Benilde wins National Youth Basketball Championship

Benilde-St. Margaret's made the trip to Las Vegas for the National Youth Basketball Championships this week. Its put on by Vision Sports, the same group that puts on the famous Main Event. Despite being the only high school team in the 24 team event the Red Knights finished 7-1 and won the tournament. This is the 8th trip west for BSM over the years and their 1st tournament championship. They return late tonight just in time to see one of next year's AAAA favorites, Stillwater, in the Pacesetter Sweet 16 tomorrow morning.

Is July too much

So now that we've gone a summer where only July has been available, what impact did that have on recruiting? For a perspective on this, here's a column from ESPN's Andy Katz. Highlights include April probably staying as is and a great point on the quality of play after the kids have been on the road for 9 days. A fun side note to that was a coaches comment about wanting more time back on campus to work with the players already on the roster.

Consistent theme of more fundamentals as the USA continues to get battered on that in international play. Yes we win with great talent, but the international teams stay competitve because they are much more fundamentally sound. That comes from the US emphasis on playing rather than working on skills. But with the pressure on coaches to win and limited practice time, how does it get fixed?

The Czar's 2009 Summer Awards

So now that the spring/summer season is almost over (and I'm done seeing games in it), its time to give out my awards for the best things I saw.

Most Valuable Player
Carlos Emory - Minnesota Pump N Run

His athleticism on the wing took PNR to another level and his dunks changed games.

Most Impressive Team
43 Hoops Carr. They played a brutal schedule and had an outstanding record. 2 deep at every position with all 10 guys able to make big contributions.

Biggest Stock Raiser
Ross Travis - 43 Hoops Carr.

From nowhere last year due to injury to D1 interest now is impressive. Best athlete on that team and when his jump shot gets consistent, he's a prototype 3 at the next level.

Most Improved Player
Matt Sellers - Magic Black & Big Game Sports

Impressive alone that he pulled double-duty this summer. On top of that he went from looking out of place at DeLaSalle last year to being a productive inside presence for both of his summer teams. At 6'10, whoever gets him for the high school season is going to be very happy.

Next Year's Top 5 17U Teams
  1. 43 Hoops Carr
  2. Minnesota Pump N Run
  3. Howard Pulley Black
  4. MN Heat Elite/MN Comets Elite (tie)
5 Players that I think will be heavily recruited to switch teams next year
  • Riley Dearring - MN Static 15U (Hopkins)
  • Joey King - MN Southside (Eastview)
  • Jack Klukas - MN Wrath 16U (Eden Prairie)
  • Ashton Erie - Team Cannon 17U (Goodhue)
  • Bryan Sprang - MN Heat Black 16U (Irondale)
  • (Czar's Note 8/4/09, how did I not mention Cole Olstad of PEM)
Now to the ligher side of the awards

Worst Looking but Most Effective Shooting Performance
tie - Chris Monter at the Sabes Invite with his "what hand did you shoot that with?" style that seemed to go in from everywhere. Also me for making 6 FTs in a row in street clothes at 43 Hoops in June with my "Michael Adams doesn't shoot more than 30% from 3" style.

Best Food
This one is cheating as I loved the pork sandwiches at the TNL SuperRegional, but I'm going with the catered Famous Daves for the refs and media at the Mr Basketball MN Showcase in Mankato.

  • Interesting how outside of the Sabes Invitational, nobody talked about Howard Pulley.
  • How injuries decimated the top MN Select team. Imagine if they would have had a fully healthy starting group of Jesse Briggity, Jordan Jackson, Alex Koch, Sami Onsomu and Jake Kreuser. Granted 3 of those 5 weren't with them at the start of the season.
  • Not AAU ball here, but the rivalry between Sibley and Hopkins at the Breakdown tourney in June was surprising. But its fun to see kids get jacked up to play regardless of the time of year.
Pet Peeve of the Summer
Officials calling goaltending for slapping the backboard. I saw this called half a dozen times this summer. See Slide 38 in this powerpoint presentation to see where I got the info from or read below.

"Rule 4-6: Basket Interference occurs when a player: 1) touches the ball or any part of the basket (including the net) while the ball is on or within either basket; 2) touches the ball while any part of the ball is within the imaginary cylinder which has the basket as its lower base."
Note that there is absolutely no mention of the backboard in that rule.

Here's the text from the slide

"Officials must determine if slapping the backboard is:
  • Unintentional - part of a legitmate attempt to block a try for goal = LEGAL
  • Intentional - venting frustration or drawing attention to him/herself = TECHNICAL FOUL"
Read the next line closely

"By definition, this backboard contact cannot be basket interference"

Also from Scott Weinzierl who officiates the MN state tourney each year.

"First off, it's never goaltending no matter how much the backboard and/or rim move. As for being a technical, it is not a technical if the player was making a legitimate attempt at blocking the shot. If the official does not feel the slap was part of the block attempt then it could be a technical but at this point it's the officials discretion as to the intent of the player."

It really bothers me because its one thing if its a judgement call like block/charge. In that case, the rule was correctly enforced as the official saw the play. But in this case, its implementing something that's not in the rule book and it directly puts points on the scoreboard.

Now that I've got that out of my system once and for all, I think it should be basket interference like it is in the NBA. It'd be much simpler for the officials to call and better for the game as it would get rid of the explosion of backboard slapping that we've seen in recent years.

AAU Nationals update #3

MN Heat Elite 16s defeated Drive4Stardom this morning 66-50. Max Watts with 7 triples and 31 points in the victory. The Heat defeated United Stars 62-51 last night to advance to today's game. Quarterfinal game is at 4 PM (eastern) against Triad Trailblazers who have won 4 games to get to this point.

MN Glory went 0-3 in pool play and play tonight against Velocity Boys Black in the classic bracket.

DiLoreto and Stefan Updates

Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News featured Anthony DiLoreto (former Hopkins center) and Cole Stefan in a recent look at Las Vegas action. (Read it here). Stefan for the 2nd straight year was hot in Vegas. Very different than the struggles I saw from him in Denver back in April.'s Dave Telep views Stefan and Jacob Thomas as mid-major guys.

Speaking of rankings, what's with the huge number of votes for "Other" on the poll for best 2010 prospect? Throw some comments on this post to chime in with who you think is the best of the MN class of 2010. Do we have an outstate riot for not listing guys like Marshall Bjorklund, Taylor Filipek or Dyami Starks? How about other guys from the metro like DJ Peterson or Mike Rostampour.

As to DiLoreto, the article references a scholarship offer from St. Louis despite court proceedings that are scheduled for next week. What I find interesting though is that all the writers I've seen refer to DiLoreto as a lefty and I seem to recall he was a righty. I can understand the potential confustion though since all he shot in high-school were lefty jump hooks. Or maybe I'm just crazy. Take your pick.

Pacesetter Sweet 16 Preview

Each year the MN Basketball News selects who they think will be the top 4 teams in each class for the upcoming season and puts them all in 1 big 16 team tournament. St. Benedict's in St. Joseph is the host as always. With that, here are the entries.

Class 4A: Hopkins, Minnetonka, Tartan and Stillwater. Tartan over Henry Sibley is a nice discussion starter.

Class 3A: Benilde-St. Margaret's, Little Falls, Cloquet and Rocori. Nice to showcase Chad Calcaterra from Cloquet (along with RaRa Jones, one of the best names in the state), but I'd rather have Grand Rapids. But the big omission here is St. Paul Johnson.

2A: New London-Spicer, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Staples-Motley and Crosby-Ironton. I would have liked to see Minnehaha here, but I can't argue with the 4 choices.

A: Sebeka, Ellsworth, Maranatha, Minnesota Transitions. Maranatha was one of the more overrated teams in class A all of last year (sorry Basketblogger). Very solid and well coached, but Josh Hanson isn't the star that David or Stephen Hanson was. MACCRAY was the team that really got left out here.

My predictions (full schedule can be found here)

Round of 16 games

NLS over Maranatha. NLS is too big and physical inside in this one. As much as I like Darian Pittman at the point for MCA, I'd definitely take the NLS backcourt of Jayme Moten and Erik Tengwall here.

