2013 D1 Summer Classic Review

The week was the annual D1 Minnesota Summer Classic.  Not the type of talent or level of coaches we've seen in the old days but plenty of interesting basketball none the less.  Here's what came to my attention.

Let's start with some of the funny.  Grassroots director and coach Brian Sandifer in camouflage shorts and tank top for the Thursday games.  Thankfully he had the huge white beach towel around his neck so we could see him (credit to Alex Focke for that line).  See also the Nations Elite pink uniforms with baby blue lettering.  Great for awareness.  Now I'm aware they should never be worn again.  Hoopmasters coach Greg Marshall gets a mention here for getting tossed from his game on court 1 and then leaving to go ref the next game on court 4.

Now I would have more comments about food here but both times I went for hot dogs there weren't any ready.  Boo Hoo!  Props to Tom Krosschell for keeping me healthy.  But there was a better menu at the pay window.  Tom's mom made some outstanding chocolate chip cookies (I tweeted a picture of them during the event if you want to see them).  Add in the always outstanding 24 oz Pepsi for a very reasonable $2 and there's no better way to wash it down.  So that means our song for the tournament is an obvious one.

Suzanne Vega - Tom's Diner (DNA remix)

An oversized number of blowouts punctuated by a 113-33 D1 MN blowout of WOTN in the 15U semifinals.  Amir Coffey injured with 3:19 left in that game (70 point lead at the time).  Thankfully the broken leg isn't more serious (6-8 weeks which means he'll be fine for the regular HS season).  But that's a serious loss for D1 MN in Vegas.

But don't talk about blowouts with the Minnesota Warriors.  They beat Fury Zurn on a 3 with 0.6 left.  Then vs M33M Red, they get fouled on a putback with no time remaining in a time game.  Nick Varner steps up and knocks down the 1st of 2 for a 66-65 win to win the pool.  The Warriors use up their luck before Vegas though.  Against the SW MN Stars in the 17U quarterfinals, they don't get a shot off in the final 30 seconds of regulation in a tie game.  The Stars end up winning in overtime before falling to Fury Anderson in the semis.  The Warriors struggled early in most of these games too.

Shake N Bake vs PrymeTyme in the 15U quarters with a very strange ending.  PrymeTyme up 1 with the ball and 20 seconds left.  They jack up a bad 3 and it goes in for a 4 point lead and that looks to be a dagger.  Shake N Bake to the line with 6 seconds left shooting 2.  After making the 1st, they take a timeout.  They intentionally miss the second.  They get the rebound and kick it out for a 3.  The shooter gets whacked with 3 seconds left and makes all 3 FTs to force OT.  PrymeTyme would hang on to win by 5 in the OT.

Players that left an impression in my mind (in no particular order)
  • Cordell Pemsl - Shake N Bake 15s (had Purdue watching him, Iowa has watched him during the HS season).  Skilled lefty big who showed off nice mobility, good passing skills, power in the post etc etc.
  • John Hatch - WI Starz Black 17s.  Not a name that I mentioned in my preview but liked his length and was very productive inside.
  • Cameron Kirksey - D1 MN 15s.  Very disruptive on the defensive end with his length.
  • Will Moreton - MN Fury Peterson 15s.  The Edina lefty was in the packet so he was a classic tournament mystery man.  He was knocking down 3s from all over the place in the 15U quarterfinals vs D1.  They kept Fury close and they ended losing but only 66-58 thanks to that shooting.
  • Ian Theisen - D1 MN 17s.  Very productive inside and was snatching rebounds.  He was a major factor in D1s title run and produced when need.  Showed his outside range as well.
  • Marshawn Wilson - D1 MN 16s.  First step is absolutely explosive.  MN Basketball Academy had no answer for him off the bounce in the 16U title game.
  • Brock Bertram - D1 MN 15s.  Finished everything inside when he got his hands on it.  Showed a couple of flashes of running the floor and finishing in transition too.  His size is very difficult to deal with at that age level
  • Jack Roou - WI Playmakers 15s.  I knew about his sharpshooting teammate Logan Rohrscheib coming in but Roou showed he can fill it up too.  That will be a fun backcourt to keep tabs on for the Playmakers.

