2008 Pat Paterson Championship Day

Championship day at the Pat Paterson tournament at Hamline featured a couple of premier girls matchups thanks to yesterday's results.

Game 1: Rosemount vs Highland Park
Fouls the story in this one as the 1st half had 11 fouls for HP to 1 for Rosemount at 1 point. This allows Rosemount to get out to a 29-19 halftime lead. HP doesn't threaten in the 2nd half. Laurie Tyson is too much inside with 21 points. The Irish roll to a 60-42 win.

Game 2: Centennial vs Central
Now to the 1st of 2 big games of the day. Nice Centennial crowd on hand for this one. The Cougar guards doing a nice job of not turning the ball over vs the Central pressure. Fouls a factor here as Megan Waytashek and Megan Nipe both pick up 3 in the 1st half for a not deep Cougar squad. But Central can't take advantage as they get only 1 FG in an 8 minute stretch that overlapped the bench time for the Megans. Bridget Schuneman was a force inside with 14 points (despite 4-11 FT) to push Centennial to a 37-26 halftime lead. Iowa recruit Theairra Taylor only 3-14 shooting for 10 points.

In the 2nd half, Centennial went to a 1-3 with Schuneman in the middle of the triangle and the 5th player guarding Taylor man-man. Centennial uses this to maintain a 46-36 lead with 12 minutes left. Sam Robinson-Ricks back at the 11 minute mark with 4 fouls and she immediately sparks a run. She gets a putback for a 3 point play followed by a steal for another 3 point play. Kiana Johnson then makes a three and Central is only down 49-47 with 9:30 to play. That concludes an 11-3 Central run over 2:15. Megan Nipe breaks the run with a bucket and then Schuneman takes over. She gets a post 2, kicks the ball out for a 3 and then scores again on the block for a 7-0 Centennial run over 1:24 and Central doesn't threaten again. 60-49 Centennial with 4:09 to play and they go on to an impressive 68-56 win. Central did a poor job on offense in the 2nd half of settling for outside shots instead of penetrating the big gaps in the Centennial 1-3. Schuneman finishes with 23 points. Theairra Taylor with 19 but she only shot 6-24 from the field. We will see this theme again later.

Alonia Chess of HP, Laurie Tyson of Rosemount, Theairra Taylor and Jen'Von'Ta Hill of Central, Megan Nipe and Bridget Schuneman (MVP) made the all-tournament team for the east bracket.

Game 3: Andover vs North
North struggled early in this one as Andover got out to a 19-6 lead at the 10 minute mark after an 11-0 run. North fights back to be down 33-29 at the break. After a back and forth 2nd half, Andover gets out to a 67-60 lead with 2 minutes left after a 4 minute North drought with no field goals. Briana Edwards makes a 3 to cut the deficit to 4. Angelic Moore with a runner to cut to 2 with 90 seconds left. 8th grader Allina Starr gets a stl for a 3 point play and North now leads 68-67 with 1:15 left. Tyseanna Johnson gets a layin with 31.2 left to push the lead to 5 after an Andover turnover and miss. North outscores Andover 14-2 in the last 2 minutes to steal one 74-69. Briana Edwards was all everything in this game for North. 19 in the 2nd half, 32 for the game to keep North in it until the final run. Elle Abeler with 16 for Andover.

Game 4: Hopkins vs South
In what might be a state championship preview, South took on Hopkins. No Tyisha Smith again for South. This game was a major disappointment. Tayler Hill finally scores at 9:30 to get South on the board after Hopkins got the 1st 18 points of the game. 38-11 Hopkins at the half. Hill with 9 of the 11 points on 3-18 shooting. Hill then goes alone for a 15-3 South run over the 1st 5:20 of the half to cut the lead to 15 but the outcome was never in doubt. Hill gets the 1st 17 South points of the 2nd half. Only 8 points for South besides the 29 from Hill. Hopkins in a 55-37 blowout that wasn't as close as the final score looked. 10-34 shooting for Tayler Hill and 20-25 of those shots could be called bad shots. A nice moment for Hill as they awarded her the game ball for scoring 3000 career points, but they awarded it at 2998 according to my math. Oh well.

All tournament team for the west bracket. Briana Edwards of North, Elle Abeler of Andover, Tayler Hill and Jenny Houle of South (I would have taken Allina Star of North instead of Houle), Binghamton recruit Kara Elofson and soph Brianna Williams (MVP) of Hopkins.

X and O of the Day
This one is easy. We have to look at Centennial's 1-3 zone vs Theairra Taylor. Small guard on top, 2 wings and a post player in the middle of the 3. The middle post player guards the lane. The wings have everything below the foul lines on their side and the point has everything above the foul line from sideline to sideline. Centennial didn't really do much to deny Taylor the ball either. Hubie Brown would tell you to have that star use the back of the zone as screeners to get open on the baseline. You can also use this defense against a post player by having a guard play a big man on man and always front since there's always a big post patrolling the lane.

The 08-09 Saga Begins

Shopping? Who cares. Prep Bowl? I don't need no stinking Prep Bowl (though congrats to go out to Caledonia and Houston for their state titles from my old stomping grounds). We've got real live regular season basketball and the Czar is fired up (in more ways than one which we'll get to momentarily) and ready to go. Therefore it's only fitting that we begin the big 08-09 adventure at The Birthplace of Intercollegiate Basketball, Hamline's historic Joe Hutton Arena, for the 9th annual Pat Paterson Memorial Thanksgiving Tip-Off Tournament. If you believe the Pioneer Press Metro top 10, we have the top 4 teams in the metro playing in all 4 games. Here we go.

Game 1: Centennial vs Highland Park
George Washington signee Megan Nipe doesn't start but comes off the bench rather quickly. After a quick 17-4 Centennial lead HP cuts the lead to 25-13 with 8:21 left in the 1st half. Centennial then runs HP out of the building to a 53-23 halftime lead. We get our 1st look at the mercy rule in the 2nd half as Centennial rolls 79-38. Megan Nipe and Megan Waytashek with 20 points each. Interesting concept with the mercy rule. If you're at the line with the clock running and game ends, you get your free throws with everybody off the line. Centennial will need to defend better in the halfcourt but they do understand how to run. Nice job passing the ball ahead (as opposed to dribbling) to get easy baskets.

Game 2: Rosemount vs Central
Nice job by Rosemount to survive a bunch of 1st half turnovers vs the Central pressure to be within 36-32 at the break. Central struggled vs the Rosemount 2-3 zone but a nice adjustment by coach Taylor to put Theirra Taylor at the top of their zone offense to get more touches in the 2nd half vs being a baseline runner in the 1st half. The 2nd half is a rout as Central wins 78-49. Taylor with 26 points. Rosemount with no answer for her. Keep an eye on Central frosh Jen'Von'Ta Hill. 16 points in the game, a quick guard who should develop nicely.

Game 3: South vs Andover
South gets the 1st 18 points and Andover goes the 1st 9:15 without a field goal. Taylor Hill with 20 points at the break. She goes on to have 39 points in a 69-25 rout. The bigger story here is the mercy rule. I'll leave that until the end. Tons of scouts in attendance for this game and the Central game.

Game 4: Hopkins vs North
Mpls North started 2 8th graders and played another. Hopkins is relentless with their defense and the waves of players they bring at you. After seeing these 4 teams, give me Hopkins. They took control of the game with a 16-2 run in the 1st half. They never really blew the game open but the outcome wasn't in doubt either. The Royals go on to a 78-59 win. Rodney Williams and Freddie Burton of Cooper make a 2nd half appearance. Marcus Williams and Marvin Singleton in the front row watching their Hopkins schoolmates.

X and O of the Day
A new segment in my game articles. In this segment we'll describe and talk about an X and O element from the game. In today's segment we look at "X" from Hopkins. Start with a Box Set. Bottom guard pops out to the wing for the entry pass. Weak side high post dives through the lane and then out to the ball side corner. The backside post then sets a back screen for the ball side high post looking for the lob on the cleared out backside for an easy 2. Nice variation of the play where the point guard enters the ball and then goes and gets the handoff for the lob off the high post.

