2018-19 Season in a Nutshell

The Czar's 2018-2019 Season Preview series concludes with the traditional season overview for the casual fan.  This is a higher level preview for those who don't eat, sleep and breathe hoops like the rest of us.  Its what and who you need to see and when and where to see it.  If you missed any of the 121 team previews over 12 conferences or the 14 section previews, a full list of them can be found here.

10 Local Events
  • Dec 1 - Breakdown Big 12 Classic at Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Dec 8 - Breakdown Boys Tipoff Classic at Hopkins
  • Dec 15 - Southside Showcase at Roseville
  • Dec 21-22 - Above the Rim Classic at Minneapolis North
  • Dec 29 - Augsburg Tournament Championship
  • Jan 12 - Super Showcase at Columbia Heights
  • Jan 21 - MLK events (Totino-Grace and Roosevelt)
  • Jan 26 - Border Battle at East Ridge
  • Jan 26 - Between the Lines Classic at Trinity
The Big 12 replaces the boys games that used to be at the Girls Tipoff Classic.  That along with the Boys Tipoff are both loaded with too many games of the top teams to mention here.  The Southside Showcase moves to Roseville this year and has 2 courts going all day.  St. Paul Central vs Cooper is a nice opener there.  Minneapolis North hosts Hopkins and 2 Chicago teams as some of the teams in their pre-holiday tournament.  The Augsburg championship projects to be the 2nd meeting of the month between Minnehaha and Hopkins.

Hopkins vs St. Paul Central highlights the Super Showcase at Columbia Heights.  Then the usual MLK events.  Buffalo and Matt Willert playing St. Paul Central in the Totino-Grace event that day is a highlight.  The Border Battle returns to Minnesota to end January.  Both Brookfield (WI) teams will be a treat to see plus a battle of Northern Kentucky commit Marcus Domask vs the Madsen twins of Rochester Mayo.  Trinity also hosts the renamed Between the Lines Classic on the same day.

10 Other Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins at Minnehaha - Dec 11th
  • East Ridge at Eden Prairie - Dec 18th
  • Eden Prairie at Lakeville North - Dec 21st
  • Minnehaha at Eden Prairie - Jan 8th
  • Minneapolis North at De La Salle - Jan 8th
  • Caledonia at Minneapolis North - Jan 12th 
  • Wayzata at Park Center - Jan 16th
  • Hopkins at De La Salle - Jan 29th
  • Minnehaha at Minneapolis North - Feb 19th
  • Minnehaha at De La Salle - Feb 23rd
Despite all the big games that are in the Breakdown events, there are many worthwhile standalone games on the non-conference schedule.  All of these feature state tournament level teams.  Hopkins at Minnehaha kicks off the list.  Then a couple of tough matchups for Eden Prairie that look like state tournament games.  Then the Eagles get their shot at Minnehaha to start January.  That same night we see a big Minneapolis battle with North and De La Salle.  North also gets a big class AA matchup later in the week vs Caledonia.  Minnehaha will also visit Caledonia right after that as part of their trip to Midwest Players Classic in La Crosse (WI) in mid-January.

Park Center's top standalone non-conference game comes up next as they host Wayzata on a quiet January Wednesday night.  Then the battle of titans that never happened as Hopkins visits the island to end January.  Minnehaha visits the island on the final Saturday of the regular season.  But that's right after their huge rematch with North.

10 Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Prairie at Wayzata - Jan 11th
  • Lakeville North at Prior Lake - Jan 22nd
  • East Ridge at Cretin-Derham Hall - Jan 29th
  • Mahtomedi at Tartan - Jan 31st
  • Park Center at Champlin Park - Jan 31st
  • Eden Prairie at Hopkins - Feb 8th 
  • Chaska at Robbinsdale Cooper - Feb 12th
  • Prior Lake at Lakeville North - Feb 22nd
  • Hopkins at Wayzata - Feb 22nd
  • Hopkins at Eden Prairie - Mar 1st
While Hopkins and Eden Prairie are heavyweights in the Lake Conference, Wayzata is plenty good enough to spoil it for both of them.  The Trojans can do that when they host both teams and possibly take the top seed in 6AAAA .  East Ridge and CDH looks like it will not only be for the Suburban East title but also for the top seed in 4AAAA.  If Tartan wants anything more than a 3 seed in that section they'll need 2 wins over Mahtomedi to take the Metro East crown.  They host the 2nd meeting on Jan 31st.  On that same day, its the only regular season meeting between the likely division champs in the NW Suburban.  That also should lock up the top seed in section 5AAAA for the winner as a possible section final preview.

