2013-14 Tri-Metro Preview

This is the 11th preview in my 2013-2014 season preview series.  To begin week 3, a look at the Tri-Metro Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Blake Bears (2012-13 season 22-8, 9-1 Conference, 2nd)
Blake loses their inside presence Blaine Crawford and his team leading 16+ points per night.  5 year wing Kebu Johnson also departs.  Forward JR Bascom and point guard John Veil remain and give the Bears almost 30 per night.  Both are D3 committed and steals for their programs (Bascom to a school in Connecticut, Veil to St. Thomas).  Guards John Augustine and John Curran return to the rotation.  The other post Alex Smith also graduates leaving the Bears to search for size.

Breck Mustangs (2012-13 season 19-11, 6-4 Conference, 4th)
Wayzata assistant Mike Anderson takes over for the departed Matt McCollister.  Another quality private school coach run out of town.  Double figure scorer Tilyn Hollis departs along with forward Michael Marzec.  The backcourt is still full of talent.  Will Culliton averaged 18+ as a shooter on 1 wing.  Mo Lawal averaged 15 a night on the other wing and can score in bunches.  Kevin Linehan returns to run the point.  Graydon Kulick gives them a body inside.  Kwaku Bodom gives them depth on the wing.  Most of that crew is juniors so plenty to build around.

Brooklyn Center Centaurs (2012-13 season 16-12, 2-8 Conference, Tied 10th)
Brooklyn Center will have to replace most of their roster.  The top 3 scorers depart.  Sammie Watkins is a good athlete on the wing.  He's the top returning player.  Tyler Wilebski also returns to the starting lineup. 

Concordia Academy Beacons (2012-13 season 16-13, 5-5 Conference, 5th)
The top 3 scorers depart.  That includes the long Jared Schneidermann.  The lineup was balanced and returns junior point guard Roger Moore, Jr and his 10 points per game.  Austin Moldenhauer and Will Preble also return to the rotation.

De La Salle Islanders (2012-13 season 29-1, 10-0 Conference, 1st, AAA State Champion)
The two time defending state AAA champion Islanders are still loaded and the prohibitive favorite to win it all again.  Reid Travis is one of the top power forwards in the country.  Jarvis Johnson is a top 100 level talent at the point.  Sacar Anim is a lockdown defender and one of the top juniors in the state.  James Lawson returns up front as well.  Geno Crandall is a D1 talent who came off the bench last year because the Islanders were so deep.   Luke Scott's sharpshooting will be missed.  If the Islanders find consistent shooting to go with Travis inside they can play with just about anybody in the country.  They'll get a chance to find that out with a bunch of high-profile games against non-Minnesota teams.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2012-13 season 26-6, 8-2 Conference, 3rd, AA State Champion)
In a feat that will be hard to duplicate, last year I made what may be my worst prediction ever picking the Redhawks 8th in conference and 9th in section.  The Redhawks lose their top 5 scorers and a ton of athleticsm from their AA state championship squad.  But the cupboard isn't bare.  Jahleel Davis returns to a forward spot along with Dane Birkeland.   Trenton McCarthy and Thomas Ostrom also should see time.  They bring in a couple of talented freshmen as well.

Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2012-13 season 4-16 Independent)
The Panthers once again will play an independent schedule this season and not be in conference play.  They will still participate in the end of season tourney.  The top 2 scorers are gone.  Guard Mark Miller is the top returning scorer.  Sophomore Cole Montour will also provide offense.

Providence Academy Lions (2012-13 season 12-12, 4-6 Conference, 6th)
Providence Academy brings in LaMar Detert to take over the program.  He returns to the bench after taking some time away.  He was previously the girls head coach at Rogers.  The guard duo of Joe Heck and Jackson Canfield were long time starters and double figures scorers but have now graduated.  There is size and interior scoring with seniors Ben Ratliff and Sean Healy both returning.  Soph wing Matt Richelsen returns after a full varsity season.   

St. Agnes Aggies (2012-13 season 10-17, 3-7 Conference, Tied 7th)
Double figure scorer Nick Bennett needs to be replaced.  Leading scorer Nick Turch returns at a wing slot after averaging 19 points a game.  Jack Fossand and Dante Davison give them some returning size.

