NCAA clamps down on the middle man

The NCAA approved rules changes cutting down on some of the legal but shady practices in recruiting.

You can no longer hire a person who has been associated with a prospect (before or after). This is in response to the rash of AAU coaches and other "advisors" who get hired by colleges in an attempt to attract their players (e.g #1 recruit John Wall's AAU coach being hired at Baylor a couple of years ago). Many a video director or director of basketball operations job have been filled that way.

Colleges are no longer allowed to contribute to "nonprofit organizations" that are really AAU teams. This was a loophole that would allow to buy a kid's summer team.

More interesting is not allowing people off campus from working camps. It wasn't unheard of for these "advisors" to demand that if you want my player then you have to pay me to come work your camp. This should clamp down on that. But the negative is that many a coach got their start that way. Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said in an interview that his dad wouldn't be in coaching if it wasn't for that.

Coaches can be suspended for violations of these rules so there are some serious consequences to be had. Good to see some of these inbetween guys left out in the cold as many of them are only interested in their pocket books and not the welfare of the kids.

Now if they could just crack down on the whole issue of coaching packets that costs hundreds of dollars for no good reason.

Read the ESPN piece on the rules changes here.

CBS college hoops insider Seth Davis had some thoughts about the changes. Read those here.

2009 Minnetonka Fall League Week 2 Schedule

Here's this week's schedule at Minnetonka, noteworthy games are bolded. The Breakdown league at Kennedy is off on Saturday due to round 2 of the state football playoffs (or because I want to go trick or treating)

Sunday's Minnetonka action looks like this

11:30 AM-- Tonka vs Wayzata, Winona vs Waconia, Mounds View vs Osseo, AHA vs Hopkins, Maple Grove vs St. Louis Park

Nice matchup of bigs with Alec Brown and Shelby Moats going at it in the Winona/Waconia game. Moats has impressed all fall and Brown was outstanding last week. If you read my MN Preps column last week, you'll know the details.

1 PM -- Columbia Heights vs Park Center, Sibley vs Orono, Kennedy vs Tartan, Duluth E vs Armstrong, Henry vs BSM

2:30 PM --Waconia vs Tonka, Wayzata vs Osseo, Winona vs Hopkins, Mounds View vs St. Louis Park, AHA vs Park Center

4 PM --Maple Grove vs Orono, Columbia Heights vs Tartan, Sibley vs Armstrong, Kennedy vs BSM, Duluth E vs Henry

Great guard play in the Columbia Heights vs Tartan game. Ditto that for the Duluth East vs Henry game.

09-10 Independents Preview

This is the 13th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I finish up the 106 team previews with a look at the metro area independents. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

CHOF Lions (2008 season 15-12)
Last season was a season of lost expectations as the Lions lost starting point guard Cole Piepkorn due to an ankle injury. Then leading scorer and bruising power forward Nate Fiscus had a bad back. The bright spot in that was Cody Sarbacker getting experience at the point guard spot. The bright spot is sophomore center Tyler Strandlund. One of the best young kids that no one knows about. 6'5 and athletic. He'll have some big games over the next 3 years. Sophomore Tate Piepkorn and junior Myles Eckman will see major minutes as well. Can we just move them to the MCAA once and for all since they play everybody except Lester Prairie?

Minn
esota Transitions Wolves (2008 season 28-3)
With MTS, you never know who will walk through the door. The rumor mill has a pair of nice players that were formerly at Brooklyn Center and a top player from Edison coming in. Also talk of a behemoth who sat out the last 2 years with a back injury. But here's what we know. The Noreen's are back. Kevin will obliterate the all-time state scoring record. He figures to break the record in late January. And I don't want to hear about a weak schedule. Kyle has gone from being a matador defender to a very solid wing defender. Mac Ingram returns at a guard spot. Biggest question is can the Wolves finally get over the top and win a state title.

PACT Panthers (2008 season 16-13)
Lanky forward Austin Rink returns and he was the leading scorer last season. Tough class A matchup as he's 6'7 and plays more outside than in. Dan Graffunder also returns up front. Mick Hedberg will see time at a guard spot. Paul Nelson also returns. Seth Mathis and Michael Clauer are noteworthy losses.

Spectrum Sting (2008 season 18-7)
The Sting had a nice buildup for last season with all seniors. Now those seniors are gone and that includes the top 7 players. That includes the starting backcourt of Grant Spark and Beau Emerson. Toby Jorris is the only returnee with any significant experience.

Games to Watch
  • Minnesota Transitions at Minnehaha - December 8th
  • Minnesota Transitions vs Minneapolis Henry - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • CHOF at Braham - December 17th
  • Minnesota Transitions vs Staples-Motley - January 9th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Park Christian vs CHOF (Northwestern College) - January 15th
  • Minnesota Transitions at CHOF - January 21st
  • Maranatha vs CHOF - February 13th
  • Minnesota Transitions at Maple Northwestern (WI) - February 19th

09-10 Tri-Metro East Preview

This is the 12th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I take a look at the East Division of the Tri-Metro Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

A down year in the Tri-Metro East leaves this division very wide open. Signficant losses hit at least 5 of the 6 programs in the division. The winner of this division would have to fight to be in the top half of the West. While this year is down, there is plenty of young talent that will have time to develop.

Concordia Academy Beacons (2008 season 16-12, 11-5 Conference)
Jitterbug point guard Zach Towle is gone along with post Zach Houliston. Senior forward Jordan Schneidermann is the top returnee. Seniors Chad Koepke and sharpshooter Nik Novitsky return. Sophomore Cutler Finneman is a young post who should see a major uptick in varsity time this year.

Mounds Park Academy Panthers
(2008 season 2-23, 0-16 Conference)
The scorers like Jacob Schwartz are gone. Junior Gus Bruggeman may be one of the contributors. But maybe they'll have a shot against St. Agnes.

St. Agnes Aggies (2008 season 6-20, 4-12 Conference)
Leading scorers Dalton Sturdivant and Leevon Perry are gone. Center Joe Constanzo is also gone along with Philip Butler. They'll be a very young squad with sophomores Dakari Davison and Joe Humphrey seeing big minutes. Senior Dajoun Davis will also see major time.

St. Anthony Huskies (2008 season 12-15, 8-8 Conference)
This is the one squad that returns major players from last year so they have to be the favorite. Shooting guard Josh Pratt returns with his 17 PPG. Aaron McCrossan returns to run the point. Lefty Derek Jahner returns as an undersized post. Jordan Sayers and Stephen Couillard were in the rotation last year and return. Look for guard Marcus Nolen to contribute as well.

St. Bernard's Bulldogs (2008 season 28-4, 16-0 Conference)
All 5 starters and most of rotation are gone including stud point guard Jordair Jett and defensive stopper Averey Duncan. Shane Taylor returns at a guard spot. Sophomore Ricky Suggs will have to step up big.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2008 season 19-7, 11-5 Conference)
The Crusaders lose all 5 starters including star post Chris Breuer and shooting guard Aaron Hulsebus. Sophomore Wesley Tucker returns after averaging 8 points a game last year. Not much from the senior returnees. Sophomore Cameron Cummings is a youngster to watch for them.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. St. Anthony
  2. Concordia
  3. St. Bernard's
  4. St. Croix Lutheran
  5. St. Agnes
  6. Mounds Park
East Division MVP: Josh Pratt - St. Anthony

Breakout/Surprise Player: Ricky Suggs - St. Bernard's

Games that will determine the regular season conference title

  • Concordia at St. Anthony - January 26th
  • St. Anthony at Concordia - February 19th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Anthony vs Champlin Park - Dec 28 (Bethel Tournament)

09-10 Tri-Metro West Preview


Minnehaha coach
Lance Johnson

This is the 11th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I take a look at the West Division of the Tri-Metro Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

Should be a fun year in the West Division. De La Salle is loaded and could be better than last year. Minnehaha loses great talent and they may have higher expectations this season. St. Paul Academy and Brooklyn Center return their top players. Blake and Breck continue rebuilding efforts.

