12-13 Independents Preview

This is the 13th preview in my 2012-2013 season preview series.  In this preview, I conclude my look at the teams around the metro with a look at the local independents.  For a list of all the season previews, click here

CHOF Lions (2011-12 season 11-13)
The Lions will have to replace all everything Tyler Strandlund in the middle.  He averaged a double double with 18 points a night.  His departure means a small lineup.  Guards Tate Piepkorn and Darian Warneke also need to be replaced.  Junior Nate Johnston returns to run the point.  Senior Kendall Strandlund is the top returning scorer at 12+ per game.  The Lions are high on their freshman class with Brauc Eckman, Kit Piepkorn, Anders Strandlund and Tim Rohlf. 

Four Directions Wolves (2011-12 season 14-9)
The Wolves lose their leading scorer Timothy Tallman who put up almost 21 a night.  That outside loss goes with the loss of center Kyle Roy and 14.5 PPG.  The Wolves do return 3 pieces in guard Andrew Bigsmoke and 15+ per game.  Forwards Richard King and Marcus McDade return to the front line.  Sophomore guards Nathan Eagletail and Dominique Thompson should see bigger roles.

Metro Tech Career Academy Warriors
This is the former Dunwoody Academy and they're based out of the building last known as Prestige Academy which was once Ascension Academy.  Got all that?  They'll be a quick later.  Last year's Prairie Seeds Academy head coach Jamil Jackson comes over and is the AD as well.  His 2 sons Dominick (senior) and Jamil (frosh) figure to be big parts of the program.  They're also in the backyard of Minneapolis North.  The schedule is absolutely brutal.  They have only 3 home games.  They travel far to places like Nicollet, Carlton and LeRoy-Ostrander to fill out the schedule.  They also play at Minnetonka and Wayzata.

12-13 Tri-Metro Preview

This is the 12th preview in my 2012-2013 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Tri-Metro Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Blake Bears (2011-12 season 24-4, 15-1 Conference, Tied 1st West)
The Bears jumped up into the elite of class AAA last season.  This season all the stars return.  Wing Kebu Johnson is returns for his 5th season.  He was the top scorer at 16.7 per night.  JR Bascom is long and and elite defender on the other wing.  Junior point guard John Veil also averaged double figures.  Forward Blaine Crawford broke out late last season and will be a major inside factor.  But he's best known for his debate skills so you won't win that argument.

Breck Mustangs (2011-12 season 11-15, 6-10 Conference, 5th West)
The rebuilding process continues for coach Matt McCollister.  His sophomore class will once again play a major role.  Mo Lawal is a guard who can score in a hurry, he averaged 13 a game last year.  Wing Will Culliton averaged 12 a night.  Graydon Kulick is expected to return from a back injury.  The 4 member of that sophomore group Kwaku Bodom played in 25 games last year.  Senior Tilyn Hollis returns after leading the team with 13.7 points per game.

Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2011-12 season 6-21, 3-13 Conference, 6th West)
The Centaurs have plenty of players back from last season with Deandre Bell, Jacob Catteledge and Travonte Marshall all returning.  That returns their top scorers.  The lineup always seems to change, can they add stability this season?

Concordia Academy Beacons (2011-12 season 16-14, 8-8 Conference, 3rd East)
Top scorer Zach Osmundson, forward Joshua Falk and guard Christan Koehn all need to be replaced.  Lanky Jared Schneidermann and David Paulson are a pair of seniors who will anchor the front line.  Guard Alex Galloway is the top returning guard.  Look for junior Austin Moldenhauer to step into the point guard role.

De La Salle Islanders (2011-12 season 26-5, 15-1 Conference, Tied 1st West)
The defending state AAA champion Islanders return one of the most talented lineups in the state.  Top 50 national forward Reid Travis averaged 20 a night and is a force inside.  Luke Scott is one of the state's best shooting guards.  Soph Jarvis Johnson returns to run the point full time.  James Lawson is another big body up front.  Shawn Fitzgibbons was a solid scorer early in the year before missing the last month or so of the season.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2011-12 season 15-13, 8-8 Conference, 3rd West)
The Redhawks were poised for a big season with all but 1 player returning, then came the news that almost 23 PPG from guard Gerald McCarver transfered to Coon Rapids.  Forward Kaharri Carter should see his 13+ a night go up.  Thomas Gedion is another front court option.  Guards Jesse Johnson and Evan Taddonio also return.  

Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2011-12 season 2-24, 0-16 Conference, 6th East)
The Panthers will play a limited schedule this season and not be in conference play.  They will still participate in the end of season tourney (more on that below).

Providence Academy Lions (2011-12 season 13-14, 7-9 Conference, 4th West)
The Lions had a solid inaugural season in the Tri-Metro and won the most games in school history.  Only 1 piece departs from a team that had 4 double figure scorers.  Ben Ratliff was the leading scorer at 16.6 a game.  He returns up front with Eric Richelsen   Jackson Canfield and Joe Heck will anchor the perimeter play.  Freshman Matt Richelsen will see an increased role

St. Agnes Aggies (2011-12 season 9-19, 3-13 Conference, 5th East)
The Aggies will have to replace the athletic forward duo of Antonio McGhee and leading scorer Dakari Davison.  Junior guard Nick Turch averaged just under 12 PPG. Senior guards Jordan Delaney and Nick Bennett return after a combined 15 PPG last season.  Jack Fossand is the only returning size.

St. Anthony Huskies (2011-12 season 21-7, 13-3 Conference, 1st East)
Forward Anthony Brama averaged almost 23 a game.  Guard Dustin Iannazzo averaged just under 19 a game.  Those will be 2 difficult players to replace.  Point guard Nick Kampa is the top returning scorer at 7.8 PPG.  Tim Rubbelke is the other returnee of note.  Mike Studer will step into a spot on the front line. 

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2011-12 season 24-7, 12-4 Conference, 2nd East)
The Crusaders coming off an impressive season that resulted in a trip to the state tournament.  5 players averaged double figures.  Leading scorer Cody Sticha returns with 13 points per game.  Guard Jackson Goplen averaged 12.4 PPG and will anchor the backcourt.  Wing Wesley Tucker, shooter Mark Lawrence and forward Mark Olson are double figure scorers that need to be replaced.  Tyler Wood and Lincoln Hochmuth should also see time.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2011-12 season 12-17, 6-10 Conference, 4th East)
The Spartans look to take a step forward this season.  They return their backcourt of Spencer Egly at the point and leading scorer Josh Gray at the 2.  Dalante Peyton is one of the top freshmen in the state.  He was the 2nd leading scorer at 10.7 a game last season.  Harrisen Egly and center Steve Olson also return to the lineup.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. DeLaSalle
  2. Blake  
  3. St. Croix Lutheran  
  4. Providence Academy   
  5. Breck  
  6. St. Paul Academy 
  7. St. Anthony
  8. Minnehaha 
  9. Concordia Academy
  10. Brooklyn Center
  11. St. Agnes  
Conference MVP: Reid Travis - De La Salle 

Conference Overview:
A year of change in the Tri-Metro.  The schedule moves from a divisional schedule to the old MCAA model.  Its a 1 game round robin with everybody, no divisions.  The top 8 will then play a 3 game tournament for bragging rights.  The bottom 3 + Mounds Park Academy will fill out their schedules with a round robin group of 3 friendship games.  The league is looking to move the championship day games to a local MIAC school in the near future.

De La Salle is absolutely stacked and the prohibitive favorite to repeat as the class AAA champions.  Blake will once again be a top 5 AAA team.  Brooklyn Center and St. Agnes will have long seasons.  The middle of the league from 3 to 9 is going to be a fight.  With only 1 chance against a team, every game has bigger meaning.  St. Croix Lutheran gets a nod based on last year's performance.  Providence beat Breck who beat SPA who played St. Anthony tough.  I can't drop a Dave Bratland team lower than 7.  Minnehaha is more talented than 8th but where do you put them?  Concordia is better than 9th but I can't find a reason to move them up.

Underclassmen to watch:  
Dalante Payton - St. Paul Academy
Will Culliton, Mo Lawal - Breck
Jarvis Johnson, Sacar Anim - DeLaSalle
Matt Richelsen - Providence
Roger Moore Jr - Concordia

Conference Games to Watch
  • De La Salle at Blake - Feb 12th
  • Tri-Metro Championship - Mar 1st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Blake at Chaska - Dec 4th
  • Blake vs Lakeview Christian - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Blake at Edina - Dec 14th
  • Park Center at De La Salle - Jan 3rd
  • De La Salle vs Blue Valley NW (KS) - Jan 5th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Holy Angels at Blake - Jan 8th
  • Blake vs Hopkins - Jan 21st (MLK Day Classic at Minneapolis Henry)
  • Eden Prairie at De La Salle - Jan 26th
  • De La Salle vs Appleton West (WI) - Feb 2nd (Border Battle at Prior Lake)
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 16th
  • Richfield at Blake - Feb 16th

2012-13 Suburban East Preview

Week 3 of my my 2012-2013 season preview series begins with the 11th preview in the series.  In this preview, a look at the Suburban East Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (2011-12 season 19-9, 15-3 Conference, Tied 2nd)
CDH loses their standout trio of CJ Neumann, Taylor Montero and Cortez Tillman who were 3 year varsity stars inside and outside.  The sophomore class is absolutely loaded and 4 of them could start.  Donnell Gresham comes over from Tartan as a candidate to run the point.  Versatile Joe Rosga saw time late last season.  Football star Jashon Cornell is a brute who can play inside.  Sam Neumann was the 2nd leading scorer at over 14 points a game as a frosh.  Luke Hamel is a returning banger from last year.  Senior Teddy Chapman is also a point guard option.  Junior Steve Moman saw plenty of time last year as well.

East Ridge Raptors (2011-12 season 9-18, 6-12 Conference, Tied 7th)
The Raptors have to replace also 20 points a night from shooter Justin Pahl.  Nnamdi Nwokolo has to be replaced up front. There's a good core coming back.  Soph Sid Tomes returns to run the point.  The quality juniors also return.  That includes shooter Jake Knupp, forward Brian Ishola and Ryan Mathis.  Senior center Conrad Sexe is the top returning scorer at almost 9 per game.

Forest Lake Rangers (2011-12 season 12-16, 6-12 Conference, Tied 7th)
The Rangers return their top scorer in center Noah Davis at 14.8 PPG.  He's known most for his shooting ability.  Guard Tyler Rosenberger averaged double figures and needs to be replaced.  Forward Anthony Tyler also returns as a forward.  Junior guard Matt Degendorfer averaged 5.6 a game playing all season.

