2013-14 South Suburban Preview

This is the 8th preview in my 2013-14 Season Preview Series.  In this preview, a look at the South Suburban Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Apple Valley Eagles (2012-13 season 31-1, 18-0 Conference, 1st, State Champions)
The nation's top point guard Tyus Jones returns for his 5th season.  He led the Eagles to a state championship last year avenging their only loss to Park Center in the state title game.  Dennis Austin is a matchup nightmare who can play the 1, 3 or 4.  Soph Brock Bertram returns to anchor the middle.  Shooter Dustin Fronk and 16 a night will be missed but Robert Tobroxen should step right into that role.  The program will be a favorite to win state again and is ridiculously loaded with youngsters for the future too.

Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (2012-13 season 10-17, 5-13 Conference, Tied 7th)
Coach Jeff Evens is more exciting to watch with his 8th grade team.  That said he has forward Tommy Gathje returning.  Gathje is a highly underrated passer at 6'6-6'7 and can step outside and play.  Matt Rosen also returns to the starting lineup at 8+ per game.  Reserves Kyle Lynch and Brian Mariska also return to the rotation.

Bloomington Kennedy Eagles (2012-13 season 9-18, 6-12 Conference, 6th)
First task for Kennedy is finding a new coach.  Reggie Perkins stayed 1 year and just left to return to Washburn as the AD.  Leading scorer Jumah'ri Turner is gone but 3 good pieces are back.  DJ Davis averaged 14 a night and is a lockdown caliber defender on the wing.  Connell Lewis Jr is a guard who saw time.  Travon Hearns will manage the interior.   Robert Parker provides more guard depth.

Burnsville Blaze (2012-13 season 3-23, 2-16 Conference, 10th)
After a very rough couple of season, the Blaze have their top 5 scorers back.  That includes 15+ a night from Zach Smith.  Juniors Jake Ruffing, Joe Morris and Brett Shepley all return to the lineup.

Eagan Wildcats (2012-13 season 16-9, 12-6 Conference, 4th)
Eagan featured a big lineup last year and will have to replace double digit scoring from Ryan Johnson and the strength of forward Mark Woodcock.  Forward Michael Gorder comes back after averaging 21+ per night last year.  He's unorthodox but very effective.  Forward GT Johnson plays multiple roles handling the ball or scoring.  Guard Jack Kelm returns to the rotation.  Guards Bryndan Matthews and Chase Sieberlich both had nice summers and should move up and contribute.

Eastview Lightning (2012-13 season 15-12, 10-8 Conference, 5th)
Former girls coach Paul Goetz takes over the Lightning program.  He took the girls to 4 state tournaments and won 5 league titles in 14 years.  Like predecessor Mark Gerber, expect him to run some of the best sets around.  His son Garrett plays at Rosemount.  Post Ben Oberfeld is off to Bucknell.  There are a pair of shooters to work with in Mark Dwyer and Drew Guebert.  Obi Ibeneme is an athletic wing.  Jordan Machacek is a long lean 6'11 body who could minutes in the middle.

Lakeville North Panthers (2012-13 season 23-7, 14-4 Conference, 2nd)
A great year for the Panthers last year after losing most of the roster.  Now they're poised for another state run behind Xavier signee JP Macura.  Macura is one of the elite shooters and scorers in the state.  His play this summer vaulted him into the top 100 in many national rankings.  After his 25 a night, a pair of guards who averaged double figures depart.  But junior Connor Flack and center Bronson Bruneau are 2 more options returning to the lineup.

Lakeville South Cougars (2012-13 season 10-18, 5-13 Conference, Tied 7th)
The Cougars lose leading scorer Corey Larson who was an athletic front court piece.  They lose 2 more top scorers with size as well.  But there is still very good talent left over.  Frosh Jack Sorenson will run the point once he returns from a shoulder injury.  Junior forward Brenon Larson-Gulsvig made a big jump onto the scene last year and can give them plenty of scoring punch.  Luke Iverson and Cody Kairis provide more guard depth.

Prior Lake Lakers (2012-13 season 19-8, 13-5 Conference, 3rd)
Former St. Thomas Academy head man Dan Rubischko takes over as Alex Focke has moved on to Hamline.  Their 2 huge centers Carson Shanks and Jeff Probert are off to Utah State and Northern State.  Point guard Jon Sobaski returns for a 4th year running the point and is their engine.   Junior Connor Bair will step in on the front line.  Kevin McKiernan will fill a guard spot.

Rosemount Irish (2012-12 season 9-20, 5-13 Conference, Tied 7th)
Rosemount returns a solid guard duo of Garrett Goetz at the point and shooter Cole Northwick.  They combined for 28 points a night last year.  Juniors Logan Halvorsen, Jack Kessler and Kyle Kaupa all saw major rotation minutes last year.  They aren't the most physical team but they can put a hurting on your from the 3 point line.
 
Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Apple Valley
  2. Lakeville North   
  3. Eagan
  4. Rosemount   
  5. Prior Lake   
  6. Lakeville South
  7. Eastview
  8. Bloomington Kennedy  
  9. Bloomington Jefferson 
  10. Burnsville
Conference Overview:
The top 3 are pretty straight forward here I think.  The top 2 should be heavy favorites to return to state.  Eagan has talent left over and a very talented crop to add to it.  Rosemount has their rotation coming back.  There's not a clear bottom feeder here but Kennedy's coaching situation, Jefferson's scoring struggles and recent Burnsville history compel me to put them at the end of the list.

Conference MVP: Tyus Jones - Apple Valley

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Brock Bertram, Gary Trent Jr, Cameron Kirksey, Jordan Bolton,  Tre Jones - Apple Valley
  • Jack Sorenson - Lakeville South
  • Drew Stewart - Lakeville North
Conference Games to Watch
  • Lakeville North at Eagan - Jan 3rd
  • Apple Valley at Eagan- Jan 7th
  • Lakeville North at Apple Valley - Jan 14th
  • Eagan at Apple Valley - Feb 3rd
  • Eagan at Lakeville North - Feb 7th
  • Apple Valley at Lakeville North - Feb 18th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Minnetonka at Apple Valley - Nov 30th
  • Lakeville North at Eden Prairie - Dec 5th
  • Apple Valley vs De La Salle - Dec 7th (Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Apple Valley at Hopkins - Dec 10th 
  • Lakeville North at Farmington - Dec 10th
  • Chicago Whitney Young at Apple Valley - Dec 12th (ESPN)
  • Lakeville North vs Hopkins - Dec 14th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • Apple Valley vs Roseville - Dec 27th (Granite City Classic at St. Cloud Apollo)
  • Eagan at Bethel Tournament - Dec 27th and 28th
  • Lakeville North at Lakeville Rotary Tournament - Dec 27th and 28th
  • Lakeville North vs Stevens Point (WI) - Jan 25th (Border Battle at Kaukauna, WI)

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