brothers Select 70-58 in pool play at the super 17 showcase in Orlando. They play Rising Stars-Gold later today.
  • Magic Superfriends def Central Jersey Hawks Burke 60-57 and lost to Land O Lakes Youth Basketball 65-64.
  • 43 Hoops 16s def San Diego Warriors 66-39
  • 43 Hoops Carr def Las Vegas Prospects 61-46. They'll open bracket play tomorrow.
  • MN Heat Elite def All 4 Sports Dream Team 52-45 yesterday. They lost 71-47 to Rich Soil today. They def Triple Threat Youth Org in the opening round of bracket play.

MN Select DeKok vs DC Triple Threat in Vegas

In Las Vegas, MN Select DeKok with a nice showing at 4-0. Now they meet up with a very good DC Triple Threat team. This DC team has the 2nd leading scorer in the tournament, shooting guard Maurice Creek (#97 Scout, committed to Indiana) and big guy Chris Braswell (#84 Rivals) along with Virginia Tech recruit Erick Green. Roy Williams and John Thompson III on hand to watch. MN Select DeKok was the #8 seed at the state AAU tournament. Total mismatch on paper.

Nice move by Select to go with a 2-3 zone as they were clearly out-manned talent wise. They did a great job of hustling in the 1st half along with sloppy play by DC. Top it off with a Chris Neumann 3 and a Justin Segal FT and its 27-18 Select inside of 7 minutes. Braswell has been sitting but now he comes into the game and it all changes. DC goes to a trap and Braswell and company are all over the glass taking advantage of their size. Creek has a steal for a dunk to end a 18-5 DC run that gives them a 36-32 lead with 2:48 to play in the half. But Select stays tough and Neumann gets a late bucket to send the game to the break all square at 43. Creek with 4 triples and the dunk for 14 1st half points. Neumann with 14 for Select.

Select gets the 1st bucket of the half, but turnovers lead to quick transition points for DC and they use that to lead 51-45 with 14 minutes left. But fouls take a toll on DC and Select is in the bonus just inside of 10 minutes. Select claws back and uses a Ben Gervais 3 to take a 56-55 lead and then a David Leafblad 3 puts them up 60-59 with 7:20 to play. Down 2, Select turns the ball over and Creek goes over the top for a offensive rebound to a 2 hand dunk to make it 68-64 DC. That one hurt in terms of momentum. Braswell has been out and doesn't return. Leafblad makes another 3 to make it 68-67 DC with 4:30 to play. At 71-68 ahead, DC tries to spread the floor to pull Select out of their 2-3. Creek takes a bad shot and Select has the ball back with 3 minutes left. But they can't convert 2 chances. DC hits their FTs down the stretch for a tough 77-69 victory.

Creek with 27 and was the zone buster. Select only gave him 1 3 in the 2nd half, but his defense was a factor. Braswell with 7 but in limited minutes. No answers for him when he was in there. Neumann with 17, but a quiet 2nd half for MN Select. Great effort here by Select. While they did get hurt on the glass, they wanted it more and kept it from being much worse. Select finishes 4-1 in Vegas. Very impressive tournament for them.

If you want to watch the game, go to Wazoo Sports.

Day 2 scores from Las Vegas and Orlando

Here's how the MN teams fared in Las Vegas and Orlando on Day 2.


  • 43 Hoops def Utah Swoosh 63-52 (7/24/08, Corrected score and result to reflect 43 Hoops win instead of loss)
  • Magic Robertson def BTI Elite 63-54
  • Net Gain lost to Texas D1 Ambassadors 86-79
  • MN Select Kruger lost to DFW Select Black 78-64. Maurice Hernandez and Alex Miller with 17 points each. They def Spirit Got Game 74-67. Tall Kid Tall (Alex Miller) plays well again with 20 points.
  • MN Select DeKok def Boulder Titans Black 80-66 and CBC Dublin 69-52. Chris Neumann continues his good play with 18 and 21 points.
  • Old School Cavaliers def ECI MN 69-50. Jordan Aaberg with 13 for ECI.
  • 43 Hoops 16s def PAL of DE 80-58. (7/24/08 corrected to show 43 Hoops victory, incorrect on Adidas Super 64 site). Max Rosenbloom with 18 points. They def Oakland Bulldogs 64-55. Clay Horne with 14 points.
  • Magic Elite 16s def NYC Jaguars 80-59 last night to win their pool. They defeated Lou Will the Elite 78-67 in a bracket pigtail game before losing to the Charlotte Royals 65-62 in the round of 16.
  • 43 Hoops Carr def Playaz Basketball Club White 69-58
  • MN Heat Elite vs All 4 Sports Dream Team in a late game. Their 71-69 loss yesterday was on a buzzer beater in the 2nd overtime, ouch! Alex Richter big inside for the Heat with 32 points.

Day 1 scores from Las Vegas and Orlando

Here's how the MN teams fared in Las Vegas and Orlando on Day 1.

