11-12 Suburban East Preview

This is the 11th preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Suburban East Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

A down year in the league as talent has departed over the last couple of years.  CDH has to be the favorite but I wouldn't be shocked to see my next group of 3 challenge them. Stillwater and East Ridge are the next group thanks to what they have coming back (top scorers).  I think the bottom 4 all struggle.

Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (2010-11 season 23-9, 15-3 Conference, Tied 1st)
The Raiders lose top scorer Raijon Kelly to Samford and also graduate post Connor Quicksell.  But there's plenty returning.  Point guard Cortez Tillman returns along with recent Wofford commit CJ Neumann up front.  Glue guy Taylor Montero will return in January after suffering a knee injury this summer.  Michael White, Kevin Miley and Luke Hamel will also see minutes up front.  Look for Teddy Chapman to see some guard minutes.  Keep an eye on their freshman class down the road as it is absolutely loaded.  It includes one of the better 2015 prospects in the state, Sam Neumann.

East Ridge Raptors (2010-11 season 14-13, 8-10 Conference, 7th)
The Raptors improved from 6 wins to 14 in year 2 of the program and jumped 2 spots in standings.  Leading scorer Justin Pahl is back as a premier shooter.  The rest of the rotation is basically gone though including guard John Hietpas who was one of their top players the last 2 seasons.  6'7 lefty junior Conrad Sexe will see time in the middle.  Guard Jared Morris figures to have a bigger role along with forward Nhamdi Nwokolo.  Don't be shocked if frosh Sid Tomes sees significant point guard time this season as the Raptors build for future years.

Forest Lake Rangers (2010-11 season 17-11, 10-8 Conference, Tied 4th)
The Rangers lose their top 4 of their top 5 scorers including bomber Phil Hegseth and Evan Johnson who combined for 29 a night last season.  Guard Tyler Rosenberger is the top returner.  6'6 junior Noah Davis will provide inside play.

Hastings Raiders (2010-11 season 3-23, 2-16 Conference, 9th)
The Raiders return their top player Darius Wilkerson who averaged 11 a night last year.  Ellis Williams and Josh Monjeau return at the guard spots.  They were able to gain experience last year with plenty of returnees seeing time.

Mounds View Mustangs (2010-11 season 11-16, 9-9 Conference, 6th)
This will be the 45th and final year for legendary coach Ziggy Kauls.  With 721 wins to date, he will be hard to replace.  5 of the top 6 scorers are gone including double figure scorers Jordan Van Eps and guard Blake Anderson who combined for 30 points per game.  6'3 Forward Mike Kerfeld is the top returnee at 6 points a night.  Kevin Sharpe returns inside along with guard Chris Severson.

Park Wolfpack (2010-11 season 1-26, 0-18 Conference, 10th)
The Wolfpack come into the season with a 40 game conference losing streak.  They were by far the lowest scoring team in all of AAAA basketball at 40.9 PPG and now they lose 6 of the top 8 scorers.  Austen Kruzeski and Anthony Tola are the top returnees who saw time.  Junior transfer Trocon Barclay sat out last year after coming over from Johnson and is expected to contribute.

Roseville Raiders (2010-11 season 22-6, 15-3 Conference, Tied 1st)
The Raiders lose their top 2 scorers in wing Lucas Brown (off to Wofford) and point guard David Stanley.  That's 33 a night that needs to be replaced.  They also need to replace dirty work forward Connor Harlander who will be missed more than some may think and center Sam Peterson.  1 starter returns and that's athletic forward Emeche Wells who scored 12.7 a night and is a quality defender as well.  He sprained a knee in football but should be ready for the season.  6'6" Soph Derek Magnuson is 1 of a very good group of sophomores to watch.  He'll see minutes in the middle.  Ben Farmer (also coming off injury), Logan Brown, frosh Kobe Critchley and sniper Mackenzie Johnson return at the guard slots

Stillwater Ponies (2010-11 season 15-13, 10-8 Conference, Tied 4th)
The Ponies return their top scorer, junior forward Andrew Duxbury but the next 4 scorers are gone.  That includes athletic Paxton Harvieux and forward Jake Malwitz.  Junior guards Sam Lagus (shooter) and Austin Holmberg will see guard minutes.  Lefty Josh Johnson can step out and shoot it a bit at 6'6.  He'll see minutes in the middle.  They revamped the system to go 5 out last year, we'll see if they stay with that look this season.

White Bear Lake Bears (2010-11 season 17-9, 14-4 Conference, 3rd)
The world's finest hair resides at WBL with center Zach Meyer's mullet.  He's the top returnee at 12.8 PPG.  13.2 PPG from guard Nate Sheldon needs to be replaced along with fellow guards Colton Smit and Vidal Vance.  But I think the Bears will be just fine.  Josh Tismer returns to run the point.  Lucas Allen returns as another up front player and Eric Gebeke returns on the wing.  Add in junior shooter Beau Smit and you have a nice group.

Woodbury Royals (2010-11 season 11-17, 7-11 Conference, 8th)
This team wasn't that far away last year with 12 of their 17 losses by 11 points or less.  The top 4 scorers all return.  That includes wing Ricky Suggs who fits their up and down style perfectly. (13.2 PPG only 5 3s in 150 FGs).  Shooter Renard Suggs is back.  Great stat note when looking him up.  He had 52 3s and only 30 2s last year.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say you might want to find him.  Conner McKeen and Ryan Fritzke also return as double figure scorers.

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

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Sidney Tomes - East Ridge
  • Kobe Critchley, Jacques Perra, Derek Magnuson - Roseville
  • Sam Neumann, Kyler Briggity - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Matt Anderson - Stillwater
  • Matt Ambriz- Woodbury
Games that will determine the conference title
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Woodbury - Dec 16th
  • Woodbury at Roseville - Dec 31st
  • Roseville at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 6th
  • White Bear Lake at Woodbury - Jan 10th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at White Bear Lake - Jan 17th
  • White Bear Lake at Roseville - Jan 24th
  • Woodbury at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 31st
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Roseville - Feb 10th
  • Woodbury at White Bear Lake - Feb 14th
  • White Bear Lake at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 21st
  • Roseville at Woodbury - Feb 24th
  • Roseville at White Bear Lake - Feb 28th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Roseville vs Rocori- Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall vs Hopkins - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
  • Minneapolis Washburn at Roseville - Dec 13th
  • Champlin Park at White Bear Lake - Dec 17th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at St. Thomas Academy - Dec 17th
  • St. Paul Johnson  at Roseville - Dec 20th
  • Woodbury at Lakeville North - Dec 22nd
  • Roseville at Midwest Players Classic - Jan 14th (La Crosse, WI)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Eden Prairie - Jan 14th
  • Roseville vs St. John's Lutheran (FL) - Jan 21 (East Metro Showcase)
  • DeLaSalle at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 18th

11-12 South Suburban Preview

We begin week 3 of  my 2010-2011 season preview series with the 10th preview.  In this preview, a look at the South Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

A down year in the South Suburban but that's a relative term for what is still a very difficult league.  I see 8 teams that can beat you on any given night.  The top 3 stand alone with Apple Valley, Eastview and Lakeville North all making runs in the top 5 this season.  The next group of 5 is very competitive and then Burnsville and Jefferson I think will struggle at the bottom.

Apple Valley Eagles (2010-11 season 19-10, 13-5 Conference, Tied 3rd)
Probably the most important loss in the league is 6'7 forward Tom Schalk who's off to William & Mary (not to be confused with Lois and Clark or Penn and Teller).  But super soph Tyus Jones returns at the point to run the show.  His athleticism has taken a step up in the offseason and now he can be a scoring force in addition to his already superior ability to run a team.  Guards Dustin Fronk (shooter) and Harry Sonie (handler who will shoot) return for what will be a very small lineup.  6'3" Soph Dennis Austin is undersized but very active and figures to see lots of minutes up front.  He'll replace the departed Josh Johnson and Gavin Bronson on the front line.

Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (2010-11 season 4-21, 2-16 Conference, 10th)
Yes they're slowdown style is enough to cure insomnia and unwatchable but it keeps the Jags competitive.  4 wins by a total of 13 points but 8 very close losses.  They lose leading scorer Marcus Alipate and post Reggie Lynch is now at Edina.  Post Kevin Handt and wing Matt Hovila are also gone.  Ryan Gilmer is the top returnee along with juniors Brian Fritzlar and Kevin Woebke.

