Looking back at 10 years

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the creation of this site and my entry in the local high school hoops scene.  Who would have thought this would last this long?  This ride is an amazing roller coaster and you always feel like you're about to fall off.

I've mellowed and slowed down over the past few years or should I say I do a better job of picking my spots.  But there's a been a ton I've seen.  Over 1000 high school varsity games plus countless other lower level and AAU games.  That means I've had tons of concessions food and thousands of ounces of beverages and heard more current music than I would like.  Here are some of the things that stick out in no particular order.

The Food and Beverages: This started as space filler at the start of a post.  Then it grew and now some of you (you know who you are) only read that section.  Yes the numbers are preposterous, but is it really that interesting?  Who knew?  You can ponder that while you ignore the rest of this piece.

Locations: When I first started this, I was shocked by the total number of schools in the metro.  Now I look back at the places I've been where you can't normally see a game.  There are closed schools like St. Bernard's, Concordia-Bloomington, Minneapolis Central and the original St. Paul Washington.  Then there are places that have built new gyms like Mounds Park Academy, St. Thomas Academy, St. Agnes and the University of St. Thomas.  Not to mention the places that had rare games or don't hold them anymore like the 2008 state tournament using Mariucci Arena because of a robotics event at Williams Arena.  While we're at the U of M how about the old section final doubleheaders at the Sports Pavilion.  Then there was Osseo Junior High coming into play when Maple Grove's gym got flooded.  ESPN's use of the big gym at CDH for a Joe Mauer event forced a game to the small upstairs gym.  Even a concert taking over the Orono main gym and forcing the Spartans next door to the middle school for a season opener.

The Officials:  It started as a harmless way for me to remember these guys.  Then Lithgow got out of hand.  Before you know it, he's working a game at Breck with another official who demanded a nickname on the spot.  Hence The Nutty Professor was born.  Other nicknames came along like The Rev, Billy Crystal and the JMOA.  But I've only gotten to use Mr. Roboto once which is a huge disappointment.

Best Team: Hopkins 2009 class AAAA state champions
This one was easy.  PG Marcus Williams (NDSU FB and NY Jets), Trent Lockett (Az St and Marquette), Ray Cowels (Santa Clara), Mike Broghammer (Notre Dame) and Mr Basketball Royce White (MN and Iowa State) was the starting 5.  DJ Peterson (La Salle) and Marvin Singleton (UNI) came off the bench.  Freshman PG Siyani Chambers (Harvard) and soph Joe Coleman (Minnesota/St. Mary's) were also on that team.  Both would go on to win the Mr Basketball award (2011 and 2012 respectively) but didn't play many critical minutes that year.  So that's 9 kids who played at a mid-major level or above.  Scary talent level.

On a side note about the 2009 class, remember this.  Nate Wolters and Mike Muscala have seen NBA time and didn't make the Mr. Basketball final 5 that year.  Wolters not making it was almost criminal.  That class and the class of 2017 absolutely stacked with talent.

Best Game: Dec 12, 2008  Hopkins at St. Bernard's (what I said then)
Its only fitting that the 2008-2009 Hopkins team is here.  They played 2 single digit games all season and this was the closest of them.  St. Bernard's was the consensus top team in AA that season and ended up going up 28-4 and losing to Pelican Rapids in the state title game.  Coach Ed Cassidy had a loaded roster of his own and this game was as big as any.  Then you add in the tiny gym at Bernard's with people crammed in for the atmosphere and you have a game for the ages.   Jordair Jett and Royce White going head to head was something to behold.  A tie game with 7 minutes to play before Hopkins hung on.

