Welcome to Czar Season 7

Welcome to my 7th season in cyberspace.  We continue the Labor Day weekend tradition of flipping the links to the new season.  That means links for the 2013-2014 season are now available.  This includes fall schedules and signings amongst other things.  Those fall schedules and signings can also be found in the main header menu for easy access on mobile devices.  Links for the Timberwolves Shootout, Breakdown Tipoff Classic and other big events of the season will be added later.  All of the links for last season are now available in the Previous Seasons section. 

Some minor additions and clean up to the menus.  I've added 247 Sports to the Recruiting Links menu.  I've also added links for the Under Armour events and the Adidas Grassroots site to the Summer Hoops menu.  The Minnesota Hoops menu has links to the new section assignments and maps for the next 2 seasons.   The League Websites page will get an overhaul next year when 3 local leagues fold and 2 new ones come on board.

Links to the current recruiting calendars for D1 and D2 are updated in the Recruiting Links section.  The Rankings link has been updated to include the very latest national rankings from Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247 Sports for local players and I've maintained the links to the full Minnesota rankings for Northstar Hoops Report subscribers.  Those rankings go all the way out through the class of 2017.

The Best of AAU Bingo 2013

With the end of the 2013 AAU Season, comes the end of the 1st season of AAU Bingo.  It exploded into something far bigger than expected.  Even a Las Vegas newspaper writer got in on the fun and used the #AAUBingo hashtag during the big Las Vegas period at the end of the summer. 

Someone asked a great question during the season and that's "What makes a great AAU Bingo?"  So after pondering, here's are criteria I would use.
  • It has to be unique to AAU
  • It has to something that represents what is bad about the system but not something that happens all the time (e.g. parents or coaches being fools)
  • It helps if its funny
  • Photographic evidence takes it to another level.
So as an example, a parent yelling at scorekeeper isn't AAU Bingo worthy (too common).  Parent yells at scorekeeper and scorekeeper offers to be replaced and the parent does replace the scorekeeper, that's worthy.

So with that in mind, let's count down the best AAU Bingo tweets of the 2013 AAU season.

Honorable Mentions
  • Coaches packet with "Good" in the GPA column.  Another one with GED in the GPA column.
  • Referee badgers player during the game and then tries to recruit the player for his AAU team after the game.
  • Coach answers phone on the bench during a timeout from a person in front row of the same game.
  • Coach spends 3 minutes cleaning his Jordan's after they were stepped on in a timeout.
  • Coach gets tossed and then changes into his referee's uniform to work next game 3 courts over.
  • PA system announces a car needs to be moved and a head coach leaves his bench to go move it.
The Best AAU Bingo Tweets of 2013

#5) Coach with camera strapped to head
#4) Recliner at coach's entrance in Las Vegas
#3) Players playing cards on the bench (MN Fury tournament, Canadian team)
#2) Player with an ankle bracelet
#1) Planking referee

Las Vegas 2013

So after a week of hibernating from the long trip to Vegas (meant to put this up last week but had another road trip that delayed this), here are my notes.  This was my 3rd straight year making the trip to Las Vegas to follow our teams.  17 teams in the Super 64, 12 in the Fab 48 if my math is correct.  Too many to keep up on but here's some of the sights, sounds and tastes of my trip.

The Food
My initial thought was to do the buffet for lunch on day 1 (the one bit of free time that I have on the trip).  After looking at the long line, I decided to venture across the street to an Irish pub for lunch instead.  A simple portion of Shepherd's Pie, topped with cheddar cheese, definitely made for quality dining.   I did hit the buffet for breakfast the next morning.  Nothing to write home about as there was solid but not spectacular choices at the $9 buffet.  The line being very long with only 1 person seating people in a large seating area was not well-designed.  Credit for having a food court with a Fuddruckers, Subway, Sbarro and Baskin-Robbins.  I went with the Hawaiian option on night 1 at Sbarro and then Subway the rest of the time.  The Subway seemed to be out of every bread but plain old Italian is just fine by me.  Overall, I wouldn't recommend.  Super 64 headquarters was out of hot dogs on my 1 attempt so I didn't get to sample those.   Main site had $2 12oz cans of Pepsi which we all know is major price-gouging.  But only $1 at the outer sites, very strange.  Tough to be an addict.