  • 43 Hoops def One Tough School of Basketball 66-56
  • Magic Robertson def Texas Select Horace 77-46
  • Net Gain def Wisconsin Swing 68-51, lost to Full Package Athletics 61-55
  • MN Select Kruger def Boulder Titans Gold 69-40 (Maurice Hernandez with 25 pts)
  • MN Select DeKok def Skywalkers 80-60 (Chris Neumann with 17 pts, Josh Bennett with 18 pts, Ben Gervais with 19 pts)
  • Branch West Prospects def ECI MN 92-72 (Jordan Aaberg with 18 for ECI)
  • 43 Hoops 16s def Michigan Mustangs 46-30
  • Magic Elite 16s def Elite Hawks 71-27 and Georgia Hawks 69-53, playing for pool title at time of this post.
  • 43 Hoops Carr def All Iowa Attack Red 57-39
  • MN Heat Elite lost to Virginia Pride 71-69

The biggest week of recruiting begins

The college scouts take a couple of days away from their evaluation period before all the shoe companies fire up action in Las Vegas and AAU goes national in Orlando. The recruiting period starts up again on the 22nd. Here's what the local teams are doing.
  • Howard Pulley - 17U Super Showcase in Orlando before going to the Kansas City Prep Invitational
  • 43 Hoops - Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas (includes 15U Carr and 16U)
  • Net Gain - Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas and then to Phoenix for the Desert Duel
  • Magic Robertson - Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas and then to Orlando for national 17U tournament.
  • Magic Superfriends - 17U Super Showcase and national 17U tournament in Orlando
  • MN Select (both DeKok and Kruger) - Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas
  • ECI MN - Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas
  • MN Magic 16U Elites - 16U Super Showcase and national 16U tournament in Orlando
  • MN Xplosion (16U) - National 16U tournament in Orlando
  • MN Heat Elite 15U - Main Event in Las Vegas
But before that there's a couple of interesting events going on this weekend right here in the metro. I think both of these are well worth it. And of course, they're on opposite ends, go figure.
  • The Gopher State Prep Showcase put on by MYAS is out at Lakeville South. Bethlehem Academy and Concordia Academy in the A/AA bracket. Lakeville North, Eden Prairie, St. Cloud Tech, Armstrong, Champlin Park, Johnson, Apple Valley, Eastview just to name a few in the AAA/AAAA bracket. Schedules and pools can be found here.
  • In Rogers, the Breakdown is putting on a summer showcase. The Gold Bracket in particular is loaded with Cooper, Osseo and Sibley from the metro. Quality non-metro teams here too with Monticello, St. Cloud Apollo and Pelican Rapids in the same bracket. Schedules and pools can be found here.

Twin Cities Summer Classic Semifinals

Much to my dismay, I have this annoying thing called a day job that prevents me from doing useful things such as covering the quarterfinals or the championship games. But that doesn't mean I can't get to the 3 evening sessions of semifinal action. Overall this weekend it's been fun seeing college coaches but also good to see high school coaches out following their kids. Tom Dasovich, Greg Miller, Mark Klingsporn and Tim Theisen were ones that I saw.

15U Semifinals
  • The MN Heat Elite had only 6 guys available for their quarterfinal game vs MN Heat Black thanks to the Concordia team camp, but they did manage to advance to face the Madison Spartans. Alex Richter back for the Heat and he was a force inside early. 13 first half points for him. He's got a great motor and is very aggressive. The Heat went Box and 1 on Miles Chamberlain to start the game which I found amusing as I love junk defenses. The teams trade 1st half runs to stay even and its 43-43 Spartans with 7 minutes left before Jaron Schaffner gets 7 straight Spartans points which the Heat never recover from. The final straw was Richter getting stripped by Chamberlain in a scramble that led to a Spartans layup that gave the Spartans a 54-50 edge with a minute to play. Big 4 point swing there. A couple of Heat misses later its over with the Madison Spartans moving on 56-53. Alex Richter with 18 points for the Heat, but a quiet 2nd half.

  • 43 Hoops Carr taking on East Metro Elite (St. Paul Johnson Freshman) in the other semifinal. Close 1st half with 43 Hoops looking to break it open early with a 9-0 run, but East Metro counters that with a 10-0 run of their own. 32-31 43 Hoops at the break. They extend the lead out to 10 and Freddie Young gets a couple buckets in the 2nd half to keep it there. 43 Hoops Carr moves on 66-55. Jordan Smith shows great poise for a freshman point guard. Not to mention he's a solid shooter. Thomas Shalk looks like he'll be a good inside presence with the good guards (Varmah Sonie, Mitch Bires, maybe DJ Peterson too) at Apple Valley this season.
16U Semifinals
  • 43 Hoops Harris vs 43 Hoops Gameli. Brett Irvin playing well for Gameli with a couple inside buckets and a couple of 3s. This game goes back and forth with no team getting out to a huge lead. With 6 minutes left, 43 Hoops Harris goes to a 1-2-2 zone down 38-36. Max Rosenbloom puts back 2 offensive rebounds to give 43-Harris the lead. Tim Lubke puts in the big bucket as he knocks down a clutch tiebreaking 3 with 1:40 left for a 43-40 lead for Harris. Leonard Glass gets a bucket and 1 while 43-Gameli is trying to foul for a 46-41 43-Harris lead with 33 seconds left. 43-Gameli gets a triple to cut it to 2 with 18 seconds left but they only have 2 team fouls. It takes them until 3.7 left to get to the bonus. Tony Gerding knocks down the final 2 to seal a 48-44 win for 43 Hoops Harris.

