2013-14 Hoops – PLAYOFFS Week 4 (March 30)

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Updated: April 1, 2014

We are down to our Final Five.  Sunday was an ELIMINATION day for the ages.. We saw one Team compete in the first Triple-Header of the season.. Scroll down to find out who it was and if they came out alive (both literally and within the League setting). Teams that did not make it through Sunday, you have a Season Ending Wrap-Up at the bottom waiting for you. But before that, here are some links:  Updated Playoff BRACKET.  Here’s a link to the Weekly Video Highlights and finally All Hoops Team Roster (scroll down a bit).

Here’s where things sit currently after Playoffs Week 4:

No Loss Teams: Only 1. Team Lalez — Team Lalez was off in Week 4 as they healed back up.. They will have at least one game in Week 5 and potentially more..

1 Loss Teams: Just 2. Team Goldin — Team Goldin got through the 1 Loss Bracket and is the only Team currently sitting with 1 Loss.  They will battle 1. Team Lalez on Sunday and will play at least 2 Games on Sunday.

2 Loss Teams: Three Left —  4. Team Kozin will face-off with 6. Team Zimmerman in the first ELIMINATION GAME of Week 5 with the Winner facing 3. Team Maione.. The Winner of that game will play another to finish the Week 5 Schedule.

At the end of Week 5 we will be left with our Final 2 Teams, which of course will set up Championship Sunday on April 13.

Let’s Preview Week 5 shall we..

No Loss v. 1 Loss

1. Team Lalez (Highland Pop) v. 2. Team Goldin (Sanders Court Pediatrics) 

A bit of housekeeping in the Scheduling/Bracket Department is in order before we get into the actual Preview for the Top 2 Seeds in League.  Here’s the story..  No matter what, by 8pm, one of these two teams will have 2 Losses. These two tangle at 6pm. If Team Lalez wins they move to Championship Sunday with No Losses; Team Goldin will then have 2 Losses and will wait to play at 8pm in an ELIMINATION GAME.  However, if Team Goldin defeats Team Lalez, these two play again immediately after the first game..  If we reach that Rematch Game between these two teams then the Winner of that Game will move on to Championship Sunday with 1 Loss and the Loser will play a Triple Header against the Survivor of the first two ELIMINATION GAMES of the Night (more on that below).

So in summary.. At least one of these Teams are going to Championship Sunday. On the other hand, one of these Teams will definitely have 2 Losses by the end of the Night, they will compete in an ELIMINATION GAME and could potentially be eliminated as well.

Ok now to the fun stuff..  At one point I think everyone knew that the top 2 Teams in the Regular Season would step foot on the court with one another during the Playoffs. It’s taken 5 Weeks but we have arrived..  1. Team Lalez have played played 21 times this Season and won 20 of them. They also haven’t lost since before Thanksgiving.  Their success comes from a combination of size, depth, great perimeter shooting, great shot selection and their self-confidence.  No one has really been able to match that stride for stride this season… Enter 2. Team Goldin.  They too are Conference Champs and are also on quite a run.. They have won 12 of their last 13 and are 4-1 in the Playoffs.  These two Teams have not played since the first week of December and so much has changed since then..Team Goldin comes into Sunday Night after avenging their only Playoff loss at the hands of 3. Team Maione a couple weeks ago. They controlled the pace in both Games but this week managed to close out Team Maione, which they couldn’t do in Week 2 of the Playoffs.

The extra dynamic of possibly playing each other immediately following the game provides crazy intrigue.. I don’t anticipate a blowout by any means, but if one Team gets up by double digits midway through the second half, do you consider resting guys for later in the night?  Will different Defenses be employed to try and rattle the opposition over the course of this marathon night?  Both Teams usually grind it out with man to man, but can they do that for potentially 3 hours?  We have a lot in store for us on Sunday Night.

Which Team will move into Championship Sunday?  Or will it be both? If not, someone is going home…  We’ll know soon enough.

2 Loss Bracket – ELIMINATION GAMES

4. Team Kozin (SLA Insurance) v. 6. Team Zimmerman (Teplitz & Bell)

This is a Rematch from the 1 Loss Bracket in Week 3 of the Playoffs where Team Zimmerman got the upper hand, and thus, a Bye week last Sunday while Team Kozin was forced to win not one but two games.. As we get further along in the Playoffs it’s easy to realize that momentum (sorry numbers guys) has played a giant role in who advances each round… Team Kozin is a much better Team than they were just two weeks ago. They played so very well on Sunday Night winning both games by 20+ points.  They ELIMINATED 10. Team Bauer and then 9. Team Holzman in consecutive games.. They got great performances from their twin towers but also Jason “Captain” Kozin and Jon “o” Matasar were stellar all night as well. Frankly, they will be walking into the gym a much different Team than what Team Zimmerman saw a little while back.  As for Team Zimmerman, they have shown flashes of brilliance in 2014.  They have everything a Championship Team could need.. which is why they are among the Final Five teams left.  If they are shooting well, there is not much anyone can really do to stop them.. that goes for everyone not just Team Kozin.