St. Anthony Huskies (2012-13 season 12-16, 3-7 Conference, Tied 7th)
Longtime coach Dave Bratland stepped down in the offseason.  Chris Hergenrader takes over the reins of the program.  3 of the top 4 scorers depart.  That includes 19 points per game from point guard Nick Kampa.  Noah Bluth is the top returnee after averaging double digits last year.

St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders (2012-13 season 10-18, 2-8 Conference, Tied 10th)
A promising season took a quick downturn last season as the Crusaders finished 4-14 after the holidays.  All everything forward Cody Sticha and Jackson Goplen are 2 major pieces to replace though Goplen missed most of last season.  Soph Aage Rovney and Aaron Zoellner return to the lineup.  Josh Arndt and soph forward Trenton Krueger should also see time.  The sophomore class has 4 talented members that they'll build around for the future.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2012-13 season 9-19, 3-7 Conference, Tied 7th)
The Spartans lost 11 of 13 to end last season.  Leading scorer Josh Gray getting hurt was a big part of that.  Him and backcourt mate Spencer Egly have graduated.  They have a pair of quality sophomores to build around.  Dalante Peyton returns for his 3rd year on varsity and averaged double digits.  Forward Kent Hanson joins him as a potent offensive force.  His return off sets losing 2 big bodies inside.  Senior Harrison Egly is the top returning scorer at 11+ per game. 

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. DeLaSalle
  2. Breck
  3. Blake  
  4. Minnehaha  
  5. St. Paul Academy  
  6. Providence Academy   
  7. Concordia Academy 
  8. St. Croix Lutheran   
  9. St. Anthony
  10. St. Agnes  
  11. Brooklyn Center
Conference MVP: Reid Travis - De La Salle 

Conference Overview:
The discussion begins and ends with De La Salle who's a nationally ranked level team.  Many of the other teams are a year or 2 away so I see this year as a relatively down year.  See Minnehaha, Breck, St. Paul Academy, St. Croix Lutheran.  I like what Breck has coming back to pick them 2nd but arch rival Blake will give them a serious run.  Minnehaha will need some experience but they'll have athletes which is dangerous in this league.  St. Paul Academy is in that middle mix with their sophomore duo.  Providence and Concordia and St. Croix Lutheran all have a single piece or 2 back but need help.  St. Anthony and St. Agnes hope to jump up and steal the final playoff spot.  Brooklyn Center will struggle.

Blake, Breck, SPA, MPA, Minnehaha and Providence are leaving after the season to form their own league.  Thanks to restructuring the league will add Holy Angels, Fridley and Columbia Heights after this season.  Their leagues are folding.  Wouldn't shock me if Brooklyn Center tried to move as well as the geography makes sense (old Metro Alliance) but I can't see them competing with the remaining group of AAA schools.  The schools that left are basically AA schools and that would be a better fit.

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Jack Moe - Blake 
  • Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman - Breck
  • Samm Jones - De La Salle
  • Joevon Walker, Simeon Davis - Minnehaha Academy
  • Cole Montour - Mounds Park Academy
  • Dominic Miller, Matt Richelsen - Providence Academy
  • Aage Rovney, Trenton Krueger - St. Croix Lutheran
  • Dalante Peyton, Kent Hanson - St. Paul Academy
Conference Games to Watch
  • Blake at De La Salle - Dec 3rd
  • De La Salle at Breck - Jan 16th
  • Breck at Blake - Feb 4th
  • Tri-Metro Championship - Feb 22nd
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Breck vs Perham - Nov 30th (Anoka Ramsey Classic)
  • De La Salle vs Apple Valley- Dec 7th (Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Breck vs Minnetonka - Dec 7th (Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Annandale at Breck - Dec 10th
  • Blake at Holy Family - Dec 12th
  • De La Salle vs Osseo - Dec 14th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)
  • De La Salle vs View Park (CA) - Dec 21st (Winter Classic Snow Jam, Waukesha, WI)
  • De La Salle vs Findlay Prep (NV) - Dec 28th (Mike Miller Classic, Mitchell, SD)
  • De La Salle vs Chicago St. Rita (IL) - Jan 4th (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Blake at Eden Prairie - Jan 7th
  • De La Salle at Eden Prairie - Jan 14th
  • De La Salle vs Iowa City West (IA) - Jan 18th (Midwest Players Classic, La Crosse, WI)
  • Breck at Hill-Murray - Jan 18th
  • De La Salle at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 8th

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