2016-17 Season in a Nutshell

The 2016-2017 Season Preview Series concludes its 6 week run 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.  For a list of all of the detailed previews, click here.

Local Events to Watch
  • Dec 3 - Breakdown Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins (4 premier boys games)
  • Dec 9-10 - Johnson Winter Showcase
  • Dec 10 - Breakdown Boys Tipoff Classic at Hopkins
  • Dec 17 - Metro East vs Metro West Showdown at St. Thomas Academy
  • Dec 17 - Southside Showcase at Minnehaha
  • Jan 14 - Super 60 Showcase at Hopkins
  • Jan 16 - Dream Classic at Minneapolis Roosevelt and Minneapolis Washburn
  • Jan 16 - MLK Classic at Minneapolis Patrick Henry
  • Jan 28 - Border Battle at Apple Valley
  • Jan 28 - South Metro Hoop Fest at Trinity
  • Feb 18 - Community Clash at Hopkins
The Breakdown events in December are loaded so we won't go into detail on those.  Noteworthy that the boys event moves to Hopkins this year.  I'll miss seeing the Minnetonka fire marshal.  I love the new Metro East vs Metro West battle that St. Thomas Academy is hosting.  That is 5 games with Cooper vs Mahtomedi and Chaska vs North St. Paul highlighting the day.  The Super 60 Showcase in January has Maple Grove vs Hopkins as its feature game.   The Border Battle returns to the Minnesota side this year with Wisconsin commits Kobe King and Nate Reuvers matched up against each other.  Wisconsin bringing a ton of talent this year with Jordan McCabe (W Virginia), Terrence Lewis (Iowa State), 7 footer Owen Hamilton (N Illinois) and nationally ranked junior Joey Hauser.  The Community Clash is another Breakdown event late in the year.  2 highlight games there include Woodbury vs Hopkins and Iowa City West vs Cretin-Derham Hall.

Other Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Apple Valley - Dec 13th
  • Lakeville North at Chaska - Dec 13th
  • Minneapolis North at Hopkins - Dec 17th 
  • Lakeville North at Woodbury - Dec 22nd
  • Orono vs Minneapolis Henry - Dec 22nd (at Hamline)
  • Monticello at Minnehaha - Dec 22nd
  • Champlin Park at Hopkins - Jan 26th
  • Caledonia at Minneapolis North - Jan 28th 
  • Sioux Falls Washington at Hopkins - Feb 3rd
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 11th
  • Delano at Minneapolis Henry - Feb 21st
  • De La Salle at Champlin Park - Feb 23rd
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.

Local Players to Watch
  • Brad Davison (Sr) - Maple Grove (Wisconsin) 
  • Ishmael El-Amin (Sr) - Hopkins (Ball State)
  • Theo John (Sr) - Champlin Park (Marquette)
  • Tre Jones (Jr) - Apple Valley
  • Goanar Mar (Sr)- De La Salle (George Mason)
  • Daniel Oturu (Jr) - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Nate Reuvers (Sr) - Lakeville North (Wisconsin)
  • Jericho Sims (Sr) - Cristo Rey (Texas)
  • Race Thompson (Jr) - Robbinsdale Armstrong
  • McKinley Wright (Sr) - Champlin Park (Dayton)
Local Teams Looking to Win It All
  • Apple Valley
  • Champlin Park
  • De La Salle
  • Hopkins
  • Lakeville North
  • Maple Grove
  • Minneapolis North  
  • Minnehaha Academy
Season Thoughts
Let's begin with the depth of class AAAA.  There's a group of about 5 schools (listed above) that are in that initial discussion.  But behind them, there's a long list of very good teams that could knock them off on any given night.  Teams like Tartan, Woodbury, Cretin-Derham Hall, Chaska, Rochester John Marshall (in no order) are just the start of a list of teams who will fight for a ranking during the year.  Considering that this 2017 class is as good as you'll see in Minnesota, its not surprising.

On the other hand in AAA, De La Salle is the favorite again.  But like last year, the road to the title goes thru their section.  Orono, Delano and Minneapolis Henry are all high level teams stuck in the same section.  Minnehaha appears poised to make a run in AA.  Minneapolis North should be able to make a run to defend their title in class A.

With Duke commit Gary Trent choosing to attend Prolific Prep in California rather than stay at Apple Valley, that makes the Mr. Basketball race as open as I've seen it in a while.  Brad Davison, Nate Reuvers, McKinley Wright are players that I find hard to imagine not being there at the end.  Will Simon Wright and Ishmael El-Amin split votes at Hopkins.  Will Wright take votes away from Theo John?  Goanar Mar could be a 4 time AAA champion, will that sway the committee?  How much will Jericho Sims and Trae Berhow have to do in AA to make the list?  Down in class A, Bryce Irsfeld, Chase Grinde and Isaac Johnson may lead their teams to state.  Does that carry any weight?

Last year, in this same preview setting, I lamented the fact that young coaches weren't getting a chance.  So I'm obligated to say that we saw a change in that this year.  Loyal readers John Carrier (Sibley) and Chris Hopkins (St. Agnes) waited their time and now have a well-deserved chance to run a program.  Trevor Davis came home from the college ranks to take the Hill-Murray job.  Farmington, Holy Angels and Bloomington Kennedy promoted assistants rather than take a "name value" candidate.  Let's hope that trend continues and we get more new blood into the game.

On the officiating side, 2 noteworthy rule changes.  Its a foul if you box out the shooter in the semi-circle before the ball hits the rim.  Pretty harsh but it protects the shooter.  Also, the time to replace a disqualified player (e.g. foul out) is now 15 seconds.  According to the case book, it can be a technical foul if the replacement player doesn't report to the table within that time.  Very different than today where coaches wait for the time to expire and then send in a sub.  But a technical foul is also a very harsh punishment.  Delay of Game (where if it was the 2nd it would be a T) seems more appropriate.

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