Bloomington Kennedy Eagles (2010-11 season 16-12, 10-8 Conference, Tied 5th)
Leading scorer and top post Cullen Russo is off to Quakerdale Prep in Iowa.  Guard DeShun Patterson was an athletic guard.  Both depart as double figure scorers.  But the Eagles will still be loaded with guard firepower.  Point guard Darrian Pittman comes over from Maranatha.  Darrian Johnson and Rico Gunn (9.9 PPG) also return.  Jacob Kohner returns as an interior banger.

Burnsville Blaze (2010-11 season 12-14, 7-11 Conference, 7th)
The top 5 scorers are gone from a defensive minded squad that started well.  Then won a pair of 1 point games before losing 8 in a row.   Adam Lambrecht, Dan Motl and post Chase Roullier return from last year's rotation.  But in this league you need returning stars so I expect the Blaze to struggle against the tough schedule.

Eagan Wildcats (2010-11 season 21-6, 14-4 Conference, 2nd)
Eagan does suffer some heavy losses with forward Matt Hentges and sharpshooter Jameson Parsons gone.  Point guard Ben Sicoli is also gone.  But plenty returns with big guard Nick Sabatke (9.3 PPG) and forward Shea Mandli.  Guards Drew Bauer and AJ Bauer also return.

Eastview Lightning (2010-11 season 22-5, 15-3 Conference, 1st)
A talented group returns led by 6'8 F Joey King (Drake commit) at 17.6 a game.  Most of the offense will run through him.  The next 2 scorers were wings Frank Veldman and Shane McSparron.  They will be missed, especially Veldman who was a stickem defender last season.  The front line is loaded with King, Center Ben Oberfeld who is a double double threat and the return of Sam Burt (injured last season).  Burt is an athletic piece who should fit in nicely.  Point guard Darin Haugh returns to run the show as does shooter Chris Narum.  Bodies were in short supply last year so keep an eye on the depth especially in the backcourt.

Lakeville North Panthers (2010-11 season 12-15, 10-8 Conference, Tied 5th)
Another team like Eastview that was built for this season.  Leading scorer Adam Petterson and point guard Al Erickson are gone but this roster is still stacked.  South Dakota commit Tyler Flack leads the way as an athletic forward.  Brett Rasmussen is the bruiser portion of the duo.  There's also 6'3 Ryan Saarela.  The guards are solid with Trey Heid, Devin Shockley and Grant Erickson.  Shockley is a scoring threat but I'm told he'll sit out the first half of the regular season.

Lakeville South Cougars (2010-11 season 21-9, 13-5 Conference, Tied 3rd)
Down the street, the Cougars lose almost the entire rotation.  The top 4 scorers (Alex Richter, Jon Christensen, Riley West and Spencer Pankonin) are off to the NSIC.  Mitch Liedner will miss basketball to finish school early for football at Minnesota.  Matt Heller is the only returnee and he just missed a football game due to concussion.  But the JV squad last year was very good (pounding St. Paul City champ Johnson 60-34 on opening night).  Ty Powell will take over at the point.  Lefty Nick Sanborn will see minutes up front along with Nick Bachinski.  Roster could surprise, but I see them as a year away.  Think of them the way you may have looked at Lakeville North last year.

Prior Lake Lakers (2010-11 season 6-21, 3-15 Conference, Tied 8th)
Now a look at the finest southern resort town in The Kingdom (Not fair to call it Siberia, you'll read that in the next preview).  The Lakers had already matched their 3 wins from 09-10 by New Years (3-4).  Then point guard Jon Sobaski broke his wrist and South Suburban play started.  That's a bad combination and the Lakers went 3-17 the rest of the way (including last 6 with Sobaski).  A different team this year with 7 footer Carson Shanks eligible after sitting out last year (transfer from Eastview).  2 of the top 3 scorers are gone but you have a nucleus of Sobaski (soph), Shanks and 6'10 Jeff Probert (both juniors) to build on for 2 years.  Add in forward Jack Harrison at 6'5 and you have one of the biggest potential front lines around.  Harrison and Jack Kaiser provide a full year's worth of experience.

Rosemount Irish (2010-11 season 7-21, 3-15 Conference, Tied 8th)
MN-Moorhead commit Matt Nelson leads the way as the only double figure scorer coming back.  Forward Brandon Forcier and guards Charlie Broback and Evan Mitchell also return.  Soph guard Garrett Goetz may take over the point.  Interior scorer of lefty Andrew Nelson will need to be replaced (9 PPG).

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

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Tyus Jones, Dennis Austin - Apple Valley
  • Jon Sobaski - Prior Lake
  • JP Macura - Lakeville North
  • GT Johnson - Eagan
  • Tommy Gadtke - Bloomington Jefferson
  • Brett Shepley - Burnsville
  • Garrett Goetz - Rosemount
Games that will determine the conference title
  • Eastview at Lakeville North - Jan 10th
  • Eastview at Apple Valley - Jan 13th 
  • Lakeville North at Apple Valley - Jan 24th
  • Lakeville North at Eastview -  Feb 10th
  • Apple Valley at Eastview- Feb 14th
  • Apple Valley at Lakeville North - Feb 24th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Prairie at Apple Valley  - Dec 6th
  • Lakeville North at Chanhassen - Dec 9th
  • Lakeville North vs Champlin Park - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Prior Lake vs Osseo - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Eastview vs Benilde-St. Margaret's- Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Apple Valley vs Tartan - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Lakeville North at Eden Prairie - Dec 20th
  • Eastview at Spring Lake Park - Dec 20th
  • Moorhead at Eastview - Dec 23rd
  • Prior Lake, Rosemount & Apple Valley at Granite City Classic - Dec 28/29 (St. Cloud)
  • Lakeville North holiday tournament - Dec 28/29
  • Apple Valley vs Onalaska, WI - Jan 7th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Prior Lake vs Cedar Falls, IA - Jan 7th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Eastview at Midwest Players Classic - Jan 14th (La Crosse, WI)

11-12 St. Paul City Preview

This is the 9th preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the St. Paul City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

There's Johnson and there's everybody else.  Like Washburn on the Minneapolis side, Johnson swept all 3 titles last season so the future is bright.  So you have them at the top.  Then the 2 other programs that return some talent next.  Then a down Como Park program and the annual bottom feeders in Humboldt and Harding bring up the rear.

Central Minutemen (2010-11 season 14-12, 7-3 Conference, 2nd)
The Minutemen lose their top scorer Martin Smith who manned the post for them last season.  Point guard Will McDonough is back though he's more of an Allen Iverson clone than a true point guard.  Montrell Williams gives them another scorer on the wing.  More of a slasher but a good enough shooter to respect.  Soph Marcus Taylor-Knighten is an athletic forward who was a key piece last season.  Forward Jones Green also returns.  Guard Diallo Powell transfered out.

Como Park Cougars (2010-11 season 11-12, 5-5 Conference, 4th)
The 6 of the top 7 scorers for the Cougars all depart, 4 to graduation and point guard Kaysh Shaw is now at Prairie Seeds. Von Pledger I'm told also won't be back.  The top 4 scorers were all double figure scorers.  Wyatt Johnson's role will expand.  Kieron Sauer comes up from JV and will some forward minutes for a small lineup

Harding Knights (2010-11 season 7-18, 1-9 Conference, Tied 5th)
The Knights lose 4 starters which includes 4 of their top 5 scorers.  Point guard Viseth Koumarn returns along with reserve guard David McClain.  Forward Earnell Barner is a 6'4 jumping jack who will have a highlight dunk or 2 during the year.  He had to play JV last year due to transfer rules.

Highland Park Scots (2010-11 season 17-10, 6-4 Conference, 3rd)
Quick quiz, who led the league in scoring last year?  Not a Johnson player believe it or not.  Lefty guard Ty'Shaun Williams averaged 19.6 PPG in the 10 league games last year.  A much improved shooter who flies under the radar.  Point guard Dion Bradley returns along with forward Nate Anderson.  Cordero Washington and Darrell Hill combined for 27 a night and will need to be replaced.