Hastings Raiders (2011-12 season 8-18, 3-15 Conference, 9th)
Over the last 2 years, Hastings has lost 31 of 32 to teams in the league other than Park.  The Raiders lose all 8 players who played more than 10 games last season.   No other player saw action in more than 6 varsity games last season.  Juniors Drew Pottinger and Zach Wiese should  join the rotation this season.  Senior Alex Wiese is the most experience returnee.  They will have to find size.

Mounds View Mustangs (2011-12 season 18-10, 10-8 Conference, Tied 4th)
The Mustangs were the inspirational story of last season.  In hockey lingo, they stood on their heads and sent 45 year coach Ziggy Kauls out on a high note and almost knocked off Roseville (2 pt loss) in the section semis.  Assistant Dave Leiser takes over the program.  He'll have to replace the top 6 scorers.  Junior forward Tim Hanson averaged just under 5 points a game and is the only returning member of the rotation.

Park Wolfpack (2011-12 season 2-25, 0-18 Conference, 10th)
The Pack has lost 58 straight games and 63 of 64 in league play dating back to 2009.  There were no double figure scorers last year.  4 of the main 7 players depart.  Leading scorer Justin Myers will anchor the front line.  Junior guards Sully Brenke and Jordan Pinnix will anchor the backcourt.  If guard Trocon Barclay plays after sitting out last season, that would be a significant boost to the lineup. 

Roseville Raiders (2011-12 season 24-5, 16-2 Conference, 1st)
The Raiders won the league last year and are still loaded.  Wing Emeche Wells gave them a defender and athlete, Collin Johnson was a great glue guy.  Sniper Mack Johnson returns with 16.5 PPG.  Logan Brown and soph Kobe Critchley also return and can handle the ball.  Ben Farmer is a quality point guard who sat out all but 1 game last year due to injury.  Soph Kyler Briggity comes over from Cretin-Derham Hall and saw varsity time late in the year.  He's a lightning quick point guard.  Keep an eye on the chemistry with all those backcourt options.  Jordan Burich had a breakout year last year in the middle, he returns.  Juniors Derek Magnuson and Jake Geyen are other interior options.  Juniors Jacques Parra and Lance Gardner could also see time on the wing.

Stillwater Ponies (2011-12 season 13-14, 10-8 Conference, Tied 4th)
Coach Randy Jordan loses shooter Aaron Nichols and a couple of front court pieces.  Leading scorer Andrew Duxbury returns with almost 14 points per game to lead the frontcourt along with soph forward Matt Anderson who was the 2nd leading scorer last year.  Those 2 will be difficult for league opponents to guard all year.  Junior Nick Ogren also returns up front.  Seniors Austin Holmberg and shooter Sam Lagus return to anchor the backcourt along with Aaron Romportl.

White Bear Lake Bears (2011-12 season 15-13, 9-9 Conference, 6th)
Heavy losses for the Bears.  Top post player Zach Meyer and his outstanding mullet, forward Lucas Allen, wings Nick Weiland and Eric Gebeke and guard Josh Tismer all graduated.  That's 5 of the top 6 scorers.  The perimeter play will still be strong though.  Leading scorer Beau Smit returns as a quality shooter.  Guards Alex Rost and Tanner Hinck will fill in there.  Junior Stevie Hjelmberg should pick up some scoring slack on the wing.  Pat Mulvaney gives them another returning forward.

Woodbury Royals (2011-12 season 24-6, 15-3 Conference, Tied 2nd)
The Royals have to replace 3 of their top 4 scorers in workers Ryan Fritze and Connor McKeen and slasher Ricky Suggs.  Ben Rexroth also needs to be replaced in the middle.  The Royals should be able to accomplish most of that.  Robert Claypool returns to run the point.  Explosive shooting guard Renard Suggs is also back.  Last year's transfers Diallo Powell and Mario Franco also figure into the rotation also with junior shooter Matt Ambriz.  This group is a good group to get out and run with but teams will try to slow them down.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Roseville
  2. Woodbury 
  3. Cretin-Derham Hall
  4. Stillwater
  5. East Ridge 
  6. White Bear Lake  
  7. Forest Lake
  8. Mounds View
  9. Park
  10. Hastings
Conference Overview:
Roseville is the clear favorite with so much returning at all positions.  I'll go out on a limb and pick Park to break their league losing streak and finish in front of Hastings.  Mounds View loses so much they have to fall out of the middle of the pack.  Forest Lake should be about the same.  White Bear Lake has enough coming back to stay ahead of that group. Trying to pick 2-6 was difficult.  Woodbury is explosive enough and CDH is talented enough to stay up there but a year away.  Stillwater can beat any of them but I think they lack the athleticism that the teams ahead of them have.  Since they've finished 4th the last 2 years, I'll pick them 4th this season.  East Ridge lost to the Ponies twice last season by a total of 3 points so I take them 5th.  I still like their young nucleus.  With a point guard and big returning with their wings, they stay ahead of White Bear Lake.

Conference MVP: Renard Suggs - Woodbury

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Sidney Tomes - East Ridge
  • Kobe Critchley, Kyler Briggity - Roseville
  • Sam Neumann, Joe Rosga, Jashon Cornell, Donnell Gresham, Brian Lankford - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Matt Anderson - Stillwater
Conference Games to Watch
  • Woodbury at Cretin-Derham Hall - Dec 18th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Roseville - Jan 3rd
  • Roseville at Woodbury - Jan 18th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Woodbury - Jan 29th
  • Roseville at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 8th
  • Woodbury at Roseville - Feb 22nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Woodbury vs Buffalo - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Roseville vs Holy Angels - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Roseville at Minneapolis Washburn - Dec 11th
  • Edina at Woodbury - Dec 13th
  • Roseville at St. Paul Johnson - Dec 14th
  • Roseville vs West Des Moines Valley (IA) - Jan 5th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Eden Prairie at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 12th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 16th

2012-13 St. Paul City Preview

This is the 10th preview in my 2012-2013 season preview series.  To end week 2 of the series, a look at the St. Paul City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Central Minutemen (2011-12 season 11-15, 7-3 Conference, 2nd)
The Minutemen have plenty of pieces back.  Junior Markus Taylor-Knighten returns for a 3rd varsity season.  He was the leading scorer at 14+ per game.  If he has a breakout season, Central has enough talent to be a threat to Johnson.  Senior Malik Durant-Haines returns as the top post in the league.  He also was a double-digit scorer last year.  Scoring wing Montrell Williams needs to be replaced.  Junior Felix Taylor looks to fill in there after seeing lots of time last season.  The JV squad was loaded last year and undefeated in the league.  Rayeon Williams is one of those who can contribute.  Markyce McAdory is a quality scorer.

Como Park Cougars (2011-12 season 3-20, 2-8 Conference, 5th)
The Cougars lose their leading scorer Andre Schowalter-Perry from a very down season.  The next 5 scorers return for what should be an improved squad.  Wings Keiron Sauer and Mikal Baschnagel lead the way with Wyatt Johnson running the point.  The group as a whole lacks size and athleticism.

Harding Knights (2011-12 season 10-15, 5-5 Conference, 4th)
Can't complain too much about Vern Simmons as coach of the year last year, but Knights head coach Dean Keenan made a great case last year.   Their backcourt of Viseth Kourmarn and David McClain made it go and will be missed.  Their athletic front line loses double figure scorers Earnell Barner and Khiry Moore.  Leading scorer Kenneth Reed returns up front with 14.6 PPG.  Wes Ulmer will fill a spot in the backcourt.

Highland Park Scots (2011-12 season 15-11, 6-4 Conference, 3rd)
The Scots lose 3 of their top 4 scorers including 2 guard Ty'Shaun Williams, Elijah Jackson and forward Nate Anderson.  Point guard Dion Bradley topped the team with 18.8 PPG and returns. Guard Ahmed Musse also returns as a guard option.  Chase Johnson is an option up front.  This group also needs to find size.

Humboldt Hawks (2010-12 season 3-20, 0-10 Conference, 6th)
Khalil Withers and Malique Adams-Virning both return as double-figure scorers.  Dominique Khammarath also returns as a scoring option.  Raheem Thompson will need to be replaced.

Johnson Governors (2011-12 season 22-9, 10-0 Conference, 1st)
The Govs will be deep and loaded as always.  Player of the Year Marcus Marshall is off to Missouri St after averaging 21 points a game.  Quashingm Smith-Pugh had a great summer and is back.  Lanky Wayland Johnson II returns along with Bajuan Adams.  Soph Jalen Mobley will have a bigger role as well. 

Washington Eagles (2011-12 season no varsity program, 5-17 JV)
The school formerly known as Arlington officially returns to varsity play after a 2 year school transition to a technology magnet school.  Good to see that gym back on a full time slate.  Love the history display on the walls.  Senior center Kahnen Gbojeuh averaged a double double last year during the JV schedule.  He'll be the biggest threat.  Senior Al Libby will provide scoring on the wing. 

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Johnson
  2. Central
  3. Highland Park
  4. Harding
  5. Como Park
  6. Humboldt 
  7. Washington
Conference Overview:
Johnson comes into the season on a 54 game conference winning streak.  The league record is 56 held by Central from 1983-1987.  In a case of outstanding scheduling, the Govs will get a chance to tie that record in the perfect place, at Central on Jan 22nd.  The last time a team other than Central beat Johnson in league play?  Valentine's Day 2006 at Highland Park.  Last conference home loss was to Central Jan 28, 2005.  The bottom 3 in the league are was down.  Central is talented once again but they underachieved last year.  Johnson doesn't have the elite D1 talent leading this season, but coach Simmons will still have plenty of resources.  Highland Park and Harding each have their top scorer back.  The bottom the league has 3 teams who will struggle.

Conference MVP: Quashingm Smith-Pugh - Johnson

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Jalen Mobley - Johnson
Conference Games to Watch
  • Johnson at Central -Jan 22nd
  • Central at Johnson - Feb 14th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Roseville at Johnson - Dec 14th
  • Eden Prairie at Johnson - Jan 10th
  • East Metro Showcase - Jan 18-19th (at Johnson) 
  • Edina vs St. Paul Johnson - Jan 26th (Super 60 Showcase at Washburn)
  • Twin Cities Game - Mar 2nd (Minneapolis Champion)

2012-13 South Suburban Preview

This is the 9th preview in my 2012-13 Season Preview Series.  In this preview, a look at the South Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Apple Valley Eagles (2011-12 season 23-6, 14-4 Conference, 3rd)
There are 3 players back from last year's all conference teams.  The Eagles have 2 of them in Dustin Fronk and some point guard named Tyus Jones who is supposed to be OK.  He averaged almost 29 a night, Fronk almost 16 a night.  Guard Harry Sonie, Forward Dennis Austin, quality shooters Robert Tobroxon and Chris Laymon all return.  They add Diedrick Hubbard from Eden Prairie and Frosh star Brock Bertram to the front line.  That gives them size to cure the last year's achilles' heel.  Definitely on the short list of state title contenders.

Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (2011-12 season 5-21, 2-16 Conference, 9th)
6 of the top 8 scorers depart for the Jags.  Junior Matt Rosen and senior Brian Fritzlar are the top returnees.  Soph Tommy Gathje will likely move up and contribute inside.  Their unwatchable style will keep them in games but won't show up in the win column.

Bloomington Kennedy Eagles (2011-12 season 11-17, 7-11 Conference, Tied 6th)
New coach Reggie Perkins takes over after a very successful run at Minneapolis Washburn.  He'll have an athletic squad to work with.  Double figure scorer Jumah'ri Turner is one of many wing pieces available.  Dejon Davis comes over from Washburn as a solid shooter and defender.  Travon Hearns provides length inside.  Guards Darrian Pittman and Rico Gunn need to be replaced.  Juniors CJ Lewis and Robert Parker could also see time in the rotation.

Burnsville Blaze (2011-12 season 1-25, 1-17 Conference, 10th)
4 of the top 5 scorers depart from the Blaze.  Guards Adam Saba and Eli Rogers look to step in along with soph forward Brett Shepley.  Still can't see them jumping out of the conference cellar.

Eagan Wildcats (2011-12 season 15-13, 10-8 Conference, Tied 4th)
The Wildcats have to replace most of the roster.  Guard Nick Sabatke and post Shea Mandli are the biggest losses.  Forward Michael Gorder will lead the way.  Mark Woodcock gives a body inside.  Soph GT Johnson projects to be a factor in their rotation by end of the season.

Eastview Lightning (2011-12 season 28-2, 17-1 Conference, Tied 1st)
The Lightning lose all but 1 piece of the rotation.  That includes forward Joey King's 24 PPG and point guard Darin Haugh who was the glue.  Center Ben Oberfeld remains for another year before heading off to Bucknell.  He's the 3rd player back from the all-conference team and also made the all-defensive team.  All the offensive will go through him.  Mark Dwyer is another option.  Ryan Wessell will also join the rotation.  They'll be hard-nosed defensively as always but where will the points come from?

Lakeville North Panthers (2011-12 season 30-2, 17-1 Conference, Tied 1st)
Speaking of everything graduating, that also applies to Lakeville North.  Tyler Flack is off to South Dakota along with frontliners Brett Rasmussen and Ryan Saarela.  A ton of backcourt experience exits as well.  The backcourt will still be solid though with Grant Erickson and Kyrell Newell seeing lots of time last year.  Sharpshooter JP Macura would have played for most teams last year.  Expect him to lead the team in scoring this year.  Bronson Bruneau gives them a presence inside.

Lakeville South Cougars (2011-12 season 12-15, 7-11 Conference, Tied 6th)
The Cougars lose 4 of their top 5 scorers including double figure scoring from forwards Nick Sanborn and Matt Heller. Jordan Johnson averaged over 8 per game last year and should lead this season.  Guard Corey Larson is the other returnee of note.

Prior Lake Lakers (2011-12 season 15-13, 10-8 Conference, Tied 4th)
The Lakers return their dynamic duo of 7 footer Carson Shanks and point guard Jon Sobaski.  Sobaski topped the team at 13 points a game last season.  The shooting of Evan Kotchevar will be missed.  Noah Scanlon provides another backcourt option.  The front court is deep with Jeff Probert and Nick Hart seeing lots of time last year.  

Rosemount Irish (2011-12 season 11-16, 5-13 Conference, 8th)
The Irish lose 4 of their top 6. That includes all conference forward Matt Nelson and 16+ points a night.  Brandon Forcier also is gone from the frontline.  The backcourt will be solid with point guard Garrett Goetz and Cole Northwick.  The 2 juniors are the top returning scorers.  They need to find front line help.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Apple Valley
  2. Prior Lake  
  3. Lakeville North  
  4. Bloomington Kennedy 
  5. Eastview
  6. Rosemount 
  7. Eagan
  8. Lakeville South
  9. Bloomington Jefferson
  10. Burnsville
Conference Overview:
Apple Valley looks like a machine right now and that goes all the way back to winning the Pacesetter in August.  They are my preseason #1.  Prior Lake gave them all they wanted last year in 2 losses.  With a star point guard and quality big, have to take them 2nd.   Jefferson and Burnsville take up the bottom spots.  Lakeville North has guard strength and a presence inside, I like them 3rd.  Kennedy's up and down style gives them a chance to be disruptive.  Eastview's defense keeps them in the middle.  That's also true of Rosemount's guards. The league isn't a juggernaut but still as good as any around.

Conference MVP: Tyus Jones - Apple Valley

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • GT Johnson - Eagan
  • Tommy Gathje - Bloomington Jefferson
  • Brett Shepley - Burnsville
  • Logan Halvorson - Rosemount
Conference Games to Watch
  • Prior Lake at Apple Valley - Jan 25th 
  • Apple Valley at Prior Lake - Feb 26th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Apple Valley at St. Louis Park - Dec 4th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Prior Lake - Dec 6th
  • Apple Valley vs Park Center - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Waconia at Prior Lake - Dec 11th
  • Eden Prairie at Prior Lake - Dec 14th
  • Hopkins at Apple Valley  - Dec 18th
  • Apple Valley vs Osseo - Dec 29th (Granite City Classic)
  • Apple Valley vs Cooper - Jan 5th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Apple Valley vs Madison Memorial - Feb 2nd (Border Battle at Prior Lake)
  • Rice Lake, WI at Prior Lake - Feb 2nd (Border Battle)

2012-13 Northwest Suburban Preview

This is the 8th preview in my 2012-2013 season preview series.  In this a preview, a look at the Northwest Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Andover Huskies (2011-12 season 5-22, 4-16 Conference, Tied 10th)
The Huskies return 3 pieces from last year's squad.  Seniors Kyle Kettler and Connor Wilkie provide experience.  Soph Jake McNallan averaged over 6 points a game last year.  Leading scorer Devon Fellerman needs to be replaced.

Anoka Tornadoes (2011-12 season 11-17, 9-11 Conference, 7th)
Former South St. Paul head man Matt Fletcher takes over for Paul Broberg.  Guard Marcus Tyus averaged almost 26 a night and is now at Nebraska-Omaha.  Senior center Brandon Lindquist also needs to be replaced.  Guard Malcolm Seals averaged double figures and will lead the team this season.

Blaine Bengals (2011-12 season 17-12, 11-9 Conference, 6th)
Huge losses for the Bengals as they lose the top 7 scorers.  That includes 4 double figure scorers.  Joe Robel will run the point.  Only 2 other returnees saw action in more than 3 varsity games. 

Centennial Cougars (2011-12 season 9-18, 8-12 Conference, Tied 7th)
The starting backcourt of Jared Nelson and shooter Mitchell Kuck were the top 2 scorers last season.  33.5 PPG from them will need to be replaced.  Seniors Luke Thornquist and Josh DeWitt will also step into that void.  They also add Pierre Roddy to the backcourt.  He was the top scorer last year for Coon Rapids.  The frontline has plenty of size and experience.  Forward Dan Becken is the leading returning scorer and played well in the Comets Camp in September.  Expect a breakout year from him.  He provides shooting range to go with the big tandem of Quin Peterson and Ben Walker up front.  Christian Malinowski also returns.

Champlin Park Rebels (2011-12 season 18-11, 12-8 Conference, 5th)
Senior guard Anthony Hill was the only double figure scorer and has to be replaced.  The next 5 scorers all return.  They all averaged between 8 and 10 points a game.  Zach Johnson just missed double figures.  Wing Trevor Garrison can score and defend.  Juniors Matt Juneau and Brennan Witt gives them depth upfront.  Soph guard JT Gibson has the ability to score in bunches.  Junior point guard Ian Smith keeps it all running smoothly. 

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2011-12 season 7-20, 4-16 Conference, Tied 10th)
The Cardinals lose 2 starters and the previously Pierre Roddy.  Roddy averaged 14.5 PPG from a guard spot and Omot Okwan averaged almost 13 inside.  They both need to be replaced.  Guards EdDarie and EdVonte Hibbler both return after starting last season.  The Cardinals also pick up Gerald McCarver and his 22.9 PPG from Minnehaha.  They'll have a ton of guard play with questions inside.

Elk River Elks (2011-12 season 14-13, 12-8 Conference, 4th)
Junior Clay Elrod returns for his 3rd year of varsity play.  He averaged almost 18 a night.  Guard Porter Morell averaged double figures and also returns.  Guards Ryan Ness and Tucker Morrel need to be replaced.  Byran Edwards is the only other player with size besides Elrod.  They'll have plenty of guards and looks at 3s.  Their shooting will determine their destiny.

Maple Grove Crimson (2011-12 season 16-11, 13-7 Conference, Tied 2nd)
Leading scorer James Morris averaged over 15 a night.  He's now at league rival Armstrong.  Point guard Bryce Wojta and wing Jake Weinike are the top returnees.  The seniors combined for 24 points a game.  Big man Dan Lochner needs to be replaced along with 2 other starters from their final game.  Guard Grant Kaufman figures to step into a bigger role outside.  Bigs Erik Olson and Brian Fotso will battle for playing time in the middle.

Osseo Orioles (2011-12 season 30-2, 19-1 Conference, 1st)
The defending state champs lose a ton but the Orioles have been in reload not rebuild mode for a while now.  Center Ian Theisen returns after the epic buzzer beater to win state.  Bridge Tusler gives them just about everything from scoring to defense to intangibles to clutch plays.  Those were last year's top 2 scorers.  The rest of the rotation including wings DJ Hebert and Michael Brush along with frontcourt members Will Johnson, Cal Bloom and Bryan Gichaba all need to be replaced.  Junior wing Wheeler Baker will give a 3rd scoring option.  Coach Tim Theisen will plug in the rest of the spots with solid guys like Matt Miedtke

Park Center Pirates (2011-12 season 18-9, 13-7 Conference, Tied 2nd)
The Pirates broke out a year early and this year they look to make a big run.  There were no seniors on last year's roster.  They add scoring guard Devin Buckley from Prairie Seeds Academy to a super charged offense.  North Dakota commit Quinton Hooker makes it all go from the point with 26 PPG.  Wings Isaiah McKay and Treyton Daniels were around 15 points a game.  Josh and Issac Matthews give them an inside duo.  The top 6 are loaded but depth is a question.  That's especially true if there's front court foul trouble.  Keep an eye on that in the matchups vs Osseo and Ian Theisen.

