10-11 Section 3AAA Preview

This is the 15th preview in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, I continue my look at the metro area sections with a look at Section 3AAA.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Defending Champion: DeLaSalle

Predicted Seeding
  1. DeLaSalle
  2. Columbia Heights
  3. Minneapolis Henry
  4. St. Paul Central
  5. Totino-Grace
  6. St. Paul Como Park
  7. Fridley
  8. St. Anthony
It should be another very competitive season in section 3AAA.  DeLaSalle's non-conference schedule will give them every opportunity to top the section standings.  Columbia Heights will have to take the North Suburban crown to take the top seed.  Henry has games at DeLaSalle and hosting Columbia Heights.  Henry's guards traditionally give DeLaSalle fits but Henry doesn't have the guards of years past.  Totino-Grace is dangerous in the 5 slot as they're good enough to beat a Central team and they took out Henry last year in the tourney (and barely lost in another game).  Como Park looks like a lock for the 6 seed with their talent and St. Paul City schedule.  A possible Fridley/St. Anthony matchup in the Fridley holiday tourney likely determines the last 2 spots.  But that game will look much different than the 66-65 OT gem these 2 played last December at St. Anthony.

Section Winner: DeLaSalle.  They barely took out Columbia Heights in the section final last season and I expect another classic this season.  2 keys to that game will be pace and the turnover battle.  If a slow pace and sound defense forces Heights into frustration turnovers trying to generate offense, that's a big tilt to DeLaSalle.  If pressure on a DeLaSalle team that hasn't shown a true point guard force turnovers and allow an up and down helter-skelter kind of game, then Heights will be tough to deal with.  Ultimately, while DeLaSalle has players like Melvin Collins and Riley Dearring to match up with Zach Lofton and Ben Glover, Heights really doesn't have a good answer inside for Jonah Travis who's too quick for Andrew Hanson and too big and strong for the rest of the Heights roster.

10-11 Section 4AA Preview

This is the 14th preview in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, I continue my look at the metro area sections with a look at Section 4AA.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Defending Champion: Minnehaha Academy

I'd say we're upgrading from class A to class AA, but this section is even worse than last year.  That's hard to fathom considering how down it was last year.  No powerhouse team in the section like last year's Minnehaha squad.  Last year's brackets were a little goofy with Trinity in the west and International School in the east so who knows what it will end up like.  For my purposes, I'll project them with the East/West breakdown that I think should happen.

West Subsection Predicted Seeding
  1. Minnehaha
  2. Blake
  3. Minneapolis Roosevelt
  4. Breck
  5. Brooklyn Center
  6. Providence
  7. International School
I take Minnehaha at the top for winning the Tri-Metro west.  The race for #2 is nice bear (Roosevelt) vs mean bear (Blake).  Blake lost at Roosevelt by 2 last year.  They'll play at Blake on Jan 4th and I'll take the Bears at home this year.  But Calvin Jenkins is enough to pull Roosevelt all the way through the subsection if he gets hot.  Providence is still young and I can't put them above any of the Tri-Metro squads.  International School got no respect for their EMAC schedule last year and losing to Edison really sealed their fate.  No reason to believe the coaches won't seed them at the bottom again.

East Subsection Predicted Seeding
  1. Concordia Academy
  2. St. Croix Lutheran
  3. Trinity
  4. St. Paul Academy
  5. Minneapolis Edison
  6. Mounds Park Academy
  7. Great River
Concordia is the easy pick at the top and Great River is another EMAC school who will get no respect with their schedule so they get the bottom spot.  Edison and MPA are both worthy of a 7 seed but I can only put 1 team there.   Edison gets the nod over MPA since they can score and MPA struggles there.  Trinity at St. Croix Lutheran in February is a must win for Trinity to take the 2 seed.  SPA has to travel to both Trinity and St. Croix Lutheran.  With those 2 teams having their top kids back and SPA losing 11 seniors, going on the road will be too much to overcome.

Section Winner: Concordia Academy.  With the additions from St. Bernard's, I think that gives Concordia too much depth.  They have the top inside player in the section in Cutler Finneman and the deepest backcourt.  They beat Minnehaha to win the section.

10-11 Section 4A Preview

With 11 conference previews and a look at the local independents (along with the Wright County and Mississippi 8), I move on to part 2 of my season preview series with a look at the 11 metro area sections.  As is tradition, I'll start with the little guys in section 4A . For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Defending Champion: Minnesota Transitions

Normally I'd do full section seeding predictions here but as convoluted as the setup is for this section, who knows who will end up where.  Ultimately the seeds will mean very little as there's 2 teams at the top with 1 possible sleeper.  Beyond that, there's nothing to be afraid of in the section.  Assuming the teams are on separate sides of the bracket like last year, easy money says MN Transitions vs Maranatha for the section crown.  St. Agnes has enough talent back and they have both MTS and MCA on the schedule to be a sleeper.  Remember they won at Maranatha early last season.  In the next tier, I expect 3 others to open section play (after the play in games) with wins.  That's Heritage in the North/West.  Then New Life and St. Paul Humboldt in the South/East.

Section Winner: Minnesota Transitions.  The Wolves just have too much firepower with Rodney Owens, Devonte Harvey and Kyle Noreen.  MCA will keep the game close as they are very well coached but MTS will close them out late.

10-11 Independents and the Rest Preview

This is the 12th preview in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the metro area independents and then some bonus thoughts on the Wright County and Mississippi 8 Conferences.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

CHOF Lions (2009-10 season 6-16)
Junior center Tyler Strandlund is your prototype class A 1 man band.  He's good for 20 and 10 every night.  Guards Tate Piepkorn and Adam Rohlf return.  They'll be improved but beyond Strandlund, they'll struggle to score.

Minnesota Transitions Wolves (2009-10 season 30-3)
The defending class A state champions lose the state's all-time leading scorer Kevin Noreen and his 36.5 points and 16.4 rebounds per game.  With his size no longer in the middle, expect the Wolves to go back to their old Loyola Marymount ways.  Younger brother Kyle returns and is the glue that will hold the team together as he will do a bit of everything for them.  After averaging 19.2 PPG last season, don't be shocked if he comes close to 30 this season.  It wouldn't be crazy to see him average a triple-double either.  Dynamic scorer Rodney Owens returns on the other wing and should also have a large season.  Forward Devonte Harvey can fill it up in a hurry too. Expect the starters to play big minutes as beyond those 3, the roster is thin.

PACT Panthers (2009-10 season 22-7)
The Panthers lose most of their rotation including forward Austin Rink.  He averaged 18.3 points a game last season.  Sophomore Drew Zieroth is the top returner at 6.9 PPG a night.  Senior Jordan Szabla is another returnee of note.  In a rebuilding year, they've downgraded the non-MCAA section of their schedule accordingly.

Prairie Seeds Academy comes on the scene this year. They have enough athletes to be competitive against their mostly charter school schedule.

Former Big Lake coach Steve De Los Reyes relaunches the program at Spectrum after it didn't play varsity last year. 

Games to Watch
  • Duluth East vs MTS - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
  • Lakeview Christian at CHOF - Dec 11th
  • Braham at CHOF - Dec 16th
  • MTS at Springfield - Dec 20th
  • Park Christian at CHOF - Jan 14th
  • CHOF at MTS - Feb 10th
  • MTS at St. Paul Johnson - Feb 22nd
  • MTS at Eden Prairie - Feb 25th
  • CHOF at Maranatha - Mar 1st
  • MTS at Stephen-Argyle - Mar 4th
Wright County Conference Thoughts
Some really good talent in the league with lots of players back.  The battle at the top remains the same with Orono and Waconia set to have a pair of epic battles again this season (1/4 at Waconia, 2/8 at Orono).  Waconia loses forward Danny Fischbach but the development of Alex Schmitt and Wylie Ferron should over come that.  My gut tells me to take Orono since 9 of their top 10 return.  However, with Shelby Moats inside and the guard duo of Bronson Scheff and Ben Kortuem returning for a 3rd year with 2 league titles, I have to take Waconia until beaten.  I think these teams split like last year and Orono's reliance on outside shooting and opposing bigs to rebound means they get upset in a game.  Plenty of bigs in the league as well which isn't good for Orono's small lineup.  Mike Yahnke and 18 a night return at Delano.  Expect a big year inside from James Fort at Annandale.  Nate Kratch is a versatile lefty forward at Watertown-Mayer.  They need to replace 14 a night from Tyler Schmidt but most of the rotation returns. 

Mississippi 8 Conference Thoughts
Rogers is my team to beat in the league with their top 2 scorers Trevor Morlick on the wing and post Rory Donovan returning.  RJ Dean returns at the point.  Center Michael Schreiber returns.  Forward Josh Turnquist had a big summer for 43 Hoops and is a nice complement to their inside play.  Trevor Berkley is another wing who should see time.  Buffalo loses their top 2 scorers in Aaron Duske and guard Brent Kettenacker.  Sharpshooter Andy Ortmann returns as the top scorer.  Soph Ethan Freer and Kennan Brown return to the rotation.  At St. Michael-Albertville, athletic forward Joe Carpenter returns along with guard Michael Wiese.  Like Buffalo, they are well-coached and hard-nosed defensively.  Expect those 2 to be in the top half.  On the northern side of the league you've got shooters.  Junior Ted Lutterman leads the way at Cambridge-Isanti.  Zimmerman's backcourt of Brandon Giese and Blake Ehley (especially Giese) can fill it up in a hurry.  Those 2 with 5 juniors who saw plenty of time last year should allow the Thunder to make the top half.  Big Lake will have a say in that with much of their rotation back.  Center Anthony Saavedra (including goggles) and point guard Michael Stevens are the top players back for another year.  Post Damien Reinke will lead Becker but they'll have to find a way to replace athletic forward Michael Lindsay's 17 points a night.  Center Kevin Flesch will lead Monticello.  Zimmerman, Princeton and possibly Becker all leave the league after the season to form a new conference very similar to the old Rum River (read about the realignment possibilities here)

    10-11 Tri-Metro Preview

    This is the 11th preview in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Tri-Metro Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    Wow, talk about a league in a down year. DeLaSalle is loaded and Concordia gets some help from the closing of St. Bernard's but otherwise, not a good year in the league.