Humboldt Hawks (2010-11 season 8-16, 1-9 Conference, Tied 5th)
The Hawks lost most of their rotation.  That includes double figure scores Julian Luster and Dashwan Wright. 2 rotation players return, Chase Luster and junior Dominique Khammarath.  Both averaged 6+ points a game last season.  The roster has no size so expect a very guard oriented system.

Johnson Governors (2010-11 season 25-4, 10-0 Conference, 1st)
The Govs come into the season with a 44 game conference winning streak.  With 2 wins to open the league season that would give them the 2nd longest league winning streak in conference history.  Wing Roosevelt Scott and point guard Estan Tyler are 2 major losses.  Center Chris Smith-Bond and backup guard Anthony Lee also depart.  Missouri St signee Marcus Marshall leads the way from his guard slot.  He's averaged 16.5 PPG and should approach 20 this season.  He's a really tough cover especially when his shot heats up.  Quashingm Smith and Jalen Albritton return on the wings.  Shelby Ashford is an inside banger and Waylon Johnson gives them a long athletic post who fits the style well.

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

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Marcus Taylor-Knighten, Felix Taylor Jr - Central
  • Victor Yusef, Isaiah Brower, Darius Schumann - Highland Park
  • Malik Menifee, Peirre Contell - Johnson
Games that will determine the conference title
  • Johnson at Highland Park - Feb 6th
  • Johnson at Central -Feb 21st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Central at Woodbury - Dec 6th
  • Tartan at Central - Dec 13th
  • Johnson at Roseville- Dec 20th
  • Johnson at Best Buy Holiday Classic (Augsburg) - Dec 28-30th
  • Eden Prairie at Johnson - Jan 10th
  • Johnson vs Whitefish Bay Dominican, WI - Jan 14th (Midwest Players Classic in La Crosse, WI)
  • Hopkins at Johnson - Jan 20th (East Metro Showcase)

11-12 Northwest Suburban Preview

This is the 8th preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series.  In this a preview, a look at the Northwest Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Osseo has to be the big favorite again and then a couple of nice teams behind them in Maple Grove and Champlin Park.  Centennial could jump into that mix or be with the next group of Blaine, Armstrong and Anoka who have major losses but some talent back too.  Elk River and Andover might be better in other leagues, but hard to put them in front of the rest and Coon Rapids has some people back despite a rough year.

Andover Huskies (2010-11 season 11-16, 6-14 Conference, 9th)
Leading scorers Jake Wagner 15+ and Tyler Finnes 9 PPG are gone.  Late in the year the Huskies went to some of their JV guys.  Expect seniors Davis Johnson, Tyler Hartmann, Devon Fellerman and John Hennessey to be the core.  Junior forward Cameron Wold is worth noting as well.

Anoka Tornadoes (2010-11 season 13-14, 9-11 Conference, 6th)
The Tornadoes lose 4 starters and 7 of the top 8 scorers but not a bare cupboard.  Nebraska-Omaha commit Marcus Tyus averaged over 20 a night last season from his guard slot and I expect another big year.  6'5 Brandon Lindquist mans the middle.  Junior guard Malcolm Seals flies under the radar but should see big minutes this year giving Tyus a chance to play off the ball more often.

Blaine Bengals (2010-11 season 19-10, 15-5 Conference, 3rd)
Big loss for the Bengals as star Zach Romashko and his 21.7 a night are gone.  The next 3 scorers return with athletic wing Duke Anywanu and shooter Tanner Schumacher.  Forward Alex Cappard was that 3rd scorer.  Junior Joe Robel will take over the point from his brother Dan.

Centennial Cougars (2010-11 season 9-18, 8-12 Conference, Tied 7th)
Josh Matheson and Payton Sanders were significant contributors last season as the 2nd and 3rd scorers and need to be replaced.  The backcourt is solid with Jared Nelson back to run the point and shooter Mitchell Kuck returns after putting up over 19 a night last season.  Junior forward Ben Walker returns and the Cougars have a couple of 6'7 or so bodies that can give them some minutes inside.

Champlin Park Rebels (2010-11 season 21-6, 16-4 Conference, 2nd)
Forward TJ Okafor and his 16 a night are gone with 3 other top scorers.  Guards Michael Sales and 2nd leading scorer Anthony Hill return.  They also have a couple of seniors who can provide some athleticism.  A pair of sophs could make varsity contributions this year with Ian Smith at point and forward Matt Juneau.

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2010-11 season 4-24, 2-18 Conference, 11th)
The year was long but the top 3 scorers all return for the Cardinals.  Each averaged double figures.  That includes Edvonte Hibbler at a guard spot (12 a night) and Omot Okwan at 11.4 inside.  Only 1 major contributor lost as they continue to rebuild.

Elk River Elks (2010-11 season 7-20, 4-16 Conference, 10th)
The Elks coming off a very down year by their standards.  They lose their only double figure scorer Ben Erickson at 18+ a night.  But they do return 6 players who saw big minutes last year.  Guards Ryan Ness and Tucker Morrell combined for 18 a night.  Soph Clay Elrod will see big minutes at a forward spot after averaging over 5 a night last year.

Maple Grove Crimson (2010-11 season 18-11, 11-9 Conference, 5th)
The Crimson more than quadrupled their win total last year jumping from 4-22 to 18-11 under new coach Nick Schroeder.  Much of that thanks to 3 players who will be juniors this season.  Point guard Bryce Wojta was the leader at 15+.  Shooting guard James Morris was 2nd at 12 a night.  Forward Jake Weineke was the 5th leading scorer.  Add in 6'9 Bemidji State commit Dan Lochner in the middle and there's a nice group.

Osseo Orioles (2010-11 season 29-3, 19-1 Conference, 1st)
The Orioles lose their top 2 scorers in versatile forward Joey Sonnefeld and point guard Terez Van Pelt.  Those were the double figure scorers and were worth 33 points a night.  But plenty of talent still on hand.  Soph Ian Theisen will man the middle along with Will Johnson.  DJ Hebert and Michael Brush return on the wings.  Junior Harrison Lucas also gives them scoring punch.  Junior Bridge Tusler is a workhorse defending on the wing and can score as well.  He hit one of the most memorable shots of last year in an epic 22 point comeback at Armstrong.

Park Center Pirates (2010-11 season 9-17, 8-12 Conference, Tied 7th)
Post Kevin Handy reached the double figure mark and forward Bryan Blackhawk just missed it.  Those 2 will have to be replaced with a bunch of other seniors but there's a nice core of 3 juniors that return.  The leader is point guard Quinton Hooker who averaged almost 20 a night.  Then a pair of athletes around him on the wings.  Treyton Daniels and Darian Gates-Washington who were 10 and 9 point a game scorers.  But where is the size?

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2010-11 season 18-10, 12-8 Conference, 4th)
Big losses for the Falcons as the top 5 scorers are gone.  That includes the high powered perimeter trio of Marquel Curtis, KJ Bluford and Levi Abercrombie who combined for over 55 a night.  But there's a quality junior trio here too.  Nick O'Hara will take over the point.  Mitchell Biewen and Konner Goettsche are forwards who can step away and shoot it.  Those will be the core for the next couple of years.

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

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Jake McNallen - Andover
  • Ian Theisen, DJ Scates - Osseo
  • Ian Smith, Matt Juneau - Champlin Park
  • Evan Nolan, Noble Fahnbulleh - Armstrong
  • Clay Elrod - Elk River
Games that will determine the conference title
  • Champlin Park at Maple Grove - Dec 20th
  • Osseo at Champlin Park - Jan 10th
  • Maple Grove at Osseo - Jan 13th
  • Maple Grove at Champlin Park - Feb 8th
  • Osseo at Maple Grove - Feb 17th
  • Champlin Park at Osseo - Feb 21st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Buffalo at Maple Grove - Dec 3rd
  • Osseo vs Prior Lake - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Lakeville North vs Champlin Park - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Buffalo at Osseo - Dec 15th
  • Spring Lake Park at Champlin Park - Dec 16th
  • Robbinsdale Cooper vs Champlin Park - Dec 29th (Bethel Tournament)
  • Osseo at Hopkins - Jan 24th
  • Cooper at Armstrong - Feb 9th
  • Hopkins at Maple Grove - Feb 14th

2011-12 North Suburban Preview

My 2011-2012 season preview series rolls on with the seventh preview in the series.  In this preview, we'll take a look at the North Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Benilde St. Margaret's is the big favorite to defend their crown.  After that, I see a group of Columbia Heights, St. Louis Park, Spring Lake Park and Cooper.  The unbalanced league schedule will be a huge factor here and the advantage goes to Spring Lake Park who only plays 1 top team twice (Cooper).  Compare that to Cooper who has to play all 4 of the other top teams twice.  3 games as a big favorite instead of 3 very tough games in a 16 game schedule is a gigantic difference.  After the top 5 teams, I see a significant dropoff to the bottom 6.  Expect some high scoring games in the league and guard dominated play.

Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights (2010-11 season 23-5, 15-1 Conference, 1st)
The Red Knights return plenty of talent.  3 D1 kids lead the way.  Northwestern commit Sanjay Lumpkin had a roller coaster year last year but should have an expanded offensive roll this year and can also be a defensive stopper from his forward position.  Guard Isaiah Zierden, 18.8 PPG last year can play on or off the ball and is capable of putting 30 up in a hurry.  He's off to Creighton.  Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne signee Will Dunn also was right at the double figure scoring mark.   Those were the top 3 scorers so putting the ball in the basket won't be a problem for the Red Knights.  On the other hand size could be a problem.  The top 3 interior players are gone including Kyle Washington who's off to prep school in Connecticut.  He's been racking up high major offers left and right this fall.  Joe Gill is much improved and will step into that interior role.

Chisago Lakes Wildcats (2010-2011 season 7-20, 2-14 Conference, tied 10th)
Forward Benj Figini is off to Minnesota State-Moorhead after averaging 26.6 a night and a bunch of boards.  He was the only double figure scorer and 3 of the next 4 scorers also graduate.  Junior guard Adam Happ returns after seeing varsity time from February on and he can shoot it.  Forward Per Gulbranson is the top returnee.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2010-11 season 25-7, 11-5 Conference, Tied 3rd, AAA state runner up)
Jacob Thomas, then Zach Lofton, now its Ben Glover's turn to light up the scoreboard.  Lofton's 29.6 each night will be difficult to replace but Glover is capable of matching it.  Interior players Andrew Hanson, Jordan Mills and Fay'Miss Freeman are all gone as is power guard Keanu Glover and defensive pest Rodrick Logan.  Guards Deon Sandstad and Dominique Galloway will see expanded roles.  Christian Esko returns to man the interior.  Those 3 are all juniors.

Fridley Tigers (2010-11 season 4-21, 2-14 Conference, tied 10th)
Last season was a rough year for the Tigers.  They were able to get a couple of freshman major minutes and return their top 2 scorers.  Nate Geving reached the double figure mark and Davaghndre Jones was the 2nd leading scorer.  Point Guard Ryan Backstrom returns along with sophs Michael Murray and Matt Duehn.

Irondale Knights (2010-11 season 19-9, 11-5 Conference, Tied 3rd)
Another team in the league that loses a prolific scorer as Bryan Sprang's 26.3 PPG is off to UMD.  3 other starters are gone.  Guards Mark Stasson, Kevin Poster and Jack Martinek all return.  All the size that saw major minutes graduated.  Carl Brandt will try to fill that void.

North Branch Vikings (2010-11 season 7-20, 4-12 Conference, 8th)
The top 4 scorers are gone from a thin rotation.  That includes forward Forrest Huset and 17 points a night.  Guard Tom Kinsella is the top returnee.

Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (2010-11 season 19-10, 10-6 Conference, 5th)
2014 star forward Rashad Vaughn came off the bench lots of last year.  Expect a monster year from him this season after a big summer.  That will help the Hawks overcome the loss of their top 4 scorers.  That includes the inside presence of Raheem Tyner (17 a night), athleticism of Charles Williams and firepower from guards Terrance Averyheart and Handful Pour at over 30 points a night.  The guard core is still talented with juniors Leroy Taylor and Billy Kellogg coming back.  Jon Lindgren will see time in the post.

St. Francis Saints (2010-11 season 5-22, 3-13 Conference, 9th)
22 a night from guard Dontay Matthews departs which is big but he was the only senior.  Guard Andy Julkowski's 13.8 PPG a night returns as the top scorer.  Soph Guard Cody Wald averaged 5 a night in 17 appearances last year. 

St. Louis Park Orioles (2010-11 season 18-10, 13-3 Conference, 2nd)
The Orioles lose their 3 top seniors including point guard Aaron Ziman, wing Marquealis Edwards and forward Joe Zangel.  That group was worth 40 points a night.  Athletic Soph Dejon Davis transfered to Washburn and junior Garrison Gillard is now at Maranatha (where he'll be a monster).  3 other major contributors also graduated.  But the Orioles tank isn't empty.  Kashif Hayes will take over at the point and should be a handful in the dribble drive.  DJ Pollard will man a wing spot and Zach Gilbert-Burke will man the inside.  All 3 of them are juniors.  With all of the losses, the Orioles will need to find some depth.

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2010-11 season 14-13, 8-8 Conference, 7th)
Point guard Derek Dahl graduates but that's the only loss in the top 5.  Sean Scott is a Josh Smith clone with his freaky athleticism and lefty shot.  He put up 21 a night last year.  Shooting guard Bryce Williams put up 16.7 a night.  Bouncy Robert Ben just barely missed putting up double figures on the front line.  Guard Jordan Thimmesch-Slepica also returns after big minutes last year.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2010-11 season 17-11, 9-7 Conference, 6th)
The Eagles lose star forward Alex Kreuser and 19.5 points a night.  Inside presence Ben Meyer was the 2nd scorer at almost 13 a night and he's also gone.  Point guard Tyler Fleming also graduated.  Shooting guard Sam Meyer is the top returnee at over 12 a night.  Forward Andy Moritko also returns.  6'9 Nick Carr provides a experienced big body in the middle.

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

Underclassmen to watch:  
Michael Murray, Matt Duehn - Fridley
Cody Wald - St. Francis

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Spring Lake Park at Cooper - Jan 6th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Cooper - Jan 10th 
  • Spring Lake Park at St. Louis Park - Jan 28th
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Spring Lake Park - Feb 3rd
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Columbia Heights - Feb 14th
  • Cooper at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Feb 24th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Benilde St. Margaret's vs Eastview - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Cooper vs DeLaSalle - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Montevideo vs Spring Lake Park - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Spring Lake Park at Champlin Park - Dec 16th
  • Hopkins at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Dec 16th
  • St. Louis Park at Apple Valley - Dec 16th
  • Eastview at Spring Lake Park - Dec 20th
  • Minnetonka at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Dec 20th
  • Washburn at St. Louis Park - Dec 22nd
  • Cooper vs Champlin Park - Dec 29th (Bethel tournament)
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at Eden Prairie tournament - Dec 27th and 29th
  • Holy Family at St. Louis Park - Feb 3rd
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at DeLaSalle- Feb 7th
  • Cooper at Armstrong - Feb 9th
  • Hopkins at Cooper - Feb 11th

2011-12 Missota Preview

This is the sixth preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Missota Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

A down year expected in the Missota as most teams have major losses.  Chanhassen is the exception but even they lost their best shooter Chance Panning.  Expect the bottom of the league to again have rough seasons.  There is plenty of good youth coming up across the league so that bodes well for the future.

Academy of Holy Angels Stars (2010-11 season 5-22, 1-13 Conference, 8th)
A rough year for the Stars last season.  But there's some talent returning.  Soph point guard Jordan Dembley is back.  Junior forward Danny Sullivan is versatile.  Big man Mike Hudson also returns inside.  Shondale and Delshawn Strickland come over from Minneapolis North. 