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2011-12 season 6-21, 5-15 Conference, 9th)
The Falcons had a surprising down year but return a truckload of players who saw time last year and they have a loaded sophomore class.  The top 3 scorers all return and provide senior leadership.  That's forwards Konner Goettsche and Mitchell Biewen along with point guard Nick O'Hara.   Cyrus Brown returns on the wing with surprising athleticism.  Soph Jerome Dixon gives them another athletic wing option at almost 7 PPG.  Fellow soph Evan Nolan will knock down shots.  That doesn't even mention transfer James Morris from Maple Grove (their leading scorer last year).  Inside expect junior Ryan Casperson and possibly soph Sean Burns to see minutes.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Osseo
  2. Park Center 
  3. Champlin Park
  4. Robbinsdale Armstrong
  5. Centennial  
  6. Elk River  
  7. Maple Grove
  8. Anoka
  9. Blaine  
  10. Coon Rapids
  11. Andover
Conference Overview:
I like the Northwest Suburban from 1-7 I think these are all teams that can beat each other up on a given night.  Osseo and Park Center are clearly the top 2.  I'd love to pick the Pirates with everybody back but Osseo's tradition is too much to ignore.  Expect a great atmosphere between the district rivals for their 2 meetings.  The next group of 3 is hard to pick with so much returning for each squad.  Elk River and Maple Grove are hard to move down with enough returning talent and last year's record but I don't see them with the same offensive firepower as the others.  But they play hard and defend so you better be ready against them.

Conference MVP: Quinton Hooker - Park Center

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Jake McNallen - Andover
  • JT Gibson - Champlin Park
  • Elliot Kane - Maple Grove
  • Evan Nolan, Jerome Dixon, Sean Burns - Armstrong
Conference Games to Watch
  • Osseo at Park Center - Dec 18th
  • Park Center at Champlin Park - Jan 22nd
  • Park Center at Armstrong - Jan 29th
  • Park Center at Osseo - Feb 5th
  • Osseo at Champlin Park - Feb 8th
  • Osseo at Armstrong - Feb 12th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Park Center vs Apple Valley - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Osseo at Buffalo - Dec 13th
  • Osseo vs Prior Lake - Dec 28th (Granite City Classic)
  • Osseo vs Apple Valley - Dec 29 (Granite City Classic)
  • Park Center at De La Salle - Jan 3rd

2012-13 North Suburban Preview

My 2012-2013 season preview series continues 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 Red Knights (2011-12 season 27-2, 16-0 Conference, 1st)
The Red Knights lose 3 players to the D1 rankings including sharpshooting Isaiah Zierden (Creighton), versatile forward Sanjay Lumpkin (Northwestern) and forward Will Dunn (IPFW).  Seniors Isaiah Gray, Breion Creer, Danon Briggs and Joe Heck also depart.  The entire roster needs to be rebuilt.  Armstrong transfer Jayson Edwards is a lightning quick sophomore point guard that will lead the way.  Senior guard Sam Hafermann is the top returnee from last year.

Chisago Lakes Wildcats (2011-2012 season 6-22, 3-13 Conference, 9th)
Former Hill-Murray head man Chris Gargaro takes over the program.  He was most recently a Tartan and Henry Sibley assistant.  Leading scorer Per Gulbranson's 13 points a night need to be replaced.  Scorers 2, 3 and 4 return.  Vinnie Gorski's 8.6 points a game tops the returning players. 

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2011-12 season 12-13, 9-7 Conference, Tied 5th)
Top scorer and worker Jordan Mills departs with his almost 15 points per game.  The roster is full of perimeter players.  Deon Stanstad returns at 12.9 PPG.  Kalante Logan and Dominique Galloway also return. Long and bouncy Christian Esko will man the middle.

Fridley Tigers (2011-12 season 12-14, 6-10 Conference, 8th)
Guard Nate Geving and 15.3 points per game need to be replaced.  Fellow guard Michael Murray averaged double figures and should pick up a big chunk of that.  He's the only returning starter.  Amane Akane, Matt Duehn and Nathen Opare-Addo came off the bench last season and should jump into the starting lineup this year.

Irondale Knights (2011-12 season 14-13, 9-7 Conference, Tied 5th)
The Knights have to replace a trio of guards who all averaged double figures and combined for 35 points a night.  Leading scorer Jack Martinek returns after scoring 16.5 per night.  He'll get help up front from Ben Ojika.  3 others from the rotation also depart so plenty to replace for the Knights.

North Branch Vikings (2011-12 season 3-24, 0-16 Conference, 11th)
The Vikings lose Tom Kinsella who led the team in scoring at 10.7 a night.  Plenty of youth returns with double figure scorer Travis VanElsburg leading that list.  Fellow juniors Dylan Dahle and Brandon Thauwald also return.  Senior Cody Knobbe is the top senior returning. 

Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (2011-12 season 12-16, 7-9 Conference, 7th)
The Hawks lost 5 of their last 6 to end a disappointing regular season and fall all the way to the 7th seed.  But they went on the road and knocked off 2 seed Park Center to start the playoffs.  That was likely a large factor in coach Dave Johnson not being retained.  Assistant Steve Burton takes over this season.  Uber-talented Rashad Vaughn (a top 20 player in 2014 nationally) averaged just under 26 points a game last year.  But no one else averaged double figures and the team was below .500 to finish in the bottom half of the league.  Wing Eric Brown will be missed but most of the rest of the roster is back.  That includes guards Leroy Taylor and Billy Kellogg.  Transfer Troy May looks to join that rotation as well.  Forwards Lavar McCollough, Darrious Denson and Curtis Shelby all return.

St. Francis Saints (2011-12 season 9-18, 3-13 Conference, 10th)
Their only double figure scorer Andy Julkowski departs after scoring over 15 points per night.  Center Jake Johnson showed great improvement over the summer.  He just missed out on double figures last year.  That won't happen this year for the top returning big man in the league.

St. Louis Park Orioles (2011-12 season 14-13, 10-6 Conference, 4th)
The Orioles return everybody from last year's roster and they add Jeffrey Bonds from De La Salle.  Point guard Kashif Hayes is a perfect fit for their dribble drive offense.  He topped the scoring list at over 17 per night.  Wing DJ Pollard gives them scoring at 15+ and defense.  Mahki Moore also averaged double figures.  Zach Gilbert-Burke gives them production inside. 

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2011-12 season 23-6, 13-3 Conference, 2nd)
Last year's star Sean Scott departs after averaging over 24 points a game and many highlights every night.  Guard Bryce Williams averaged almost 20 points a game.  That's a ton to be replaced.  The next 3 scorers do return.  Forward Robert Ben is an athletic front court presence.  Guard TC Robinson has the ability to score in bunches.  Guard Gary Cook and center Justin Axelson also figure to be in the rotation.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2011-12 season 16-12, 12-4 Conference, 3rd)
The conference schedule was impressive last year for coach Kevin Seim's Eagles.  This year all 5 starters need to be replaced.  That includes the inside out duo of 6'9 left tackle Nick Carr and shooting guard Sam Meyer.  Forward Andy Moritko also departs after averaging double figures.  Juniors Reggie Meyer on the wing and sniper Colin Fleming at the point figure to make big contributions.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. St. Louis Park
  2. Robbinsdale Cooper  
  3. Spring Lake Park 
  4. Columbia Heights 
  5. Totino-Grace
  6. Benilde-St. Margaret's
  7. Irondale
  8. Fridley
  9. St. Francis
  10. Chisago Lakes 
  11. North Branch
Conference Overview: 
Its the final year in the league for the northern tier of North Branch, Chisago Lakes and St. Francis.  They'll move to the east division of the Mississippi 8 next season.  In a rare feat of conference realignment, I see that as a positive for both parties.  Better competitive balance for the northern schools.  For the holdovers, its a nice 8 team league with all metro teams.  St. Louis Park and Cooper will be athletic and talented.  The teams combine to play 11 of their last 12 games of the season at home.  St. Louis Park only plays Spring Lake Park once which is a major help to their title hopes.  The rest of the league sees major losses so top to bottom I see a down year overall for the conference.

Conference MVP: Rashad Vaughn - Cooper

Underclassmen to watch:  
Jarrette Baptiste - Columbia Heights
Blake Moreno - St. Francis
Adam Buirge - Totino-Grace

Conference Games to Watch
  • Spring Lake Park at St. Louis Park - Jan 18th
  • St. Louis Park at Cooper - Feb 1st
  • Cooper at Spring Lake Park - Feb 5th 
  • Cooper at St. Louis Park - Feb 26th
  • Spring Lake Park at Cooper - Mar 1st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Louis Park at Chaska - Nov 30th
  • Apple Valley at St. Louis Park - Dec 4th
  • St. Paul Central at St. Louis Park - Dec 11th
  • Cooper at Maranatha - Dec 18th
  • St. Louis Park at Edina tournament  - Dec 27-28th
  • Cooper at Hopkins - Jan 4th 
  • Cooper vs Apple Valley - Jan 5th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • St. Louis Park at Minneapolis Washburn - Jan 12th
  • Minneapolis Henry at Cooper - Feb 8th

2012-13 Missota Preview

This is the sixth preview in my 2012-2013 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Missota Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Academy of Holy Angels Stars (2011-12 season 15-12, 8-6 Conference, Tied 3rd)
The Stars look to bounce back from a disappointing end to last season.  They were looking at a 2 seed and then lost their last 3 regular season games.  That forced a road game at Blake which was their 4th straight loss to end the year.  A surprising finish since coach Larry McKenzie's teams usually finish strong.  The roster is loaded with juniors Jordan Dembley and Delshon Strickland returning outside.  Senior Sam Keis also returns at a guard spot.  Firepower is back inside too with junior center Charlie Koontz and Danny Sullivan.  Those are the top 5 scorers.

Chaska Hawks (2011-12 season 14-13, 8-6 Conference, Tied 3rd)
The Hawks were a pleasant surprise last season still making .500 despite losing 2 star players.  They return 7 pieces returning from last year.   Post Eric West leads with 13.5 PPG.  The starting backcourt of soph Justin Arnold (PG) and junior Kolby Seiffert (SG) also returns.  Seiffert was the other double figure scorer at 11.5 PPG.  Junior forward Isaac Tewes and defending guard Chris Auer are experienced pieces.  Junior Matthew Witthus and soph Jacob Hansen will also contribute.

Chanhassen Storm (2011-12 season 23-6, 13-1 Conference, 1st)
The Storm suffer the heavy losses in the league.  Wing Kevin Jensen's 18 PPG are off to U of Mary.  Forwards Cole Otto and Steven Gitzen are gone along with shooter Joey Stark.  Slick passing point guard Brandon Arnold will be sorely missed.  The cupboard isn't completely bare though.  Jared Lea returns as a defender.   Jack Kozlowski is a front court workhorse.  Soph Joey Witthus is primed for a breakout season after an outstanding summer.

