2010 Dakota Showcase Preview

The 2010 Dakota Showcase is Thursday through Saturday in Sioux Falls.  Always a popular July warmup for some of Minnesota's best.  Here's a look at this year's edition.

Pool A features the top Comets squad who I expect to come out of the pool.  The main opposition is MN Select II.  Select went 3-2 last weekend in Mankato with both losses to Minnesota Southside.  Levi Abercrombie with a quiet weekend last weekend.  Jack Harrison comes over from the PNR 16s and RJ Dean comes over from Old Skool United for Select.  Comets with Blake Maslonkowski and Simon Krych are too much inside.  But seeing Jayme Moten and Abercrombie in a 3 point shootout would be fun.

Minnesota Wrath is in pool B though a couple of their kids (Jack Klukas and Dylan Stewart) played for the top Select team last weekend.  There's also a WOTN squad in here.  Sounds like it will be the Black team and not the top Gold team.  I likeWrath to win the pool.

Pool C provides a nice challenge for the Comets 16 Elites as they face another hard-nosed squad in Fury Gold.  Fury and Comets 1-2 in this pool.

Pool D has the top Select team with the South Dakota Heat Black squad featuring Casey Schilling and Jalen Voss from the MN side.  MRC Elite also represents Minnesota in this pool.  That's a Minnesota River Conference group.  I'll take Select and SD Heat Black 1-2.

Pool E has Fury Blue and Magic Elite (though I think Ethan Petrill may still be out with a foot type injury).  Fury Blue trying to rebound from a disaster at the state tourney.  7'2 Josh Monroy is part of the SD Heat Rushmore squad in this pool.  Give me Fury to win it and a toss up after that.

Pool F has Mankato champion Minnesota Glory and Fury Blue II.  ECI Prospects and Joe Hanstad in this pool as well.  Anders Broman vs Hanstad at 6:20 PM on Friday in the main gym will be something to see.

Pool G has Comets Seevers and the SW Minnesota Stars in it.  But my pick to win the pool is the top Wisconsin Blizzard team.  6'8 Chris Kading, a North Dakota State verbal, vs the Holt Twins is an attraction to watch.  Cal Skogman is one of the other Blizzard players to watch.

Pool H has Tyler Forsythe from Maple Northwestern representing the WI Terror, Cedric Lang and Zach Horstman from the Dakota Schoolers, the MN Suns 16s playing up along with Magic Superfriends and center Michael Idso.  His matchup with Lang should be a good test. Lang was impressive at the Sabes Invitational.

The 8 pool winners play Saturday for a chance to claim the 2010 championship.

Comets Hanson def Wrath
Fury Gold over Select I
Fury Blue over Glory
WI Blizzard Kellett over Dakota Schoolers

Fury Gold over Comets Hanson
WI Blizzard over Fury Blue

WI Blizzard over Fury Gold

Mid-Summer Rankings

No I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  Just a down time in the hoops season.  While I haven't seen as much summer ball as I would have liked this summer, I did finally have a chance to take a look at some results from May through now and here's my 17U Top 5

1) Howard Pulley Blue
2a) 43 Hoops
2b) Pump N Run
4) Howard Pulley White
5) Fury Gold/WOTN Gold

Howard Pulley won the Sabes Invitational and went 12-2 in the EYBL. With 2 of the more dominating players in the state (Joe Coleman and Marvin Singleton) plus depth, they're the best 17U team I've seen in Minnesota this season.

2a and 2b is a bail out on my part.  Pump N Run has the more impressive season resume while 43 Hoops has played a limited schedule.  But 43 Hoops did win the big showdown so that has to mean something.  Of course, PNR didn't have half their roster but did have Carlos Emory and plenty of opportunities to win that game.  I call this a wash and hope they meet in Vegas and/or Chicago next month.

Howard Pulley White won the AAU State tourney and has had enough success that I think they're the clear front runner for best of the rest.  Their dynamic guards make them tough to defend.

Last spot I felt like I had to mention the 2 best other teams out there.  Nick Carroll's Fury Gold team has played well and has beaten Howard Pulley White.  WOTN Gold has played Pulley Blue and Pump N Run tough.  Fury Blue deserves mention for a couple of big upsets in Kansas but 0-3 at the State Tourney knocks them out.