Chaska Hawks (2010-11 season 24-5, 13-1 Conference, 1st)
The heaviest losses in the league award goes to the Hawks who were a senior dominated roster last season.  23.2 PPG from power forward Jake White is off to Wichita State.  Athletic forward Ross Travis and his 17.6 a night are off to Penn State.  Not to mention the other double digit scorer Max Watts at guard and the rest of the rotation.  Top returner Matt Knowles saw action in only 7 games and averaged 3 points a game.  Expect a major rebuilding year but keep an eye on soph Kolby Seiffert.

Chanhassen Storm (2010-11 season 13-13, 9-5 Conference, 4th)
The 2nd and 3rd leading scorers are gone.  That includes shooting guard Chance Panning and post Eric Witthus who combined for about 25 a night.  I don't see the Storm fading though.  U of Mary commit Kevin Jensen was the top player at 14.4 a game.  The versatile forward should make a run at league MVP.  Junior Jack Kozlowski returns inside.  They have a talented freshman group ready to come through the system too.

Farmington Tigers (2010-11 season 9-18, 3-11 Conference, Tied 6th)
Leading scorer Alex Michels is gone but junior Darren Beenken returns.  He averaged just into double figures last year in a nice sophomore campaign.  Guard Austin Bassett also returns along with 6'5 soph Nick Varner who saw action in 19 games last year.

New Prague Trojans (2010-11 season 24-8, 10-4 Conference, Tied 2nd)
After a great run knocking off St. Paul Johnson in the state quarterfinals, coach Tim Dittberner decided to step down.  The top 2 scorers for the Trojans, Cale Girten off to Northern State and sharpshooting Jed Kreuser have graduated.  That's 27 points a night gone.  Center Sergio Najera returns along with forwards Trevor O'Brien and Jake Meyer.  But Kreuser, Joe Hatch and Alex Dittberner were the top guards and need to be replaced.

Northfield Raiders (2010-11 season 5-22, 3-11 Conference, tied 6th)
Leading scorer Otto Pfefferle was the only double figure scorer at 16 a night and has graduated.  The next 4 scorers are back though.  6'6 Forward Leif Olson and junior guard Eric Shepley are the top returnees.

Red Wing Wingers (2010-11 season 16-12, 7-7 Conference, 5th)
Center Isaac Sevlie is off to Minnesota State-Moorhead after averaging over 15 a night.  Guard Pat Kelly averaged 11 a night and he's done too.  Guard Joel Newman reached double figures last year and is the top returnee.  Soph Isaac Toivonen saw action in double figure games last year.

Shakopee Sabers (2010-11 season 16-11, 10-4 Conference, Tied 2nd)
Massive losses for the Sabers too as they lose their top 7 scorers.  Big soph Tyler Weiss saw action in 24 games last year.  When I saw the JV squad last year (Weiss and soph twin tower Jake Maiers), they started 4 guys 6'4 or taller so I expect a big lineup.6 players listed in last year's roster at 6'4 or taller so plenty of size coming thru the system.  We'll see how that jives with the hard-nosed defensive style that coach Kugath likes to play.

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

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Jordan Dembley, Delshawn Strickland - Holy Angels
  • Nick Varner- Farmington
  • Ty Buck, Isaac Toivonen - Red Wing
  • Kolby Seiffert - Chaska
  • Paul Friendshuh - New Prague
  • Tyler Weiss, Jake Maiers - Shakopee
Games that will determine the conference title

  • New Prague at Chanhassen - Jan 24th 
  • Shakopee at Chanhassen - Feb 3rd
  • Chanhassen at New Prague - Feb 21st
  • Chanhassen at Shakopee - Mar 2nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Shakopee at Owatonna - Dec 8th
  • Lakeville North at Chanhassen - Dec 9th
  • Shakopee at Woodbury - Dec 10th
  • New Prague at Holy Family - Dec 13th
  • Chanhassen at Buffalo - Dec 13th
  • Chanhassen at St. Thomas Academy - Dec 22nd
  • Chanhassen at Best Buy Holiday Tournament (Augsburg) - Dec 28-30th
  • Shakopee at Lakeville North tournament - Dec 29-30th
  • Eden Prairie at Shakopee - Jan 3rd
  • Chanhassen at Eden Prairie - Jan 6th
  • Chanhassen at Holy Family - Jan 17th

2011-12 Metro Charter Preview

This is the fifth preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the new Metro Charter Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

This feels like a rehash of the old Metro Lakes conference but having a conference beats not having one.  Original reports had St. Paul Prep in here as well but since they aren't on schedules, they aren't included here.  Prairie Seeds has to be the big favorite.  FAIR and MTS should be a good battle for the 2 slot.  Spectrum and St Croix Prep move up to varsity this year and should fight for the 4 and 5 spots with Math and Science at the bottom.  Highlight of the season is that we finally get to settle the debate over the mascot with the most mange (MTS or PSA).

FAIR Downtown Falcons (2010-11 season 18-9)
The Falcons return 5 of their top 6.  That includes leading scorer Darrion Scott (21.9 PPG) and lefty frosh John Warren on the wings and 16.6 PPG from 6'4 post Desmond Williams.  They only went 6 deep last year so depth could be an issue

Math & Science Academy Dragons (2010-11 season 3-8)
Not much known about the Dragons except seeing them struggle mightily 2 years ago in the playoffs.  They lose only 1 senior.  After looking at last year's scores, hard to believe they won't take up the 6 spot in the league this season.

Minnesota Transitions Wolves (2010-11 season 23-7)
The Noreen era at MTS is over after 7 years, 3 state trips, 1 title and an overall record of 178-36 (Kevin's teams won 2 more games in his 6 years).  But a tough loss at the buzzer to Maranatha in the section final leaves a sour taste coming into this season.  The losses are as big as any in the state with the loss of leader Kyle Noreen (29.5 PPG, signed with Radford), wing Rodney Owens (19.4 PPG) and forward Matt Lanier (15.4 PPG).  The Wolves won't be the powerhouse of years past but don't sleep on them either as they won't be terrible.  They may just get back to the old run and gun ways with this roster.  Lefty forward David Wallendorf is back after missing last season and he can shoot it.  He'll need to have a huge year.  Tyler Davis is another shooter coming back.  Big body Tevin Sims returns in the middle.  Terence Lofton is a another scorer. 

Prairie Seeds Academy Lycans (2010-11 season 16-7)
The Lycans lose 2015 star Jarvis Johnson to DeLaSalle but reload with their own transfers.  Lefty PG Kaysh Shaw comes over from Como Park.  Post Gage Deis transfers in and will be a dominant force in this league.  He'll make up for the loss of forwards Chris Jones and Charles Robinson.  Senior Trent Pollard returns and can play either guard slot.

St. Croix Prep Lions (2010-11 season N/A, JV Program only)
Lots of youth for the Lions and head coach Jon Leisener.  Soph Wes Berg will play inside and out for the Lions and be their top player.  Their point guard is currently nursing a bum ankle but should be ready for the season.  Their read and react system should be fun to watch and it looks like their trying to build things the right way.

Spectrum Sting (2010-11 season N/A, JV Program only)
Not sure if this was a true JV only program or not as they do have a record listed but it appears they threw the JVs out there for experience.   Expect Johnny Erickson to make an impact inside for them.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Prairie Seeds
  2. FAIR
  3. Minnesota Transitions
  4. Spectrum
  5. St. Croix Prep
  6. Math & Science
Conference MVP: Gage Deis - Prairie Seeds

Underclassmen to watch:  
John Warren - FAIR
Wes Berg - St. Croix Prep

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Minnesota Transitions at Prairie Seeds - Dec 6th
  • FAIR at Prairie Seeds - Dec 21st
  • Minnesota Transitions at FAIR - Jan 5th
  • Prairie Seeds at Minnesota Transitions - Jan 31st
  • Prairie Seeds at FAIR - Feb 3
  • FAIR at Minnesota Transitions- Feb 16th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Prairie Seeds at Minneapolis Washburn - Jan 14th?
  • Prairie Seeds vs Lakeview Christian - Jan 28th (Washburn Classic)
  • FAIR vs Minneapolis North - Jan 28th (Washburn Classic)

2011-12 MCAA Preview

This is the fourth preview in my 2011-2012 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.

