This is part 2 in my preview of the 1st week of the 2010 Grassroots season (part 1 can be found here). In this edition, a look at the 17U bracket in the Comets Shootout.
Minnesota's Toughest Basketball (Schedule here)
Like the US Open (The world's toughest tennis), I'm calling this Minnesota's Toughest Basketball. 7 games in just over 24 hours to win the title, all after many of the kids take the 4 hour ACT test in the morning and then travel to play the night games. 3 games in 5 sessions, probably travel home and come back for the 9:10 AM round of 16 games. That's really brutal if you have the Friday 10 PM game. Then you have to play 4 games Sunday. And very little practice time to boot, though this year we get the extra week. Even tough on fans like me who watch all of it, very difficult last year. While I'm happy to be back in The Old Kingdom (5th Annual Crown Prince Cancer Benefit Baseball Trip), I'm not at all happy to miss this.
2 of the 8 pools have only 3 teams which saves the wear and tear of that extra Saturday night game. Comets Elite-Hanson gets that benefit in pool A. This Comets club is huge with the Apollo front line of Simon Krych and Blake Maslonkowski and Mayer Lutheran's Travis Rollo. Add in Seth Hinrichs who's a 2 that plays center for MACCRAY. Then the leadership of Jayme Moten (please grow the hair back) at the point and rebounding guard Trevor Morlock on a wing. They win the pool easily. For Triple Threat, last year Michael Lindsey and Phil Nowak broke out. This year Annandale has another big that will bust on to the scene for TT. 6'6 James Fort mans the middle. Also keep an eye on Maple Lake's Mitch Wurm who will be their other scoring threat. Comets Elite Hanson vs Triple Threat to open pool play at 4:10 Saturday. Comets are done with the 6:30 game which could be a big advantage for Sunday.
Magic Elite features athletic Joe Carpenter from St. Michael-Albertville. 6'9 Dan Flesher gives them size inside and Ethan Petrill comes over from Pump N Run. Minnesota Select's top team is here with Brian Reeves and Joey Cuperus up front. Brendan Canova and Tim Lubke man the backcourt with Andy Jones at a wing. MN Heat Red is the 3rd Heat team (of 4 in the tourney). Bryan Blackhawk is a scorer for that group. Magic vs Select I to decide the pool at 6:30 Saturday night at Sauk Rapids HS.
Minnesota Glory and MN Heat Sprang (Black but hereby called Heat Sprang) should duke it out to win this pool. Glory with Winona's Mark Blacklock and Chicago Lakes Benj Figini up front. Frosh Anders Broman from Lakeview Christian (Duluth area) plays up for backcourt punch. He's already scored over 1000 points in his high school career. Soph Carey Woods from Bemidji also listed for Glory. Brian Sprang is all everything for Heat Sprang. Expect him to have big games in this pool as a tough wing matchup for most. Jordan Van Eps and Derek Dahl come over from 43 Hoops. Spencer Grow is a nice wing from Anoka. Depth could be an issue with only 7 guys listed for Heat Sprang. Heat Sprang vs Glory at 7:40 Whitney Court 1.
Minnesota Pump N Run leads this pool. Jonah Travis, Shelby Moats and Alex Richter all return for this club. Rumor mill also has Sibley seniors Mike Rostampour and Jordan Jackson joining this club. Superior point guard Joel Lindberg joins the team. He replaces Aaron Ziman who is now with Fury Gold and in this pool. 6'9 Dane Schmid mans the middle for that group. Joe Zangel provides wing scoring along with guard Toriano Tatum. Those teams play at 7:40 on the other end of the Whitney.
This is the other 3 team pool. Heat Elite with the Preiner twins and Rob Daul lead the pool. Alex Kreuser comes over from Pump N Run. Spencer Pankonin comes over from WOTN for size. And go figure, WOTN is the competition in this pool. Lucas Brown and Matt Hentges are wing scorers. David Stanley, Ben Sicoli and Vaughan Thada are solid guards. Otto Pfefferle is a 6'8 string bean who can step out and shoot it along with big 6'8 soph Kyle Bauman down low. Those teams play to decide the pool at 8:50 Sat night at Sauk Rapids HS.
Its the top teams from ECI and Fury leading this pool. ECI with 2 of North Dakota's best in guards Joe Hanstad and Josh Rodenbiker. Jesse Crosby and Stephen-Argyle's monster big Matt Borowicz will be the inside play. Fury's gets wing scoring from Mike Emge and Rodney Owens. Terez Van Pelt and Anthony Lee are solid at the point. TJ Okafor and Martin Smith will have their hands full inside. They meet at 8:50 on court 3 at the Whitney. John Clark and Alex Koch lead the MN Select 2nd team in this pool. Koch has the ability to put the team on his back and steal a game.
The tournament favorite 43 Hoops is here. So much firepower with Estan Tyler, Jordan Smith, Jake White, Marquel Curtis and Thomas Schalk. And then you add in the state's 2011 prospect Ross Travis (#133 nationally). MN Wrath looks to be the 2nd team here. Waconia's guard tandem of Bronson Scheff and Ben Kortuem is solid. Conner Nord mans the front line and Jack Klukas is a wing scorer. Not flashy but very sound and tough defensively.
The 2nd Comets Elite squad is here. Caleb Johnson is solid at the point. Cody Milbrath was very productive at the state tournament for Springfield. Jordan Gieske and Ian Nelson give them bangers inside. Also keep an eye on Nate Golden. Much to my dismay the South Dakota Heat White squad appears instead of the black squad with MN kids Casey Schilling and Jalen Voss. We get 5'8 soph Wyatt Krogman (little brother of South Dakota's all-time leading scorer Louie Krogram who's now at South Dakota) and 6'8 Chris Zylstra from Iowa. Those teams meet at 10 PM Saturday at the Whitney.
I predict the championship bracket to look like this.
MN Select vs Triple Threat
MN Heat Elite vs SD Heat
Fury Gold vs MN Glory
43 Hoops vs Fury Blue
Comets Elite-Hanson vs Magic Elite
Comets Elite-Seevers vs WOTN
Pump N Run vs Heat Sprang
ECI Prospects vs MN Wrath
In the round of 16 I'll take MN Select I, MN Heat Elite, Fury Gold, 43 Hoops in the top half. In the bottom half I'll take Comets-Hanson, WOTN, Pump N Run and ECI.
Heat Elite over MN Select I, 43 Hoops over Fury Gold, Comets Hanson over WOTN, Pump N Run over ECI (best quarterfinal)
That gives us 4 of the top 5 teams in the state in the quarters. 43 Hoops over Heat Elite, Pump N Run over Comets Hanson in the semifinals. Interesting matchup in that PNR/Comets game as the Comets have the size to matchup well with PNR. Once again I'll predict as Comets/PNR classic in the semis. The Heat will be amped up as they didn't get a shot at 43 or PNR last year. This may be their chance.
Then the matchup of the year that we've all wanted to see since they played for the 15U state AAU title in June of 2008, 43 Hoops vs Pump N Run. Size vs Speed. I take 43 Hoops to win in a matchup that will be as intense as you'll see all summer.