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

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