Farmington Tigers (2011-12 season 10-17, 6-8 Conference, Tied 5th)
Injuries had a major impact on this squad last year.  Lost 7 of 11 to end the season with one of those wins being a 2 OT win over lowly Northfield and a loss at home to Red Wing.  But the Tigers won at Chaska and beat Holy Angels, Shakopee and New Prague at home.  The top 4 scorers return.  The top 3 are juniors Darren Beenken, center Nick Varner and wing McKinley Bassett who all averaged double figures.  Soph Zach Speikers also returns as the 4th scorer.

New Prague Trojans (2011-12 season 19-10, 9-5 Conference, 2nd)
The front court duo of Sergio Najera and Trevor O'Brien combined for almost 24 a night and needs to be replaced.  Forward Jake Meyer also departs as an inside banger.  Junior Paul Friendshuh was in that rotation last year too and should step right in and fill that gap.   Junior post Michael Soderlund will likely step into the front line as well.  The backcourt is solid with everybody back.  Joe Kneip, Nick Johnson and Luke Rynda make up a solid group that moves the ball well and can knock down shots.

Northfield Raiders (2011-12 season 5-21, 0-14 Conference, 8th)
Center and leading scorer Leif Olson needs to be replaced.  Guard Eric Shepley is the top returning scorer at 10.6 PPG.  Nothing significant in the pipeline that could improve the outlook.  Expect another long season.

Red Wing Wingers (2011-12 season 11-16, 6-8 Conference, Tied 5th)
The Wingers lose their top scorer Joel Newman who put up almost 18 points a night.  Ryan Parr needs to be replaced up front.  The 2nd through 5th scorers return and are young.  Junior Isaac Toivonen reached double figures at 10.7 a night.  Ty Buck averaged over 9 a game as a freshman.  Captain Ryan Boldt returns for leadership along with junior forward Jon Sevlie.

Shakopee Sabers (2011-12 season 10-17, 6-8 Conference, Tied 5th)
The Sabers went young last year as there were no seniors on the roster.  The line up is huge with 4 of the top 5 scorers from last year being 6'4 or taller.  That includes double figures scorers John Burlager and junior Tyler Weiss.  He'll play lots outside with his ability to handle and shoot it.  Jake Maiers is a strong inside body.  Soph Evan Hagen returns after running the point last year.  Look for outside shooting to be a key for this squad.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Holy Angels
  2. Chaska 
  3. Shakopee
  4. Farmington 
  5. New Prague 
  6. Chanhassen 
  7. Red Wing
  8. Northfield
Conference Overview:
The Missota bounces back very strong this season.  Holy Angels, Chaska, Shakopee and Farmington all return most of their rotations.  Chanhassen's returnees will keep them solid but with all the losses they have to move down.  Red Wing returns 4 members of their rotation.  New Prague's guards are solid and if Paul Friendshuh breaks out they can be very dangerous.  I can see 6 teams all good enough to win at least 7 conference games.  That doesn't count Red Wing who normally would look to move up with 4 pieces coming back but there's too much in front of them.  The top 3 are pretty clear but can be in any order.  Ditto that for the next 3 teams who are all talented enough to make a dent in the conference race.  Particularly Farmington when teams come to their place.

Conference MVP: Jordan Dembley - Holy Angels

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Trenton McCarthy- Holy Angels
  • Ty Buck - Red Wing
  • Steffon Mitchell, Evan Hagen - Shakopee
  • Joey Witthus - Chanhassen 
  • Zach Speikers - Farmington
Conference Games to Watch
  • Holy Angels at Chaska- Jan 11th 
  • Chaska at Shakopee - Jan 22nd
  • Holy Angels at Shakopee - Jan 29th
  • Chaska at Holy Angels - Feb 8th
  • Shakopee at Chaska - Feb 19th
  • Shakopee at Holy Angels - Feb 26th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Blake at Chaska - Dec 4th
  • Holy Angels vs Roseville - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Woodbury at Shakopee - Dec 11th
  • Owatonna at Shakopee - Dec 13th
  • Chaska at Waconia - Dec 21st
  • Chaska at Eden Prairie tournament - Dec 27 and 29th
  • Edina at Shakopee - Jan 4th
  • Shakopee at Eden Prairie - Jan 8th
  • Holy Angels at Blake - Jan 8th
  • Shakopee at Waconia - Jan 26th
  • Richfield at Holy Angels - Feb 2nd

2012-13 Metro Charter Preview

This is the fifth preview in my 2012-2013 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Metro Charter Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

FAIR Downtown Falcons (2011-12 season 24-3, 8-1 Conference, Tied 1st)
Here's 1 of the programs in the league that took on heavy losses.  Post Desmond Williams and star wing Darrion Scott are gone. Akil England and Darion Schlington also graduate.  Soph John Warren was the next in line but he's off to Hopkins.  Deonte Blakemore saw action later in the year and also is done.  Andre Burton is the lone returning player of note.

Math & Science Academy Dragons (2011-12 season 1-10, 0-8 Conference, 6th)
Leading scorer Brady Hannula was the only double figure scorer and graduates.  Carl Cobian and junior Michael Dubois look to pick up the slack.  Expect another very long season.

Minnesota Transitions Wolves (2011-12 season 12-14, 4-6 Conference 4th)
Top scorers David Wallendorf and wide body Tevin Sims combined for 38 points a night and need to be replaced. Junior Willie Parrish and senior guards LaRon Dunn and Terence Lofton give the Wolves offense options.

Prairie Seeds Academy Lycans (2011-12 season 23-3, 8-1 Conference, Tied 1st)
In the other half of the league's duo of mange, expect a much different year for PSA.  Tim Williams returns to run the program after a year away.  Most of the roster is gone including 59 points per night from the top 4 scorers.  Gage Deis and Trent Pollard used up their eligibilty.  Devin Buckley is off to Park Center.  Reserve Troy May is off to Robbinsdale Cooper.  Dominick Jackson and younger brother Jamil are off to MetroTech Academy with their dad and last year's PSA coach Jamil Jackson who takes over that program.  A top freshman from last year's JV, Xavier Pollard, is also gone.  Major rebuilding effort this season.

St. Croix Prep Lions (2011-12 season 13-13, 5-5 Conference, 3rd)
A impressive 1st varsity season for the Lions as they won 13 games.  The entire roster is back.  Soph Michael Gutierrez will run the show.   Leading scorer Jakob Schollmeier returns up front at 11 points a game.  Wing Wes Berg is a wing threat.

Spectrum Sting (2011-12 season 5-20, 3-7 Conference, 5th)
The duo of Jacob and Jaden Shockley returns to lead the Sting.  They both averaged just over 10 points a game last season.  Leading scorer Steven Delain departs.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. St. Croix Prep
  2. Minnesota Transitions
  3. Prairie Seeds
  4. FAIR
  5. Spectrum
  6. Math & Science
Conference Overview:
A year of change in the Metro Charter Conference.  Tons of losses in the city and plenty of returning players in the suburbs.  St. Croix Prep has built up the program with patience and hard work and I think they're rewarded this year.  Of course, you never know what you'll get at MTS, FAIR or PSA.  You know those teams will have athletes and that's something the other league programs don't have.

Conference MVP: Jakob Schollmeier - St. Croix Prep

Underclassmen to watch:  
Michael Gutierrez - St. Croix Prep

Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Croix Prep at MTS - Jan 22nd
  • MTS at St. Croix Prep - Feb 12th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Croix Prep at St. Croix Lutheran - Dec 7th

2012-13 MCAA Preview

This is the fourth preview in my 2012-2013 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.

Bethany Academy Eagles (2011-12 season 11-15, 3-10 Conference, 4th South)
The Eagles will have to replace their only player in double figures Max Mattila.  The lefty was a difficult front court matchup.  Junior Sam Hagen just missed out on double figures last season, I could see him averaging at least 15 a night this season.  RT Mould and Luke Mikhail also return.  A question mark will be size.

Heritage Christian Academy Eagles (2011-12 season 21-8, 8-5 Conference, 3rd North)
Heritage made a big leap last season by knocking off league powerhouse Maranatha at home in the section semis.  Expect another 20+ win season as 5 of the top 6 scorers are back.  Brad Basco leads the way inside at almost 16 a night.  Zach Weld, Evan Parkhurst and Christian Pieper all return and averaged double figures.  

Legacy Christian Academy (2011-12 season 12-16, 3-10 Conference, 4th North)
Center Ben Freeby averaged over 19 a night and will need to be replaced.  He could also alter shots so he'll be missed on the defensive end too.  Ryan Kopca's double figure scoring is also lost.  Connor Peterson is the top returnee at almost 7 points a game.

Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2011-12 season 17-11, 8-5 Conference, 2nd South)
Guard Jared Kadrie and 17 points a game depart.  Fellow guard Nick Machemehl averaged over 15 a night last season and will pick up some of that slack.  Fellow juniors Alex Heigl and post Spencer Radtke also return to form a nice 2 year nucleus for the Bulldogs.

Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs (2011-12 season 21-8, 12-1 Conference, 1st North)
In a major shocker to absolutely no one, the Mustangs will once again be very good.   They lose shooter Jamey Hammond and 16 points a night.  6 members of last year's rotation will soften the blow of that loss.  The Hanson name remains entrenched as senior Isaiah had a big summer and will lead the way this season.  Soph Jeremiah was the 4th scorer last year but still averaged over 12 a night.  Senior Garrison Gillard also averaged over 12 points a night and was a major ballhandler for them.  Soph Grantham Gillard saw varsity time all last season and will see major minutes this year.

New Life Academy Eagles (2011-12 season 16-12, 7-6 Conference, 3rd South)
New Life will have to replace their top 3 scorers.  Post Dan Otto and perimeter players Alex Heiser and Cody Linton combined for 36 points a game.  Senior Cam Duffy returns along with juniors John Horner and Kyle Linton.  Soph Conrad Engstrom gives the Eagles a versatile option as well.

PACT Charter Panthers (2011-12 season 7-19, 2-11 Conference, 5th North)
The Panthers feature the top returning scorer in the league.  Lefty Drew Zieroth averaged 20.6 points per game last year.  2 other starters return, junior guard Danny Mooers and center Austin Stone.  Junior Daniel Nelson was the 4th leading scorer as a 6th man last year.  Guard Austin Coons is the only notable loss.

Southwest Christian Stars (2011-12 season 8-18, 3-10 Conference, 5th South)
Brian Horner averaged almost 18 points a game but graduated.  Junior Kevin Horner averaged over 13 a night in limited action.  He's a prime candidate to up his average this season.  Junior Luke Johanson and senior Mitchell Petersen are other options for former Stars standout Kit Avery. 

