2013 Great Plains Alliance Preview

Hello?  Hello?  Is thing on?  After a spring hiatus in the 2nd chair on the bench, The Czar is back to work for the summer portion of the 2013 AAU season.  As is standard, the big late June bang is in St. Cloud for the Great Plains Alliance tourney.   Biggest games at the Whitney Rec Center with Sauk Rapids Middle and High Schools being the main alternate locations.  Showcase games Thursday night for all teams.  Pool play all day Friday and bracket play all day Saturday with a 6:30 17U championship finish.

17s
In the 17s bracket, none of the name brand sponsored programs attending but all of the next tier of teams will be there.  Top teams from the Comets, Fury, Select, Heat, WOTN, Schoolers, ECI, and WI Playmakers along with MN Warriors and MN Basketball Academy top 16s all in the 28 team 17U portion of the bracket.

In the Thursday showcase games, there's generally 1 game per session that stands out.  At 5:20 its the top Comets group taking on the top Playmakers group.  This Playmakers group looked awful at the April event but they have a new coach now.  Should be very interesting to see how they look now.  At 6:30 its my personal favorite game of the showcases when the MN Warriors take on the ECI Prospects.  ECI very impressive in St. Cloud in April as they shot the lights out all tourney.  The Warriors have the ability to keep up with that.  The starting groups will be very entertaining but expect the 2nd units to be the difference.  At 7:40 its the top Fury group with John Veil and Michael Gorder, but no Joe Hanel (injury) taking on WI Blizzard Schalow.  The Blizzard have a big man from upper Michigan, 6'8 Alex Almquist, that coaches will want to get a look at.  Also at 7:50, its WOTN I and their top Shakopee bigs, Tyler Weiss and Jake Maiers, taking on the top Dakota Schoolers team.  A down year for the top Schoolers 17s as they are 3-7 right now in the Sanford league.  At 8:50 its the top Select crew led by the guard duo of Ian Smith and Mo Lawal taking on E Metro Elite (a St. Paul Johnson group).

In Friday's pool play, Comets Lewis and Fury Davis take the 1st 2 pools.  MN Warriors are my pick in pool C over the top Schoolers team. ND Phenom vs Heat Frasier in the pool D opener at 9:10 AM should decide that pool.  Top Select team gets my vote in pool E.  Pool F with ECI Prospects, E Metro Elite and WI Blizzard gets consideration for toughest pool.  I still like ECI there.  In pool G, Heat Vang should advance.  Top Playmakers vs top WOTN at 1:50 PM to decide pool H.  Pool I has Marquette Catholic from Indiana (if I can read the pools right), Comets Servaty and the top MN Basketball Academy 16s.  Expect great balance in that pool as well.

Some very good games on the projections from the quarters all the way to the end.

Quarters
Comets Lewis over Warriors (championship level game)
Select over WOTN I
Heat Vang over MN Basketball Academy Brown
Fury Davis over ECI Prospects

Semis
Comets Lewis over Select
Fury Davis over Heat Vang

Final
Comets Lewis def Fury Davis

Players to watch
Ryan Bruggeman, Austin Poe, Clay Elrod - MN Comets Lewis
John Veil, Ngor Barnaba, Dennis Austin, Wheeler Baker, Jake Johnson- MN Fury Davis
Nick Machemehl - MN Comets Schmidt
Garrett Goetz, Jacob Schaefer - MN Warriors
Ryan Casperson, Ajuda Nywesh, Colin Fleming - MN Heat Frasier
Ian Smith, Mo Lawal, Stevie Hjelmberg - MN Select Ohnstad
Patrick Strom, Taylor Schaefer, Jim Warmack, Andrew Kozlowski - ECI Prospects
Alex Almquist - WI Blizzard
Tim Hanson, Geno Crandall - MN Heat Vang
Luke Zuiker, Dakota Oskey, Gaelin Elmore - WI Playmakers Peterson
Joey Witthus, Tommy Gathje, GT Johnson, Evan Nolan, Jacob Hansen - MN BB Academy Brown 16s

15U/16U
Some brief comments on the 15s and 16s.  MN D1 15s will play up in the 16s division.  Grassroots played them tough in St. Cloud in March.  Grassroots has to get through the top Fury team in a 10 PM pool game. Tough draw for MN Basketball Academy Witthus in that pool, but those Chanhassen 2015 kids are under appreciated.  See a kid like Ben Khwice (full disclosure, I coached him once upon a time) who came up and played varsity point at the end of the year.  How about Justin Dahl (Hoopmasters) and John Rumpza (S MN Elite) in a Friday morning showcase game at 10:20 AM.  Tough pool H in 16s with Hoopmasters (Holy Family kids), top Schoolers and top WOTN.   Comets vs D1 MN 15s in 1 semifinal and who ever wins that Grassroots vs top Fury game would be a pick to make the championship on the other side of the bracket.

In 15s have to like the top Comets vs Fury Altenhofen showcase game at 5:20 on Thursday afternoon.  Keep an eye on the top Schoolers team as well.  They've run the table so far in the Sanford league.  The bracket includes no fewer than 3 14U teams.

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