Why the Mercy Rule doesn't Work
As I mentioned I'm fired up. I made my distain for the mercy rule clear back in April. Here's some hard data to back that up. In the Centennial game, they emptied their bench with 5 minutes left and running time (clock ran all 9 minutes that it could run). Thanks to 2 fouls and the substitutions that went with them, 90 seconds of playing time was lost on those 2 items alone. 30%+ of the playing time for the end of the bench was lost. I was an end of the bench guy and loved my seat, but if we were up 20 with 4 minutes left, that was a rare chance for me to get some PT. These kids have worked too hard and see too little PT to have their time taken away. After all, kids join the team to play games, not practice (especially on Thanksgiving day, that's right AI, we're talking about PRACTICE!, not the game, PRACTICE!)

Then again, you could be Ahmil Jihad (South head coach) who left Tayler Hill in with 4 bench players all the way to the final buzzer. Let's just say I wasn't the only fan "unhappy" with that. I don't know if I'm more appalled by that or the fact that the officials and scorer's table didn't implement the mercy rule. With 3:25 to go, South made 2 FTs to push the lead to 61-25 (36 pts which should trigger the mercy rule). Running time NEVER happened and its inexcusable, especially when it was used in the 1st game of the day. Here's the exact text from the MSHSL site.

"When the point differential reaches 35 points or more, with less than nine minutes to play, the clock will go to running time. The clock will only be stopped for time-outs (team or official). Regular timing rules will be used if the point differential drops back to less than 30 points. Running time would resume if the differential goes back to 35 points. This rule must be enforced in all varsity games – the rule is not optional."

Today was a picture perfect example of why the mercy rule is a total farce, it doesn't prevent coaches from showing terrible sportsmanship by not pulling starters soon enough or not at all which is the exact problem. In fairness, Coach Jihad isn't the only one who's guilty. Far too many instances like this have happened in the 5 years I've followed metro basketball. I would suggest that the coaches association take this up with their members because its gotten out of hand and the solution lies with the coaches setting the example for their kids.

Welcome to Season 2

Welcome to the 2nd season here at Twin Cities Boys Hoops. Back bigger (insert your own joke here) and better than ever as the August redesign of the site allows me to bring you far more information. The Czar kicks off a busy season with the Hamline girls tournament this weekend and the annual pilgrimage trip to the Old Kingdom early next week to start my boys season before diving head first into the Minnesota boys season on December 4th.

I'll be previewing each week for my weekly Minnesota Preps article. Links to my most recent article and all the articles I've written for Preps can also be found in the upper right in the Czar's MN Preps Articles section. Take a look too at my All-Breakout Teams.

You can use the links in the 2008-2009 Season section on the left to follow the season. Use the Schedules & Results link to find direct links to schedules and scores for all the metro teams that I follow. The Section & Conference Standings link gives 1 click access to standings for the 11 sections and conferences that I follow. The Current Polls link follows 2 local polls, the state poll and 3 regional/national polls. I'll be updating that page every week as new polls are released (usually they're all out by Wednesday).

The 08-09 Featured Players section gives you 1 click access to all the scrolls I've written about some of the top players in the metro. The Career Scoring Records section will be updated game by game to follow the progress of Kevin Noreen and Tayler Hill as they attempt to break the all-time state career scoring records.

If you scroll further down the page, you'll find the MN Basketball Resources section with links to conference website, the MSHSL, section assignments and state records. You'll also be able to search and find links for many of the sites and other blogs that I follow.

Speaking of following, if you read the blog regularly, become a follower. Scroll down and on the right side you can join the The Czar's Followers. Also, in the Blog Information section you can add the blog to a reader for those of you who understand RSS. This is a great way to follow many blogs at once. I personally use Google Reader to easily follow a bunch of blogs without having to go check them 1 by 1 for updates. Just as simple, get my scrolls via email by using the last link in the Blog Information section. I don't give your email address away so you don't have to worry about spam.

All of that plus the same game coverage you've come to expect with a couple of added twists. The Czar's Season Totals link in the 08-09 season section is the fun tracker I use to count all of the different games, locations, teams, food and beverage and anything else of note that I see during the season (e.g. Thrown shoes, kids climbing backboards, Kevin McHale sightings etc). At a minimum I update that every Sunday, but I will be trying to update that more often this season. You can always find out what games I'll be watching by checking out my schedule on the right side. Look for plenty of Hopkins games here as a team like that doesn't come along very often.

If you enjoy the site, spread the word and feel free to say hello if you ever see me at a game. With 17 D1 recruits in the 2009 class, this should be a terrific season.

Schedule for final week of 2008 fall leagues

With practice under way on Monday, this weekend marks the final weekend of fall league play. Here's the schedule

Saturday at Washburn (note this is tenative as I've heard cancellation rumors, beware of changes)
9 AM: Washburn vs Orono, Brooklyn Center vs Concordia (cancelled?)
10 AM Columbia Heights vs Arlington, Roosevelt vs Harding
11 AM: Fridley vs Columbia Heights, Orono vs North
Noon: Concordia vs Washburn (Cancelled?), Arlington vs Harding
1 PM: Fridley vs Roosevelt, Brooklyn Center vs North

Sunday's Minnetonka Fall League

11:30 AM
Sibley vs Stillwater - Tonka Ct 1
Armstrong vs Mounds View - Tonka Ct 2
Wayzata vs BSM - Tonka Ct 3
Kennedy vs Waconia - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Maple Grove vs Osseo - 43 Hoops Ct 2

1 PM
Sibley vs Minnetonka - Tonka Ct 1
Edina vs Duluth East - Tonka Ct 2
Tartan vs Armstrong - Tonka Ct 3
Park Center vs Orono - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Osseo vs Waconia - 43 Hoops Ct 2

2:30 PM
Mounds View vs Hopkins Blue - Tonka Ct 1
Duluth East vs Tartan - Tonka Ct 2
BSM vs Hopkins White - Tonka Ct 3
Kennedy vs Stillwater - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Maple Grove vs Orono - 43 Hoops Ct 2

4 PM
Edina vs Wayzata - Tonka Ct 1
Park Center vs Hopkins Blue - Tonka Ct 2
Minnetonka vs Hopkins White - Tonka Ct 3

Cooperation in conference realignment

John Millea of the Star Tribune reporting that 8 local AAA and AAAA conferences will convene at the MSHSL headquarters on Dec 1st to discuss the fate of the 4 remaining Classic Lake teams as of 2010-2011. Very smart by the NW Suburban to get that together . Interesting that the Mississippi 8 gets in on it. But with Cambridge-Isanti being a AAAA school that could play with the northern schools of the NW Suburban (as outlined in my realignment plan) and Rogers being part of the Elk River district and fast growing, it made sense. Ironic since it was the Mississippi 8 schools going on their own that started this. But this issue has impacted them too since Zimmerman was added after the Rum River dissolved. Now they have 9 teams which leads to schedule problems and is a real pain for football. But I don't see drastic changes in the Mississippi 8 since a major change would probably warrant discussion with the Wright County. Most likely 1 team moves. The North Suburban likely adds a 12th team (Armstrong?). I think they'll keep it simple despite the need to totally review it.

Remember the fad of big huge super-conferences at the college level when the WAC had 16 teams before splitting into the WAC and Mountain West (which caused that stupid NCAA playin, sorry Opening Round, game). We're getting there in the metro. 12 in the Lake with Chanhassen, 12 in the North Suburban (possibly), 12 in the Tri-Metro, 11 in the MCAA, 10 in the Suburban East when East Ridge joins next year and 10 in the NW Suburban.

Hopkins #22 in preseason USA Today poll

Hopkins comes in at #22 in the USA Today Preseason Super 25. They're 4th in the Midwest region.

Here's the list of the 6 polls I'm currently following. I list the national polls by region with a local team's national ranking where applicable so that both rankings are visible. I'll be updating these polls usually on Wednesdays during the season if not before .

