08-09 North Suburban Preview

This is the 7th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed the 1st 6 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, we take a look at the North Suburban Conference.

Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks (2007 Season 23-9 4th Place AAAA, 17-3)
Discussion of the North Suburban in 08-09 has to start with the Hawks. They return basically everybody from last year's state qualifying squad. Joe Bright and Kenquane Brown return to man the front line. Freddie Burton returns to man the point and Quincy Bethea is a 2 guard who can light it up. Bethea also does a nice job of finding people off of penetration. Not to mention, star Rodney Williams Jr also returns. They have plenty of scoring and athleticism. An absolute nightmare to play against.

Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights (2007 Season 29-3 AAA State Champions, 19-1)
The Red Knights lose Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin) and Armond Battle (Tulsa) to the D1 ranks from the state title team of a year ago. They also lose their only other regular big guy Stu Neville. But coach John Moore still has plenty coming back. Justin Segal returns to run the point. Darren Glover gives them a shooter to replace a Matt Thomas. Peter Crawford will attempt to fill Battle's role. After watching him during fall league play, he looks poised to have a real breakout year. Size is a question. Will sophomore Myles Barnes get some looks up front?

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2007 Season 18-11, 13-7)
Losing Tim Merritt and Cory Polta costs them their inside play. Biggest loss is the inside/out versatility of Bemidji State commit Taylor Hall. He was really the guy who made them a different team last year. Lefty point guard Shaun Jensen returns along with guard Trey Scott who was just named a player of the week for week 1 of the Breakdown fall league. If junior Elijah Sabah can replace some of Cory Polta's inside play, the Panthers will be near the top of the league again.

Irondale Knights (2007 Season 15-12, 12-8)
The Knights return guard Rayveen Banks, but lose Colin Utke's size. Bjorn Westlund also returns at a guard spot. Another team that may have concerns with size.

St. Louis Park Orioles (2007 Season 15-12, 11-9)
Head coach Larry Ronglien moves on to UW-Stout. The roster has left too. Sophomore Aaron Ziman will have to be one of the youngsters to step up.

Fridley Tigers (2007 Season 15-13, 10-10)
The Tigers lose most everything but do return a nice piece in senior forward Isaiah Thomas. They're a well-coached squad with good tradition so I expect more wins than their talent shows.

Columbia Heights Hylanders (2007 Season 13-14, 8-12)
Coach Willie Braziel's squad was one of the best turnaround stories of last season and it looks to continue here. Junior guards Jacob Thomas and Harold Rainey return to man the backcourt. Senior Akrau Imbu will have to be their guy up front. Juniors guards Marcus Shaw and Larry Harris are also very talented. Size will be a struggle for them, but don't be surprised if this squad makes another jump this season. Next year will be a year to really keep an eye on them.

St. Francis Fighting Saints (2007 Season 10-17, 8-12)
Longtime head coach Ron Larson (28 years) retired and then took the Anoka-Ramsey job so the Saints will have a new voice this season. Center Andy Grzesik-Grimm is gone but guards Joe Foss and Alex Balluff return with big Seth Akason.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2007 Season 6-20, 5-15)
The Eagles lose a ton of seniors led by guard Micah Koehn and post Nate Uher. Junior guard Johnathon "Tazz" Crockett returns as a player who is very good defensively and quick enough to develop into a nice offensive player. I'll also be watching to see what kind of impact junior forward Mohammed Kromah makes.

Chisago Lakes Wildcats (2007 Season 6-21, 4-16)
The Wildcats may return the 2nd best player in the league in 6'8 big man Josh Figini. He had a monster year of 22 PPG and 11 RPG last year. He can step out and shoot it all the way to the 3 point line as he made almost 1 triple per game. Unfortunately, there's not much around him.

North Branch Vikings (2007 Season 8-19, 3-17)
The Vikings lose their best player Jake Chambers and also lose John Lindstrom. They'll look to junior Kyle Grote to step up this season.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Robbinsdale Cooper
  2. Benilde-St. Margaret's
  3. Spring Lake Park
  4. Columbia Heights
  5. St. Francis
  6. Irondale
  7. Fridley
  8. Totino-Grace
  9. Chisago Lakes
  10. St. Louis Park
  11. North Branch
Player of the Year: Rodney Williams Jr - Robbinsdale Cooper

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Columbia Heights at BSM - December 12th
  • Cooper at Columbia Heights - December 16th
  • BSM at Spring Lake Park - January 13th
  • Columbia Heights at Spring Lake Park - January 16th
  • Cooper at BSM - January 27th
  • BSM at Columbia Heights - February 3rd
  • Spring Lake Park at BSM - February 19th
  • Cooper at Spring Lake Park - February 27th
  • BSM at Cooper - March 6th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Cooper at Armstrong - December 12th
  • Eden Prairie vs Cooper - January 3rd (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Minnetonka at Cooper - January 24th
  • Hopkins at Cooper - February 3rd
  • De La Salle at BSM - February 7th
  • Columbia Heights at St. Bernard's - February 12th

Walters comments on another new grassroots program

In today's column, Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press remarks that Mike Miller plans to start a local AAU team like he did in Memphis. In Memphis, he had a team called M33M that was absolutely loaded with talent. It even had a clothing line with its own website. I believe he also is part of the Canada M33M program. They play in all the big events so this will be another huge addition to the local basketball scene.

08-09 Missota Conference Preview

(Czar's Note: 10:30 PM 10/30/08, Tor Anderson has transferred from Prior Lake to Minnetonka, this preview was written before that information was available.)

This is the 6th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed the 1st 5 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, we take a look at the Missota Conference.

Shakopee Sabers (2007 Season 24-5, 10-4)
The Sabers lose a good senior class that included guards Jake Ewing, DJ Killeen and Chase Hentges who were all important players for them last year. Star wing Matt Zager returns to lead the way. Few players play as hard on every play as he does. The Sabers will be small, but they'll have quickness and be as disciplined as any team in the metro. I bet against them last year after losing star Eric Carlson to NDSU, I'm not making that mistake again.

New Prague Trojans (2007 Season 23-6, 10-4)
New Prague loses high scoring junior guard Tony Johnson who averaged almost 20 PPG last season. They also lose forward Adam Michel. Guard Danny Geiger will look to pick up the slack.

Prior Lake Lakers (2007 Season 17-10, 10-4)
The Lakers had the conference title on a platter last year before losing 2 heart-breakers by a total of 4 points in their last 2 league games to drop into a 3 way tie for 1st. They return one of the top inside-out duos in the league with 6'10 Deryck Ludwig (SW MN St commit) inside and junior guard Tor Anderson (15.3 PPG). With those 2 and role players like Ben Snyder and junior Andrew Dale, the Lakers have the tools to redeem themselves this year.

Holy Angels Stars (2007 Season 18-11, 8-6)
Former Henry head coach Larry McKenzie brings his career mark of 202-34 to the Stars. This season he won't have the talent that he had at Henry, but he does have a couple of players to work with. Tough guard Stoddard Barnhill and 6'9 James Pfitzinger were last year's leaders and are gone along with role player Willie Baregi. Point guard Tyler Bredow and post Sahr Ngekia (better known as Bonzi Wells here) are a good start. Sam Gullickson could also play a bigger role. 2 things I'm watching for are to see what coach McKenzie does with his defensive scheme since he doesn't have his usual athletes and to see how much side pick and roll he runs with Bredow and Ngekia. He ran a ton of it with PG Al Nolen and PF Robert Eppinger in his Henry days.

Northfield Raiders (2007 Season 13-13, 7-7)
Northfield also returns a potent inside-out punch with guard Christian Shepley and Northern Colorado commit Emmanuel Addo on the block. Addo is a smooth lefty with a big body who's a tough matchup on the post. Both had nice summers with the Magic Robertson squad. They beat Prior Lake in both meetings last year including a 1 pt win in the regular season finale to cost Prior Lake the outright league title.

Red Wing Wingers (2007 Season 16-12, 5-9)
The Wingers lose top scorers Kaleb Rosenow and Adam Thygesen. A .500 mark will be difficult to come by.

