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2018-19 NW Suburban Conference Preview

This is the 11th preview in my 2018-2019 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the Northwest Suburban Conference. For a list of all the season previews and how they are done, click here.

Andover Huskies (2017-18 season 13-14, 9-10 Conference, 3rd North)
The Huskies have to replace their top 6 scorers.  That includes 2 double figure scorers in Conner Knoepfle and Mason Heath.  They combined for over 30 PPG last seaon.  Jake Mallett and Matt Brodeur are the main returnees but averaged under 4 PPG.  Brady Garcia (3.9 PPG) also returns to the rotation.

Anoka Tornadoes (2017-18 season 12-15, 6-13 Conference, 5th North)
Both double figure scorers from last season need to be replaced.  That includes main interior option Jake Phipps (16.6 PPG) and guard Addison Ostendorf (11.4 PPG).  Soph Guard Amir Madyun left for Park Center after being a key rotation guy last year.  Joseph Lombard is a big body inside (8 PPG).  Micah Madyun gives them an attacking guard option.  Code Lindenberg and Mac Wieczorek also return to the lineup.

Blaine Bengals (2017-18 season 18-11, 11-8 Conference, 2nd North)
Athletic wing Ray Mitchell and his 19.4 PPG is off to D1 Idaho.  Forward Jason Kaul (9.9 PPG) is a nice inside out option that will be the focus of the offense.  Tony and Tyler Strand also return to the rotation.  Tony averaged 8.6 PPG last year, Tyler provides another option in the front court.  Lucas Larson returns at a guard spot.

Centennial Cougars (2017-18 season 5-22, 3-16 Conference, 7th North)
The Cougars return a couple of double figure scorers.  Carter Anderson (16.8 PPG) and Ricky Eason (12.9 PPG) are a sharp shooting duo.  Riley Van Buskirk (8.3 PPG) returns as a point guard.  Matt Wyffels provides another shooter on the wing.  Not much size or punch on the front line though.  10.1 PPG from guard Andrew Metz is the biggest loss.

Champlin Park Rebels (2017-18 season 22-6, 17-2 Conference, 1st North)
Despite the loss of PG Josiah Strong (22.6 PPG), expect the Rebels to keep rolling.  Wing Bennett Otto (16.5 PPG) leads the way.  Alex John returns to man the post.  Kato Seley also returns to a forward spot in the starting lineup along with shooter Jared Walter.  Senior slasher Juwan Grant also comes back.  Juniors TJ Moberg and Cooper Olson provide rotation options along with soph F Francis Nwaokorie.

Coon Rapids Cardinals (2017-18 season 12-16, 7-12 Conference, 4th North)
Captain Marshall Holland (12.4 PPG) is the top returnee for coach Mike Ogorek.  Guard Shyron Sayers (7.8 PPG), Elijah McGrath (7 PPG) and Braden Farley (5 PPG) also come back.  Jackson Aurelius and Reese Mahn saw rotation time as well.  Leading scorer Marcel Winston (14.2 PPG) is the major loss.

Elk River Elks (2017-18 season 10-17, 5-14 Conference, 6th North)
Leading scorer Jack Burger and 14 PPG departs.  Most of the rest of the lineup returns.  Guard Dylan Fruth (13.8 PPG) leads the returnees.  Brock Burdine is an experience guard in the lineup.  Devon Roberts and Alex Eng provide experience on the front line.  Beyond Fruth, they'll need to find scoring punch.

Irondale Knights (2017-18 season 4-23, 2-17 Conference, 7th West)
The Knights return 3 of their top 4 scorers.  That includes 17.3 PPG from Aden Price and 11 PPG from Leighton Glodek.  Iggy Ejiofor and 7 PPG also returns to the starting lineup.  Carter Jorgenson and Carson Schicker also return to the rotation.  Dylan Irvin and Marcus Schramm are the 2 starters lost to graduation.

Maple Grove Crimson (2017-18 season 21-10, 12-7 Conference, 3rd West)
Post Alex Battist (12.4 PPG) and versatile wing Jordan Stensland (11.4 PPG) are major losses from the lineup.  PG Jared Rainey (13.1 PPG) returns after leading the team in scoring last year.  Nate Adams returns as another highly capable shooter on the wing.  Kyle Dreyer and Daniel Walljasper provide other wing options.  Tyler Born could step into a front court role.

