2016-17 Independent Metro Athletic Conference Preview

This is the 4th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  Week 1 of the 6 week series fully transitions to local class AA and higher schools with a look at the Independent Metro Athletic Conference (IMAC).  For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Blake Bears (2015-16 season 5-22, 2-8 Conference, 5th)
The Bears had another long season.  That included head coach Sean Kruger being replaced mid-season in a major surprise.  His former assistant Tyler Biwan comes over from St. Thomas Academy to take over the program.  Junior PG Jack Moe scored 18.5 PPG is the piece they'll build with.  The next 6 scorers are also back.  None of them averaged more than 9 PPG.

Breck Mustangs (2015-16 season 17-11, 7-3 Conference, 2nd)
Soph David Robby was the leading scorer for the Mustangs last year at almost 16 PPG.  He'll hold down the power forward spot.  The next 3 scorers depart including centers Justin Bergerson and Miles Owolu.  Sam Willey will man the middle.  Garrett Opperman mans a guard spot.  Junior Eric McDavid will also man a guard spot.

Minnehaha Academy Redhawks (2015-16 season 22-7, 10-0 Conference, 1st)
The star duo of forward JaVonni Bickham (18.4 PPG) and super frosh PG Jalen Suggs (17.2 PPG) returns to lead the Redhawks.  Freshman reserves Kaden Johnson and Terry Lockett were in the rotation last year.  The toughness of wings Benny Larry and Jake Richardson will be missed.  Lorenzo Smith and his 10 PPG at Johnson transfer in as the top replacement option for those 2.

Mounds Park Academy Panthers (2015-16 season 5-21, 0-10 Conference, 6th)
Leading scorer Cooper Olson departs.  The Panthers do return 1 double figure scorer in Brendan Connolly at 11.9 PPG.  Beyond that there's not much offense coming back.  Juniors Nick Guiang and Tom Fitzgerald are 2 options to pick up the slack.

Providence Academy Lions (2015-16 season 12-15, 5-5 Conference, 4th)
Former Gopher star and Providence assistant Arriel McDonald takes over the head job.  Most of the rotation graduated including the top 4 scorers and 6 of the top 7 scorers.  Soph Mark Richelsen is the leading returner at 5.9 PPG.  Guard Jackson Baird averaged 4.3 PPG.  Football star Gavin Blomberg would be a major boost to the lineup.  He missed last year with an ACL injury.

St. Paul Academy Spartans (2015-16 season 18-10, 6-4 Conference, 3rd)
A new era begins for coach Isaiah Walfred.  The dynamic duo of Dalante Peyton and Kent Hanson has graduated after many years of success.  Guard Emerson Egly's 12 PPG is top's amongst returning players.  Tommy Dicke also returns to the starting lineup.  Junior Ryan Kuntz saw bench time last year.  Mark Ademite and Matt Jaeger look to provide the size inside.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Minnehaha
  2. Breck
  3. St. Paul Academy
  4. Providence
  5. Blake
  6. Mounds Park Academy
Conference Overview
Minnehaha is a state title contender and therefore the clear favorite here.  Their non-conference schedule reflects that as it is absolutely stacked.  Breck is the best of the rest.  The bottom 4 I don't see reaching 500.  St. Paul Academy is the best of the group.  Providence will be down but I'll still take them over Blake and Mounds Park.  Blake won both meetings last year with Mounds Park.  They are the best candidate from the bottom 4 to make a run up the standings.

Conference MVP: Jalen Suggs - Minnehaha

Underclassmen to watch:  
  • David Roddy, Elijiah Zachery, Kerwin Walton- Breck
  • Jalen Suggs, Kaden Johnson, Terry Lockett - Minnehaha
  • Mark Richelsen - Providence
Conference Games to Watch
  • Breck at Minnehaha - Jan 20th
  • Minnehaha at Breck - Feb 7th
 Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Totino-Grace at Minnehaha - Dec 6th
  • Brooklyn Center at Breck - Dec 6th
  • SW Christian at Breck - Dec 8th
  • Minnehaha vs Minneapolis North - Dec 10th (Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Hopkins) 
  • Breck vs Minneapolis Henry - Dec 21st (Hamline Tourney)
  • Breck vs Wayzata - Dec 22nd (Hamline Tourney)
  • Monticello at Minnehaha - Dec 22nd
  • Minnehaha at Augsburg Tourney - Dec 28-30th 
  • Minnehaha at New Life Academy - Jan 3rd
  • Minnehaha at Caledonia - Jan 13th
  • Minnehaha vs Onalaska (WI) - Jan 14th (Midwest Players Classic, La Crosse, WI)
  • Minnehaha vs Prescott (WI) - Jan 28th (Border Battle at Apple Valley)
  • Breck at Heritage - Feb 17th
  • Minneapolis North at Minnehaha -  Feb 23rd

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