2014-15 Hoops – Championship Sunday (May 3)

Updated: May 6, 2015

Since the Chicago Hoops League started back in October of 2014 several things have happened in the sports world… The Giants won another World Series.. Urban Meyer grabbed another Ring.. The Patriots added to their Dynasty with another Super Bowl.. Coach K and the Dukies did too.. The common theme in all of these Champions is multiplicity..  The major story leading up to Championship Sunday is who would meet the Defending Champs in the Championship and would that Team be able to prevent the Defending Champs from multiplying their Crowns..

Coming into Championship Sunday we were down to just 3 Teams (from 16).  Those 3 Teams have been battling since Oct. 19, 2014.. 18 Regular Season Games and 5 Weeks of Playoffs where each Team needed multiple Games over multiple weeks to get to the final night.. Everything was on the line and the League’s best were surely on display..

In terms of the Bracket here’s what was in store for the last 3 Teams standing.. 1. Team Maione and 6. Team Kozin both entered the night with 2 Losses on them and would take place in an ELIMINATION GAME.  The Loser would finish in 3rd and the Winner would move on to the Championship where they would need to beat 4. Team Lalez in two consecutive Games to hold the Crown.

Before we Recap what took place on Sunday Night.. A couple quick things.. 1) Just want to say Thank You to all of the Hoops Leaguers. It’s been a lengthy ride and a pleasure to have everyone play this season. 2) here’s a couple Links.. Our final Weekly Highlight Video and Final Playoff Bracket.  OK Let’s Crown ‘Em!

Playoff Recap


1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) v. 6. Team Kozin (Theory) – 6. Team Kozin 81-78 in OT

Both of these Teams have been Championship contenders all year long.  They came into the Hoops League among the top tier solidified from their performances last Season.. Team Maione finishing 2nd and Team Kozin 4th.  Team Maione ran through the League during the Regular Season as they finished 17-1 en route to the #1 seed. Team Kozin’s best was as good as anyone this year and that was on full display during the opening weeks of the Playoffs when they were the last Team in the No Loss Bracket.  That great run included giving Team Maione their first L of the Playoffs a few weeks back.. They both were prepared and both deserved to be in this spot.

Stakes are simple.. Win and you go the Championship where you have to beat Team Lalez 2x.. Lose and you go home in 3rd.

Predictably this Game was a sea-saw battle for much of the Game.  This time of year the Team that wins can usually point to their PTPers and say this is why we won.. Well both Teams got great performances from their top guys.. Josh Davis and Randall Hampton went for 27 and 22 respectively for Team Kozin. Chris Wroblewski had 22 and Brad Deutsch added 15 for Team Maione.  As the Game neared a conclusion Team Kozin had opened up a seemingly comfortable lead..

However, Team Maione, as they have done numerous times this season staged a comeback.. Team Maione began getting Team Kozin on the Free Throw Line early to maximize their possessions..  Team Kozin would not compromise and kept hitting their free throws..  Team Maione kept closing though as they were trading 3 for 2s.. Neither Team would budge… Eventually they got within a possession with just seconds left.. Josh Berman with about 4 seconds left had the ball in the front-court and was fouled as time-expired by Captain Jason Kozin.. the ball didn’t stay down for what could have been a game-winning And-1.. Instead, Josh Berman stepped up to the free throw line to tie it.. In what can easily be described as the most clutch free throw in Hoops League history — he drilled it — nothing but net!  OVERTIME!  These Two Teams wanted a spot in that Championship just terribly.. As OT began, Josh Berman found himself in the hero position once again as he knocked down the first jumper of OT and Team Maione had it’s first lead in what seemed like ages..  To Team Kozin’s credit, they now were the ones who needed to force the issue and stage a comeback.. and that’s exactly what they did.  The next buckets in OT all belonged to Team Kozin and soon they were up multiple possessions again. Captain Kozin came up huge in OT as he had a steal/lay-in combo and also got to the line for a key free throw.. As the seconds ticked away, this time Team Maione didn’t have enough time to stage their second comeback and it would be Team Kozin moving on to the Championship!