Osseo Orioles (2017-18 season 25-7, 15-4 Conference, 2nd West)
Osseo has to replace their entire starting lineup.  That includes the high scoring guard duo of Zach Theisen (20.7 PPG) and Emmette Page (22.9).  Page was an absolute revelation from nowhere last year.  But this is Osseo where they just reload from the next level.  The JV crew was 21-4 last year so don't feel too bad for the Orioles.  Junior PG Cornell Richardson (5.9 PPG) should be their candidate this year to breakout.  Elijah Barlue will be a front line factor.  Terrance Waits, Tariq Henry and Montrell Stokes should also step into perimeter roles.

Park Center Pirates (2017-18 season 24-5, 17-2 Conference, 1st West)
High scoring guard Jarius Cook and DJ Purnell and their combined 30 PPG are major losses but the Pirates are still loaded.  Guards Tommy Chatman (11.2 PPG) and Emmanuel Tamba are very experienced and solid.  Khari Broadway (11.8 PPG) has been around forever on the wing.  Then the big man Dain Dainja (13.6 PPG) is a monster inside.  They have a bunch of depth behind that with juniors Detavious Frierson, Amir Whitlock, David Ijadimbola and Josh Lewis

Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons (2017-18 season 12-16, 10-9 Conference, 5th West)
Former Armstrong star and Wayzata assistant Jon Bryant takes over the program.  He has to replace PG Isaiah Miller along with wings Ben Inniger and Nashiem Lozier.  But there are pieces to work with.  Leading scorer Jake Breitbach (10.7 PPG) returns to the lineup.  Adam Biewen and Cole Priem provide shooting.  Tyler Peterson is developing nicely on the front line.  Cole Schlotthauer also provides size inside.

Spring Lake Park Panthers (2017-18 season 12-16, 8-11 Conference, 6th West)
The Panthers lose center Elijah Elkerton and 11.2 PPG.  But they have a talented group of juniors to lead the way.  Wings Blake Remme (17.9 PPG) and Gabe Myren (15.2 PPG) lead the way and are very capable shooters that must be found.  Daydor Phillips provides an athletic driving option.  Senior Mason Johnson provides size in the middle.

Totino-Grace Eagles (2017-18 season 15-13, 11-8 Conference, 4th West)
Interim coach Deon Richardson moves up from assistant role for the season.  He has a big task in front of him having to replace the entire starting lineup and 5 of the top 6 scorers.  Seniors Eric Krieger and Riley Burger are the top returnees.  Then its the sophomore trio of Carter Weierke, Max Hofschulte-Beck and Devin Burger who will need to step up to bigger roles.

Predicted Order of Finish

North Division
  1. Champlin Park   
  2. Elk River
  3. Blaine  
  4. Centennial     
  5. Coon Rapids
  6. Andover 
  7. Anoka
West Division
  1. Park Center
  2. Maple Grove
  3. Osseo 
  4. Spring Lake Park 
  5. Robbinsdale Armstrong  
  6. Totino-Grace
  7. Irondale 
Conference Overview:
In the west, Park Center is the class of the league once again.  Maple Grove with their guard play gets the 2nd nod and I'll complete the district trio with Osseo staying 3rd.  Spring Lake Park is the best of the rest as they look toward a big season next year.  Armstrong has some nice pieces returning as well but a new system.  Totino-Grace has a new coach and a new lineup so expect a drop.  Irondale has a group of returnees that look to fight their way off the bottom.  Overall, a much stronger division in the west than the north.

Champlin Park is the runaway favorite in another very weak year in the North division.  Elk River jumps back up in the division after a down year last year.  Blaine and Centennial should battle in the middle with solid players returning.  Coon Rapids I see a notch below those teams but with Andover losing everybody and Anoka still rebuilding they stay out of the cellar.

Conference MVP: Dain Dainja - Park Center

Underclassmen to watch: 
  • Francis Nwaokorie - Champlin Park 
  • Jatai Dillard, Terence Larmouth - Maple Grove 
  • Don Ferguson - Osseo
  • Amir Maydun - Park Center
  • Kaleb Skelly, Trey Johnston - Spring Lake Park
  • Carter Weierke, Max Hofshulte-Beck, Devin Burger - Totino-Grace
Conference Games to Watch
  • Park Center at Champlin Park - Jan 31st
Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Park Center vs Prior Lake - Dec 1st (Big 12 at Cretin-Derham Hall)
  • Park Center vs Eden Prairie- Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins) 
  • Champlin Park vs Minnehaha - Dec 8th (Tipoff Classic at Hopkins)
  • Wayzata at Champlin Park - Dec 13th
  • Champlin Park at Hopkins - Jan 3rd
  • Wayzata at Park Center - Jan 16th 
  • Champlin Park at Eden Prairie - Jan 17th

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