09-10 Lake Preview

Apple Valley Eagle

This is the 3rd preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, a look at the last season in the Lake Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

As usual the Lake is brutal night in and night out. I group the league into 2 groups. The top 5 with a shot at the title and the bottom 7. But on any night you have to show up as there are quality players everywhere. The brutal league schedule takes its toll on the record.

Apple Valley Eagles (2008 season 16-13, 10-10 Conference)
The Eagles lose 10 of their top 11 scorers. Thankfully star sharpshooting forward Thomas Schalk is the 1 out of those 11 that returns. Add in super 8th grade point guard Tyus Jones and there are a couple of pieces to work with. This is a year to build for the future as they'll be extremely young. Expect them to run and gun and shoot it and be fun to watch. No matter no bad it gets, at least their record won't be as ugly as their home uniforms.

Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (2008 season 20-7, 14-6 Conference)
The Jags will be solid on the perimeter with Marcus Alipate at the point, Jack Wittenborg as a shooter on 1 side and the much improved Jalen Williams on other wing. Matt Hovila provides depth there. The loss of Gopher football recruit Moses Alipate inside hurts. Defensively they'll change up on you and they play one of the slower tempos around. That keeps every game close.

Bloomington Kennedy Eagles
(2008 season 3-24, 2-18 Conference)
Last year was just a disaster with injuries and Carlos Emmory not being able to play. Deron Murphy returns at the point and is explosive. Cory Booker provides a serviceable presence inside. They'll be improved, but you can't go any lower than they did.

Burnsville Blaze
(2008 season 17-10, 11-9 Conference)
The loss of Devon Knopke to Lakeville North really hurts as he could have had a huge year in the Blaze system. Jeff Fallat and Jack Ghizoni return as wings, though Fallat played some as an undersized 4 last year. They run as much as anybody and without any noteworthy post players, they'll need to. But can they get a rebound to do that?

Chanhassen Storm (New School)
I'm going on the assumption that Chaska kept the youngsters so who knows what the Storm will have. They'll be young and undermanned, expect a very long season.

Chaska Hawks
(2008 season 18-10, 12-8 Conference)
Chaska is one of the 2 teams in the league that has size. Leading scorer Jake White returns at 1 forward spot. Ross Travis had a big summer and moved into the Rivals top 150 nationally so there are high expectations for him. Anthony Webber also returns up front. That will offset the loss of big Bronson Byrne. Biggest question marks are the guard spots. Point guard Derek Jerde and shooting guard Andrew Martinson graduated along with tough wing Tyler Goetz. Junior Max Watts is a major key at the point and they'll have to find a shooter.

Eagan Wildcats (2008 season 7-20, 4-16 Conference)
Decimated by injuries last year, the Wildcats had a long season. They may be on the way to that this year too as star guard Jameson Parsons broke his collarbone playing football. Who knows when he'll return. Stud soph Joey King left for Eastview (more on him below). Thankfully Chanhassen has come to the league.

Eastview Lightning (2008 season 17-11, 11-9 Conference)
The Lightning lose a pair of nice shooters in Drew Bjordal and Drew Johnson so they'll have to find scoring. Vinard Birch leads the way at the point and is the best on-ball defender in the state which is a great fit in coach Gerber's system. Forwards Joey King and junior Frank Veldman will need to make major contributions. King especially since he can play in and out and will need to replace the rebounding of Tim Massie.

Eden Prairie Eagles
(2008 season 22-7, 16-4 Conference)
The Eagles lose top scorer Ethan Wragge to Creighton, but I think junior Jack Klukas steps right into that spot. Senior Brett Ervin returns down low and he can step out and shoot it as well. Role players like Mitch Hallstrom and Taylor Grant return. If the Eagles can replace Timmy Miller and Marc Miller at the guard spots, they'll be at the top of the league again.

Lakeville North Panthers
(2008 season 20-7, 14-6 Conference)
Devon Knopke comes over from Burnsville and combines with Dajon Newell to form one of the more dynamic backcourts around. Newell is lightning quick and Knopke is a tough matchup. How these 2 work together will be a major factor in their season. The entire front line needs to be rebuilt as Tyler Swanson, Chris Orgas and David Berthene have all graduated. The defense and shooting of Aaron Gallegos will be sorely missed.

Lakeville South Cougars (2008 season 12-15, 8-12 Conference)
The Cougars are the other team in the league with a quality front line. Jake Wensmann, Spencer Pankonin and Jon Christenen give the Cougars size and length. Alex Richter is the toughest wing cover in the league and Riley West returns at the point. Who replaces the leadership and calming effect of Blake Shay? West and Richter have 2 years of varsity experience so they'll have to step up in that role. They break the .500 barrier this year and move into the top half, but I think they're a year away from making a big run at the league title.

Rosemount Irish (2008 season 10-16, 8-12 Conference)
Brian Schnettler takes over the Irish program this season. He has one of the better goto guys in the league in Zach Vraa. Justin Larson provides a big body inside. Junior Toriano Tatum's role looks to increase. Lots of youngsters saw some time for the Irish last season so their development will be key.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Chaska
  2. Eden Prairie
  3. Lakeville South
  4. Bloomington Jefferson
  5. Eastview
  6. Lakeville North
  7. Rosemount
  8. Apple Valley
  9. Burnsville
  10. Bloomington Kennedy
  11. Eagan
  12. Chanhassen
Conference MVP: Jake White - Chaska

Breakout/Surprise Player: Jalen Williams - Jefferson
Difficult choice as Tyus Jones, Ross Travis and Joey King were all viable options depending on your definition. But those were too easy to pick.