The Gambling
First night was a mess.  Lost all of the allocated funds.  Very rusty as I didn't work on my game before hand (see players, this applies in real life too).  Night 2 I had a quick run right off the bat and after 15 minutes I was done.  I got back everything but the last hand from the night before.  Night 3 was a grind.  Couldn't get ahead or down much.  So after a standard length session, I took minimal gains and called it a night.  Still down a fraction overall but progress.  That progress appeared to be lost on the final night as my 1st table mirrored my 1st night disaster.  I switched tables and dug out the rest of the budget.  The dealer at this table was on such a roll that it cleared the table.  But I stuck it out and made a big run.  I got back above water for the entire trip and immediately got out.  So including all the tips and adult beverages, I still came out $10 ahead for the entire trip.  For 4 nights of gambling, that's a major plus and my best result in Vegas.

The Games
On opening night I ventured through the 100+ degree heat and out to Bishop Gorman for the showcase night at the Fab48.  My main intent was to see Rashad Vaughn and his handpicked Nothing But Net team.  He picked up Nick Anderson, Jerome Dixon and Sean Burns just to name a few.  The game almost didn't materialize as Vaughn's crew rolled in 5 minutes after scheduled tip.  They hung around against the Juice All-Stars who featured Gopher target Isaiah Whitehead.  Whitehead was terrific and he went head to head with Vaughn for the whole second half.  Vaughn ran out of gas in the last 5 minutes and Juice ran way for a 78-56 win.   Vaughn's squad would go 0-5 for the week.

A huge amount of talent on hand for opening night highlighted by an amazing game between Belmont Shore and Mo Williams Academy.  Top 10 2015's Stephen Zimmerman and Tyler Dorsey teaming up with 2014 top 15 star Daniel Hamilton for Belmont Shore to take on 2 of the best guards in the country for MWA (Emmanuel Mudiay and Malik Newman).  All 5 guys were terrific in Belmont Shore's 101-93 win.  Dorsey went for 35 and ended up picking up Duke and Kansas offers after the event.  Zimmerman was on his high school home court after playing with his regular DreamVision club earlier in the evening.  He showed a nasty windmill late in the game on a 3 on 0 break.

Chicago St. Rita will be playing in the TWolves Shootout next season.  They played under the Chicago Mustangs banner with 2015 star Charles Matthews who had John Calipari watching.  They also have Northwestern commit Vic Law, a top 150 kid who showed some nice dunks during the game.  Those 2 (amongst others ) will be fun to watch at the Shootout next January.

Thursday took me to the Super 64 for the rest of the weekend.  The D1 17s got a quality performance of 20 points from Ian Theisen  to beat MBA Hoops 77-69 (wasn't that close, D1 was up 22 in the 2nd half).   Then it was down the road to Eldorado to see the MN Warriors.  Main highlight here was seeing a recliner next to the college coaches check-in table.  This game was a good one vs the OC Pride.  Eric Weimar with a late jumper to give the Warriors the lead.  Warriors hang on 66-59 with Jacob Schaefer leading with 23.  Biggest lesson here, never do a 5 PM Vegas game that's not at headquarters.  Air conditioning doesn't kick in until 7 and the gym was an oven.  For a $700 entry fee, you think we could do better.  Back to headquarters for a pair of sharpshooting stock raisers.  JP Macura vs Bryant McIntosh of Eric Gordon.   D1 would rally late and have a chance to tie down 3 late.  No good look and McIntosh would finish it with 2 free throws.  EG10 wins 60-55.  Both shooting guards almost invisible.  Macura ends with 13 but most of those were late.  McIntosh held to 4 with 2 of those being the late free throws.