  • In the game of the night, Mpls Redhawks vs MN Comets Elite. The Redhawks use a 12-3 run to get out to a 25-15 lead but the Comets don't go away. The Comets claw back in the 2nd half and get an offensive rebound and putback to finally tie it at 53 with 1:20 to play. The Redhawks hold for the last shot and don't get it. Taylor Filipek has a chance at the horn, but no good and we've got OT.

    In the OT, Taylor Hanson gets a layin with 1:20 left to give the Redhawks a 57-56 lead. Zach Noreen puts back a rebound for a 58-57 Comets lead with 20 seconds left. Parker Hines gets fouled with 8.7 left and buries both FTs for a 59-58 Redhawks lead. The Comets come back out of a timeout and push the ball upcourt, with a right wing drive to the bucket, the ball gets kicked cross-court to Scott Willenbring who knocks down the triple at the horn to send the Comets onto the title game with a 61-59 win.
17U Semifinals
  • 43 Hoops Chatman vs Big Game Sports. Of note, Jamie Donnelly did not play for Team Missouri in the quarterfinal game vs BGS as he was out with the flu. Mike Bruesewitz gets a dunk off the opening tap and shortly after Chris Halvorsen gets 2 dunks during a 13-0 run that gets 43 Hoops out to a 21-6 lead. They coast from there to a 66-44 win.
  • Net Gain Sports vs Illinois Warriors. Trent Lockett gets the last 9 of the 1st half for Net Gain as they lead 35-26 at the break. A dry spell for both teams in the 2nd half as Net Gain went scoreless for 4 minutes. The Warriors also go scoreless during that time and its 51-36 with 6:30 to play. But the Warriors turn up the defense and get as close as 57-53 with 1:30 left. But Sam Dower gets a bucket and Trent Lockett puts back his own missed bonus front end. Net Gain wins 67-55. Trent Lockett terrific in this game with 17 points. Sam Dower also played well with 16 points. Andy Burns went the whole way without a break and while he did crack a little at the end with a couple of costly turnovers, definitely a solid performance from him. Diamond Taylor for the Wolves was a major disappointment. I counted 6 times where he went to the basket and got blocked (often by Dower). For a player of his skill that surprised me.

Sunday action at the Twin Cities Summer Classic

Session 1: 43 Hoops Chatman vs Elite Sports Select. 43 Hoops was lethargic but I did like when they used their dribble motion. Marc Sonnen with 10 1st half points and then Damarius Cruz got hot in the 2nd half. Dylan Rodriguez also showed nice range on his shot. 43 Hoops wins 61-46. Cruz with 17 pts, Rodriguez with 12.

Team Missouri with a nice showing in the tournament as they beat MN Mustangs 68-42. Big Game Sports 16U came from 5 down with a minute to go to beat the Comets Blue 78-77. They got 2 FTs with 2.4 seconds to go to win it.

Session 2: MSB vs Big Game Sports in 17U pool play. Blake Johnson with 8 quick points to give BGS an early 13-4 lead. With under 6 to play in the 1st half its 25-12 BGS and MSB's play has been really sloppy. BGS extends the lead to 42-20 at the break as everything was going wrong for MSB. MSB makes a 2nd half run to pull within 16, but they get no closer. Final is a impressive 66-44 victory for Big Game Sports. Mike Muscala with 11 pts for MSB. Much to my disappointment, Sahr Ngekia got almost no playing time so all my opportunities for BONZI Wells references go away. OK, maybe I just like to say BONZI!

Session 3: 94 Ft of Game vs All Iowa Elite Back and forth 1st half with 94 Ft getting the last 5 pts of the half to lead 38-35 at the break. Kevin Thompson (MTS) very active inside on the glass and he has 14 pts at the break. 94 Ft extends the lead to 56-42 before 10 straight All Iowa Elite points cuts the deficit to 4 with 4:15 to play. But All Iowa Elite can't get over the top as 94 Ft of game hangs on for a 62-58 win. Steven Baker with 18 points, Kevin Thompson with 15 points but 2 of 10 FTs. Daniel Van Kalsbeek with 15 for All Iowa Elite.

Net Gain blew out the Comets Stars 69-44. In 16U play, the Comets Elite squad almost squandered a big lead vs 94 Ft of Game. They need 2 Taylor Filipek FTs with 1.1 seconds left to ice the 62-58 victory.

Session 4: 16U action, MSB vs HoopMasters. HoopMasters is a Mayer Lutheran based team. After leading 38-30 at the break, MSB gets all over the offensive glass in the 2nd half. They stretch the lead to 54-37 with 8 to play and win 67-46. Andrew Dale with a nice active game for MSB with 14 points.

Session 5: 16U action, 43 Hoops Harris vs MN Heat Black 16U. 43 Hoops gets out to a quick 16-4 lead in the 1st 6 mniutes. The Heat come back to only trail 26-23 at the half. With a 27-25 lead in the 2nd half, Tim Lubke trains back to back 3s to start a 13-0 run for 43 Hoops. But the Heat come back with the next 9 points and its 40-34 43 Hoops with 8:45 to play. But the Heat don't score for the next 7+ minutes and 43 Hoops gets the next 16 points. Add in a couple garbage time hoops and 43 Hoops wins 62-36. 43 Hoops with great balance from their squad in this game as 6 players had 7 or more points.