For Team Maione..  Finishing #1 in the Regular Season of  deepest, most talented Hoops League around is a tremendous feat.  They made it to the League’s final night for the 2nd consecutive year.  They were 17-1 in the Regular Season and their 3 Playoff Losses came at the hands of the Two Teams competing for the Championship.  Did they reach their ultimate goal? No, not this year.. But they are perennial favorites and a Team that everyone will look for when schedules come out next October. In the meantime, they will be immediate favorites this Summer in the Chicago Men’s League as well. Congrats on a fantastic season and thanks for playing!



4. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) v. 6. Team Kozin (Theory) – 4. Team Lalez 61-51

185 Games played and now it all comes down to this one.. #186 (and potentially #187).  Throughout all of those Games there were many ups and downs.. One thing that remained constant though, from beginning to end.. Team Lalez were the Defending Champs.  Nothing that could or would happen would change that.. Until now.  It was time for them to really defend their Crown.  They are in a great position as they made a huge run last week when they defeated Team Maione and then Team Kozin 2x in 3 consecutive Games.  Team Kozin enters their first Championship Game/s in their All Sports Series history.. This really is a Legacy Game.. The Team Lalez/Hakimian Dynasty has many Crowns.. More than any other in All Sports Series history..  Would they add another?  Team Kozin has shown all year they belong here.  It’s time to grab the Crown..

For those who think that defeating Team Lalez 2x in a row (and after playing a Game already) is impossible, allow me to introduce Exhibit A: Team Maione..  Team Maione found themselves in this exact spot exactly 1 year ago.. They defeated Team Goldin in this Game and went on to the Championship.  Just like this year, it was Team Lalez waiting for them in the Championship.. Team Maione won that first Game against Team Lalez and were up with just minutes left to play in the 2nd Game before dropping an OT Heartbreaker..  So, it’s doable. We have a real-life example..  First things first however.. Team Kozin has to win the first one..

At the out-set, both Teams were giving it everything they had on the Defensive end.  The Game’s score was well below both Teams’ normal averages and much of that was due to both Teams selling out on each play.  Team Lalez came out of left-field with a 1-3-1 Defensive zone that really neutralized a lot of what Team Kozin does so well.  Their driving and kicking to shooters from the outside was harder to accomplish as there was always a sea of Team Lalez defenders waiting in the lane.. Even with the new Defense it was still a 3 point Game at half.

As we moved into the second half the Game was there for both Teams to take.. All Star Dave Gershenzon sensed that and took much of the Offensive burden on his shoulders. He wound up with 24 points in this one for Team Lalez. It wasn’t until about 8 minutes left that a true run would shift the momentum massively one way.. Team Lalez made a championship run at that point and never looked back!  Team Kozin was simply gassed from their OT battle with Team Maione and just didn’t have enough to swing the Game back in their favor..  Team Lalez would sink game-clinching Free Throws as time elapsed and they are your Back2Back Chicago Hoops League Champs!  More on them in a bit!

To the Runners-Up, Team Kozin, what a ride.. Their play this Spring has shown what they truly are made of and it’s been a pleasure to watch them turn the corner in All Sports Series.  This group as it is made up has everything they need to grab a Crown. Most will go into the off-season looking for that big time Free Agent acquisition but this group doesn’t need to change a thing.  They are right there.  They will need to devise a strategy for getting past Team Lalez as all of their Playoff Losses were to them.. However, they have a year to figure that out and knowing Captain Jason and Co. they will be ready to improve once again next year.. Congrats on another great season and see you in the Fall for Year 3 of the Hoops League!

To the Back2Back Champ – Team Lalez – just wow.  No one wants a history lesson but their Dynasty deserves some repeating.. The Team Dorfman/Lalez/Hakimian/Lazarov Franchise is easily the most-decorated in All Sports Series History. It’s not even close.  In addition to being the only Team to ever win the Hoops League Crown (2x) they won the very first All Sports Series League back in 2010 and won another in 2012.  It’s past the point of even factoring in their Runners-Up and Final4 runs.. They are all about the Crowns. This Hoops League crown makes them the first Chicago Men’s Team to repeat in any League.  A true testament to their consistency.  This Summer they will search for one for the thumb.  Congrats on another Crown.. It is much deserved.

That’s a wrap on the 2014-15 Chicago Hoops League. Thanks to everyone for playing this season and we look forward to starting up again in the Fall. For anyone looking to get their All Sports Series fix, this Summer, we’ll have the Chicago Men’s League for you.

– Holden