2012 Fury Invite Preview

Its time for the 2nd annual Fury Invitational.  Eastview and Eagan both hosting the games on 4 courts each with some stray games off site.

None of the top teams playing but some interesting games in the field.  The hosts Fury Davis should be an easy favorite over Magic White and Comets Seevers in pool A.  Triple Threat and Heat-Altena go at it at 1:10 Saturday at Eagan in a game that should determine the winner the 4 team pool B.  Very interesting pool C with the Pump N Run 16s, GetShook and MN Wolves.  GetShook and Wolves have both used their share of seniors this year.  Have to like the PNR 16s here but this is the toughest pool.  Pool D is the other 4 team pool.  Comets Stock vs Heat Reese at noon at Eastview should decide that pool.  Fury's 2nd team should be a heavy favorite against Magic Black and Heat Frasier in pool E.  MN Premier is my pick over Magic Maroon and Winnipeg Wolves.  EOTO Black is another squad that could have anybody but I'll take my chances with them.  Eastview and Heat Ogorek round out a difficult to pick pool G.  Fury Newell, MN Cagers and MN Crush round out the 17s in Pool H.  I'll take Fury here but the best bet in this pool is a Hat Lady sighting at Eastview late Friday and early Saturday.

Only pool winners move on to the 8 team championship bracket that begins at 7:00 on Sat night.  I'll take Fury Davis over Triple Threat, Heat Reese over the PNR 16s (classic size vs speed matchup but athletes have bothered the PNR 16s all year), Fury-Ouse over MN Premier and EOTO Black over Fury Newell.  Fury Davis over Heat Reese, EOTO over Fury-Ouse.  The hosts defeat EOTO to win their own tourney (never bad to pick the host).

Fury Grosz has a good one on Fri night vs MN Rush but they'll still come out of pool A.  Heat Vang has to be the pick against Triple Threat Olmscheid and WOTN-Hickox in Pool B.  MN Warriors are the pick in pool C.  EOTO survives the northern invasion of the Winnipeg Wolves and North Dakota Phenom in pool D.  PNR 15s and MN Cyclones move up but should win pools E and F.  Heat Frank opens with a rematch against Fury Dixon in pool G.  Fury Dixon gave that Heat squad a massive beating when they opened at the Comets tourney.  Another watered down pool H with Rochester Ballers, Winnipeg and SW Slam. 

Same tourney format across the board and it gives us a rare 1 vs 2 matchup as the Cyclones project to take on Pump N Run in a rematch of the top 2 teams in the state in 15U.  PNR won their championship meeting in Iowa last Sunday.  I'll take PNR again because of their depth.  Fury Grosz over Heat Vang, EOTO in a good one over the MN Warriors, Fury Dixon over anybody in the other quarterfinal.  Fury Grosz over EOTO in a rehash of their many meetings last year as MN Elite vs Heat Select.  PNR 15s over Fury Dixon.  PNR 15s then knock off Fury Grosz again (see Comets tourney) to take home another title.

This division will have a new champ as my old Magic crew won the 14s of this tourney last year (our best ball of the season too).  The 3 guys that are left together are at the ECI tourney this week after pulling out late (were scheduled to be in pool A).  The top Fury squad (with one of my old guys) looks to win pool A.  Heat Prins by default in pool B.  Another division with a stacked pool C.  East Metro (Johnson kids), TC Running Rebels and the top 43 Hoops squad is a tough pool. I'll go East Metro here but anybody could win this pool.  Heat Fossum is a loaded 14U squad playing up with Comets Elite and MN Bulldogs in pool D.  I'll go Comets Elite here.  Fury 2nd team takes out the 2nd 43 Hoops team and MN Crush to win pool E.  Heat Boone is another high level 14U club playing up.  They won the 14s in Iowa last weekend.  They have WOTN and Winnipeg Wolves in a pool where I think they win.  The top Heat team wins pool G and rumor says they may have a major pickup for the weekend.  Balanced Pool H with ND Phenom, MN United and my pick Triple Threat.  Fury Shelman, East Metro, Fury Johnson and Heat Lesewski all win the quarters.  Fury Shelman takes out East Metro but falls to Heat Lesewski in the finals.

2012 Howard Pulley Invitational Review

MN Comets Lewis 16U Champs!
Another year is in the books at the 2012 Howard Pulley Invitational.  Nice new uniforms from EOTO or should I say E1T1 but confusing.  They look so much like the Florida version that I thought it was that group who once had Duke star Austin Rivers.

No surprise with this being the 1st off week after 2 open period weekends that we'd have plenty of missing bodies.  No Ted Friedman from Kingdom Hoops, No Tory Miller from KC Run GMC, no Tyus Jones or Akolda Manyang from the top Howard Pulley group.  Always something in the spring with weddings (Friedman), injury (Manyang), or illness (Tyus).  We even get the Illinois Warriors not showing up because they thought the tournament was next week.  How does that happen?