Farmington Tigers (2007 Season 13-14, 5-9)
After getting off to a very nice 8-1 start last season, they stumbled home with a 5-13 finish. The Tigers return a very nice group of seniors led by a pair of quality guards Josh Zitzmann and Jake Lippert. They also return the much improved David Steege to provide a solid inside presence.

Hutchinson Tigers (2007 Season 9-18, 1-13)
Top scorer Ben Aalfs is gone along with most of the rest of their scoring. More long days ahead for the Tigers.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Prior Lake
  2. Northfield
  3. Shakopee
  4. Holy Angels
  5. Farmington
  6. New Prague
  7. Red Wing
  8. Hutchinson
Player of the Year: Matt Zager - Shakopee

Game that will determine the conference title
  • Northfield at Shakopee - January 27th
  • Prior Lake at Shakopee - January 30th
  • Northfield at Prior Lake - February 10th
  • Shakopee at Northfield - February 20th
  • Shakopee at Prior Lake - February 24th
  • Prior Lake at Northfield - March 6th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Prior Lake at Waconia - December 13th
  • Northfield at St. Thomas Academy - December 16th
  • Prior Lake at Lakeville North - December 18th
  • Minneapolis Henry at Shakopee - January 3rd
  • Shakopee at Robbinsdale Armstrong - January 9th
  • Eastview at Prior Lake - January 10th
  • Owatonna at Northfield - January 17th

Fall League Schedules for Nov 1/2 2008

The Washburn Fall League kicks off on Saturday with this schedule. 10 teams total in the league.

Saturday November 1st, 2008
9 AM: Washburn vs Columbia Heights, Brooklyn Center vs Arlington
10 AM: Mpls North vs Harding, Orono vs Roosevelt
11 AM: Concordia vs Fridley, Mpls North vs Harding
Noon: Fridley vs Brooklyn Center, Orono vs Harding
1 PM: Concordia vs Roosevelt, (No 2nd game)

Sunday marks the beginning of the top shelf Minnetonka Fall League. 18 teams participating there. Here's the opening week schedule there.

Sunday November 2nd, 2008

11:30 AM
Kennedy vs BSM - Tonka Court 1
Wayzata vs Hopkins White - Tonka Court 2
Osseo vs Sibley - Tonka Court 3
Minnetonka vs Stillwater - 43 Hoops Court 1
Orono vs Waconia - 43 Hoops Court 2

1:00 PM
Park Center vs Duluth East - Tonka Court 1
Edina vs Tartan - Tonka Court 2
Maple Grove vs Mounds View - Tonka Court 3
Armstrong vs Hopkins Blue - 43 Hoops Court 1
Minnetonka vs Waconia - 43 Hoops Court 2

2:30 PM
Wayzata vs Sibley - Tonka Court 1
BSM vs Osseo - Tonka Court 2
Kennedy vs Hopkins White - Tonka Court 3
Hopkins Blue vs Stillwater - 43 Hoops Court 1
Armstrong vs Orono - 43 Hoops Court 2

4:00 PM
Edina vs Mounds View - Tonka Court 1
Maple Grove vs Duluth East - Tonka Court 2
Park Center vs Tartan - Tonka Court 3

The Concordia Fall League also continues on Sunday with this schedule

11:00 AM
Woodbury Blue vs Roseville - Ct 1
Woodbury White vs Mahtomedi - Ct 2
Owatonna vs Park - Ct 3
Minnehaha vs Andover - Ct 4

11:50 AM
Holy Angels vs Southwest - Ct 1
Hill-Murray vs St. Bernard's - Ct 2
Centennial vs Concordia - Ct 3
Woodbury Blue vs Mahtomedi - Ct 4

12:40 PM
Woodbury White vs Park - Ct 1
Owatonna vs Andover - Ct 2
Roseville vs Minnehaha - Ct 3
Holy Angels vs St. Bernard's - Ct 4

1:30 PM
Hill-Murray vs Concordia - Ct 1
Southwest vs Centennial - Ct 2

Gopher Hole talks to the Washburn stars

How timely that after I did my Minneapolis City Conference preview, Gopher Hole caught up with some of the seniors for the Washburn Millers to talk about the upcoming season. They got words from Dylan Hale, Cedric Martin, DeAaron Hearn and Noah Sheppard. Read it here.

Note: It appears Thomas Cunningham will remain at South and not be at Washburn as I reported in my Minneapolis City preview.

08-09 MCAA Preview

This is the 5th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed the 1st 4 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment we go small school and look at the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association.

Maranatha Christian Mustangs (2007 Season 28-2, 10-0)
The Mustangs are to this league what Hopkins is to the Classic Lake. 60-2 vs league opponents over the last 4 seasons. Last regular season conference game they lost was February 3rd, 2005 at Bethany Academy. The only other loss was a loss last year in the conference tournament title game to SW Christian. The loss of all everything David Hanson will hurt as will the loss of junior Milos Ristanovic. But they are still loaded with talent. Freshman Darian Pittman starts again at the point. Another Hanson (Junior Josh Hanson) is in the pipeline ready to break out. Senior Matt Eickmann, sophomore Savaugn Jordan and junior Jay Higgins are returning players who saw varsity minutes last year. Tyler Campion's loss as a rebounder and hustle player will also be missed. While they lack experience and the big star they've had in the past, head coach Jeff Wall gives them a big advantage on the bench.

SW Christian Stars (2007 Season 17-11, 8-2)
For once the best player in the league doesn't reside at Maranatha. Caleb Palkert is a 6'7 player who can step out and shoot in addition to be a factor inside in league play. They also return guard Peter Sorensen. They do need to replace scoring with the losses of Brady Griffith, Austin Petersen and Garrett Nordling. Will they get Palkert shots in clutch situations?

New Life Academy Eagles (2007 Season 15-13, 8-2)
The loss of high scoring wing Max Banchy and Josh Lancette is going to be tough to replace. However, they return post Robbie Anderstrom as an effective inside player. Look for sophomore Joe Mann to pick up some of the scoring load.

West Lutheran Warriors (2007 Season 18-10, 7-3)
The Warriors return sharpshooting lefty point guard Michael Lindberg. However they lose much of the rest of the roster.

Heritage Christian Eagles (2007 Season 14-12, 6-4)
After a disappointing season, the Eagles lose one of the top scorers in the metro Stu Herman (25.6 PPG) and the 2nd option in their system John Hirte. They do return junior big man Sam Schwalbe. He'll be expected to pick up some of the lost scoring along with Nathan Johnson.

Meadow Creek Christian Saints (2007 Season 10-17, 5-5)
The Saints lose very little from last year's middle of the pack roster. Look for returnees Jason Budish, Matt Kuik and Elliot Baldwin to lead the way to an improved season.

Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity Bulldogs (2007 Season 10-17, 5-5)
The Bulldogs return high scoring forward Chris Neumann who's a tough matchup at 6'3. He had a nice summer with the MN Select-DeKok club. Junior center Brandon Schaust also returns.

Bethany Eagles (2007 Season 10-16, 3-7)
A rough year for coach Jeff Ray's Eagles. He does a terrific job but he loses the 1 goto threat he had in David Glover and his next 2 best scorers. He'll look to rebuild with a young roster. The improvement of sophomore Tony Ervin will be part of that process.

Trinity Tri-Hawks (2007 Season 6-19, 1-9)
Trinity was another traditionally strong program that really struggled last year. They look to return to the days of old after a dismal season last season. Mark Olander returns but look for another long season.

Concordia Academy-Bloomington Lancers (2007 Season 5-21, 1-9)
The Lancers return 6'7 Senior center Andrew Erdman and junior Jacob Moe as they continue to build the program.