State Polls
  • Star Tribune Metro Top 10
  • Pioneer Press Metro Top 10
  • State Poll for all 4 classes

National Polls
  • PrepNation.com Midlands Region Poll
  • ESPNRise Midwest Region Poll
  • USA Today Midwest Region Poll

You can follow the polls all season long on the Current Polls page. On that page, I list the current poll and the previous poll with links to read any of the details. Local teams are highlighted green in the national poll for easy viewing.

Gonzaga blog update on Dower and Stefan

The Kennel Report had a chance to catch up with Net Gain coach Marquis Watts for an update on Sam Dower and Cole Stefan. A couple noteworthy items from the interview. Coach Watts thinks Sam should average 25 and 12 and Stefan's visit to Gonzaga for the Idaho game got cancelled. In addition they have a nice update on the schools looking at Stefan.

Read the entire interview here.

Granite City Holiday Classic revises pairings

Nice job by the Breakdown to revise the pairings for the Granite City Holiday Classic at St. Cloud Apollo on Dec 29-31st. Osseo and Washburn are now on separate sides of the bracket (so move that projected top 5 trips out of the metro game to Dec 31st instead of Dec 30th). Neither has an easy road to the final. Osseo has to get thru Forest Lake (don't be surprised if neither team gets out of the 40s in that one) and then Rocori or Duluth East. Washburn has Sartell in the opening round before a matchup with the home team Apollo or a very good Monticello team. It appears likely that the early session of day 2 will feature matchups of AAA section foes. Forest Lake against Duluth East (section 7) and Sartell against Apollo (section 8).

Read the updated scheduled here.

08-09 Season Preview for the Casual Fan

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series concludes with our 25th preview (such a nice number). In this edition, we take a high-level look at the season. Many of you who read are diehard fans like me, but there are also plenty of fans out there who only see a handful of games per season and want to see the very best players and teams. This preview is for those fans. If you missed any of the 13 conference previews or 11 section previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Top 10 Local Games
  1. Hopkins at Robbinsdale Cooper, February 3rd. Top 2 teams in the state with the top 2 players in the state going at it.
  2. Henry Sibley vs Madison Memorial, January 3rd (TWolves Shootout at Target Center). Marquette signee Jeronne Maymon makes his 3rd trip to the Target Center to take on Mike Bruesewitz. Those 2 going at it will be a war.
  3. Minnetonka vs Hopkins, March 17 (Section 6AAAA Final at Osseo). The regular season games should be on here too, but I didn't want to mention them more than once. The section final will be up a notch and both teams are loaded as Hopkins tries to avenge last year's section final loss.
  4. Hopkins at Henry Sibley, January 9. #1 takes on my #3. An early UW vs the U of M preview with Royce White vs Mike Bruesewitz.
  5. Milwaukee Vincent vs Hopkins, January 23 East Metro Showcase at Johnson. A matchup that I've wanted to see for years. These are arguably the top traditions in each state. Vincent is #6 in the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook preseason poll and is loaded with talent as always. The only thing missing is longtime Vincent coach Tom Diener.
  6. Hopkins at Washburn, December 12. A Howard Pulley scrimmage as many of the players from both teams played together during the summer. Washburn is the most talented team in AAA so this game will be high-flying.
  7. Washburn at Johnson, December 16 (rematch likely March 7 in Twin Cities Game at Arlington). A matchup of arguably the top 2 teams in AAA and definitely 2 extremely athletic teams. City bragging rights at stake with high intensity.
  8. Henry Sibley at Minnetonka, December 16 (possible rematch December 30th in championship of Bethel Holiday Tournament). Size vs Speed in this one.
  9. Osseo at Sibley, December 9. Sibley looks for revenge after Carrington Tankson's buzzer beater beat them last year at Osseo.
  10. Hopkins at St. Bernard's, December 18th. St. Bernard's is one of the top teams in all of AA and very athletic. Jordair Jett vs Marcus Williams is the matchup of note here and Ed Cassidy knows all about Royce White from his days at DLS.
10 Teams To Watch
  1. Hopkins
  2. Robbinsdale Cooper
  3. Henry Sibley
  4. Osseo
  5. Minnetonka
  6. Tartan
  7. Washburn
  8. Johnson
  9. St. Bernard's
  10. Minnesota Transitions
Top 5 Seniors (all top 125 in Rivals.com rankings)
  1. Royce White (Hopkins, U of M)
  2. Rodney Williams Jr (Robbinsdale Cooper, U 0f M)
  3. Trent Lockett (Hopkins, Arizona State)
  4. Mike Bruesewitz (Henry Sibley, Wisconsin)
  5. Sam Dower (Osseo, Gonzaga)
5 More Seniors To Watch
  1. Marc Sonnen (Tartan, Northern Iowa)
  2. Ethan Wragge (Eden Prairie, Creighton)
  3. Mike Broghammer (Hopkins, Notre Dame)
  4. Mike Muscala (Roseville, Bucknell)
  5. Raymond Cowles (Hopkins, Santa Clara)
You can see the entire list of D1 and D2 signees from Minnesota on the 2009 Division 1 & 2 signees page.

5 Juniors to See (in no particular order)
  1. Cole Stefan (Minnetonka)
  2. Jacob Thomas (Columbia Heights)
  3. Chad Calcaterra (Cloquet, see him at the TWolves shootout vs AA power Pelican Rapids)
  4. Kevin Noreen (Minnesota Transitions)
  5. Dyami Starks (Duluth East, multiple games in the metro)
5 trips out of the metro to watch
  1. Washburn vs Osseo, December 30. Projected semifinal of Granite City Classic at St. Cloud Apollo.
  2. St. Cloud Tech vs Tartan, December 13 Breakdown Tipoff Classic in Marshall. Marc Sonnen vs Nate Wolters in a battle of great point guards)
  3. St. Paul Johnson vs Milwaukee Washington, December 23 at Milwaukee Lutheran showcase. A battle of a AAA power vs one of the best teams in Wisconsin.
  4. St. Paul Johnson at Sioux City Heelan, December 19. Heelan and Iowa signee Brennan Cougill lost a tough game to the Govs at Johnson last season. The return matchup should be outstanding.
  5. St. Bernard's at St. Cloud Tech, February 7. Jordair Jett get his input on the best point guard debate as AA and AAAA powers collide.
Top Metro Christmas Tournament
The Bethel tournament is absolutely sick this year. Take a look at these 4 teams. Johnson, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Mounds View. One of them is guaranteed to play for 7th place as they're all on the top half of the bracket. Amazing as all of those teams are no worse than 2nd in their leagues. On the bottom half, Minnehaha plays Sibley in the 1st round which means 1 of them will finish no better than 5th. Almost every game of this tourney is guaranteed to have a good team playing in it. If you're outstate, the Granite City at St. Cloud Apollo is also loaded with Osseo, Washburn, Forest Lake, Monticello, Rocori, Duluth East, Apollo and Sartell.

Fall League Schedules for Nov 15/16, 2008

Fall league play winding down as the Breakdown has their final week of play this week. 1 more week to go at Washburn and Minnetonka. Here's this week's schedule for Washburn and Minnetonka. The Breakdown schedule can be found on their site which is linked to on the Fall Leagues page.

Washburn (Saturday)
9 AM: North vs Columbia Heights, Washburn vs Roosevelt
10 AM: Brooklyn Center vs Columbia Heights, Harding vs Fridley
11 AM: Orono vs Arlington, North vs Concordia
12 PM: Roosevelt vs Arlington, Washburn vs Fridley
1 PM: Brooklyn Center vs Orono, Concordia vs Harding

Minnetonka (Sunday)
11:30 AM
Wayzata vs Waconia - Tonka Ct 1
Stillwater vs Hopkins White - Tonka Ct 2
Kennedy vs Sibley - Tonka Ct 3
Osseo vs Minnetonka - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Benilde-St Margaret's vs Duluth East - 43 Hoops Ct 2

1 PM
Orono vs Edina - Tonka Ct 1
Hopkins Blue vs Tartan - Tonka Ct 2
Park Center vs Mounds View - Tonka Ct 3
Maple Grove vs Armstrong - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Minnetonka vs Benilde-St. Margaret's 43 Hoops Ct 2

2:30 PM
Sibley vs Waconia - Tonka Ct 1
Edina vs Hopkins Blue - Tonka Ct 2
Osseo vs Hopkins White - Tonka Ct 3
Armstrong vs Duluth East - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Wayzata vs Stillwater - 43 Hoops Ct 2

4 PM
Kennedy vs Park Center - Tonka Ct 1
Mounds View vs Orono - Tonka Ct 2
Maple Grove vs Tartan - Tonka Ct 3

Best of National Signing Day

For the class of 2009, Rivals named their best prospect at each position for each conference today. Plenty of local flavor.