Czar not only samples the Little Caesars pizza (I'd rather have Dominos) but because you, the loyal reader, want to know all about food, I also snagged a chocolate chip cookie off a mom that was intended for a player (playing at the time).  Me want cookie!  I prefer to view it as quality control and it was outstanding and gained my seal of approval for eating.  Mmmmm, cookie!!!  

Friday Night
Highlights of Friday night for me were my old Magic guys (down to 3 remaining together) hanging around with tNBA before falling 68-52.  That same group took us behind the woodshed last year at the state tournament.  MN Warriors 16s make a statement by knocking off Comets Lewis 54-52.  That would be the Comets only loss of the tourney.  Warriors are a team that if you let them run their stuff, they can pick you apart.  Anders Broman would fill in at the point some for Tyus Jones as the top Pulley squad would run away midway thru the 1st half on their way to a 76-47 win.  Comets Hanson 17s pulling out their high school warmups on Friday night in a first.  That was a quality look.  The look didn't help as Zach Hanson and the top Schoolers club beat them down to the tune of 46-15 at half and a 55-30 win.  Pulley White 17s would get a steal and layup with less than 10 seconds left to upset Kingdom Hoops Elite 56-54 in a thriller.  That would ultimately decide the winner of pool D.

Saturday Pool Play
A couple of good early games with KC Run GMC 15s pulling away from tNBA 64-47 (foreshadowing) and EOTO knocking off the SW MN Stars 58-55.  Andre Wallace joined EOTO for the weekend and his play down the stretch with a free throw, bucket and assist helped close the game out.  Comets Hanson goes to regular Comets T-Shirts for their 1st warmups of the day but that doesn't help.  KC Run GMC took them out 64-35.  Connor Voss played for the Comets this weekend, but as expected didn't have his legs but had moments where he moved pretty well but others where the lack of stamina showed.  Waiting to see what the next new warmups will be.  Iowa Flight took out All Iowa Attack 58-50 in OT in an entertaining finish.  That allowed them to hang on and win pool D.  KC Gamespeed using the old KC PNR uniforms and going with the smallest 3 guard lineup I'll see all season.

In 16s Pool B, Comets Lewis took care of business beating Lockdown 77-57 to go 2-1 in the pool.  They had to wait for their seed as KC Keys and MN Warriors were still in action.  The Keys bang in a long 3 with 30 seconds left, get an unforced turnover with 20 seconds left and knock down a 3 from the right corner with 0.6 left to steal that game 63-60.  That forces a 3 way tie for the pool tie at 2-1.  Comets easily win the point differential.  Then they stay with point differential so despite the head to head loss, the Warriors will get the 2 seed and the Keys end up with 3 which they would have gotten with a loss.

Pulley Blue 17s put on a shooting clinic vs the Dakota Schoolers 2nd team.  They knock down 17 3s on their way to a 95-52 win and win pool A.  Jake Wright with a handful of those.  He gets his feet set, forget about it.  Renard Suggs with at least 3 of those, everybody knocking it down.  KC Run GMC gets all they want from the Schoolers top 17s as they win 63-56 to win pool C.  Comets Hanson would struggle with MN Lockdown (a group that is run by former Comets) before picking up a 55-45 win.

Saturday Bracket Play
On to the brackets, my old Magic guys gave the top Kingdom Hoops team (eventual champs) all they wanted.  Down 1 with 3:30 to go before Kingdom makes a 3, a bad shot results in a layup and another turnover results in a 3 for a quick 8-0 run to put the game away.  73-65 Kingdom Hoops Elite moves on in the 15U bracket.  Schoolers top team would beat Kingdom Hoops II, Pulley Blue def SW MN Stars, tNBA def Dakota Schoolers II and KC Gamespeed defeated Howard Pulley White.  Those were pigtail games to determine the quarterfinals.

In the 16U bracket, 8 round of 16 games.  Pulley Blue knocked off Lockdown, TVA def KC Keys, Comets Lewis def Schoolers 2nd team, WI Playmakers pull a major upset knocking off MN Warriors.  EOTO def MN Posse, SW MN Stars def Chicago Demons, Schoolers top team def Pulley White.  KC Run GMC gets a bye thanks to the Ill Warriors not making it.

The 17U bracket also had their round of 16 games.  All Iowa Attack knocked off tNBA, Iowa Flight def Schoolers 2nd team, Pulley Blue def SW MN Stars 68-48, Chicago Demons knocked off Kingdom Hoops Red, KC Run GMC def KC Gamespeed 59-47, Schoolers top team def EOTO, Pulley White def Lockdown and Kingdom Hoops Elite def Comets Hanson.