Its a year of change in the MCAA.  Providence Academy leaves for the Tri-Metro and is replaced by PACT (thanks to MCAA Bylaws change last year).  That makes sense since PACT played everybody in the MCAA anyway (except Trinity).  The league also goes to north and south divisions.  Teams will play home and home in the division and 1 game against the other division for 13 league games.  A major departure from the 1 game round-robin schedule of years past.  But it looks like some form of the annual conference tournament will maintained.  Though this year it looks like it will be at Trinity instead of championships at Heritage.

The North half looks to be the far stronger half with powerhouse Maranatha at the top.  Heritage, West Lutheran and PACT return most of their rosters and Legacy returns arguably the best big man in the league with a handful of other returnees.  The South half figures to be very close with Trinity and LP/HT at the top.  New Life and Southwest Christian after that but dangerous.  Overall, I see the league rebounding from a down year last year.

Bethany Academy Eagles (2010-11 season 11-13, 1-8 Conference, 10th)
Leading scorer Max Mattila returns with 13.7 PPG.   The next 4 scorers including guard Tony Ervin (12.8 PPG) are all gone.  Look for bigger roles from soph Sam Hagen and senior Jordan Nieuwsma.

Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2010-11 season 19-9, 7-2 Conference, 2nd)
Leading scorer Nick Parkhurst and his 17 points a night graduated but the Eagles return the other 5 major players in their rotation and 4 of them are juniors.  Zach Weld and Brad Basco (post) both averaged double figures last year and Evan Parkhurst will likely fill Nick's role.  Senior Theo Liedall also averaged over 8 points a game.  

Legacy Christian Academy (2010-11 season 11-16, 5-4 Conference, 4th)
Legacy will have to replace inside presence Matt Clausen and guard Grant Anderson who combined for well over 20 a night.  6'6 Senior center Ben Freeby returns and averaged 14 a night.  He can also block shots.  Guards Ryan Kopka, Nate Hinrichs and reserves Nate Johnson and Luke Yaeger all return as well.

Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2010-11 season 14-14, 5-4 Conference, 5th)
The Bulldogs have a big hole to fill inside as versatile big David Anderson and his 16.9 points a game were a team high last year and he's graduated.  The next 4 scorers are back though.  Senior guard Jared Kadrie is the top returnee at 15.7 points a night.  Soph Nick Machemehl averaged over 8 a night last season.  The lineup is small but the Bulldogs should still be very respectable.

Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2010-11 season 26-3, 9-0 Conference, 1st)
It was a deep lineup last year for the Mustangs with 6 players averaging double-figures.  3 of those players return including soph guard Josh Goldschmidt, senior shooter Jamey Hammond and forward Isaiah Hanson.  Point guard Darian Pittman was the catalyst, he transferred to Bloomington Kennedy and leading scorer SaVaughn Jordan graduated as their post presence.  Another Hanson is in line as I expect frosh Jeremiah Hanson to contribute as some point during the season.  Rumor says junior wing Garrison Guillard is coming over from St. Louis Park which would add more firepower.  He saw lots of time last season as a sophomore.

New Life Academy Eagles (2010-11 season 10-16, 3-6 Conference, 7th)
Forward Alex Heiser was the leading scorer last year at 14 a game and he returns.  They do lose their next 2 scorer in Cody Linton and inside body Sam Berg.  Sophs Kyle Linton and John Horner saw plenty of minutes last season.

PACT Charter Panthers (2010-11 season 8-16, 0-10 vs MCAA teams, N/A)
The Panthers played everybody in the league last season except Trinity and went winless in all 10 games (9 on the road though) by at least 26 points each time.  It was a very young roster with only 2 seniors.  The top 5 scorers all return including junior guard Drew Zieroth who averaged 18 a night last season (only double figure scorer).  Junior Austin Sheeley and soph Daniel Nelson are forwards with experience along with senior guard Austin Coons and soph guard Danny Mooers. 

Southwest Christian Stars (2010-11 season 10-18, 2-7 Conference, 8th)
Leading scorer Josh Kennedy lit up the scoreboard for 24 a night last season but has graduated.  The next 4 scorers all return though.  Brian Horner averaged double figures from a guard slot.  10 players saw action in at least 10 games and only 2 of those are gone.  So there is experience.

Trinity Tri-Hawks (2010-11 season 16-12, 6-3 Conference, 3rd)
With Pittman's transfer, the league's top player and point guard resides at Trinity.  That's Tony Kuplic and his 28.2 PPG last year.  Guard Dan Stanton and forward Aaron Gregg both averaged double figures and need to be replaced.  Guards Josh Koletar and Jim Brickweg look to pick up the slack.  Junior guard Caleb Dahl also returns.

West Lutheran Warriors (2010-11 season 20-8, 5-4 Conference, 6th)
The Warriors were middle of the MCAA pack last year, lose only 2 seniors and return their top 9 scorers.   That includes double-figure scorers Justin Anderson (11.8 PPG) and junior Dustin Barth (10.8 PPG).  Look for a very balanced attack.

Predicted Order of Finish

North Division
  1. Maranatha
  2. Heritage
  3. West Lutheran  
  4. Legacy
  5. PACT
South Division
  1. Trinity
  2. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
  3. New Life
  4. SW Christian
  5. Bethany

Conference MVP: Tony Kuplic - Trinity

Underclassmen to watch:  
Josh Goldschmidt, Jeremiah Hanson- Maranatha
Daniel Nelson, Danny Mooers - PACT
Paul Draeger, Andrew Stavig - West Lutheran
Sam Hagen - Bethany
Nick Machemehl - Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
Johnny McClure - Trinity

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Heritage at Trinity - Jan 3rd
  • Maranatha at Heritage - Jan 6th
  • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Trinity - Jan 10th
  • Heritage at Maranatha - Feb 7th
  • Trinity at Lester Prairie/Holy  Trinity - Feb 9th
  • Maranatha at West Lutheran - Feb 9th
  • Conference Tournament - Feb 25th at Trinity
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Maranatha at Duluth East - Dec 3rd
  • Lakeview Christian at Legacy Christian - Dec 10th
  • Dawson-Boyd vs Maranatha - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Minnetonka at Maranatha - Dec 15th
  • Heritage at Lakeview Christian - Dec 17th
  • New Life at Lakeview Christian - Jan 7th
  • Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau vs Maranatha - Feb 4th (Border Battle at Sun Prairie, WI)

2011-12 Minneapolis City Preview

This is the third preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Minneapolis City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

The league breaks into fairly easy parts.  Washburn is the favorite.  South and Henry have more talent returning than the rest of the pack.  Roosevelt and North will be undermanned but should still see some wins against Southwest and Edison. The entire North side (Edison, Henry, North) will have new coaches so that adds an extra dimension.

Edison Tommies (2010-11 season 3-23, 0-12 Conference, 7th)
Edison comes into the season on a 26 game conference losing streak.  New coach Kennan Shelton takes over the task of rebuilding the program and is familiar with the city.  Marcus Nolen was the only double figure scorer at 19 PPG and he's gone.  The rest of the roster returns including Josh Perez (8.5 PPG) and sophs Marques Gray (7.9 PPG) and Joseph Anderson who saw big minutes last year.

North Polars (2010-11 season 14-12, 9-3 Conference, 3rd)
New coach Jeremy Miller takes over the storied Polars program.  Initially he won't have much to work with.  Guard Charles Smith transferred to Washburn and wings Delshawn and Shondel Strickland are now at Holy Angels.  Star guard Malik El-Amin graduated so the cupboard is pretty bare.  Lee Gaines is a lanky interior player who can run the floor and block shots.  Jaylin Dubose returns at a guard spot.

Patrick Henry Patriots (2010-11 season 10-17, 4-8 Conference, 5th)
The once powerhouse Henry program hit rock bottom last year with a horrible 4-8 league finish.  That included their first loss in forever to league bottom feeder Southwest and culminated with a season ending fight during sections against Columbia Heights.  A coaching search is currently in progress and there's plenty of talent to work with.  Deonte Blakemore, Shawn Atkins and Darius Hill (broke out as a soph last year) are all wing scorers and forward Tim Gill is a big body who can play inside or out.  Wunell Beard returns to run the point.  Latrell Love gave them 18+ on the post last year but left for Minnetonka.  That leaves most of the offense on the outside.  Matt Robinson gives them a worker inside.  They have the talent to be very good, but last year's result showed they can also implode.