Blake Bears (2008 season 7-20, 2-14 Conference)
Last season I wrote in one of my "Monday Morning Point Forward" MN Preps columns about the Bears 4-0 start. They finished the season after that 3-20. Leading scorer David Nash graduates from a guard spot. Austin Hoeg and Tim Zellmer return to provide some experience. Freshman Kebu Johnson is one to watch. He played up with the MN Select 15s this summer.

Breck Mustangs
(2008 season 10-14, 6-10 Conference)
3 of the top 4 scorers including Blake Johnson are gone. Coach Daryl Woods does have some pieces to work with. Junior Jeffrey Lurie is the leading returning scorer. Senior Sam Greely is another member of the rotation.

Brooklyn Park Centaurs (2008 season 8-19, 5-11 Conference)
Another second half meltdown for the Centaurs last year. After a 6-6 start, they finished up 2-13. Point guard Freddie Young leads the way. There's a transfer from Kansas City who played some AAU ball who's also with them. He'll be an interesting addition. Soph Mahari Wilson saw lots of time at a guard spot last year.

De La Salle Islanders (2008 season 17-9, 11-5 Conference)
Loaded and one of the season's favorites in 3A. Walter Franklin returns to run the point. Bretson McNeal will step right up from JV to replace AJ Barker at the 2. Jalen Jaspers is a powerful scorer at the 3. Jonah Travis and Marcus Dorsey are athletic interior players. Juniors La Monte Hall and Melvin Collins saw plenty of time last year along with senior John Hertle. Plenty of talent in the pipeline too for future years.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2008 season 26-3, 15-1 Conference)
Minnehaha's 3 losses were 2 to St. Bernard's and a holiday loss to Sibley in a game they were up by 9 at the half. Wings David Burnham and Greg Meyer along with Taylor Sparkman were a great trio and are gone. Parker Hines and Austin Brown return to man the backcourt. Taylor Hanson is an animal up front. Role players like center Erik Klingner will make solid contributions for the other major contender in this division.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2008 season 13-13, 7-9 Conference)
The Spartans return 4 starters and some bench play. Seniors Evan McMillan and Santano Rosario seem like they've been there forever. McMillan is a another high scoring forward who leads the way. Rosario runs the point. Junior Gabe Mast provides a nice post presence inside. Seniors David McVeety, Harry Whitaker and Paul Nerland all return with junior John Micevych.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. De La Salle
  2. Minnehaha
  3. St. Paul Academy
  4. Brooklyn Center
  5. Breck
  6. Blake
West Division MVP: Jalen Jaspers - De La Salle

Breakout/Surprise Player: Bretson McNeal - De La Salle

Games that will determine the regular season conference title

  • De La Salle at Minnehaha - January 19th
  • Minnehaha at De La Salle - February 13th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnesota Transitions at Minnehaha - December 8th
  • De La Salle vs Osseo - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Braham vs Minnehaha - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Minnehaha at Holy Angels - December 15th
  • De La Salle at Grand Rapids - December 30th
  • De La Salle at Cretin-Derham Hall - February 20th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at De La Salle - February 27th
  • De La Salle at Minneapolis Patrick Henry - March 2nd
I had a chance to ask Minnehaha Academy coach Lance Johnson some questions about the Redhawks and the Tri-Metro Conference. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Lance Johnson picture courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

09-10 St. Paul City Preview

Johnson coach
Vern Simmons

This is the 10th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I take a look at the St. Paul City Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

Humboldt was in the bottom 15 in AA last year. Highland Park, Harding and Como Park were in the bottom 15 in AAA last year. Now Arlington loses everybody. Best thing for those teams is that they have 8 games against each other to try and get some wins on the record. That drags down a Johnson team that will be able to play with most anybody.

Arlington Phoenix (2008 season 16-11, 9-3 Conference)
Arlington loses 7 seniors that basically were their whole rotation. JVs were 4-8 with no size returning. Assistant John Gray (former head coach at Breck) takes over and will instill toughness but he's got very little to work with.

Central Minutemen
(2008 season 19-7, 9-3 Conference)
Jordan Larson was a beast inside and he's gone but Central returns plenty. LeDarian Horton is a bull as a combo forward. Nathaniel Kado, Cameron Smith and Taylor Smaller are small but quick and experienced guards. Smaller is the top shooter of that trio. Eric Grice is a defensive minded forward. Junior Martin Smith provides interior size. Guard William McDonough is a scorer off the bench.

Como Park Cougars (2008 season 6-20, 4-8 Conference)
Majorly dysfunctional team last season that was far too talented to win only 6 games, especially in this league. Jordan Jackson leaves for Sibley but there's still enough talent to win games. Joe Conley should have a breakout year from the 2 guard slot. Adrian Wackett returns to run the point. The Cougars were dead last in 3A with 73.8 points allowed per game last season. They could exceed that this season.

Johnson Governors (2008 season 26-5, 12-0 Conference)
All discussion in St. Paul has to start with Johnson. They play a ton of bodies and just wear you out defensively. Which they need to as they can be offensively challenged at times. 2 year starter Estan Tyler returns as the point as a junior. Max Rosenbloom is one of the toughest rebounders and hardest workers around. Jordan Pluff and Demitri Conwell return as athletic wings. Donte Warlick saw time last year on the wing. Chris Smith-Bond, Anthony Lee and Roosevelt Scott are juniors who will make contributions. No true big guy, but they'll make up for it by being more athletic than most of their opponents.

Harding Knights (2008 season 3-22, 2-10 Conference)
Top 2 scorers Andre Creighton and Ernest Mang are gone. Vern Keller will lead the way with DeAndre Keller and Jeremy Hollowanger. Size will be an issue for them. Hard to see them as better than last year.

Highland Park Scots (2008 season 7-18, 6-6 Conference)
The Scots rebounded from a 1-12 start to finish 6-6, some of that against the soft underbelly of the league. Seniors Jimmy Sauser, Miles Davison and Eric Pressley return along with junior Cordaro Washington. All were members of last year's rotation.

Humboldt Hawks (2008 season 2-23, 0-12 Conference)
Top scorers Josh Titus and Dominic Campillo are gone. Juniors Julian Luster and Dallas Jackson return for a another team with a very small lineup. Another long season on the south side.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Johnson
  2. Central
  3. Highland Park
  4. Como Park
  5. Harding
  6. Arlington
  7. Humboldt
Conference MVP: Estan Tyler - Johnson

Breakout/Surprise Player: Joe Conley - Como Park

Games that will determine the regular season conference title

  • Johnson at Central - January 8th
  • Central at Johnson - February 5th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Stillwater at Johnson - December 15th
  • Johnson in Augsburg tourney - Dec 28-30th
  • Maple Northwestern (WI) at Johnson - January 22nd (East Metro Showcase)
I had a chance to ask Johnson coach Vern Simmons some questions about the Governors and the St. Paul City Conference. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Vern Simmons picture courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

09-10 Suburban East Preview

This is the 9th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I take a look at the Suburban East Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

Top to bottom the Suburban East may be as tough as any league. There's firepower at the top and even as you go down the league, almost everyone seems to have a player that you have to really prepare for.

Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (2008 season 13-14, 9-7 Conference)
They were one of the more disappointing teams in the metro last year. But they return everyone including monster Seantrel Henderson in the middle, Clay Horne and Elliot Owusu at the forwards with Gus Gehlen and Raijon Kelly in the backcourt. Sean Kopp and Jake Frey will provide depth. Sophomore point guard Cortez Tillman may see time as backup point guard, but I'd like to see them keep him down on JV with fellow soph stars Taylor Montero and CJ Neumann to build for 2 great seasons starting next year. What's strange is that everytime I saw CDH last year (start, middle and end of the year) they were better when Henderson wasn't on the floor. They have as much talent returning as anyone and could have a big year, but I'm not sold. I think they disappoint again this year.

