2015-16 Season Preview in a Nutshell

The 2015-2016 Season Preview Series concludes with an overview of what and who you need to see and when and where you can find it.  This is a higher level preview for the more casual fan who doesn't eat, sleep and breathe hoops like many of us do.  So with that in mind, we distill the season down to some high points.

Events to Watch
  • Nov 28 - Anoka-Ramsey Showcase
  • Dec 5 - Breakdown Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins (4 premier boys games)
  • Dec 11-12 - Johnson Winter Showcase 1
  • Dec 12 - Breakdown Boys Tipoff Classic at Minnetonka 
  • Dec 18-19 - Johnson Winter Showcase 2
  • Dec 29-30 - Granite City Classic at St. Cloud Apollo
  • Jan 2 - Timberwolves Shootout at Target Center
  • Jan 18 - Dream Classic at Minneapolis Roosevelt and Minneapolis Washburn
  • Jan 18 - MLK Classic at Minneapolis Patrick Henry
  • Jan 30 - Super 60 Showcase at Hopkins
  • Feb 21 - Twin Cities Game at St. Paul champion
Anoka-Ramsey provides a chance to see Perham who's always a tough out in 8AA.  The section battle there between Moorhead and Elk River that could determine seeding later on.  This one was decided on a long buzzer beater last year.  4 great boys games in the Girls tipoff with Iowa City West vs Apple Valley as a huge game.  Johnson has Atascoctia (TX) and Purdue commit Carsen Edwards coming to town on Breakdown boys weekend.  They'll play De La Salle on December 11th followed by Milwaukee King and Michigan commit Jordan Poole vs Johnson in the late game.  Then Georgia 6A runner up Pebblebrook comes to town on December 18th to play back to back days vs Johnson and Minneapolis North.  Pebblebrook features Auburn commit Jared Harper.  The Timberwolves Shootout gives locals their best chance to see Michael Hurt (Minnesota commit) and younger brother Matthew from Rochester John Marshall.  Minneapolis will be busy on Martin Luther King day with 3 schools hosting games all day.  Hopkins vs 2A power Caledonia and St. Croix Lutheran vs Battle Lake highlight the Super 60 Showcase at the end of January.  As always the Twin Cities Game/EMAC Championship duo finishes off the regular season.

Other Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Wayzata at Lakeville North - Nov 28th
  • Minnehaha at St. Croix Lutheran - Dec 1st
  • Milwaukee Washington (WI) at St. Paul Johnson - Dec 4th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at Minneapolis North - Dec 8th
  • St. Croix Lutheran at St. Paul Academy - Dec 10th
  • Waseca at St. Croix Lutheran - Dec 22nd
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's at De La Salle - Dec 23rd
  • Eden Prairie at Shakopee - Jan 2nd
  • De La Salle at Eden Prairie - Jan 5th
  • Hopkins at Minneapolis North - Jan 19th
  • Wayzata at Minneapolis North - Jan 25th
  • Eden Prairie at Champlin Park - Feb 10th
I didn't include conference games because those are covered in the conference previews.  Not to mention I wanted the list to be somewhat manageable.

Players to Watch
  • Amir Coffey (Sr) - Hopkins (Minnesota)
  • Theo John (Jr) - Champlin Park
  • Tre Jones (So) - Apple Valley
  • Goanar Mar (Jr)- De La Salle
  • Steffon Mitchell (Sr) - Shakopee
  • Reed Nikko (Sr) - Maple Grove (Missouri)
  • Nate Reuvers (Jr) - Lakeville North
  • Jericho Sims (Jr) - Cristo Rey
  • Gary Trent (Jr) - Apple Valley
  • McKinley Wright (Jr) - Champlin Park
Teams Looking to Win It All
  • Apple Valley
  • De La Salle
  • Eden Prairie
  • Hopkins
  • Lakeville North
  • Maple Grove
  • Minneapolis North  
  • Minnehaha Academy
  • St. Croix Lutheran
  • St. Paul Academy
  • Shakopee
  • Tartan
  • Wayzata
Season Thoughts
This year I see Apple Valley and Hopkins as the 2 top contenders for the 4A Gold Ball.  But there's a long line of very good teams behind them.  The teams are also balanced across sections so I think the 4A tourney should be very good.  3A is way down and that gives De La Salle as good a chance as any to win their 5th straight title.  The final 4 in section 4AA could be state tourney semifinal quality with St. Croix Lutheran, SPA, Minnehaha and Roosevelt.  Is this the year that Minneapolis North finally gets to state under Larry McKenzie?  With the Hanson clan gone at Maranatha and the entire rotation turning over, what does the next generation look like for the Mustangs?

We had the annual coaching turnover.  A number of the coaching changes seemed strange at a glance.  There appears to be a very disturbing trend of talented young coaches not getting a shot.  Some of the jobs you wondered why there weren't more high profile applicants.  Maybe more proof that parents are getting crazier every day.

National officiating points of emphasis for the year include post play, rebounding and protecting the free throw shooter.  Displacement is the word of the day.  More emphasis on arm bars, continued hand checking etc is back on this year.  As always we'll see how long it actually lasts.

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