Roosevelt Teddies (2010-11 season 14-13, 5-7 Conference, 4th)
The Teddies lose one of the league's best players in wing Calvin Jenkins (18.5 PPG) as part of their top 4 scorers graduation.  Guard Brandon Strickland should be the goto guy with big numbers this season after 5.8 PPG last season.  Look for another year where one of most underrated coaches around, Dennis Stockmo, will be undermanned but will manage to steal a few games.  The move from weak section 4AA to a tough section 6AAA doesn't bode well.

South Tigers (2010-11 season 13-13, 10-2 Conference, 2nd)
South loses interior presence Mohamed Mohamed and 13 PPG and his backup Peter Goldstein.  But they return plenty at the guard spots including Carnell Sheppard and 17.6 PPG from the 2 guard slot.  He's really a point guard but with all their other small guards, he plays the 2 for them.  Andre Burton and Isaiah Wilson return to provide more scoring punch.

Southwest Lakers (2010-11 season 8-19, 3-9 Conference, 6th)
Southwest loses 4 of their top 5 scorers including guard Ayrton Scott and forwards Matt St. Anthony and Rodney Pierce-Tyler.    That added up to 38 points a night.  Patrick England (5.9 PPG) and Will Kalberg-Taylor (7.3 PPG) saw big minutes last year and look to pick up the slack.

Washburn Millers (2010-11 season 21-6, 11-1 Conference, 1st)
Washburn swept all 3 titles (Frosh, JV and Varsity) in the city last year so they have to be the prohibitive favorite.   17.6 PPG from Clarence Thomas on the wing and 12.9 PPG from worker Cedric Chappell inside is lost but no worries for this squad.  Junior Nick Anderson returns to run the point as very good pure point guard.  Shooter Dwight Anderson averaged 16.1 PPG.  Joseph Doby will man in the inside.  Myles Shephard-Anderson and Jerry Pratt return on the wing.

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

Underclassmen to watch:  
Marques Gray, Joseph Anderson - Edison
Kenley Farrow - South
Jeff Jones, Quinton Garvis - Washburn

Games that will determine the conference title
  • South at Washburn - Dec 20th
  • Henry at Washburn - Jan 13th
  • Henry at South - Jan 19th
  • Washburn at South - Feb 2nd
  • Washburn at Henry - Feb 16th
  • South at Henry - Feb 21st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Robbinsdale Cooper at Henry - Dec 17th
  • Henry at Best Buy Holiday Classic (Augsburg) - Dec 28-30th
  • Washburn at Lakeville North -  Dec 30th (projected title game at Lakeville North tourney)
  • Washburn at Duluth East - Jan 21st
  • South vs Robbinsdale Cooper - Jan 28th (Washburn showcase)
  • Twin Cities Game (St. Paul Site) - Mar 3rd

2011-12 Lake Conference Preview

This is the second preview in my 2011-2012 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Lake Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Lots of losses in the Lake with Eden Prairie losing almost everything, Hopkins losing their top 2 kids to D1, Minnetonka's top scorer is gone and Wayzata loses a bunch.  But the league race should be as interesting as its been in a while.  Minnetonka has a bunch of new faces, Eden Prairie still has tons of young talent and Hopkins still has 2 D1 stars, good young talent and 3 straight state titles.  As always with the bottom of this league don't be fooled.  They end up being better than league record indicates and this year there's no bad team.

Eden Prairie Eagles (2010-11 season 27-5, 7-1 Lake Conference, tied 1st)
Huge losses for the Eagles after they pulled the big time upset over Hopkins last year.  9 of the top 10 players are gone.  That includes shooter and defender Grant Soderburg, forward Conner Nord and athletic wing Dylan Stewart.  But don't feel sorry for the Eagles as there's plenty of talent coming.  Lefty Grant Schaeffer will take over at the point.  6'7" lefty Jordan Peterson will man the middle. The main returning player is shooting guard Sander Mohn at 7.9 PPG.  Soph Andre Wallace should play a much bigger role as well.  Junior Jack Cottrell will see minutes inside as well.  The Eagles will still be pretty good but I think they're a year away.

Edina Hornets (2010-11 season 18-10, 2-6 Classic Lake Conference, 4th)
Edina returns 3 of their top 4 scorers.  That includes the 2 double figure scorers Flip Deberg (12.4 PPG) at forward and junior point guard Graham Woodward (11.8 PPG).  Juniors Marley Allison (guard) and post Mark Handberg should see increased roles.  After a 9 game winning streak at mid-season, the Hornets lost 7 of their last 9 against a tough schedule (mostly league games and then Chaska in the tournament to end their season)

Hopkins Royals (2010-11 season 31-1, 7-1 Classic Lake Conference, tied 1st)
Hopkins comes off the three peat looking for four.  Point guard Siyani Chambers (Harvard commit) and forward Zach Stahl (Lehigh commit) are the top returnees.  Nick Jorgensen returns on the wing as a 3 point shooter.  Guards Demetrius Martin, Jamal Davis and Jake Wright all return as well.  Not much size and they will miss the overpowering inside presence of Marvin Singleton (UNI) and athleticism of Joe Coleman.  That duo averaged 38+ PPG last year.

Minnetonka Skippers (2010-11 season 4-23, 0-8 Classic Lake Conference, 5th)
The Skippers will have an entirely new look this season as 4 players who weren't on the roster last year will likely see big minutes.  Post Latrell Love comes over from Minneapolis Henry and is a crafty inside scorer.  Guard Grant Kellogg comes from Benilde-St. Margaret's and wing Riley Dearring comes over from DeLaSalle.  Forward Mike Fernando will be eligible after sitting out last year as a transfer from Eden Prairie.  Add those returnees to PG Tommy McDermott (14.1 PPG), frosh guard Andrew Grosz, wing Malcolm Moore and post Andrew Turnblad.  Forward Joe Risinger will be a glue player for them.  15 points a game from lefty wing Nick Latzke will need to be replaced.  So I see the Skippers one of the state's bigger turnaround stories.

Wayzata Trojans (2010-11 season 21-8, 4-4 Classic Lake Conference, 3rd)
The losses at Wayzata are heavy with the 3 leading scorers gone.  4 of the 5 starters and 5 of the top 7 are gone.  That includes star 6'7 wing Eric Robertson and his 20 PPG.  The returning starter is his younger brother Zach Robertson.  He averaged 10.5 PPG last year.  Junior Drake Mjaanes and senior Colin Nugent are the other experience returnees at the guard spots.  6'6" Nick Eid should see a much expanded role.  Ben Joppa will also see front court minutes.

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

Underclassmen to watch:  
Jake Wright, Kamali Chambers, Stephon Sharp, Graham Hutson - Hopkins
Ben Boone, Max Lynch- Edina
Anthony Anderson, Andre Wallace - Eden Prairie
Andrew Grosz, Grant Steele- Minnetonka
Kyle Kalivoda - Wayzata

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Hopkins at Eden Prairie- January 31st
  • Eden Prairie at Minnetonka - February 3rd
  • Minnetonka at Hopkins - February 6th
  • Eden Prairie at Hopkins - Febraury 17th
  • Minnetonka at Eden Prairie - February 21st
  • Hopkins at Minnetonka - February 24th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Braham at Hopkins - Dec 3rd (Girls Breakdown Tipoff)
  • Eden Prairie at Apple Valley - Dec 6th
  • Hopkins vs Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Lakeville North at Eden Prairie - Dec 20th
  • Minnetonka at Benilde-St. Margaret's - Dec 20th
  • Hopkins and Minnetonka in Best Buy Holiday Classic (Augsburg) - Dec 28-30th
  • Eden Prairie holiday tournament - Dec 27 and 29th
  • Holy Family at Minnetonka - Jan 5th
  • Hopkins vs Sioux City East - Jan 7th (TWolves Shootout)
  • Eden Prairie at St. Paul Johnson - Jan 10th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Eden Prairie - Jan 14th
  • DeLaSalle at Eden Prairie - Jan 17th
  • Hopkins at St. Paul Johnson - Jan 20th (East Metro Showcase)
  • Hopkins vs Milwaukee Riverside - Jan 21st (East Metro Showcase)
  • Hopkins at Robbinsdale Cooper - Feb 11th

    2011-12 Classic Suburban Preview

    Its that time as I begin my 5th annual season preview series.  As is tradition, we'll go through the metro area conferences in alphabetical order followed by a look at the metro area sections.  Let's get started with a look at the Classic Suburban.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

    I like Tartan, St. Thomas Academy and Richfield as the clear top 3 due to the top returnees and all have tradition.  Give me the top 2 because they really get after it defensively.  Hard to think that a Hill-Murray squad could drop that far but their losses are huge.  The next 4 teams are all better than 7th, but somebody has to finish there.  Simley and South St. Paul once again fill the bottom 2 slots.

