Czar's Profile

Mike Fratello
I'm originally known by my TCHoopsCzar moniker (Twin Cities Hoops Czar) on the Minnesota Preps and Minnesota-Scores boys basketball forums. Its a tribute to the one and only Czar of the Telestrator, Mike Fratello. It comes from the early 90s when I feel he should have won the NBA coach of the year award in Cleveland. It also notes the fact that I can't walk by a whiteboard without drawing up a play on it. While there are many variations of the blog title and moniker used, (e.g tchoops, tc hoops czar, tc hoops blog, twin cities hoops blog, etc etc) very often it gets simplified to The Czar.

Twin Cities Hoops Czar
I'm a rabid high school basketball fan with no affiliation or allegiance to any metro school. I focus mostly on the boys basketball scene in the Twin Cities, but I may comment on the girls game or Wisconsin action if there's nothing going on with the boys. My perspective is that of a fan first and foremost. I combine that with my 3 seasons of experience as a player, 5 years as a manager and 3 seasons coaching on the AAU circuit. I also consider myself to be a basketball purist and student of the game. What I write here is best described as an off-beat diary of what I see and think as I follow the different teams and travel to the 140+ varsity games I see each season.  In the lifetime of this site including the 2018-19 season, I've watched more than 1750 varsity games.

I hope that you'll find the site to be an interesting source of opinion via my posts and also a valuable resource to find free information on local players and teams via the many links to other sites that I've provided. If you do enjoy it, please pass the word on to others. In addition to writing this blog, I also wrote for Northstar Hoops Report (2013-2014) and Minnesota Preps (2008 - 2011).  I've been interviewed by KSTP TV during the 2017 Mr. Basketball controversy and by the Star Tribune for the 2017 state tournament.  The Star Tribune also gave their thoughts on the site in 2012 (read it here).

The Characters and Phrases
While I do take basketball seriously, it is only a game. Therefore, in the spirit of The Czar character, I use a royalty theme from time to time to lighten the mood. Here's an explanation of the references within that Russian royalty theme.
  • The Kingdom - Short for The Czar's Kingdom. Specifically refers to the 12 conferences and independent teams in the metro that I write about. 
  • The Rodina - means Motherland, see The Kingdom
  • The Old Kingdom - Not to be confused with The Czar's Kingdom. This usually refers to the La Crosse, Wisconsin area where I grew up but is also used to reference anywhere in Wisconsin when I see a game there. I make a trip back usually once a season to see a game, usually at the beginning of the season or around the holidays.
  • Dacha de Czar - The Czar's home 
  • The Emperor (of the Old Kingdom) and Her Majesty - The Czar's parents. You'll see The Emperor mentioned when attending a game with The Czar. Usually once or twice a season and usually in The Old Kingdom.
  • The Emperor's Palace - The home of the Emperor and Her Majesty.
  • The Crown Prince - The Czar's brother and leader of the Kingdom's army. AKA The Secretary of Defense (SecDef)
  • Czar's Seating Rules - This is a reference to where I can most often be found at a game. It means top row against something with a back rest due to morbid obesity, center court and opposite the benches. 
  • Bolshevik! - Remember that it was the Bolsheviks who overthrew the Russian Czar (Nicholas II) during the Russian Revolution of 1917-1918. In context of writings here, used to express a high degree of disgust with something or someone. 
  • THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE - This is my reference to The Flex Offense.  I find that most teams run this offense like mindless robots and its almost always brutally painful to watch.  Hence I always use all caps to express my overwhelming dislike of the offense.  It is not a reference to the team running it.  Same feelings apply to its ugly step-sister, The Swing Offense, after seeing it run by too many Wisconsin teams.