Royce White: Top SF for Big Ten
Mike Bruesewitz: Top PF for Big Ten
Chris Halvorsen: Top SF for Horizon
Sam Dower: Top PF for West Coast Conference

Others who made a local appearance last season.

Jeronne Maymon of Madison Memorial: Top SF for Big East
DeMarcus Cousins of Mobile LeFlore: Top PF for Conference USA

08-09 Section 7AAAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series continues with our 24th preview and the last preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, a look at section 7AAAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Cambridge-Isanti

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Blaine
  2. Cambridge-Isanti
  3. Forest Lake
  4. Coon Rapids
  5. St. Francis
  6. Duluth East
  7. Andover
  8. Anoka
Well I picked the 3 seed last year on talent and was wrong, so I'll pick the 3 seed again this season. Blaine has enough talent to win, but after last year I refuse to trust them until I see the results on the court. C-I returns Braden Johnson (who lit up FL in the 7AAAA final last year) and Zak Mathson so look for them to be in the section hunt once again. Forest Lake will be battle tested and they don't beat themselves. Coon Rapids has a couple of scorers that need to be dealt with. Dyami Starks will put up big numbers, but the rest of the squad has to improve before Duluth East moves up. Brett Tester could be a guy to pull Andover to a 1st round upset.

Section Winner: Forest Lake

08-09 Section 6AAAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series continues with our 23rd preview and the 10th preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, a look at section 6AAAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Minnetonka

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Minneapolis Southwest, I mean Hopkins
  2. Minnetonka
  3. Robbinsdale Armstrong
  4. Wayzata
  5. Minneapolis North
  6. St. Louis Park
  7. Minneapolis South
  8. Minneapolis Southwest
Look for another epic battle in the section final this season. Both teams are very deep and talented. Taylor Nelson vs Mike Broghammer inside is an interesting matchup, but who guards Royce? The perimeter play on both sides is insane (especially if Tor Anderson is eligible). Armstrong and Wayzata are a notch above the bottom 4 teams. With so much talent and the rep that they don't get it done in the tournament, I think Hopkins gets it done this season.

Section Winner: Hopkins

08-09 Section 5AAAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series continues with our 22nd preview and the 9th preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, a look at section 5AAAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Robbinsdale Cooper

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Robbinsdale Cooper
  2. Osseo
  3. Mounds View
  4. Champlin Park
  5. Irondale
  6. Centennial
  7. Roseville
  8. Park Center
Cooper is obviously loaded but they'll still have to go thru a very good Osseo team. These teams have split in the tourney the last 2 years with Rodney Williams blocking a Carrington Tankson shot to win last year's section final. Expect a terrific game between the 2 teams again. Mounds View could give Osseo a run but they don't matchup well with Cooper at all as they struggle with athletic teams. If you're looking for a sleeper, could Centennial be that team and Roseville with Mike Muscala has the chance to pull an upset.

Section Winner: Robbinsdale Cooper

08-09 Section 4AAAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series continues with our 21st preview and the 8th preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, a look at section 4AAAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Henry Sibley

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Henry Sibley
  2. Cretin-Derham Hall
  3. Tartan
  4. Stillwater
  5. Woodbury
  6. St. Paul Central
  7. White Bear Lake
  8. North (St. Paul)
Sibley returns a loaded team so they're the obvious favorite. Seeing Seantrel Henderson of CDH against those bigs in a section final would be entertaining. One thing that CDH always seems to have are shooters and that's exactly what you need against Sibley. Tartan returns dangerous perimeter play and Marc Sonnen is the type of scorer who can carry a team on his back in a big game. Not to mention they'll always be tough defensively. Don't expect another stretch of 1 FG in 20 minutes in the tournament this year. Stillwater will be a tough out, but they're a year away. Seeing a rematch of last year's 1st round Woodbury upset over Stillwater would be interesting. Woodbury's running game is enough to pull an upset if Nick Quicksell and Bo Schiffler get hot.

Section Winner: Henry Sibley

08-09 Section 3AAAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series continues with our 20th preview and the 7th preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, a look at section 3AAAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Burnsville

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Lakeville North
  2. Apple Valley
  3. Eastview
  4. Burnsville
  5. Eagan
  6. Lakeville South
  7. Park (Cottage Grove)
  8. Rosemount

Eastview, Burnsville and Eagan all bring nice backcourts to the table which can always be dangerous at tourney time. Lakeville North is talented all the way around and won't be an easy out. I've picked #1 seeds throughout the previews, but I won't here. I think Apple Valley develops nicely over the season and matches up well with Lakeville North, so here's my 1st upset.

Section Winner: Apple Valley

08-09 Section 2AAAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series continues with our 19th preview and the 6th preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, we start our look at the big schools with section 2AAAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Bloomington Kennedy

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Eden Prairie
  2. Shakopee
  3. Richfield
  4. Edina
  5. Chaska
  6. Prior Lake
  7. Bloomington Jefferson
  8. Bloomington Kennedy
This assumes Carlos Emory is ineligible for Kennedy which means Kennedy only has Deron Murphy. Chaska and Edina are dangerous in that 4 vs 5 game. Prior Lake drops with the loss of Tor Anderson. Richfield and Shakopee would be a fun game of small teams, but neither has the size to deal with Eden Prairie. Heartbreak hotel on buzzer beaters for EP 3 years in a row and then the absolutely shocking upset by Kennedy last year (after EP totally destroyed Kennedy twice during the regular season, including 1 big game that I saw). I think they finally get it done this season.

Section Winner: Eden Prairie

08-09 Section 6AAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series continues with our 18th preview and the 5th preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, a look at section 6AAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Benilde-St. Margaret's

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Washburn
  2. Orono
  3. De La Salle
  4. Benilde-St. Margaret's
  5. Waconia
  6. Holy Angels
  7. Delano
  8. Mound-Westonka
WOW! Just when you thought this section couldn't get any tougher. Washburn brings in a couple of really good transfers. Sophomore stars Shelby Moats (Waconia) and Jordan Smith (Orono) will have another year of experience. Holy Angels brings in coach Larry McKenzie. Delano gets transfer Kyle Kreklow. Mound-Westonka is improved. Absolutely brutal. Washburn had to be #1, but I can see 2-5 in any order. Orono looks to be the champ in the Wright County, DLS and BSM are runners-up in their leagues and Waconia will also contend for the crown in the Wright County. While the 4 vs 5 game here has been very good the last 2 years, even the 3 vs 6 and 2 vs 7 games should be quality games. Needless to say the semifinals are already on my 08-09 schedule.

Section Winner: Minneapolis Washburn

08-09 Section 4AAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series rolls on with our 17th preview and the 4th preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, a look at section 4AAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Como Park

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Johnson
  2. Como Park
  3. Mahtomedi
  4. Arlington
  5. Hill-Murray
  6. Highland Park
  7. Harding
  8. South St. Paul
Johnson is absolutely loaded but they'll still have to deal with nemesis Como Park. Those 2 teams combined for 41 wins last year. This doesn't even account for Como Park losing their top 2 players and rebuilding with a good group of juniors. The rest of the section is weak as nobody else had more than 13 wins last season and they combined for a total of 42 wins (that's an average record of roughly 7-20 for those teams). 13 of those were from Arlington but their wins were largely against poor teams. It will take another Como Park upset to keep Johnson from winning the section.