Hopkins over Little Falls big. Hopkins is still Hopkins. Dan Kornbaum is a mismatch problem for Hopkins, but Hopkins with all of their young talent (Chambers, Stahl, Dearring, Coleman, Singleton) is too much.

Rocori over Crosby-Ironton. Its the summer and Rocori will still run The World's Worst Offense to perfection.

MTS vs Minnetonka. MTS won't get a shot at the big boys during the regular season so here's their chance. Jerrell Washington went off for them in last year's Pacesetter, will another star emerge. Tonka with no answer for Kevin Noreen, but will MTS keep Nick Latzke and Cole Stefan from turning the game into a shooting contest? I take Minnetonka in this one.

In the bottom half we start off with Staples-Motley vs Tartan. Tartan with more weapons and better defense wins a perimeter battle. Staples PG Jordan Riewer will be a handful for Tartan to deal with. Then again, Staples doesn't have enough perimeter weapons compared to the Preiner twins and Manani Beavers.

Cloquet vs Ellsworth. Outstanding matchup of D1 bigs as Chad Calcaterra goes against Trevor Gruis. That's the biggest 1st round battle that I see. I like Ellsworth's guards better so I'll take them to win a close one.

PEM vs Sebeka. The Olstads make an appearance on the summer circuit. Joey Cuperus is the contrast for Sebeka with his inside play. Sebeka will be there in class A, but I'm taking a very good PEM team in this one.

We end with a quality metro matchup of Stillwater vs Benilde-St. Margaret's. Stillwater returns everyone from last year and features PG Paul Franklin and huge C Ryan Duxbury. I'm interested to see what new coach Randy Jordan (formerly St. Cloud Tech) has them do here. BSM returns wing Peter Crawford and a bunch of young talent in Evan Battle, Isaiah Zierden, Will Dunn, Trent Pollard etc. Shooter Darren Glover has been out for the summer with a bad knee, I guessing he's out for this as well. Give me BSM here.

Hopkins over NLS, Minnetonka over Rocori, Tartan over Ellsworth, BSM over PEM to make an all metro group of finalist.

Semifinals (10:20 AM Sunday)
Hopkins over Minnetonka but except some of the rivalry to show up in that one. BSM over Tartan in the other semifinal.

Hopkins over BSM as Hopkins still has the best team in the state.

AAU Nationals Update #2

MN Glory are 0-2 with losses to the York Ballers and Aim High Georgia by 9 and 13 points. Their last pool game is later this afternoon.

MN Heat Elite 16s lost their last pool game by 13. They were down 13 early and came back to lead before losing. 6 Technicals and 2 flagrant fouls on the Heat in this one (the Heat would tell you only 1 T was deserved). WOW! From what I know of the Heat kids and coaches, hard to believe 6 Ts were all earned. The Heat won their first bracket game 70-56 over Hoopsdreamz BBall. They continue bracket play against the United Stars tonight.

AAU Nationals underway

MN Heat Elite 16s are in Orlando for AAU Nationals. Here's what they've done in their 1st 2 pool games (last one is later today)

Game 1 vs Team Breakdown. Team Breakdown is the 3rd ranked 16U team in Florida according to a Florida publication. They gave the Heat a warm welcome by opening up a 20-2 lead after 4 minutes. Heat fought back to 8 going to the 4th quarter. Rob Daul with a hoop to tie it and then an assist to Spencer Pankonin for a 2 point Heat lead with 1:10 left. After Team Breakdown tied it, Riley West called for a charge (tough call). Team Breakdown scores again but Max Watts with a clutch jumper to tie the game. Clock says .1 seconds left but the officials set the clock to 1.5 seconds. Team Breakdown inbounds to halfcourt and fires a prayer for the 56-53 win. Ouch.

2nd pool game was a 77-46 blowout of Team Hope (Louisiana).

Last pool game for the Heat is today against 2-0 Wave Basketball from Virginia.

MN Glory 17s open play today as well.

Redhawks take Gold 2nd in Kansas

The Mpls Redhawks finished 2nd in the Gold division in Kansas to start the late July period. They were 2-1 in pool play.

During Gold bracket play, the Redhawks easily won their opener over KC Premiere Select.

In the final 8, the Redhawks trailed for most of the game, but Parker Hines made both ends of the bonus with 10 seconds left to secure a 3 point win.

The Redhawks took out the Queen City Prophets in the semifinals despite going up against a pair of lanky 6'10 shot blockers.

The championship of the gold bracket was a rematch with Texas Future. Texas Future won the pool game 67-58 at the start of the tourney. They were too much in this one too as the Redhawks lose by 4 in the Gold bracket championship game.

The Redhawks finish 5-2 with the 2 losses to the same team by a total of 13 points. A very nice tournament for them.

First Day in Vegas

Day 1 results from the Adidas Super 64 and Kansas

  • 43 Hoops Harris 53-51 over 1 Tough School of Basketball
  • Net Gain Sports 74-52 over 2D1 Basketball Academy (a team that should have beaten PNR in the quarterfinals in Denver)
  • TMP 82-56 over Comets-Seevers
  • Comets-Hanson 94-84 over Kansas City Matrix (Erik Tengwall 23 pts for the Comets) and 54-53 over Abyssinian Crusaders
  • MN PNR 55-51 over Urban DFW Elite (Carlos Emory 18 pts for PNR)
  • KC PNR vs MN PNR Late

  • 43 Hoops Carr over Galveston Hornets 72-57
  • 43 Hoops Carr vs Dallas Mustangs White Late
  • Utah PNR Red 52-50 over MN PNR

  • Joe Ward All-Stars 65-53 over Net Gain, Net Gain over Urban DFW Elite 60-49 (Rogers center Michael Schreiber 24 pts)
  • MN PNR over Bowie Xpress Elite 61-39 (Will Dunn 18 pts for PNR)
  • KC PNR 60-43 over 43 Hoops, Atlanta Celtics 81-57 over 43 Hoops
In Kansas, Mpls Redhawks lose to TX Future 67-58, Taylor Hanson, Parker Hines and John Rowland 11 each.

July part 2 preview

Now the games really get big as most everybody is in Vegas or Orlando (or Kansas as we'll see below). Let's look at the final 10 day recruiting period that starts on Wednesday.

Adidas Super 64 (Las Vegas)
The "Main Event" isn't the main event here for the Minnesota teams. Its the Adidas Super 64. Both teams from the Comets and 43 Hoops are playing along with Net Gain in pool play. Minnesota Pump N Run was placed in a super pool giving them a bye in the championship bracket. Net Gain and a hot Chanse Creekmur (Santa Clara) will see Comets-Seevers in pool play. Unfortunately, no realistic shot of any big matchups during bracket play as Net Gain, MN PNR and 43 Hoops Harris are all in separate quarters of the bracket. PNR could have 43 Hoops Hemmingsen and Comets-Hanson down the line in their quarter. But Comets-Hanson gets this reward for winning their pool. Derek Smith-All Stars and then a rested Grassroots Canada squad. Ouch.

In the 16s we have the top 2 16s in the state, 43 Hoops Carr and MN PNR. Best case for the 2 to meet is for Carr to win their pool, PNR to finish 2nd. Then both would have to win 1st 2 bracket games to play each other in the final 16.

Net Gain, MN PNR and a combined 43 Hoops squad are in the first 3 pools so there's plenty of chances for them to meet early in pool play.

Main Event (Las Vegas)
Minnesota Fury and both Minnesota Select teams are here for the 17s. Each of those organizations also has a 16s team playing

Reebok Summer Championships (Las Vegas)
The Dakota Schoolers and ECI will represent the region in the Reebok Summer Championships. The Schoolers and their pair of D1 bigs (Trevor Gruis-South Dakota and Cody Larson-Iowa) get a tough pool draw with MBA Elite and stud LaQuinton Ross and a Team Detroit club that just knocked off 43 Hoops Harris for the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam title.

AAU Nationals (Orlando)
The MN Heat Elite 16s will take their show to nationals. They get Team Breakdown in their pool which is a tough draw. Magic Elite 16s also make an appearance in the Super Showcase.