    Blake Bears (2009-10 season 10-18, 5-11 Conference, 5th West)
    Those 10 wins are deceiving as there really wasn't a good win on the schedule.  Sophomore Kebu Johnson is rapidly improving.  He was last year's second leading scorer at 11.6 PPG and is their do everything player.  Senior forward Tim Zellmer is the other returnee of note.

    Breck Mustangs (2009-10 season 7-19, 2-14 Conference, 6th West)
    Long time Larry McKenzie assistant Matt McCollister takes over as the new coach.  3 of their 7 wins were against Trinity so 4-19 against everyone else.  Top scorer Jeffrey Lurie returns with his 14.8 points a night.  Juniors Austin Lommen and  Tyler Hudson saw big minutes last season along with guards Nick Hoffman and Joey Yared.

    Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2009-10 season 16-11, 11-5 Conference, 3rd West)
    Huge loss for the Centaurs with their star point guard Freddie Young leaving for a prep school.  Demetrius Anthony is the top returner at 11.1 PPG.  Without Young I expect a long season.

    Concordia Academy Beacons (2009-10 season 15-13, 9-7 Conference, 2nd East)
    The Beacons lose forward Jordan Schneidermann, Chad Koepke and shooter Nik Novitsky.One of the few bright spots in the league.  Point guard Shane Taylor comes over from St. Bernard's.  Junior Cutler Finneman returns inside.  Guards Jeff Weber and Lorenzo Davis also return.

    DeLaSalle Islanders (2009-10 season 25-6, 15-1 Conference, tied 1st West)
    There's D and everyone else despite the loss of star forward Jalen Jaspers.  Jonah Travis returns in the middle and should have a monster year.  Bretson McNeal had a breakout summer for Howard Pulley.  He's one of the top shooters in the state and can explode for a handful of triples in a very short time.  Marcas Dorsey and Robert Ndondo-Lay will see minutes inside.  Sophomore Riley Dearring comes over from Hopkins.  He should see time on the other wing along with the athletic Marvin Collins.  Lamonte Hall is another shooter and he'll see time at the point.  Keep an eye on the DLS play at the point.  They'll probably do it by committee as there really isn't a true PG right now.

    Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2009-10 season 26-5, 15-1 Conference, tied 1st West)
    No team in the league has bigger losses than the Redhawks.  Their big 3 of Austin Brown, Parker Hines and Taylor Hansen combined for 48 points a night and all are gone.  3 other seniors are also gone.  Joel Reinhardt and Zach Nipper are the top returning players.

    Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2009-10 season 3-23, 0-16 Conference, 6th East)
    Guard Peter Wright and forward Nate Burstein are back but they struggle to score more than anyone in the league and there's no help coming up to improve them.  Expect another very long season.

    St. Agnes Aggies (2009-10 season 13-16, 7-9 Conference, 4th East)
    Besides 1 senior, the entire roster is back.  Though talk has it that 1 of the 3 double-figure scorers transferred out.  Even then you'd have 5 back from last year's rotation.  With the tons of losses in the rest of the division besides Concordia, expect them to be near the top of the East.

    St. Anthony Huskies (2009-10 season 16-11, 13-3 Conference, 1st East)
    If Minnehaha doesn't have the biggest losses in the league, the Huskies do.  The entire backcourt of Aaron McCrossan and leading scorer Josh Pratt is gone.  Forward Derek Jahner is also gone along with Jordan Sayers and Karuza Cook.  Guard Stephen Couillard is the top returner at 3.8 PPG.

    St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2009-10 season 7-21, 2-14 Conference, 5th East)
    This is a hard team to figure out.  Their only league wins were against Mounds Park Academy despite some talent.  But they were young.  The junior guard duo of brute Wesley Tucker and Cameron Cummings is back and both averaged double-figures last season.  Junior shooter Mark Lawrence is back.  Fowards Kyle Prelgo and Michael Galler saw front line minutes last year.  Its another year of experience as they should be improved, but I think they're a year away.

    St. Paul Academy Spartans (2009-10 season 16-12, 9-7 Conference, 4th West)
    The losses are huge here too.  SPA has 11 seniors who are gone including their star forward Evan McMillan and point guard Santano Rosario.  It seems like they both played varsity for 10 years.  Sophomore Spencer Egly saw plenty of minutes last year and is the top returner.  He averaged 4.6 a game and will man the point.  Expect to see lots of youth on the court.

    Predicted Order of Finish


    1. DeLaSalle
    2. Minnehaha
    3. Blake
    4. Breck 
    5. St. Paul Academy
    6. Brooklyn Center
    1. Concordia Academy
    2. St. Agnes 
    3. St. Croix Lutheran
    4. St. Anthony
    5. Mounds Park Academy
    Conference MVP: Jonah Travis - DeLaSalle

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Kebu Johnson - Blake
    Riley Dearring, Reed Travis, Sean Fitzgibbons - DeLaSalle
    Mario Franco - St. Agnes
    Spencer Egly - St. Paul Academy

    Games that will determine the conference title

    • Concordia at St. Agnes - Dec 7th
    • Concordia at DeLaSalle - Jan 25th
    • St. Agnes at Concordia - Feb 4th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • DeLaSalle vs Chaska - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
    • Concordia at St. Cloud Cathedral tournament - Dec 28-30
    • DeLaSalle vs Superior at UW-Superior - Jan 8th
    • Eden Prairie at DeLaSalle - Jan 29th
    • DeLaSalle at Waunakee (WI) - Feb 4th
    • DeLaSalle at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Feb 8th
    • St. Paul Central at Concordia - Feb 11th
    • St. Agnes at Maranatha - Feb 14th
    • Cretin-Derham Hall at DeLaSalle - Feb 26th
    • Minneapolis Henry at DeLaSalle - Mar 1st
    • Concordia at Mayer Lutheran - Mar 4th

    Big kickoff of 2nd half leagues

    Its a big week of fall league action with the Minnetonka, Washburn and Mississippi River fall leagues getting underway and the 2nd week of Breakdown action.  The Magic league also finishes up on Sunday at Jefferson.  Of course, with football playoffs getting underway on Tuesday night, expect many teams to still be football depleted.

    10 teams in the Washburn league.  Columbia Heights and Washburn highlight that league and they open league play bright and early at 9 AM Saturday.  Mpls North, Park Center, a 2nd Washburn team, Brooklyn Center, Roosevelt, Edina, FAIR Downtown and Prairie Seed Academy round out the league members.

    Breakdown play at Kennedy falls in the last 3 pairs of sessions this Saturday.  Holy Angels vs Patrick Henry at 12:35 PM in a preview of Larry McKenzie's December 7th return to the north side. 

    At St. Michael-Albertville, the 32 varsity teams take up all of the last 6 games from 2:15 PM through the 6:35 PM game.

    At the Whitney Center in St. Cloud, the Mississippi River fall league gets underway on Sunday.  New London-Spicer vs St. Cloud Tech and MACCRAY vs St. Cloud Cathedral in the last 2 games of the day.  Again beware of football kids missing in those games (Jayme Moten, Seth Hinrichs are both football stars).  Sartell with 3 teams, Foley, Willmar, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and Melrose round out the league.

    And then the big enchilada (mmm mmm, need more of those at games), the Minnetonka fall league.  Its loaded as usual with 20 teams this year.  Here's the field.  Minnetonka, Wayzata, Hopkins, Duluth East, Tartan, Armstrong, Orono, Waconia, Cooper, St. Louis Park, Osseo, Prior Lake, Apple Valley, CDH, Winona, BSM, Columbia Heights, MTS, Rochester Mayo and Holy Angels.  Too many good games to pick but the obvious one starts the league off with a bang.  Its Hopkins rematching with Apple Valley at 9 AM on Sunday morning.  Remember that Tyus Jones went crazy for 24 of his 40 in the 4th quarter when these teams met in the Pacesetter semis.

    Waconia vs CDH and Osseo vs BSM highlight the second session.  Chaska vs Orono highlights session 4.  Will Ross Travis play after sitting out Breakdown action last week?  Michael Idso and Ian Reid-Hathaway lead Rochester Mayo against Tartan.  I would expect the Preiner twins to sit out due to football.  The day closes with an outside battle of Mark Blacklock and Winona against Johnny Woodard et al and Duluth East.

    10-11 Suburban East Preview

    This is the 10th preview in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, a trip to the east metro for a look at the Suburban East Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    Some major losses across the league with 6 teams losing their top scorer.  That doesn't count the BIG loss of Seantrel Henderson either. But there's some nice talent coming up in some of the top programs in the league that will keep things interesting.

    Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (2009-10 season 23-6, 14-4 Conference, 2nd)
    Big Seantrel Henderson is off to Miami to play football but with him missing a series of games last season, the Raiders learned to play without him.  Athletic forward Elliot Owusu and shooter Gus Gehlen also need to be replaced.  Senior off guard Raijon Kelly returns after leading the team in scoring at 14 PPG last season.  Then the junior trio of point guard Cortez Tilllman, glue forward Taylor Montero and center CJ Neuman are back.  Neuman saw plenty of minutes in the middle last year and he's really gotten big.  Guard Brian Smith also saw some time in the rotation last season.

    East Ridge Raptors (2009-10 season 6-21, 2-16 Conference, 9th)
    The best news for the Raptors is addition of shooter Justin Pahl from Mahtomedi.  Everyone is back from last year including 14.1 PPG from John Hietpas.

    Forest Lake Rangers (2009-10 season 24-6, 16-2 Conference, 1st)
    The Rangers lose the league's top scorer last season Zach Riedeman.  He was able to go outside of the open post motion system to generate his own offense and add another dimension to the Rangers.  Power forward Doug Sewall and athletic Sam Miller are also gone.  That's 3 of the top 4 scorers.  Guard Phil Hegseth and his 10 points a game returns to lead the way.