Section Winner: St. Paul Johnson

08-09 Section 3AAA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series rolls on with our 16th preview and the 3rd preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, we start our look at the top 2 divisions with a look at section 3AAA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Minneapolis Patrick Henry

Predicted Seeding:

  1. Henry
  2. Spring Lake Park
  3. Columbia Heights
  4. Fridley
  5. Totino-Grace
  6. Chisago Lakes
  7. St. Anthony
  8. North Branch
Henry is the clear favorite to make the return trip to state with all their talent. Their backcourt will be lightning quick and Evan Gray gives them front court play. Spring Lake Park will be competitive against whoever they play. Columbia Heights is a real wildcard here. If their 2010 class develops, they can be very dangerous with Jacob Thomas. The rest of the section is teams I picked in the lower half of their leagues. But don't fall asleep against the 4-6 teams here. Isaiah Thomas (Fridley), John Crockett (TG) and Josh Figini (Chisago Lakes) are all players that have the ability to lead their teams to an upset.

Section Winner: Minneapolis Patrick Henry

08-09 Section 4AA Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series rolls on with our 15th preview and the 2nd preview of the 11 metro area sections. In this edition, a look at section 4AA. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: St. Bernard's

West Subsection Predicted Seeding: (Breck is the defending champion)

  1. Holy Family
  2. Brooklyn Center
  3. Jordan
  4. Edison
  5. Breck
  6. Blake
  7. Trinity
  8. Providence
Holy Family will have a very respectable team, but this subsection is weak. Breck was the only other team to be above 500 last year (Edison was 14-14 vs a weak schedule) and they look to have a really rough season. Edison did not look good in fall play. Brooklyn Center had a tough time beating anyone the 2nd half of last season. Blake, Trinity and Providence could be amongst the lowest ranked teams in all of AA in terms of QRF. I'll take Holy Family by default.

East Subsection Predicted Seeding: (St. Bernard's is the defending champion)
  1. St. Bernard's
  2. Minnehaha
  3. Concordia
  4. St. Croix Lutheran
  5. St. Paul Academy
  6. Roosevelt
  7. Humboldt
  8. Mounds Park Academy
Unfortunately the top 3 teams in this section all reside in the east. St. Croix Lutheran would give Holy Family a game too. SPA is at 5 despite a really rough season last season by default as I don't see much from the 3 teams below them and they have a nice goto player in Evan MacMillan. Concordia vs Minnehaha would be a big rematch of a tournament game from last season. That game left a bad taste for Minnehaha. St. Bernard's is the favorite and will get their toughest test in that subsection final.

Section Winner: St. Bernard's. Expect the same in this year's section final as last year, a total blowout.

08-09 Section 4A Preview

The 08-09 Conference and Section Preview series moves into part 2 as we start our look at the 11 metro area sections. To start, a look at section 4A. Due to the flux of teams in this section, I'll only evaluate the 19 teams that played in last year's tournament. If you missed any of the previews, you can find links to all of them on the Section & Conference Previews page.

Defending Champion: Minnesota Transitions

West Subsection Predicted Seeding: (MCA is the defending champion)
  1. Maranatha
  2. SW Christian
  3. Meadow Creek Christian
  4. PACT
  5. West Lutheran
  6. Heritage
  7. Spectrum
  8. Bethany
  9. Ascension
Since I picked MCA to win the MCAA, I have to take them to win the subsection. SW Christian is a major threat here with Caleb Palkert and has just as good a chance to get through. Meadow Creek is dangerous with their returnees. PACT continues to build a respectable program. The rest of the teams have major losses, had tough seasons last year, or both.

East Subsection Predicted Seeding: (MTS is the defending champion)
  1. Minnesota Transitions
  2. CHOF
  3. St. Agnes
  4. New Life
  5. Four Directions
  6. Concordia-Bloomington
  7. Hmong Academy
  8. Community of Peace
  9. Agriculture and Food Sciences Academy
  10. Vessey Leadership Academy
In the east I don't see any changes. The bottom 5 teams will really struggle. Four Directions has one of the top scorers in the metro in guard Cory Oquist, but they aren't a threat to win the subsection. MTS is the clear favorite with the Noreens, especially since CHOF doesn't have a good matchup for Kevin Noreen. Nate Fiscus inside is too much for the rest of the teams in the subsection. St. Agnes will be battle tested in the Tri-Metro which always serves them well come tournament time. New Life's traditionally strong program and returnee Robbie Anderstrom can't be ignored either.

The subsection finals should go according to seed and be nice rematches of regular season games. Potentially a 3rd meeting of MCA and SW Christian in the west (assuming they play in the MCAA Tournament title game) and a rematch of one of the better small school rivalries in the metro, CHOF vs MTS in the east.

Section Winner: Minnesota Transitions. The Wolves are the clear favorite as they have the top player in the section in Kevin Noreen. A rematch of the regular season game with SW Christian would be the most exciting section final.

Hopkins #25 in preseason ESPN poll.

ESPN with Rise magazine (ESPNRise now) released their preseason top 50 this week. Hopkins comes in at #25. They do a nice job of explaining the criteria in the article. One thing that may hurt Hopkins in this poll is a lack of a national schedule. They do have a game at Madison Square Garden against a Brooklyn team (yes that MSG) in February, but no games against the rest of the top 50. Based on that, it looks like the Royals won't have much chance to make any significant jump in the poll.

Armstrong gone from the Classic Lake

As reported by the Star Tribune, the prinicipals and superintendents of the Classic Lake Conference members have voted to remove Armstrong from the league as of the 2010-2011 school year. This is due to Armstrong's enrollment being sufficiently behind that of the other league members. This would put the league down to 4 teams which is under the MSHSL mandate of 5 teams. This has come up before but now it has finally come to a head.

Since these schools have tried for ages to expand the league or move into other leagues (most notably the Lake), I still believe (as I said in May) that this will ultimately come down to the MSHSL moving these teams into leagues which could get really ugly. Granted CDH in the Suburban East has turned out OK and you'll remember that no league wanted them. Remember what happened when the Mississippi 8 formed and leagues everywhere were overhauled? This could be even bigger than that. (Ironically it was the move of Cooper and St. Louis Park to the N Suburban as part of those changes that was the last big move prior to this). It may also be an opportunity for the MSHSL to realign the big schools that are in the Missota Conference. The North Suburban could use a 12th team and rival Cooper is already there. Hmm, could this be the destination for the Falcons?

Read what was said in May about this. That post also contains links to the conference realignment plan for the entire metro that I wrote in August of 2007 and still holds true today.

Fall League Schedules for Nov 8/9, 2008

Fall League Schedules for this weekend.

Saturday has the Breakdown and Washburn fall leagues. You can access the Breakdown website via the Fall Leagues page. Here's the Washburn schedule.

9 AM: North vs Fridley, Orono vs Columbia Heights.
10 AM: Concordia vs Arlington, Washburn vs Harding
11 AM: Brooklyn Center vs Roosevelt, Orono vs Fridley
12 PM: Concordia vs Columbia Heights, Roosevelt vs North
1 PM: Brooklyn Center vs Harding, Washburn vs Arlington

Sunday has Concordia and Minnetonka with action in their leagues.