(Czar's note 7/21/09: MN Glory 17s are also in Orlando for Nationals. Thanks for a friendly reader for pointing that out)

Hoop City Top 20 is in Kansas. TNL Express and Mpls Redhawks (with Josh Pratt) are there in pool play. Howard Pulley has 2 teams there in the elite top 20 which is separate. 43 Hoops will make the trip for the end of summer event there after Las Vegas.

MN PNR goes to LA after Vegas. Net Gain goes to Phoenix. Everybody else probably wants to go home and sleep until football starts in a couple of weeks.

New Missota Conferences takes shape

The Missota Conference has officially accepted Chaska and Chanhassen as new members starting in the 2010-2011 season. That comes as no surprise. That puts the league at 9 teams as Hutchinson moves to the Wright County at the same time. So that leaves the 2010-2011 Lake Conference at 14 teams. John Millea wrote at the end of June that the current Lake schools voted to oust Eden Prairie which would leave them with the 4 Classic Lake schools that the MSHSL added.

So what do we end up with as we're down to 14 players in the game.

John Millea has long reported the formation of a Dakota County conference. While it was initially rumored to be looking at Hastings and Farmington, it looks more now like the half of that Lake of the south of Minnesota River will be together. On the other side, you'll have Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Hopkins and Wayzata (though the last 2 appealed their decision, it was probably denied last week). The wild cards here are the 2 Bloomington schools. Travel wise you could argue for placement north of the river with Eden Prairie et al, tradition would argue staying with the old Lake members that are south of the river. That leaves 2 leagues of 7 (if the Bloomington schools go west) or 9 and 5 .

Remember that the MSHSL doesn't have the authority to form leagues, just the ability to place members who can't get in a league and enforce a 5 member minimum in a league. So while the MSHSL may see another 5 team league and the issues it presents, they wouldn't be able to do anything about it as conferences have their own bylaws on membership.

How about this for crazy. Bloomington schools go south to a 9 team Dakota County Conference. The 4 Classic Lake schools then vote to kick out Eden Prairie just like they did Armstrong and we're right back where we started. The 4 Classic Lake schools would be without a league again (along with Eden Prairie), they would apply to leagues and be denied. The MSHSL would then have to assign them, but where to? Dakota County? Obviously not. Northwest Suburban? The MSHSL didn't want any of the schools there this time and the NW Suburban didn't want them. Does the MSHSL throw it right back in their face and put the 5 schools back together? Could they or would that break the bylaws of "forming" a league? With 5 teams, the Classic Lake schools aren't much better off than they are now, so why not go through it all again and force the MSHSL's hand.

While I would like to see the Bloomington schools and Richfield join up with those remaining 5 schools for a nice geographical 8 team league, I'm not sure Richfield would be that competitive in that league. You'd have Minnetonka/EP, Hopkins/Wayzata, Bloomingtons, Edina/Richfield as rivalries.

43 Hoops Rocks Milwaukee

The 43 Hoops 16s won the NY2LA Summer Jam in Milwaukee. Jake White with a 15 footer at the horn to win it. Thomas Schalk named the 16U MVP. Coach Al Harris and the 17s lost to Team Detroit in the final by 3 points as they continued their hot streak (probably the hottest 17U team in Minnesota right now). They got revenge for their loss in Chicago by beating All Iowa Attack Red along the way. Net Gain lost in the semis so MN fans didn't get the profile matchup desired. Cole Stefan still struggling through an injured knee for them.

Recruiting Notes
Jordan Reetz with a big tournament. He now has D1s on his trail. Montana, Quinnipiac, UNI, Loyola, UW-Milwaukee on his trail and earned an offer from Northeastern (where Watertown-Mayer's Matt Janning is playing).

Clay Horne earned an offer from Mankato but D1s are now after him. Denver especially but also Western Michigan, Western Illinois, and Quinnipiac are showing interest. Winona State is very interested but with the possibly of CJ Erickson coming back from Evansville, that's a wrench. Personally, I think they've probably given up on getting Alec Brown with the handful of D1 offers he's received in the last week.

Vinard Birch also with a wonderful tourney in Milwaukee. Western Michigan, Drake, Western Illinois, Bucknell and Southern Indiana on him.

Southern Indiana is also after Brett Ervin, but his good play at the end of the period is also pushing him to D1 status.

The name that has flown under the radar is Elliot Owusu. He was even better in Milwaukee than Chicago according to coach Harris. He held down Iowa commit Zach McCabe in Milwaukee. Western Illinois and especially Mt. St. Mary's are now interested in him.

2009 Best Buy Summer Classic Championships

To championship day at the 2009 Best Buy Summer Classic.

15U Quarters
MN Static held off MN Heat Elite in a close game. MN Pump N Run got a post hoop and a nice assist from Taylor Montero down the stretch to hold off a very gritty Comets team. If that Comets team manages to find a post player for next year, they will be very good as their guards are solid.

MN Static won the 15U title 65-53 over Net Gain. Riley Dearring 2 FTs with 3 seconds left to win it is the story I heard.

I avoided the 17U Gold semifinals for the Heat Elite vs TNL friendship game in 17U. TNL holds off the Heat 63-58.

17U Semis
Now to the big boys. Illinois Warriors no trouble with Grassroots Minnesota as they win 82-68 in a game that wasn't that close. Minnesota Pump N Run vs Grassroots Canada in the other semi. Dwight Powell is quite the package as the #50 kid in the nation (Rivals) at 6'10 long and athletic, can handle. Grassroots Canada up 10 with 8 minutes to go when Dyami Starks brings PNR back. Carlos Emory then puts PNR over the top with a 3 point play at the 2:17 mark for a 66-64 PNR lead. 71-64 PNR wins.

16U Semis
Now to the 16U semis and a pair of good ones. I took in the 1st half of MN Heat Elite vs Meanstreets. The Preiner twins back for the Heat today and they were needed. Heat went on a 10-0 1st half run but Meanstreets still was up 30-28 at the break. The game was marred by a late ejection but the Heat held on 65-58.

Glad I stopped in for the 2nd half of the other semi between MN PNR and WI Playmakers. 23-18 Playmakers at the half. PNR controls the 2nd half and is up 37-29 fairly late as the Playmakers just couldn't score. 40-34 PNR with 1:30 left when this one goes crazy. Sharpshooter Connor Miller for 3 to cut the lead to 1, then a turnover and the Playmakers have 7 in a row for the lead. They tack on a FT and Alex Kreuser needs to put back a miss with 4 seconds left. Playmakers star Paul Jesperson gets a good look at a 3 at the horn but we'll play OT tied at 42. PNR wins the tip and Jason Perkins misses an inside layup with 1:45 left. Playmakers hold, but they go too soon. Joel Lindberg goes strong and is fouled with 11 seconds left. He makes both for a 2 point lead. Aaron Ziman fouled going down the lane but he misses the front end with 8 seconds left. Jesperson returns the favor with 4 seconds left but Kyle Noreen misses a heave at the buzzer and the Playmakers steal this one 44-42 in OT. Crazy last 3:30 (2 minute OT included there).

16U Championship (Minnesota Heat Elite vs Wisconsin Playmakers)
The Heat were very disappointed they didn't get Pump N Run, ditto that for me as it would have been fun to see those 2 go at it. Very even first half as the Heat lead 35-29 at the break. Rob Daul with 11 points for the Heat, Connor Miller with 10 for the Playmakers. Heat get the 1st 5 of the second half to extend the lead to 11 but the Playmakers have their run in them. Jesperson with 5 points to cut the lead to 3 and then another hoop cuts the Heat lead to 46-45 with 5 minutes left. Heat without Riley West down the stretch as he injured a knee at the 7 minute mark. Daul with a big post up for 2 and 2 FTs sandwiched around a Jesperson miss for a 56-51 lead with 47 seconds left. Luke Preiner seals the deal with 2 FTs and the Heat hang on 59-55 to win the 16U title. Rob Daul with 11 of his 15 points in the 1st half to lead the heat. Connor Miller 13 points for the Playmakers. Paul Jesperson 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists on 5-10 shooting as he was quiet in both the semis and championship (just like in April).