Trinity Tri-Hawks (2011-12 season 17-11, 10-3 Conference, 1st South)
One of the metro's top scorers Tony Kuplic departs after averaging 27.2 PPG.  2nd leading scorer Josh Koletar also graduated.  Mike and Caleb Dahl are 2 of the top returners.  Soph Jon Lotti will also see major minutes.

West Lutheran Warriors (2011-12 season 20-8, 9-4 Conference, 2nd North)
The guard duo of Dustin and Martin Barth combined for 26 points per game last year.  They will be the offense this season.  16.7 points from Justin Anderson will be missed.  Anderson and center Martin Bilitz were the 2 tallest players on the roster so the Warriors will need to find size.

Predicted Order of Finish

North Division
  1. Maranatha
  2. Heritage
  3. West Lutheran  
  4. PACT
  5. Legacy
South Division
  1. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity 
  2. New Life
  3. Trinity
  4. SW Christian
  5. Bethany
Conference Overview
The north is the stronger division of the 2 with 3 of best 4 teams in the league.  Maranatha is the clear favorite but the gap has narrowed between them and everybody else.  Heritage and West Lutheran will battle for 2nd and 3rd.  Drew Zieroth leads PACT out of the division cellar.  In the South, LP/HT has too much coming back to not pick them.  New Life has enough back to be an easy pick for 2nd but not enough to overcome the Bulldogs.  The bottom 3 could toss up in any order.

Conference MVP: Isaiah Hanson - Maranatha

Underclassmen to watch:  
Grantham Gillard, Jeremiah Hanson- Maranatha
Conrad Engstrom - New Life
Jon Lotti - Trinity

Conference Games to Watch
  • West Lutheran at Heritage - Dec 11th
  • LP/HT at New Life - Jan 4th
  • Maranatha at West Lutheran - Jan 8th
  • Heritage at Maranatha - Jan 15th
  • Maranatha at LP/HT - Jan 22nd
  • New Life at LP/HT - Feb 1st
  • Heritage at West Lutheran - Feb 5th
  • West Lutheran at Maranatha - Feb 7th
  • Maranatha at Heritage - Feb 15th
  • Conference Tournament - Feb 23rd at Maranatha
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Robbinsdale Cooper at Maranatha - Dec 18th
  • Lakeview Christian at West Lutheran - Jan 4th (possible Anders Broman sets state scoring record)
  • Lakeview Christian at New Life - Jan 12th
  • Heritage vs Minneapolis Henry - Jan 26th (Super 60 Showcase at Washburn)
  • Maranatha at Minneapolis Washburn - Feb 9th

2012-13 Minneapolis City Preview

This is the third preview in my 2012-2013 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Minneapolis City Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Edison Tommies (2011-12 season 8-19, 2-10 Conference, 6th)
The Tommies lose 3 of their top 4 scorers.  Wing Joseph Anderson is the top returning scorer at 9.5 points a game.  Guard Brian Givens returns at about 8 points a game.  The schedule isn't as weak as last year.  I project this group at about 5 wins.

North Polars (2011-12 season 3-21, 1-11 Conference, 7th)
Mike Shelton takes over for Bret McNeal after this storied program fell completely apart last year.   Top scorers Corey Jones and Jaylin Dubose are gone.  Lee Gaines returns but the Polars will need to find something to go around him.  Guards Jamal Brown and Travis Wilson are 2 candidates to pick up the slack.  Expect another very difficult season.

Patrick Henry Patriots (2011-12 season 13-12, 9-3 Conference, Tied 2nd)
Wing Shawn Atkins and post Tim Gill are 2 double figure scorers that the Patriots have to replace in their short rotation.  Wing Darius Hill returns at 25.5 points a game with ability to get to the rim or knock down open jumpers.  Wunell Beard will once again run the point.  He just missed being the 4th player to average double figures for Henry last season.  Matt Robinson returns as an inside banger.  JJ Jefferson projects as an offensive factor on the other wing.

Roosevelt Teddies (2011-12 season 7-19, 3-9 Conference, 5th)
Former Roosevelt star and 1995 Mr. Basketball Rob Mestas takes over this year after Dennis Stockmo moved up to the AD job.  Leading scorer Demetrius Durant returns to run the point.  4 other starters were lost.  Sophs Terry Thomas and Arione Farrar Jr (though he may have transferred) saw time last year and would be pieces to build around.

South Tigers (2011-12 season 11-14, 9-3 Conference, Tied 2nd)
After a 5-13 start, the Tigers won their last 6 regular season games.  That included a 4 point win at Henry to tie for 2nd at 9-3 in league play.   Leader and leading scorer Carnell Sheppard (20.5 PPG) will be sorely missed.  Lefty Thomas Ford averaged 8.7 a game but was able to go off at any time (28 vs Cooper last year).  Isaiah Wilson will lead the offense.  Expect Kenley Farrow to also be a bigger offensive factor as well.

Southwest Lakers (2011-12 season 9-18, 6-6 Conference, 4th)
Their 6 win conference season matched the total number of league games they won the 3 previous seasons.  I think that was more about how bad the rest of the league was -- they got their wins against the bottom 3 -- rather than a major step forward.  Guard Demetrius Cady is back and he was the top scorer last year for the Lakers.  Forwards Josh Barnes and Will Kalberg-Taylor averaged double-figures and will need to be replaced.

Washburn Millers (2011-12 season 29-3, 12-0 Conference, 1st)
After a heartbreaking loss at the buzzer in the 3A championship game, Coach Reggie Perkins has moved down Nicollet Ave to take the Bloomington Kennedy job.  Point guard Nick Anderson and wing Dejon Davis followed him there.  They also lose 6 seniors from the rotation.  Overall the top 7 scorers are gone.  Noah Scarver's 6+ a game leads the returning players.  Don't expect the Millers to fall off too much though.  They've won all 3 levels of the city the last 2 years.  That depth pays off this year.  Soph Kevin Gleason will take over the point.  Soph Evan Shepherd and junior Quinton Garvis will take over the wings.  All 3 were JV starters last year.  Athletic junior Jeff Jones was a varsity player all last year.
(Czar's Note 10/17/12: I've since told that Nick Anderson stayed at Washburn)

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Washburn
  2. Henry 
  3. South
  4. Southwest
  5. Roosevelt
  6. Edison
  7. North
Conference Overview
Normally you have an elite team at the top.  This year may be the worst this league has been top to bottom in a long time.  Roosevelt, Edison and North will struggle to win a handful of games.  Southwest and South are down so I can't see them reaching .500 overall. Henry has some talent but with more talent last year they were barely a .500 team.  Washburn will still be the class of the league but their youth puts them a year away from being what they've been recently.

Conference MVP: Darius Hill - Henry

Underclassmen to watch:  
Payton Bowdry - Minneapolis South
Kevin Gleason, Evan Shepherd - Washburn

Conference Games to Watch
  • Washburn at Henry - Jan 11th
  • Henry at Washburn - Feb 14th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Prairie at Washburn - Dec 4th
  • Heritage vs Henry - Jan 26th (Super 60 Showcase at Washburn)
  • Lakeville South at Washburn - Jan 26th (Super 60 Showcase)
  • Henry at Cooper - Feb 8th
  • Maranatha at Washburn - Feb 9th
  • De La Salle at Washburn - Feb 22nd
  • Twin Cities Game (Minneapolis Champion) - Mar 2nd

2012-13 Lake Conference Preview

This is the second preview in my 2012-2013 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Lake Conference.  For a list of all the season previews, click here.

Eden Prairie Eagles (2011-12 season 23-9, 4-4 Lake Conference, Tied 2nd)
The Eagles lose a couple of important pieces in shooter Sander Mohn (14 PPG) and post Jordan Peterson (9 PPG).  The backcourt is loaded with senior point guard Grant Shaeffer and Andre Wallace.  Shaeffer put on a performance for the ages in the state quarters vs Eastview last year.  39 of his 41 points in the 2nd half and OT.  That included 25 points in a row and the buzzer beater to force OT.  Junior Andre Wallace also returns and he's getting high D1 interest from places like Iowa State.  Wing Anthony Anderson, defensive stopper Grant Gordon and power forward Jack Cottrell also return.  Juniors Aaron Workin and Deidrick Hubbard give the Eagles a couple of option to man the post.

Edina Hornets (2011-12 season 19-10, 4-4 Lake Conference, Tied 2nd)
If there's another player who blew up more this summer than Graham Woodward I don't know who it is.  The point guard is the top returning scorer in the league at 20.2 PPG.  He just committed to Penn State.  Teammate Reggie Lynch also showed great improvement.  He'll man the middle and is a big time impact player blocking shots on the defensive end.  His offense has grown leaps and bounds in the last couple of years as well.  Mark Handberg, Dane Tueteberg and Nick Boone return as frontcourt bangers.  Marley Allison returns at a guard spot.  Flip Deberg's 13 points a night will be need to be replaced.

Hopkins Royals (2011-12 season 30-2, 8-0 Lake Conference, 1st)
3 year point guard and leader Siyani Chambers, main inside threat Zach Stahl, shooters Demetrius Martin and Nicholas Jorgenson all graduated.  That's the top 4 scorers who accounted for 60 points a night.  They also lose football star Andre McDonald.  Juniors Kamali Chambers (PG), Jake Wright (SG) and Stephon Sharpe (F) all saw time last year and should step right into the starting lineup. Senior Jamal Davis provides experience.  The 5th spot should be wide open.  Junior Treyvon Edwards, freshman star Amir Coffey and senior undersized post Philip Stribling should also see plenty of playing time. Robbinsdale Armstrong transfer Nobel Fahnbulleh also should make the rotation.  They'll be young but still very good.

Minnetonka Skippers (2011-12 season 19-9, 3-5 Lake Conference, 4th)
The Skippers lose 3 of their top 4 scorers. Post Latrell Love averaged 15+ and will be the most difficult piece to replace.  Tommy McDermott's 17+ and Joe Risinger's 11+ and defense will also need to be replaced.  Defenders Andrew Turnblad and Danny Burger also graduated.  Wisconsin commit Riley Dearring is the top returning player.  He averaged 14.5 PPG last year.  Sophomore Andrew Grosz and senior Grant Kellogg return at the guard spots.  Junior Luke Pettersen came on late last year as a shooter.  Junior Careino Gurley returns with his toughness.  Grant Steele and soph Evan Altenburg are candidates to man the inside but they don't provide the same scoring punch as Love.