In this do or die stage it’s going to come down to Defense and taking care of the ball for these two squads.  Both Teams are not shy about running up and down when they are on Offense.  The Team that can control their own frenzies the best and also get back on D to prevent the other Team from fast break opportunities should be among the League’s Final Four.  The Winner will face off with 3. Team Maione immediately following this one.

3. Team Maione v. Winner of Team Kozin v. Team Zimmerman

3. Team Maione has their backs firmly planed against the wall.  Both before and during the Season they have been viewed as one of the favorites to win the Championship.  This group won the 2013 Chicago All Sports Series last Summer so they know all about being on the fighting off elimination. It was great to see Chris “can’t keep him down” Wroblewski back in action. Their 2nd Playoff L came this past week to 2. Team Goldin. These Teams have played 4 times so far this Season (season series tied at 2) and there is a very possible scenario where the two can meet for 5th and final time this Sunday Night with the Winner going to Championship Sunday.  However a lot needs to happen before we get that far..

This is what we know.. At 7pm Team Maione will play in an ELIMINATION GAME and take on the Winner of the ELIMINATION GAME between Team Kozin and Team Zimmerman.  Team Maione  can still win the Championship.  I wanted to put that in writing because I think some have thought throughout the Playoffs, once you get to 2 Losses you are delaying the inevitable.. But I just don’t see it that way..  Again, this Group will need to play at 7pm and beat whoever stands in their way..  If they win, they will play at 8pm in another ELIMINATION GAME against either Team Lalez or Team Goldin, whoever is the Team that gets to 2 Losses.

For Team Maione to win the Championship they will need to go on a run of 4 or potentially 5 straight wins, starting this Sunday at 7pm.  They have beaten each and every Team that could stand in their way… There is just no more room for error.

???? v. 1st to 2 Losses between Team Lalez & Team Goldin

To recap.. There are three 2 Loss Teams.. 4. Team Kozin and 6. Team Zimmerman will play for the right to take on 3. Team Maione.. The winner of that 2nd Game will take on either 1. Team Lalez or 2. Team Goldin, whoever gets their 2nd Loss on Sunday Night.  The winner of the final ELIMINATION GAME on Sunday Night heads to Championship Sunday and will play for the crown.. They’ll just have to knock off whoever is waiting for them 2 or 3 times.

Season Ending Wrap-Ups

Team Eilian (Crystal Lake Jeep)

All year I had been touting how their Roster’s talent was far greater than their win/loss record would let on.. In Week 3 of the Playoffs they proved me right.  These guys won the first 2 ELIMINATION GAMES of the Playoffs, knocking out 12. Team Shamberg and 8. Team Apuli in one night.  Their magical run w/ 2 Losses would end this past Sunday however at the hands of 5. Team Harmelech.  This group showed down the stretch run that when they have their full Team they are hard to beat.  They do not need to make many changes for the 2014-15 Season in order to make a big leap.. What they need to do is just try to get more consistent in terms of having everyone there every week and, their rotation will be locked down as a result.  It’s hard to ask different things of different players each and every week.  This was Captain Abe Eilian’s first go of it as a Team Builder in All Sports Series and I think he did a great job.  Next year, I’d be shocked if they didn’t win more Regular Season games.. which would likely lead to them staying out of the 1 Loss Bracket to start the Playoffs.  These guys really turned it on late in the season and it’s hard to not think “what if” they were afforded a Top 8 Seed and No Losses to begin the Playoffs. Have a great off-season guys.

Team Schwartz (Stems)

I can say this with absolute confidence.. Teams that saw Team Schwartz on the schedule knew they were going to be in for a fight.  Team Schwartz was comprised of several battlers and grinders who never allowed their opponents to rest. Toward the end of the Season their short bench caught up with them and it they never were really able to rebound from it.   I’m sure they would have loved a deeper run in the Playoffs, but sometimes it’s just not the year.. No doubt in my mind these guys will be back in some form in 2014-15 and with the right tweaks they can be among the League’s Elite.  Captain Matt Schwartz will surely be working the wire for potential moves.  These guys have several great moments they can look back on (and that’s what they should do) from this Season, which can compel them to greater things starting next Fall.  Want to give one last gigantic THANK YOU for all of the Greater Than! I think I speak for all of the Players when I say, we really couldn’t have done this without you.  See you in October!