Howard Pulley Blue (Pulley Champion and the best squad I saw at 16U)
Net Gain (tough since I haven't seen them)
43 Hoops (2 wins over PNR puts them here)
Pump N Run
Comets Elite (AAU State Crown puts them here)


Pump N Run Maroon
Fury Blue
MN Select-Focke
Howard Pulley Blue

Those 15U 5 can be shaken any way you like as I think they're very close.  tNBA goes ahead of MN Select-Focke with 2 head-head wins.  Fury Blue def tNBA for the state AAU title so they get that nod and Pump N Run barely beat Fury Blue in Iowa.

Coleman enters ESPN top 100

The cycle of updated rankings begins. ESPN just released their updated rankings for the class of 2011. Joe Coleman enters the rankings at #65 to represent Minnesota. Other players who've appeared locally include

Brad Beal #6
Myck Kabongo #7
Branden Dawson #14
Quinn Cook #37

Read the entire ESPN.com top 100 here.

43 Hoops too much for Pump N Run

To 43 Hoops for a 17U showdown between Pump N Run and 43 Hoops.  All the notables in the building including the obvious ones (Monter, James, me) along with JohnnyGopher, UWOle and GopherLady of GopherHole fame.  Willie Vang from the MN Heat makes an appearance as well.  Lots of notables including Randy Carter, Eric Coleman, Zach Towle, Ryan Duxbury, Anthony Tucker all playing tonight in the early games just to name a few.  Men meet boys.   Sorry folks, no food or beverage at the game but I did have a messy Pulled Pork sandwich with Sierra Mist for dinner prior to venturing over to 43.

Funny moment before the game as I was one of many people who moved back and forth between courts about 5 times until we finally got it right that the curtain would be opened and we'd have action on court 2.  The court lined with fans all the way around with 3 quality officials working the game.  Gotta like that.  PNR without Estan Tyler (unknown), Eric Robertson (ankle), Joel Lindberg (Wisconsin camp) and Kyle Noreen (west coast college tour).  They added Carlos Emory and Jonathon Crockett from last year's 17U PNR squad.  No Jordan Smith for 43 as he was suffering from tendonitis and just resumed work outs today.  Let the record show with Matt Sellers' mom as my witness that I predicted an 8 point 43 Hoops win right before tip. 

Game Time
Jake White gets the assignment on Jonah Travis in this one.  Travis immediately spins and is fouled.  He shoots the 1st free throw and its good.  But the ball is trash so let's put that one out of play and pick a new one.  Travis drives for 2 more, Emory for 3 and then the alley oop from Crockett.  13-5 PNR leads at the 14:45 in a very low scoring half  (these are 25 minute running time halves).  But 43 cranks up the pressure and without their regular point guards PNR struggles to get into offense.  Schalk with 2 free throws and a 3 ball and 43 has the momentum and the crowd on their side.  Emory strong for 1 free throw as he's fouled on a dunk attempt to try and stem the tide.  Zach Romashko for 2 and Freddie Young with a steal for 2 and PNR wants time.  14 all with 9 minutes left in the first half.  20-19 43 Hoops leads after 1 Jonah Travis freebie at the 3:40 mark.  Raijon Kelly with a pair of big 3s that counter a pair of Travis dunks.  28-23 43 Hoops at the half.  Marquel Curtis and Jonah Travis each with 9 points in the half to lead their teams.

Jonah Travis stays hot as he knocks down a pair of left wing triples but the lead is still 5 for 43.  A Curtis steal for 2 free throws pushes the lead to 39-33 with 18 minutes left.  PNR won't go away.  Roosevelt Scott with a 1 handed hammer and Crockett with a layup.  Ross Travis emerges with a strong 2 and the foul through Mike Yahnke.  Curtis puts in a miss for a 44-39 lead with 14 minutes left.  Jonah Travis with 1 free throw, Crockett with 2 freebies of his own and a tough step back jumper.  Alex Richter with a layup, Scott with 2 free throws and Emory goes strong and makes 2 more PNR free throws.  Its an 11-2 PNR run over 6:30 with 7 free throws and it gives the Pumps a 50-46 lead with 7:30 to play.

Then 43 steps it up.  Ross Travis for 3 and a layup.  Curtis with a steal for a dunk.  Scott misses a layup.  Curtis offensive rebounds an airball and puts it back just in time to beat the 30 second shot clock with 3 minutes left.  That concludes a 9-0 43 Hoops run and they lead 55-50 with 3 minutes left.  Jonah Travis with 2 free throws but 43 is on the offensive board again.  This time its Jake White grabbing a Ross Travis miss and making 2 free throws from it at the 1:47 mark.  Ross doesn't miss on the next trip as he hammers home a dunk at the 1:10 mark for a 7 point lead.  A Crockett steal for 2 cuts the lead to 4 but it doesn't matter.  Curtis with the exclamation point dunk and 43 Hoops wins 63-55.