Sunday Championships
In the 15U quarters, Kingdom Hoops Elite def Pulley Blue, Desert Reign def Schoolers top team 57-52 in OT, tNBA def All Iowa Attack, KC Run GMC def KC Gamespeed.  Schoolers knocked down a 3 with 2 seconds left in regulation to send that game with Desert Reign to OT.

In the 15U Semis, Kingdom Hoops Elite would pull away from Desert Reign in the 2nd half for a double figure win.  tNBA would get revenge on KC Run GMC with a pair of clutch 3s late by Evan Nolan (1 to beat the shot clock).  They get the 58-55 win.  They would open the championship vs Kingdom Hoops Elite on an 11-2 run but Kingdom Hoops Elite was too much as they would go on to win the 15U title 74-63.

In the 16U quarters, Pulley Blue def WI Playmakers, Comets Lewis def TVA, Schoolers top team impressive big win over EOTO (up 20 late) and KC Run GMC def SW MN Stars.  KC Run GMC would pull away from the top Schoolers group to win their semifinal 67-49.  Comets Lewis would open up a double figure lead on the top Pulley squad.  Then Pulley would come all the way back to tie with 2:47 left.  Teams trade missed front ends in the last 35 seconds.  Ryan Bruggeman would make a pair of FTs and Austin Poe would close it out with a 3 point play.  Comets win 63-55.

In the 16U final, Comets Lewis opened up a 41-26 halftime lead on KC Run GMC.  The lead was still 15 with 10:19 left before a 7-0 KC run cut the lead to 8.  They would miss 3 of 4 FTs with a chance to cut into the lead further.  Comets see the lead get down to 6 but held on to win the 16U title 67-61.  Austin Poe 16 points, Austin Rund and Brian Goodwin with 12 each.  Ryan Bruggeman 9 points and 6 assists.  Christian Pekarek 10 points.

In the 17U quarters, KC Run GMC def Kingdom Hoops Elite 54-45, Schoolers top team def Pulley White 79-63, Pulley Blue def Chicago Demons 82-39, Iowa Flight get another close win over All Iowa Attack 51-49.  That would set up a KC Run GMC vs Schoolers rematch from pool play.  Zach Hanson would get off to a hot start as the size of the Schoolers bothered KC.  KC Run GMC would hang on again for a 60-51 win.  Pulley Blue had a bunch of guys banged up but was able to fill the roster with guys from their eliminated White squad.  Didn't matter as they blew out Iowa Flight 79-29 in their semifinal.

In the 17U final, Howard Pulley Blue and KC Run GMC in the expected title game.  Pulley would use their hot shooting to go on a 10-0 run to end the 1st half.  34-28 Pulley at half.  KC would open the 2nd half on a 17-4 run with their own hot shooting.  45-38 KC with 11:36 to play.  Big moment late when KC star Connor Frankamp (Kansas commit) fouls out with 1:42 left.  The FTs on the foul tie the game at 58.  Out of a timeout, KC gets a layup against a 1 time 2-3 zone from Pulley.  Then a bad turnover and a great set for a clutch Kyle Smith (Frankamp replacement) 3 with 55 seconds left pushes the lead to 5 and there is your dagger, thank you Wayne Larrivee.  KC Run GMC wins the 17U title 67-60.  Connor Frankamp 7 bombs and 25 points to lead KC.  Power forward George Funtarov comes up huge for KC with 3 3s of his own and 17 points.  Anders Broman 4 3s for Howard Pulley as he leads the way with 17 points.  Quinton Hooker with 12 points.  The game was a shooting gallery as the teams combine for 25 3s from 10 different players.  Pulley makes 12 3s but gives up 13 of them.

2012 Sabes Invitational Preview

This weekend marks the 12th annual Sabes Invitational put on by Howard Pulley.  As expected the games are at High Performance Academy in Eagan Friday through Sunday.  With this being an non-open week for the D1 coaches after 2 straight weeks of play, there are many teams that would like to have the week off.  That means this year's field isn't what we've seen in the past but still plenty to see.

17U Division
In Pool A, you have Tyus Jones and the top Howard Pulley team.  Anders Broman, Quinton Hooker and Akolda Manyang on display as well.  Though Manyang was injured last week, we'll see how healthy he is this week.  The rest of the pool consists of 2nd teams from the Dakota Schoolers and Kingdom Hoops along with tNBA.  tNBA with former Pulley player Harrison Patt of St. Thomas Academy on their roster.  I'll predict the pool in order listed (Pulley, Schoolers II, Kingdom Hoops Red and tNBA).

In Pool B, the Chicago Demons make another appearance.  Iowa Flight, SW MN Stars and All Iowa Attack make up the rest of the pool.  If this is All Iowa Attack's EYBL roster, then its possible they have star wing Peter Jok and high major prospect Akoy Agau in the middle.  But Agau has played with Team Nebraska and Jok wasn't at the EYBL here 2 weeks ago as far as I know.  I'll take the Attack by default, but this is easily the weakest pool.  Don't sleep on Iowa Flight.  They were the runner up at the Jayhawk Invitational last week.  Though the Jayhawk wasn't certified so it was a very down event from years past.