17U Championship (Minnesota Pump N Run vs Illinois Warriors)
Carlos Emory en fuego to start this one as he has 11 of the 1st 13 PNR points. 13-8 PNR at the 10:15 mark. They grow the lead to 20-10 with about 7 minutes left before their basket decided to take an afternoon siesta. 21-1 Warriors run, no field goals for PNR the rest of the half. 31-23 Warriors at the break. Warriors pull away in the 2nd half as Ben Brackney hits a pair of clutch triples. 68-57 Warriors win the 17U title. Aaron Anderson 19 points to lead Pump N Run. Warriors star Brandon Spearman quiet in the 1st half but he turned it up in the 2nd half with a pair of triples and double figure scoring in the 2nd half.

Updates from Milwaukee

At the Summer Jam in Milwaukee, 43 Hoops 15s (combined team) went 2-1 to finish 2nd in their pool. 43 Hoops Carr 16s lost a tough one to DTA of Milwaukee by 8 and finished 2nd in their pool. 43 Hoops Grant went 3-1 to finish 2nd in their pool. 43 Hoops Harris lost by 4 to Playground Elite but won their other 2 games and won the pool via head-head tiebreaker.

Net Gain beat WI Swing-Selk (very good win as that team took PNR to OT in the PNR tourney in April), Illinois Wolves and Team Nebraska and got the max 15 point spread in all 3 wins.

Magic Black went 4-0 and won their pool. MN Select were 0-3.

Bracket action

Magic 15s won their 1st game and will play 43 Hoops in the quarters.

43 Hoops Carr and 43 Hoops Grant are in the quarters and will play each other in the semis with wins. Carr's team beat All Iowa Attack Black. Grant's team plays All Iowa Attack Red.

43 Hoops Harris got revenge on All Iowa Attack Red with a 69-53 win today. Net Gain knocked out Magic Black 92-39. If both win their quarters, Net Gain will play 43 Hoops Harris in the semis. Very surprised that Swing-Selk went out in the 1st round playin game. The Illinois Kings squad that plays 43 Hoops Harris knocked out the very talented Milwaukee Spartans squad of Vander Blue and Queyvn Winters.

MN Select won their 1st Gold bracket game 59-44

Ian Theisen (15s) and Jordan Reetz (17s) were players from 43 Hoops along with Chanse Creekmur from Net Gain that were mentioned in NY2LA's writeup of the top performers.

2009 Best Buy Summer Classic Day 2

A very entertaining day 2 at the Best Buy Summer Classic. Here's what I took in.

Grassroots MN taking on California Pump N Run (this is their 16U elites). No Rodney today but I'm hearing about a BIG appearance from their roster tomorrow. 36-33 Cali at the half (California Love!!!!!!, nothing like an early Tupac reference. Czar puttin it down for Californ-i-a). To the 2nd half and another instance of emesis this summer (that's vomit for us non medical professionals in the kingdom), this time its a player who's breakfast decided it needed a bigger plate. That causes a major delay (CLEANUP ON COURT 6 PLEASE!). In the meantime, Grassroots Canada with a comfortable lead on Fury Elite. Turns out that game got close because Canada had 1 of their 5 foul out with 6 minutes left and played with 4 the rest of the way.

Now that all the biohazards and space suits have left the building, back to the game. Grassroots makes a big run from double digits down. Zach Towle with a triple and Grassroots leads 69-66 with 4 minutes left. 4 in a row from Cali gives them a 74-73 lead with 45 seconds left. Jordair Jett misses and Cali makes 2 more freebies with 22 seconds left. Jett with a turnover but Cali misses the 1 and 1 and Towle with a left wing bomb with 4 seconds left to send us to OT. Back and forth in the OT. Jett with 2 FTs with 12 seconds left to put Grassroots up 1 but Cali with 1 of 2 FTs with 4 seconds left in the OT for a sudden death 2nd OT. Cali wins the tip and can't convert. Jett comes the other way and makes a soft bank shot in the lane for the 87-85 Grassroots win. Great win for Grassroots as they take pool D and earn a 1st round bye. That pushes California PNR into a playin game vs TNL with the winner to play MN PNR. Now, am I the only guy who would have loved to see Ernest Duberry and Brian Sandifer coach against each other in that playin game. That would have been comedy material for a month.

That is if I don't melt first. While its comfortable in the activity center, the bleachers in the main gym are a sauna. I'm losing weight rapidly. Main gym is behind so I catch some of Comets-Hanson's pool clinching 78-71 win over Old Gold Dream Team. 2 point game early in the 2nd half before a 11-0 Comets run puts the game out of reach. Illinois Warriors took out Redhawks 83-50 to push the Redhawks to the #3 slot in the pool.

PNR 16s took on Team Missouri (another visit here as they were also here for the Howard Pulley tourney). Alex Richter with the hot start and add in a couple of Alex Kreuser treys to get this one over with quickly. 84-42 PNR wins. Richter with 19, Kyle Noreen 16, Shelby Moats 15.

The Comets 16s had a 15 point lead on Meanstreets in the 1st half so I thought they'd move along. But I heard there was a Chris Webber moment (no timeouts and to think I was out of the country when that happened, drat) and possibly a buzzer-beater. Meanstreets wins the pool 49-47. That means Comets Elite goes to the playin game with PNR waiting.

12:30, nothing but 15U games. That means another opportunity to get the Dominoes pizza from the concession stand. That alone makes my appearance worthwhile. Its also a nice way to end pool play as we have bracket play the rest of the way.

We start wtih the 17U Gold (i.e consolation) bracket. Big Game Sports taking on TC Elite. No Matt Sellers today, but he was here yesterday for BGS. TC Elite takes a 7 point lead with 9 minutes remaining, but they had trouble rebounding all day and BGS comes back to win by about 7. Old Gold Dream Team pulled away from Comets-Seevers late for a 76-67 win. Heat Select and Redhawks advanced with byes in a quiet 2 game session.

Now to the 16U playin games (12 teams made the top bracket so we'll play 4 games to get down to 8). Heat Black lost to Meanstreets 63-56 in a tough game. Bryan Sprang is entertaining to watch for the Heat. Meanstreets moves on to play Madison Spartans, Comets Elite advanced to play PNR, WI Playmakers advance to play Mpls Stars (I know who), Old Gold Dream Team over Iowa Elite to play Heat Elite.

Now to the big boys and their playin games. A big D2 showcase with Comets-Hanson taking on Heat Elite. Ryan Duxbury vs Ben Bucholz/Dan Kornbaum, Paul Franklin vs Mike Johnson, Taylor Filipek etc etc. Name a NSIC school and you were darn near guaranteed to see them courtside. Close game throughout as it was 35-34 Heat at the half. 50-45 Comets with 4:45 to play and they go on to win 64-57. That gets them a shot at Grassroots Canada. California PNR blew out TNL 69-45. Boys 2 Men over Comets Blue as Blue made a nice comeback in that one but couldn't prevail. Fury Elite over MSB in the other playin game.

15U-round of 16 up next which means more food, a nap and anything else besides watching.

Comets Elite vs PNR in 16U quarters. Fun matchup here. 1st 2 possessions, Comets are man-man and PNR goes right inside for 2 quick hoops to Kyle Noreen over Jayme Moten. Another PNR touch inside and coach Lewis has seen enough. He promptly goes 2-3 zone to counter. That keeps the game close as PNR leads 26-25 at the half. In the 2nd half, Mike Yahnke with a layin and then Aaron Ziman with a steal that pushes the PNR lead to 37-31 with 9:33 left. Timeout Comets. Out of the timeout, the chess match begins. PNR goes spread with 3 guys across the timeline, 1 at the foul line and the post. Comets stay back and PNR promptly turns the ball over. Doesn't that always seem to happen when a team pulls the ball out. Comets never go man and don't score on their end. Only 4 Comets points in the next 8:45 and PNR puts the game out of reach. A couple of offensive rebounds of FTs cost the Comets 4 points late which didn't help. 49-39 PNR wins in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates. Jayme Moten and Seth Hinrichs with 9 points each for the Comets. Hinrichs got off to a quick start, but didn't find the net after the first few minutes. Kyle Noreen with 11 points to lead PNR.

WI Playmakers, Heat Elite and Meanstreets all advanced in the other games. Tomorrow's semis are Pump N Run vs WI Playmakers in a rematch from April. Heat Elite vs Meanstreets in the other semi.

