2013-14 Classic Suburban Preview

Its that time as I begin my 7th annual season preview series.  We'll go through the metro area conferences in (generally) alphabetical order followed by a look at the metro area sections.  So as is tradition here, we'll start with the Classic Suburban.  For a list of all the season previews and an explanation of how the previews are generated, click here.

Henry Sibley Warriors (2012-13 season 18-10, 11-5 Conference, Tie 2nd)
Sibley suffers big losses with 5 valuable seniors graduating.  That includes top 2 scores Adam Huessner and Zach Haas.  Mark Pumper is the top returnee and will man the middle.  He averaged 9 points a game last season.  Javon Daniels and Kevin Kolstad also return from last year's rotation.

Hill-Murray Pioneers (2012-13 season 16-11, 11-5 Conference, Tie 2nd)
Coach Dick Ghizoni will have to replace his entire starting 5.  But the Pioneers will get scoring machine Marshawn Wilson off the JV roster (transfer last season) and that is a huge addition.  Eric Weimar returns to the backcourt as the 2nd leading scorer from last season.  Alex Ogren and Neal Letourneau should man the front line.

Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2012-13 season 21-7, 11-5 Conference, Tie 2nd)
The Zephyrs will have to replace the dynamic scoring duo of Zach Lindquist and Nuni Omot.  They combined for 35 a night while no other player was over 7 per night.  They were also the top 2 rebounders.  Only 1 starter returns, that's sophomore Lucas Buller who's the leading returning scorer at 6.7 per night.  But Mahtomedi will still be very solid.  The guards are experienced with seniors Jackson Hull and Colin Baumgard and juniors Sam Newman and Sam Mustar coming back.  Junior center Sean Hjelle missed time last year due to injury but will see plenty of time in the middle this season.

North Polars (2012-13 season 3-24, 2-14 Conference, 8th)
The Polars return their leading scorer junior Jake Steckler at 1 guard spot.  Senior Joe Messerole returns in the middle.  Guard Jon Hjelgren returns at another guard spot with Jake McDonough providing depth.   Besides Messerole not a ton of size. 

Richfield Spartans (2012-13 season 16-12, 10-6 Conference, 5th)
Richfield has to replace one of the league's top players Deshawn Jones and his 23 points per game.  The Spartans will be tiny with a bunch of small speedy guards and very little size on the roster with only 1 player from last year's roster over 6'2".  Senior guard Louis Williams is the top returning scorer at 13 points a night.  Sophomore guard Patrick Dembley saw lots of time last season and will be a valuable piece this season.  Expect coach Omar McMillan to use the same frenetic style he's utilized in past years.

St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2012-13 season 11-17, 9-7 Conference, 6th)
Coach Dan Rubishko only made it 1 year before new coach Mike Sjoberg reclaimed his job.  Very strange situation there to say the least.  The cupboard is not bare with 3 of the top 4 scorers returning.  Jalen Patterson returns as a scoring wing.  Ben Fiers and Nick Griffin are solid shooters.  The Cadets need to address what they'll do to replace Nick Waldvogel at the point.  The loss of Harrison Patt costs them their one post presence.  The junior class is talented with players like Kai Endahl, Jake Wright and Ryan Jacobsen.

Simley Spartans (2012-13 season 12-15, 4-12 Conference, 7th)
Simley loses 2 of the top 3 scorers from last season in guard Verneal Baxter and forward Zach Gullerud.  That's 23 points a night to be replace.  Plenty of guard play returns with Sam Stensgard at 15.2 a night, Jack Stensgard and Ben Sheffley.  All 3 can shoot it.  Mark Della Vedova will man the middle.   Junior Alex Anderson also should see time on the front line.

South St. Paul Packers (2012-13 season 2-25, 0-16 Conference, 9th)
The good news is that the Packers doubled their win total last season.  The bad news is that the Packers enter the final season of Classic Suburban play on a 52 game conference losing streak.  In the last 9 years of Classic Suburban play, they have a record of 3-141. Leading scorer Ontario Jackson returns.  He was their only double figure scorer and had a 37 point outburst late last season against North St. Paul.

Tartan Titans (2012-13 season 22-5, 14-2 Conference, 1st)
Tartan coach Mark Klingsporn has another season where he'll just reload.  5 of the top 6 scorers depart but plenty of talent still remains.  Brody Jackson and his 12 points a night return to man the interior.  Tommy Hanson is a solid forward who will see his role increase this season.  Freshmen Jordan Horn and Emmanuel Humphrey are expected to be significant factors.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Tartan
  2. Hill-Murray  
  3. Mahtomedi
  4. St. Thomas Academy 
  5. Richfield   
  6. Henry Sibley
  7. Simley
  8. North 
  9. South St. Paul
Conference Overview
Its the final year of the Classic Suburban.  Next season Richfield leaves for the new Metro West Conference.  The remaining members didn't want St. Thomas Academy so they've formed their own new league for next year.  That league will be called the Metro East Conference and will include the 7 remaining members and Hastings.  St. Thomas Academy is still in the process of being placed in a conference by the MSHSL.  I expect them to replace Hastings in the Suburban East.  The other possibility is that they get put right back in the Metro East (which I would find hilarious) and then the league would likely add Park of Cottage Grove to round out at 10 members.

As to this season, plenty of critical losses throughout the league.  The bottom half looks weak as I think Sibley will be way down.  Richfield will be down but have quickness.  North and South St. Paul I expect to struggle again.  Simley has some pieces back and did have some positive results late in the year.  But considering the bad history in this program, I have a hard time moving them up any further.  St. Thomas Academy and Mahtomedi should battle for the 3 and 4 spots and can contend with Hill-Murray.  But they won't be a cakewalk for the top 3.  Tartan still the pick with too many pieces.  I expect Marshawn Wilson to have a huge year for Hill-Murray.

Conference MVP: Marshawn Wilson - Hill-Murray

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Chris Moore - Hill-Murray
  • Lucas Buller - Mahtomedi
  • Thomas Acquoi - North St. Paul 
  • Nate Chaffee- St. Thomas Academy
  • Jack Stensgard - Simley
  • Nate Totino - South St. Paul
  • Jordan Horn, Emmanuel Humphrey - Tartan
Conference Games to Watch
  • Tartan at Mahtomedi - Dec 20th
  • Hill-Murray at Tartan - Jan 7th
  • Hill-Murray at Mahtomedi - Jan 10th
  • Mahtomedi at Tartan - Jan 31st
  • Tartan at Hill-Murray - Feb 4th
  • Mahtomedi at Hill-Murray - Feb 7th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • East Ridge at Mahtomedi - Nov 26th
  • St. Paul Central at Hill-Murray - Dec 3rd
  • Stillwater at Mahtomedi - Dec 6th
  • Hill-Murray at Washburn - Dec 13th
  • Tartan vs Rice Lake (WI) - Dec 14th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)