Post Game
For Pump N Run, Jonah Travis leads the way with 18 points and 7 rebounds on my officially unofficial (but I use it anyway) stat sheet.  Carlos Emory with 16 points but his turnovers down the stretch were critical.  Trying to take over is great but it can be said on this night that he tried to do too much.  Jon Crockett 9 points, Roosevelt Scott 8 points, Alex Richter a rough night of 4 points on 1-8 shooting to round out the PNR scoring.  Surprisingly PNR gave up critical buckets on the offensive glass.  Not surprisingly, when Crockett wasn't handling the ball, 43 did have success with pressure defense and that included Emory.

For 43 Hoops, Marquel Curtis is your game MVP with 21 points.  His numerous forays to the rim and off handed finishes (lefty on right side too) had no answer.  12 of those 21 in the 2nd half.  6 in the last 6 minutes to put 43 over the top.  Raijon Kelly lived large in this one too with 13 clutch points right across the halftime boundary.  Ross Travis a quiet first half but had all 12 of his points in the 2nd half.  Versatile too with a putback, an old-fashioned 3 point play with power and then a 3 ball.  Tack on a steal for a dunk to show off the athletic ability. Jake White quiet with 8 points and 6 boards but a board for 2 free throws late was large.  Tom Schalk 5 points, Zach Romashko 2 and Freddie Young 2 to round out the scoring for 43 Hoops.  All in all, a hard fought battle of 2 high quality teams that was greatly enjoyed by all.  43 was the better team on this night and no griping about missing players etc.  PNR had plenty of chances in this one and had a lead just outside 6 minutes to play.  Let's hope they again in July in Chicago and/or Las Vegas.

Marquel Curtis photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

The day before the big matchup

As I write this it's 24 hours before the big showdown of 17U teams as Pump N Run will play 43 Hoops.  Its a 9 PM game at 43 Hoops that will have the building to itself.  7 of the top 8 players in the 2011 Minnesota Preps rankings are on the rosters.  Here's a pregame look at what I think is notable.

Roster Exceptions
Don't know if 43 will be at full strength.  Pump N Run will be without Kyle Noreen and Shelby Moats due to college visits.  The Noreens continue their west coast swing as they visit Portland, Washington State and Montana.  Moats starts a marathon 11 school tour including Rutgers, Connecticut, Harvard and Boston College just to name a few.

The Factors
  1. Estan Tyler and Joel Lindberg vs 43 Hoops pressure defense.   
  2. Jake White vs Pump N Run interior play.
  3. Jordan Smith vs Roosevelt Scott
  4. Pump N Run depth
  5. Ross Travis and Jonah Travis
Estan Tyler and Joel Lindberg vs 43 Hoops Pressure Defense
Pump N Run with an advantage at the point guard spot and they'll need it.  Expect 43 to come after PNR with run and jump traps and a 1-2-2 3/4 court pressure.  Not only to create turnovers, but also to increase the pace.  Tyler is as good as they come in Minnesota at the point and Lindberg is one of Wisconsin's best.   PNR could also use Jason Perkins to handle as well.

Jake White vs Pump N Run Interior Play
Pump N Run's offense is predicated on their ability to get post ups out of the Swing Offense.  Jake White is 43s best interior player.  If he gets in foul trouble, that gives Pump N Run a big advantage inside.  Even if White is in there, PNRs shooting isn't a strength.  That's especially true in this game with 2 of PNRs best shooters being gone (Noreen and Moats).

Jordan Smith vs Roosevelt Scott
Scott's atheticism can give almost anyone fits when he plays defense.  Smith is one of the state's best shooters and while he's not the most athletic, he makes up for it with smarts.  It'll be a long night for PNR if Smith goes off.  Its a matchup of 2 of the state's premier 2 guards not named Joe Coleman.

Pump N Run Depth
These games are 2 25 minute halves with running time for the 1st 20 minutes of each half.  Players get 6 fouls and there are 2 full and 2 30-second timeouts per team.  With 2 players being gone and extra long halves, a fast pace doesn't help PNR.  It'll be very interesting to see what they have left in the tank late.