17U quarters to end the night. Grassroots Canada was sleepy as the Comets got out to a 18-5 lead. But they rallied to win by 3 in a game that was close down the stretch. Illinois Warriors defeated Fury 73-47. Minnesota Pump N Run defeated California Pump N Run 78-59 in a blowout that surprised this viewer. Carlos Emory with his usual show in this one via a couple of nice dunks. Grassroots defeated Boys 2 Men 93-82.

That gives us Grassroots Minnesota vs Illinois Warriors and Grassroots Canada vs MN Pump N Run in the semis tomorrow.

Wednesday starts with the 4 15U quarterfinals. MN PNR vs Comets Elite, Heat Elite vs MN Static, EP Talons vs MN Jaguars and NW WI All-Stars vs Net Gain.

Nice day for Grassroots MN getting through to a winnable semifinal (no Oregon St recruit PG Ahmad Starks for the Warriors, he's at the Peach Jam with Mac Irvin Fire I'm told). I had forgotten how explosive Jerrell Washington is on the bounce and off the floor. Him and Jordair Jett really get to the rim. I'm also told that Rodney Williams was cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse today. Shelby Moats continues to play well for the PNR 16s. John Crockett for the PNR 17s continues to impress me as well. Grassroots Canada with a full roster would be ridiculously good. Saw Greg Gard (Wisconsin) taking in Paul Jesperson and Riley Dearring yesterday. Nice to see Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech) in the building today as well. I'm a big fan of his point zone video, see my basketball library page for that. Brandon Spearman of the Warriors is a beast.

2009 Best Buy Summer Classic Day 1

Thoughts from a day of blowouts at the 2009 Best Buy Summer Classic.

Session 1: A talented Old Gold Dream Team defeated MN Static 65-56 in 15U action. Riley Dearring with a very quiet 2nd half. Deonte Blakemore (Washburn) is the other talented player to watch for the Static that stuck out for me in this one.

Session 2: WI Playmakers took MSB out behind the woodshed in 16U. 64-29 the final. Madison Spartans destroyed Wizard's Den 98-51. Pump N Run 16s snuck by MN Heat Black 50-47. Bryan Sprang huge for the Heat with 25 or 27 pts. He hit a big 3 late to cut the PNR lead to 2. Kyle Noreen leads the way with 13 points.

Session 3: Fury Elite takes out Comets-Seevers by 20 again. 68-48 Fury Elite wins. Illinois Warriors 67-39 over MN Heat Elite.

Session 4: TNL takes out TC Elite again. Jay Sewer with 5 in a row to push a 7 point lead to 12 and TNL wins 71-64.

Session 5: Grassroots MN vs Big Game Sports. Rodney Williams, Jordair Jett and a whole boat load of 2009 kids on display here. Many observers stunned that Rodney was playing. Matt Sellers playing here with BGS and not in Milwaukee with Magic Black in a minor surprise. 78-61 Grassroots wins.

Session 6: Heat Elite 16s blowout Big Game Sports 74-43. Comets Elite 15s hold off MN Static 64-49. Comets Elite 16s also win big. Comets 15s hold off Static 64-59.

Session 7: A cobbled together Comets Blue squad (Phil Nowak and Mike Lindsay from Triple Threat, Jordan Reibling from Xplosion as examples) against TNL. 61 all with 4:15 left. Reibling makes 4 clutch FTs down the stretch, including 2 after a 4 pt play cut the lead to 3. Comets Blue wins 75-70. With a forfeit over Illinois Heat, they lead the pool at 2-0 with a chance to sweep with a win tomorrow over TC Elite.

Session 8: Heat Elite took on the Redhawks in 17U action. Great ending to this one. 53 all with 30 seconds left when the Redhawks get called for 5 seconds closely guarded. Billy Chapman steals the inbounds and gets fouled. He makes both FTs with 9.5 seconds left. The Redhawks give 2 fouls as the ball comes up court. Heat ball on the side in the frontcourt with 3 seconds left. Inside to Ryan Duxbury and right back out to a kid I don't know (I know now that it was Tyler Pauley from Osceola, WI) and down the hatch with a left wing triple at the horn for a 56-55 Heat win.

Session 9: We get the out of town teams in. Pump N Run Elite 16s (California) in and they defeated Big Game Sports 76-65 in a game where they were up big. Grassroots Canada big over Comets-Seevers big.

After the games, Magic Johnson spoke to the kids about work ethic and answered questions from the players. The charisma you see on TV really comes through in person.

2009 Best Buy Summer Classic Predictions

Here are my predictions for the Best Buy Summer Classic at Jefferson, July 13-15.

Pool Winners: MN Pump N Run, Comets Elite (but I want to see Riley Dearring of the Static), MN Suns (who got shafted in Chicago by being a pool winner but playing in the Silver/3rd place bracket), MN Heat Elite and the Iowa Stars.

Brackets: PNR gives themselves the only 1st round bye as everybody is in the championship bracket. I project Comets vs Suns in 1 semifinal with PNR vs Iowa Stars in the other semi. Give me Suns over PNR for the title.

Heat Elite got shafted by being in a pool with the Illinois Warriors. PNR wins pool A. Illinois Warriors take pool B. Madison Spartans by default in pool B. Nimrod Hilliard is fun to watch for that talented squad, but that should have been Heat Elite instead. Pool D, yuck. Illinois Heat by default. Pool E gets Paul Jesperson/Connor Miller and the WI Playmakers by default. Jesperson is great when open but he did very little in April here when the teams beat him up. But he's played well during this open period. Miller is a great shooter too. Comets Elite over Mean Streets in pool F.

Top 2 from each of the 6 pools make the championship bracket with 4 pools getting byes but Playmakers and Comets having to play the playin game. PNR vs loser of Comets/Mean Streets is an interesting quarterfinal. Heat Elite vs Playmakers in a playin game (criminal), but Heat win easily. They played in April and Jesperson was 3-15 with only 9 points. Winner takes out the Illinois Heat to play PNR in the semis. How fun would it be to see Heat vs PNR with the 16U and 17U AAU winners. Illinois Warriors vs Comets Elite in the other semi will be fun as well. Give the Warriors over PNR to win the title.

Tough pool A with the Illinois Warriors (who just blew out PNR in Chicago), Mpls Redhawks and a banged up MN Heat team (Duxbury with a bum ankle and Alex Oman is hurt as well). PNR to win pool B. Grassroots Canada to win a loaded pool C over Fury Elite and Comets-Seevers. California PNR over Grassroots to win pool D. That should be a fun game. TNL sees TC Elite AGAIN. Illinois Heat vs TNL, give me TNL to win the pool. Comets Hanson to win pool F.

Brackets: Fury Elite, TNL, Grassroots and Comets Hanson (over Redhawks) to win the playin games. In the quarters, Ill Warriors over Fury Elite, California PNR over TNL, Grassroots over PNR in my upset, Grassroots Canada over Comets Hanson in the last quarter. Semis. Califormia PNR over Illinois Warriors in a huge semi. Grassroots Canada over Grassroots MN in the other semi in a blowout. California PNR over Grassroots Canada to win it.

Monday Games of Note
9 AM: Old Gold Dream Team vs MN Static in 15U. Riley Dearring, enough said.
10:10 AM: WI Playmakers vs MSB. Playmakers win, but don't be surprised if MSB puts a scare in them.
11:20 AM: Illinois Warriors vs MN Heat Elite. Ahmad Starks is a fun PG to watch for the Warriors and Brandon Spearman is a warrior.
12:30 PM: Either Net Gain vs Iowa Stars in 15U or the 700th matchup this summer of TNL vs TC Elite.
1:40 PM: Grassroots vs Big Game Sports 17U or MN Heat Elite vs MN Prospects in 15U. Prospects are a 14U playing up with a new coach as coach Jerry Robertson is no longer coaching this squad either.
2:50 PM: Comets Elite vs MN Static 15U
4:00 PM: Illinois Heat vs TC Elite. Mike McCall is a fun Chicago player to watch in this one.
5:10 PM: Grassroots Canada opens vs Comets Seevers.
6:20 PM: The only game as California PNR is in town and opens with Big Game Sports.