Some other games that deserve mention here.
  • Hopkins winning the 2014 AAAA title in 4 OT over Shakopee thanks to a 3/4 court heave from Amir Coffey as Hopkins held the ball for 3 of the 4 overtimes against the Shakopee zone. That shot was from right in front of my position on press row and is still incredible.
  • 2012 State championship night.  Ian Theisen from the baseline in front of me to give Osseo the AAAA title over Lakeville North.  That was after De La Salle went full court after a bucket with no time out and got a Ross Barker buzzer beater to defeat Washburn.  That was the 1st in the string of their current 6 straight AAA titles.  
  • Southwest with the February 8, 2013 buzzer beater against South.  That home win was needed as the Minneapolis City ended up in a 3 way tie between South, Southwest and Washburn.  Southwest would go to the Twin Cities Game for the 1st time in 30 years and for only the 2nd time.  While they were only 15-13 that season and lost to Johnson in that Twin Cities Game, it was a landmark moment for a program that has long struggled in the league.
  • March 6, 2014 Cretin-Derham Hall ends the Tyus Jones era.   This was the 3AAAA section final in 2014 with Tyus Jones and Apple Valley trying to defend a state title.  A full house, intense double OT game and a major upset.
  • The Blake Hoffarber shot at state vs Eastview was before my time.  I didn't attend the 2007 final between Buffalo and Robbinsdale Armstrong but the shooting and ovation from the crowd is still worth watching.
Best Atmosphere:  That Hopkins at St. Bernard's game was great but I want to mention Dec 7, 2013, De La Salle vs Apple Valley boys in the 2013 Girls Breakdown Tipoff Classic at Hopkins.   Both teams were ranked number 1 and arguably the top 2 teams in the state.  While the game lost some luster because Reid Travis was out due to injury, the interest in the game was still crazy.  I wrote about it here.

Scoring Records:  Its crazy to think that the boys scoring record has been broken 3 times during these 10 years.  Cody Schilling broke it in the state tourney quarters at Mariucci Arena in 2008.  Anders Broman set the current record in December 2012 at the Hibbing Holiday Tournament.  Then there was January 25th, 2010 when Kevin Noreen of MTS broke the record in a game at Roosevelt.  I feel the same way now as I did then about how the record was treated differently for Kevin than others.  The Red Star drooled over Schilling sending then writer John Millea (now the designed scribe for the MSHSL) down to Ellsworth for a big feature.  Broman's record was heavily followed.  But on Noreen's night, nobody showed up besides me and Steve Froemming.   That's sad.  Not to mention The Red Star had a hatchet piece ready to go that was posted almost instantly after the game ended.  With the whole LaMelo, Lonzo, Lavar Ball mess going on today, it draws a striking parallel for me.  Many people had issues with Kevin's dad and/or MTS coach John Sherman for whatever reason.  While they may not have been saints, many took that out on Kevin which is a shame.  Kevin is a great person who never wanted the spotlight and he deserved much better.

Most Unintentionally Funny Headline Ever:   January 12, 2012 Hooker reaches a milestone.
I write lame post titles all the time which are usual sad plays on words.  Some actually work out well like "Ponies mash the Spuds" from November 27, 2015.  Most don't.  But the post in question was completely unintentional.  Park Center star Quentin Hooker who had a very nice career at North Dakota is the subject of the post.  He reached his 1000th career point during the game.  So the title is innocent enough.  But if you don't know the player in question or have a humorous point of view, the prostitution angle to this adds an entirely different spin to it.  This generated a lot of good laughs all from an innocent attempt to acknowledge a milestone.
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The Changing of the AAU Landscape
Once upon a time, we had actual AAU qualifiers and a state tournament.  There was only 1 shoe program not 3.  Almost every major event was held at Bloomington Jefferson (Magic spring tourney, State AAU tourney, Howard Pulley tourney).  Then AAU went away and the shoe programs came along.  Magic is still trying to rebuild.  Glory fell off the map (RIP Charlie Paxson) while many other programs like Comets, Fury, Heat, WOTN etc all took a step up.  More and more Minnesota players are playing.  More and more players are seeing success and scholarships.  Great to see it take a big step forward.  I've seen tournaments in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Iowa and of course Las Vegas where its a different world.  But our teams definitely hold their own.  And what would AAU be without Twitter and #AAUBingo.  That adds another level of fun to watching the circuit.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on ten years! Your passion for the game has been a great boost to the Minnesota basketball landscape! Cheers to you and continued success!

    ReplyDelete

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