Providence Academy Lions (2007 Season 3-22, 1-9)
The Lions lose a large number of seniors. They'll try and improve with sophomore Joe Zangel and junior John Lundbeck.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Maranatha
  2. SW Christian
  3. New Life
  4. Meadow Creek
  5. Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
  6. West Lutheran
  7. Heritage
  8. Bethany
  9. Trinity
  10. Concordia-Bloomington
  11. Providence
Player of the Year: Caleb Palkert - SW Christian

Game that will determine the conference title
  • SW Christian at Maranatha - January 30th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Bethlehem Academy at SW Christian - December 5th
  • Minnesota Transitions at SW Christian - February 6th
  • Brooklyn Center at Maranatha - March 2nd

08-09 Minneapolis City Preview

This is the 4th installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed the 1st 3 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, a look at the Minneapolis City Conference.

Henry Patriots (2007 Season 20-12, 10-2)
The Patriots lose some productive players. Explosive guard Mandela Jackson, wing Jerry Sweezy and versatile defender Jerome Vaughn are all gone. However there is good youth. Juniors Jordan Hughes and Louis Cox along with Fred Henry form a small but extremely quick backcourt. Evan Gray and Alonzo Whitfield return up front.

Washburn Millers (2007 Season 16-12, 10-2)
The Millers return plenty of talent with Cedric Martin, Noah Sheppard and Ra'Shede Hageman. They also welcome transfers DeAaron Hearn from Richfield, Thomas Cunningham from South and Dylan Hale from Central. They will be as talented as anyone in AAA. Can they put it all together and become the 1st team in 15 years besides Henry and North to play in the Twin Cities Game and then get thru a tough section 6AAA. (Czar's Note: 11/14/08, although I've previously corrected it, I'll put the correction here too. Thomas Cunningham is at North)

Roosevelt Teddies (2007 Season 17-11, 7-5)
The Teddies lose Derek Scully, Torreio Williams and Xavier Jones along with Dylan Clarke-Knaeble and Josh Mason. Very little returning so I'll be very interested to see what coach Dennis Stockmo can do with this squad.

North Polars (2007 Season 15-11, 7-5)
Despite a down year, North still won 15 games last season. They'll have to replace a pair of productive senior perimeter players Chamar Wilson and Curtis Johnson. Junior Ariel Deloney and sophomore Malik El-Amin give coach Bo Powell a couple of nice youngsters to build around.

South Tigers (2007 Season 13-14, 5-7)
They lose their high scoring guard trio of Deshawn Tyler, Michael Adams and Devon Lamb. In addition they lose their best big man and leading scorer Thomas Cunningham to Washburn. Guard Victor Easter and Will Ferguson return to lead the way.

Edison Tommies (2007 Season 14-14, 3-9)
Lose basically everything except Jonathon Connor. They'll have some athletes but they did not look good in the Minnehaha fall league. A weak schedule will increase the win total, but they'll struggle against city competition.

Southwest Lakers (2007 Season 5-20, 0-12)
Southwest looks to turn around their program under new coach Tom Weko. He comes to SW after leading the Mounds View girls program. They return big guy Dominique Dawson and leading scorer Jonathan Berry. With a new found discipline, I think they're improved this season

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Washburn
  2. Henry
  3. North
  4. South
  5. Southwest
  6. Roosevelt
  7. Edison
Player of the Year: Cedric Martin - Washburn

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Washburn at Henry - January 16th
  • Henry at Washburn - February 19th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins at Washburn - December 12th
  • Washburn at Johnson - December 16th
  • Henry at St. Thomas Academy - December 20th
  • Washburn vs Osseo - December 30th (projected Granite City semifinal at St. Cloud Apollo)
  • Henry at De La Salle - March 3rd
  • Johnson vs Washburn rematch - March 7th (at Arlington, projected Twin Cities game)

08-09 Lake Conference Preview

This is the third installment in the 08-09 Season Preview series. If you missed the 1st 2 previews, you can use the Section and Conference Previews page to go back and read them. In this installment, a look at the Lake Conference.

Eden Prairie Eagles (2007 Season 19-9, 16-4)
The Eagles lose an experienced senior class of Ryan Grant and Carter Bykowski. They return Creighton commit Ethan Wragge and junior Brett Ervin on the wings. Wragge is one of the best shooters in the league and with his 6'7 length, he's a tough cover. Ervin also has size and can play inside and out. With their tradition and 2 very good wings, expect them to be in the title hunt again this season.

Eastview Lightning (2007 Season 20-8, 14-6)
The Lightning lose a very good senior class. Spencer Pratt, Ethan Thomforde, Michael Grinnell and Johnie Sanders were all major contributors last season. The loss of Carlos Emory (transfer) is a major loss up front. The backcourt will be fine with Vinard Birch and Drew Johnson returning. Look for Johnson to get the shots that Pratt got last year. Birch is one of the best on ball defenders in the state at the point and his offensive game has really developed. Tim Massie returns to provide some size.

Bloomington Kennedy Eagles (2007 Season 19-9, 14-6)
New coach Jared Nuness has a project on his hands. The entire perimeter group that drove the Eagles success last season (Bobby Fong, Carlton Starr and Alfred Jaryan) is gone. Junior guard Deron Murphy returns as their best player.

Burnsville Blaze (2007 Season 20-10, 14-6)
The Blaze will have to replace shooter Max Van Ordstrand and one of the more dynamic scorers in the metro Tarrell Clark. But look to the 2010 class to start doing just that. Devon Knopke returns as a tough player to defend off the dribble. Jack Ghizoni is a shooter and Jeff Fallat came on late in the summer. I'll watching to see what he does this season. Their running game should be in full force and makes them one of the more fun teams to watch.

Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars (14-11, 10-10)
The Jags record last season is misleading. 7 of those 11 losses were by 8 points or less and all 7 were in conference play. Sophomore Marcus Alipate returns to man the point. Ellis Libby returns as a defender. Moses Alipate gives them size and scoring. They'll miss the scoring of Aaron Barmore. Expect them to be tough defensively but will they find enough offense.

Lakeville North Panthers (13-14, 10-10)
Look for the Panthers to be a dangerous squad in 08-09. They return a very good front line with Chris Orgas, Tyler Swanson and David Berthene. Sharpshooter Aaron Gallegos returns in the backcourt with Clifford Johnson. Look for Dajon Newell to make a bigger contribution after a very good summer with MN Fury 16 South squad.

Eagan Wildcats (14-13, 9-11)
The Wildcats return a solid backcourt of Charlie Baker and Jameson Parsons. The loss of 6'10" Garrett Bassett leaves a big hole in the middle.

Rosemount Irish (13-14, 8-12)
The Irish will have to deal with the loss of the big front line of Andrew Brommer (Iowa) and Tim Sauer. Leading scorer Mark Weiloch is also gone. Look for Zach Vraa to make a bigger contribution this season.

Apple Valley Eagles (11-17, 8-12)
The Eagles will have to replace Devin Dirth but they return a wealth of talent. Guards Mitch Bires and Varmah Sonie form a very nice backcourt. 6'5" David Bauer returns as the leading scorer. Sophomore big Thomas Shalk returns inside after getting major varsity minutes in the 2nd half of last season.

Lakeville South Cougars (5-20, 4-16)
They struggled last year with a young lineup. 6-6 Senior Blake Shay leads the way. Sophomore Riley West started every game last year at the point. Sophomore Alex Richter has a big motor and is one of the better sophomores that people don't talk about.

(Czar's Note 10/30/08: Blake Nichols also got minutes at the point for the Cougars last season)

Chaska Hawks (4-23, 3-17)
The Hawks return 8 seniors including the versatile Tyler Goetz and guards Andrew Martin and Derek Jerde. Bronson Byrne gives them an effective big body down low. There's also plenty of young talent in the pipeline with Max Watts and Ross Travis. They could be the turnaround story of this season like Columbia Heights was last season.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Eden Prairie
  2. Lakeville North
  3. Apple Valley
  4. Eastview
  5. Burnsville
  6. Chaska
  7. Bloomington Jefferson
  8. Eagan
  9. Lakeville South
  10. Bloomington Kennedy
  11. Rosemount
Player of the Year: Ethan Wragge - Eden Prairie

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Eden Prairie at Apple Valley - January 6th
  • Lakeville North at Eden Prairie - January 13th
  • Lakeville North at Apple Valley - January 20th
  • Apple Valley at Eden Prairie - February 13th
  • Eden Prairie at Lakeville North - February 20th
  • Apple Valley at Lakeville North - February 27th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Eden Prairie at Cretin-Derham Hall - December 4th
  • Sibley at Apple Valley - December 5th
  • Eden Prairie vs Robbinsdale Cooper - January 3rd (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Robbinsdale Armstrong at Lakeville North - January 16th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Lakeville North - February 28th

08-09 Classic Suburban Preview

We continue our previews of the 08-09 season with a look at the Classic Suburban.