Chaska and Cooper in their 2nd meeting should decide the Metro West title.  Prior Lake gets a massive test and possible chance to steal the 1 seed in 2AAAA and win the South Suburban if they can win at Lakeville North.  Hopkins not only has the Wayzata test but on the final Friday night of the season they have to visit Eden Prairie in their 2nd meeting.  That could decide the Lake Conference winner and have a top seed on the line for both teams.

10 Local Players to Watch
  • Ben Carlson - East Ridge
  • Steven Crowl - Eastview
  • Dain Dainja - Park Center
  • Dawson Garcia - Prior Lake
  • Zeke Nnaji  - Hopkins
  • David Roddy - Breck (Colorado St)
  • Jalen Suggs - Minnehaha
  • Tyrell Terry - De La Salle (Stanford)
  • Tyler Wahl - Lakeville North (Wisconsin)
  • Kerwin Walton - Hopkins
5 Underclassmen You Need to Know
  • Prince Aligbe - Minnehaha
  • Kendall Brown - East Ridge
  • Tre Holloman - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Chet Holmgren - Minnehaha
  • Riley Mahlman - Lakeville South
11 Local Teams to Watch
  • Cretin-Derham Hall
  • De La Salle
  • East Ridge
  • Eden Prairie
  • Hopkins
  • Lakeville North
  • Minnehaha Academy
  • Minneapolis North
  • Park Center
  • Prior Lake
  • Wayzata
Current 10 Games or More Streaks In Conference Play
  • De La Salle - 28 wins
  • South St. Paul - 28 road losses
  • Minneapolis North - 27 wins
  • Minnehaha Academy - 26 wins (12 in a row overall)
  • Park of Cottage Grove - 23 losses total and 19 in a row at home
  • Cretin-Derham Hall - 18 wins
  • Nova Classical Academy - 16 wins
  • Apple Valley - 15 wins
  • Hopkins - 14 wins
  • Maranatha Christian Academy - 13 wins
  • Champlin Park - 12 wins
  • Legacy Christian Academy - 12 losses
  • Math and Science Academy - 12 losses
  • St. Paul Johnson - 12 wins
  • St. Agnes - 11 losses
Last year saw 2 long losing streaks broken with South St. Paul and Mounds Park Academy breaking their long droughts in overall league play.  South St. Paul still has a long road losing streak to break after both league wins were at home last year.  They have only 2 league road wins in the last 10 seasons.  That said, their 2 home league wins last year doubled their total of the previous 9 seasons.  Apple Valley saw a 40+ game league winning streak snapped which left Tre Jones at 88-2 and all 5 league titles in his league time with the Eagles

Season Thoughts
Class AAAA looks to be very deep this season with no real clear cut favorite.  Hopkins has a loaded starting 5 but questions and youth beyond that.  Not to mention the black cloud of back to back section final losses to Wayzata hanging over them.  Park Center and Eden Prairie each have a bunch of experienced, talented and versatile pieces for this year and next.  East Ridge and Prior Lake boast big lineups and are ready to contend for the AAAA title as well.  The battle of Mr Basketball contenders Tyler Wahl and Matt Hurt should be very interesting in section 1.  But can Rochester John Marshall finally figure out Lakeville North after losing 6 straight section finals to the Panthers?  How quickly does Cretin-Derham Hall and their new roster come together?

As to the other classes, does De La Salle return to the top in AAA?  Certainly their road in section 6 won't be the meat grinder that it has been in recent years.  Can anybody take the throne in AA from Minnehaha.  Perham gets the 1st shot at that question on the 1st Saturday of the season in a dynamite AA matchup.  Minneapolis North will also have a say late in the regular season.

Lastly, how much more conference realignment is in store for next season?  We already know the moves for Rogers (NW Suburban), Richfield (Tri-Metro), Irondale (Suburban East) and the new Skyline Conference.  Buffalo and St. Michael-Albertville were just added to the Lake Conference.  Though I wish they would have gone to the NW Suburban so that league could finally split into 2 groups of 8.  What happens with the 7 team Metro West and does that impact the Wright County East?  The small schools get it too with the MCAA losing all its eastern members and its flagship program Maranatha to the Skyline.  That league is now down to 7 and that includes Bethany who's playing as an independent this year.  Is it the end of the league?  How do changes there end up impacting the TCAC with that league also losing 2 top members to the Skyline.  Kaleidoscope and Eagle Ridge will soon need homes, would the MCAA take them to stay alive?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have a different take than mine? You can provide your take here.