East Ridge Raptors (New School)
The Suburban East welcomes the Raptors who as with any new school will be young and undermanned. Hard to know what they'll have from Woodbury or Park. Expect a long season.

Forest Lake Rangers
(2008 season 20-9, 10-6 Conference)
Now for a team that I have high hopes for. Forward Zach Riedeman returns as a do everything player for them. Doug Sewall is a banger inside but very effective. Sam Miller and junior Phil Hegseth return after seeing big minutes last year. They'll need to replace the shooting of Griffin Lentsch. With their open-post motion, they are a bear to defend and just wear you down.

Hastings Raiders (2008 season 11-16, 6-10 Conference)
Hastings doubled the win total last year and 2 of the top 3 scorers return. That includes Shane Monjeau. Nick Gmiterko and Michael Hill also return. They played most everyone tough last year so they'll look to duplicate last season.

Mounds View Mustangs (2008 season 20-7, 14-2 Conference)
The Mustangs lose almost all of their rotation including a nice trio of DJ Carroll, Justin Harding and Greg Anderson. Jordan Van Eps is the top returnee. Junior guard Blake Anderson and senior center Mitch Porter look to be major contributors this year as well.

Park Wolfpack (2008 season 7-19, 3-13 Conference)
Post Andy Voigt and point guard Cody Hofmann were the top 2 scorers and they're gone. Craig Brown is a solid but unspectacular wing and he's back. Soph Marcus Jones saw varsity time last year. Senior Drew Benson also returns inside.

Roseville Raiders (2008 season 12-16, 9-7 Conference)
Star Mike Muscala is gone to Bucknell but there are nice pieces returning. David Stanley will man the point. David Michaelson is the shooting guard. Junior Lucas Brown is the star forward. Sam Peterson will see time in the middle. Youngster Emeche Wells is one to watch.

Stillwater Ponies (2008 season 16-12, 10-6 Conference)
Here's another group that was very young last year and everybody is back. A twist this year as coach Randy Jordan comes down from St. Cloud Tech to take over the program. Unlike CDH, the Ponies finished strong at 12-3 (with 3 wins over CDH in that stretch). Big Ryan Duxbury returns in the middle with Paul Franklin at the point. Miles Heller fills the 4 spot but he got hurt playing football so his health could be a question. Alex Oman returns as the top shooter. Jake Malwitz, Jesse George and junior Paxton Harvieux all saw notable minutes last season.

White Bear Lake Bears (2008 season 9-18, 3-13 Conference)
The loss of versatile forward Mitch Fiereck to Northern State hurts but soph Eric Gebeke could step into that role. Power forward Spencer Cummings returns and he was last season's leading scorer. David Rademacher returns to run the point. Expect soph Josh Tismer and junior Vidal Vance to also see plenty of backcourt time this season.

Woodbury Royals (2008 season 13-15, 8-8 Conference)
Point guard Ernest Dorsett, shooter Bo Schiffler and post Sam Swanson are all gone. All that remains is forward Nick Quicksell. He led them in scoring last year. Tanner Pearson will be at a guard spot. David Smith should see time in the middle.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Forest Lake
  2. Stillwater
  3. Cretin-Derham Hall
  4. Mounds View
  5. Hastings
  6. Roseville
  7. White Bear Lake
  8. Woodbury
  9. Park
  10. East Ridge
Conference MVP: Zach Riedeman - Forest Lake

Breakout/Surprise Player: Jordan Van Eps - Mounds View

Games that will determine the regular season conference title

  • Stillwater at Forest Lake - January 5th
  • Forest Lake at Cretin-Derham Hall - January 8th
  • Stillwater at Cretin-Derham Hall - January 26th
  • Forest Lake at Stillwater - February 9th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Forest Lake - February 12th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Stillwater - March 2nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Duluth East at Forest Lake - December 12th
  • Champlin Park vs Cretin-Derham Hall - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Stillwater at St. Paul Johnson - December 15th
  • Forest Lake at Granite City Classic in St. Cloud - Dec 28-30th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Eden Prairie - January 2nd
  • Stillwater vs Eau Claire North - January 23rd (Border Battle at Eau Claire Memorial)
  • Forest Lake at Eau Claire Memorial - January 23rd (Border Battle)
  • De La Salle at Cretin-Derham Hall - February 20th
I had a chance to ask Roseville coach Bartt Pierce some questions about the Raiders and the Suburban East Conference. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

09-10 Northwest Suburban Preview

Osseo coach
Tim Theisen

This is the 8th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I take a look at the Northwest Suburban Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

The league has some teams taking major hits due to graduation. Do those teams rebuild or reload? Will that mean that Osseo still wins the conference crown? Will Elk River rebound from a down season? With all the star power gone, what players step up as stars in the league?

Andover Huskies (2008 season 12-16, 7-11 Conference)
The Huskies lose leading scorer Brett Tester and his 19.5 ppg. Jason Schneider returns along with juniors Tyler Finnes and Ben Mei to provide some experience.

Anoka Tornadoes (2008 season 8-19, 4-14 Conference)
Guard Bernie Ward departs but the Tornadoes have some pieces to work with. Lomumba Ismail returns to man the middle. Bryan Sherva and Spencer Grow are returning wing pieces. Add in David Mooers, who is the leading returning scorer, and the Tornadoes should jump up out of the league cellar.

Blaine Bengals (2008 season 15-15, 8-10 Conference)
The dynamic forward combination of Billy Giddings and Dylan Rodriguez is gone to the NSIC along with role players Jeff Harstad and David Leafblad. Guard Jesse Briggity returns but he missed the entire summer with a bad back. If he's not healthy, that's the best returning scorer down. Junior forward Zach Romashko's figures to step out from the shadows this year. Dan Robel gives the Bengals another experienced guard.

Centennial Cougars (2008 season 15-12, 12-6 Conference)
Anthony Adams was a nice surprise last year. He's gone but Centennial still has enough to make a run. Tony Gerding returns at the point. Nathan Kuck gives them a shooter. Jeff Burns and Brian Sarvela saw significant time last season.

Champlin Park Rebels (2008 season 17-11, 12-6 Conference)
The Rebels look to be the major threat to Osseo's throne. Jasper Duberry returns at the point. Kyle Zimmerman and Josh Pella are a dynamic forward duo. Zimmerman is undersized but the lefty is surprisingly effective inside and he can also step out to 3 and shoot it. Pella is an athletic wing who can do a bit of everything. Jordan Reibling is a shooter and Dillon Hager is a defensive minded backup point guard. Junior TJ Okafor could have a breakout year inside. Him and D'Andre Williamson will man the center spot.

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2008 season 9-18, 7-11 Conference)
The top 6 scorers are gone, including Ben Baker and Blair Townsend. There's limited experience returning so I expect a long year.

Elk River Elks (2008 season 12-16, 6-12 Conference)
A down year last year for the Elks. Point guard Jack Gavin and forward Nick Held were the top 2 scorers and have departed. Matt Buhmann returns as the leading scorer and rebounder. Junior Ben Erickson, seniors Taylor Berger, Jack Nelson, Matt Kush and Travis Banken all return so there is varsity experience. With coach Randy Klasen, they'll be sound and stay in a bunch of games.

Maple Grove Crimson (2008 season 18-10, 12-6 Conference)
Head coach Mark Arzdorf has a big task at hand. The entire rotation, including star Josh Pedretti, is gone. But they still have a set of nice forwards. Bryce Burkman and Sam Schwalbe will provide post presence. Jordan Harrell may end up being the top scorer. Youngsters Will Johnson and Andra Griffin are ones I'll be following.

Osseo Orioles
(2008 season 29-3, 17-1 Conference)
Despite the loss of the force known as Sam Dower, the Orioles will still make a run at the league title. Aaron Anderson returns to run the point. John Rowland is a great shooter from the 4 spot and as he showed in last year's AAAA title game, a matchup problem. Then the JVs take over and its a good group. Juniors Joey Sonnefeld and Jerrod Bervin are talented forwards along with senior Chris McMorris. Dalton Graff gives them a steady guard. Andy Friesen provides a little size.