In 15U action, the MN Heat Elites played Wizard's Den Super Hoopers. A relatively slow start for the Heat as they lead 22-18 with 6 minutes to go in the first half but they extend that to 41-29 at the break. A 10-0 run to start the half continues the trend. The Heat win 81-43. John Christensen with another bunch of layups by being active around the basket as I had him for 24 points. Luke Preiner with 13 and Rob Dahl with 14.

43 Hoops Amundson held on for a 50-49 win over Hoop School in the other 15U game that was played.

Session 6: Opening round of 17U bracket play has 94 Ft of Game vs Elite Sports. The pace to start the game was super fast and Elite Sports absolutely shot the lights out. But 94 Ft played almost no defense for most of the game. But definitely a fun shootout to watch. Kenquene Brown (Cooper) with a big 1st half with 17 points and 3 steals. In the 2nd half, the Elite Sports coach gets tossed (2nd T) after a technical on a player for touching the ball in the player's hands out of bounds. Rare call but the right one. That kills any chance Elite Sports had. 94 Ft wins 80-69. Kenquene Brown with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 4 stls. He got to the rim at will and could have had 30 points as he was 7 of 13 from the FT line. Steven Baker with 15 points and Freddie Burton with 18 points for 94 Ft.

Session 7: A bunch of 17U bracket play. 43 Hoops Chatman led All Iowa Elite 39-25, but opened the 2nd half on a big run and they go on to win 66-43. Mike Bruesewitz with a very impressive 1st half. Very active around the basket and when he got (usually in the short corner vs zone), it was over either via a pass to a cutter or a strong baseline drive. The MN Mustangs stayed close with Net Gain Sports until about 5 minutes left in the 1st half before Net Gain ran away. Net Gain wins 92-47.

Sessions 8-11: Only 1 17U bracket game remaining. The MN Comets Elite got out to a 10-0 lead vs 43 Hoops Hemmingson. They open that lead up in the 2nd half and win 68-46. There were 2 16U games that were ongoing.

Magic Black vs MSB. MSB led 55-50 with 3:15 to play before 9 straight Magic points. Jeff Fallat (Burnsville) with a clutch bucket and then a dagger 3 with 1:20 to go to conclude the run. After an MSB 3 with 1 minute left, we find that MSB only has 4 team fouls. In this tournament you need 10 team fouls for the 1 and 1. MSB holds off fouling until 25 seconds left. Finally they get to foul #10 with 9.6 left and Fallat buries them both. MSB can't get a 3 at the end and the Magic Black move on with a 61-58 win.

The MN Xplosion had a 31-15 lead over the MN Heat Black 16U squad in the 1st half. The Heat cut that deficit to 54-51 with under 5 minutes to play before a couple of Jack Ghizoni buckets stopped the bleeding. Xplosion win 68-55.

In Session 9, 43 Hoops Harris rolled over Upstate Elite 76-39. The Mpls Redhawks used a late 2nd half to blow open their game with Hoop Masters. They win 63-42.

In Session 10, Nolan Toft and Martin Wind join the Comets Blue squad for their game with Big Game Sports. Back and forth game that came right down to the end. BGS missed 2 FTs with 21 seconds left that would have cut it to 1, but they had a look at a 3 at the end of regulation that would have tied it. Comets Blue moves on 61-58.

Session 11: The MN Heat Black 15U squad had a 25-21 lead at the break. In the 2nd half, they effectively used "the world's WORST offense" (The Flex) to get good looks. Despite missing 4 technical free throws for a KC Keys coach getting tossed, the Heat go on to a 68-41 win. 43 Hoops Amundson played Team Minnesota Elite in the other 15U game. 43 Hoops had a 45-34 lead early in the 2nd half before Team MN roared back to take a 66-60 lead with 4:30 to play. 43 Hoops gets the next 7 points to take a 67-66 lead with 2:10 to play. Antonio Seals (Apple Valley) gets a layin with 1:40 to reclaim the lead for Team MN Elite. After trading possessions, Jeremy Borg (Orono) hits a nice 10 foot floater in the lane for 43 Hoops and they have the
lead back 69-68 with 30 seconds to play. He then gets a steal but misses the front end of the bonus with 16.4 to play. Marquealis Edwards (St. Louis Park) gets a bunny with 10 seconds left, 43 Hoops can't counter it and Team MN Elite moves on with a 70-69 win.