Wayzata Trojans (2011-12 season 19-8, 1-7 Lake Conference, 5th)
The Trojans opened last season 16-0 before conference play got underway.  Then glue guy Brad Carlson missed time and center Chad Potas injured his knee.  They sent the Trojans on a downward spiral to a 3-8 finish.  Normally the Trojans lose a ton and then reload.  This year is a bit different as Wayzata returns 4 starters.  Carlson returns to unify the lineup.  Junior guard Kyle Kalivoda returns to run the offense.  On the wings, Zach Robertson who averaged 19 points a game and defensive stopper Drake Mjaanes are back.  Ben Joppa also returns up front.  Expect lanky Nick Eid and Sam Joiner to also see frontcourt time.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Hopkins
  2. Eden Prairie
  3. Edina
  4. Wayzata
  5. Minnetonka 
Conference Overview
Despite what records will tell you, there isn't much difference from 1 to 5.  Wouldn't be shocked to see all 5 of these teams in the top 10 at some point during the year.  I wouldn't see any conference game as a major upset.  Hopkins may be young but they're still as talented as anyone.  Eden Prairie will figure out their front line to go wtih a dynamite backcourt.  Woodward and Lynch will give Edina a chance in any game, but who joins them.  Wayzata will be tough defensively and have offensive punch with Zach Robertson.  Minnetonka can't be discounted either as they have 2 solid pieces in Riley Dearring and Andrew Grosz.

Conference MVP: Graham Woodward - Edina

Underclassmen to watch:  
Ben Boone, Max Lynch - Edina
Amir Coffey, Graham Hutson, John Warren - Hopkins
Andrew Grosz, Justin Moes, Evan Altenburg, Alec Synstellien - Minnetonka
Grant Long - Wayzata

Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins at Eden Prairie- January 31st
  • Edina at Eden Prairie - Feb 5th
  • Hopkins at Edina - Feb 12th
  • Eden Prairie at Hopkins  - Feb 19th
  • Eden Prairie at Edina - Feb 22nd
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Prairie at Minneapolis Washburn - Dec 4th
  • Hopkins vs Tartan - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Eden Prairie vs Rice Lake (WI) - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Edina vs Austin - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Blake at Edina - Dec 14th
  • Hopkins at Apple Valley - Dec 18th
  • Robbinsdale Cooper at Hopkins - Jan 4th
  • Eden Prairie at St. Paul Johnson - Jan 10th
  • Eden Prairie at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 12th
  • Hopkins vs Blake - Jan 21st (MLK Day Classic at Minneapolis Henry)
  • Eden Prairie at De La Salle - Jan 26th
  • Edina vs St. Paul Johnson - Jan 26th (Super 60 Showcase at Heritage)
  • Hopkins vs De Pere (WI) - Feb 2nd (Border Battle at Prior Lake)

2012-13 Classic Suburban Preview

Its that time as I begin my 6th 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.

Henry Sibley Warriors (2011-12 season 14-13, 9-7 Conference, Tie 5th)
The Warriors return sharpshooter Adam Huessner at 17.2 points a game.  Julius Johnson returns to run the point.  The front line is strong with Nick Goldberg, Zach Haas and Kessler Geschwill all seniors who started last year.  They have a pair of experienced juniors returning as well in forward Mark Pumper and Javon Daniels.  After Huessner, all of the scoring averages very similar for the rest of the rotation.  After going up by 8 wins last year, expect another jump this year.

Hill-Murray Pioneers (2011-12 season 17-11, 10-6 Conference, 3rd)
The Pioneers lose 3 of their top 5 scorers from last year.  That includes a powerful front line of 6'9" mountain Dave Simmet and Cullen Ogren who each averaged over 15 a game.  Fellow frontliner Jay Zobrowski averaged 6.6 a game and graduated.  Jake Christensen is the leading returning scorer at 8.7 a night and he'll be the inside focus for what should be a more guard oriented squad..  Lucas Glomb returns at the point.  Ryan Buron is a solid shooter and Eric Weimar can play both guard spots.  But the big news is soph star Marshawn Wilson coming over from Tartan.  Expect him to be the immediate focus for this squad.  With a smaller line up and defensive demon Wilson, will coach Dick Ghizoni stay with his 2-3 zone that has been so effective for years or will he extend the defense more?  Expect them to be a factor in the middle to top of the league.

Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2010-11 season 18-8, 10-6 Conference, 4th)
Mahtomedi returns matchup nightmare and the league's top returning scorer Zach Lindquist at 17.6 PPG.  The next 5 top scorers all graduated.  Only 2 other players of note return.  Those are guard Trey Johnson at 3.3 points a game and Jordan Goodmanson.  The rest of the roster has questions with experience.  Lindquist can go off the bounce or over power people inside.  He'll need to have a huge year to keep the Zephyrs in the top half.

North Polars (2011-12 season 12-15, 6-10 Conference, 7th)
Assistant Joe Janquart takes over at North but he also spent time at Sibley so he's plenty familiar with the league.  They lose their top 2 scorers in forward Hunter Books (18.5 a night) and almost 12 a night from guard Korey Dean.  This year's group will be young but they did get plenty of experience last year.  Junior post Joe Messerole started all year and played as a frosh.  He's the leading returning scorer.  Soph guard Jacob Steckler was a varsity player all year.  Junior Jonathan Hjelmgren saw lots of time as a soph.  Senior guard Tevin Beards provides experience as well.

Richfield Spartans (2011-12 season 16-12, 11-5 Conference, Tie 5th)
The high flying Spartans were the fastest paced team in the metro.  They played a ton of people and lost 8 members of their rotation.  Shooter and point guard Shawn Bear is gone.  Jared Noonan was another major catalyst and he's gone.  That's 32 points a night.  Deshawn Jones is a beast who averaged 13.7 a night last year.  He should contend for player of the year honors.  Louis Williams and Octavius Harris are athletic wings who return.  Expect more of the same from the Spartans this year where they'll play like nobody else in the league, run up and down and attack you in waves.

St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2011-12 season 18-11, 12-4 Conference, 2nd)
Former De La Salle assistant Dan Rubishko takes over for the Cadets.  Don't expect much of a shift in philosophy though.  The Cadets will still be hard nosed defensively with their man to man and run good motion offense.  The offense loses the league's top scorer Thomas Sjoberg and his 20.1 PPG.  This year's offense will be more balanced.  A pair of starters return with Harrison Patt to man the middle and Nick Valdvogel to run the point.  They Cadets have shooters in junior Ben Fiers along with senior Mitch Newberg and Keegan Zimprich.  Junior Cal Schneider gives them another banger.   They also have a talented sophomore class so keep an eye on their JV squad.

Simley Spartans (2011-12 season 7-20, 2-14 Conference, 8th)
In the last 4 years, the Spartans are 7-1 vs South St. Paul and 2-54 against everyone else in league play.  Leading scorer Johnny Spillane and 15.3 PPG graduated.  The next 4 leading scorers return including sophomore sniper Sam Stensgard and almost 9 points a night.  Posts Dillon Kaup and Connor Wells will need to be replaced.  They played North St. Paul tough last year so could this be the year they jump above the 8 slot?

South St. Paul Packers (2011-12 season 1-26, 0-16 Conference, 9th)
The Packers enter the season on a 36 game conference losing streak.  In the last 8 years of Classic Suburban play, they have a record of 3-125. Leading scorer Sam Doody and his 14.1 points a game are gone.  Another long year ahead for the Packers.

Tartan Titans (2011-12 season 20-7, 14-2 Conference, 1st)
Tartan has huge losses with point guard Darrion Strong leaving for Quakerdale Prep and Marshawn Wilson transferring just up the street to Hill-Murray.  One of the state's top 2015 guard prospects Donnell Gresham also left for Cretin-Derham Hall.  Post and shooter Kyle Von Schmidt Pauli also graduated.  But don't feel all that sorry for coach Mark Klingsporn.  He still has a squad that should be very good defensively with Xavier Hall, Kharie Kirkland and Mike Hudspeth to get after people.  Hudspeth and Mike Wales can both knock down shots.  Junior post Brody Jackson provides a big body inside. 

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Tartan
  2. Henry Sibley  
  3. Richfield  
  4. Hill-Murray  
  5. St. Thomas Academy 
  6. Mahtomedi 
  7. North
  8. Simley
  9. South St. Paul
Conference Overview
Despite the losses of their top 2 players, Tartan still has to be the team to beat.  I take Sibley 2nd as I think they'll be as deep as anybody in the league.  Their front line along with a shooter in Adam Huessner will make them a tough matchup.  Speaking of tough matchups, Richfield's style and athletes along with a difference maker in Deshawn Jones makes them a factor in the race.  Hill-Murray has been known for big lineups over the years but I like their guard depth this year.  2-4 is a group that is very similar.  5-7 fall into their own group.  St. Thomas will be adjusting to a new system and will need to find consistent scoring.  I like Zach Lindquist but will Mahtomedi have any help for him?  North St. Paul's youth moves them down the list.  Simley and South St. Paul show more of the same.

Conference MVP: Deshawn Jones - Richfield

Underclassmen to watch:  
Marshawn Wilson - Hill-Murray
Jacob Steckler  - North
Sam Stensgard - Simley
Ryan Jacobsen, Kai Endahl, Jake Wright - St. Thomas Academy

Conference Games to Watch
  • Hill-Murray at Tartan - Jan 4th
  • Sibley at Tartan - Jan 8th
  • Tartan at Richfield - Jan 11th
  • Richfield at Sibley - Jan 25th
  • Richfield at Tartan - Feb 8th
  • Tartan at Sibley - Feb 12th
  • Sibley at Richfield - Feb 22nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Sibley at Prior Lake - Dec 4th
  • Tartan vs Hopkins- Dec 8th (Tip Off Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Richfield at Waconia - Dec 8th
  • Chaska at Richfield - Dec 11th
  • Richfield at Holy Angels - Feb 2nd
  • Richfield at Blake  - Feb 16th

2012 Gotta Make Shots Series Part 5

This is the 5th and final post in my 2012 Gotta Make Shots Series.  In the first 4 posts, we took a look back at the last 2 years of the Minnesota state tournament.  In this edition, we'll add up all the totals from the last 4 years and add some stats from our friends to the south.

To see all posts in the series, click here.

Tallying up the Minnesota Results
For 2012, teams with more shots had a combined record of 16-15 (a bit surprising).  Teams with the better shooting percentage were 23-9.