Park Center Pirates (2008 season 6-21, 5-13 Conference)
Voltaire Nalls was their best scorer on the wing and he's gone but there are a couple of pieces here. Junior point guard Terez Van Pelt had a nice summer for the Minnesota Fury and is gaining some interest at the next level. Justin Casey returns to man the middle. Jordan Lynn is back and freshman Quentin Hooker is one to watch.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Champlin Park
  2. Osseo
  3. Centennial
  4. Blaine
  5. Elk River
  6. Maple Grove
  7. Park Center
  8. Anoka
  9. Andover
  10. Coon Rapids
Conference MVP: Kyle Zimmerman - Champlin Park

Breakout/Surprise Player: Zach Romashko - Blaine

Games that will determine the conference title

  • Osseo at Centennial - January 14th
  • Champlin Park at Osseo - January 19th
  • Champlin Park at Centennial - January 22nd
  • Centennial at Osseo - February 12th
  • Centennial at Champlin Park - February 19th
  • Osseo at Champlin Park - February 23rd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Champlin Park at Minnetonka - December 11th
  • Osseo vs De La Salle - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Champlin Park vs Cretin-Derham Hall - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Champlin Park vs Hopkins - January 9th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Duluth East at Osseo - January 16th
I had a chance to ask Osseo coach Tim Theisen some questions about the Orioles and the Northwest Suburban Conference. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Tim Theisen picture courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

09-10 North Suburban Preview

Columbia Heights coach
Willie Braziel

This is the 7th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, I take a look at the North Suburban Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

A bevy of good players throughout the league. Mostly guards and then the buzz that surrounds Cooper's new addition. Top of the league is brutal with 2 obvious contenders and 2 others who I think are dangerous. This year is unique as the league goes to the 16 game unbalanced schedule. It will be very interesting to see how that impacts the conference race.

Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights (2008 season 17-11, 15-5 Conference)
BSM returns a talented club with Peter Crawford and Miles Barnes up front. Sophomore point guard Isaiah Zierden is outstanding. Darren Glover is a good shooter on the wing. Seth Marx, Ben Krebsbach and Nick Meyer provide guard depth and Evan Battle is mean up front. Add in sophs Will Dunn and Kyle Washington for even more talent. Look for them to be one of the best in 3A this season.

Chisago Lakes Wildcats (2008 season 10-17, 6-14 Conference)
Josh Figini leaves for Cornell after an outstanding career. Younger brother Ben will take over as the star. Otherwise not much returns. Figini will have a big season, but I can't see double-digit wins.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2008 season 18-11, 14-6 Conference)
This is the season that they've built for with a group of seniors that has played together for 2 years. Kendrick Mills and Akrau Imbu will be missed but are replaceable. Star guard Jacob Thomas returns with his 23 points a game. When he's on, there are few people who can put up points quicker. There's plenty of firepower outside with him in Harold Rainey, Markus Shaw, Gerard Baptiste and D'Carlos Craig. Andrew Hansen comes in from Apple Valley to provide much needed size in the middle. If he defends and rebounds, the Hylanders will have a great final piece to their puzzle. Notable that Columbia Heights and Cooper only play once.

Fridley Tigers (2008 season 17-9, 13-7 Conference)
Fridley surprised me last year as Isaiah Thomas put the Tigers on his back as the best 1 man band around. The top 5 scorers are gone. While coach McDonald does an outstanding job year in and year out, this year he'll have to work miracles to come close to last year's 17 wins.

Irondale Knights (2008 season 9-18, 8-12 Conference)
Guard Rayveen Banks and Bjorn Westlund are gone. However, Bryan Sprang returns as one of the more unique scorers around. Expect him to have a big season. Chad Goodsell also returns.

North Branch Vikings (2008 season 6-21, 2-18 Conference)
Leading scorer Kyle Grote returns but he didn't average double figures in a very long season for the Vikings. More of the same awaits.

Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (2008 season 27-2, 20-0 Conference)
Cooper has the biggest X-Factor coming in and that's 6'7" Calvin Godfrey from Milwaukee via a east coast prep school. He was the #5 player in Wisconsin a year ago before leaving and recently decommitted from UW-Milwaukee. Expect him to have a HUGE year (i.e 25 and 12) as the Hawks lost high-flying Rodney Williams to Minnesota along with the other 7 members of the rotation. What they lack in experience, they'll make up for in athleticism. Johnny Jackson and Brandon Harrison give them the most size in the league. Darry Jones, Charles Williams and Terrance Averyheart are also athletic returnees. Jones was a big scorer at St. Agnes 2 years ago, he'll need to be a 2nd scorer.

St. Francis Fighting Saints (2008 season 15-13, 9-11 Conference)
The top 2 scorers, Joe Foss and post Seth Akason, are gone. Junior guard Dontay Matthews should up his scoring average into double figures and lead the way.

St. Louis Park Orioles
(2008 season 6-20, 3-17 Conference)
Hands down the most improved team in the metro this season. Coach Micah Watkins will clean up the disaster of last year and he has a couple of nice pieces to work with. Point guard Aaron Ziman is quick enough to avoid pressure and a solid pass first player. He has 6'5 shooter Alex Koch on the wing and I think he has a huge year. Frosh Kashif Hayes is a player in the pipeline to watch. TJ Gist, Marquelis Edwards, Quinton Wagner, DeMonte Baker make up a nice group of talent that coach Watkins can develop.

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2008 season 24-7, 16-4 Conference)
Nasty schedule trick getting Cooper and Heights back-back but they only get BSM once and that's at home. The big scoring backcourt of Trey Scott, Shaun Jensen and Y (Tyler Ylvisaker) is gone but there are players remaining. Derek Dahl takes over at the point. Steve Bailey will man the 2. Travis Johnson and Elijah Sabah are solid forwards. Sophomore lefty Sean Scott plays like Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks wanting to swat and dunk everything in sight while shooting too many threes. He has great upside, especially if he develops a shot like Trey. They take great care of the ball and show great patience. Coach Guzy will keep them in the upper half.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2008 season 6-21, 4-16 Conference)
A surprisingly rough year for the Eagles last year finishing 3-16 in the new year. Senior center Tom Olson graduated, but everybody else is back for new coach Kevin Seim. Seim comes over after doing a nice job in a tough spot as the interim coach at Stillwater last season. The duo of John Crockett and Alex Kreuser gives him plenty to work with. Crockett was a beast this summer for MN Pump N Run much to my surprise and Kreuser was one of the nice sophomore stories of last regular season. Look for noteworthy improvement from them as well.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Benilde-St. Margaret's
  2. Columbia Heights
  3. Robbinsdale Cooper
  4. Spring Lake Park
  5. St. Louis Park
  6. Totino-Grace
  7. Fridley
  8. Irondale
  9. Chisago Lakes
  10. St. Francis
  11. North Branch
Conference MVP: Jacob Thomas - Columbia Heights

Breakout/Surprise Player: Darry Jones - Robbinsdale Cooper

Games that will determine the conference title

  • Cooper at Benilde-St. Margaret's - January 5th
  • Spring Lake Park at Cooper - January 8th
  • Columbia Heights at Spring Lake Park - January 12th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Columbia Heights - January 15th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Spring Lake Park - January 26th
  • Cooper at Columbia Heights - February 1st
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Cooper - February 11th
  • Cooper at Spring Lake Park - February 16th
  • Spring Lake Park at Columbia Heights - February 18th
  • Columbia Heights at Spring Lake Park - February 23rd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins at Columbia Heights - December 8th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's vs Lakeville South - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Holy Angels at Benilde-St. Margaret's - December 17th
  • Cooper vs Henry Sibley - December 18th (Minnetonka tournament)
  • Minnetonka vs Benilde-St. Margaret's - December 22nd
  • Cooper at Little Falls (projected) - December 30 (Little Falls tourney)
  • Minnetonka at Columbia Heights - January 7th
  • Minnetonka at Cooper - January 26th
  • Hopkins at Benilde-St. Margaret's - January 30th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at De La Salle - February 27th
  • Columbia Heights at Minnetonka - March 5th
I had a chance to ask Columbia Heights coach Willie Braziel some questions about the Hylanders and the North Suburban Conference. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Willie Braziel picture courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

09-10 Minneapolis City Preview

Washburn coach
Reggie Perkins

This is the 6th preview in my metro area season previews series. To start week 2 of the previews, I take a look at the Minneapolis City Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

More of the usual here in the league with the best nicknames around. Can Washburn sustain after losing their huge senior class. Can North take another step up? Will Southwest escape the cellar?

