2015-16 Northwest Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 7th preview in my 2015-2016 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the expanded Northwest Suburban Conference. For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Andover Huskies (2014-15 season 16-13, 11-8 Conference, 3rd North)
All 5 starters and most of the rotation have graduated.  Leading scorer Jake McNallan's experience and team leading 14.2 PPG will be missed.  Corbin Johnson averaged 10.5 PPG last year and should be the top offensive threat.  Trevor Siebold is the only other rotation member coming back at 1.3 PPG.  Dylan Echtenkamp and Jeremy Neuman should join the rotation.

Anoka Tornadoes (2014-15 season 3-24, 3-16 Conference, 6th North)
Leading scorer Gunnar Ledin returns to the lineup with 13 PPG.  Jackson Sutton also returns to the starting lineup.  Guard Chase Thomas and junior Joey Lohse will be in the rotation.

Blaine Bengals (2014-15 season 11-16, 8-11 Conference, Tie 4th North)
Blaine again returns a huge lineup with UMD recruit Ben Scherer, Zach Baker, Nik Keller and Tim Leo.  Sam Gerrity, Dakota Neppl, Jared Kaul and soph Byron Bynum all return on the perimeter.  That means 8 of the top 9 for the Bengals are back.   They'll need to consistently make outside shots to take advantage of their size.

Centennial Cougars (2014-15 season 17-11, 14-5 Conference, 2nd North)
South Dakota recruit Tyler Peterson returns after averaging almost 23 PPG.  Expect another big year from him.  Junior Alex Facon put up over 13 PPG on the wing.  Theo Johnson's inside rebounding will be very valuable inside.  The rest of the lineup needs to be replaced.

Champlin Park Rebels (2014-15 season 31-1, 19-0 Conference, 1st North)
3 of the 4 double figure scorers, including Mr Basketball and their heart and soul JT Gibson graduated.  But the Rebels still have tons of talent.  Juniors McKinley Wright at PG and forward Theo John are high major prospects.  Aaron Kloeppner was a critical reserve in the short rotation and he also returns.  Eldridge Joyce provides another big body in the middle.  Brian Smith provides another ball handling option. 

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2014-15 season 2-25, 1-18 Conference, 7th North)
Double figure scorer Sam Carver returns to the lineup.  Timmy Nyugen and Payton Foy also averaged double figures and need to be replaced.   Tyree'on Johnson and Jacob Dujmovic are 2 other returnees who provide experience.

Elk River Elks (2014-15 season 13-15, 8-11 Conference, Tied 4th North)
Only 2 starters return but the Elks do have 3 of their top 4 scorers coming back.  Matt Keller is a major threat from 3.  Trent Pink is a solid player in the post.  They averaged 15 and 12 PPG respectively.  Zeke Delain, Wyatt Morrell and soph Jack Burger also return to the rotation.

Irondale Knights (2014-15 season 7-20, 5-14 Conference, 6th West)
Uwana Etuk-Akpan, Kevin Schramm and Sean Sutherlin all return as double figure scorers from last season.  Soph forward Brendan White returns after seeing lots of time last season.  So the same basic lineup returns.  Will that pay dividends?

Maple Grove Crimson (2014-15 season 23-4, 17-2 Conference, 1st West)
Role players Austin Mathison, Mitchell Rekstad and Timmy Bishop have graduated but all the main pieces return.  That includes all 5 starters in star point guard Brad Davison, guards Tywhon Pickford and Jack Hutchinson plus center Reed Nikko (just committed to Missouri) and forward Kayode Awosika.  Reserve forward Jared Martinson also returns as an alternate 4 for faster lineups.  Cooper transfer Taron Pickford (19 PPG last year), Noah Champion and Bubba Horton are others to provide depth.

Osseo Orioles (2014-15 season 13-13, 12-7 Conference, 3rd West)
Shooter Elliot Kane and 11.6 PPG has moved on to Upper Iowa.  But plenty of guard power remains.  Leading scorer Allen Anderson returns with 11.8 PPG to run the show.  Juniors Mar Mar Hughes and Kyle Williams also return on the outside.  Plus you have athletic Damario Armstrong transferring in from football partner Maranatha.  Kameron Bettie averaged 11.5 PPG out of the middle.  Soph Zach Theisen, Matt Bezdicek and Dontae Jones provide quality depth.  Matt Jenkins may be the guy to provide depth behind Bettie.

Park Center Pirates (2014-15 season 8-18, 6-13 Conference, 5th West)
James Ware takes over the helm of the Park Center program.  He walks into a nice situation with plenty of young talent in the pipeline.  Question mark is if Amani Hooker will play.  He averaged almost 17 a night.  Isaiah Simon returns.  Freshman Khari Broadway averaged almost 7 PPG last year.

