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

1 comment:

  1. Coon Rapids was very underrated team I think in this category ! They are a young team with talent, I watched them play in the breakdown tournament and they took second place and had very nice win against top raked lakeville south. I've also watched a lot of their games during the season last year and it wasn't that good but I did see some JV games and they had a player by the last name of Hammer that was very strong offensively and I think will contribute very well in their offense.

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