2014-15 Hoops – Playoffs Week 1 (March 15)

Updated: March 18, 2015

The Playoffs are here and with them comes a sense of hope for many Teams who know they can grasp that Crown.  Night 1 of the Playoffs provided a couple upsets, some great finishes and a coming out party.. For the 12 Teams who were in action on Sunday Night, it was hard to ignore what 10. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) did in a two hour span but more on that in a bit.. Here’s the Link to the Weekly Highlight Video w/ tons of Playoff goodness. Also, here’s a Link to the updated Playoff Bracket! Before we break down each Playoff Game that happened on Sunday Night and look ahead to what’s in-store we need to throw out some Congratulations to those who made the Chicago Hoops All-Star Game as well as League MVP!  Quick Reminder of the All-Star Ballot Rule Tweaks for this year — Top 10 Vote Getters will be named “Starters” for the All-Star Game.. Top Vote Getter is League MVP. Then the “League Office” selected the Reserves. Also, note the All-Star Game and 3PT Contest is played during the Championship Game so Players on the Teams in the Championship will not actually participate in the Game.

Congrats to All-Star Starters (Alphabetical Order) — Voted on by Players

Dave Altman – Team Hernandez

Eytan Azaria – Team Lalez

Tim Flowers – Team Kozin

David Gershenzon – Team Lalez

Brennan Keller – Team Lalez

Kyle Nelson – Team Zimmerman

Dylan Richter – Team Harris

Alan Tucci – Team Horwitz

Esto Vega – Team Zimmerman

Chris Wroblewski – Team Maione


Congrats to All-Star Reserves (Alphabetical Order) — Voted on by “League Office”

Josh Bartelstein – Team Maione

Austin Brown – Team Schwartz

Josh Davis – Team Kozin

Bradley Deutsch – Team Maione

Alex Filin – Team Goldin

Randall Hampton – Team Kozin

Michael Kaufman – Team Shamberg

Jeremy Saffold – Team Hernandez

Garrett Staniec – Team Goldin

Brad Tivin – Team Harris

Jason Vismantas – Team Schwartz

Drew Zahora – Team Horwitz

*Please Note — The Rosters were constructed to account for certain Players being not eligible to play in the All-Star Game due to being in the Championship.

Congrats to League MVP — Voted on by Players

Alan Tucci – Team Horwitz.  Alan received the most Votes via the Ballot and led the League in Scoring during the Regular Season (for qualified players).

He and Tim Flowers, who received the 2nd most votes, will act as Captains and pick the All-Star Teams on the final night of the season.

Playoff Results

We’re going to Game by Game to breakdown what happened on Sunday Night as well as preview what’s in store for those specific Teams next week.

No Loss Bracket

8. Team Bernkopf (Stems) v. 9. Team Schwartz (Greater Than) – 8. Team Bernkopf 79-72

These Two clubs have met several times over the Years and in each instance it becomes an absolute battle.  As mentioned in the Preview both Teams play a similar style — leave it all out on the floor/ bruisers — and when two Teams that have that style get together it usually leads to some clashing.  Sunday Night was no exception as each possession was a grind for them.  Team Bernkopf, as they did in the Regular Season, held on to a narrow victory that could have gone to either Team.  The Game was exactly what an 8/9 Game should have been.. No lead was ever very large and there was always the feeling that one long run for either Team could have sealed the victory.  Jeremy Feit went for 21 in the Win and Zach Bulwa helped set the tempo and put in 16 of his own. Team Bernkopf would not be able to soak in the glory of their victory as immiadetley after this one they had to take the court against another HP Rival and the #1 Overall Seed – Team Maione.  For Team Schwartz, it was a disappointing start to their Playoff run, but not one that is crippling by any means.. All-Star Jason Vismantas went for 28 which is a great sign for them going forward. They now move to the 1 Loss Bracket where they will take on 16. Team Elrod and try to get back on track.