17U Quarterfinal matchups
  • Net Gain Sports vs MSB. Net Gain's small lineup with Dower in the middle is explosive and really fun to watch. MSB can stay competitve, but ultimately I think Net Gain has too much scoring.
  • Illinois Wolves vs 94 Ft of Game. If not close, it should be a highly entertaining up and down affair. Wolves roll with more size and skill.
  • 43 Hoops Chatman vs Comets Elite. Fun to see Nate Wolters vs in state peers. This game would be even more interesting if Jordair Jett is really on the roster for the Comets. Too much power and size for the Comets to deal with here.
  • Big Game Sports vs Team Missouri. This may not be the 1st game that sticks out of the 4, but it may end up being the closest. If Team Missouri can handle the BGS athletes, I think they win. But if only Jamie Donnelly shows up for Team Missouri, then BGS has to like their chances.
16U Quarterfinal Matchups
  • MN Comets Elite vs MN Xplosion. These teams have met 3 times this summer with the Comets taking the tiebreaker game 55-49 at the State AAU tournament in early June. Key difference here is that Taylor Filipek is now added to the Comets Elite roster. This could be the best quarterfinal game.
  • Mpls Redhawks vs 94 Ft of Game. Its hard to say a team played better then when the Redhawks took apart Magic Black in pool play here. I think they're a buzzsaw right now, they win big.
  • 43 Hoops Gameli vs MN Magic Black. A couple of big guys may be missing for 43 Hoops in this one. Kevin Noreen is in the mix for Magic Black which is an interesting dynamic. I'm picking Magic Black here.
  • 43 Hoops Harris vs MN Comets Blue. Having Toft/Wind adds a little bit of spice to this, but this Harris squad has played really well here. I'll take them to win easily.
15U Quarterfinals
  • MN Heat Elite vs MN Heat Black. Heat Black had a nice win tonight in the late session. The rest of having a bye and the return of Alex Richter put the Heat Elite over the top. The winner gets the Madison Spartans in the semis.
  • I'll assume 43 Hoops Carr won tonight which means they'll play Team MN Elite. I'll take 43 Hoops in that one. The winner gets an impressive East Metro Elite squad in the semis.

Saturday action at the Twin Cities Summer Classic

Saturday games at the Twin Cities Summer Classic, as almost all of the 17U action is at Wayzata, that's where I was watching games. Many college coaches in attendance. A list of just a few D1 schools in attendance includes Iowa, Wisconsin, Southern Illinois, Columbia, Princeton, Northern Iowa. Not to mention all the local schools. I missed session 1 tending to other business in the kingdom but I did arrive in time to see the end of session 2.

Session 2: 43 Hoops Chatman def MN Mustangs 74-43. Will Deberg playing with this 43 Hoops squad. Team Missouri def Elite Sports 60-57 in a tight game in the same pool.

Session 3: This session is all about the 16U pool of death. Kevin Noreen joined the Magic Black squad for their game with the MN Xplosion. As the Xplosion struggle on the glass, Noreen makes his first appearance at 12:25 with Josh Pella guarding him in a entertaining matchup. The Magic get out to a 14-8 lead after Deron Murphy finds Noreen for a layup with 10 minutes left in the half. The rest of the half is back and forth and a Magic 3 at the horn makes it 37-36 Magic Black at the half. A 9-2 run out of halftime topped off by a Steve Bailey 3 gives the Xplosion a 45-39 lead with 14 minutes left. With the score 52-50 and about 10 minutes left, Noreen makes 1 of 2 FTs and then gets 2 straight layups on postups to give the Magic a 57-50 lead with 7 minutes to play and they won't look back. Magic-Black wins 75-63. Kevin Noreen with 14 points and Deron Murphy with 10 points for the Magic. Jack Ghizoni with 17 points to lead the Xplosion.

In the other pool of death game, the Mpls Redhawks rolled to a 57-38 win over the Upstate Elite. 43 Hoops Harris def MSB 53-46 in other 16U action.

Sessions 4 and 5: In session 4, the Madison Spartans def 43 Hoops Amundson 65-55 in 15U action. The MN Heat Black squad def Hoops Masters 59-48 in 16U Action. In session 5, Net Gain Sports blew out All Iowa Elite 95-50. Sam Dower had it going early inside and then knocked down a couple 3s in a row in the 2nd half. Cole Stefan was on fire from the outside and Andy Burns did a terrific job orchestrating the whole thing. Trent Lockett slashed to the basket at will in the 2nd half. Net Gain Scoring: Dower with 21, Lockett with 17 and Stefan with 26. Dan VanKalsbeek with 10 and a nice showing for All Iowa Elite.

In other 17U action in this session, 43 Hoops Chatman holds off a game Team Missouri squad 62-51 with 2 nice dunks late by Chris Halvorsen. This game was much closer than that the whole way. 94 Ft of Game survived 2 changes by the MN Comets Stars to win during regulation. They win 78-72 in OT.

Session 6: The 16U Pool of Death continues with the Mpls Redhawks taking on Magic Black. Back and forth 1st half gets us to 48-40 Redhawks with 7:29 to go. Out of a Magic timeout, they try to apply more pressure and it just blows up horribly. That, combined with ice cold shooting and precision ball movement vs the pressure, allows the Redhawks to go on a 15-2 run over the next 5 minutes to put the game well out of reach. Redhawks win 67-45. John Rowland (Osseo) was the beneficiary of many of the passes to end up with 17 points. Parker Hines (Minnehaha) with 12 points.

