2014-15 Independent Metro Athletic Conference Prevew

This is the fifth preview in my 2014-2015 season preview series.  Week 1 of my 5 week preview series ends with a look at the new Independent Metro Athletic Conference.  After the MSHSL placed a group of AAA teams from defunct leagues into the Tri-Metro, a group of mostly AA schools decided to split off and form this league.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Blake Bears (2013-14 season 22-7, 6-4 Conference, Tie 3rd)
Coach Sean Kruger has to replace his top 4 scorers.  That includes his inside out duo of John Veil and JR Bascom who combined for 35 a night last year.  Gus Austin will see time in a front court spot.  Charlie Levitt and freshman Jack Moe return in the backcourt.

Breck Mustangs (2013-14 season 12-15, 7-3 Conference, 2nd)
Breck is on their 3rd coach in 3 years.  If new coach Rick Webb can keep the group together after last year's disappointing season, there's plenty of talent as the entire rotation from the end of the year returns.  That includes 5 senior starters.  Will Culliton and Mo Lawal return as high scoring wings.  They combined for 37 PPG last year and are the top 2 returning scorers in the league.  Henry Cousineau provides a nice 3rd option.  Graydon Kulick mans the inside.  Kwaku Bodom gives them an athlete.  Depth is seriously limited.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2013-14 season 15-14, 6-4 Conference, Tie 3rd)
The Redhawks lose a pair of transfers in point guard Simeon Davis (Hill-Murray) and forward Joevon Walker (Tartan). They were the top 2 scorers last year at a combined 22+ a night.  Forward JoVanni Bickham is a top frosh in the state and was the 6th man last year.  He'll slot into Walker's spot.  7th grader Jalen Suggs starts his era and has already been given some Tyus Jones hype.  He can play but that level of hype is totally unfair to him right now.  Plenty of other depth returns.  Expect another year where the youth struggles early and then is much more dangerous later in the year.

Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2013-14 season 5-18 Independent)
Sophomore Brendan Connolly was the top scorer last year at 14 a game.  He returns along with most of the rest of the Panthers youth movement.  Junior Cole Montour will man 1 wing as the other scoring threat.  Mark Miller's scoring and playmaking will be missed.

Providence Academy Lions (2013-14 season 16-11, 4-6 Conference, Tie 8th)
Providence needs to replace their big front line of Ben Ratliff and Sean Healy.  Sebastian Brown should fill in 1 of those spots.  Riley Loew and Dominic Miller are the top 2 returning scorers and provide an experienced backcourt.  Matt Richelsen provides another experienced perimeter player.  Soph Gavin Blomberg was also part of the rotation last year and could be a frontcourt starter.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2013-14 season 20-9, 4-6 Conference, Tie 8th)
The Spartans turned it on during the 2nd half of the season and made a run all the way to Target Center.  Juniors Dalante Peyton and Kent Hanson are back and will carry the offensive load in an even bigger way.  Peyton plays out of position at the point but is still effective.  Hanson takes care of the dirty work inside.  Expect a big double-double season from him.  Harrison Egly's rebounding and shooting will be missed.  Expect his sophomore brother Emerson to pick up some of the 17.2 PPG that Harrison had. 

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. St. Paul Academy
  2. Breck
  3. Minnehaha
  4. Providence
  5. Blake
  6. Mounds Park Academy
Conference Overview
There's strength at the top of the league with 3 quality teams.  St. Paul Academy and Breck both have a ton returning.  Minnehaha's top guys are young but the role guys have experience.  St. Paul Academy did lose to Breck last year but SPA is more consistent and made state so I'll go with the Spartans.  The rest slot logically into place.  Minnehaha has more fire power than Providence.  Blake is rebuilding.  Mounds Park Academy continues the building process but for now they aren't at a level to move up.

Conference MVP: Kent Hanson - St. Paul Academy

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Jack Moe - Blake
  • Garrett Opperman - Breck
  • JoVanni Bickham, Jalen Suggs - Minnehaha
  • Brendon Connolly - Mounds Park Academy
  • Gavin Blomberg - Providence 
  • Emerson Egly - St. Paul Academy
Conference Games to Watch
  • St. Paul Academy at Breck - Jan 9th
  • St. Paul Academy at Minnehaha - Jan 20th
  • Minnehaha at Breck - Jan 23rd
  • Breck at St. Paul Academy - Feb 3rd
  • Minnehaha at St. Paul Academy - Feb 6th
  • Breck at Minnehaha - Feb 10th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at St. Paul Academy - Nov 25th
  • Breck vs Perham - Nov 29th (Anoka Ramsey Showcase)
  • Breck vs Redwood Valley - Dec 13th (Breakdown Tip Off at Minnetonka)
  • Minnehaha vs St. Cloud Cathedral - Dec 13th (Breakdown Tip Off at Minnetonka)
  • Minnetonka vs Breck - Dec 27th (Bethel Tournament)
  • St. Paul Academy at St. Paul Central - Jan 14th
  • St. Paul Academy vs Caledonia - Jan 19th (Super 60 Showcase at Roosevelt)
  • Waconia at Breck - Feb 13th

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