Bracket play at Chicago Summer Classic

Heat Elite 17s went 3-0 (all big wins) after going 1-2 in pool play. Of course they are beat up right now and have the Redhawks and Illinois Warriors in their PNR pool. Yikes as they finished today with 5 guys.

Heat Elite 16s lost to All Iowa Attack. Game somehow had 5 refs and was very physical as all play that I saw today and on Thursday, but strangely enough not Friday.

43 Hoops Grant won their pool 3-0 and won their 1st bracket game and was in a tight battle in game 2.

43 Hoops Daniels lost a double OT heartbreaker. 43 Hoops Gameli won their 1st bracket game.

Redhawks had their 1st bracket game in hand from the bit I saw.

Ending match play in Chicago

Pool play concludes here in Chicago with MN taking over 3 of the 4 courts for the mid-morning session. PNR 16s defeated Playground Elite 16s 65-61. Shelby Moats with 24 points (4-4 3s) and 6 rebounds in arguably his best performance of the spring/summer. That was in front of some interested coaches too. Alex Richter with 17 points. Also of note is the possible return of Jonah Travis for the PNR tourney. Good signs today, tomorrow will tell more. They were 2-1 in the 3 games I know about. Don't know how they did against the Mac Irvin 16s.

PNR 17s lost to the Illinois Warriors 61-48 and the Warriors were up bigger than that. Dyami Starks left the team last night. That also meant they were without Steve Tecker. That PNR team will be a big story of their own tourney. There appears to be some significant chaos in that organization right now. They finish up 1-3 here in Chicago.

43 Hoops Harris took on Rising Stars Gold in the 3rd game. Ohio State commit Lenzelle Smith back with the Rising Stars for this one along with talented teammate Rayvonte Rice. 15-14 Harris in the 1st half before they come across a famous scoring drought. Rising Stars finishes the half on a 15-5 run to lead 29-20 at the break. Rice with 8 in the half. 43 extends the defense to start the 2nd half and they come back. A steal leads to a big Elliot Owusu dunk to cut the lead to 4. Brett Ervin with a layup at 11:15 and 43 is back to even at 35. Ervin with a tip in to tie the game at 50 and then a dunk to tie the game at 52 with 1:35 left. Smith huge in the 2nd half and he counters with a 3 point play with 1:08 left. 55-52 Rising Stars. Vinard Birch with a layup to cut the lead to 1. Smith 1 of 2 FTs with 18.8 left. Out of a timeout, Birch drives and is fouled. He converts both FTs with 6.3 left and we'll go to OT tied at 56. Clay Horne with a tip in with 10.6 left in the 1st OT to tie the game again. To double OT tied at 60. Birch with a couple of nice hoops in the 2nd OT, Smith surprisingly doesn't convert a pair of chances down the stretch and Manani Beavers seals the win with a pair of FTs. 66-62 43 Hoops wins. Brett Ervin with all 12 of his points in the 2nd half. Definitely his best game of this tournament. Birch with 10 huge points. Elliot Owusu continues to impress despite getting ridiculously tough defensive assignments (he had to try and slow down Smith in this one). Smith finishes with 14 of his 21 points in the 2nd half. Rising Stars during the spring was regarded as possibly the best team here in Illinois and they went 0-3 vs Minnesota in their own building. Definitely a different team today vs yesterday as Ben Brust hardly got any touches in this one (yes 43s defense deserves credit for that too)

Crazy day 2 in Chicago

Wow, what a day here in Chicago. Only disappointment was finding out that I forgot to reference "25 or 6 to 4" when I did my Chicago hits scroll. Yes that song was before my time, but that's a bad omission.

Game 1: MN Heat Elite vs Peoria.
8 AM games really, really need to be outlawed. Heat come back from 7 down at the half and a 3 by Paul Franklin with 9 minutes left gives them the lead. Miles Heller grabs a pair of clutch offensive boards for putbacks along with a pair of Franklin free throws. That appears to ice the game but Peoria throws in a prayer from the top of the key (their key not 3/4 court) to send the game to OT. Heat hangs on to win 57-54.

Game 2: 43 Hoops Harris vs All Iowa Attack Red
All Iowa comes out on fire and they jump out to a 28-13 lead behind hot shooting, especially from Dau Jok. Both teams go scoreless for 4 minutes late in the 2nd half with 43 within 7 points. Star Zach McCabe with 2 late buckets to seal the game and All Iowa wins 57-47. McCabe with 12, 6 and 3. Once again no player in double figures for 43 Hoops. Clay Horne with 9 points to lead the way. Poor job by 43 of getting out to the shooters in this one was the major downfall as All Iowa was hot enough to make them pay.

Game 3: Redhawks hit 9 triples in the 1st half vs Full Package Elite but only lead by 2. They go on a big run to push a close game to 18 points and win easily.

Game 4: 43 Hoops Harris vs Velocity Red
43 out to a quick 7-0 lead and that translates to 30-25 at the half. Jordan Reetz with 11 points in the half so we will have a player in double figures. Velocity comes back to lead 41-39 with 7:43 left as the offense sputters. But Vinard Birch has a pair of hoops in a 7-0 run to put 43 up for good. They win 59-48 to finish the 1st 2 days at 2-1. Reetz was the only guy in double figures as he finished with 23 points.

Game 5: 43 Hoops Carr vs Rising Stars Gold 17s
A loaded Rising Stars Gold team was the 43 16s opponent in this one. PG Ben Brust (Iowa), SG Alex Rossi (California) and Fred Heldring (William and Mary) all on display. 2 other studs (including a Ohio St commit, Lenzelle Smith) not here. A team that during the spring was considered by some to be the best team here (yes that includes Mac Irvin Fire, more on them later).

35-30 Carr at the half and they controlled it. Brust 15 points in the half. Estan Tyler hot for 43 in the early part on the 2nd half and Ross Travis adds his 1st monster slam of the day. The lead extends to 55-41 with just under 10 minutes to play. Rising Stars makes their run and a Brust NBA 3 cuts the 43 Hoops lead to 69-66 with 45.2 to play. After a 5 second call on the inbounds, Brust gets another good look but Jameson Parsons swats it and 43 hangs on for the 74-68 win. Estan Tyler with 19 points to lead the way with the clutch spurt to push the lead out to 14 early in the 2nd half. Jordan Smith with 12 points and held to 1 3 pointer.

Ben Brust was far more athletic than I expected (keep reading, you'll see this later). NBA range too and a lack of conscience to go with it. 28 points with 6 triples. Alex Rossi couldn't make a shot in his own building as he went 3-14 on my sheet for 9 points. A great win for the 16s. I thought Rising Stars should have made a better attempt to exploit their inside advantage in this one. The bigs just didn't get many post looks.

Game 6: Pump N Run 17s vs Mac Irvin Fire 17s
LOADED! Mike Shaw, Wayne Blackshear, Myers Leonard, Tim Hardaway Jr, etc etc. The list goes on and on and on. What a crew. Pump N Run using the 1-2-2 with Alec Brown on top to slow things down. 35-31 MIF at the half. Hardaway with 3 triples for 9 points in the half. MIF extends a 5 point game to 11. Its a 7 point game with 3:43 to go when PNR goes on a 7-0 run. Kevin Noreen with 5 points in the run. Crockett finishes the run with a hoop to tie the game at 57 with 1:25 left. After Blackshear makes 2 FTs, Dyami Starks misses a good look at a step-in 3. He gets another chance late that is not good and Mac Irvin Fire wins 62-57.

Kevin Noreen with 17 points to lead PNR along with 6 rebounds and a couple of blocks. Also worth a mention is Alec Brown. First of all, his dad saved me sheer doom by snagging an errant pass that would have been pure carnage had I had to make a play on it. As to Alec, he looks like a completely different player than in the spring period. Lots of minutes (him and Andre Ingram man the center spot with Brown getting the minutes). He's active and he finished this game with 4 points and 8 rebounds in a respectable performance. Looks far more like the player that many thought he could be for them. Blackshear leads the Fire with 17 points.