Edison Tommies (2008 season 8-18, 4-8 Conference)
The Tommies lose Jonathan Conner and his 18 points a night. Marnell Davis returns to lead the way. Junior forward Mathew Lanier is another one to watch. Will their rematch vs MN Transitions break the all time record for points in a game?

North Polars (2008 season 16-9, 9-3 Conference)
The loss of Kevin Thompson costs the Polars a dynamic scorer. But coach Bo Powell has a nice group remaining. Junior Malik El-Amin returns at the point. Sophomore guard Charles Smith will see lots of time and Mark Devine is a shot blocker in the middle. Leading scorer Pengi Mboma returns up front. The loss of Spencer Puckett will cost them toughness.

Patrick Henry Patriots (2008 season 15-13, 9-3 Conference)
You will find no backcourt quicker than Louis Cox and Jordan Hughes. Hughes is as close to an Allen Iverson clone as you'll find anywhere as he can really fill it up and raise havoc in passing lanes. Dennis Joiner, Jordan McArthur and Fred Henry provide depth for the high powered backcourt. The loss of Evan Gray up front costs the Patriots their best big man. The remaining bigs such as George Meredith are bangers and minimal offensive threats.

Roosevelt Teddies (2008 season 6-22, 1-11 Conference)
The loss of scorer Eddie Boler and shooter Gobana Sameru costs the Teddies their 2 best scorers. Junior Calvin Jenkins and senior James Smith return for a very small squad. I'll also be watching Donovan Allen.

South Tigers (2008 season 12-15, 6-6 Conference)
Alonzo Traylor returns as the top big man in the league at 20 pts a night and should have a bunch of big nights against a small league. Derrick Boone also returns up front. Victor Easter was a leader for the squad. He'll be missed. Devell Wright is the top returning guard. Sophomore Carnell Shephard is a youngster I'll be following.

Southwest Lakers (2008 season 5-20, 1-11 Conference)
Center and leading scorer Dominique Dawson's 21.6 PPG has moved on to Minnesota. Elliot Matheiu is also gone taking away the 2nd leading scorer. Senior Jon Berry and junior Ayrton Scott are the top returnees. The cupboard is somewhat bare.

Washburn Millers (2008 season 26-5, 12-0 Conference)
There's a heavy price to be paid for a state championship as the the Millers lose 10 outstanding seniors. But last year's JVs were very talented, see the victory over Hopkins early in the year as proof. Juniors Clarence Thomas and Dwight Anderson should lead the way after lighting up the JV Twin Cities game. Joel Powell and Cedric Chappell are others that should make contributions.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Patrick Henry
  2. Washburn
  3. North
  4. South
  5. Edison
  6. Roosevelt
  7. Southwest
Conference MVP: Jordan Hughes - Henry

Breakout/Surprise Player: Dwight Anderson - Washburn

Games that will determine the conference title

  • Henry at Washburn - January 21st
  • Henry at North - January 30th
  • Washburn at North - February 12th
  • North at Henry - February 15th
  • Washburn at Henry - February 23rd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Henry at Holy Angels - December 8th
  • North vs Plainview-Elgin-Millville - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Henry vs Minnesota Transitions - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Shakopee at Henry - December 17th
  • Washburn at Staples-Motley - February 6th
  • Washburn at Hopkins - February 20th
  • De La Salle at Henry - March 2nd
I had a chance to ask Washburn coach Reggie Perkins some questions about the Millers and the Minneapolis City Conference. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Reggie Perkins picture courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

09-10 MCAA Preview

This is the 5th preview in my metro area season previews series. To close out week 1 of the previews, I downshift to the little guys and look at the MCAA Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

The MCAA will be a league of the haves and the have nots. The bottom half of this league is going to be difficult to watch with a group of rebuilding teams. At the top end, you don't have the dominant player that the league has had in years past. All in all, I view this as the worst the league has been since I've been following it over the last 5 years or so.

Bethany Academy Eagles (2008 season 4-19, 1-9 Conference)
While Jeff Ray is one of the top coaches in the league, his squad is not blessed with talent. But he returns the top 6 from last year's very young squad. Forward Ben Peters and guard Tony Ervin are the main threats. Soph Max Mattila cleans up the glass. It'll be another long year but they can win some games against the bottom of the league.

Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2008 season 11-15, 6-4 Conference)
Nate Johnson filled it up for the Eagles last year but he's now gone. Nick Parkhurst is the only returnee of note and will need to make a ton of shots to keep the Eagles competitive.

Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2008 season 19-7, 10-0 Conference)
The loss of long time league force Chris Neumann will hurt. But post Brandon Schaust returns as the top interior threat in the league. Senior Daniel Anderson and sophomore Jared Kadrie are others to follow.

Lion's Gate Christian Academy (2008 season 11-15, 2-8 Conference as Concordia Academy-Bloomington)
Since most things just moved from the now closed Concordia-Bloomington to Lion's Gate, I'll just treat them the same. Hopefully they play in the same nice building. Don't let last year's record fool you, those wins were all against awful teams. Center Andrew Erdman is gone but Mitchell Churney returns to take up space. Jacob Moe is the guard that will lead the way.

Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2008 season 23-6, 8-2 Conference)
Lester Prairie took the throne from the Mustangs last season, but I don't see that happening this year. MCA returns everybody of note including forward Josh Hanson and point guard Darian Pittman. Jay Higgins and SaVaughn Jordan provide depth. With the best coach, tradition and home court advantage in the league, that's a great combination to win the title.

Meadow Creek Christian Academy Saints (2008 season 10-17, 6-4 Conference)
The Saints return 6 kids who saw varsity time last year including Ben Thom and Spencer Richards. They were the leading 3 point shooters last season. Thom is the leading returning scorer and the assist leader. Richards the leading returning rebounder.

New Life Academy Eagles (2008 season 14-14, 6-4 Conference)
Robbie Anderstrom was one of the top players in the league last season and he's gone. Ryan Furlong was solid at the point last season and will be missed. James Housworth, Sam Penwell, Cody Linton and Kory Kiekhofer return outside. Sam Berg will give them size inside. Can coach Linton find a guy who can create out of their dribble-drive motion like Anderstrom last year?

Providence Academy Lions (2008 season 2-23, 0-10 Conference)
Poor Providence. If only their team was as nice as their school (its a palace). Leading scorer Zach Money graduated, but everybody returns. John Lundbeck and Alex Eaton will be the leading offensive threats. Rumor mill says their might be some freshmen talent there. If so, it needs to develop quickly. Another very long year for the Lions.

Southwest Christian Stars (2008 season 19-8, 8-2 Conference)
I would deem 19-8 in section 4A with a D1 player as a disappointment. Now that Caleb Palkert is gone, there's no really dominant player. But they return a quality guard trio of Jordan Dye, Ryan Cummings and Peter Sorenson with Daniel Horner up front. Fall league showed that they may have some size too.

Trinity Tri-Hawks (2008 season 8-19, 4-6 Conference)
Wing Mark Olander is gone but the Tri-Hawks return leading scorer at the point, soph Tony Kuplic and junior Aaron Gregg up front. With those 2 pieces they continue to build up for a top division finish next season.