Henry Sibley Warriors (2007 Season 26-6 AAAA State Runner-Up, 15-1)
The Warriors lose their starting backcourt of Peter Leslie and Noah Kaiser. Leslie's toughness and ball handling will be sorely missed. Kaiser's length and spot as one of the best role players around will also be missed. They also lose reserve post players Kavon Martin and Marcus Garcia who saw plenty of minutes last season. Most teams would have trouble replacing that. But life is good if you're coach Tom Dasovich. He returns the biggest front line in the state with 4 D1 college prospects on it: Mike Rostampour, Jake Kreuser, Chris Halvorsen and Mike Bruesewitz. Juniors Rostampour and Kreuser are ready to break out. Seniors Halvorsen and Bruesewitz are returning starters. Bruesewitz, a Wisconsin commit, is smart and tough and does a little of everything. Halvorsen, a Valpo commit, can jump out of the building. Maurice Hernandez returns as their top shooter. He's a very underrated guard. Point guard will be a work in progress for them.

Tartan Titans (2007 Season 21-7, 12-4)
Tartan returns one of the elite scoring guards in Northern Iowa recruit Marc Sonnen. They also return a load of talent in the sophomore and junior classes. Juniors Manani Beavers and Tim Lubke saw plenty of varsity minutes last year. Sophomore twins Luke and Drew Preiner are very talented and should see increased minutes this season. They lose their post players Shawn Marlowe and James Pritschet which will make them very perimeter oriented.

St. Thomas Academy Cadets (2007 Season 24-7 AAA Runner-Up, 13-3)
The Cadets lose a couple of important players from last year's squad. Post Alex Schneider is gone along with guard Fritz Valdvogel. They do return 4 noteworthy contributors from last season. Mike Fitzgerald is a long 6'5 shooter. Jake Szymanski is a defensive stopper. Mike Ratelle and Tom Anderson also return at the guard spots. Junior Will Patt looks to be an inside presence to replace Schneider. Valdvogel's ability to apply defensive pressure on opposing point guards will be missed. They'll still be tough defensively, but will need to generate their offense from the outside.

Richfield Spartans (2007 Season 13-14, 10-6)
Continuing the theme of small teams, Richfield also lacks size. But they have a ton of small and quick guards. Despite the loss of leading scorer DeAaron Hearn who transfered to Washburn, offense won't be hard to come by. Junior Jay Sewer had a big summer. Renard Robinson will be their power forward at 6'2, but he's one of the better rebounding guards around. Chris Williams and Philip Freeman also return. Shooter Chris Daly graduated so they'll have to find someone who can consistently make the 3.

Mahtomedi Zephyrs (2007 Season 12-14, 6-10)
The Zephyrs lose Anthony Kelley but do return Tyler Carlson and Zach Goodwin. Last year they finished 4-9 and were down 21 at haftime to a 5-21 Highland Park team in their opening round tournament loss.

Simley Spartans (2007 Season 11-16, 8-8)
The Spartans lose 3 of their top 4 scorers, but do return guard Thomas Sims.

North Polars (2007 Season 4-23, 3-13)
The Polars lose only 1 senior so look for them to be improved. Keep an eye on Charlie Choinere for them.

Hill-Murray Pioneers (2007 Season 6-22, 5-11)
The Pioneers lose post man Peter McKeown and guard Troy Larson. They'll look for contributions from young players like Tim Markoe and Rob Daul.

South St. Paul Packers (2007 Season 3-24, 0-16)
They lose leading scorer Matt Kronberg. Expect another very long season in S. St. Paul.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Henry Sibley
  2. Tartan
  3. St. Thomas Academy
  4. Richfield
  5. Mahtomedi
  6. Simley
  7. North
  8. Hill-Murray
  9. South St. Paul
Player of the Year: Mike Bruesewitz - Henry Sibley

Games that will determine the conference title
  • Sibley at Tartan - January 6th
  • Tartan at St. Thomas Academy - January 9th
  • Sibley at St. Thomas Academy - January 16th
  • St. Thomas Academy at Tartan - February 10th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Sibley at Apple Valley - December 5th
  • Osseo at Sibley - December 9th
  • St. Thomas Academy at Cretin-Derham Hall - December 12th
  • Tartan vs St. Cloud Tech - December 13th at Marshall (Breakdown Tipoff Classic)
  • Sibley at Minnetonka - December 16th
  • Minneapolis Patrick Henry at St. Thomas Academy - December 20th
  • Sibley vs Minnetonka rematch - December 30th (Bethel championship, projected title game)
  • Owatonna vs Richfield - Owatonna holiday tournament
  • Sibley vs Madison Memorial - January 3rd at Target Center (Timberwolves Shootout)
  • Hopkins at Sibley - January 9th
  • Minnehaha Academy at St. Thomas Academy - January 31st
  • Rocori at Richfield - February 7th

08-09 Classic Lake Preview

As the clock ticks under 1 month remaining until the start of practice, there's no better time to kick off the Czar's official coverage of the 08-09 regular season. We begin with the Classic Lake Conference. I noted last year that the league was 81-20 in non-conference games in 06-07. In 07-08 the league was even better with a 79-18 record out of league.

Hopkins Royals (2007 Season 27-2, 7-1 conference)
Any discussion of the 08-09 season has to begin with the Hopkins Royals. 26-0 against everyone except Minnetonka last year (1-2 vs the Skippers) with most of the roster returning. So a big season was in store without any help. Then comes U of M recruit Royce White. 4 starters who have D1 scholarships and Marcus Williams is D1 capable at the point. White and Mike Broghammer (Notre Dame commit) with sophomore Marvin Singleton give the Royals a standout front line. In the backcourt, Raymond Cowles (Santa Clara commit), Trent Lockett (Arizona St commit) and Williams give them an outstanding backcourt. There's also depth at the perimeter positions with Moses Sundufu and DJ Peterson. The item to address is the loss of reserve point guard Aaron Anderson (transferred to Osseo). Don't be surprised if freshman lefty Siyani Chambers gets minutes in that spot. This team may be the best collection of talent ever assembled in Minnesota. Anything less than a state title is a disappointment.

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2007 Season 13-15, 1-7 conference)
The Falcons return a ton of experience. David Weber and Damarius Cruz return at the guard spots. Ted Vogt and Ryan Virnig return for an inside presence. Andy Seidlitz slides into the sharpshooter filled by Preston McCourt last season. Then there's sophomore Marquel Curtis as another good wing player. The loss of JD Robinson hurts, but there's still plenty of talent and experience. I think the Falcons improve on a down season last year with a win total approaching 20.

Minnetonka Skippers (2007 Season 28-3 State Champions, 7-1)
Normally a team that loses 7 terrific seniors from a state title team would have a tough time coming back from that. But the Skippers will still be loaded this season. Cole Stefan should be one of the breakout players in the metro now that he'll be the goto man. He's a lights out shooter who can fill it up in a hurry. Kyle Risinger returns to run the point. He provides toughness and experience. Taylor Nelson returns inside and look for Leonard Glass to contribute up front as well. There's still plenty of talent here for 16+ wins.

Wayzata Trojans (2007 Season 20-7, 4-4)
The loss of 15 PPG from wing Nick Rocca is a big loss for the Trojans. However, the cupboard isn't bare here either. Leading scorer Jarrod Peterson returns along with Kellen Taylor up front. Eren Cur also returns. I'll be watching sophomore Eric Robertson to see if he can develop into a player than can fill Rocca's role.

