2013-14 Northwest Suburban Preview

This is the 6th preview in my 2013-2014 season preview series.  In this a preview, a look at the Northwest Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Andover Huskies (2012-13 season 10-20, 6-14 Conference, 8th)
Assistant Matt Aune takes over the Huskies after head coach Nick Tibesar took the Wayzata job.  Kyle Kettler and Jake McNallen give Andover an experienced backcourt.  Leading scoring Connor Wilkie put up 19 a night and is a major football recruit.  Junior Zach Swanson also returns to the rotation.

Anoka Tornadoes (2012-13 season 3-23, 2-18 Conference, 10th)
The Tornadoes will have their 3rd head coach in 3 years as Ryan Thom takes over.  Their only double figure scorer Malcolm Seals graduates from the point guard spot.  Travis Bengston and Stephen Barthold return to the rotation.  Barthold is the leading returning scorer.  JP Grow returns to provide size.  They also lose soph foward Austin Slater who transferred to Wayzata.  He would have been a major contributor this season.

Blaine Bengals (2012-13 season 7-20, 5-15 Conference, 9th)
Leading scorer Matt Barthels returns along with inside presence Jason Travis.  Soph guard Kyle Cappard and junior forward Andy Leo figure to move up and contribute.  They've lost 17 of 19 and 8 in a row coming into the season.

Centennial Cougars (2012-13 season 13-15, 8-12 Conference, 7th)
All 3 double figure scorers are gone and from 3 important positions, center, guard and wing.  7 members of the rotation are gone.  This is for a group that had higher expectations than their results last season.  Soph Tyler Peterson returns at a guard spot.  Forward Kevin Grow is a lanky and versatile forward that's a great fit for their Read and React offense.   Clayton Byrd will also return.

Champlin Park Rebels (2012-13 season 19-8, 13-7 Conference, Tied 3rd)
The Rebels should be one of the top teams in the league once again.  The backcourt is loaded with Northern State commit Ian Smith at the point and JT Gibson as a scorer.  Forward Brennan Witt provides the inside punch.  Those are the top 3 scorers from last year.  Trevor Garrison's defense will be missed on the wing.   Matt Juneau, Marty Hill and Josh Jensen all provide depth.  The incoming freshman class is stacked.

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2012-13 season 0-27, 0-20 Conference, 11th)
Mike Ogorek comes over from Blaine to take over the program.  His intensity will be much needed to resurrect the program.  They've lost 28 straight and 43 of their last 46.  The top 5 scorers return from last year but none averaged double figures.

Elk River Elks (2012-13 season 20-9, 13-7 Conference, Tied 3rd)
Leading scorer Porter Morrell and 18 a night at the guard spot will need to be replaced.  But the Elks return 4 year veteran Clay Elrod at a forward spot with almost 17 points a night.  His high arcing jumpshot inspires memories of former TWolves player Tom Gugliotta.  The next 3 scorers are gone.  But coach Randy Klasen figures to plug in juniors Zach Ernst and Mitchell Weege to man the guard spots and provide some scoring punch.

Maple Grove Crimson (2012-13 season 16-10, 13-7 Conference, Tied 3rd)
The Crimson have to replace all 5 starters  Like Centennial, they lose a scoring wing, point guard and center.  Matt Lindgren and Jake Sterling saw rotation time last year and return.  Reed Nikko is one of the top sophomores in the state and should help fill in the inside gap.  This is another program in the league with a loaded incoming freshman class. Shooting guard Elliot Kane was likely to see time this year but he's now at Osseo.

Osseo Orioles (2012-13 season 25-4, 18-2 Conference, 2nd)
The Orioles return the top big man in the league in South Dakota State commit Ian Theisen who averaged 17+ and almost 10 boards a night.  Scorer deluxe Wheeler Baker returns on the wing.  The toughness and leadership of Bridge Tusler (along with 15 a night) will be sorely missed.  But as is the case at Osseo they figure out a way and this year its Holy Angels transfer Jordan Dembley comes over to run the point.   Role player Matt Miedtke returns to the starting lineup.  They have a brutal 3 day stretch in December where they host Buffalo, go to Champlin Park and then play DeLaSalle.

Park Center Pirates (2012-13 season 28-4, 19-1 Conference, 1st)
The Pirates built for last year and made a run to the state championship game and took the conference title from rival Osseo.  4 starters are gone along with 2 bench players.  That includes North Dakota signee Quinton Hooker.  His leadership will be greatly missed.  5 of the top scorers leaving amounts to 66 points a night that needs to be replaced.  Isaiah McKay is back on the wing after almost averaging double digits.  Issac Matthews returns to provide size.  There are talented guards available to step up including Amani Hooker, Arione Farrar, Xavier Pollard and Adam Buirge

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2012-13 season 19-9, 13-7 Conference, Tied 3rd)
The Falcons got an earlier start on this season when leading scorer Konner Goettsche blew out his knee midway through the year.  5 of the top 6 scorers have graduated but plenty of talent remains.  Shooter Evan Nolan returns on the wing.  Jerome Dixon provides athleticism and Ryan Casperson is a big body who can step out and shoot it.  Sean Burns is a long inside presence who can alter shots. 

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Osseo
  2. Champlin Park 
  3. Elk River   
  4. Robbinsdale Armstrong
  5. Park Center  
  6. Maple Grove 
  7. Centennial  
  8. Andover 
  9. Blaine   
  10. Coon Rapids  
  11. Anoka 
Conference Overview:
Bringing in Jordan Dembley was just the piece that Osseo needed.  That puts them in a class with Apple Valley and Hopkins as the top teams in class AAAA.  They're the clear favorite with Champlin Park clearly second.  The next 3 all had heavy losses but still have nice pieces to work with, throw them in a hat and shake.  Elk River gets the nod thanks to having the top player in the group, Clay Elrod.  Park Center's young guards are a handful and should step in and be productive.  Maple Grove and Centennial also have big losses but not as many returning pieces.  Andover will improve after their state tourney season.  They could jump into that group.  Blaine has an outside shot as that as well.  Anoka and Coon Rapids finish out the list and will struggle to find wins.  With Coon Rapids having pieces back and Anoka losing pieces, I'll give Coon Rapids the edge and pick them to break last year's winless season and jump out of the cellar.  With 3 new additions assigned for next year, that will bring the league to 14 teams.  Don't be shocked if there's some action during the year with teams looking around for alternatives.  Remember what happened to the Lake Conference when it was expanded to 14 teams, we ended up with the new South Suburban Conference.

Conference MVP: Ian Theisen - Osseo

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Theo John, McKinley Wright - Champlin Park
  • Brad Davison, Jack Hutchinson, Tywhon Pickford- Maple Grove
  • Kyle Cappard - Blaine
  • Tyler Peterson - Centennial
  • Reed Nikko - Maple Grove
  • Allen Anderson - Osseo
  • Amani Hooker, Xavier Pollard - Park Center
Conference Games to Watch
  • Osseo at Champlin Park - Dec 13th
  • Champlin Park at Osseo - Jan 30th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Champlin Park vs Hopkins - Nov 30th (projected Hopkins tournament final)
  • Osseo vs DeLaSalle - Dec 14th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka) 
  • Champlin Park vs Eden Prairie - Dec 14th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka) 
  • Osseo at Rochester Rotary Tourney (Dec 26-28th)
  • Hopkins at Osseo - Feb 11th

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have a different take than mine? You can provide your take here.