Concordia (final week)
11 AM
Mahtomedi vs Minnehaha - Ct 1
Roseville vs Owatonna - Ct 2
Woodbury - White vs Andover - Ct 3
Woodbury -Blue vs Park - Ct 4

11:50 AM
St. Bernard's vs Centennial - Ct 1
SW vs Hill-Murray - Ct 2
Holy Angels vs Concordia - Ct 3
Mahtomedi vs Owatonna - Ct 4

12:40 PM
Woodbury - Blue vs Andover - Ct 1
Minnehaha vs Centennial - Ct 2
Roseville vs Woodbury White - Ct 3
Holy Angels vs Hill- Murray - Ct 4

1:30 PM
Park vs Concordia - Ct 1
SW vs St. Bernard's - Ct 2

11:30 AM
Armstrong vs Edina - Tonka Ct 1
Maple Grove vs Park Center - Tonka Ct 2
Duluth East vs Mounds View - Tonka Ct 3
Osseo vs Kennedy - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Tartan vs Hopkins White - 43 Hoops Ct 2

1:00 PM
Minnetonka vs Wayzata - Tonka Ct 1
Edina vs Maple Grove - Tonka Ct 2
BSM vs Sibley - Tonka Ct 3
Hopkins Blue vs Orono - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Stillwater vs Waconia - 43 Hoops Ct 2

2:30 PM
Wayzata vs Osseo - Tonka Ct 1
Armstrong vs Park Center - Tonka Ct 2
Mounds View vs Sibley - Tonka Ct 3
Orono vs Tartan - 43 Hoops Ct 1
Duluth East vs Hopkins Blue - 43 Hoops Ct 2

4:00 PM
Minnetonka vs Kennedy - Tonka Ct 1
BSM vs Stillwater - Tonka Ct 2
Hopkins White vs Waconia - Tonka Ct 3

08-09 Season Previews are half done

The Conference Previews portion of the season previews has completed. A couple of items I should note. Once and for all, Thomas Cunningham is with Minneapolis North. I'm done changing that, seriously. That leads me into the standard disclaimer that goes with all of the previews. They are based solely on what I saw last year and what I followed. Since I'm not an insider, transfers and such are prone to be missed (especially since I didn't have the Breakdown to cheat with). I see many teams and players, but I can't see everyone so mistakes are bound to be made.

I'm taking a break from the previews for the weekend and I'll pick back up with my previews of the 11 metro area sections starting next week. Nothing like the Crown Prince making a cameo appearance in the Kingdom for the Packers-Vikings game to get in the way of seeing games this weekend. Before that, I'll be doing a ranking of my own over on the MN Preps Premium Message Board. I think you'll enjoy that. I'll put the link to that up when I finish it.

For humor value, here's a review on how I did on last year's conference predictions.
  • Minnetonka - 1/2 point (co-champs with Hopkins)
  • St. Thomas - finished 2nd to Sibley who was my other team to watch in the league
  • Eden Prairie - correct
  • Minneapolis Henry - correct (I give myself the full point because they beat Washburn twice head-head). Washburn was my other team to watch.
  • Maranatha - correct. Trinity was the worst pick I made all season. I did manage to recover with SW Christian as a pick.
  • Holy Angels - finished 4th so I totally botched that pick, 2 games back of the 3 way tie for 1st. I did get Shakopee and Prior Lake right as teams to watch.
  • BSM - correct. I got the top of this league right by also mentioning Cooper and Spring Lake Park. Totino-Grace was not the surprise I thought they'd be.
  • Osseo - correct. Totally overlooked Champlin Park. Underestimated Blaine and over ranked Elk River.
  • Mounds View - 3rd, 2 games back of the 2 way tie for 1st. I did get CDH and Stillwater in the teams to watch. Park didn't surprise.
  • Johnson - 1/2 point (tied with Johnson). Got this largely correct.
  • Concordia - 2nd place. Should have picked St. Bernard's
  • De La Salle - correct - got this division correct all the way around.
So I got 6 outright champions correct with 2 ties for 1st. The teams I got wrong were 2 games out. It should be very interesting to see how predicting each league top to bottom turns out. As we get into sections, we won't even begin to get into how bad I messed up section 4A.

08-09 Tri-Metro West Preview

This is the 13th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed any of the 1st 12 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, a look at the West Division of the Tri-Metro Conference

De La Salle Islanders (2007 Season 14-14, 12-4)
Obviously you don't fully replace a player like Royce White, but they were terrific defensively and balanced on offense after he left last year. Bryce Hawkins is also gone I'm told. This will free up Jalen Jaspers to play more inside. Walter Franklin returns at the point. Look for sophomore Jonah Travis to step up and play an important role. (Czar's Note 11/6/08, How did I manage to leave AJ Barker out of this? He'll be a major factor for them as well.)

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2007 Season 17-10, 11-5)
They'll be the toughest team in the division to defend. They have 3 interchangable wings that are all long and versatile. That includes Greg Meyer and David Burnham along with emerging Parker Hines. Taylor Sparkman mans the middle with some ball skills that can pull bigs away from the basket.

Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2007 Season 12-15, 8-8)
After an 8-2 start that may have been misleading, the Centaurs went 4-13 after that. Sophomore Freddie Young leads the way. Junior DeAngelo Potter's 15 PPG also return.

Breck Mustangs (2007 Season 19-11, 7-8)
The Mustangs start a new era under coach Daryl Woods. However, he doesn't have much to work with. Last season's top 3 players Tom Smolenski, Dakota Tidd and Matt Vargas are all gone. Senior Blake Johnson will take over the top player role. I'll be watching to see what role sophomore Joey Yared plays.

Blake Bears (2007 Season 5-22, 4-12)
Senior David Nash is the leading returning scorer. Junior Jerrett Williams is another player to watch for the Bears. They had a point differental last year of 20.8.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2007 Season 5-21, 1-15)
Former Sibley assistant Kevin McKenzie takes over the Spartans program. He has a couple of nice pieces to work with in juniors Evan MacMillan (23 and 10 last year) at forward and Santano Rosario at point guard. Sophomore center Gabe Mast also returns with 10 points and 7 rebs per game. They could make a run at double digit wins.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Minnehaha Academy
  2. De La Salle
  3. Brooklyn Center
  4. St. Paul Academy
  5. Breck
  6. Mounds Park Academy
Player of the Year: Greg Meyer - Minnehaha

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Concordia at Minnehaha - December 19th
  • De La Salle at Minnehaha - January 20th
  • De La Salle at St. Bernard's - January 31st
  • Minnehaha at St. Bernard's - February 5th
  • Minnehaha at De La Salle - February 14th
  • De La Salle at Concordia - March 6th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnehaha at Minnesota Transitions - December 12th
  • Minnehaha vs Henry Sibley - December 27th (1st round Bethel tournament)
  • Minnehaha at St. Thomas Academy - January 31st
  • De La Salle at Benilde-St. Margaret's - February 7th
  • Minnehaha at New London-Spicer - February 19th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - February 21st
  • Minneapolis Henry at De La Salle - March 3rd

08-09 Tri-Metro East Preview

This is the 12th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed any of the 1st 11 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, the east side of the metro is still our home for a look at the East Division of the Tri-Metro Conference

St. Bernard's Bulldogs (2007 Season 28-4, 15-1 4th place state AA)
The Bulldogs return most of a team that made it all the way to the state semifinals. Explosive point guard Jordair Jett leads the way. Averey Duncan returns as a long lockdown defender who's offense continues to improve. Trent Davis returns as a 4 year starter at guard. Jordan Gittens is another long athlete. Brian Sandifer returns as a shooter. They'll miss John Bright's girth, but with their athleticism they play bigger than their size. Expect them to make another run at a state title.

Concordia Beacons (2007 Season 23-6, 13-3)
Zach Towle returns to run the point and light up the scoreboard for the Beacons. Zach Houliston returns in the middle and has greatly improved over the last 2 years. The loss of wings Darrin Beekman and Kyle Hagen will have to be addressed.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2007 Season 13-11, 8-8)
Post Chris Breuer (Randy's son) leads the way as he returns his 18 PPG to the lineup. Guard Aaron Hulsebus is also a nice guard that returns his 14 PPG. A nice inside-out duo.

St. Anthony Huskies (2007 Season 13-15, 8-8)
They'll miss all everything Calvin Walker (known as Chris Mullin to longtime readers). Junior Guard Josh Pratt returns and will need to be a good rebounder as this squad will be young and small. Junior Derek Jahner returns up front. Expect them to be tough and sound under coach Dave Bratland.

St. Agnes Aggies (2007 Season 15-13, 7-9)
Junior Darry Jones can put up points in a hurry. He's the leading returning scorer. 6-5 wing Leevon Perry is also a noteworthy returnee. Senior center Joe Constanzo returns to provide an interior presence. 17 PPG from Al Green is lost.

Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2007 Season 23-6, 1-14)
The Panthers lost 18 of last 19 after a home win over Providence in the opener of their Kreischer Basketball Tournament. The 2 leading scorers Dan Short and Adam Frudden are gone. But they do have the best gym in the conference with their new building.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. St. Bernard's
  2. Concordia
  3. St. Croix Lutheran
  4. St. Agnes
  5. St. Anthony
  6. Mounds Park Academy
Player of the Year: Jordair Jett - St. Bernard's

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Concordia at Minnehaha - December 19th
  • St. Bernard's at Concordia - January 13th
  • De La Salle at St. Bernard's - January 31st
  • Minnehaha at St. Bernard's - February 5th
  • Concordia at St. Bernard's - March 3rd
  • De La Salle at Concordia - March 6th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Concordia at Shakopee - December 9th
  • Hopkins at St. Bernard's - December 18th
  • St. Bernard's vs Armstrong - December 30th (projected Catholic spirit semifinal at St. Thomas)
  • St. Bernard's at St. Cloud Tech - February 7th
  • Columbia Heights at St. Bernard's - February 12th
  • Concordia at Minnetonka - February 17th

Hopkins #9 nationally in preseason poll

PrepNation has released their top 25 high school teams nationally. Hopkins comes in at #9 right behind Corey Joseph and DJ Richardson of Findlay Prep in Nevada.

Read the entire rankings here.

Read the Hopkins team capsule here.

Three of the out of state teams from last year's TWolves Shootout are in the poll.
  • Memphis White Station comes in at #16.
  • DeMatha comes in at #22.
  • Madison Memorial (Sibley's opponent at the TWolves shootout this year) is #24.
The national rankings include rankings for the Midlands region. Here's how that shaped up.
  • Hopkins #1
  • Sibley #3
  • Cooper #5
  • Osseo #8
I'll be keeping track of that poll throughout the season on the current polls page.

08-09 Independents Preview

This is the 11th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed any of the 1st 10 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment of the conference previews, we look at the independents.

Minnesota Transitions Wolves (2007 Season 28-5, class A state runner-up)
The Wolves validated their record of past seasons by finally getting over the hump and making the state tournament. They have a chance to make it all the way back to the state title game as future all-time state scoring leader junior Kevin Noreen and sophomore sharpshooter Kyle Noreen return. The loss of Virgil Baker is huge and they'll need someone like a Kevin Thompson or Antonio Wigfall to step up and be that 3rd scorer that Baker was last year. Ellsworth really exposed Kyle Noreen last season as a stand-still shooter. He'll need to develop a game off the dribble especially if there's no 3rd scoring option. Cheap promotional moment, you can track Kevin Noreen's progress toward the state's all-time scoring record throughout the next 2 seasons as I'll be updating the tracker in the left hand column after each MTS game.

CHOF Lions (2007 Season 22-6)
The Lions lose SF Nick Butler who played an all-everything role for them last season. Point guard Cole Piepkorn and center Nate Fiscus return. Fiscus is one of the best bigs in the section and Piepkorn has been a starter forever. The biggest loss may be athletic Jake Okerstrom who was their best matchup for guarding Kevin Noreen.

PACT Panthers (2007 Season 18-9)
The Panthers had a very nice season last year. With Austin Rink coming back amongst others, they'll be very respectable this season.

Spectrum Sting (2007 Season 6-19)
They endured the hardship of starting a new program as they had no seniors last season. So this year they have plenty of experience. Beau Emerson returns at the point and is a real thief. A very servicable point guard. Grant Spark is the goto guy on the outside. Brad Ducommun returns to man the front court. They could make a run at double-digit wins this season.

Games to Watch
  • Minnehaha at MTS - December 12th (opens the new MTS gym)
  • Park Christian at CHOF - January 17th
  • Cotton at MTS - January 24th
  • MTS at SW Christian - February 6th
  • CHOF at MTS - February 13th
  • St. Bernard's at CHOF - February 19th
  • MTS at Park Christian - March 7th

08-09 St. Paul City Preview

This is the 10th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed any of the 1st 9 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, we stay on the east side of the metro and look at the St. Paul City Conference.

Johnson Governors (2007 Season 21-7, 11-1)
Johnson returns most of their roster and will be one of the top teams in AAA. Lamar Anderson and Mike Talley return on the wings. Dion Suggs is the top scorer. Max Rosenbloom is one of the toughest rebounders in the metro. Jordan Pluff and Demitri Conwell also return. Not to mention sophomore Estan Tyler at the point. Also keep an eye out for sophomore Roosevelt Scott. He really broke out at the 43 Hoops Summer Classic in Johnson's impressive run in the 15U portion of that event.

Central Minutemen (2007 Season 21-7, 11-1)
Central looked like they were going to be tough again this season even without star Larry Brown. But Dylan Hale is gone to Washburn so that changes everything. Taylor Smaller returns in the back court. Hard working big Jordan Larson returns up front along with LaDarian Horton.

Como Park Cougars (2007 Season 20-10, 8-4)
The Cougars not only have to replace longtime coach Dan Brink, they also have to replace their top 2 scorers in Greg Morse and Steven Baker. They also have to replace the toughness and effort of power forward Lewis Johnson. Keep an eye on their 2010 class. Jordan Jackson should lead the way as he was impressive in Magic fall league play. Reggie Ray and Joe Conley are a couple of other nice juniors. Seniors Rico Phillips and Marcus Gustafson return as other guards. Look for them to be small and quick.

Arlington Phoenix (2007 Season 13-14, 6-6)
Their record was indicative of how bad the bottom of the league was last year despite their 2 closer than expected games vs Johnson. Marques Johnson-Smith is a big scorer that is gone. DeAndre White, Travon McKee and DeMarkeo Jones are returnees of note.

Humboldt Hawks (2007 Season 7-16, 2-10)
They'll have to replace guard Bobbie Hughes and forward Keenan Kent. Henry Jenkins returns in the middle. Juniors Melvin Dees and LaKing Franklin also return.

Highland Park Scots (2007 Season 5-21, 2-10)
The Scots lose almost everyone from last year's team. The 20 PPG from Prentice Cobbins will have to be replaced.

Harding Knights (2007 Season 3-21, 2-10)
The Knights lose their leading scorer Alonzo Williams. Senior Andre Creighton and junior Vernon Keller are the notable returnees.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Johnson
  2. Como Park
  3. Central
  4. Arlington
  5. Highland Park
  6. Harding
  7. Humboldt
Player of the Year: Dion Suggs - Johnson

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Central at Johnson - January 10th
  • Johnson at Como Park - January 16th
  • Como Park at Central - January 30th
  • Johnson at Central - February 10th
  • Como Park at Johnson - February 12th
  • Central at Como Park - February 27th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Como Park at Cretin-Derham Hall - December 9th
  • Minneapolis Washburn at Johnson - December 16th
  • Johnson vs Milwaukee Washington - December 23rd (Milwaukee Lutheran showcase)
  • Johnson vs Minnetonka - December 27th (1st round Bethel Tournament)
  • Johnson vs Eden Prairie/Mounds View - December 29th (Bethel 2nd round)
  • Como Park at St. Bernard's - January 20th
  • Robbinsdale Armstrong at Johnson - February 3rd
  • Washburn vs Johnson rematch - March 7th (projected Twin Cities game)

Evaluations from Net Gain Showcase posted

The Net Gain Sports website has posted brief evaluations of the players that attended their showcase last month. A ton of local players included in this along with a few good Wisconsin kids. Keep in mind that these are evals for college coaches so many of the comments reflect where kids would have to play at the next level, not where they play now for their high school teams (Ryan Virnig of Armstrong being 1 example).

Read the evaluations here.

08-09 Suburban East Preview

This is the 9th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed any of the 1st 8 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, a look at the Suburban East Conference.

Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (2007 Season 23-4, 14-2)
CDH will have to replace a couple of star guards that are now playing D1 football, Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) and John Nance (U of M). But the highest rated football player of them all, Seantrel Henderson, returns to lead the way. He's part of a loaded 2010 class that includes frontliner Clay Horne and guard Jake Frey just to name a couple. Senior Peter White was a major JV contributor last year up front. Guards Bo Bona and Marcus Binns return to provide experience. Point guard play will be a large determination of their success.