    Hastings Raiders (2009-10 season 14-14, 9-9 Conference, 6th)
    34.6 PPG from the forward duo of Shane Monjeau and Nick Gmiterko has graduated.  The 3rd leading scorer Mike Hill is also gone.  The top returnee is junior forward Darius Wilkerson.  He averaged 7.3 points a game last season.  He's a nice athlete who should see his role expanded greatly this season.

    Mounds View Mustangs (2009-10 season 16-12, 10-8 Conference, 5th)
    4 seniors who averaged between 9 and 11.4 points a night last season are gone.  Top scorer Jordan Van Eps and his 12.4 points a night return along with Blake Anderson.  But you can't completely write off a Ziggy Kauls coached team.

    Park Wolfpack (2009-10 season 1-26, 0-18 Conference, 10th)
    Park loses a bunch of seniors including 16.1 PPG from Craig Brown.  Antonio Dominguez-Howard is the top returnee at 4.5 a night.  August Omot and Austin Kruseski are 2 other returners.  The team in the South Washington County district that will have the toughest season.

    Roseville Raiders (2009-10 season 11-16, 6-12 Conference, 8th)
    The only team in the league with no major loss due to graduation . The top 3 scorers are back.  That includes wings Lucas Brown (Wofford commit and 17.2 PPG last year) and junior Emeche Wells.  Guard David Stanley is short but surprisingly athletic with his 15.7 PPG.  Connor Harlander and center Sam Peterson return.  Frosh Mack Johnson may be small but he has area code range.  Easy pick to predict the Raiders will make the biggest jump this season in the league standings.

    Stillwater Ponies (2009-10 season 20-7, 13-5 Conference, 3rd)
    Tons of losses for the Ponies.  Shooter Alex Oman, center Ryan Duxbury and versatile forward Miles Heller and point guard Paul Franklin combined for over 43 points a game last year.   Athletic wing Paxton Harvieux and forward Jake Malwitz return.  Center Josh Johnson is a lefty center who can step out and shoot it.

    White Bear Lake Bears (2009-10 season 17-10, 12-6 Conference, 4th)
    4 of the top 5 scorers including forwards Spencer Cummings and Richard Azevedo, shooter Ryan Olson and point guard David Rademacher is also gone.  Don't expect much of a dropoff from the Bears though.  There's a nice group of juniors.  Josh Tismer will take over the point.  Zach Meyer will take over inside after a breakout performance in July against the Atlanta Celtics.  Guards Vidal Vance and Colton Smit also return.  If forward Eric Gebeke decides not to focus on track, he would add another scoring weapon on the wing.

    Woodbury Royals (2009-10 season 12-16, 8-10 Conference, 7th)
    Wow, what a new school will do to a district. Woodbury may not out do East Ridge this season.  The trend of down teams south of I94 and outside the loop continues.  The entire rotation is gone including 21.3 PPG from Nick Quicksell.  Junior Connor McKeen is the top returner.

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

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Teddy Chapman - Cretin-Derham Hall
    Logan Brown, Mack Johnson - Roseville

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Roseville at Stillwater - Jan 21st
    • Cretin-Derham Hall at Roseville - Jan 28th
    • Cretin-Derham Hall at White Bear Lake - Feb 4th
    • Roseville at White Bear Lake - Feb 22nd
    • Cretin-Derham Hall at Stillwater - Mar 1st
    • Roseville at Cretin-Derham Hall - Mar 4th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Benilde-St. Margaret's vs Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
    • Roseville at Minneapolis Washburn - Dec 14th
    • St. Thomas Academy at Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 18th
    • Roseville at St. Paul Johnson - Dec 22nd
    • Cretin-Derham Hall vs St. Paul Central - Dec 30th (projected Catholic Spirit championship at U of St. Thomas)
    • Eden Prairie at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 15th
    • Roseville vs Rice Lake (WI) - Jan 22nd (East Metro Showcase)
    • Cretin-Derham Hall at DeLaSalle - Feb 26th

    10-11 St. Paul City Preview

    This is the 9th preview in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the St. Paul City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    Its addition by subtraction with Arlington closing down. But with the school expanding to hold the growth of the old Washington high school (now Washington Middle but expanding to 7-12 eventually), we'll see them back in a couple of years.  Outside of Harding, the rest of the league is better, but not great. Middle of the pack should be a good struggle to see who finishes 3rd.

    Central Minutemen (2009-10 season 20-6, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
    I thought Central was one of the most overrated teams last season but the results were hard to argue with.  Forward LeDarian Horton averaged 17.5 PPG last year to finish 2nd in the league.  Horton and a bunch of guards including Taylor Smaller will need to be replaced.  Point guard William McDonough leads the way outside with Dwayne Cannady.  Martin Smith returns to anchor the post.  Keep an eye on the lower levels here as there's a good freshman group and the sophs won the city last year. 

    Como Park Cougars (2009-10 season 14-11, 8-4 Conference, 3rd)
    The top 3 scorers including point guard Adrian Wackett and wings Joe Conley and Brandon Baker are gone.  Soph Bajaun Adams returns inside and guard Terrance Williams will lead the way on the perimeter.  They have a couple of other talented sophomores as well.

    Harding Knights (2009-10 season 4-19, 2-10 Conference, 6th)
    2 of the 4 wins were over Arlington last year.  Top players Vernon Keller and Jeremy Hallowanger are gone.  Hard to see Harding improving on last season's mark.

    Highland Park Scots (2009-10 season 10-13, 5-7 Conference, tied 4th)
    Leading scorer Jimmy Sauser is gone and there's a new coach.  Jon DePerry comes over from Central after being a longtime top assistant to Scott Howell at Central. Senior Cordero Washington and soph Dion Bradley are the top returnees.  Guard TyShaun Williams is one of the many guards on this small roster.

    Humboldt Hawks (2009-10 season 14-12, 5-7 Conference, tied 4th)
    Last year's breakout star in the league Bryale Winters and his 18 points a night are gone.  5'8 guard Julian Luster's 11.1 PPG returns along with Keith Jackson and Danny Barber.

    Johnson Governors (2009-10 season 32-0 AAA State Champs, 12-0 Conference, 1st)
    Max Rosenbloom is off to Bemidji State after averaging almost a double double with 9.8 points and rebounds a night.  Wing athlete Jordan Pluff and guard Donte Warlick are gone, but this is Johnson where the talent is overflowing.  One of the best perimeter trios in the state is back with Estan Tyler running the show.  Wings Roosevelt Scott and Marcus Marshall both had breakout summers.  Chris Smith-Bond returns in the middle.  Juniors Jalen Albritton and Shelby Ashford are ready to make contributions as well.  Expect another run at a state title.

    Predicted Order of Finish
    1. Johnson
    2. Central
    3. Highland Park
    4. Como Park
    5. Humboldt
    6. Harding
    Conference MVP: Roosevelt Scott - Johnson

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Quashingm Smith-Pugh, Kendarius Latimore - Johnson
    Malik Durant-Haines, Lester Patton - Central
    Kayshiva Shaw, Bajaun Adams - Como Park
    Dion Bradley - Highland Park

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Johnson at Central - Feb 4th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • St. Paul Johnson at Lakeville South - Dec 3rd
    • Central at Tartan - Dec 14th
    • Roseville at Johnson - Dec 22nd
    • Central at Catholic Spirit Tournament - Dec 28th-30th (U of St. Thomas)
    • Johnson vs Hopkins - Dec 30th (projected Augsburg tourney championship) 
    • Johnson at Eden Prairie - Jan 13th
    • Johnson at Midwest Players Showcase - Jan 15th (La Crosse, WI)
    • Superior (WI) at Johnson - Jan 21st (East Metro Showcase)
    • Orono at St. Paul Central - Feb 25th

    10-11 South Suburban Preview

    This is the 8th preview in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, we go from north to south with a look at the South Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    It may not be the Lake Conference in name, but its all the same teams and the same ridiculously tough league schedule.  4 teams at the top with tons of talent back, a fast rising program right behind them and an up and coming team moving up the back of the pack.  The top of the league could be the best race around.  Difficult race to pick as Lakeville South matches up well with Eastview but didn't fare as well against Apple Valley.  Records below are for last year's Lake Conference standings except for Prior Lake's Missota record.

    Apple Valley Eagles (2009-10 season 20-8, 16-6 Conference, 2nd)
    The 2nd leading scorer in the league returns.  That's William and Mary commit Thomas Schalk.  But of course the Eagles revolve around freshman point guard Tyus Jones.  The Eagles are a different team when he's on the floor.  Gavin Bronson and Josh Johnson also return.  Shooter Dustin Fronk and guard Harry Sonie are youngsters to watch.

    Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (2009-10 season 7-18, 5-17 Conference, 10th)
    With their ugly slowdown style, they can steal a game like they did against Apple Valley at home and at Eastview last year.  8 of the 18 losses were by 5 points or less.  Guard Marcus Alipate averaged 17.8 PPG last season and is the top returner.  Matt Hovila is the other returner of note.  Sophomore post Reggie Lynch is making a rapid rise.

    Bloomington Kennedy Eagles (2009-10 season 6-21, 4-18 Conference, 11th)
    Coach Jared Nuness is gone to take a job at Baylor.  Also gone are the top 4 scorers from last season including guard Deron Murphy.  DeShun Patterson comes over from Jefferson to be one of the top players.  A long season on the horizon.

    Burnsville Blaze (2009-10 season 11-16, 8-14 Conference, 9th)
    The top 2 scorers Jeff Fallat and Jack Ghizoni are gone.  CJ Smith is the top returner after a nice summer with the Minnesota Magic Elite.

    Eagan Wildcats (2009-10 season 16-11, 12-10 Conference, tied 6th)
    Here's a team that would make a run in most other leagues.  Adam Carl is gone but most everyone else is back.  Jameson Parsons is a sharpshooting guard at 21.2 a night and can go off at anytime.  Ben Sicoli returns to run the point.  Matt Hentges is a bruising forward.  Shea Mandli is a versatile post.  Leading rebounder Eric Wittenburg is also back.