    Full Disclosure, the next 2 players mentioned here are kids I coached 2 years ago.
  • Ben Khwice - MN Basketball Academy Witthus.  A classic defend and pass first point guard who took care of the ball and with a couple of big 3s in the 1st half kept tMBA close against the powerhouse D1 16s.  Much to D1's frustration I might add as their 3/4 1-2-2 trap produced nothing.  Plenty of others on the Chan roster (e.g Witthus) get the attention, but for that age group he's been the engine making it go.
  • Ryan Jacobsen - Heat Bui.  Had a great sequence of a couple of assists driving to the bucket, a blocked shot and then a run out for a layup.  Has been very productive all spring and showed it again this weekend.  As a transfer, he had to sit out at St. Thomas Academy last year.  Could have a breakout season for the Cadets.

Notable Head Coaches Attending
Bo Ryan-Wisconsin
Bruce Weber - Kansas State
Fred Hoiberg - Iowa State
Buzz Williams - Marquette
Tom Crean - Indiana
Greg McDermott - Creighton
Richard Pitino - Minnesota

(Note: No AAU Bingo square for Tubby Smith, only his assistant Joe Esposito made an appearance)

Xavier, Denver, Ohio, Western Carolina, Bucknell, NDSU, North Dakota, South Dakota State, much of the NSIC just a few of the other schools in attendance.  You can mark your AAU Bingo cards for The Coolest Guy in the UMAC making an appearance as well.

17U bracket results
M33M def Nebraska Select
IA PNR Black def WI Playmakers Schieve
WI Starz Black def Fury Zurn
SW MN Stars def John Baylor Test Prep
Fury Anderson def WOTN 69-40 in a game I thought would be much closer
Nations Elite def WI Playmakers LAX

D1 MN def M33M Elite
WI Starz Black def IA PNR Black
SW MN Stars def MN Warriors
Fury Anderson def Nations Elite

D1 MN def WI Starz Black
Fury Anderson def SW MN Stars

D1 MN def Fury Anderson

16U bracket results
Southern MN Elite def Illinois Icemen
Nebraska Select def WI Starz Black

Round of 16
D1 MN def Southern MN Elite
Phenom West def Heat Bui
Heat Calistro def Comets Phillips
SW MN Stars def GetShook
MN BB Academy Brown def Nebraska Select
Grassroots def MN BB Academy Tlougan
Fury Ramey def MN BB Academy Witthus
WOTN def Old Gold

D1 MN def Phenom West
Heat Calistro def SW MN Stars
MN BB Academy Brown def Grassroots
Fury Ramey def WOTN
D1 MN def Heat Calistro
MN BB Academy Brown def Fury Ramey

D1 MN def MN BB Academy Brown

15U bracket results
Fury Peterson def WI Playmakers
WOTN def Heat Duberry
SW MN Stars def Heat Schwartz
Fury Altenhofen def Nebraska Select Huskers
Shake N Bake def MN Swish (came from 15 down in 2nd half)
Pryme Tyme def Nebraska Select

D1 MN def Fury Peterson
WOTN def SW MN Stars
Fury Altenhofen def The Academy (Can)
PrymeTyme def Shake N Bake

D1 MN def WOTN
Fury Altenhofen def PrymeTyme

D1 MN def Fury Altenhofen

Sanford Pentagon Tournament Series inside look

One of the new elements of this 2013 AAU season was the Sanford Pentagon Tournament Series (SPTS).  With favorable reviews by the league members, I decided to take a deeper look into the league.  I had the opportunity to talk to league director Paul Seville to get some inside background on the league.

