Why gopher hoops isn't hopeless.

Dan Monson did wonders for running this program into the ground. But Minnesota isn't as bad a job as you might think. Here's why

1) After Detroit and Chicago, what's the next best recruiting area in the Big Ten. I would contend its the MSP area. Are there enough good players here? Ask Northern Iowa and Bradley about that since they raid this area. Ask Bo Ryan and Tom Crean if local kids are good enough to play big time D1 ball. Even NDSU steals players from here.

2) Williams Arena, do I need to say more.

3) With Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin as recruiting opposition, where would you rather go to school and play? I think the metro could be a big advantage there.

Abbreviations Key

Abbreviations by Conference. Note that the most schools that start with a city name followed by a school name usually are referred to by school portion of the name only. Ex: Armstrong and Cooper for the Robbinsdale schools, Kennedy and Jefferson for the Bloomington schools and of course all of the St. Paul and Minneapolis schools. North = Minneapolis North, NSP or North (St. Paul) is used to reference the other North high school.

Classic Suburban
  • Henry Sibley ->Sibley
  • Hill-Murray -> HM
  • North (St. Paul) -> NSP
  • St. Thomas Academy -> STA
  • South St. Paul -> SSP
  • Apple Valley -> AV
  • Eastview -> EV
  • Eden Prairie -> EP
  • Concordia (Bloomington) -> C-Bl
  • Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity -> LP/HT
  • Maranatha Christian Academy -> MCA
  • Meadow Creek Christian Academy -> MCCA
  • New Life Academy -> NLA
  • Southwest Christian -> SWC
  • West Lutheran -> WL
  • Academy of Holy Angels-> AHA
North Suburban
  • Benilde St. Margaret's -> BSM
  • Columbia Heights -> CH
  • Totino-Grace -> TG
Northwest Suburban
  • Maple Grove -> MG
  • Park Center -> PC
Suburban East
  • Cretin-Derham Hall -> CDH
  • Forest Lake -> FL
  • Mounds View -> MV
  • White Bear Lake -> WBL
  • Brooklyn Center -> BC
  • Concordia (Roseville) -> Concordia
  • DeLaSalle -> DLS
  • Mounds Park Academy -> MPA
  • St. Bernard's -> SB
  • St. Croix Lutheran -> SCL
  • St. Paul Academy -> SPA
  • Christ's Household of Faith -> CHOF
  • St. Michael-Albertville -> STMA

The Czar's Basketball Library

Here's a list of basketball materials that are in The Czar's basketball library.

Winning Hoops Coaching Reports
  • Backdoor Offense
  • Buzzer Beaters
  • Ferocious Full-Court Presses
  • Lock Down Defenses Part 1
  • Lock Down Defenses Part 2
  • Out-Of-Bounds Strategies
  • Pressure Beaters
  • Scouting the Opposition
  • Stoppers! Time-Tested Defensive Drills
  • Swarm Defense
  • Zone Busters

Contact The Czar

You too can contribute to this blog and there are many ways to do so. Here are just a couple of examples
  • If you saw a game and want people to know about it, write up a report on the game and email it to me. If I like what you wrote, I'll post it giving you credit for it. While I do reserve the right to edit the post for clarity, my intent is to leave the spirit of your text intact. Click here to see an example. My goal will be to post as many of these as possible, but I make no promises.

  • Is there an event that people don't know enough about that you'd like to make known (ex: a team camp, scrimmage, showcase event like the East Metro Showcase)? Email me about it and I'll gladly try to spread the word.
And of course, if you enjoy reading this, spread the word to others who may also enjoy it.

Questions, comments, suggestions, corrections, broken links, news items, events to cover or anything else? They are always welcome. You can click here to contact me.

Editorial Policy

As the blog title states, I focus almost all of my attention on the Minneapolis/St. Paul high school boys basketball scene. That includes anything from regular high school games to spring/summer AAU games that include local players. It also includes recruiting info, interviews, rankings, coaching changes etc. I do make a trip back to Wisconsin each season to see at least one game, but I try to do that outside of the local boys season. For the top Wisconsin players and teams, I may comment on them here especially if there's a local connection. I will go watch the local high school girls play when the boys aren't playing, but I won't write much about it.