    Henry Sibley Warriors (2010-11 season 6-17, 5-11 Conference, 7th)
    The first year for coach Lernell James was a rough year.  The Warriors lost 11 of their last 14 with a 45-44 rivalry win at home over St. Thomas Academy to highlight that stretch.  Defensive bulldog Bobby Wills and forward Jake Goldberg are gone.  Dajoun Davis transferred in for the 2nd half of the season and led the Warriors with 11.6 PPG.  He's also gone as is role playing forward Chris Bultena.  But the Warriors should be improved this year.  Center Alex Stafford made great strides last season.  Junior guard Adam Huessner is a knockdown shooter and Dante Grant provides scoring punch on the wing.  Junior forwards Zach Haas and Nick Goldberg saw significant minutes last year.

    Hill-Murray Pioneers (2010-11 season 23-6, 16-0 Conference, 1st)
    The Pioneers lose a ton from the best frontline in the league.  Rob Dahl, Jim Remke and John Duxbury were 3 of the top 4 scores and graduated.  That trio scored 44.5 points a game and accounted for more than 60% of the Pioneers points.  But the Pioneers do have 1 BIG presence left up front with 6'9" mountain Dave Simmet returning to man the middle.  He averaged 13.5 points last year and should lead the way this season.  He's got good hands and if you front him, you can't get around to keep him off the offensive glass.  Guards Eric Weimar, Lucas Glomb and Jerry Butler will need to fill the guard slots.  I look for forwards Jay Zoborowski and Cullen Ogren to play much bigger roles.  Coach Dick Ghizoni won his 400th career game last year during the playoffs.

    Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2010-11 season 15-12, 7-9 Conference, 6th)
    The Zephyrs look to rebound from a disappointing 6th place finish last season.  They lose 6'9" center Dane Schmid and his 10.1 PPG.  The Lindquist duo of Andrew (Sr) and Zach (Jr) return to lead the way.  Andrew is a shooter and averaged 13.6 PPG last season.  Zach is a matchup problem on the wing with his ability to play away from the basket and play against bigger defenders while overpowering smaller ones in the lane.  Forwards Sean Baumgard and Mike Harris saw big minutes last season and should man the front court.  Starting guards Cody Gerver and Dan Ferrazzo need to be replaced.

    North Polars (2010-11 season 12-15, 10-6 Conference, 4th)
    Guard Johnny Economy, wing Chris Duede and leading scorer Hunter Books (13.7 PPG) at forward are 3 starters returning from last year.  Soph Joe Messerole also returns to bang inside.  Guards Rex Johnson and JJ Abrego graduated.  21.6 PPG between those 2 needs to be replaced.  That's big because the Polars only averaged 53.4 PPG last season.  Look for Korey Dean to step into that role after 8.2 PPG last year along with Economy.  Despite a 3 game losing streak late (including a really ugly 42-40 loss to Hudson that I saw), the Polars did win 9 of their last 13 including home wins over Richfield and St. Thomas. 

    Richfield Spartans (2010-11 season 17-10, 11-5 Conference, 3rd)
    When it comes to uptempo play in the metro, the first team that comes to mind is Richfield.  Coach Omar McMillan came in last year and turned the Spartans from a defensive minded team into the fastest paced team in the metro.  It was all about a crazy fast tempo for the Spartans with 81.4 PPG in their 17 wins vs 62.2 PPG in their 10 losses.  Jared Noonan averaged 16.2 PPG last season and can explode for 25 or 30 in a hurry if he gets hot.  When he's going well, the Spartans are a handful.  The other double figure scorer also returns and that's PG Shawn Bear.  The lefty has 3 point range and averaged 11.2 PPG.  Most of the rest of the roster is a group of interchangeable athletes that complement the running style.  That includes players like Eric Jimson, Lorenzo Evans and Louis Williams.  Can they stop people and win low scoring playoff type games?

    St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2010-11 season 16-10, 8-8 Conference, 5th)
    It was a down year for the Cadets with only a 5th place finish.  But it was a very young roster with only 3 seniors.  Of those, Jordan Kruger was the 2nd leading scorer at 11.6 PPG.  So expect an uptick from the Cadets. Senior lefty wing Thomas Sjoberg is the team leader at 21.2 PPG and he can shoot it.  Nick Valdvogel (7.5 PPG) , John Gould and Paddy Clancy man the guard spots.  6'4" Will Johnson (7.3 PPG) is the leading returner inside. Biggest question is do they have enough firepower on offense outside of Sjoberg?

    Simley Spartans (2010-11 season 7-19, 2-14 Conference, 8th)
    Simley loses their leading scorer Shinoby Yang and his 12.9 PPG.  Expect John Spillane to step right into that role on the wing.  He averaged 12.7 PPG in a handful of games after transfering from St. Thomas Academy late in the season.  6'5" Dillon Kaup returns to man the inside at 10.6 PPG.  5'11" guard Sam Stensgard saw action in 25 games last year as an 8th grader and was one of the 2015 shooters I saw all year.  He averaged 5.5 PPG.

    South St. Paul Packers (2010-11 season 2-25, 0-16 Conference, 9th)
    A new coach will come into a rough gig at South St. Paul as Matt Fletcher left to be an assistant at D2 Kentucky Wesleyan.  The Packers are a combined 3-93 over the last 6 seasons in the league with 3 years winless and 3 other years with just 1 win.  No player averaged double-figures last season.  13 different players saw varsity action in double digit games.  8 of the top 9 scorers are gone so it figures to be a brand new look all the way around for the Packers this season.   

    Tartan Titans (2010-11 season 25-4, 13-3 Conference, 2nd)
    The Titans lose a ton with centers Ryan Burns and Joel Awich (Cal Poly) graduating along with their leaders Drew and Luke Preiner.  That's 4 of the top 6 scorers.  But Tartan doesn't rebuild, they reload.  Darrion Strong returns at the point at 11.1 PPG to lead the way.  Kyle Von Schmidt Pauli averaged 7.1 PPG as a wing shooter.  Junior Xavier Hall returns as one of the elite on ball defenders in the state.  Junior wing Kharie Kirkland figures to make a bigger contribution as well.  The Titans will need to find some size to defend inside.

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

    Underclassmen to watch:  
    Eric Weimar - Hill-Murray
    Jacob Steckler, Joe Messerole - North
    Louis Williams - Richfield
    Sam Stensgard, Ben Scheffley - Simley
    Ben Fiers - St. Thomas Academy
    Marshawn Wilson - Tartan

    Games that will determine the conference title
    • Richfield at St. Thomas Academy - January 3rd
    • St. Thomas Academy at Tartan - January 6th
    • Richfield at Tartan - January 20th
    • St. Thomas Academy at Richfield - Feb 3rd
    • Tartan at St. Thomas Academy - Feb 7th
    • Tartan at Richfield - Feb 21st
    Non-Conference Games to Watch
    • Tartan vs Apple Valley - Dec 10th (Tip Off Classic at Minnetonka)
    • St. Thomas Academy vs Perham - Dec 10th (Tip Off Classic at Minnetonka)
    • Cretin-Derham Hall at St. Thomas Academy - Dec 17th 
    • Holy Family at Tartan - Dec 20th
    • Richfield at Grand Rapids Tournament Dec 29-30th
    • Duluth East at Tartan - Jan 14th
    • Tartan vs Waunakee, WI - Feb 4th (Border Battle at Sun Prairie, WI)
    • Duluth East at St. Thomas Academy - Feb 17th