For 2011, teams with more shots were 10-19 while teams with the better percentage were a dominating 26-5

If you add in 2010, teams have combined over the last 3 state tournaments for a record of 40-50 (44.4%) when their team attempts more shots.  Teams with the better shooting percentage have combined over the last 3 years for a record of 73-22 (76.8%)

Class A was especially telling during that time.  Teams with a better shooting percentage were 21-3 while teams with more shots were 7-15.  Class AA teams were 11-12 with more shots but 16-8 with a better percentage.  Class AAA saw results of 12-9 for teams with more shots vs 18-5 with a better percentage.  Finally in class AAAA, teams with more shots were 10-13.  Teams with the better shooting percentage were 18-6

The Iowa Basic Tests
This section comes out of a discussion with blog pal John Carrier, read his coaching blog here.  What we're looking for is a holy grail type of statistic.  Given Stat X, your team will win.  In Iowa teams are required to submit their stats to a specific site on a monthly basis.  That gives us the ability to look at some other stats and see if there's a correlation. We'll use the 2011-12 stats from their 373 teams to do this.  We'll take different stats and see how they correlate to a team's win total.  To determine if there's a correlation, we'll use the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (click here to read more about it).  Its a widely used calculation to determine the strength of correlation between 2 items.  The value ranges from -1 to +1.   A value of 0 means no correlation.  A value of 1 is the strongest possible positive correlation.  More of X = more of Y.  -1 is the worst, More of  X means less of Y.   Anything from .1 to .4 is a mild correlation, .4 to .7 is a medium correlation, above .7 is a strong correlation.

In the spirit of this series, the first value we'll calculate is the correlation between wins and FG%.  This can be done with 4 values: Overall FG%, 2 pt FG%, 3 pt FG% and Effective FG%.  Effective FG% is calculated as (FGM + (3s made * 0.5))/FGA.  Here are the results of the correlation calculations.
  • Wins and FG% = 0.78
  • Wins and 2 Pt FG% = 0.7481
  • Wins and 3 Pt FG% = 0.5756
  • Wins and Effective FG% = 0.7749
As a Wisconsin guy, lets pull out a favorite Bo Ryan statistic, Points Per Possession.  This is an all encompassing stat of offensive efficiency.  Possessions isn't an exact science and there are many different calculations out there for it. For our purposes, total possessions for a team is calculated as FGA - Offensive Rebounds + Turnovers + (.475 * FT Attempts).

Wins and Points per Possession: 0.8260

This leads us to the Hubie Brown portion of the hypothesis which was that a team needs to increase possessions to be successful.

Wins and Possessions: -0.0902

Since the name of the game is basketball, let's look at the basic stats of points for and points against.
  • Wins and Points Per Game Scored: 0.7940
  • Wins and Points Per Game Allowed: -0.6421
These are reasonably in line with expectations but notice how points allowed has a fair difference between points allowed.  But both are significant which is logical.

Lets combine a couple of the stats
  • FG% and Points Per Game: 0.8090
  • Effective FG% and Points Per Game: 0.8150
  • Effective FG% and Points Per Possession: 0.9174
The scoring factor that hasn't been looked at yet is Free Throws
  • Wins and FT%: 0.4698
  • Wins and FT Made Per Game: 0.5432
  • FT% and Points Per Possession.  0.6136
So free throws aren't nearly the factor that field goals are.   Since there's a much narrower range of free throw % values, it makes sense that number of free throws made would be more important than the % that you make.

Hubie Brown also talked about offensive rebounds and turnovers as factors so let's look at those next.
  • Wins and Offensive Rebound %: 0.5234
  • Wins and Turnovers Per Game: -0.3586
We talked about scoring above, but does it matter when you score?
  • Wins and Average Pts in 1st Qtr: 0.7831
  • Wins and Average Pts in 2nd Qtr: 0.7028
  • Wins and Average Pts in 3rd Qtr: 0.7018
  • Wins and Average Pts in 4th Qtr: 0.3240
This gives big importance to getting off to a good start.  2nd and 3rd quarters about the same which is logical.  4th quarter being surprisingly not important can be explained by bench play in blowouts.

Teams talk about being unselfish.  Here are a couple of assists stats.  Take it with a grain of salt because assists at the high school level are notorious for how inaccurate they are.
  • Wins and % of field goals with an assist: 0.2721
  • Wins and Assist/Turnover ratio. 0.7150
This was interesting because we saw the base turnover number above was surprisingly low.  But this leads again to the theory that you can outshoot your turnovers.  Less assists would mean a lower ratio and less wins.

This isn't a scientific study by any means, but it does provide some interesting results.  Defensive numbers weren't available but doing some of these stats on the defensive end such as FG% against, Points Per Possession against etc would also be very interesting to see.  Those stats weren't directly available

  • Field goal percentage is still king.
  • Turnovers aren't as big a deal as expected.  You can overcome them with good shooting.
  • 4th quarter scoring isn't all that big of a deal.
  • Number of possessions has no meaning.

2012 Gotta Make Shots Part 4

This is part 4 in my 2012 Gotta Make Shots series.  In this edition, a look at results from the last 2 Class AAAA state tournaments. 

2012 State Tournament
Woodbury vs Hopkins
Woodbury +13 shot attempts and had 16 offensive rebounds.  They outshot Hopkins 44.1 to 38.2%.  How does Hopkins make up the difference to win in OT?  The get to the line and win with a 32-9 advantage in made FTs.  That included a state tournament record 22-24 from Siyani Chambers.

Duluth East vs Osseo
Osseo + 15 shots and they outshot the Greyhounds 41.9% to 36.2%.  Osseo trailed by 4 at the half, but the second half shooting tells the story.  Osseo gets 8 more attempts and shoots 53.6% vs 32.4 in the 1st half.  Duluth East only shot 35% in the 2nd half.

Moorhead vs Lakeville North
Lakeville North gets 2 more shots but they lose the percent battle 43.5% to 41.7%.  The Panthers also make up the difference at the foul line with a 17-7 advantage in FTs made.  They also use their size for a 13-7 advantage on the offensive glass which was worth 10 more points (15-5). 

Eden Prairie vs Eastview
Very even here as Eastview gets 1 more shot attempt.  They won the points off turnover battle 19-9.  But what you do when Grant Schaeffer goes for 39 in the 2nd half and overtime.  Eden Prairie wins the shooting percentage 53.5% to 50%.

Hopkins vs Osseo (Semifinal #1)
Hopkins with 4 more shots and the make 11 of 34 3s compared to 0-12 from the arc for Osseo.  That almost allows Hopkins to recover from a 48.6% to 41.9% loss in the shooting percentage.  Osseo with 62 of their 87 points in the paint and they won the rebounding battle 56-31 including 18 offensive boards.  Osseo turned it over 25 times for a 24-17 scoring advantage for Hopkins

Lakeville N vs Eden Prairie (Semifinal #2)
Eden Prairie had 3 more shot attempts but shot only 33.3%.  That wasn't enough to overcome 42.2% from Lakeville North.  North also pulled away at the foul line with a 16-2 advantage in FTs. 

Hopkins vs Eden Prairie (Third Place)
Hopkins with 16 more shot attempts but only shot 38.8%.  They make up the difference with an 18-8 advantage in made free throws.  Eden Prairie shot 49%.  The numbers are a bit misleading as Hopkins shot 46.2% in the 1st half to 44.4% and had 12 more attempts.  That allowed the Royals to open up a 22 point halftime lead before a cold shooting 2nd half at 28.6% to 54.2% allowed the Eagles to make up 10 points..  Hopkins with a 15-4 advantage on the offensive glass for the game.

Osseo vs Lakeville North (Championship)
Lakeville North gets 5 more shots in the game. but shoots only 28.6%.  Osseo makes only 40.9% including the buzzer beater from Ian Theisen.  Lakeville North with 6 more made free throws.  That included a 13-4 advantage in the second half when Osseo made 55.6% of their shots.  Lakeville North with 7 more points off of turnovers.  In a surprise, they won the battle on the offensive glass 18-14 which turned into a 14-5 advantage in points (11-0 second half).

The team with more shots lost 4 of the 8 games for a 4-4 record.  The team with the higher shooting percentage was 5-3.  The magic value in all 3 of those losses was the free throw line.  The 3 losses saw the team lose the free throw battle 67-24.

2011 State Tournament
Owatonna vs Hopkins
Hopkins gets 18 more shots thanks to a 22-16 advantage in turnovers and a 15-6 advantage on the offensive glass.  The Royals shoot 44.8% on those extra shots and hold Owatonna to 42.5%

Duluth East vs Cretin-Derham Hall
Duluth East with 9 more shots in the game.  The Greyhounds shot a dreadful 27.9% compared to 46.2% for CDH who shot 52.2% in the 2nd half to pull away.  Duluth East with a 12 point advantage in 2nd chance points thanks to a 20-11 on the offensive glass.  CDH got that back with an 8 point advantage in points off turnovers.

Lakeville South vs Eden Prairie
Dead even in shot attempts in this one with Lakeville South making 1 more shot.  Eden Prairie with a 16-9 advantage in offensive rebounds for 10 extra points. They also made 5 more free throws.  Lakeville Soth 47.5% to 45.8% for Eden Prairie

Maple Grove vs Osseo
Maple Grove gets 7 more shot attempts but they shoot 30.8% in the second half.  Osseo shoots a scorching 65.2% in the 1st half.  The Orioles make 10 more free throws.  Overall shooting saw Osseo 53.3% to 38.5% for Maple Grove.

Hopkins vs Cretin-Derham Hall (Semifinal #1)
Hopkins with 3 more shots.  They shoot 52.7% for the game compared to 44.2 for CDH.  That included 55.6 to 44 in the 2nd half.  Hopkins 17-6 in 2nd chance points thanks to a 17-5 advantage in offensive rebounds.  Hopkins with a 13-2 advantage in made free throws.

Eden Prairie vs Osseo (Semifinal #2)
Osseo with 3 more shot attempts but they get outshot 45.1% to 38.9%.  Both teams ice cold in the 1st half (19-60) and then hot in the 2nd half (25-45).  Eden Prairie also wins at the foul line 21-8.  The offensive rebounds huge with Eden Prairie winning that 16-4 but only an 8-4 points advantage.  That did turn into 40-28 in points in the paint.

Cretin-Derham Hall vs Osseo (Third Place)
CDH with 4 more shot attempts in the 4 point loss.  They shoot 34.6% compared to 39.6% for Osseo.  Osseo also with a 5 point advantage at the foul line.

Hopkins vs Eden Prairie (Championship)
Hopkins with 1 more shot attempt and they shot 56.8%.  Eden Prairie shot 44.2%.  Hopkins 18-8 in points off turnovers.  Eden Prairie 64.7% in the 1st half (similar to their upset of Hopkins that season) but 30.8% in the 2nd half compared to 60% for Hopkins was just too much to overcome.

The team with more shots lost 4 of the 7 games with a shot differential for a 3-4 record.  The team with the higher shooting percentage had a record of  7-1.  The 1 loss being in the game where the shot attempts were even and there was a 1 make difference.