West Lutheran Warriors (2008 season 12-14, 4-6 Conference)
Another team with a deceptively good record. 3 of those wins were out of state and none of the in-state ones stick out. More telling to me is the 1-8 finish where the closest loss was 15 points. Lefty guard Michael Lindberg may lead the league in scoring this year. Great shooter. Nate Dwyer also returns.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Maranatha
  2. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
  3. Southwest Christian
  4. New Life
  5. Meadow Creek Christian
  6. West Lutheran
  7. Trinity
  8. Heritage
  9. Bethany
  10. Lion's Gate
  11. Providence
Conference MVP: Josh Hanson - Maranatha

Breakout/Surprise Player: Joe Mann - New Life

Games that will determine the regular season conference title

  • Maranatha at Southwest Christian - January 8th
  • Southwest Christian at Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity - January 12th
  • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Maranatha - January 28th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Mayer Lutheran - December 8th
  • Maranatha at CHOF - February 13th
I had a chance to ask Heritage coach Tim Herman some questions about his Eagles and the MCAA. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

MCAA logo picture courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

09-10 Missota Preview


Shakopee coach
Bruce Kugath

This is the 4th preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, a look at the Missota Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

No conference was decimated more by graduation than the Missota. At least half the teams in the league lose a player who went on to play division 2 or division 1 basketball. So the league will be down but not out. I see a 2 horse race at the top, 1 of the few leftover players 3rd and the usual suspects at the bottom.

Farmington Tigers (2008 season 20-8, 12-2 Conference)
Farmington was hit hard by graduation losing 3 stars in Jake Lippert, Josh Zitzmann and David Steege. But players 5-8 return. Kyle Winkelman and Justin Lavey man the guard spots. Logan Hussung and Connor Duffy return up front. Winkelman is the leading returning scorer and I expect him to carry the load this season.

Holy Angels Stars (2008 season 9-20, 6-8 Conference)
Coach McKenzie predicted a conference title to the world after the final game of last season and for good reason. 8 of the top 11 return. Forward Sahr Ngekia (we'll miss Bonzi Wells here) and Tyler Bredow are big losses. Especially Bredow who just got things done at the point with clutch plays. Sam Gullickson is one who can pick up some of that scoring slack. Andy Jirik will man the middle. Tyler Emanuel gives them a very good shooter. Cole Frechette, RD Brown and Jack Hogan are all experienced role players. If sophomore Parker Bredow can fill the point guard spot, the Stars will be very dangerous.

Hutchinson Tigers
(2008 season 6-20, 1-13 Conference)
The Tigers were 5-4 before finishing 1-16 over the last 2 months of the season. 8 of the top 10 return. Kiree Robinson scored in double figures in 11 of the last 13 games and was the only player to average in double figures. They should be better, but how much?

New Prague Trojans (2008 season 21-9, 8-6 Conference)
While the Trojans lose Connor O'Brien to Mankato, the cupboard is not bare. Star Danny Geiger returns as the straw that stirs the dribble-drive drink. He may not be the most athletic guy but he uses his body well to get into the lane and makes good decisions. Cale Girten will give them size up front. Junior Alex Dittberner saw significant time last year at a guard spot. Geiger will start it and they have shooters to finish it.

Northfield Raiders (2008 season 21-6, 11-3 Conference)
The Raiders lose their top 6 scorers to graduation including Northern Colorado forward Emmanuel Addo and guard Christian Shepley. Forward Alex Bisch is the only returner with any significant experience. Junior Otto Pfefferle can block shots inside.

Prior Lake Lakers (2008 season 11-16, 5-9 Conference)
6'10" post Deryck Ludwig is off to SW MN State and leading scorer Ben Snyder has also graduated. Jake Bolks is the leading returning scorer. Ian Herubin provides size inside and Andrew Dale can score from the wing. They have a nice sophomore class coming up with players like Jack Harrison and Matt Dysthe but they're at least a year away.

Red Wing Wingers (2008 season 9-19, 2-12 Conference)
Here's another club that had a nice start but hit the wall as they lost 14 in a row before upsetting Faribault in the 1st round of sections. The only 2 conference wins were against last place Hutchinson. 4 of the top 5 scorers are gone. Juniors Pat Kelly and Coleman Kelly with senior Mitch Earney look to lead the way.

Shakopee Sabers (2008 season 18-9, 11-3 Conference)
The junior trio of Ethan Petrill, Jason Perkins and Dylan Ulferts returns after seeing big minutes last year. They'll need to replace the 20 points a game from Matt Zager. Joel Hergott led the league in rebounding as an undersized center. While they don't have anyone to generate their own offense like Zager could, they're well coached and solid defensively so they'll be in every game.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Shakopee
  2. Holy Angels
  3. New Prague
  4. Farmington
  5. Prior Lake
  6. Northfield
  7. Hutchinson
  8. Red Wing
Conference MVP: Danny Geiger - New Prague

Breakout/Surprise Player: Kyle Winkelman - Farmington

Games that will determine the conference title

  • Shakopee at Holy Angels - February 1st
  • Holy Angels at Shakopee - February 26th
  • Holy Angels at New Prague - March 2nd
  • Shakopee at New Prague - March 5th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Minneapolis Patrick Henry at Holy Angels - December 8th
  • Minnehaha at Holy Angels - December 15th
  • Shakopee at Minneapolis Patrick Henry - December 17th
  • Holy Angels at Benilde-St. Margaret's - December 17th
  • Shakopee vs Lakeville South (projected) - December 30th (Lakeville tournament)
  • Waconia at Shakopee - January 5th
  • Holy Angels at Waconia - January 8th
  • Jordan at New Prague - January 9th
I had a chance to ask Shakopee coach Bruce Kugath some questions about his Sabers and the Missota. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Bruce Kugath photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

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

09-10 Classic Suburban Preview

Henry Sibley coach
Tom Dasovich

This is the 2nd preview in my metro area season previews series. In this installment, a look at the Classic Suburban Conference. To access all of the previews in the series, view the season preview page here.

Another league that, besides Henry Sibley, doesn't have size but does have quality perimeter play. The usual suspects at the top with a couple of teams trying to break through to the top tier.

Henry Sibley Warriors (2008 season 27-3, 16-0 Conference)
Expectations are high with the return of bigs Mike Rostampour and Jake Kreuser plus the addition of athletic guard Jordan Jackson from Como Park. Rostampour is an absolute beast inside and he's always going 100 mph. Jake Goldberg will be an interior backup. Jimmy Ryan returns at a guard spot. Soph Dante Grant is a player to follow for the future. Biggest keys are Rostampour staying out of the foul trouble that he's known for and Jackson. Jackson's athleticism is his biggest strength and his biggest fault. He'll gamble on defense and on offense he'll force shots, but he can make them. He may score a ton of points, but he'll needs plenty of shots to do it and that will take the ball out of Rostampour and Kreuser's hands inside. Balancing Jackson's shots with Rostampour's will be one of coach Dasovich's biggest tasks. Does Jimmy Ryan man the point and Jackson is off the ball or does Jackson play the point? I see those as year long issues. Look for teams to try and take the ball out of Jackson's hands and force Sibley to make outside shots.

Hill-Murray Pioneers (2008 season 11-17, 4-12 Conference)
The Pioneers got off to a 6-0 start before the roof caved in for a 5-17 finish, but even those 11 wins were deceiving as there wasn't a quality win among them. 4 of the top 6 return including junior forward Rob Daul who had a very nice summer for the MN Heat 16s. The bruising forward will be expected to carry the scoring load again this season. Senior Tim Markoe will be another player with expectations. Coach Dick Ghizoni is one of the more underrated coaches out there. Is this is the year that the Pioneers make a run at getting back in the top half of the league?

Mahtomedi Zephyrs
(2008 season 17-12, 8-8 Conference)
The Zephyrs only return 2 players of note from last season as they lose a big senior class. Guard Bobby Sherwood is the leading returning scorer and will have to carry a big load. Guard Andre Arnett is the only other returner of note. Experience will be a major factor.