    Eastview Lightning (2009-10 season 18-12, 14-8 Conference, tied 4th)
    The most loaded team in the league.  Don't let last year's record fool you and the loss of point guard Vinard Birch fool you. Once Joey King became eligible the Lightning went on an 11-2 team with the 2 losses by 3 points to Sibley at state and 4 points at Apple Valley in a game that could have gone either way.  King averaged more than 16 a night.  Shane McSparron and Frank Veldman are a pair of athletic wings.  Soph Ben Oberfeld gives them an inside presence along with DeLaSalle transfer Sam Burt.  Darin Haugh and Oshari Arnett are guards who saw varsity time last season.  Point guard play will be key.

    Lakeville North Panthers (2009-10 season 18-10, 14-8 Conference, tied 4th)
    The high octane guard duo of Dajon Newell and Devon Knopke is gone.  Alex Moore is the top returnee along with guard Al Erickson. 

    Lakeville South Cougars (2009-10 season 20-9, 15-7 Conference, 3rd)
    Another group that is loaded and they are built for this season.  Forward Alex Richter topped the league in scoring last year at 22.9 a night.  He returns along with point guard Riley West.  The other top 2 scorers are inside and both return.  That's active Jon Christensen and Spencer Pankonin.

    Prior Lake Lakers (2009-10 season 3-24, 2-12 Conference, 8th)
    And now a look at the finest southern resort in The Kingdom (wasn't fair to call it Siberia so I've had a change of heart).  3-24 in the relatively down Missota and the top scorer Jake Bolks at 12.6 a night is gone along with Ryan Boegeman and Andrew Dale.  Boo hoo.  Kyle Repinski and Jack Harrison return.  But new coach Alex Focke has some reinforcements coming. 7 footer Carson Shanks comes over from Eastview.  6'8 soph Jeff Probert and freshman point guard Jon Sabaski are also on the way up.

    Rosemount Irish (2009-10 season 14-13, 11-11 Conference, 8th)
    17.9 PPG from forward Zach Vraa is gone along with 11.4 from guard Toriano Tatum.  And Matt Larson may be focusing on football.  Center Justin Larson also graduated.  Help is on the way as Rosemount has a couple of quality classes on the way.  Leading the way will be 6'7 junior Matt Nelson.  He's on everybody's AAU radar.

    Predicted Order of Finish
    1. Eastview
    2. Apple Valley
    3. Lakeville South
    4. Eagan
    5. Bloomington Jefferson 
    6. Lakeville North  
    7. Rosemount
    8. Prior Lake
    9. Burnsville
    10. Bloomington Kennedy
    Conference MVP: Joey King - Eastview

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Tyus Jones, Dustin Fronk, Harry Sonie - Apple Valley
    Reggie Lynch - Bloomington Jefferson
    Ben Oberfeld - Eastview
    Jon Sabaski, Carson Shanks, Jeff Probert - Prior Lake

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Lakeville South at Apple Valley - Jan 7th
    • Apple Valley at Eastview - Jan 14th 
    • Eastview at Lakeville South - Jan 25th
    • Lakeville South at Eagan - Jan 28th
    • Eastview at Eagan - Feb 4th
    • Apple Valley at Lakeville South - Feb 8th
    • Eastview at Apple Valley - Feb 15th
    • Apple Valley at Eagan - Feb 18th
    • Lakeville South at Eastview - Feb 25th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • St. Paul Johnson at Lakeville South - Dec 3rd
    • Duluth East at Eastview - Dec 3rd
    • Eastview vs Waconia - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
    • Apple Valley vs Tartan - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
    • Apple Valley at Chaska - Dec 14th
    • Hopkins at Lakeville South - Dec 14th
    • Apple Valley at Eden Prairie - Dec 17th
    • Apple Valley at Granite City Classic Tournament- Dec 28th-30th (St. Cloud Apollo)
    • Shakopee at Lakeville South - Dec 29th (Projected Lakeville Rotary championship)
    • Eastview at Midwest Players Classic - Jan 15th (La Crosse, WI)

    10-11 Northwest Suburban Preview

    Now to the second group of conference previews.  This is the 7th preview in the series, a look at the Northwest Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    Osseo looks to reclaim the league crown as the league welcomes Robbinsdale Armstrong.  I see the Falcons making an immediate impact.  Nice star power in the league with no fewer than 5 teams having a top flight player.  And there are a couple of teams in the bottom half with nice young players.

    Andover Huskies (2009-10 season 16-11, 11-7 Conference, tied 3rd)
    Over 30 points a game departs with the graduation of Andrew Berndt and Jason Schneider.  Tyler Finnes is the top returnee at 13.2 PPG.  Ben Mei, Gabe Wolfe and junior John Hennessey are 3 returnees who saw rotation minutes last season.

    Anoka Tornadoes (2009-10 season 19-9, 11-7 Conference, tied 3rd)
    Center Lomumba Ismail was one of the top bigs in the league last year.  His 16 points and 9.3 rebounds will be missed.  3 other seniors, including 2 who averaged double figures are also gone.  Junior guard Marcus Tyus had a breakout season last year and this will be his team this season.  After averaging 13.6 PPG last season, he could push for 20 PPG this season.  Seniors Eric Jordan, Spencer Specht and Spencer Grow were part of the rotation last year.  Eli Guptil and Brandon Lindquist are 2 others who should make contributions. 

    Blaine Bengals (2009-10 season 6-21, 4-14 Conference, 9th)
    Maple Grove coach Mark Arzdorf moves across the league and returns home to coach the Bengals.  Guard Jesse Briggity is gone but the Bengals do have a couple of pieces coming back.  Power forward Zach Romashko was the top scorer in the league last season at 18.1 PPG with 8.2 rebounds a game.  Junior forward Duke Anywanu looks to have an expanded role.  Dan Robel returns to run the point.

    Centennial Cougars (2009-10 season 13-14, 10-8 Conference, 5th)
    7 of the top 9 players are gone for the Cougars.  That includes guards Nathan Kuck and Tony Gerding.  Austin Malinowski is the top returning player at 5 points per game.  Josh Matheson is the other returning player from the rotation.  Is Mitchell Kuck one of the players to pick up the slack?

    Champlin Park Rebels (2009-10 season 24-6, 16-2 Conference, 1st)
    The heaviest losses in the league award goes to the Rebels.  The top 8 players are all gone including the 3 headed monster of Josh Pella, Kyle Zimmerman and Jasper Duberry and a productive group of role players around them .  TJ Okafor is one of the top athletes in the MN 2011 class.  He didn't see as many minutes as I would have expected last year and one has to wonder if that will bite the Rebels this year.  Teddy Gibson is the other notable returnee.  Very inexperienced but the Rebels JV squad was 20-3 last year so this squad is difficult to figure out.

    Coon Rapids Cardinals (2009-10 season 11-17, 6-12 Conference, tied 7th)
    Torren Dowdy came on as a nice surprise last season at 16.6 a game.  Along with Ricke Setts, he's part of the top 5 players graduating.  Malcolm Farley is the top returner at 5.5 points a night.

    Elk River Elks (2009-10 season 16-12, 9-9 Conference, 6th)
    The Elks got off to a hot 11-4 start last season and then had a rough second half to only finish 16-12.  7 of the top 8 scorers are gone.  Seniors Ben Erickson and Will Iverson are the top returners.

    Maple Grove Crimson (2009-10 season 4-22, 2-16 Conference, 10th)
    A very long year for the Crimson last season.  6 seniors are gone and a new coach takes over.  Sophomore Bryce Wojta is the top returner at 8.3 points a game.  Expect another long year.

    Osseo Orioles (2009-10 season 22-6, 15-3 Conference, 2nd)
    We don't rebuild, we reload.  That's true at very few places but Osseo is one of them.  Lose point guard Aaron Anderson to North Dakota and Terez Van Pelt comes over from Park Center to fill that spot.  DJ Hebert comes over from Cooper and he's another quality guard.  Senior forwards Jerrod Bervin and Joey Sonnenfeld return along with freshman center Ian Theisen.

    Park Center Pirates (2009-10 season 12-15, 6-12 Conference, tied 7th)
    Big losses for the Pirates.  None bigger than Van Pelt moving next door to Osseo.  They also lose center Justin Casey and forwards Jordan Lynn and Bryan Asberry.  That accounts for almost 48 points a night.  Sophomore guard Quinton Hooker will lead the way along with forward Kevin Handy.

    Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2009-10 season 14-13, 5-3 Classic Lake Conference, 2nd)
    The Falcons get a nice landing in the Northwest Suburban after being booted from the Classic Lake.  A pair of quality guards, David Weber and Andy Seidlitz are gone.  Also gone is smart forward Joe Lewis.  But guards will still be a strength.  KJ Bluford and Levi Abercrombie return.  Bluford averaged 10.7 a night last year and Abercrombie had a big summer for MN Select.  Star Marquel Curtis returns on the wing after averaging 22 a night last season.  Big enough to overpower most 2 guards, quick enough to go around big forwards.  Lanky Jaevon Walton returns inside.

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

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Joe Robel - Blaine
    Bryce Wojta, Jake Weineke - Maple Grove
    Ian Theisen, Bridge Tussler - Osseo
    Quinton Hooker - Park Center

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Armstrong at Anoka - Dec 9th
    • Osseo at Anoka - Dec 17th
    • Osseo at Armstrong - Jan 18th
    • Anoka at Armstrong - Jan 28th
    • Anoka at Osseo - Feb 3rd
    • Armstrong at Osseo - Mar 1st
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Rogers at Anoka - Dec 3rd
    • Osseo at Buffalo - Dec 7th
    • Hopkins vs Osseo - Dec 11 (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
    • Osseo vs Plainview-Elgin-Millville - Dec 30th (Projected Rochester Rotary Championship)
    • Champlin Park at Bethel Tournament - Dec 28th-30th
    • Robbinsdale Armstrong at Robbinsdale Cooper - Feb 5th

    10-11 North Suburban Preview

    Its the second week of my 2010-2011 season preview series.  This week I begin with the 6th preview in the series, a look at the North Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    If you like scorers, this is the league for you.  I expect 3 players in the league to be in the 25 points a game range.  And only the extreme talent level holds at least 1 if not 2 players from Benilde from that mark.  The top and the bottom of the league standings seem pretty clear.  The middle of the league is a group of respectable teams that could fit anywhere from 3-6.

    Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights (2009-10 season 24-6, 15-1 Conference, 2nd)
    Forward Peter Crawford is off to UMD and sharpshooter Seth Marx is gone.  Post Myles Barnes may choose to focus on football.  That's 3 of the top 4 scorers.  And they lose defensive stopper and shooter Darren Glover.  But the junior class is one of the most loaded classes at a school in my short time in the cities.  Guard Isaiah Zierden and wing Sanjay Lumpkin are both capable of taking over at anytime.  Post Kyle Washington can block shots and also step out to the 3 point line.  He oozes potential.  Point guard Danon Briggs and wing Will Dunn are solid role players in that class.  Add in senior post Evan Battle to do the dirty work inside and the Red Knights should still be one of the best teams in 3A.  Oh and did I mention they also add point guard Isaiah Gray from Wisconsin.  He played with the 43 Hoops 16s this summer and will see a ton of playing time as well.

    Chisago Lakes Wildcats (2009-10 season 6-21, 2-14 Conference, tied 10th)
    Benji Figini averaged 24.8 points per game last season and figures to have another huge season this year.  The bad news is that nobody else averaged more than 7 points a game.  They do have a handful of players coming back who gained varsity experience last year.  Expect improvement from this group. 

    Columbia Heights Hylanders (2009-10 season 22-7, 13-3 Conference, 3rd)
    One of the state's most explosive scorers Jacob Thomas is gone (26.7 PPG) but Zach Lofton is ready to jump into that spot.  He averaged almost 19 points a game with Thomas last season.  Don't be shocked if he leads the state in shots and scoring.  Ben Glover returns on the other wing and can do a bit of everything.  Roderick Logan is a defensive pest at the point.  6'9 Andrew Hanson returns in the post. 

    Fridley Tigers (2009-10 season 7-17, 3-13 Conference, tied 8th)
    A rough year and the top 2 players Jordan Halvorson and Devin Hemmerich are gone. Junior Ryan Backstrom will man the point.  Ryan Jenkins is the top returner. 

    Irondale Knights (2009-10 season 16-11, 11-5 Conference, 4th)
    Bryan Sprang averaged 25.5 PPG last year and is one of the top returning scorers in the state.  Vince Calistro and Danny Blumberg also return.

    North Branch Vikings (2009-10 season 9-18, 2-14 Conference, tied 10th)
    Top player Kyle Grote is gone and he was the only double-figure scorer last year.  The top returnee is Christian Ehrnriter at 7.8 PPG.  Another long season appears ahead for the Vikings.  

    Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (2009-10 season 25-4, 15-1 Conference, 1st)
    Big losses for the Hawks in center Calvin Godfrey and wing Darry Jones.  That's over 45 PPG gone.  Guard Terrance Averyheart is the top returnee.  Raheem Tyner returns inside.  Keep an eye on frosh Rashad Vaughn.

    St. Francis Saints (2009-10 season 6-21, 3-13 Conference, tied 8th)
    Most of the roster is gone from a team that had a rough year.  Can't see things on the upswing this season.

    St. Louis Park Orioles (2009-10 season 14-13, 10-6 Conference, 5th)
    David Breitenbucher takes over as the 4th head coach in 4 years for the Orioles.  Sharpshooter Alex Koch is gone to SW Minnesota State.  However, the Orioles still have plenty of pieces to work with.  Aaron Ziman returns at the point.  Joe Zangel returns up front.  Wing Marquealis Edwards had a breakout season and a big summer for the MN Fury.  Expect his 14.1 PPG to go up.  TJ Gist and and Quinton Wagner saw plenty of time last year and return.  The schedule is favorable with Totino-Grace and Benilde St. Margaret's only on the schedule once.

    Spring Lake Park Panthers (2009-10 season 13-14, 8-8 Conference, 6th)
    The top 3 scorers including Travis Johnson and Elijah Sabah are gone.  Freak athlete Sean Scott returns at 1 forward spot.  Derek Dahl returns to run the point.  Other than that, there's little experience to be found.  Keep an eye on soph Robert Ben.

    Totino-Grace Eagles (2009-10 season 13-15, 7-9 Conference, 7th)
    Leading scorer Alex Kreuser returns with his 16.2 points per game.  Guards Tyler Fleming and Sam Meyer also return.  Senior Ben Meyer returns to provide size inside.

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

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Troy Freeman - Fridley
    Rashad Vaughn, Leroy Taylor - Robbinsdale Cooper
    Kashif Hayes - St. Louis Park
    Robert Ben - Spring Lake Park

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Columbia Heights at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Jan 6th
    • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Columbia Heights - Feb 15th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Benilde-St. Margaret's vs Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
    • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Hopkins - Dec 18th
    • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Eden Prairie tournament - Dec 28th/30th
    • Benilde-St. Margaret's vs Onalaska, WI - Jan 8th (Timberwolves Shootout)
    • Columbia Heights at Minneapolis Henry - Jan 13th
    • Columbia Heights at Minneapolis Washburn - Feb 1st
    • Irondale at Rogers - Feb 1st
    • DeLaSalle at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Feb 8th

    10-11 Missota Preview

    This is the fifth in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Missota Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    Its a year of new faces in the Missota.  Still 8 teams but Hutchinson and Prior Lake are gone for Chaska and Chanhassen.  Interesting to see Chaska back in the league after they had a ton of success here before moving to the Lake Conference and now they're back in a big way. 

    Academy of Holy Angels Stars (2009-10 season 17-12, 11-3 Conference, tied 2nd)
    A typical year for coach Larry McKenzie's crew.  They started 3-8 against a tough schedule and then ran off 14 of 18 to end the year.  But they did come up 1 game short of McKenzie's conference title prediction.  This year is a rebuilding year with the top 6 scorers including center Andy Jirik and shooter Sam Gullickson all gone.  Guards Parker Bredow and Damon Woods return.  Watch frosh Jordan Dembley and soph Danny Sullivan.

    Chaska Hawks (2009-10 season 17-12, 12-10 Lake Conference, tied 6th)
    The Hawks move into the league with visions of winning the league.  Wichita State commit Jake White leads the front line at 21.2 a night dominating inside.  Penn State commit Ross Travis is a super athletic wing who does a bit of everything for them.  Add in guard Max Watts and you have a returning group of top 3 scorers that can match anybody in the league.

    Chanhassen Storm (2009-10 season 4-23, 2-20 Lake Conference, 12th)
    Year 2 at Chanhassen should look better than year 1 with everyone back and a much softer bottom of the league than the Lake.  Shooter Chance Panning averaged 11.9 PPG last year to lead the team.  Talented junior Kevin Jensen was the other double figure scorer at 10.8 a night and is the goto player.  After that, the talent drops off quickly.

    Farmington Tigers (2009-10 season 7-20, 5-9 Conference, 5th)
    The Tigers were the best of the have nots in the league last year.  Now 4 of the top 5 players are gone.  Senior Alex Michels averaged 11 points a game last year and returns.  Sophomore Darren Beenken averaged almost 5 points a night in 15 games.

    New Prague Trojans (2009-10 season 19-10, 9-5 Conference, 4th)
    All everything Danny Geiger and his 20.6 PPG are gone but most of the rest of the roster is back.  Forward Cale Girten figures to be a matchup problem in the dribble drive system for most teams.  Senior shooters Alex Dittberner and Jed Kreuser return.  Junior Jake Meyer returns to man the post.

    Northfield Raiders (2009-10 season 5-21, 3-11 Conference, tied 6th)
    Tons of losses here as well from a team that had a rough year.  But they have one of the best names around, Otto Pfefferle, to man the front line.  He tall and lean but can step out and shoot it. He'll be their top player this season.

    Red Wing Wingers (2009-10 season 6-20, 3-11 Conference, tied 6th)
    The Wingers return 3 of their top 4 players including guard Pat Kelly who lit up Prior Lake for 32 points at the end of last season.  They have some size back as well.  Expect them to be improved this season, but the top of the league is still too strong for them.

    Shakopee Sabers (2009-10 season 21-7, 12-2 Conference, 1st)
    I learned a long time ago not to go against the Sabers so I won't this season.  Versatile Jason Perkins returns up front.  Ethan Petrill returns to hold down either guard position.  Dylan Ulferts is an athletic wing who can go off at any time.  They're well coached and they defend.

    Predicted Order of Finish
    1. Chaska
    2. Shakopee
    3. New Prague
    4. Holy Angels
    5. Chanhassen
    6. Red Wing
    7. Northfield
    8. Farmington
    Conference MVP: Jake White - Chaska

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Jordan Dembley, Anthony Baysah, Danny Sullivan - Holy Angels
    Darren Beenken - Farmington
    Eric Shepley - Northfield

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Chaska at New Prague - Jan 14th
    • Shakopee at Chaska - Feb 1st
    • Shakopee at New Prague - Feb 15th
    • Chaska at Shakopee - Mar 1st
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Holy Angels at Minneapolis Henry - Dec 7th
    • Minneapolis Washburn vs Shakopee - Dec 11 (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
    • DeLaSalle vs Chaska - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
    • Apple Valley at Chaska - Dec 14th
    • Shakopee at Waconia - Dec 17th
    • Shakopee vs Lakeville South - Dec 29th (projected championship Lakeville Rotary Tourney)
    • Shakopee at Eden Prairie - Jan 4th
    • Chaska vs Cedar Rapids Washington - Jan 8th (Timberwolves Shootout)
    • Chaska vs St. John's Military Academy - Jan 22nd (East Metro Showcase)
    • Eden Prairie at Chaska - Feb 8th

    10-11 MCAA Preview

    This is the fourth in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association (MCAA).  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    While Maranatha may not be the top flight class A team of years past, they are the champs until beaten.  Plenty of youth coming back in the league.