Stillwater Ponies (2007 Season 22-5, 14-2)
Star forward Joel Armstrong is gone to Winona State along with guard Aaron Anderson. But the Ponies have a couple of nice juniors to take their places. Guard Paul Franklin played a bunch of varsity minutes last year and made one of the plays of the year last season when he hit a half-court buzzer beater to steal a game at Johnson. Center Ryan Duxbury is an absolute beast inside and should have some terrific battles with Henderson of CDH.

Mounds View Mustangs (2007 Season 21.7, 12-4)
The Mustangs lose a couple of very good seniors in Mike Schramm and Nick Bartlett. Senior Dan Carroll returns to lead with way with senior Justin Harding and sophomore Jordan Van Eps. Not overly athletic but very disciplined and mistake free under longtime coach Ziggy Kauls.

Forest Lake Rangers (2007 Season 19-10, 9-7)
The Rangers will try to recover from a tough loss to Cambridge-Isanti in last year's 7AAAA final. They lose a couple of their top scorers, Brad Kopp and Ryan Brown. 2 starters (Griffin Lentsch being one of them) and junior Zach Riedeman return for one of the most methodical squads in the metro. Their open post motion offense and 1-3-1 defense really limit the number of possessions.

Woodbury Royals (2007 Season 13-15, 7-9)
If Forest Lake is the tortoise, then Woodbury must be the hare. Top scorer Aaron Myers and point guard Matt Slayton are gone. They do return a couple of high-scoring wing players in senior Bo Schiffler and junior Nick Quicksell. Ernest Dorsett returns to run the show at the point. Schiffler had 11 straight double-figure games in points before having only 5 points in the section semifinal loss to CDH. They'll play small and they'll run as much as any team in the metro.

White Bear Lake Bears (2007 Season 10-17, 7-9)
Junior frontcourt players Spencer Cummings and Richard Azevedo return to lead the way. Cole Christenson returns to lead the backcourt.

Park Wolfpack (2007 Season 9-18, 5-11)
All everything guard Jake Lindstrom is gone for the Wolfpack. Cody Hofmann and Craig Brown return in the backcourt. Andy Voigt returns up front.

Roseville Raiders (2007 Season 6-21, 3-13)
The Raiders return the top player in the league, Bucknell commit Mike Muscala. Guard Erik Nockleby is gone along with forward BJ Letourneau. With limited options around Muscala and a tough group of teams at the top of the league, the Raiders will likely struggle again this season.

Hastings Raiders (2007 Season 5-22, 1-15)
Hastings returns leading scorer senior Jake Ryan along with junior forwards Shane Monjeau and Nick Gmiterko. They'll try to use last year's season as a building block to continued improvement.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Cretin-Derham Hall
  2. Mounds View
  3. Stillwater
  4. Woodbury
  5. Forest Lake
  6. White Bear Lake
  7. Roseville
  8. Park
  9. Hastings
Player of the Year: Seantrel Henderson - Cretin-Derham Hall

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Mounds View at CDH - January 20th
  • Stillwater at Mounds View - January 23rd
  • CDH at Stillwater - January 27th
  • CDH at Mounds View - February 20th
  • Mounds View at Stillwater - February 27th
  • Stillwater at CDH - March 6th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Prairie at CDH - December 4th
  • Monticello at Mounds View - December 5th
  • St. Thomas Academy at CDH - December 12th
  • Eden Prairie vs Mounds View - December 27th (1st round Bethel Tournament)
  • Mounds View vs Minnetonka - December 29th (projected Bethel semifinal)
  • Mounds View vs Sibley - December 30th (projected Bethel final)
  • Stillwater vs Plainview-Elgin-Millville - December 30th (projected Rochester Rotary semifinal)
  • Stillwater vs Apple Valley - December 31st (projected Rochester Rotary final)
  • St. Paul Johnson at Stillwater - January 3rd
  • CDH at De La Salle - February 21st
  • CDH at Lakeville North - February 28th

08-09 Northwest Suburban Preview

This is the 8th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed any of the 1st 7 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, we stay in the north metro and look at the Northwest Suburban Conference.

Osseo Orioles (2007 Season 28-1, 18-0)
The Orioles lose 4 starters but Gonzaga commit Sam Dower returns up front along with point guard DJ Phillips. Hopkins transfer Aaron Anderson and Kyle Mason will also man the backcourt. Jayvin Reynolds is a dirty work player up front on the glass. If they slow the game down, they should be one of the best defensive squads in the metro with Dower behind the defensive prowess of their guards and Reynolds to clean the glass. They'll need to find someone to make outside shots to open up Dower inside.

Champlin Park Rebels (2007 Season 15-12, 12-6)
Jasper Duberry returns as a primary ballhandler. Last year's point guard Zerrick Fuller may or may not be back. Wing Scott Theisen comes back as one of the best perimeter shooters around. He had 11 triples in a game against Elk River last year. They'll be small with Kyle Zimmerman and Josh Pella as their top big players.

Blaine Bengals (2007 Season 13-15, 10-8)
The Bengals lose Kyle Kreklow to Delano, but they have enough talent to compete with anyone in the league. The high-scoring forward duo of Dylan Rodriguez and Billy Giddings returns. Sophomore Dan Robel and junior Jesse Briggity return to man the point. Last year's record and early playoff exit were a disappointment. Can they put all the pieces together this season?

Elk River Elks (2007 Season 17-11, 10-8)
The Elks need to replace shooter Blaise Davis along with forwards Ben Ford and Eric Voltzke. Jack Gavin returns to run the point.

Maple Grove Crimson (2007 Season 15-12, 10-8)
The Crimson lose 1 nice post presence, Jordan Nelson, but still return one of the top posts in the league, Josh Pedretti. Matt Christenson and Alex Geisenhoff are 2 other seniors who should see plenty of varsity minutes.

Park Center Pirates (2007 Season 12-15, 8-10)
Their high scoring guards Mark Cooper and Christian Taber are gone. Voltare Nalls will be the man to lead the way this season.

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2007 Season 11-17, 7-11)
Boris Brnic and Donta Hampton are the noteworthy losses for Coon Rapids. Ben Baker and Blair Townsend will lead the way. Baker can put up points in a hurry so the Cardinals can be dangerous on any given night.

Andover Huskies (2007 Season 9-18, 6-12)
After a string of good seasons, rough times fell on the Huskies last season. Senior Brett Tester brings his 16 points and 7 rebounds per game back to the lineup.

Centennial Cougars (2007 Season 8-19, 6-12)
The Cougars added 5 wins to the win column last season and look to make another jump this season. They had a nice summer and have looked good in the Concordia fall league. Junior guard Tony Gerding returns to the starting lineup for the 3rd straight year. Patrick Ecklund and Anthony Adams also return.

Anoka Tornadoes (2007 Season 6-21, 3-15)
Kyle Boughner and Drew Kramer are important losses. Bernie Ward is the lone returnee of note. They'll look to a large number of returning youngsters for improvement.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Osseo
  2. Champlin Park
  3. Blaine
  4. Maple Grove
  5. Elk River
  6. Centennial
  7. Coon Rapids
  8. Park Center
  9. Andover
  10. Anoka
Player of the Year: Sam Dower - Osseo

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Osseo at Blaine - January 6th
  • Champlin Park at Blaine - January 13th
  • Champlin Park at Osseo - January 15th
  • Blaine at Osseo - February 10th
  • Osseo at Champlin Park - February 13th
  • Blaine at Champlin Park - February 17th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Osseo at Henry Sibley - December 9th
  • Minnetonka at Champlin Park - December 12th
  • Blaine at Minnetonka - December 19th
  • Osseo vs Minneapolis Washburn- December 30th (projected Granite City semifinal at St. Cloud Apollo)
  • Osseo vs Sioux Falls Roosevelt - January 3rd (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Robbinsdale Armstrong at Blaine - January 31st