Sessions 7 and 10: These sessions allowed me the chance to take a look at the MN Heat Elite 15U squad. The Preiner twins were available, but Alex Richter was out. His return is expected for bracket play. In the 1st game they played the East Metro Elite. That squad is a Vern Simmons (Johnson coach) led squad and they play just like the Johnson varsity. Scrambling, trapping, aggressive defense. The Heat led 23-10 in the 1st half of the game before East Metro went 1-3-1. That cut the deficit to 32-26 Heat at the half. East Metro opened the 2nd half man to man just like the 1st half, but once again with about 8 minutes left in the half, they applied pressure and it bothered the Heat. East Metro finally took the lead 42-40 off a steal with 6:05 to play and they never trailed again. The Heat missed a layup that would have tied it late. East Metro seals it with 2 late FTs to win 59-55. In the 2nd game that I saw them play, they blew out MN Team Elite 77-51 after starting the game on a 19-3 run. Drew Preiner impressive in the 1st game at the point guard spot (12 pts), Luke Preiner with the impressive 2nd game with 11 pts and a nice well rounded game. John Christensen turned the 2nd half of the 2nd game into his own personal layup drill to finish with at least 25 points by my count.

Also during these 2 sessions, the MN Xplosion def Upstate Elite 77-68 in 16U action. In 15U action, 43 Hoops Amundson def KC Keys 68-61.

Session 8: The Illinois Wolves come in with their prime talent to take on the MN Comets. This was a mismatch from the start. 14-3 early, 39-17 at halftime and the Wolves roll to a 74-47 win. Nate Wolters lit it up for the Comets with 27 points but no one else could find a way to put the ball in the basket. Joseph Bertrand (Illinois recruit) with 11 points with numerous nifty moves off the dribble to get to the basket. Diamond Taylor (Wisconsin recruit) with only 4 points. He didn't look as explosive as Bertrand, but I can see where he'd be a nice fit in Bo Ryan's system. He was sporting the high socks look and got the initial defensive assignment on Wolters.

Session 9: 43 Hoops Harris blows out Hoops Masters 81-32 in 16U action and it could have been far worse as the score was 66-19 with over 9 minutes left. Clay Horne very active around the basket but had difficulty converting. Max Rosenbloom was his usual active self and Tim Lubke knocked down 3 triples in the game.

MN Heat Black 16U def MSB 69-64 in the other 16U game going on.

Session 11: Finally the end to a long day. Taylor Filipek gives us the hat trick of name players switching teams. He joins the MN Comets Elite 16U squad for their game with Big Game Sports. With 7:40 left in the 1st half, the Comets led 30-13. They also led 47-32 at halftime. But BGS didn't go away. They go on a 16-3 spurt to start the 2nd half and its only 50-48 Comets with 12:15 to play. With 9 minutes left its 57-50 Comets and they open it up late to win 88-70. Eric Tengwall 14-14 from the FT line. Alex Hanks with 16 points and Taylor Filipek with 14 points for the Comets.

43 Hoops Twin Cities Summer Classic Preview

7/11/08 Games scheduled for Hopkins HS have now been moved to Wayzata HS.

(Czar's Note 7/10/08, I've been notified that I've got the 2 MN Comets teams reversed. The Comets Stars are in Pool A and the Comets Elite are in Pool B. My thanks for the info and apologies go out to the Comets. Preview Updated at 12:23 PM

Corrected Comets Stars Roster and fixes to schedule, 10 PM)

Here's my preview of the Inaugural Twin Cities Summer Classic hosted by 43 Hoops. I'll be out watching the games and writing afterwards. You can also get reports from Stevens Sports Report.


Pool A: MN Comets Stars, All Iowa Elite, Net Gain Sports, 94 Feet of Game
Pool B: Illinois Wolves, Triple Threat, MN Comets Elite, Wisconsin Playmakers
Pool C: 43 Hoops Chatman, Team Missouri, Elite Sports Select, MN Mustangs
Pool D: Mac Irvin Fire, Big Game Sports, MSB Roadrunners, 43 Hoops Hemmingson

Schedule (click here for a link to the full schedule)
1st pool games: 8:00 and 9:15 Saturday except Pool B (4:45 PM). All at Hopkins High
2nd pool games: 1:00, 2:15 and 3:30 PM Saturday at Hopkins except Pool B (8:30 PM at 43 Hoops).
3rd pool games: Sunday 8 AM (Pool C), 9:15 AM (Pool D), 10:30 AM (Pool A) at Hopkins. 11:45 AM (Pool B) at 43 Hoops.

Round of 16 Playoffs: Sunday afternoon at 43 Hoops and Hopkins
Final 8: Monday 10:30 and 11:45 AM at 43 Hoops
Semifinals: Monday 6 PM at 43 Hoops
Championship: Tuesday 1 PM at King of Grace in Golden Valley

The Czar's Thoughts

Pool A: Net Gain Sports has a load of perimeter talent with Trent Lockett (Hopkins), Cole Stefan (Minnetonka) and Tor Anderson (Prior Lake). It looks like they also add Chanse Creekmur from Marshalltown, IA. He's a 6'6" wing player in the class of 2010 that mid-majors like Northern Iowa and Creighton are already after. Sam Dower leads them inside. He's had a good summer and may develop into a high-major D1 player this season. I see 94 Ft of Game as the next best squad in this bracket. Steve Baker has had a big summer for them and Freddie Burton is another solid guard for this athletic squad. All Iowa Elite knocked out TNL Express in a tournament this past weekend. The MN Comets Stars is the lesser of the 2 Comets teams here. This bracket is tough enough that they may not win a game in pool play.