5. Team Horwitz (Esser Hayes Insurance) v. 12. Team Shamberg (Muchacha Salsa Silver) – 12. Team Shamberg 70-56

There are many ways to tell a story and each layer changes it a bit… On one hand, you can say that the 12. Team Shamberg knocking off 5. Team Horwitz to start the Playoffs was an upset.. However, if you were to add that Team Horwitz’s leading point man and League MVP – Alan Tucci – wasn’t in attendance on Sunday Night.. Now that removes the “upset” tag.  All year the League’s depth has rightfully been touted.. There are numerous strong Teams in this League and if you don’t bring your best (either literally to the Game or while playing in the Game) you will get beat.  Plain and simple.  Team Shamberg controlled the entire contest on Sunday Night and played as if they were the Team that was expected to earn the W.  Playoff experience must not be overlooked as well.. Team Shamberg has tons of it from last year and many on Team Horwitz experienced their first taste on Sunday Night.. All-Star Michael Kaufman really helped set the tone in this one. For Team Shamberg a date with Defending Champs 4. Team Lalez was their prize for the W.  5. Team Horwitz (w/ MVP Tucci) will now face 13. Team Holzman next week in the 1 Loss Bracket. You can’t help but feel that Team Holzman may be catching Team Horwitz at the wrong time.. They are going to be hungry next Sunday.

1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) v. 8. Team Bernkopf (Stems) – 1. Team Maione 86-83

In Sports (and particularly All Sports Series) their are rivalries where the Players and Teams know each other so well that it really doesn’t matter what the Teams’ records are.. In these contests there are no favorites.  Team Maione was born and bred in Highland Park and graduated from High School there in 2008.  Most of Team Bernkopf grew up in the same neighborhoods (and even in the same houses in some cases — yes another Maione Bros. battle) and graduated in 2007.  Factor in that many of the Players in this one went to U of I and you have two groups that know each other inside and out.  They’ve had battles before and some on both Teams even won the College/Prep League together in 2011.  So while Team Maione is the #1 Seed and Team Bernkopf is coming off a hard-fought victory just minutes earlier.. You just don’t know what to expect when these two tangle up.

Team Maione was without All-Star Josh Bartelstein in this one and Tellef Lundevall who has been gone for some time.. Early in the Game, they surely missed the size of their two absent teammates. Team Bernkopf came out firing as the Team coming straight from a Playoff W so often does.  They were the aggressor and it seemed they were poised to end the night with not 1 but 2 Wins.

As the Game moved along however, it was clear that neither Team was going to pull away.. Team Bernkopf kept the lead until late into the second half..  They were up five with just minutes to play and Team Maione did what they so often do.. They made a comeback and took the lead.  Mikey Weisberg hit a clutch Free Throw with 1.8 ticks left to put his Team up 3.  Team Bernkopf had time to get a shot off but couldn’t muster a look at the basket and when the final buzzer sounded you could here 1. Team Maione collectively exhale.. This was such a fun Game and it’s one of those where it’s a shame one Team had to go home with a Loss.. Team Bernkopf will take on the Winner of the 7. Team Goldin v. 15. Team Shaffer Game in the 1 Loss Bracket next week.  Team Maione will get what they’ve been waiting a year for.. A Playoff Rematch with Defending Champs 4. Team Lalez.. It may just be a bit sooner than either Team would have wanted…

4. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) v. 12. Team Shamberg (Muchacha Salsa Silver) – 4. Team Lalez 87-49