The Basics
The intent of the league was along the lines of the Nike EYBL.  EYBL member Howard Pulley and previous member All Iowa Attack had started discussions about having a league of teams from the upper midwest.  The Schoolers then ended up in the discussions.  After the possibility of 2 leagues, eventually the league ended up with 17 members.  3 teams backed out and gave the league its current 14 team membership.  Half of the teams are Minnesota based with other members from Iowa, both Dakotas and Wisconsin.  That includes top teams from Select, Heat, Comets, EOTO and Fury which explains why those teams haven't been as visible locally as they have been in past years.  The schedule is a round robin against all 13 teams with the top 8 advancing to the championship bracket.  The 1st 5 games were played at All Iowa Attack in the April open period. MN Select hosted the 2nd round of the event at their local tournament in May.  The Dakota Schoolers are hosting the final week and championships this weekend in the Sioux Falls area.

The Benefits
There were very interesting points made about the benefits of the league
  • Eliminating duplication of opponents.  All of these Minnesota teams would see each other a ton, 2 Comets events, state tournament, Kings of the Court, Jayhawk, at least 1 of the D1 Minnesota tournaments.   Now many of those duplicate games are eliminated.  Playing a team twice in a season is enough, more than that gets old for the kids and coaches.
  • A place to take all your teams.  One of the focuses of the league was to get organizations that had teams at all levels. As opposed to the EYBL which only has Howard Pulley's top team, an organization can have their top 15s, 16s and 17s all in the league.  Makes a director's life far easier for scheduling.
  • Along those same lines, these organizations were able to take their 2nd teams and play against 2nd teams.  Ditto that for 3rd teams.  This means you have teams playing like competition many weeks rather than being stuck in a pool week after week with a top team and not having success.
  • Similar to the point above and to the EYBL, you have teams with reasonably similar talent participating.  That makes for mostly competitive games week in and week out.  That's more enjoyable and more valuable to all the teams involved.  Its the old argument of quality vs quantity.  Better to play fewer games and have them all be quality then a bunch of blowout games from the standard pool play format of most tournaments.
  • One of things Nike talked about with the EYBL was the importance of every game and how big it was to win.  The same is true here as each game goes on the standings.  However, a very interesting point was that not having that bracket game and loss made a loss in a league game far more manageable.  Losing didn't mean losing a tournament, you had more league games to make it up.   Keeps parents happy when you're going home not "losing" a tournament.
  • Costs - Sanford covered the entry fee for all the teams.  Tournament expenses are a large chunk of the AAU budget and when it covers that much of a team's schedule, that's a huge benefit.  
  • The Sanford Pentagon.  For those not aware, Sanford is building a brand new basketball palace known as the Sanford Pentagon.  That will open this fall and host the league championships in future years.  The championships on a D1 college level court make it something for all the players to strive for.
This Weekend
This weekend wraps up the first season of the league.  The teams will play their final 3 games of the round-robin schedule.  The top 8 teams will then advance to the championship bracket.  The Minnesota Comets Lewis 17s and the Dakota Schoolers Vincent 15s have run the table thus far in league play.  But once bracket play starts anything can happen.    The pressure on those teams that did well in the regular season schedule will be a major factor to watch.  As always, it will come down to matchups as well.  All of the NSIC, the 4 D1 Dakota schools and Northern Iowa all expected to attend.  A crew of 10-20 D1 schools are expected to attend.

2013 D1 Summer Classic Preview

Its annual Summer Classic at Bloomington Jefferson.  This year a few games at Kennedy but the middle court in the Jefferson Activity Center is the place to be.  Pool play Thursday and Friday.  Opening rounds of bracket play on Saturday.  Semifinals and Championships on Sunday.  Here's what I'll be watching.