Edina Hornets (2007 Season 14-14, 1-7)
The Hornets return a quality backcourt of Will Deberg and Ben Biewen that averaged almost 25 PPG combined. They'll be a respectable team, but due to the strength of the league, their record won't show it. This happened last year and as a 6 seed they knocked out Missota champion Prior Lake in the 1st round. I won't be surprised if something like that happens again.

Predicted Order of Finish
  1. Hopkins
  2. Robbinsdale Armstrong
  3. Minnetonka
  4. Wayzata
  5. Edina
Player of the Year: Royce White - Hopkins

Games that will determine the conference title
None. Watch these games for second place.
  • Armstrong at Minnetonka - February 6th
  • Minnetonka at Armstrong - February 24th
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Hopkins at Washburn - December 12th
  • Cooper at Armstrong - December 12th
  • Minnetonka at Champlin Park - December 12th
  • Sibley at Minnetonka - December 16th
  • Hopkins at St. Bernard's - December 18th
  • Minnetonka vs Eden Prairie - Dec 29th (Bethel tournament, projected semifinal)
  • St. Bernard's vs Armstrong - Dec 30th (Catholic Spirit tournament, projected semifinal)
  • Sibley vs Minnetonka rematch - Dec 30th (Bethel championship, projected title game)
  • St. Cloud Tech at Hopkins - January 5th (Czar's Note 11/14/08: This game is no longer on the schedule)
  • Hopkins at Sibley - January 9th
  • Hopkins vs Milwaukee Vincent - January 23rd 8 PM at St. Paul Johnson (East Metro Showcase)
  • Minnetonka at Cooper - January 24th
  • Wayzata vs Milwaukee Lutheran - January 24th 8 PM at St. Paul Johnson (East Metro Showcase)
  • Hopkins at Cooper - February 3rd

NY2LA Sports names 2009 Top 150

NY2LA Sports released their 2009 Top 150 this week.

Minnesota Players
Royce White #20
Rodney Williams #24

Wisconsin Players
Jamil Wilson #10
Jeronne Maymon #26

Others who played locally
DeMarcus Cousins #4
DJ Richardson #48

In September, the 4 players from Minnesota and Wisconsin were named the top 4 in the North Region (read that here)

Week 2 Concordia Fall League schedule

11:00 AM:
  • Mahtomedi vs Centennial - Ct 1
  • Woodbury-White (#2 squad) vs Andover - Ct 2
  • Roseville vs Holy Angels - Ct 3
  • Woodbury-Blue (#1 squad) vs Mpls SW - Ct 4
11:50 AM:
  • Minnehaha vs Mpls SW - Ct 1
  • Woodbury-Blue vs Holy Angels - Ct 2
  • Owatonna vs St. Bernard's - Ct 3
  • Park vs Hill-Murray - Ct 4
12:40 PM:
  • Roseville vs Andover - Ct 1
  • Mahtomedi vs St. Bernard's - Ct 2
  • Woodbury-White vs Minnehaha - Ct 3
  • Park vs Centennial - Ct 4
1:30 PM: Owatonna vs Hill-Murray - Ct 1

Week 5 Schedule for 2008 Magic Fall League

Here is the schedule for the games in the Magic Fall League this weekend. All games at Bloomington Jefferson. As always check the table for schedule changes.

Saturday (All games on Court 2)
3 PM: BSM vs Watertown
4 PM: BSM vs Raiders
5 PM: Watertown vs Raiders

12 PM: Raiders vs Prior Lake - Ct 3
1 PM: Raiders vs Eagan - Ct 3
1 PM: Prior Lake vs Eden Prairie - Ct 4
2 PM: Belle Plaine vs Eagan - Ct 3
2 PM: PL Hoops vs TBA - Ct 4
3 PM: Como Park vs Chaska - Ct 3
3 PM: Belle Plaine vs PL Hoops - Ct 4
3 PM: Eden Prairie vs TBA - Ct 5
4 PM: Como Park vs Transitions I - Ct 3
5 PM: Chaska vs Transitions I - Ct 3

Games to watch are the 4 PM Raiders vs BSM game and both Raiders games on Sunday. In the later sessions on Sunday, watch #21 Jordan Jackson for Como Park. He's played well in this event. Also watch #24 Reggie Ray, the junior lefty could be a nice player for them this year. He was impressive in the Twin Cities JV game in March (read about it here).

Season Previews begin this weekend

I'll be starting my annual season preview series this weekend. Look for the 1st one on Friday night as I'll start with a preview the Classic Lake Conference. I'll have my totally unqualified predictions and crazy perspectives for each of the local conferences and for the local sections. I'll also be doing a special high-level preview for the casual fan. These will be based on what I saw last season and this summer.

I'll be updating the Section and Conference Previews link in the 2008-2009 season section on the top left. I'll also have a link to read all of the previews at once.

Interviews and Thoughts from Midnight Madness

Gopher Hole did a couple of interviews at Tubby's Tipoff (midnight madness). One was with a couple of committed Gophers, Royce White and Rodney Williams. The other was with a couple of potential Gophers, Trevor Mbakwe and Chad Calcaterra.

Read the Royce and Rodney Intervew Here

Read the Trevor and Chad Interview Here

Also, if you didn't get a chance to see the Wisconsin midnight madness on the BTN they had each player come out and dance with a member of the dance squad. Jon Leuer did Minnesota proud. Jared Berggren came out and danced to "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice. Joe Krabbenhoft and his cowboy hat win honors for funniest dance moment of the night.

2009 Timberwolves Shootout Pairings Announced

Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press released the Timberwolves Shootout pairings in his column today. Here they are
  • Cloquet vs Pelican Rapids
  • Osseo vs Sioux Falls Roosevelt (SD)
  • Cooper vs Eden Prairie
  • Sibley vs Madison Memorial (WI)
  • Hopkins vs Lake Geneva Badger (WI)
  • St. Cloud Tech vs Manitowoc Roncalli (WI)
My thoughts

This year's Hopkins team is the best Minnesota team to come along in a long time (I think its better than the Kris Humphries, Mitch Henke team). Not to mention this is Minnesota's showcase event. Therefore, I'm disappointed that their game isn't the biggest in the history of the Shootout (e.g the game vs a Top 5 USA Today team that was mentioned right after last year's event). Forrest Larson is a wonderful coach (he's won a state title) and author of the terrific Take It To The Rim video series, but Badger, although they have a great name, isn't one of Wisconsin's elite teams. Milwaukee Vincent wasn't an option since they play Hopkins at the East Metro Showcase in January, but I wish they could have brought in powerhouse Wauwatosa East or someone of that nature or had Madison Memorial play Hopkins instead of Sibley (with all apologies to coach Dasovich and his team). Oshkosh West would have been a great game for Sibley too as they have a couple of good young big guys that would be worth showcasing (David Anderson and David Condon).

Good work by the committee getting the top 4 Minnesota teams and the top 5 MN players (per Rivals). Don't overlook that Cloquet vs Pelican Rapids game, that should be terrific. Sioux Falls Roosevelt's Cody Larson vs Chad Calcaterra in a battle of 2010 bigs would have been fun too. Manitowoc Roncalli (who will also be here for the Border Battle) vs Pelican Rapids would also have been a great pairing at the AA level. Interesting to see St. Cloud Tech and Hopkins in the building together as they will play each other 48 hours after the Shootout (Czar's Note 12/17/08, that Tech at Hopkins game has since been cancelled).

Week 1 of the Concordia Fall League

A very interesting day at Concordia. Former Como Park head coach Dan Brink in the building.

Opening session had Woodbury taking on Centennial. Woodbury turned into a MASH unit very quickly as they lost 1 player to a cut and shortly after another player rolled an ankle. The lack of bench hurt as Woodbury was dragging in the last 2 periods. Nick Quicksell with 24 points on the day. When he was going, Woodbury was in it. When he wasn't, Centennial ran away with things. Woodbury won the opening period with a putback at the horn, got blown out in the 2nd period and lost the 3rd session after Quicksell tried to bring them back from an 11 point deficit.