    Bethany Academy Eagles (2009-10 season 13-11, 3-7 Conference, 9th)
    Things started to look up a bit for Bethany as they won 9 of their last 12 against a weak schedule.  Guard Tony Ervin and Max Mattila return as most of a young roster is back.  Last year's leading scorer Ben Peters is 1 of 2 senior losses.  They also get some of the players from now closed neighbor Lion's Gate.  That includes players like Jeremiah Vetsch and Caleb Rollins.  The girls combined like this a couple of years ago and exploded to a huge season.  Can't say that will happen here but improvement is almost certain.

    Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2009-10 season 13-14, 6-4 Conference, 4th)
    These Eagles were a pleasant surprise last year and the top 3 scorers are back.  That includes senior guard Nick Parkhurst and junior Dan Liedall.  Sophomore Brad Basco also returns to man the inside.  Expect them to stay in the top half this season.

    Legacy Christian Academy (2009-10 season 18-9, 7-3 Conference, 3rd)
    The former Meadow Creek Christian Academy starts a series of changes with a name change with a location change to come in the future.  On the court, their only double figure scorer from last year, Ben Thom, has graduated.  Senior Matt Clausen is the top returnee.  Keep an eye on junior center Ben Freeby who if his improvement projects forward could average a double-double and he averaged 2.2 blocks per game last year.  He should be one of the league's top interior players.  Experience could be an issue.

    Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2009-10 season 21-9, 8-2 Conference, 2nd)
    The Bulldogs have a couple of major losses including post Brandon Schaust and Daniel Andersen.  The league's top post, David Andersen, is back to lead the way.  Junior guard Jared Kadrie is the top returnee on the outside.  Expect the scoring average to jump into double figures this season for both after each averaged 8.8 PPG last year.

    Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2009-10 season 25-4, 10-0 Conference, 1st)
    The champs once again have major losses with forward Josh Hanson and center Jay Higgins graduating.  But this was a young group last year so plenty of returnees.  Junior Darian Pittman will start for the 4th year at point guard for the Mustangs and is the top perimeter player in the league.  SaVaughn Jordan is an undersized but extremely effective post who lead the Mustangs with 15.5 PPG last year.   Another Hanson (the 900th in line I think), sophomore Isaiah, will see plenty of minutes inside.  Also keep an eye on freshman Josh Goldschmidt.

    New Life Academy Eagles (2009-10 season 8-18, 4-6 Conference, 8th)
    Forward Kory Kiekhofer was last year's leading scorer and one of the top scorers in the league at 17.2 per game.  His loss leaves a big hole.  Juniors Alex Heiser and Cody Linton will look to pick up the slack. Senior Joe Mann returns for another year to contribute.  

    Providence Academy Lions (2009-10 season 4-20, 0-10 Conference, 11th)
    Only 4 of the 24 games within 11 points last season.  Ouch.  Sophomore Jackson Canfield was last year's leading scorer just reaching double figures at 10.5 per night. Another long year for the Lions ahead.

    Southwest Christian Stars (2009-10 season 15-13, 6-4 Conference, 5th)
    Heavy losses for the Stars as the entire rotation save Joshua Kennedy is gone.  He'll really need to up his 8.4 points per game for the Stars to have success.  Expect size to be an issue as the JVs were very small last year.

    Trinity Tri-Hawks (2009-10 season 8-19, 5-5 Conference, 6th)
    This is the year the Tri-Hawks have been building for after a disappointing year last season.  Point guard Tony Kuplic is the league's leading returning scorer at 20.1 per night.   Forward Aaron Gregg is versatile and averaged almost 13 a night last year.  Dan Stanton also reach double figures.  With those 3 and junior Josh Koletar returning, the Tri-Hawks have plenty of firepower and should make a big jump in the league standings.

    West Lutheran Warriors (2009-10 season 15-13, 4-6 Conference, 7th)
    The league's top scorer Michael Lindberg and his 22.6 points a night are gone.  Add in forward Nate Dwyer and his 16.2 points and 8.7 rebounds also graduating and that's a double dose of pain.  Lots of youth saw time last year though.  Juniors Shea and Blake Molitor along with Riley Gehl give the Warriors a nice base of juniors.  Good experience for them this year but I think they're a year away. 

    Predicted Order of Finish
    1. Maranatha
    2. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
    3. Trinity
    4. Heritage 
    5. Legacy
    6. New Life
    7. Bethany
    8. West Lutheran 
    9. Southwest Christian
    10. Providence
    Conference MVP: Darian Pittman - Maranatha

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Josh Goldschmidt, Isaiah Hanson - Maranatha
    Brad Basco - Heritage
    Jackson Canfield - Providence

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Trinity at Maranatha - Jan 21st
    • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Trinity - Jan 25th
    • Maranatha at Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity  - Jan 27th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Lakeview Christian at Legacy Christian - Dec 10th
    • Henry Sibley vs Maranatha - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
    • Bloomington Jefferson at Maranatha - Dec 21st
    • Eden Prairie at Maranatha - Jan 25th
    • Lakeview Christian at Heritage - Jan 29th

    10-11 Minneapolis City Conference Preview

    This is the third in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Minneapolis City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    A year where it may be the end of an era in the state's oldest conference as it may lose a significant member after the season. Otherwise, plenty of youth returns but the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Edison Tommies (2009-10 season 1-24, 0-12 Conference, 7th)
    A brutal season last season with a ton of youngsters.  Darion Patterson returns but the cupboard is largely bare.  Can't see them jumping out of the cellar.

    North Polars (2009-10 season 20-8, 11-1 Conference, 1st)
    A sad situation at North as enrollment has decreased 80% in 5 years and the school may close after this season.  Seems inevitable that this basketball institution won't be around much longer.  Senior guard Malik El-Amin is the top returning player.  Juniors Charles Smith, Taj Rich and Shondale Strickland return.  Size will be an issue with the departure of flyswatter Mark Devine in the middle.

    Patrick Henry Patriots (2009-10 season 16-10, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
    Big losses at Henry with guards Jordan Hughes, Louis Cox and Dennis Joiner gone and most of the frontline.  But the JVs won the city last year and will reload the program.  Latrell Love and Tim Gill return up front to give the Patriots the top frontcourt in the league.  Guard Deonte Blakemore transfers in from Washburn and is the most explosive scorer in the city. 

    Roosevelt Teddies (2009-10 season 11-18, 4-8 Conference, 5th)
    The league's top returning scorer Calvin Jenkins is back.  He doesn't have a whole lot of help though.  Thankfully the section and bottom of the league is weak so that will keep the record from being awful.

    South Tigers (2009-10 season 16-12, 8-4 Conference, 3rd)
    The biggest loss in the league is center Alonzo Traylor.  Guards will be a strength with Carnell Sheppard and Walter Abram.  If Trent Pollard is here and eligible, he adds another scorer.  Look for Peter Goldstein to see time in the middle

    Southwest Lakers (2009-10 season 3-21, 2-10 Conference, 6th)
    This squad was also very young last year under coach Tom Weko.  Rodney Pierce-Tyler comes over from Cooper and he'll add firepower to the front line.  The other forward is Matt St. Anthony who lead the Lakers in scoring last season.  Aytron Scott returns at a guard slot along with sophomore Demetrius Cady.

    Washburn Millers (2009-10 season 11-14, 7-5 Conference, 4th)
    They too played young last year and should see major benefits from it this season.  Sophomore Nick Anderson is one of the top point guards in the 2013 class and he should thrive in the dribble drive system.  Clarence Thomas is the dynamic slasher and scorer in the system.  He lead the team with 14 PPG last season.  Dwight Anderson is the shooter.  Cedric Chappell almost averaged double figures last season and he returns.

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

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Wunell Beard - Henry
    Demetrius Cady - Southwest
    Nick Anderson, Jamison Whiting -Washburn

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Henry at Washburn - Jan 6th
    • Washburn at Henry - Feb 8th
    • Henry at North - Feb 21st
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Hopkins at Henry - Dec 3rd
    • Holy Angels at Henry - Dec 7th
    • Shakopee vs Washburn - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
    • Henry at St. Thomas Academy - Dec 14th
    • Roseville at Washburn - Dec 14th
    • Henry at Augsburg tournament - Dec 28-30th
    • Columbia Heights at Henry - Jan 13th
    • Washburn at Columbia Heights - Feb 1st
    • Henry at DeLaSalle - Mar 1st
    • Twin Cities Game (Minneapolis Site) - Mar 5th

    10-11 Lake Conference Preview

    This is the second in my 2010-2011 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the revised (Classic) Lake Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    This is the Lake Conference but its really last year's Classic Lake Conference with Eden Prairie replacing Robbinsdale Armstrong.  Armstrong is off to the Northwest Suburban after they were kicked out.  After the rest of the old Lake Conference didn't like the former Classic Lake members, they decided to leave all of these teams to go form the South Suburban Conference.  Regardless of the teams, its tough schedules and strength at the top with a better than record appears team at the bottom.

    Eden Prairie Eagles (2009-10 season 26-5, 19-3 Lake Conference, 1st)
    Eden Prairie moves in and look at the rivalries in this league with Minnetonka and Hopkins.  Should be fun.  The Eagles lose leading scorer and top interior player Brett Ervin to UMD but plenty returns.  Lefty shooter Grant Soderberg is the leading returning scorer.  Expect a couple of summer teammates to have breakout seasons.  That's Conner Nord inside and athletic wing Dylan Stewart.  Jack Klukas is another scorer who returns.  Defensive stopper Grayson Levine is also back.  Junior shooter Sander Mohn is another to keep an eye on.  The schedule is an absolute nightmare with Minnesota Transitions and league contenders Minneapolis Washburn, Maranatha, Apple Valley, Waconia, Chaska, Shakopee, DeLaSalle and St. Paul Johnson all on the schedule.

    Edina Hornets (2009-10 season 12-15, 1-7 Classic Lake Conference, 5th)
    Edina would be a solid team in most other leagues but the top of this league leaves them lagging behind.  I see no changes to that this year.  Guards Brendan Canova and Graham Woodward return along with Nate Carlson.   The forwards were the leading scorers last season and both are gone. 