Pool B: The Illinois Wolves should be the class of this pool with 2 top 100 players in Diamond Taylor (Wisconsin, #86 Rivals) and Joseph Bertrand (Illinois, #81 Rivals). For the MN Comets Elite, Nate Wolters has had a terrific summer and they've got plenty of other athletes and good players to compete with anybody in this tournament. Their game with the Wolves (4:45 Saturday at Hopkins) will be really fun to watch. The Wisconsin Playmakers (read another preview here) come in with high scoring guard Jack Taylor of Black River Falls and wing Allen Swiggum. Mike Hanson of La Crosse Aquinas is also on this squad. He's being looked at by Columbia, Drake, Winona St and WIAC schools. Taylor has interest from Drake and Winona State.

Pool C: The top 43 Hoops squad resides here. Mike Bruesewitz, Chris Halvorsen and Marc Sonnen lead this squad and give them good inside out balance. Dylan Rodriguez and Damarius Cruz are 2 others who also are worth watching. Team Missouri was here for the Sabes Invitational in May and struggled, but they do have guard Jamie Donnelly. Elite Sports Select brings in a group of players from Northeast Iowa. The MN Mustangs played well in the Star of the North games a couple weeks ago. Their squad is one of Hiawatha Valley Conference all-stars. Overall, I see this as the weakest bracket.

Pool D: The Mac Irvin Fire come in with a very good and young team. 2010 stud Crandall Head (brother of current NBA player Luther Head) is #11 in the Rivals rankings and #12 in the Scout rankings. They also have a real star in the making from the 2011 class, Mike Shaw. They got knocked out of the Milwaukee event this week by the All Iowa Attack 17s. Big Game Sports had a very nice run in Indianapolis this week and could be a real sleeper in this pool. MSB brings their dangerous size to the pool with Mike Muscala (Roseville) and David Berthene (Lakeville N). The Big Game Sports vs MSB matchup (Sunday 9:15 AM at Hopkins) intrigues me and should determine 2nd place in the pool. 43 Hoops Hemmingson is the lesser of the 2 43 Hoops teams in the 17U portion. Travon McKee (Arlington) can really score and Jayvin Reynolds (Osseo) is a big man who will have an important role this coming season.

Pool Winner Predictions:
Net Gain Sports, Illinois Wolves, 43 Hoops Chatman and Mac Irvin Fire

In 16U, many of the top Minnesota teams are present. They include the Mpls Redhawks, MN Magic Phillips, MN Comets Elite, MN Xplosion in addition to the 2 43 Hoops teams. The MN Heat Black, Big Game Sports and 94 Ft of Game squads are also represented here. Also watch Silas Mills Jr of the Terry Porter Elite. For those of us who remember the dynasty that was Milwaukee Washington in the 80s, you'll know him as the son of Silas Mills who played in the NBA.

Games to watch:
  • 8:00 AM 94 Ft of Game vs Net Gain Sports, Hopkins Court 3
  • 9:15 AM Mac Irvin Fire vs Big Game Sports, Hopkins Court 3
  • 10:30 AM MN Magic Phillips vs MN Xplosion (16U), Hopkins Court 3
  • 11:45 AM MN Heat Black vs 43 Hoops Carr 43 Hoops Court 2 OR 43 Hoops Amundson vs Madison Spartans Hopkins Court 3(both games 15U)
  • 1:00 PM All Iowa Elite vs Net Gain Sports, Hopkins Court 3
  • 2:15 PM Mac Irvin Fire vs MSB Roadrunners, Hopkins Court 2 OR Mpls Redhawks vs MN Magic Phillips (16U), Hopkins Court 4
  • 3:30 PM Elite Sports Select vs MN Mustangs, Hopkins Court 4 (only 17U game going on)
  • 4:45 PM Illinois Wolves vs MN Comets Elite, Hopkins Court 2
  • 6:00 PM MSB Roadrunners vs MN Heat Black (16U), Hopkins Court 3
  • 7:15 PM MN Heat Elite vs Illinois Wolves (15U), Hopkins Court 2
  • 8:30 PM Illinois Wolves vs Triple Threat 43 Hoops Court 1 OR MN Comets Elite vs WI Playmakers 43 Hoops Court 2
  • 8:00 AM 43 Hoops Chatman vs Elite Sports Select, Hopkins Court 2
  • 9:15 AM Big Game Sports vs MSB Roadrunners, Hopkins Court 3
  • 10:30 AM All Iowa Elite vs 94 Ft of Game, Hopkins Court 3
  • 11:45 AM Illinois Wolves vs WI Playmakers , 43 Hoops Court 1
  • 1:00 PM 43 Hoops Harris vs MN Heat Black (16U) Hopkins Court 4
  • Tournament play begins with round of 16 play (pool winners vs last place pool finishers)
Monday (all games at 43 Hoops)
  • 10:30 and 11:45 AM 17U Quarterfinals
  • 1:00 and 2:15 PM 16U Quarterfinals
  • 3:30 and 4:45 PM 15U Quarterfinals
  • 6 PM 17U Semifinals
  • 7:15 16U Semifinals
  • 8:30 15U Semifinals
Tuesday (all games at King of Grace church in Golden Valley)
  • 9:15 AM 14U Championship
  • 10:30 AM 15U Championship
  • 11:45 AM 16U Championship
  • 1:00 PM 17U Championship

July 7th results from Indianapolis and Milwaukee

At the Hoosier Shootout in Indianapolis, here's how MN teams did on day 2.