Ross Travis and Jonah Travis
These 2 are the calling cards for their teams.  Pump N Run doesn't have a great matchup for Ross and 43 doesn't have a great matchup for Jonah.  Bottom line, big time players need to come up big in big games.

Move it all to Arlington

I've thrown this out before and I know the St. Paul City schedule is already finalized, but I really like the idea of playing all St. Paul City Conference games at Arlington.  A quality venue going to waste would be a shame plus I think it could do some really good things for generating interest in city basketball.  Revenue and site management could be shared among the teams.  Being these are all city kids who are all over the place anyway, I don't see travel or the associated costs as an issue.

From the start of the 2011 calendar year to the Twin Cities game, you have 9 full weeks starting with January 3rd, 2011.  With 6 league teams (no Arlington remember), that means there are 30 league games to be scheduled. If we go 1 game every Tuesday night, 1 game every Friday night and a Saturday afternoon doubleheader, that's a total of 36 slots.  You can't use the last Saturday because of the annual Twin Cities game.  St. Paul also takes the Tuesday after Martin Luther King day and President's Day off.  Not in my kingdom, but I do take out the 2 Saturdays with that "holiday" weekend.  Move the final Friday night of the season to Thursday night for the final game and voila you have 30 slots that can be used.  I'd also make sure that there would be no Friday night/Saturday afternoon back-back games for a team.

Teams could always move the games if agreed.  Ex: Johnson moving a Friday game to Thursday due to their East Metro Showcase.

That would give a team 10 league games with 16 games to fill.  There are 3 weeks in December + a holiday tournament that could be used.  So lets say 6 games in December (Friday/Tuesday games) and a 3 game tournament.  Now we're up to 19 games with 7 to fill.  9 weeks at 5 possible game days per week (throw out Wed/Sun for sake of discussion).  That's 45 days.  Subtract 10 conference games.  Down to 35 days.  Under my proposed schedule, each team would play 4 Saturdays and therefore have 4 Saturdays available for a non-conference game including the Martin Luther King weekend which is a popular tournament weekend.  Every Monday and Thursday would be open as well which is a common non-conference game night.

Proposed Schedule
Tue Jan 4: Johnson vs Humboldt
Fri Jan 7: Como Park vs Harding
Sat Jan 8: Johnson vs Central, Highland Park vs Humboldt
Tue Jan 11: Central vs Highland Park
Fri Jan 14: Johnson vs Harding
Sat Jan 15:OPEN
Tue Jan 18: Como Park vs Humboldt
Fri Jan 21: Johnson vs Highland Park (likely move to Jan 20 due to East Metro Showcase)
Sat Jan 22: Humboldt vs Harding, Central vs Como Park
Tue Jan 25 Como Park vs Highland Park
Fri Jan 28: Central vs Humboldt
Sat Jan 29: Highland Park vs Harding, Johnson vs Como Park
Tue Feb 1: Central vs Harding
Fri Feb 4: Harding vs Como Park
Sat Feb 5: Central vs Johnson, Humboldt vs Highland Park
Tue Feb 8: Humboldt vs Johnson
Fri Feb 11: Highland Park vs Johnson
Sat Feb 12: Harding vs Humboldt, Como Park vs Central
Tue Feb 15: Highland Park vs Central
Fri Feb18: Harding vs Johnson
Sat Feb 19: OPEN
Tue Feb 22: Humboldt vs Como Park
Fri Feb 25: Humboldt vs Central
Sat Feb 26: Harding vs Highland Park, Como Park vs Johnson
Tue Mar 1: Harding vs Central
Th Mar 3: Highland Park vs Como Park

In terms of schedule balance, everybody plays 4 times on a Saturday.  Tuesday games are 4 each for Central and Humboldt, 3 for Como Park and Highland Park and 2 for Harding and Johnson.  Friday games are 4 for Harding, 2 for Central and Humboldt, Como Park with 2 and the final game.  Highland Park with 1, the final game and the East Metro Showcase rescheduled game.  Johnson with 3 and the rescheduled Highland Park game.

