2015-16 Lake Conference Preview

This is the second preview in my 2015-2016 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Lake Conference.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Eden Prairie Eagles (2014-15 season 24-5, 6-2 Lake Conference, Tie 1st)
Despite losing their top 3 scorers, Eden Prairie will rebound from a crushing loss to Hopkins in the section final.  The backcourt is loaded with seniors Brady Rudrud, Ryan Jacobus and Nick Geolat plus junior Owen Chose.  All 4 can knock down 3s and are very interchangeable.  They combined for almost 30 PPG last year and I expect them to do the bulk of the Eagles scoring this year.  The leadership and intangibles of Blake Cashman will be seriously missed.  Jake Ruppert and soph Kyler Kluge provide depth.  Look for Jack Vermedahl to provide size upfront.

Edina Hornets (2014-15 season 18-9, 2-6 Lake Conference, 5th)
Interior presence Max Lynch, wings Ben Boone and John Swanke all need to be replaced.  The high scoring perimeter duo of junior point guard Walt McGrory (17 PPG) and senior sharpshooter Will Moreton (14.2 PPG) returns.  Junior Jimmy Connell returns and soph Anders Nelson will join the rotation.  Size and depth are issues to address.

Hopkins Royals (2014-15 season 23-7, 6-2 Lake Conference, Tie 1st)
Hopkins struggled to find their way after Amir Coffey's injury last year, but once they figured out it, they were very dangerous.  Now Coffey returns to the lineup with a scholarship to Minnesota in hand and fits right into the spot John Warren vacated.  Everyone else returns so expect an even better season this year.  The perimeter play is the deepest in the state with Xavier Johnson, Ishmael El-Amin, Vinnie Shahid and Anthony Davis joining Simon Wright and Coffey.  Erik Davis will see time as a forward.  Its an explosive lineup with many matching parts.  Expect them to be a serious contender for another Gold Ball.

Minnetonka Skippers (2014-15 season 19-8, 3-5 Lake Conference, Tie 3rd)
Chris Carr takes over at the helm of the Skippers program after Tom Dasovich left to become the Watertown-Mayer athletic director.  He has a group that is very well suited to his dribble drive style. PG Amar Miller put up 21 a night and this style should be perfect for him.  It should also help wings Seth Coatta (NDSU recruit) and Cedric Boone who combined for 30 a night last year.  Both will have plenty of chances to knock down 3s or attack the rim.  The Skippers put up 85 a night last year so scoring won't be a problem.  The biggest question is defense.  They gave up 105 to Minneapolis South in an opening round section upset last year.  Size is also a question behind Max Cooper.

Wayzata Trojans (2014-15 season 21-8, 3-5 Lake Conference, Tie 3rd)
Here's one I got completely wrong last year.  The Trojans improved from 8 wins to 21 wins and did it without a single senior.  That means they return no fewer than 10 guys who saw meaningful minutes.  That includes leader Johnny Beeninga (17 PPG, MN-Moorhead recruit), sharpshooters Jack Sowada (14.2 PPG) and junior Ryan Lindberg along with Sioux Falls recruit Austin Slater (11.4 PPG) inside.  They're deep, experienced, and they have players for every position and role.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Hopkins
  2. Wayzata
  3. Eden Prairie
  4. Minnetonka
  5. Edina
Conference Overview
There's not a bad team in the league. Edina is no worse than a 500 team.  Minnetonka can outscore anybody on any given night.  The other 3 teams are all top 5 caliber teams.  I take Hopkins as the favorite with Wayzata and Eden Prairie not far behind.  Minnetonka has more coming back than Edina so I'll take the Skippers to stay out of the cellar.  Should be a really fun year to watch as all teams have at least 2 kids that are minimum D2 caliber.  High level play all around.

Conference MVP: Amir Coffey -  Hopkins

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • Max Steensland, Kyler Kluge - Eden Prairie
  • Anders Nelson- Edina
  • Anthony Davis, Joe Hedstrom, Andrew Dahnke - Hopkins 
Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins at Wayzata - Dec 11th
  • Wayzata at Eden Prairie - Jan 8th
  • Hopkins at Eden Prairie - Jan 15th
  • Wayzata at Hopkins - Jan 29th
  • Eden Prairie at Wayzata - Feb 12th
  • Eden Prairie at Hopkins - Feb 19th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Robbinsdale Armstrong at Wayzata - Nov 24th
  • Wayzata at Lakeville North - Nov 28th
  • TBD at Hopkins - Dec 5th (Girls Tipoff Classic)
  • All league members vs TBD at Minnetonka - Dec 12th (Boys Tipoff Classic)
  • Lakeville North vs Eden Prairie - Dec 22nd
  • Hopkins at Champlin Park - Dec 22nd
  • Wayzata vs Apple Valley (at St. Cloud Apollo)- Dec 29th (Granite City)
  • Wayzata vs Champlin Park (at SCSU) - Dec 30th (Granite City)
  • Eden Prairie at Shakopee - Jan 2nd
  • De La Salle at Eden Prairie - Jan 5th
  • Hopkins at Minneapolis North - Jan 19th
  • Eden Prairie vs Cretin-Derham Hall (at UST) - Jan 19th
  • Wayzata at Minneapolis North - Jan 25th 
  • Minnetonka vs Stevens Point (WI) at Onalaska (WI) - Jan 30th (Border Battle)
  • Eden Prairie at Robbinsdale Armstrong - Feb 3rd
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Hopkins - Feb 3rd
  • Eden Prairie at Champlin Park - Feb 10th

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