* Magic Elite def Peoria Irish 68-31
* MSB def Spiece Gym Rats 70-46
* ECI-MN lost to PC Players Black 86-69
* 94 Ft of Game def Club Indiana Bulldogs 65-58
* 43 Hoops (2nd roster) won their 3rd game by forfeit.
* MN Select-DeKok def Team Ontario 75-74
* Big Game Sports lost to Nebraska Bison Red 93-54
* MN Glory lost to Pioneer Technologies 96-90
* MN Select-Kruger def Charlotte Court 53-49
* MN Mustangs lost to NLP-DS 73-51
* MN Fury lost 69-67 to the Michigan Roadrunners.

Bracket play
  • ECI West Black def MN Glory 75-73
  • MN Select Kruger def Nashville Celtics Green 55-44 and then lost 74-68 to the Iowa Barnstormers.
  • Magic Elite def MSB 50-47 and NLP-AM 80-72.
  • Big Game Sports def Windy City Spartans 66-65.
At the NY2LA event in Milwaukee
  • Grassroots lost to Meanstreets 72-57 and SYF Players 77-67.
  • Howard Pulley lost to REACH 72-62 and then defeated Next Level Elite 62-61. Its worth noting that this is their 2nd team. The top guys are camping this week. Royce White and Rodney Williams are at the Lebron James camp. A handful of other players are in Kansas at a camp.
  • Net Gain lost 59-54 to the Illinois Stars and def the Playground Elite 74-70.

Results for Minnesota teams from the opening day of the July recruiting season

At the Hoosier Shootout in Indianapolis, here's how MN teams did on day 1. All scores here are 17U teams only.
  • Magic Elite lost to TN Thunder 63-61 and def WI Swing 59-37
  • MSB def Texas D1 Ambassadors 73-46 and the St Louis Raptors 81-59 (Czar's Note 7/10/08, corrected Raptors result to reflect MSB win and not a loss as previously noted)
  • ECI-MN lost to Spiece Select 65-32 and Kessel Heat Black 62-52
  • 94 Ft of Game lost to Toronto Mission 1 60-59 and NLP-AM 97-90
  • 43 Hoops (2nd roster) lost to Ducks 77-54 and Illinois Elite 65-62.
  • MN Select-DeKok lost to TN Travelers 72-43 and Indiana Select 84-68.
  • Big Game Sports def Old Gold Dream Team 82-75 and lost to Parallel 45 65-55.
  • MN Glory def Camp Darryl Royal 76-48 and Springfield Magic 88-56.
  • MN Select-Kruger def Creek Basketball 93-63 and Camp Darryl White 57-46
  • MN Mustangs lost to Midwest Elite 68-48 and UPs Finest 78-57
  • MN Fury lost to Team CBIZ 71-69 and Speice Rising Stars 86-69
At the NY2LA event in Milwaukee, Grassroots, Howard Pulley and Net Gain are all 0-1. All Iowa Attack 17U def Net Gain 60-55. Howard Pulley lost to All Iowa Attack 16U 79-59. Grassroots appears to have forfeited their game.

The 43 Hoops top 17U team played 2 games in Cincinnati in the Adidas It Takes 5ive Classic.

Congrats to the TNL Express for their performance this weekend in Kearney, NE. They went 3-0 in pool play before bowing out in the 2nd round of bracket play. Jasper Duberry averaged 19.4 PPG for the weekend. Scott Theisen had 41 pts with 11 3s in a game. He averaged 18 PPG for the tournament. Both players made the all-tournament team along with Wisconsin stars Kameron Cerroni, Evan Anderson and Chim Kadima of the champion Wisconsin Playground Warriors. Josh Pella of the MN Xplosion joined the Express for the weekend. releases updated 2009 Top 100 for July 2008 has made another tweak to their 2009 top 100 (101 actually) before the July recruiting period (read it here). Here are players that caught my attention.

Royce White (#32, up from #38)
Rodney Williams Jr (#57, down from #45)
Trent Lockett (#89, previously unranked)

Jamil Wilson (#16, no change)
Jeronne Maymon (#66, down from #58)
Johnny Lacy (#96, down from #62)

Others who appeared locally
DeMarcus Cousins (#6, up from #7)
DJ Richardson (#46, up from #60)
Darius Smith (#90)
Michael Dixon (#94, down from #66)

Rivals releases updates to 2009 rankings has made another tweak to their 2009 top 150 before the July recruiting period (read it here). Here are players that caught my attention.

Royce White (#18, no change)
Rodney Williams Jr (#28, no change)
Trent Lockett (#53, big jump from #98)
Mike Bruesewitz (#125, up from #144)
Sam Dower (#130, up from #130)

Jeronne Maymon (#42, moves up from #60)
Jamil Wilson (#60, drops from #58)
Johnny Lacy (#97, up from #99)

Others who appeared locally or will be playing at the Twin Cities Summer Classic
DJ Richardson (#74)
Darius Smith (#80)
Joseph Bertrand (#81)
Diamond Taylor (#86)
Michael Dixon (#100)
Nik Garcia (#109)
Jack Cooley (#147)