    Hopkins Royals (2009-10 season 30-2, 8-0 Classic Lake Conference, 1st)
    Ah Hopkins, another year, another state title.  Expect no different this season from the defending champs.  The Royals aren't big and they aren't deep, but they weren't last year either.  Their talent is just that good despite graduating 3 contributing seniors and seeing 2013 star Riley Dearring transfer to DeLaSalle.  The state's top 2011 recruit and Minnesota commit Joe Coleman is back after a monster breakout season last year.  Northern Iowa commit Marvin Singleton is undersized but quick and he overpowers people inside.  Siyani Chambers is a Rivals top 100 point guard who is their leader.  Forward Zach Stahl does a bit of everything.  The 5th spot is open but I expect it to go to forward Nick Jorgenson.  I also look for Demetrius Martin to make a contribution in the backcourt.  

    Minnetonka Skippers (2009-10 season 14-14, 3-5 Classic Lake Conference, tied 3rd)
    Talk about a change.  Coach Tom Dasovich comes over from Henry Sibley where he had bruising teams and an abundance of size.  He has neither this season.  4 of the top 5 double figure scorers from last season are gone, but with major chemistry problems last season, it may be some addition by subtraction.  Lefty wing Nick Latzke averaged 15 a night last season and is the top returning player.  Andy Jones and Tommy McDermott are also scorers at the Skippers disposal.  Size is a major question mark.  Andrew Turnblad will have to fill the minutes in the middle.  Guard Larry Rice had heart surgery last month.  If he's cleared to return, he could provide quality defensive minutes in the backcourt. 

    Wayzata Trojans (2009-10 season 10-15, 3-5 Classic Lake Conference, tied 3rd)
    Forwards Eric Robertson and Chris Burt return and were the top 2 scorers last season.  Burt is the interior presence of the 2.  Robertson is a lanky athletic wing who can shoot it.  Add in his younger brother Zach, a sophomore who saw varsity minutes last year, and this group should be competitive.

    Predicted Order of Finish
    1. Hopkins
    2. Eden Prairie
    3. Minnetonka
    4. Wayzata
    5. Edina
    Conference MVP: Joe Coleman - Hopkins

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Jake Wright, Eric Hedstrom - Hopkins
    Grant Schaeffer - Eden Prairie
    Brendan Taylor, Mike Fernando - Minnetonka
    Zach Robertson -Wayzata
    Graham Woodward -Edina

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Eden Prairie at Hopkins - February 1st
    • Hopkins at Eden Prairie - February 18th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Hopkins vs Osseo - Dec 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
    • Hopkins at Lakeville South - Dec 14th
    • Eden Prairie at Apple Valley - Dec 17th
    • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Hopkins - Dec 18th
    • Eden Prairie Holiday Tournament with Waconia and Benilde-St. Margaret's - Dec 28 and 30th
    • Minnetonka at Granite City Tournament in St.  Cloud - Dec 28-30th
    • Hopkins vs Johnson - Dec 30th (projected Augsburg tournament championship)
    • Shakopee at Eden Prairie - Jan 4th
    • Minnetonka at Cedar Rapids Washington - Jan 7th
    • Johnson at Eden Prairie Jan 13th
    • Eden Prairie at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 15th
    • Hopkins vs Madison East - Jan 29th (Border Battle in St. Cloud)
    • DeLaSalle at Eden Prairie - Jan 29th
    • Eden Prairie at Waconia - Feb 5th
    • Eden Prairie at Chaska - Feb 8th
    • Hopkins at Duluth East - Feb 19th
    • Minnesota Transitions at Eden Prairie - Feb 25th

    10-11 Classic Suburban Preview

    Hard to believe its already time for another round of season previews.  As is tradition here, I begin with a look at the 11 metro area leagues in alphabetical order.  Thanks to conference realignment, that means the Classic Suburban goes first.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    While there isn't the real powerhouse team of years past at the top, the top of the league still figures to have a strong group of teams.  The 3 traditional favorites (Sibley, Tartan, St. Thomas Academy) all should be there.  Can Mahtomedi and Hill-Murray, who both finished 1 game behind Tartan and St. Thomas Academy last season for 2nd, jump into that mix?  While 1 team won't run away expect 1 group of 5 good teams with 4 teams struggling at the bottom.

    Henry Sibley Warriors (2009-10 season 25-7, 15-1 Conference, 1st)
    No team in the league is hit harder by departures than the Warriors.  4 of the top 5 scorers including my league MVP last year Mike Rostampour and his college teammate Jordan Jackson are gone along with head coach Tom Dasovich who's now at Minnetonka.  Sibley won't fall off the deep end though.  Junior wing Dante Grant is the top returner after a breakout performance against Hopkins at the state tournament.  Defensive bulldog Bobby Wills and sophomore shooter Adam Huessner return at the guard spots.  Reserves Chris Bultena and the brothers Goldberg (Jake and Nick) move up to headline the frontline.  Longtime assistant Lernell James moves 1 spot down the bench to assume the head coach duties.

    Hill-Murray Pioneers (2009-10 season 17-11, 10-6 Conference, tied 4th)
    The Pioneers improved by 6 league wins last season under coach Dick Ghizoni.  This season with the league's top front line returning they have a chance to be a factor in the league race.  Forward Rob Daul is the league's top returning scorer after averaging 17.8 PPG last season.  Jim Remke is the other forward and double-figure scorer.  Big 6'9 Dave Simmet mans the middle.  Biggest question mark for the Pioneers is their guard play getting the ball to the forwards.  In their favor, the Pioneers upset Tartan twice last season.

    Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2009-10 season 21-8, 10-6 Conference, tied 4th)
    Big losses at Mahtomedi as well.  The guard trio of Bobby Sherwood, Ryan Redmond and Andre Arnett costs the Zephyrs 3 of their top 4 scorers.  Plenty of experience returns Junior sharpshooter Justin Pahl returns with brothers Andrew (junior) and Zach (sophomore) Lindquist who can also shoot it.  Add in the leading returning scorer, center Dane Schmid, and the Zephyrs figure to also have a say in the league race.

    North Polars (2009-10 season 11-16, 6-10 Conference, tied 6th)
    Its been 5 seasons since the Polars were .500 in the league and with the strength at the top of the league, I can't see them breaking that mark this season.  Guards Rex Johnson and Hunter Books give the Polars a nice tandem to work with.  Both averaged double figures last season.

    Richfield Spartans (2009-10 season 13-15, 6-10 Conference, tied 6th)
    Its a new era at Richfield with the departure of Coach Jim Dimick.  Assistant Omar McMillan takes over a fairly bare cupboard.  Leading scorer Jay Sewer graduated and he was the only double figure scorer the Spartans had.  Senior point guard Daron Garvis returns to man the ship with wings Lorenzo Evans and Darrien Johnson.  Lots of underclassmen did see time last year so there will be some experience.  Shawn Bear was the scorer for Team GetShook this summer, can he bring some of that firepower to the Spartan offense.

    St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2009-10 season 16-11, 11-5 Conference, tied 2nd)
    The top 3 scores, center Will Patt, forward Charlie Aslesen and guard Billy Chapman all graduate.  Junior wing Thomas Sjoberg is the top returnee.  There's also a nice group of seniors coming up along with Sjoberg in last year's top JV scorer Luke Marks, David Miller, Will Johnson and Luke Siegler.  Reloading and their defense will keep the Cadets in the league race.

    Simley Spartans (2009-10 season 9-19, 2-14 Conference, 8th)
    A long season last year for Simley and with the 3 top scorers departing, I don't see much changing.  Shinoby Yang averaged 8.6 PPG last season and is the leading returning scorer.

    South St. Paul Packers (2009-10 season 7-20, 1-15 Conference, 9th)
    Another team that loses a bunch of players.  No player averaged double-figures for the Packers last season.  Expect another long season.

    Tartan Titans (2009-10 season 20-8, 11-5 Conference, tied 2nd)
    The Titans have losses like athletic forward Manani Beavers, shooter Tim Lubke, guard Troy Klingsporn and defensive stopper Max Ryan just to name a few.  Plenty of returnees though to keep the Titans at the top of the league standings.  It starts with explosive sophomore point guard Darrion Strong.  Add in the Preiner twins (Drew and Luke) who are wings but saw lots of time at center last year.  Joel Awich who saw a big improvement this summer and Ryan Burns will see time in the middle.  Soph Xavier Hall could see some time in the Max Ryan stopper role.

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

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Darrion Strong, Xavier Hall - Tartan
    Adam Huessner, Nick Goldberg, Zach Haas - Henry Sibley
    Zach Lindquist - Mahtomedi
    Nick Valdvogel, Teddy Chapman - St. Thomas Academy

    Games that will determine the conference title

    • Sibley at St. Thomas Academy - January 4th
    • Tartan at Hill-Murray - January 7th
    • St. Thomas Academy at Mahtomedi - January 7th
    • Tartan at Sibley - January 11th
    • St. Thomas Academy at Tartan - January 18th
    • Sibley at Mahtomedi - January 25th
    • St. Thomas Academy at Sibley - February 4th
    • Tartan at Mahtomedi - February 4th
    • Sibley at Tartan - February 15th
    • Tartan at St. Thomas Academy - February 18th
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Tartan vs Apple Valley - December 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
    • Orono vs St. Thomas Academy- December 11th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
    • Minneapolis Henry at St. Thomas Academy - Dec 14th
    • St. Thomas Academy at Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 18th
    • Henry Sibley at Augsburg tournament - Dec 28-30
    • Rogers at Tartan - Dec 29 or 30 (possible matchup in Tartan Tournament)
    • St. Thomas Academy at Grand Rapids - Dec 29 or 30 (Grand Rapids Tournament)
    • Minnetonka at Tartan - January 27th

    Tyus Jones to participate in USA camp

    Tyus Jones is off to Colorado this weekend to participate in a minicamp for the USA Men's 16U team.  As listed in this article, many of the nation's elite 14 and 15 year olds (e.g Jahlil Okafor, Jabari Parker and Wisconsin's Jonathon Carson) will be attending.  Some of you may recall that stars Quinn Cook and Adonis Thomas arrived at the Best Buy Summer Classic after competing for the USA in Germany in early July.  Hopefully we get a local pipeline into that.