Game 7: Pump N Run vs Rising Stars Gold (both 16s)
Not to be confused with other Rising Stars Gold team. This is their 16s. Rising Stars gets out to a 13 point 1st half lead. PNR chips away and cuts the lead to 8 at the half. Alex Richter starts the 2nd half hot and a Jason Perkins 3 point play along with another offensive board for 2 put PNR up 52-45 with 7 minutes left. Game is tied at 56 with 3 minute left. Richter tops off his 13 point 2nd half with a hoop with 40 seconds left and PNR wins 60-56. Richter finishes with 20.

Game 8 (bonus): Last minute of 43 Hoops Carr vs Illinois Wolves 16s
This is the same squad, sans Chasson Randle, that held off the PNR 16s last night. Before I arrive the Wolves have a 18 point lead. Ross Travis with a monster follow dunk over 2 guys during a big recovery. Fast forward to my arrival at the old Chicago Bulls practice facility. 57-54 Wolves with 1 minute left. The entire 43 Hoops organization (Harris team, Daniels team etc) are packed on the Wolves endline and they are off the hook. I'm outside watching thru the glass and its electric and LOUD. Jordan Smith with a huge 3 with 40 seconds left to tie the game. Then he applies some D and Estan Tyler retreives a loose ball and finds Marquel Curtis for a layup for a 59-57 lead with 7 seconds left. The Wolves have 1 last chance that is no good and Carr's group steals one. What a finish.

Game 9: Pump N Run vs Rising Stars Gold (Both 17s)
I caught the start of this one and came back with about 10 minutes left just in time to see Ben Brust posterize Tazz Crockett. WOW! Where did that come from? That starts a 10-0 run for the Gold for a 41-35 Gold lead with 7 minutes left. Brust and Dyami Starks trade points and the PNR deficit is 5 with 4:15 left. Brust misses a front end with 38 seconds left and Alec Brown converts to put PNR up 50-49. Crockett busts out for a layup to end the game for a 52-49 PNR win.

Bonus Game 10: Mac Irvin Fire vs Team Stat
Suppossedly the game of the tournament. Right down to the wire and we end up in overtime. Loose ball and a Mac Irvin Fire player makes a bad foul grabbing a guy on a loose ball and Team Stat wins by 2 in OT. Myers Leonard is a beast with a real mean streak.

Day 1 at the 2009 Chicago Summer Classic

Day 1 of the Chicago Summer Classic didn't have match play start until 4 PM so a very quiet day. 3 games of note on my schedule but first the best of the rest besides Rick Pitino and Todd Lickliter being here in the hotel.

43 Hoops Daniels gets a 15U win after some recent struggles.

Mpls Redhawks win 70-64, that was a 1 point game in the last minute.

MN Heat Elite lost both games.

Pump N Run 17s gave up a 17-0 run to start the 2nd half after the game was tied at the break. They closed to within 2 with 22 seconds left but couldn't get over the top vs Team Stat. No Austin Rivers or Brandon Knight in that one. They are expected here tomorrow. Andre Ingram added to the PNR roster for this tourney. Mike Rostampour out with mono so he's not here. No Jerry Robertson as he's no longer coaching this group. Since the 16s were also playing, Jerry Noreen had the reins for this one.

Funny sight with All Iowa Attack and top Iowa target Zach McCabe playing Mac Irvin Fire. Iowa coach Lickliter sitting with Ohio State coach Thad Motta. Hey Todd, look at all the players I can get (all of Mac Irvin Fire) that you can't. I'm also an occassional Hawkeye fan and when Zach McCabe is your top target vs the classes that Ohio State is bringing in, that's not good.

Game 1: 43 Hoops vs Illinois Wolves (17s)
43 Hoops with a 12 point 1st half lead that becomes 29-20 at the half. 43 Hoops then sits on 39 for a LONG time in the 2nd half and after a triple with 2:30 left, the Wolves take a 40-39 lead. Tim Lubke counters with a triple to put 43 Hoops back on top with 2:05 left. Jordan Reetz with 4 FTs in the last 35 seconds to ice the victory. 48-44 43 Hoops wins after a buzzer beater 3 by the Wolves. 10 players scored, nobody in double figures for 43 Hoops. Reetz leads the way with 9 points. Ice cold shooting for 43 Hoops as Reetz was 2-8 and Brett Ervin's summer struggles continued as he was 3-9.

Game 2: Pump N Run vs Illinois Wolves (16s)
No Jonah Travis due to a leg injury suffered at a Colorado camp. 5 straight points to end the 1st half gives the Wolves a 27-25 halftime lead. PNR cuts the Wolves lead to 5 with under 5 minutes to play and then they get 3 chances to cut into the lead and turn the ball over 3 times. Wolves hang on 51-45. Chasson Randle 18 points for the Wolves in a nice performance from a top Chicago player. Shelby Moats and Alex Richter with 12 each to lead PNR.

Game 3: 43 Hoops vs Mac Irvin Fire (16s)
Another Chicago star Sam Thompson on display for the Fire. This is fun. 43 Hoops comes out hot as they nail a handful of shots and they're out to a quick lead. They extend a 1 point lead midway through the half to 32-23 at the half. They win easily 56-49. Jameson Parsons with 12 points to lead the way. Jordan Smith with 3 more triples as finishes with 9 points.

Welcome to Chicago

Welcome to Chicago and the Chicago Summer Classic. Announcement at the gate for the flight here. "The plane outside is 'not good'" WHAT??!!! They moved us across the airport to another plane and gate. Then we find out that the AC on the original plane that came in from Fort Myers, FL was bad. HA.

How crazy is it that on the way to the hotel I run into Magic 16s coach Leon Garvis. Look Away coach. But now that I'm here, I will Stay The Night. After all, this basketball thing is a Hard Habit To Break . Therefore, there will no "Along Comes A Woman" saga to this (while a mistress has advantages, it might upsurp my powers in the Kingdom and that would be no good). Nothing like 6 straight days away from the real life for this basketball life. Love Me Tomorrow co-workers? I can say with One Clear Voice (OK, that's cheating, it was a Peter Cetera solo hit, just seeing if you're paying attention) that they won't! Wait a minute, they could enjoy it. Not worth thinking about.

Enough of the lame Chicago references (no I wasn't the Target Center to see them last Wednesday but I did see them in 1992 in the Old Kingdom also without Cetera). 43 Hoops comes off a big championship in Cincinnati. That event is one of the big Adidas tournaments of the entire season.

Thursday is relatively quiet here at the Chicago Summer Classic. 43 Hoops Harris has a big game with the Illinois Wolves and PNR 17s have Team Stat (more below). Friday is lights out. Net Gain has all 3 of their games (Mac Irvin Fire, Martin Brothers and Team Stat with top 5 2011 kid Austin Rivers, Doc Rivers kid). Pump N Run 17s will be a different look as they take on Mac Irvin Fire and Rising Stars Gold after seeing Team Stat on Thursday. Team Stat takes on Mac Irvin Fire on Friday night to end Friday's match play in a game that tons of fans and coaches alike will be watching.

Saturday finishes up match play and the brackets get underway. MN Heat Elite have picked up Spencer Pankonin and Max Watts from Wear Out The Net which are very nice pickups. Jay Sewer from TNL was playing in Indianapolis with the Fury from what I heard.

Pool Results from Milwaukee and Cincy

In Cincinnati, 43 Hoops-Harris split their 2 pool games before losing in the 1st round to the Baltimore Assault in an 7 AM game (OK 8 AM eastern time). Quick tourney for them. Chris Carr's 16U club won their pool and then took out a very good Illinois Warriors team tonight to advance to the quarterfinals. Next up is a early morning matchup with KC Pump N Run. Ross Travis vs Christian Kirk is a nice matchup in that one. The 43 Hoops Grant 16s went out in the 1st round of the playoffs after winning 1 pool game (win by forfeit in another). 43 Hoops Daniels is very depleted right now and they went 0-3. 43 Hoops Gameli went 0-2 in pool play with a late night Gold Bracket game not yet posted.

In Milwaukee, the 2nd Howard Pulley 15U group gets the MN Suns in the morning. HP Black on the same side for a possible semifinal matchup. In 16U, a Comets Elite win and a Team MN Elite win would match those 2 teams up in the quarterfinals. Howard Pulley Black lurks on the other side of the bracket and could get the Madison Spartans in the quarters. Marcus Alipate vs Nimrod Hillard in a battle of PGs there. And I have to mention the Bay City vs WI Playmakers game tomorrow afternoon. A nice matchup of Wisconsin teams there and 6'6-6'7 kids who can really play. Bay City is in the same pool in Chicago as the Mpls Stars (former TNL 16U club). HP White and MN Magic are on opposite sides of the Gold bracket.