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2014-15 season 21-7, 16-3 Conference, 2nd West)
The Falcons lose 6 seniors from the rotation and 3 double figure guys in Sean Burns, Evan Nolan and Jerome Dixon.  For most teams that would mean a down year, but I see the Falcons reloading.  True Thompson and Jubie Alade return on the wings.  Soph Race Thompson has blown up in the last year and will man the middle.  Plus the Falcons add in guys like Isaiah Rollins and Chance Bowen, tough minded perimeter guys, along with 6'8 flyswatter Isaiah Chatman from an undefeated JV squad.

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2014-15 season 5-22, 4-15 Conference, 7th West)
The Panthers had an unusual down year last year.  But they return their top 4 guys this season  Junior forward Zach Ojile returns after leading the team with 11 PPG.  Shooters Aaron Flink and Mark Raihle combined for 16+ a night.  Jake LeVahn was good for almost 8 PPG in the middle.  Tim Retka will also see rotation time.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2014-15 season 10-17, 9-10 Conference, 4th West)
Minnetonka assistant Rob Ware is the new head coach.  Leading scorer Max Walker graduates but the next 3 scorers are returning.  That includes big 6'10" James Streeter in the middle.  He averaged 11.6 PPG.  Rocky Kreuser averaged 9.2 PPG on the wing.  Sophomore Charlie Jacob returns to run the point guard spot.

Predicted Order of Finish

North Division
  1. Champlin Park 
  2. Centennial    
  3. Blaine    
  4. Elk River 
  5. Andover  
  6. Coon Rapids  
  7. Anoka  
West Division
  1. Maple Grove   
  2. Robbinsdale Armstrong 
  3. Osseo
  4. Totino-Grace
  5. Spring Lake Park
  6. Irondale
  7. Park Center
Conference Overview:
In the west, Maple Grove is stacked and the no brainer favorite.  Armstrong and Osseo will battle for 2nd..  Totino-Grace played Armstrong and Osseo tough last year and has plenty coming back but I can't put them in front of those 2 teams.  Then it drops off to 3 teams who struggled last year.  Spring Lake Park has the most coming back so I'll take them, followed by Irondale.  Park Center is a wildcard as their athletes will give both of those teams trouble.

In the north, I think it goes very similar to last year.  I still like Champlin Park despite losing Gibson, Hill and Johnson.  Wright and John still make them really tough and they'll plug in pieces. Centennial followed by Blaine and Elk River still makes sense with all 3 basically being the same as last year.  Blaine beat Elk River in both meetings last year so they get the nod.  Andover drops since they have to replace everybody.  I'm still showing faith in Coon Rapids outdueling Anoka for the last spot.

Conference MVP: Tyler Peterson - Centennial

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Byron Bynum - Blaine
  • Jack Burger - Elk River
  • Brendan White - Irondale
  • Zach Theisen - Osseo
  • Khari Broadway - Park Center
  • Race Thompson - Robbinsdale Armstrong
  • Charlie Jacob, Sam Hanson, Tyler Kittleson - Totino-Grace
Conference Games to Watch
  • Champlin Park at Armstrong - Dec 4th
  • Champlin Park at Centennial - Dec 10th
  • Maple Grove at Armstrong - Jan 12th
  • Osseo at Maple Grove - Jan 15th
  • Maple Grove at Centennial - Jan 29th
  • Maple Grove at Champlin Park - Feb 2nd
  • Centennial at Champlin Park - Feb 4th
  • Armstrong at Maple Grove - Feb 12th 
  • Armstrong at Centennial - Feb 16th
  • Maple Grove at Osseo - Feb 19th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Robbinsdale Armstrong at Wayzata - Nov 24th
  • Champlin Park, Maple Grove & Centennial vs TBD Dec 12th (Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka)  
  • Hopkins at Champlin Park - Dec 22nd
  • Champlin Park vs Minneapolis North -  Dec 28th (Granite City at St. Cloud Apollo)
  • Champlin Park vs Wayzata - Dec 29th (Granite City at St. Cloud State) 
  • Maple Grove vs Apple Valley - Dec 29th (at St. Cloud State) 
  • Champlin Park vs Council Bluffs Lincoln (IA) - Jan 2nd (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Maple Grove vs Iowa City West (IA) - Jan 2nd (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Champlin Park vs Stevens Point (WI) - Jan 16th (at La Crosse, WI) 
  • Maple Grove vs Milwaukee Riverside (WI) - Jan 16th (at La Crosse, WI) 
  • Eden Prairie at Robbinsdale Armstrong- Feb 3rd
  • Eden Prairie at Champlin Park - Feb 10th

1 comment:

  1. My spies tell me Nik Keller have moved from Blaine to Coon Rapids where he'll be a big addition.


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