2010 State Tourney Preview

Here are my thoughts on the 3A and 4A opening round games for the 2010 State Tournament.

Class 4A
Hopkins vs Forest Lake.  Forest Lake plays a style that can frustrate teams, especially if they go 1-3-1 in this one.  I think they have to as Duluth East was too much to handle man-man.  Hopkins is more than that but they'll have to execute against the zone and not gamble vs the patient 5-out offense.  I'll take Hopkins in this one.

Eastview vs Sibley. A pair of teams on fire right now with Eastview rolling since the return of Joey King and Sibley hasn't been beaten since the TWolves Shootout.  Mike Rostampour vs the physical Eastview defense is something to watch.  Rostampour will have to stay out of foul trouble as he's the best matchup to try and slow down King.  I also expect to see a matchup of Vinard Birch and Jordan Jackson during the game.  I think Sibley has too much offense in this one so the move on.

Owatonna vs Eden Prairie.  Owatonna comes out of a weak Big 9 with a win over Hastings in the section 1 championship.  Eden Prairie waltzed through section 2 and their defense is way too much in this one.  I take the Eagles to win easily.

St. Cloud Tech vs Champlin Park.  Don't be surprised if this is the best game of the AAAA quarterfinals.  Champlin Park with more weapons on offense but the backcourt combo of Scott Nystrom and Alex Hanks for Tech can fill it up.  Kyle Zimmerman is a tough matchup for Tech, interesting to see if Tech will use Hanks on him at any point.  Tech keeps this one close and low-scoring, but the Rebels have too much offense in the end.

So that leaves us with Sibley vs Hopkins and Champlin Park vs Eden Prairie.  Sibley vs Hopkins would feel like a state title game, too bad its the 6 PM game on Thursday.

Class 3A
Hutchinson vs Johnson.  If you haven't experienced Johnson during the year, its really hard to grasp just how good they are defensively.  Play zone, pack it in tight and make Johnson slow down and make shots.  Then don't give Johnson easy points off of turnovers.  Johnson is a heavy favorite, but that strategy will allow Hutch to keep it close.

Orono vs Winona.  This is game for me that has the most intrigue.  Orono will throw the kitchen sink of traps at Winona's guards to try and offset the huge size advantage of Alec Brown and Mark Blacklock inside.  You'll see zone traps, full court pressure, man pressure with run and jump along with some scramble.  Very hard to prepare for them which makes their 2 wins over league rivals in section play more impressive.  If I'm Winona, I put Brown in the high post/top of the key area to break pressure and let him feed Blacklock down low all night.  Nothing like a 7-footer to be a 1 man press break.  Expect Winona to go zone which will give Orono plenty of looks from deep.  If Orono gets a lead in this one and forces Winona to come out and play man, then it could out of hand.  Orono loves to play spread ball and its not a good matchup for Winona to come out and play against it.

De La Salle vs Little Falls.  Dan Kornbaum will have to work to get his as there's no secret on the DLS strategy.  Front him, pressure the ball and get back side help.  The supporting cast will have to step up for the Flyers.  Jonah Travis is athletic enough to front and make the lob difficult but he has to stay out of foul trouble.  If you're Little Falls, hopefully you've worked on defending flare screens as DLS runs more of them, better and more points than anybody.  Expect a slow pace with both teams having to work to generate their offense.

Benilde-St. Margaret's vs Grand Rapids.  I don't like this matchup at all for Grand Rapids.  Their strengths are all better strengths for BSM and the Red Knights are deeper.  Peter Crawford, Seth Marx and Isaiah Zierden all matchup really well with Erik Stark, Austin Pohlen and Michael Johnson.  Grand Rapids has the experience of tough games this year so I think they keep it respectable but BSM wins.

1 semifinal would be a dynamite rematch between Benilde-St. Margaret's and De La Salle.  A shame that those would be the day games at Target Center on Thursday.  Johnson vs Winona if it happens would be another very interesting size vs speed matchup.

Final Predictions
No surprise here but I have to take Johnson in 3A and Hopkins to win 4A.


  1. Hard to pick against St. Paul Johnson. Tsar, any idea where Alec Brown is headed next year?

  2. Mid-majors should be all over Brown as he's been a monster from last July to now.


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