Team Harmelech (iShot)

Back in the early stages of the Regular Season a “top tier” formed with five Teams.  Four of which are still playing: Teams Lalez, Goldin, Maione, Kozin (1-4 in seeding for the Playoffs) and then #5 was the eventual 5th Seed – Team Harmelech. Obviously, Team Zimmerman has jumped into that tier now as they are apart of the Final Five but that is for another time and place.  Team Harmelech belonged with that group.  They hit some bumps along the way and they were the type of bumps you don’t necessarily come back from.. Their All-Hoops Team member, Zach Bulwa, was lost for the Season and from then on things got a little out of whack.  Their Playoff ride is not one that they will look back on with such fond memories, but the great thing about this group is that it takes very little for them to get their confidence back. This group has been apart of many past All Sports Series Championship runs. They came up short in this first go at the Hoops League but they will be back and I bet they will be a better and deeper Team for it.  Captain Sam Harmelech has about as much passion on the court as you can ever ask from your leader and it certainly trickles down to the rest of the group.. Remember this for a year from now.. If they win the whole thing in 2015, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.

Team Bauer (Jam ‘n Honey)

Starting the Playoffs with 1 Loss really hurt these guys chances of making a run to the Championship. I really believe had their Seed been better coming into the Playoffs they could have been there at the end.  They had the most electric scorer in the League, Jabarri “League Leader” Reynolds, and plenty around him (when the whole Team could play) to get Ws.  Even with their bittersweet ending, they managed to bring several Teams down with them.. They won 3 Playoff Games over the past few weeks, a feat that not many can claim.  I hope this full group is back in tack next year as I think they got a lot better as time went on and next year that learning curve would be less steep.. That would provide them the opportunity at a strong Regular Season run which of course puts them in a better spot to make a dent in April.  I think of all the Teams that have been knocked out before the Final Five, this is the Team, that those still playing are happy to see not on their Schedule over the next two weeks.  Captain Jeremy Bauer’s guys just had the ability to get hot and it would be game over.  Nothing anyone could do about it.  Thanks for playing, I know I’ll see most of you over the Summer and hopefully see all of you in the Fall.

Team Holzman (Groupon)

Simply put I’d take this 12-Team League up against any other “weekend-warrior” League in the City and know that there is more talent and competition here than anywhere else.  That being said, Team Holzman, started the Playoffs with 1 Loss and fought their behinds off to finish in the top half of the League.  I think many will be surprised to look back on this group and realize that they finished in 6th in this stacked League.  But it should be no shock. These guys started pulling it together a few weeks before the Playoffs, solidified their roles and rotations and hit the ground running once the Playoffs began.  They ended the Playoffs with a 4-2 record.. A record that many Teams would kill for.  They won not one, but two ELIMINATION GAMES on Sunday Night.. Sending home both 7. Team Schwartz and 5. Team Harmelech, before falling in their THIRD ELIMINATION GAME of the night to 4. Team Kozin.  Simply put there was just nothing left in the tank.. Captain Andrew Holzman’ bunch needed some time to gel as many met each other as the Season was starting, forget having played with each other before… Josh Cowin served as the pulse for this team as he would give every last ounce on both ends of the floor. They have plenty of Offensive punch and I think this run in the Playoffs can propel them to great things next Season.  It was fun to watch these guys on their Cinderella ride.  Thank you for playing.

from last week…

8. Team Apuli (Wrigley View Rooftop)

Team Apuli started out the Hoops season as one of the most dangerous Teams in the land. They had the biggest front-line in the League and a bunch of outside shooting to go along with it.. Somewhere around Thanksgiving the opening day roster started to have time conflicts with games and a revamped Team Apuli was formed. While they were still tough to deal with on a weekly basis they never truly regained that dangerous form from early on. They showed glimpses in the Playoffs but their seeding and match-ups did them no favors along the way.. They ran into 1. Team Lalez and then the next week 9. Team Holzman who for whatever reason had their number all year (going 3-0 vs. them).. They put up a valiant fight against 11. Team Eilian but came up just a bit short. This group has enough in them to make a run at Championship down the line..Kyle “Joakim” Daniels got an All-Hoops nod from his peers and he’ll certainly be a piece to build around. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they are one of the Teams making the jump into the top tier for 2014-15. Just need to figure out everyone’s schedule before hand. They of course will have the Summer League first and Captain Justin always is a factor when building his Summer League Teams. Good Things are ahead. Thanks for playing guys.

12. Team Shamberg (Sunset Foods)

Team Shamberg started off the year.. late. They just couldn’t get it going early on as a whole 44-minute game just kept escaping them. However, as the Calendar turned to December they finally flipped the switch and were like a new Team. The second half of the Season they were far from the #12 spot where they finished in the Standings (thanks to that slow start).. Captain Shamberg certainly has a lot of pieces to work with going forward for next year. All-Hoops member Todd Siegel will be back and late-season additions Jake Preskill and Connor Nass could do wonders for this bunch if they can play a full-season together. Starting with 1 Loss in the Playoffs really handcuffed these guys as their margin for error was even smaller but they fought hard in two straight Playoff Games. Didn’t get the result they wanted but nothing to shake their heads at. Again, lots of talent on this crew and I’d be shocked if they didn’t make a leap into the Top 8 for 2014-15. Thanks guys.

Have a great week! See you Sunday Night.

– Holden