Most of pool C will make for up and down action.  Grassroots (playing as Nations Elite) vs TVA at 9 PM Friday night could decide that pool.  MN Phenom will have something to say about that.  They open with Grassroots at 3:10 Thursday afternoon and then have TVA at 6:30 Thursday.  The 2nd WI Playmakers squad is also in that pool.  SW MN Stars and the top WI Starz team will go at it in pool D.  That game is also at 9 PM Friday night.  WOTN has a tough draw with traditionally solid M33M Elite in their pool at 10:45 on Friday morning.  Fury Anderson and Nebraska Select will meet at 6:45 PM on Friday in a game that could decide pool F.  D1 Minnesota tops pool A in their only local appearance of the season.  Shooting guard JP Macura has had a big spring earning him many high major offers including Minnesota and Purdue in the last week.  The MN Warriors are another tourney favorite in pool B.  Those 2 pool winners will receive byes in the championship bracket.

High Profile Players to Watch
JP Macura - D1 Minnesota 17s
Henry Ellenson - D1 Minnesota 16s
Amir Coffey - D1 Minnesota 15s

Other names of note in 17U
Delshawn Strickland, Ian Theisen- D1 Minnesota 17s
Carter Kirk, Mitch Pfingsten - SW MN Stars
Jacob Schaefer, Garrett Goetz - MN Warriors
Noble Fahnbulleh, TC Robinson, Charlie Koontz - Fury Anderson
Tyler Weiss - WOTN
Jerry Ngobi, Isaiah Shell. Craig Evans - WI Starz Black
Chike Ukah - Iowa Pump N Run Black

My pool picks are D1 MN, MN Warriors, Grassroots, SW MN Stars, Fury Anderson and M33M Elite.  No pick in a wide open pool E.

In 16U, a possible championship between Minnesota Basketball Academy Brown and D1 Minnesota is on the schedule.  That would be one of the MN AAU games of the year if it comes to pass.  tMBA coming off a championship at the NY2LA event last week.  Joey Witthus with a big week in that tourney.  A pool game that will be off the radar is Fury Ramey vs John Rumpza and Southern MN Elite.  That's 4:30 Friday at Kennedy.  Same time at Jefferson also has a sleeper game between Heat Calistro and Nebraska Select.  Thursday at 4:15 features Grassroots taking on the Holy Family based Hoopmasters squad.  Big Justin Dahl will be on display in that one but that's a tough matchup with a pressing trapping run up and down Grassroots team.   A very interesting matchup between MN Phenom West and Team GetShook in pool I also at 4:15 Thursday.  Lots of west metro kids familiar with each other in that one.  Sean Burns and Jerome Dixon from Armstrong leading the Phenom West squad.

2013 Summer Hit the Road

We're past the 4th of July and its time for the annual July road show.  The next 3 Wed-Sun periods (5 PM - 5 PM) are open periods for the D1 coaches to come out and watch.  Here's where our Minnesota teams can be found during this 1st open period.

NY2LA Next Level Invitational (Milwaukee)
Net Gain
Fury Davis
Fury Zurn
Fury Anderson
Comets Lewis
Comets Servaty
Comets Schmidt
E1T1 Red
E1T1 Black
MN Warriors
MN Suns
Select Ohnstad
Select Ellis
SW MN Stars

Magic Blue
Comets Stanfield
Fury Johnson
Fury Ramey
MN Select
SW MN Stars
MN BB Academy Brown
MN BB Academy Tlougan

Net Gain
Fury Wilde
Fury Peterson
Fury Altenhofen
MN Suns Wilson
MN Select
Heat Biwan

Adidas Invitational (Indianapolis) 
MN Glory
MN Phenom
Heat Vang

MN Glory
Heat Bui
MN Phenom West
Team GetShook


Midwest Summer Slam (Ames, IA)
Howard Pulley White 17s
Howard Pulley 16s
Howard Pulley both 15s
Heat Wiley and Hopkins (17u)
Heat Calistro, Schmumann and McKee (16s)
Heat Duberry and Schwartz (15U)

The Rest
Nike Peach Jam
Howard Pulley Blue 17s

Hoosier Shootout  (Indianapolis)
Phenom East 16s

Mullen's High Profile Tournament (St. Louis)
MN Cyclones

There are also teams in Wisconsin Dells (43 Hoops?)