North Polars
(2008 season 14-13, 6-10 Conference)
Gerard Coury takes over in North St. Paul which probably means the end of the Princeton offense, much to my dismay. He has a couple of pieces to work with. Junior guard Rex Johnson is the leading returning scorer and can knock down shots. 6'6" senior Nathan Schouvilller will man the middle and Kyle Whyte returns at a forward spot. They'll be improved but I can't see them improving on last year's 6th place finish.

Richfield Spartans
(2008 season 16-11, 10-6 Conference)
Guard turned power forward Renard Robinson and guard Philip Freeman depart. That leaves the backcourt to Jay Sewer who I thought would breakout last season, so I have to pick him again this year. There is experience back with Corey Fitzgerald, Jared Etienne and Ben Webster. Backup point guard Daron Garvis returns along with sophomore Darrien Johnson. Once again another guard oriented lineup but without a great rebounding guard like Robinson was. But they defend for coach Jim Dimick.

St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2008 season 18-10, 11-5 Conference)
Leading scorer and sharpshooter Mike Fitzgerald is gone to Air Force. Billy Chapman and Charlie Aslesen return. Chapman is a solid shooter and tough defender. Will Patt provides size in the middle. As always expect methodical offense and tough defense from the Cadets. I'll also be keeping an eye junior Chase Bowersox and seniors Andrew Alexander and Isaac Rinehart.

Simley Spartans
(2008 season 9-18, 3-13 Conference)
The Spartans were 5-4 with a nice win over St. Michael-Albertville in their own Christmas tournament for their only good win of the year, but then the calendar changed and the record was 4-14 the rest of the way. The top 4 scorers, including 17 ppg from guard Thomas Sims, are gone. Senior Andrew Ewing will have to step up.

South St. Paul Packers
(2008 season 4-23, 1-15 Conference)
Matt Fletcher takes over for Kent Getzlaff who tried every bit of smoke and mirrors he could find and still only managed 4 wins. Top players Joe Chudars and Brandon Strickland have gradutated. Expect another very long season for the Packers.

Tartan Titans (2008 season 24-5, 13-3 Conference)
The loss of Marc Sonnen looms large at the point guard spot. But there are plenty of outside players to go around. Manani Beavers will man a wing spot and get the assignment shutting down top offensive threats around the league. Versatile juniors Drew and Luke Preiner will see big time at the wings and ball handing spots. Senior Tim Lubke is a knockdown shooter. Troy Klingsporn will be another ball handler. Add in Max Ryan as a defender. Charlie Buchmayer is the only real interior player. No individual dynamic scorer but as a group they have a ton of shooters. With one of the best coaches around in Mark Klingsporn, they'll be rock solid on both ends.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Tartan
  2. Henry Sibley
  3. St. Thomas Academy
  4. Richfield
  5. Hill-Murray
  6. Mahtomedi
  7. North
  8. Simley
  9. South St. Paul
Conference MVP: Mike Rostampour - Henry Sibley

Breakout/Surprise Player: Jay Sewer - Richfield

Games that will determine the conference title

  • Sibley at Tartan - January 12th
  • Tartan at St. Thomas Academy - January 19th
  • Sibley at St. Thomas Academy - February 5th
  • Tartan at Sibley - February 16th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Tartan vs Hopkins - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Sibley vs Cloquet - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Sibley at Minnetonka (projected) - December 19th (Minnetonka tournament)
  • Sibley in Augsburg tournament - December 28th-30th
  • Sibley in Timberwolves Shootout - January 9th
  • Tartan at Little Falls - February 20th
I had a chance to ask Henry Sibley coach Tom Dasovich some questions about his Warriors and the Classic Suburban. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Tom Dasovich photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

09-10 Classic Lake Preview

How appropriate that on this first day of snow, I start my 2009-2010 Season Preview Series. We start with a look at the Classic Lake Conference. For a list of all previews in the series, view the season preview page here.
Armstrong coach
Greg Miller


The Classic Lake loses a ton of talented seniors from every team but this is the Classic Lake where we reload and not rebuild. Plenty of very talented juniors in the league will keep the league at a high-level. While there's plenty of talented perimeter players, the league is seriously lacking in quality bigs.

Edina Hornets (2008 season 22-6, 5-3 Conference)
The Hornets lose their top 6 scorers after a terrific season. I underestimated the Hornets last year and I may be doing it again. Forwards Stephen Asp and David Gschneider return and Brendan Canova takes over at point guard so there is experience. Freshman Graham Woodward is a youngster that I'll be following for them.

Hopkins Royals
(2008 season 31-0 AAAA State Champions, 8-0 Conference)
Its Hopkins, what else needs to be said. Lose 5 Division 1 seniors and reload with enough talent to still be considered a state title contender. Ho hum. DJ Peterson is the most experienced returnee and the only senior of note. Otherwise the roster is young and very talented, but with limited experience and size. Junior Marvin Singleton saw big minutes last year of the youngsters and that's it. Sophomore Siyani Chambers will run the point and explosive junior Joe Coleman will fill it up from the wing. The 5th spot is the question mark.

No size returns for the Royals so the question mark is how much will Marvin Singleton play inside (best for Hopkins) vs outside (best for his college development). Coach Novak could go 5 small with Singleton playing up front but traditionally he insists on keeping a big body on the floor. Problem is there's no Broghammer, VanderVieren, DiLoreto type of option for them this season. Cameron Selmer will come off the bench to make shots and Jeremiah Tolbert also provides depth at guard. Super frosh Riley Dearring and soph Zach Stahl will be young options for the rotation as well. But I'm skeptical on Dearring getting as many varsity minutes as people think.

Minnetonka Skippers
(2008 season 12-14, 0-8 Conference)
Tor Anderson takes over the reins of the dribble drive from Kyle Risinger. Anderson sat out all of last year after transferring from Prior Lake but he's a great fit. Cole Stefan and Nick Latzke are perfect fits as they will man the shooter spots and shoot it they can. Leonard Glass and Blake Nelson return along with guard Chad Howard from last year's paper-thin rotation. Will Glass play inside or out now that behemoth Taylor Nelson is gone? Either way he'll need to continue his development to open things up for Latzke and Stefan. Without an effective inside threat and after going 0-8 in league play with a talented roster, I wonder if the luster has come off the dribble-drive motion. Armstrong held Stefan and Latzke to 29 total points in the 2 games last year so I think a plan is out there. The key will be Anderson's ability to generate offense for others. Defensively will they be able to rebound and stop people? If nothing else, they should be fun to watch.

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons
(2008 season 13-15, 3-5 Conference)
Armstrong has long been known for quality guard play with the likes of Alex Rubin and Damarius Cruz and even back to Jon Bryant (I have to mention a Wisconsin Badger right?). This year will be no exception with trio of point guard David Weber and wings Andy Seidlitz and Marquel Curtis. Curtis is the leading returning scorer and should have a big year. His shot is respectable and he's big enough to overpower smaller wings. Seidlitz is the one of the best shooters in the state and he's rarely mentioned. Huge question mark in the middle as the only returning interior player of note is Joe Lewis who's pretty limited athletically but smart. They're sound and their schemes are second to none so they'll be very competitive.