There’s only one Team who has the right to say “been there, done that” when it comes to the Hoops League Championship and of course, that is the Defending Champs 4. Team Lalez.  They have been eagerly awaiting the chance to become the first Team in any Chicago Men’s League to Repeat as Champs.  There’s still a lot left for them to do but they surely got off to a great start last Sunday Night.  Their 3 All-Stars, Eytan Azaria, Dave Gershenzon and Brennan Keller were named for the second straight year and it’s no secret why.  They along with their fantastic teammates controlled most of this one with the exhausted 12. Team Shamberg.. For Team Shamberg, they earned one big W on Night 1 and can’t be upset with their play.. They like most Teams after Night 1 head to the 1 Loss Bracket.. They will take on 14. Team Levitan and be the higher seed for a change on March 29. Until then they can rest up.  Team Lalez is thrown right into a Championship Rematch with 1. Team Maione — a Game that will highlight an amazing line-up of Games on the second Sunday of the Playoffs. Both Teams know each other so well and Team Maione won their only meeting this Season.  They had multiple Playoff meetings last year and each one was better than the last.. Everyone should find a way to watch this one next Sunday Night.

6. Team Kozin (Theory) v. 11. Team Apuli (iShot Mounts) – 6. Team Kozin 76-67

Last week this Game was touted as one to watch and it certainly had it’s fair share of fireworks.  Both Teams fought hard in this one as they know you can’t waste opportunities during Playoff Time.  In the Second Half, Team Kozin asserted a lead that would not be overtaken and secured the big Opening Round Game.  All Stars Josh Davis and Randall Hampton were both stellar on Sunday Night as was Big Man Matt Wolk who played excellently around the rim.  Team Apuli played well in this one but just couldn’t match Team Kozin’s shooting.  Again, both Teams are capable of beating anyone in the League..  For Team Kozin, they have a date with #3 Team Zimmerman and then will play a second Game this coming Sunday Night.  Team Apuli would move on to the 1 Loss Bracket and actually played 14. Team Levitan this past week.. More on that below!

7. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) v. 10. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 10. Team Hernandez 104-94

A few things to note in this one before we get into the Game itself.. Team Goldin got 3rd Place last year.  They are one of the better Teams in the League and everyone knows it.  However, they’ve been banged up since before the Super Bowl and just haven’t looked like themselves for a bit.. In fact, coming into the Playoffs they lost 5 of 8..  On Sunday they got All Star Alex Filin back in the lineup which certainly helps.. However, it takes time to get everyone back in unison.. As for the streaking 10. Team Hernandez.. They started off the season slowly as Free Agent Teams often do.. They had an influx of talent come in midway through the season and it really turned their season around.  They are anchored by Dave Altman, one of the best scorers in the League and mid-season acquisition Jeremy Saffold who also made the All Star Team. They won 4 of their last 6 Games including handing Team Maione their only defeat of the Season!  So, seeding my friends, does not always tell the whole story…

Now to the Game.. It was close for most of the first half, but the tempo certainly favored Team Hernandez who wants to get out in transition.. Team Goldin’s strength is to wear the other Team down with a slow and physical style. As the Second half wore on Team Hernandez just kept pouring on the points and Team Goldin just couldn’t keep up, up despite the great effort from All Star Garrett Staniec.  Team Hernandez just may be that double digit seed that is ready to make the run.. It happens every year.. They would move on to play 2. Team Harris right away, while 7. Team Goldin will take on 15. Team Shaffer in the 1 Loss Bracket next week.

2. Team Harris (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) v. 10. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 10. Team Hernandez 101-85

A few things to note in this one before we get into the Game itself.. and if you are noticing a pattern here.. well that’s on purpose.. Team Harris fought it’s way to a 15-3 Record during the Regular Season, a North Division Crown and the #2 Overall Seed.  All of that was made possible in large part by the play of All Star Dylan Richter and Alex Toth.  Both of them are out for the Playoffs due to work related circumstances. Congrats to both of them by the way.  Anyways, what’s left of Team Harris is still a very solid and capable group.. They just might need a bit of time to get their bearings.. Unfortunately, for them, you don’t have time at this point in the Season..  10. Team Hernandez came into this one straight off the emotional high of their first Playoff W just minutes before and they took that momentum into the start of this Game..