    Interesting comment from the article  "The fun part of this at this age is getting these kids as they prepare for their high school careers and before they really get off on the AAU circuits and high school tournaments."   Let's see now, Okafor and Parker have been mentioned for a while now and Jones played at the Peach Jam for Howard Pulley.  So this idea that Team USA is jumping in early is seriously nonsense.

    Biggest matchup of the Apple Valley season will be when they play the showcase game in the Timberwolves Shootout January 8th against Linn-Mar, IA and top 40 PG Marcus Paige.

    2010 Week 4 Fall League Schedule

    Its week 4 of fall leagues and all the early leagues are in action before the 2nd group of leagues kicks off next weekend.  1st game of the week is a nice battle of freshman point guards in Tyus Jones of Apple Valley and Prior Lake's Jon Sabaski out in the Prior Lake league.   Mostly quiet around the rest of the leagues.

    Sat Oct 9 (Jefferson)
    3 PM MTS vs Edina II - Ct 1
    4 PM BSM vs Holy Family - Ct 1
    4 PM Panthers vs Eden Prairie - Ct 2
    5 PM MTS vs Jefferson I - Ct 1
    5 PM Holy Family vs Edina II - Ct 2
    6 PM Jefferson I vs Panthers - Ct 1
    6 PM BSM vs Eden Prairie - Ct 2

    Sat Oct 9 (St. Louis Park, NOT Minnehaha)
    11 AM BBC vs Hot Mix - Ct 1
    11 AM St. Paul's Finest vs Breck - Ct 2
    Noon Hot Mix vs Breck - Ct 1
    Noon Blake vs Hill-Murray - Ct 2
    1 PM St. Paul's Finest vs BBC - Ct 1
    2 PM Blake vs Henry Sibley -Ct 1
    2 PM Hill-Murray vs Minnehaha - Ct 2
    2 PM Duluth East vs St. Paul Central - Ct 3
    3 PM Anoka vs Great River - Ct 1
    3 PM DeLaSalle vs St. Paul's Finest - Ct 2
    4 PM Duluth East vs Minnehaha - Ct 1
    4 PM Henry Sibley vs Great River - Ct 2
    5 PM DeLaSalle vs St. Paul Central - Ct 1
    5 PM Anoka vs Minnehaha - Ct 2

    Sat Oct 9 (Prior Lake)
    11 AM Prior Lake Navy vs Apple Valley - Ct 1
    11 AM Hibbing vs Hoops Training - Ct 2
    11 AM New Prague vs Chanhassen - Ct 3
    1 PM Prior Lake Navy vs Team Southern MN - Ct 1
    1 PM Hibbing vs Apple Valley - Ct 2
    1 PM New Prague vs Hoops Training - Ct 3
    3 PM Team Southern MN vs Hibbing - Ct 1
    3 PM Prior Lake Gold vs Chanhassen - Ct 1
    4 PM Waconia vs Team Southern MN - Ct 3
    5 PM Prior Lake Gold vs Hibbing - Ct 2

    Sun Oct 10 (Kennedy)
    1 PM SWC vs Westonka - Ct 1
    1 PM Bethany vs Jefferson II - Ct 2
    2 PM Rice Lake vs NYA - Ct 1
    3 PM SWC vs Jefferson II - Ct 1
    3 PM NC Rams vs Cottage Grove - Ct 2
    3 PM Burnsville vs Eden Prairie - Ct 4
    4 PM Rice Lake vs Jefferson I - Ct 1
    4 PM NC Rams vs NYA - Ct 2
    4 PM Edina I vs BSM - Ct 3
    4 PM Bethany vs Westonka - Ct 4
    5 PM Jefferson vs Cottage Grove - Ct 1
    5 PM Edina I vs Burnsville - Ct 2
    5 PM BSM vs Eden Prairie - Ct 3

    Sunday Oct 10 (Concordia-St. Paul)
    1:30 PM MG Classic Old School vs Lakeville South - Ct 1
    1:30 PM Wizards vs East Ridge Knupp - Ct 2
    2:30 PM Rogers vs Southern Stars - Ct 1
    2:30 PM West Metro vs Southside - Ct 1
    3:30 PM MG Classic Old School vs East Ridge Gold - Ct 1
    3:30 PM Wizards vs Lakeville South - Ct 2
    3:30 PM MDB vs Owatonna - Ct 3
    3:30 PM Rochester vs East Ridge Knupp - Ct 4
    4:30 PM Rogers vs Southside - Ct 1
    4:30 PM West Metro vs Southern Stars - Ct 2
    4:30 PM Owatonna vs Rochester - Ct 3
    4:30 PM East Ridge Gold vs MDB - Ct 4

    Sunday Oct 10 (Forest Lake)
    1:00 PM Centennial White vs Forest Lake Gold - Ct 1
    1:00 PM Wisconsin Warriors vs Cardinals - Ct 2
    1:00 PM Centennial Red vs Zimmerman - Ct 3
    1:00 PM St. Paul Bulldogs vs Heat Black - Ct 4
    2:00 PM Irondale vs Jackets2010 - Ct 3
    2:00 PM Heat Red vs Forest Lake Maroon - Ct 4
    3:00 PM St. Paul Bulldogs vs Zimmerman - Ct 1
    3:00 PM Centennial Red vs Heat Black - Ct 2
    3:00 PM Wisconsin Warriors vs Forest Lake Gold - Ct 3
    3:00 PM Centennial White vs Cardinals - Ct 4
    4:00 PM Heat Red vs Jackets2010 - Ct 3
    4:00 PM Irondale vs Forest Lake Maroon - Ct 4

    More Conference Realignment already?

    More dominoes ready to fall as we have more conference realignment and could it have metro impacts?   Here's what we know from news reports out of St. Cloud, Elk River, Big Lake, Brainerd and Cambridge.

    Former Rum River Conference members Foley, Milaca, Mora , Zimmerman and Princeton are joining St. Cloud Cathedral and Little Falls to form a new and yet unnamed (though bringing back the Rum River name would make sense) league.  According to news reports from Little Falls, students will choose the name of the league (bad decision if you ask me along the lines of students deciding not to renew MCTC basketball).  Little Falls would have the 2nd largest enrollment in the new league.  This new league has also invited Becker to join.  Becker will make its decision this month. 

    Foley, Milaca, Mora and Cathedral are all currently in behemoth known as the (not so) West Central Conference.  Little Falls is in the Central Lakes with the St. Cloud area schools amongst others.  Little Falls motivation for moving is travel and the fact that they are the smallest school in the CLC.  Zimmerman and Princeton are Mississippi 8 members along with Becker.  Zimmerman is currently the smallest member of the rapidly growing schools in the Mississippi 8 and was the reluctant 9th member when the MSHSL placed them there after the Rum River folded.  If Becker joins in leaving, that would be 3 of the 4 smallest members leaving (more on Big Lake later)

    The Mississippi 8 has responded by sending letters for possible membership to Rocori, St. Cloud Tech, St. Cloud Apollo, Sartell-St. Stephen, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Elk River, and St. Francis.  Though their football team is a Mississippi 8 member, news reports from Elk River indicate that the Elks don't want to leave the NW Suburban.  Nothing like 3 high schools in a district in 3 different leagues.  Big Lake would be left as the small remaining school in the Mississippi 8.  I'd think the new league would be a good fit for the same reasons Becker might think that.  However Big Lake has indicated they want to stay in the Mississippi 8.

    Rocori isn't thrilled about joining the new league because they'd have to travel through St. Cloud at rush hour to get to all the other schools in the league.  But size wise they would be a good fit.  Annandale has been mentioned as another option for the 8th team in that new league.

    Other rumors floating about from news reports are Orono possibly to the M8 where they already compete in swimming.  With the combining of Duluth Central and Duluth Denfeld to make a 4A school, there's rumor of a league that would look something like Forest Lake, Cambridge-Isanti, North Branch, Chisago Lakes, St. Francis and the 2 Duluth schools and maybe Grand Rapids.  There's also the rumor of Grand Rapids and the Duluth schools to the Central Lakes where they've applied for football membership.  There's also been mention of a super northern conference extending from Moorhead to Duluth with Brainerd, Alexandria and Fergus Falls included (good grief, who thought of that, let's get the Fargo and Sioux Falls schools in it while we're at it and ask Bismarck and Billings if they want to join too).  Willmar could be left to go to the West Central with Rocori a possibility there as well.  Willmar would also make some sense in the Southwest Conference with Marshall et al.

    I think Elk River would be a great fit in a 12 team East/West split league that goes towards St. Cloud.  Put them with Cambridge-Isanti, Buffalo, Rogers, St. Michael-Albertville and Monticello in the east.  Tech, Apollo, Sauk Rapids, Sartell, Rocori and Alexandria in the west.  This would put Elk River with the teams they end up playing in section 8.  Good rivalries all through that league too. 

    I could stand to see Orono take Cambridge-Isanti's spot in the east so that Cambridge could play in a new eastern league with Forest Lake, the 2 Duluth schools, St. Francis, Chisago Lakes and North Branch (with Grand Rapids possibly).  Don't know how St. Francis would compete but that league would take some travel hassles off the North Suburban and Suburban East's hands (while expanding it for the southern members).  Teams would have to agree on this one though since its a new league.  Remember that the MSHSL has the power to place teams in an existing league but cannot form new leagues unlike the WIAA.  This would cut the North Suburban and Suburban East down to 8 teams each (perfect size) and the Northwest Suburban to 10 while creating a new 8 team league that puts the Duluth schools and Grand Rapids in a league.  Great in theory, is it realistic, probably not.

    Being the generous guy I am, the new Rum River not only can have Becker, but I'll give them Big Lake too.  That would make 9 teams which isn't ideal.   I could also stand the idea of Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Brainerd, Bemidji and Moorhead in a 5 team league, but here in the metro we know all too well the problems of a 5 team league.  Maybe flip Alexandria for Detroit Lakes.