Owatonna played a very entertaining game vs Holy Angels. Owatonna knocked down a 3 at the horn to win the 1st period. In the 2nd period, Sahr Ngekia got the 1st 5 points for AHA but Owatonna used a 10-2 to get back in the period. They finish the period with a layup with 30 seconds remaining to win that period 21-19. AHA runs away with the 3rd period 21-12. Vaughn Thada who played with Magic 15 Elites this summer with 13 points on the day and a nice job on the defensive end.

Minnehaha Academy got down 9-0 in the 1st period of their game with Owatonna, but came back with a run to tie the 1st period 21 all. Greg Meyer with 2 dunks in an 11-0 run to start the 2nd period. Owatonna got with 13-12 but the Redhawks put the period away with the next 7 points. 22-16 Minnehaha wins the 2nd and they win the 3rd 22-15.

Week 1 of the Breakdown Fall League

Wow, what a zoo out at Kennedy for the Breakdown fall league. 8 courts going for 6 consecutive sessions. 26 varsity teams so the early games had all 8 courts with varsity games, then middle games were all JV and 9th grade. Finally back to the final 10 games of varsity in the late session. Here's what I saw from the busy day.

Disappointing day for Tartan as they start 0-2. Granted no Marc Sonnen and I don't think they had Manani Beavers either, but they did have the Preiner twins and Troy Klingsporn amongst others so they had plenty of talent. Youth hurt them as they didn't have that experienced leadership to help out. But the games vs Lakeville South and a shorthanded Champlin Park squad were games that were very winnable.

TNL lost a tough one to Spring Lake Park (sans Shawn Jensen). After sprinting out to a 15-5 lead, SLP was able to get out to a 36-31 lead with 11:40 left. TNL stayed close the rest of the way, but ultimately couldn't get over the hill. Tough for TNL as most of their squad had already played back to back games in the early session (with Champlin Park and Devon Knopke with Burnsville) before their games in the late session.

(Czar's Note 10/19/08: I failed to note that TNL played without Jasper Duberry, Jay Sewer and Kyle Zimmerman. Zimmerman was out due to injury and Sewer was playing at the same time with Richfield.)

Chad Calcaterra joined the Columbia Heights squad for their games. Overall a quiet day for him. Jacob Thomas productive for CH. He had a nice drive for a dunk and a triple + a triple to end the 1st half to push CH to a 12 point halftime lead. The ending 8-2 run continues with a 24-5 spurt to start the 2nd half. CH rolls to a 66-36 win.

While that CH game was going on, Emmanuel Addo was putting on a show for Northfield vs New Prague. He triggered a 1st half 14-0 run with a free throw and a couple of nice outlet passes for layups. In the 2nd half, they start by giving him a full blown iso on the right wing which he converted. He gets an assist for a 3 and then went left and missed in and out. New Prague doesn't go away though. After being down 14 with 9 minutes left, they cut the lead all the way to 5 with under 4 minutes remaining. But Addo puts the game away by making consecutive straight away triples around a New Prague bucket. He even played point guard late in the game. 24 points and a dominating (and entertaining) performance. Northfield wins 63-51.

Its rare for me to comment on JV action, but in this case I couldn't help but notice the Forest Lake JVs during the middle session. Its fairly rare to see a JV squad execute their offense well for any length of time during the regular season. It was a pleasure to watch how precise the FL JVs were executing their 5 man open-post motion. While I'd like to see them execute their cuts harder on every possession, you can tell they're very well schooled in what they do.

Pump N Run comes to Minnesota

The Double Pump organization is coming to Minnesota. They'll be starting up the new Minnesota Pump N Run program. Double Pump is one of the top organizations in all of grassroots basketball so this is an exciting time for Minnesota basketball.

The Pump N Run will be holding an invitation only clinic on Sunday October 26th at Augsburg. The clinic will be for top prospects in the classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012. Former UCLA head coach Jim Harrick and former Golden State Warriors head coach Eric Musselman will be special guests. Click here to read the clinic brochure.

I had a chance to interview the director of the program Tom Krosschell about it for MN Preps. Read my exclusive interview here.

Week 1 Concordia Fall League schedule

11 AM
  • Woodbury-Blue vs Centennial - Ct 1
  • Roseville vs St. Bernard's - Ct 2
  • Woodbury-White vs Hill-Murray - Ct 3
  • Mahtomedi vs Mpls SW - Ct 4
11:50 AM
  • Owatonna vs Holy Angels - Ct 1
  • Park (Cottage Grove) vs Minnehaha - Ct 2
  • Andover vs Centennial - Ct 3
  • Woodbury-Blue vs Hill-Murray - Ct 4
12:40 PM
  • Roseville vs Mpls SW - Ct 1
  • Woodbury-White vs Holy Angels - Ct 2
  • Mahtomedi vs Andover - Ct 3
  • Owatonna vs Minnehaha Academy - Ct 4
1:30 PM
  • Park (Cottage Grove) vs St. Bernard's - Ct 1
Concordia has the 1st 2 weeks off.

The JV portion of the league plays after the Varsity games.

Scout.com interviews Cole Stefan

Chris Monter of Scout.com interviewed Cole Stefan of Minnetonka today. He lists a handful of mid-major offers. After seeing him play last season and this summer, not to mention his expanded role this year, I expect him to get bigger offers as time goes on due to his shooting. Sam Dower's recruitment helped him as the teams looking at Dower were able to see him too.

ESPN Article on basketball being a year-round activity

ESPN had a nice article today regarding the year round aspects of basketball and the toll it takes on the kids and the parents. Interesting perspective on it and good points on how it plays with high school teams, parents, kids and scouts.

Week 4 of the Magic Fall League

Scores from week 4 of the Magic Fall League.

Session 1:
Titans def Prior Lake 53-42
94 Ft of Game def Transitions II 53-46

Session 2:
BSM def Prior Lake 73-59. Darren Glover 16 points for BSM.
Transitions I def Chaska 51-46

Session 3:
Como Park def Titans 60-43
94 Ft of Game def Belle Plaine 51-48. Philip Freeman (Richfield) with a triple with 1 minute left to break a 46 all tie.
BSM magically lost a player after their 1st game. They lost to Eagan 89-67 in a 4 on 4 game.

Session 4:
Edina def PL Hoops 64-30. Edina went on a 18-2 run after giving up the 1st 5 points of the game. Ben Biewen with 11 1st half points in that game. Will Deberg also playing for Edina in the game.
Eagan def Chaska 62-53
Eden Prairie def Bethany 86-31

Session 5:
Raiders def Titans 86-54
Como Park def Belle Plaine 66-45

Prior Lake played shorthanded as did BSM (no Peter Crawford). No Evan Anderson for the Titans either. Keegan Meier of the Titans (Eau Claire Memorial) played well during the fall league as he displayed solid 3 point shooting. Today's Raiders squad, how loaded. Both Noreens, Caleb Palkert, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Thompson (who played well), Siyani Chambers, Milos Ristanovic and more, YIKES.

Week 3 of the MBA Fall League

Scores from the 3rd week of action at the MBA Fall League.

Session 1:
St. Paul Central def Edison 53-52
Coon Rapids def Park Center 59-50
Mpls Demons vs Dunwoody 55-31 behind a nice performance from Jonah Travis.

Session 2:
TNL def Edison 71-40
Mpls Demons def Park Center 44-36

Session 3:
Henry Sibley def Maple Grove 40-17
St. Paul Central def NYA 66-35
Minnehaha def Armstrong 91-35 (that is not a typo)

Session 4:
Maple Grove def TNL 84-57

Session 5:
Henry Sibley def Hoops Training 61-34

Session 6:
Minnehaha def Hoops Training 75-45
Armstrong def Park Center 80-59

Hoops Training came in 3-1 but lost 2 blowouts to the top of the league today. Trevor Gruis (Ellsworth) really struggled vs the size of the Sibley frontline and the combination of Taylor Sparkman and Taylor Hanson of Minnehaha. On my highly unofficial stat sheet, I had 2-12 FG vs Sibley and 3-11 FG vs Minnehaha with a combined 11 points in the 2 games for him.