Games that will determine the conference title

  • Lakeville South at Eden Prairie - December 11th
  • Chaska at Eden Prairie - January 19th
  • Lakeville South at Chaska - January 22nd
  • Chaska at Jefferson - January 29th
  • Eden Prairie at Lakeville South - February 1st
  • Eden Prairie at Eastview - February 5th
  • Chaska at Eastview - February 9th
  • Eden Prairie at Jefferson - February 12th
  • Eden Prairie at Chaska - February 26th
  • Chaska at Lakeville South - March 2nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Lakeville South vs Benilde-St. Margaret's - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
  • Chaska at Minnetonka - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
  • Lakeville South vs Shakopee (projected) - December 30th (Lakeville Rotary Tournament)
  • Eden Prairie vs Waconia (projected) - December 30th (Edina Tournament)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Eden Prairie - January 2nd
  • Minnetonka at Lakeville South - January 21st
I had a chance to ask new Apple Valley coach Zach Goring some questions about his Eagles and the Lake. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Apple Valley Eagle photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

6 comments:

  1. White over Travis and Schalk for MVP? Well that'll be stoke some good conversation I'll bet. I don't disagree as Jake is just a beast on the boards and developing his perimeter game nicely. Not sure the conference is 5 deep but I do think Eastview is going to show nicely. Birch is a true floor general. King's ability to rebound will be key as he tends to float outside to frequently for a big kid. Interesting to see where he'll defend this year. Eastview loves to take their bigs and make wings out of them and he looks to be someone heading in that direction as well.

    Good job though as I'm sure it's difficult to put these pieces together.

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  2. Nothing like discussion, its fun seeing other points of view. Can't imagine what discussion my Metro Top 50 will generate.

    White over Travis was really easy for me as I'm not as high on Ross as others are. Ross will have a nice year as a breakout guy but no way is he an MVP candidate, but Jake is the real deal. They could loss Travis and Webber would step in. I'd argue Watts is more valuable to them as there's no backup.

    Schalk is outstanding (and will probably have better numbers) but I can't pick an MVP from a team in the bottom half. But not a bad thought.

    Birch would have been a good selection too.

    I agree that King will see time outside.

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  3. Oh Czar!

    Travis and Weber are no where near interchangeable. My only concerns about Ross are a consistent effort all the time as he's not a fiery guy in the classic sense of the word. Much more athlethic and a more accomplished offensive threat then Weber who is a marginal talent when compared to Travis' talent.

    I know you've been to 43 quite a bit in the past and I respect your comments in whole but I'd be stunned if Travis isn't garning some all state consideration for the 09-10 year. I'm thinking a 18 and 5 guy.

    Preseason rankings would be fun topic as well for consideration. Your top 50 list is going to very difficult to put together but I look forward to it.

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  4. I wasn't implying that Webber and Travis are in the same "class". Travis is a superior player to him. After that we'll kindly agree to disagree. I think there's a similarity between the 2 that lessens the loss is my only point vs losing White or Watts.

    Consider this all-conference group
    White
    Ervin
    Richter
    Schalk
    Birch

    Who does Travis replace in that group? Nobody in my opinion and that's no insult to not be in that elite group.

    Even if I give you the benefit of the doubt on all-league, how does he finish in front of Taylor Filipek, Alec Brown, Dyami Starks, Jacob Thomas, Cole Stefan, Kevin Noreen, Mike Rostampour, Vinard Birch, Trevor Gruis, Chad Calcaterra etc etc at the state level.

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  5. It is an impressive group from an all conference standpoint and some of it will come down to how well Chaska pushes the ball. For Ross to be most effective he needs that aggressive PG play but assuming they get competent guard play from Watts et al. I'll take Ross over Ervin for sure. From a skill standpoint, there isn't much of a comparison.

    I'll take Ross over Taylor or the Sibley kid as well from a skill standpoint and athleticism. He's just such a match up problem

    I guess really what I'm saying is you'll see a different Travis than you've seen since the beginning of '09. It'll basically boil down to Travis putting forth the effort on a consistent basis to achieve his success. If he does, he'll be lights out. If not, you are probably going to be correct. I see the flashes and expect the brilliance to follow. May be an optimist about him but we'll see.

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  6. I think you both are on the right track. Travis is a tremendous athlete and in AAU ball, his true talents come out. But with Chaska's offense in the past, they don't have the point guard who will push the ball up the court to distribute the ball to Travis to finish at the rim. And if this doesn't happen, he becomes disinterested and the effort goes away. That is why White has looked so good for Chaska last year because he can play in the half court as well as run.

    Who is the better athlete, not even a debate with Travis winning that one. The best thing Chaska will do is make sure they have a point guard who will push the ball up the floor and distribute to both of these guys. Which will leave Watts open for some threes, which is his strength. Great discussion guys.

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