2010 AAU State Championship Predictions

Here are my predictions for the 2010 AAU State Tourney (schedule here)

Pigtail Games
Comets-Hanson over Comets Seevers
Heat Sprang over Glory (love the scoring of Bryan Sprang and Anders Broman in this one)
Magic Elite over Old Skool United. 
WOTN Gold over Heat Elite (arguably 2 of the top 4 or 5 teams here and they're in a pigtail game, best game of the 4)

Fury Blue over Comets-Hanson (this pick pains me as I like the Comets bigs but I can't deny Fury's results)
HP White over Heat Sprang
Fury Gold over Magic Elite
WOTN Gold over Wrath

Pulley White over Fury Blue (too much firepower from the Pulley guards McNeal, Thomas and Averyheart)
Fury Gold over WOTN Gold (tough pick here but Nick Carroll has a really tough squad)

Fury Gold over Pulley White (Fury wins with defense)

Pigtail Games
On the record, Heat Red by 70 to preserve my own personal safety (I'm not messing with Heat Red coach Andre Phillips).  Off the record, I like Heat Black in a close one.
Pulley White over WOTN Gold
Suns over Sauk Rapids
Heat Elite over tNBA.

Comets Elite over Heat Black (Comets needed a buzzer beater over Heat Black to win qualifier)
Fighting Irish over HP White
Fury over Suns (qualifier rematch, Fury won by 11)
Magic Elite Gold over Heat Elite

Comets Elite over Fighting Irish
Fury over Magic Elite Gold

Comets Elite over Fury.  Really tough road for the Comets as Heat Black has played well this season and that Rosemount group has been really good too.  Bottom half of the draw not nearly as strong.

Pigtail Games
WOTN Gold over Comets Elite
Triple Threat over Fury
River City over Heat Red
MN Select-Focke over Old Skool United Silver

Quarterfinals (all rematches from the qualifier)
Fury Blue over WOTN Gold
Heat Black over Triple Threat
Glory over River City
tNBA over MN Select-Focke (should be a semifinal, dynamite game that would be worthy of a championship).  tNBA won 61-60 at the qualifier.  No Reed Travis for Select as he should be with PNR Black at the MYAS tourney.

Fury Blue over Heat Black
tNBA over Glory

Fury Blue over tNBA in a great final

The other championships this weekend

I'll have my predictions and thoughts on the AAU State Championships tomorrow, but those aren't the only games of note this weekend.  Let's take a look at the MYAS State Championships and the Dakota Schoolers Summer Classic

At the Schoolers classic, 2 pools of 17s.  The first pool has the SW MN Stars and South Dakota Heat Red (or Black depending on your preference).  That's the Casey Schilling (Ellsworth) and Jalen Voss (Worthington) squad against Marshall's Caleb Johnson, Windom's Holt twins and the Stars.  Voss played with the Stars last summer.  They play each other Saturday night at 6:30 and I wouldn't be surprised if its for the pool title.  In the other pool, you have the other 2 South Dakota Heat teams, the Dakota Schoolers and EOTO makes the trip from the metro.  Love the matchup of 7'2 Josh Monroy (Heat Rushmore) vs 6'8 Cedric Lang (Schoolers) on the block.  South Dakota State signee Zach Horstman is a force on the wing for the Schoolers.

In the 16U division, EOTO sends their black squad to the first pool of 5 teams.  Zach Huisken (if he stays at 16s for the Schoolers) is this pool along with Ellsworth's Dalton Huisman for the South Dakota Heat East group.  9:40 Friday night EOTO vs Schoolers, 12:40 Saturday EOTO vs SD Heat East.  The SW MN Stars 16s and MN Southside are in the other pool.  They play each other at 11:30 on Saturday morning.  Southside's Joey King should have a big tourney in that pool for Southside.  Very surprised that Southside isn't playing up in the 17s in this tourney.

As to the MYAS championships, the best game is out in the middle of nowhere at Farmington (move it back to the Colin Powell Center).  Huge matchup in the 16s with Pump N Run and 43 Hoops on track to play in the 4:10 PM final on Sunday.  Best of all, the last of 3 straight championships in the AAU state tourney is at 2 PM so there's plenty of time to make the run from Jefferson.  43 Hoops got a late putback in the PNR Spring Classic title game to beat PNR 62-61.  PNR with a late lead in that one and couldn't hang on.  Expect another classic in that one.  43 Hoops has added Marcus Tyus since that game which is a nice addition to their offense.  PNR has struggled shooting the ball the last couple of weeks which is something they have to do well to be successful.  PNR tried to switch on Marcus Marshall off the high ball screen in the last meeting, do they keep the same strategy in this matchup?

The MYAS 15U championships are at Hopkins.  Both Pump N Run 15s are there and on opposite sides of the draw.  MN Jaguars could see the Black squad in 1 semifinal while Mpls Select likely has the Maroon group in the other semifinal.  Championship is at 12:40 PM on Sunday.