Team Harris just couldn’t get stops.  When looking back at the Game, it’s pretty incredible how it went down.. Team Harris managed 85 points without it’s best scorer (and one of the best in the League) but they really never led.. Team Hernandez was on fire from the opening tip and it lasted for 44 minutes.  10. Team Hernandez won Night 1.  There was only one Team that won 2 Games on Sunday Night and they are still standing in the No Loss Bracket.  We can’t place a Cinderella tag on them because frankly that would seem as if we weren’t paying attention. They’ve been good for quite some time. Better than good.  They are among the best and the seed next to their name really means nothing at this point.. They are one of just 5 Teams left in the field with No Losses.. They will face the Winner of 3. Team Zimmerman and 6. Team Kozin next Sunday Night in one that no one will want to miss.  As for Team Harris, they will have next Sunday Night off, which is a great thing.. They can re-group and re-strategze for what can still be a very productive Playoff season. They will face the Winner of the 9. Team Schwartz v. 16. Team Elrod Game and that will be on Sunday March 29.

1 Loss Bracket

11. Team Apuli (iShot Mounts) v. 14. Team Levitan (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Maroon) – 14. Team Levitan 71-67

As you get farther down the Bracket the Games have much more meaning.. This Game was the first and only to take place in the 1 Loss Bracket — which means the Loser would be sent to ELIMINATION GAME territory..  11. Team Apuli had to shake off a loss that had happened just before this one tipped off. Waiting for them was 14. Team Levitan. This is a group who gave top Teams a run for their money in the Regular Season but also couldn’t close out Games against Teams that they maybe “should have” beaten.  Captain Levitan’s group came out strong and it was anyone’s Game for the majority of this one. In the second half, Team Levitan established a lead but it was always within reach.. Team Apuli who was playing their second Game and without the Austin brothers just couldn’t ever take the lead back and when the clock ticked zero it was another lower earning a W on Night 1.

Team Apuli is the first Team on the brink of Elimination and they will have a couple weeks to think about it.. They’ll play in an ELIMINATION GAME on Sunday March 29.  Now, those Games are reseeded so we really have no way of knowing who they’ll face..  They have a lot of heart though and they will not go down without a fight.. As for Team Levitan, they are also off this coming Sunday and will play at least one Game on Sunday March 29. The first coming in the 1 Loss Bracket against 12. Team Shamberg.. That one has the potential to be much better than the seeds would indicate.

Teams that were off this Week:

3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) 

Team Zimmerman had two Players selected to the All Star Team — both extremely deserving — Kyle Nelson and Esto Vega. They’ll kick off their Playoff campaign on Sunday in what will be one of many amazing Games as they take on 6. Team Kozin in the No Loss Bracket.  Either way they play a double header on Sunday Night.. A Win in Game 1, earns them a date in the No Loss Bracket with 10. Team Hernandez.. While a Loss in Game 1, sends them down to the 1 Loss Bracket for a date with the Winner of 5. Team Horwitz and 13. Team Holzman.  Rest up.

13. Team Holzman (Benjmain & Shapiro Law)

When higher seeds fall earlier than expected there’s usually some drawback for some non-involved party.. Enter the non-involved party.. 13. Team Holzman will square off with the hungry 5. Team Horwitz on Sunday Night in the 1 Loss Bracket.  Team Holzman was likely not expecting this and they’ll certainly need to bring their A Game with them.. If they Win, they’ll earn a date with the Loser of 3. Team Zimmerman and 6. Team Kozin.

15. Team Shaffer (Muchacha Salsa Black)

Can’t be Cinderella without the first W..  They’ll get that chance on Sunday Night when they take on 7. Team Goldin in the 1 Loss Bracket.. A Win earns them another Game in the 1 Loss Bracket — v. 8. Team Bernkopf.. While a Loss sends them to the edge of extinction.

16. Team Elrod (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Navy)

They’ll make their Playoff debut on Sunday against 9. Team Schwartz.   They’ve been feisty of late and it wouldn’t be shocking to see a 16-seed win in our version of March Madness..


That’s it for this Week, see you next Sunday for Week 2 of the Playoffs!