I cover the following Twin Cities sections
  • 3AAA, 4AAA, 6AAA
  • 4AA
  • 4A
I cover the following conferences (102 teams + metro area independents)
  • Classic Lake
  • Classic Suburban
  • Lake
  • Minneapolis City
  • MCAA
  • Missota
  • North Suburban
  • Northwest Suburban
  • St. Paul City
  • Suburban East
  • Tri-Metro
  • Metro area independents like CHOF, Minnesota Transitions, Spectrum etc
Writing Schedule
From mid-September until the start of the season I follow the multitude of fall leagues in the metro.

I do section and conference previews in late October and early November leading up to the start of practice around Thanksgiving.

During the season my week looks something like this.

Game coverage every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and most Mondays and Wednesdays (when there are games). Saturday usually will have 2 or 3 games that I cover. My posts usually are done late night on game days. I do lots of abbreviating because writing is painful. If any of the abbreviations are unclear, check out the abbreviations key. I go to all of these games as a fan first and a writer second. That means I keep all of my own statistics and notes by hand as I sit with the fans and cheer like anyone else.

Sundays are a recovery and catchup day. I write my weekly column for MinnesotaPreps.com and update my season totals with all of the different sights, sounds and tastes from the week.

As the regular season ends, I preview the sections and give predictions as I try to keep up round by round.

I also cover the spring/summer AAU scene by attending the local events and tracking some of the teams and players as they travel around the country. This may even include a road trip or 2 as I covered our local travel teams in Denver and Chicago in 2009.

The Czar's Profile

The Twin Cities Hoops Czar

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 (pictured). 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.

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 and 5 years as a manager. I also consider myself to be a basketball purist and student of the game. What I write here is best described as a diary of what I see and think as I follow the different teams and travel to the 120+ varsity games I see each season. I hope that you'll find the site to be an interesting source of opinion via my posts and also a valuable place 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 write a weekly basketball column for MinnesotaPreps.com under my real identity, Kevin Alsteens (see my real picture here).

Details of how I cover the season can be read here. If you have corrections, suggestions, ideas or want to contact me, you can always contact me by clicking here.

The Cast of Characters and other stuff you should know

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 royalty theme.
  • The Kingdom - Short for The Czar's Kingdom. Specifically refers to the 11 conferences and independent teams in the metro that I write about.
  • The Old Kingdom - Not to be confused with The Czar's Kingdom. This refers to the La Crosse, Wisconsin area where I grew up. I make a trip back usually once a season to see a game, usually at the beginning of the season or around the holidays.
  • 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.
  • Dacha de Czar - The Czar's home
  • The Crown Prince - The Czar's brother and leader of the Kingdom's army. AKA The Secretary of Defense (SecDef)
  • The Chairman (of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) - The Crown Prince's father and the senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense.
  • The Basketblogger - A friend of The Czar. Will see a game with The Czar from time to time. He did his own blog on the local basketball scene during the 07-08 season before he ran off and got married. You'll see him add comments here from time to time.
  • The Caveman - The Czar's best friend. The nickname is due to a nasty back injury he had back in high school that forced him to sit out an entire season. The huge back brace he had to wear caused him to look hunched over, like a caveman. A high school classmate came up with the nickname but it stuck with me and that's how I've known him ever since.
  • Duchess Bubbles - The artist responsible for helping me with the site images that you see in the blog header.
  • Czar's Seating Rules - This is a reference to where I'm usually located at games. 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 use all caps to express my overwhelming dislike of the offense.  It is not a reference to the team running it.


Welcome to the new TCHoops blog. As a huge fan of Minneapolis/St. Paul boys high school basketball, I'll use this venue to post my thoughts and ideas on the state of local basketball.