Then across the field at Super 64 headquarters to catch the Fury Anderson 17s take on FBC Perris.  After a great discussion on German chocolate cake at the concession stand , this one got out of hand quickly.  Nick Shanks goes for 30 as Fury rolls 87-60.  Interesting note for the officials camp portion of the event.  One of our locals actually worked the 2nd half of the Fury game.  Compared to most he did a fine job (even with my incorrect yelling at him) but that's a bad spot for the Super 64 to not do their homework and have him work the game.  Just the appearance of that looks bad.

Friday switches my schedule to the 16s.  The D1 16s start the day and open up a 17 point lead .  They defeat Eric Gordon 77-62.  Henry Ellenson with a quiet game but after a pair of technical free throws, he scores and what looked like a shaky 9 point lead became a 16 point lead.   We'll stay at headquarters for the top Fury 17s on the main stage again vs a Dallas team, this time its Urban DFW (best known for their fight last year).  Wheeler Baker's hot shooting gave Fury a 10 point halftime lead.  Fury would see their lead cut to 3 but a clutch Baker 3 would help Fury hang on for a 69-61 win.  After an afternoon siesta its off to Del Sol for back to back 16s.

We start with Fury Johnson taking on Idaho Select (who had knocked off the Comets to prevent an all MN matchup).  Fury dug an early 10 point hole and never recovered.  Kalei Smith with a nasty dunk for Idaho late in the 1st half.  That was one of my highlights for the weekend.  Fury never puts the game in danger and they were eliminated 67-51.  Bryndan Matthews with 13 points and I really like his game and upside.  Then MN Basketball Academy took on Elite Nation and 6'9 star Trevor Manuel (top 50 kid nationally).  Manuel with some flashes in the 1st half but 6 bombs give tMBA a 30-27 halftime lead.  Manuel didn't start the 2nd half but he would make an impact swatting away a couple of sure layups and an open 3.  His free throw with 4:52 left tied the game at 44.  But tMBA would go on a 13-0 run.  Jacob Hansen with a dagger 3 off an offensive rebound after 2 Joey Witthus bombs.  Witthus and Evan Nolan go for 16 each as tMBA wins 63-50.

Final day started off on a sour note as I ended up getting in the gym at halftime for the D1 MN 17s vs WI Playground Warriors round of 32 game.  Some good high pick and roll action with a shooter replacing the roll man for the WI Playground Warriors gave D1 fits.  D1 was up 12 in the 2nd half before the Playground Warriors would come back and tie it.  D1 would hold on to win 47-43.  JP Macura sat the last 12 minutes or so after an offensive foul. 

Great to run into former Heat coach Mike Lesewski between sessions.  After yapping with him to pass time between sessions, its across the field again to see D1 take on Kevon Looney and the Milwaukee Runnin Rebels.  Tiny guard Demontrae Jefferson makes the Rebels go and his getting out on the break was too much to handle.  D1 hung around and a big 2nd half from JP Macura was a major reason why (he was quiet in the rest of the 4 D1 games I saw).  D1 was down 15 in the 2nd half and came all the way back to tie it with 6 minutes left.  Jefferson 2 big 3s late and D1 would fall 84-80.  The Rebels would go on to lose in the title game. 

I ended my trip back at Del Sol with the D1 16s taking on New Heights.  D1 would open up a 13 point lead in the 1st half thanks to hot shooting from Carter Asche.  New Heights would cut that to 6 at half and tie the game.  4 minutes left and D1 decided to hold against the zone.  New Heights fans get all rowdy about it and the D1 fans cheer to add to the humor of the event.  Henry Ellenson would get a chance at the buzzer that was no good.  D1 would turn it over late in the 2nd OT but get a stop to force a 3rd OT.  2 late turnovers would kill D1s final chances and they fall 60-56 in 3OT.  Marshawn Wilson 13 points, Henry Ellenson 11.

Minnesota teams represent well in Vegas.  The MN Warriors would win the 17U Silver division championship with Garrett Goetz named MVP.   Fury Wilde with a nice run in the 15U Gold bracket.  Fun to take Wednesday night and then the afternoon sessions Thursday and Friday to see some of the national level teams and their talent.  Seeing top players like Eron Gordon (NBA Eric Gordon's brother), Kaleb Joseph, Goodluck Okobonoh etc make it all a blast for a hoops junkie.