The Czar joins Minnesota Preps

I'm pleased to announce that I've become a member of the Minnesota Preps staff as a Staff Writer. I'll be doing a weekly report on Mondays on the Minnesota Preps site. I'll be doing that using my real identity, Kevin Alsteens. Its my intent to continue maintaining this site and to cover games as you've seen in the past. I don't expect much to change in that regard. In addition, many of the resources that I've created here will be referenced from the MN Preps site. This is an exciting opportunity and I look forward to the challenge.

Schedule for 4th week of 2008 fall leagues

The MBA league has posted their week 3 schedule (use the link for the MBA league on the Fall Leagues page to view it). 3 very nice games on the schedule include Armstrong vs Redhawks, Sibley vs Hoops Training and Redhawks vs Hoops Training. Hoops Training features Ellsworth's Trevor Gruis . They're 3-1 in this league and should be 4-0 after losing a 25-8 lead vs Armstrong in their last game. The competition ramps up this week with those 2 tough games. Those MBA games are Saturday at Minnehaha Academy.

On Sunday, the Magic league has this schedule (note: the schedule I used last week was changed at the door, so if you attend, check at the entry table for updates). All games at Jefferson.

Noon: Titans vs Prior Lake - Ct 2
Noon: Transitions I vs Transitions II - Ct 3
1 PM: Prior Lake vs BSM - Ct 2
1 PM: Transitions I vs Chaska - Ct 3
2 PM: Titans vs Como Park - Ct 2
2 PM: Transitions II vs Belle Plaine - Ct 3
2 PM: Eagan vs BSM - Ct 4
3 PM: Bethany vs Eden Prairie - Ct 2
3 PM: PL Hoops vs Watertown - Ct 3
3 PM: Eagan vs Chaska - Ct 4
4 PM: Titans vs Raiders - Ct 2
4 PM: Como Park vs Belle Plaine - Ct 3
4 PM: Transitions II vs TBA - Ct 5
5 PM: Bethany vs PL Hoops - Ct 2
5 PM: Eden Prairie vs Watertown - Ct 3
5 PM: Transitions II vs TBA - Ct 5

But the game of the day is in the MYAS Minnetonka league. Mustangs (Noreens and Caleb Palkert) taking on Mpls Gamblers (Rodney Williams and company). That game is at 10:50 AM Sunday morning on Minnetonka court 2.

Royce White comments on selecting Minnesota

Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com had a chance to talk recently to Royce White about picking Minnesota (scroll down to read the Royce comments). He admits Tubby was a major reason in him staying home instead of leaving for a high profile out-state suitor. But he did complement Dan Monson on how he dealt with him in a funny statement.

Basketblogger's Chat with Kevin Noreen

The Basketblogger got a chance to chat with Minnesota Transitions star Kevin Noreen recently and was kind enough to share it with me. For more interviews like this, including chats with Minnesota Preps publisher Michael Much and 2007-2008 Maranatha star David Hanson, check out the Basketblogger's site.

Here's a transcript of that conversation reprinted with the Basketblogger's permission. I've added formatting for clarity. You can read the original here. My comments follow.

Basketblogger: No, Kevin Noreen does not have a Facebook account, but through a trusted source and confidant of Noreen, I was able to briefly chat with him on Saturday night via the Facebook chat. I was getting ready for a movie with the Mrs. when a friend of mine sent me a chat message, "Hey Kevin is over, you should do an e-interview."

I initially decided against it, given that I usually prepare my questions, but who could pass up 15-20 minutes with the best player in Minnesota's Class of 2010? Noreen made more headlines and highlight reels with his summer league and AAU play. He was winner of a one-on-one contest in Denver against some of the top ballers in the nation. At 6-8 in the small forward role, colleges have made recruiting him a priority.

Kevin has also proven that he's not just a summer ball or regular season wonder. Last season, he beat my beloved Maranatha Mustangs and Hanson brothers en route to an unforeseeable state tournament run, only to fall to defending champion Ellsworth in the title game.

Kevin Noreen: The key was beating Maranatha, that really gave us confidence and propelled us to the championship game... Ellsworth just had too many weapons for us, me and Kyle did not play well enough for us to win. Ellsworth had more experience than us, they had been there 3 years in a row.

Basketblogger: Maranatha was Noreen's school for grades 1-6. Had he (and Kyle) enrolled in Maranatha's high school, we would have been talking about the Maranatha dynasty about now.

My one and only time seeing him play was that section championship against MCA. He was an offensive machine the first half, hitting four 3's beyond the arc. In the second half, Coach Wall made adjustments by assigning David Hanson to guard him. He described the experience of that second half and the excitement of playing against one of his longtime friends, Milos Ristanovic.

Kevin Noreen: That was really fun...I think that was first time that I have ever played against him in a real game...Yes, he was a big part of that comeback... he shot the lights out in that second half!

Basketblogger: When asked about the player he is most like, he mentioned Isaiah Dahlman - formerly of Braham and now with Michigan State. Dahlman also held the scoring record until last season.

Kevin Noreen:...but I have a long way to go to get to be as good as him.

Basketblogger: With two more seasons, there's potential that MTS could be the next Ellsworth with Noreen's leadership and play. Don't worry, Kevin. In a couple years, people will be asking, "Isaiah, who?"

Noreen also mentioned that the toughest player he's ever faced was Royce White-formerly of De La Salle and now Hopkins. He'll have another chance to test his game against Rodney Williams, Jr. and the Minneapolis Gamblers as his fall league squad plays this Sunday at Minnetonka High School.

He's undecided on a college, which is expected given that he's just a junior, but when he decides, I hope to be the one to break the story!

I asked questions about the "lighter side of Kevin Noreen." He takes his academics seriously. When he's not on the court, you'll probably catch him studying. His favorite food are ribs and favorite film is 300 (I think the Breakdown already went down this route). I suggested that he try Rudolphs BBQ in Minneapolis. Hopefully he can squeeze in a visit for some well deserved ribs.

On the question of the three most influential people in his life, he named Coach (John) Sherman and his parents. The Noreens are very well known in the basketball community. Sharpshooter and brother Kyle received an offer to play for Liberty University. The scouting report says that you don't ever want to leave him open on the outside. He will hurt you there.

I wasn't able to find MTS's schedule, but it looks like the Minneapolis Roosevelt Teddies are the team that Noreen has his sights set on. Last season, the Wolves lost a nailbiter to the Teddies at Roosevelt. (See http://tchoops.blogspot.com/2008/02/minnesota-transitions-at-roosevelt.html) He hopes to reverse his fortune this season in the new gym and with the help of the infamous drumline.

Kevin Noreen: Yes, big time!!! They are extremely loud and give us a big advantage at our home games.

Basketblogger: MTS is a Class A school, but they manage to remain competitive against some big schools. Last season, Noreen dropped 41 in a close contest against Arlington. (See http://tchoops.blogspot.com/2008/02/mn-transitions-stuns-arlington-at.html).

If you're looking for a stellar contest, check out any game where MTS plays a AA school or above. The Wolves will be back and hungry for another chance to play for the state title.

-------End Interview

Czar's Comments:
Noreen's performance vs Arlington was one of the better individual displays I saw all of last season. 41 points and he was clutch in that game. The link in the interview will give you all the details so I won't rehash them here.

I've seen the MTS schedule. They open their new 250 seat band box on December 12th vs Minnehaha Academy in a very good opener. Expect the crowd and the drum line to be deafening in that building. They've also upgraded the schedule (an annual bug-a-boo, even last year when I was critical of it) with road games at Spring Grove, Holy Family, Becker and annual class A powerhouse Park Christian to end the regular season. Not to mention their tough rivalry games vs Roosevelt and CHOF in their new building.