As opposed to Pool C which is the toughest top to bottom.  KC Run GMC (former KC Pump N Run now moved from Adidas to Under Armour) makes their annual trip.  The guards for KC are outstanding with high major prospect guard Dominique Collier (Denver, CO) playing up a year, Missouri commit Travis Jorgenson and the star of the group Kansas commit Connor Frankamp.  Frankamp is a lights out shooter who teams up with Tyus Jones on Team USA.  The Dakota Schoolers top team is also here with star center Zach Hanson who could be a high major kid as well.  Looking forward to seeing him play again.  The Comets top team joins this pool with their backcourt of Nate Huot and Scottie Stone.  No Connor Voss to go against Hanson though as Voss is still out with injury.  MN Lockdown has athletes but expect them to be overmatched in this pool.  Again I'll take the teams in order listed.  Comets might be deeper 1-10 but Hanson is a star and not having Voss to contest him is a big loss so I'll take Schoolers to win that pool game.

Rounding out the field in pool D is the pool favorite Kingdom Hoops (their elite squad).  When I saw them play the WI Playmakers at NY2LA 2 weeks ago they got taken behind the woodshed and then came back to win the whole thing by beating a loaded WI Swing squad in the final.  KC Run GMC was also in that tourney.  Keep an eye on bigs Ted Friedman and Nate Gehring for Kingdom Hoops.  Star soph Jay Knuth also moves up a level to the 17s this season.  An athletic Illinois Warriors squad that just played in the Best Buy Spring Classic returns to the metro.  They took out a solid Team Breakdown squad in showcase play there.  Howard Pulley's 2nd team with Hopkins point guard Kamali Chambers and frosh Sam Neumann playing up is also in the pool.  KC GameSpeed rounds out the pool.

Pool Games to watch:
Fri 8:30 PM Ct 3 Schoolers I vs Comets
Sat 11:30 AM Ct 5 Kingdom Hoops vs Illinois Warriors
Sat 4:30 PM Ct 1 Schoolers I vs KC Run GMC

17U Picks: Pools A and B are on 1 side of the bracket while pools C and D are stacked on the other side.  Pulley makes an easy run to the final before falling to KC Run GMC.  KC has a rough road to the final with HP White in the round of 16 Saturday night.  Then a rematch with the Schoolers before Kingdom Hoops in the semis.  Hoping for a Pulley Blue vs KC Run GMC final.

16U Division
Pool A features the top Pulley team with Bjorn Broman.  The Playmakers, Schoolers 2nd team and Village Athletics (who gave PNR fits in St. Cloud) also in that pool.  Comets, Lockdown, KC Keys and MN Warriors in pool B.  Warriors are my sleeper in the 16U division.  Looking forward to their game with the Comets.  Illinois Warriors, a quality SW MN Stars team, EOTO and the 2nd HP team make up another deep pool C.  KC Run GMC's squad heads up pool D.  Chicago Demons, All Iowa Attack and the top Schoolers team round out that pool.

Pool Games to watch:
Fri 6:00 PM Ct 3 Comets vs Warriors
Fri 7:15 PM Ct 2 EOTO vs SW MN Stars

16U Picks:  HP Blue, Comets, EOTO and KC Run GMC to win their pools.  Comets take out Warriors for a 2nd time to make the semis vs HP Blue and I'll take Comets to win that game.  Whoever takes 3rd in pool C (EOTO, Ill Warriors or SW MN Stars) take out the 2nd place team from pool D.  Ultimately I'll take KC Run GMC to win it. 

15U Division
Only 13 teams in this division so you have 2 pools of 4 and the last pool with 5.  Most of these games are banished to the back Pool A has HP Blue and Matt Anderson from Stillwater and Joe Rosga from CDH on the roster.   Desert Reign making the trip in from Las Vegas if I'm reading right.  Again making the assumption, but they may have had star Rosco Allen on their roster as a 15U kid. 

Pool B has KC Run GMC who's always good.  A Magic team that might be my old kids or the Blue team that made the semis at the Comets tourney.  tNBA in this pool after winning the Jayhawk Invitational 15U division last week which included 2 impressive wins over the very good WI Blizzard team (team that beat them at Best Buy Spring Classic before bowing out in the final to the PNR 15s).   5 teams make up the final pool with the top Kingdom Hoops team, Schoolers I, All Iowa Attack, HP White and SW MN Stars in that pool.  Very balanced pool there.  I'll take the KC Run GMC squad to win here too.  They won the Jayhawk Invitational 16U division last week.

Pool Game to watch: Sat 10:15 AM Ct 6 tNBA vs KC Run GMC