Wayzata Trojans
(2008 season 21-7, 4-4 Conference)
Wayzata loses an entire rotation of 6 seniors, including a starting crew that all averaged in double figures. But I have some optimism for this crew. I look for Caleb Crockett and Chris Kroeten to manage the backcourt with Connor Hegarty and Eric Robertson up front. While many may peg Robertson as a breakout candidate due to his 6'7" size with skill and athleticism, my vote goes to Kroeten who was a major force on last year's JV squad. I'll also be interested to see if sophomore Chad Potas gets time in the middle. They may struggle in league play and section 6AAAA does them no favors, but a favorable non-conference schedule will allow them to get out of the gates quickly and rack up 10-12 wins and confidence before the conference slate.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Hopkins
  2. Minnetonka
  3. Robbinsdale Armstrong
  4. Wayzata
  5. Edina
Conference MVP: Tor Anderson - Minnetonka

Breakout/Surprise Player: Chris Kroeten - Wayzata

Games that will determine the conference title

  • Minnetonka at Armstrong - February 4th
  • Hopkins at Minnetonka - February 12th
  • Minnetonka at Hopkins - March 2nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins at Columbia Heights - December 9th (Czar's note 10/21/09, fixed location and updated game date)
  • Champlin Park at Minnetonka - December 11th
  • Hopkins vs Tartan - December 12th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Chaska at Minnetonka - December 12th
  • Sibley at Minnetonka (projected) - December 19th (Minnetonka tournament)
  • Hopkins in Augsburg tournament - December 28th-30th
  • Minnetonka at Columbia Heights - January 7th
  • Duluth East at Hopkins - January 14th
  • Minnetonka at Lakeville South - January 21st
  • Hopkins vs Maple Northwestern (WI) - January 22nd (East Metro Showcase at Johnson)
  • Hopkins at Benilde-St. Margaret's - January 30th
  • Columbia Heights at Minnetonka - March 5th
I had a chance to ask Armstrong coach Greg Miller some questions about his Falcons and the Classic Lake. Minnesota Preps subscribers can read that interview here.

Greg Miller photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

Celebrating 25 Years

It was on this day 25 years ago, October 11, 1984, that fate intervened and ultimately gave me my introduction to this great game known as basketball. All too often (and I'm guilty of this as well), we focus on the negative stories around the game from corrupt AAU coaches to high school recruiting to complaints about the mercy rule to the tragic passing of Hank Gathers etc etc.

We often forget about the great stories such as the Bo Kimble tribute to his friend Gathers during that NCAA tournament by shooting his first free throw left handed or the story in Milwaukee last season of an Illinois player intentionally missing (in fact barely even releasing) technical free throws because the player coming in the game wasn't in the scorebook because he returned from the death of his mother. The wonderful South Carolina story that I reposted here last year of a team winning the state title for its fallen coach also applies.

For me, the game is not only a passion but its been a way to open doors, to enjoy the good times and as an outlet from the bad times. Too often the game is viewed in a vacuum and not as a bigger life opportunity outside of the game. How can you take advantage of basketball to improve your life? If basketball gets you into a high quality academic institution and gets you a cheap(er) education, then that's worth taking advantage of.

Not to imply that I'm any better (or worse) of a person for writing what I write here. I'm very blessed that basketball has been very good to me over the last 25 years. If this blog is my way of giving back to the game, then I hope that someday maybe it will add up to what the game has given me.

2009 Week 4 Fall League Schedule

Here is the schedule for week 4 of fall leagues. A very busy Sunday as MYAS finishes up session 1 this week. Notable games are bolded.

Saturday at Minnehaha (MBA league)
NYA vs. Breck 1:00 PM CT 3
NYA vs. Blake 2:00 PM CT 3
Anoka vs. Orono 2:00 PM CT 1
Edison vs. St. Anthony 2:00 PM CT 2
Blake vs. Breck 4:00 PM CT 2
Anoka vs. Edison 4:00 PM CT 1
De LaSalle vs. Henry Sibley 5:00 PM CT 1
HT Hurricanes vs. Orono 5:00 PM CT 2
Champlin Park vs. St. Anthony 5:00 PM CT 3
Minnehaha vs. Duluth East 6:00 PM CT 1
Select vs. Maple Grove 6:00 PM CT 2
Henry Sibley vs. Champlin 7:00 PM CT 1
Minnehaha vs. HT Hurricanes 7:30 PM CT 2
De LaSalle vs. Select 8:00 PM CT 1
Duluth East vs. Maple Grove 8:00 PM CT 3

Saturday at Jefferson (Magic league)
Gamblers vs Raiders 2 PM- Ct 3
Eagan vs Baldwin-Woodville 3 PM - Ct 1
Burnsville vs Waconia 3 PM - Ct 2
Gamblers vs Panthers 3 PM - Ct 3
TWovles vs Baldwin-Woodville 4 PM - Ct 1
Panthers vs Raiders 4 PM -Ct 2
Eagan vs Waconia 5 PM - Ct 1
Burnsville vs TWolves 5 PM - Ct 2

Sunday at Forest Lake (MYAS Black)
Irondale vs Centennial 3 PM - Ct 1
Eastside (Stillwater) vs Cardinals 3 PM - Ct 2
North Branch vs Ellsworth 3 PM - Ct 3
Roseville vs Forest Lake 3 PM - Ct 4
Centennial vs Cardinals 4 PM - Ct 1
Eastside vs Irondale 4 PM - Ct 2
Ellsworth vs Roseville 4 PM - Ct 3
Forest Lake vs North Branch 4 PM - Ct 4

Sunday at Hopkins (MYAS Blue)
Apple Valley vs Wolves 2 PM - Ct 1
Minnetonka vs Mound-Westonka 2 PM - Ct 2
Wayzata vs Wizards 2 PM - Ct 3
MDB White vs New Prague 2 PM - Ct 4
Waconia vs Rochester Mayo 2 PM - Ct 5
Lakeville South vs Owatonna 2 PM - Ct 6
Apple Valley vs Owatonna 4 PM - Ct 1
Lakeville South vs Mound Westonka 4 PM - Ct 2
New Prague vs Minnetonka 4 PM - Ct 3
Waconia vs Wolves 4 PM - Ct 4
MDB White vs Wayzata 4 PM - Ct 5
Rochester Mayo vs Wizards 4 PM - Ct 6

Sunday at Jefferson (Magic league)
Edina vs MTS 12 PM - Ct 4
West Wisconsin vs Mix 1 PM - Ct 2
SW Christian vs MTS 1 PM - Ct 3
Bethany vs Holy Family Green 1 PM - Ct 4
Edina vs Holy Family Green 2 PM - Ct 4
Mix vs Prior Lake 3 PM - Ct 2
West Wisconsin vs Holy Family White 3 PM - Ct 3
Bethany vs Baldwin-Woodville 3 PM - Ct 4
SW Christian vs Holy Family White 4 PM - Ct 3
Baldwin-Woodville vs Eden Prairie 4 PM - Ct 4
Prior Lake vs Eden Prairie 5 PM - Ct 4

2010 East Metro Showcase pairings announced

From Wishoops.net, here's the schedule for this year's East Metro Showcase at Johnson. Unfortunately it goes up against the Border Battle again this year but as always the event will more than hold its own.

NOTE: Sioux City Heelan unable to attend due to ice conditions in Iowa.  Updated schedule is below.

Friday January 22, 2010
4:00 p.m. -- St. Paul Johnson vs. St John’s NW Military Academy (WI)
6:00 p.m. -- Superior (WI) vs. Milwaukee Vincent (WI)
8:00 p.m. -- Hopkins (MN) vs. Maple Northwestern (WI)

Saturday January 23, 2010
10:00 a.m. -- Superior (WI) vs. Minneapolis Washburn (MN)
Noon -- St John’s NW Military Academy (WI) vs. Eastview (MN)
2:00 p.m. -- Maple Northwestern (WI) vs. LaCrosse Aquinas (WI)
4:00 p.m. -- Milwaukee Vincent (WI) vs. St Paul Central (MN)

2009 Season Previews Start Next Week

The time has come. So mark your calendars, hide the women and children and prepare to be amazed (ok, maybe not). I'll be starting my annual conference and section preview series on Monday night October 12th. I'll do 1 preview a day of each of the 11 metro conferences (I'll do separate previews of the 2 divisions of the Tri-Metro) and independents and then I'll get into section predictions for the 11 metro sections. I'll do an overview for the not-so-hardcore fan and then I'll wrap it all up with The Czar's Top 50 Metro Players.

For those of you who are Minnesota Preps premium subscribers (and if you're not, why not???!!), I'll also be doing a Question and Answer session with a coach from each league. The plan is to link to that piece from my preview. So you can read my perspective and then see what a coach has to say about their league. I think that will be a nice addition that I hope you'll enjoy.