Noreen does often get compared to Isiah Dahlman and Noreen will likely take over the all-time state scoring record from Cody Schilling. (Cheap plug, you can follow his progress with the tracker in the left column). That's not a bad comparison since both are high scoring, not super athletic players from small MN schools. Personally, I've gotten away from that comparison. I compare him instead to another former MN Magic star, Jon Leuer (Orono HS, now at Wisconsin). He's not as athletic as Leuer, but he's a better shooter. Both are skinny "power" forwards who can stretch the defense.

Week 3 of the Magic Fall League

A light schedule today with only 3 games on my plate for week 3 of the Magic Fall League. A quick correction from last week's notes. I noted that Freddie Burton was playing for the Transitions II squad. He's actually playing for the 94 Ft of Game squad as we'll find out later.

Session 1: Transitions I vs Eagan. No Noreens for MTS, only Antonio Wigfall. Charlie Baker is present for Eagan. He doesn't disappoint either. 7 quick points + a pretty behind the back dropoff for a layup give Eagan a 13-2 lead after 7 minutes. They extend the lead to 25-6 inside of 5 minutes to play in the half. 13 points on 5-7 shooting for Baker in the 1st half. 29-12 Eagan at the break. Eagan goes to their bench to start the 2nd half and MTS cuts the lead to 11. Baker quickly back into the game at the 14 minute mark. He restores order and its 39-26 Eagan with 8 minutes left when he goes back to the bench. MTS makes another run and Baker's return doesn't really help. Eagan misses a layup which leads to an MTS runout for a layup to cut the lead to 43-37 with 2 minutes left. 11-4 MTS run. Eagan doesn't score but Wigfall misses a wide open layup at 1:45 and MTS won't get any closer. 48-42 Eagan wins. Baker with a quiet 2nd half as he finishes with 15 points. I had him for 2 assists. I counted 3 missed layups and 3 missed wide open stand-still triples that could have given him a half dozen more assists.

In the other session 1 game, PL Hoops hangs on to def 94 Ft of Game 41-39. Joey King (Eagan) with a putback of a missed FT and a big defensive rebound late to seal the win. Nice win for PL Hoops as they're a group of freshman playing against Freddie Burton, Phillip Freeman and the rest of 94 Ft of Game.

Session 2: Eagan vs Prior Lake. Deryck Ludwig back for Prior Lake to provide an interior presence. Tor Anderson with 2 quick layins to give Prior Lake a 10-7 lead with 11 minutes left in the 1st half. Charlie Baker gets a late assist for a 3 and then drains a triple of his own at the halftime buzzer to give Eagan a 26-19 halftime lead. Baker with 10 late points in the half and Anderson really cooled off after the quick start. Prior Lake gets the 1st 5 of the 2nd half with Baker on the bench to cut the lead to 2. Baker comes back in and gets 2 triples and 2 assists in a 14-2 run to push the Eagan lead to 40-26 with 10:30 to play. But Tor Anderson won't let Prior Lake go away quietly. He gets a 3 point play with 2:45 left, a bucket off of a Baker turnover and then a triple with 42 seconds left to cut the Eagan lead to 44-42 (16-4 Prior Lake run). Baker misses the front end of the bonus with 16 seconds left but Eagan gets the rebound and makes both free throws. That makes Anderson's 3 at the buzzer irrelevant as Eagan hangs on for the 46-45 win. Baker with 16 points. Tor Anderson leads the way for Prior Lake with 21 points via a hot start and finish.

PL Hoops def Transitions I in the other session 2 game. Clutch FT shooting for PL Hoops as they made 8 of 10 FTs down the stretch to seal the victory.

Session 3: Prior Lake vs 94 Ft of Game. Tor Anderson guarding Freddie Burton after spending a large amount of time guarding Charlie Baker in the last game. 94 Ft gets out to a 14-4 lead with 11:15 left in the 1st half. Andrew Dale with 2 putbacks for Prior Lake to try and keep them close but 94 Ft goes on a 9-0 run (Burton jumper included) to lead 23-10 with 5:30 left in the half. 27-18 94 Ft at the break. Dale with a nice cut for a layup and 2 Anderson FTs cut the 94 Ft lead to 36-31 with 12:15 left. Phillip Freeman knocks down a 3 to give 94 Ft a 45-37 lead with 5:30 to play. Anderson once again takes over. Nice set play out of a timeout to get him a layup, he then gets a backside postup on an inbounds play and 2 more. Prior Lake then puts back an offensive rebound to tie the game at 45 to 1:08 to play. 94 Ft then holds the ball for the final shot and Burton buries a 17 footer over Anderson from the right wing with 2.5 left to win it 47-45.

Some good games next week as the Prior Lake plays the Titans and BSM. We'll see if Marshall Bjorklund plays for the Titans. He's currently nursing an injured shoulder. Evan Anderson's teammate Tyler Brown may join the Titans in his place. Brown recently committed to Central Michigan. In other games, Eagan will play BSM and Chaska.

Week 3 Schedules for 2008 Fall Leagues

Here are schedules for the 3rd week of basketball fall leagues in the metro.


Magic Fall League (all games on Ct 5)
3 PM: Raiders vs BSM
4 PM: Raiders vs Belle Plaine
5 PM: BSM vs Belle Plaine

The MBA league has the week off.


MYAS Blue at Minnetonka
8:30 AM: Southwest vs Wizards - Ct 1
8:30 AM: Mpls Gamblers vs MDB HS Boys Fall - Ct 2
8:30 AM: Shakopee White vs Minnetonka - Ct 3
9:40 AM: Southwest vs Mustangs - Ct 1
9:40 AM: Mpls Gamblers vs Heat - Ct 2
9:40 AM: Mound-Westonka vs Minnetonka - Ct 3
10:50 AM: Wizards vs Mustangs - Ct 1
10:50 AM: MDB HS Boys Fall vs Heat - Ct 2
10:50 AM: Mound-Westonka vs Shakopee White - Ct 3

MYAS Black at Shakopee
11:20 AM: Owatonna vs Waconia - Ct 1
11:20 AM: Shakopee Black vs New Prague - Ct 2
11:20 AM: Burnsville vs Rochester Rockets - Ct 3
11:20 AM: Mayo vs Century - Ct 4
12:30 PM: Owatonna vs Century - Ct 1
1:40 PM: Shakopee Black vs Rochester Rockets - Ct 1
1:40 PM: Burnsville vs New Prague - Ct 2
1:40 PM: Mayo vs New Prague - Ct 3

MYAS Gold at Forest Lake
9:00 AM: White Bear Fall League vs Polars 1 - Ct 1
9:00 AM: Wildcats vs Bulldogs St. Paul - Ct 2
10:10 AM: Eastside Hoops vs Polars 1 - Ct 1
10:10 AM: 53 Hoops vs Centennial - Ct 2
11:20 AM: Eastside Hoops vs Bulldogs St. Paul - Ct 1
11:20 AM: 53 Hoops vs Wildcats - Ct 2
11:20 AM: White Bear Fall League vs Centennial - Ct 3

Magic Fall League at Bloomington Jefferson

Noon: Transitions I vs Eagan - Ct 2
Noon: Transitions II vs PL Hoops - Ct 3
1 PM: Transtions I vs PL Hoops - ct 2
1 PM: Eagan vs Prior Lake - Ct 3
2 PM: Transitions II vs Prior Lake - Ct 2
3 PM: Watertown vs TBA - Ct 2
3 PM: Chaska vs Eden Prairie - Ct 3
4 PM: Como Park vs TBA - Ct 2
4 PM: Bethany vs TBA - Ct 5
5 PM: Bethany vs TBA - Ct 4
5 PM: Eden Prairie vs Como Park - Ct 2

The Mpls Gamblers are tearing apart that Minnetonka MYAS league putting up almost 90 a game with Rodney Williams (thanks to the Basketblogger for that info). The Mustangs team in that same group has Kevin and Kyle Noreen on it along with Caleb Palkert (SW Christian). That group is 3-1 and will take on the Gamblers next week in the top matchup of that league.