In 17U, Net Gain could see Howard Pulley in a semifinal. Chanse Creekmur with a big tourney for Net Gain. Howard Pulley may have to get past Vander Blue and Quevyn Winters of the Milwaukee Spartans in the quarters though. The other side has a very familiar quarter with the winner of Team Nebraska and SYF Players taking on Comets-Hanson. All 3 of those teams were at the Sabes Invite. Comets-Seevers gets Playground Elite in the opener of bracket play on the top half of that side. Zach McCabe vs Jordan Dykstra is a battle of western Iowa stars that could happen in the quarters if Comets-Seevers doesn't get through.

Teams and The Czar hit the road for July

Monday begins the 1st of 2 July periods where the D1 coaches can get out and evaluate (but not talk to) prospects. This period runs from July 6-15 before the coaches get a break before the 2nd period of July 22-31. This first session breaks into 3 available events.

Event 1 (Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Cincinnati)
Milwaukee's Next Level Invitational has Net Gain and a full MN complement of Howard Pulley (Harrison Barnes will probably be at one of the big skills camps that start this recruiting period). The top 2 Comets teams also make the trip. ECI East with Breckenridge star Joe Terfehr is in the same pool with the Comets-Seevers group. Comets-Hanson gets one of Wisconsin's best with the Playground Elite in their pool. Howard Pulley (with Calcaterra and Jacob Thomas) has a tough pool with Meanstreets (who I think are coming to the PNR tourney) and Jordan Dystrka's Martin Brothers squad. Net Gain has to contend with Flavien Davis of the Wisconsin Scholars in their pool and the Iowa Barnstormers. The Barnstormers were final 4 at the PNR tourney in April behind Rasham Suarez (all-tourney). They also have 6'8 Nate Buss who has committed to Northern Iowa since the April tournament.

At the 16U level, Howard Pulley has 2 clubs attending. Their 2nd club has the WI Playmakers and star Paul Jesperson in their pool. MN Magic has a good Bay City Hoops (WI) club and a loaded Iowa Barnstormers team in their pool. MN Comets and Team Minnesota also attending

At the 15U level, the top Howard Pulley club has the Playground Elite and a loaded Martin Brothers team in their pool. MN Suns and the 2nd Howard Pulley team also playing.

Semifinals and Finals are early Thursday which could cause some hassels if anybody makes it that far.

43 Hoops travels to Cincinnati for the Adidas It Takes 5ive Classic. 2 pool games on Monday before bracket play on Tuesday with finals early Wednesday.

In Indianapolis, a big MN group of teams attending. Big Game Sports, Mpls Redhawks, MN Fury (3 teams), Magic Black, MN Select (both), MN Glory, TC Elite and the SW MN Stars.

Period 2 (Chicago, Louisville)
MN Glory and the MN Select teams then continue on to Louisville for the Kentucky Hoopfest.

I'll be in Chicago for the Chicago Summer Classic. A loaded field with all 3 top Iowa programs (Barnstormers, All Iowa Attack and Martin Brothers) coming down from Milwaukee. This event features Pool Play and Match Play (whatever that means). In pool play, MN is well represented with MSB, MN Heat Elite and the Mpls Redhawks. MN Wrath, Mpls Stars (who?), Team MN, MN Heat Elite, 43 Hoops Grant, and Mpls Storm (who?) are in the 16U pools. MN Suns, Net Gain and both 43 Hoops teams represent in 15U.

Match Play should be very interesting. 43 Hoops Carr gets 4 tough games against Mac Irvin Fire, Playground Elite, Rising Stars Gold and the Illinois Wolves-Mullins. 43 Hoops Harris gets another Illinois Wolves squad, All Iowa Attack Red and Velocity Red before they move into the 17U championship bracket. Net Gain gets a different Mac Irvin Fire team, Martin Brothers, Team Stat (LOADED Florida team) all on Friday. The PNR 16s and 17s are here too. The 16s get the same schedule as the 43 Hoops 16s (except its Rising Stars 16s vs 17s), but they don't look they'll get a shot at each other. The PNR 17s get Martin Brothers, Team Stat, Mac Irvin and Rising Stars Gold 17s. A very different format than anything I see during the summer.

The period ends with the Pump N Camp on the 12th and their tournament on the 13-15th which I'll be at. You also have Net Gain and 43 Hoops in Milwaukee for the NY2LA Summer Jam. Howard Pulley will be at the Peach Jam with their top team with the rest of their guys in Kansas.

New Scout 100 also omits Thomas also kept Jacob Thomas out of their pre-open period top 100 for the class of 2010. (I talk about this more in my previous post about the Rivals rankings, read that here) Here are the notables in the list

Harrison Barnes #1
Josh Selby #10
Joe Jackson #17
Vander Blue #47
Tobi Oyedeji #58
Alex Kirk #66
Evan Anderson #70
Trevor Releford #72
Anthony Johnson #97

New Rivals 150 doesn't include Thomas

Rivals released their going into the open period rankings for the class of 2010. It was widely believed that after ESPN put Jacob Thomas at 75 in their last ranking, that the other services would follow. That's due to the big summer he's had for Howard Pulley. However, that didn't happen with the new Rivals rankings and their 2010 and 2011 rankings both have no Minnesota players (I'll make a prediction that that won't be the case in 2012 or 2013). Here are some kids that have played locally.

Harrison Barnes #2
Josh Selby #7
Joe Jackson #18
Vander Blue #31
Anthony Johnson #88
Brandon Spearman #100
Alex Kirk #106
Tobi Oyedeji #108
Evan Anderson #149
Trevor Releford #150

Add in Flavien Davis at #141 and there's 3 Wisconsin players. Iowa down to 1 player as Jordan Dykstra drops out. Cody Larson has been out of the rankings and doesn't make it in this cut either from South Dakota.

Hanging out at 43 Hoops

So I spent the night of 6/24 and then Monday night at 43 Hoops watching their college league. Better late than never to note it. On 6/24, the 43 Hoops Harris club easily won their game 75-41 without Vinard Birch or Clay Horne. Chris Carr's 16s took on Concordia and were down 12 early before cutting that lead to 6 at the half (2 of those 6 thanks to an Isaiah Thomas buzzer beater). A big 11-0 runs extends a 7 point Concordia lead to 18 with 14 minutes left in the 22 minute running half. The lead is 22 with 11 minutes left as Concordia shot the lights out from 3. But the 16s made a furious comeback. 13-2 over the next 6:10 cuts the lead to 11 with 4:50 left. Then Jordan Van Eps and Marquel Curtis for 3, Roosevelt Scott with a steal and Thomas Schalk converts 2 FTs after getting 4 shots at the rim. That cuts the lead to 74-69 with 90 seconds left. Maurice Hernandez misses a left corner 3 with 1 minute to play. But a charge and a pair of missed free throws in the last minute mean that the 16s won't score again. Concordia hangs on for a 78-69 win after almost giving up a 22 point lead in the last quarter of the game.

On Monday, I ran into the 2 coolest coaches in the NSIC (why? Because they were the only 2 in the building) watching the 43 Hoops Harris squad against UW-River Falls. 43 up by 11 at the half thanks to some hot shooting from Tim Lubke but they give that lead back by the 14 minute mark of the 2nd half. Brett Ervin with a 3 point play with 48 seconds left to cut the RF lead to 1 and Tim Lubke and RF swap FTs for a 1 point margin with 24 seconds left. River Falls misses a front end with 21 seconds left but 43 turns it over. After a pair of FTs by RF, Tony Gerding gets fouled on a 3 with 2 seconds left but he misses the 1st and makes the 2nd 2 and River Falls leaves with a 53-52 win. The 16s rolled in their game.

On Tuesday I got a chance to see the 16s for a full practice in addition to some bits of the other teams practices. Its always fun to get another perspective on how teams prepare. The continuity of schemes across the different teams is especially interesting consider that the same coach tends to stick with the team from year to year.