2014-15 Hoops – Week 1 (Oct. 19)

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Updated: October 23, 2014

Welcome to the All Sports Hoops League! Sunday Night we got to see how much better Teams from last year got over the Summer and our first glimpse of how the new Teams stack up!  Last year, the League was really tough. Tons of Talent.  I’d stack last year’s League up against any League in Chicago.. Well let me tell you, there was some serious GMing going on this Summer because the League has even more Talent. It’s not even close really.  This is going to be fun…

This marathon of a Season will end on Sunday April 26 for the Championship and  All-Star Game.  Between then and now there will be a TON of Hoops action.. Here’s what else you can expect: 1)Each Week you’ll get an Email with Links to your Stats, Video Highlights and Power Rankings article, 2) Each Week we’ll have a Power Rankings that contains a Top-12 Ranked based on both their weekly and season-long play.. 3) The Power Rankings article will also feature a Link to the Weekly Highlight Video (<– Click that!).

As the Season moves on we’ll do some other fun stuff with both the Videos and the Power Rankings — look out for some Interviews featuring… You!  Before we get started a couple more quick notes — the Power Rankings are just for fun and have no actual impact on the League.. They are done with a Statistical type of analysis.. I will also be receiving some help from time to time  on the Rankings from some of your statisticians.. This week All Sports Series alum Jon Nickow will be helping out with some of the Teams he saw on Sunday Night.

OK enough of the intro.. Let’s Rank ‘Em!

Power Rankings

1. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 1-0, tied for 1st in South Division

Where to start but with the reigning, defending, first and only Defending Champs of the Hoops League — Team Lalez.  For newcomers this will serve as an important (and necessary) history lesson.. For veterans, you might be sick of this already.. But if you don’t want to hear it, you’ll have to knock these guys off the top of the Mountain.   Team Lalez’s core started as Team Dorfman back in the very first All Sports Series in 2010. Where they won the Championship. They followed that up with a Runners-Up in 2011 and another Championship crown in 2012 (all of which coming in the extremely competitive Chicago Men’s Summer League).  Then last Spring these guys took home the very first All Sports Hoops Championship (in Overtime) to add even more hardware to their mantle.  Simply put this crew is on the All Sports Series Mt. Rushmore and is the League’s first true Dynasty.

They started their campaign for Back2Back Crowns on Sunday Night right where they left off last season.. With another W.  You’ll see a different cast of characters lead them in scoring each week as they really like to spread it around and feed the hot hand. Brennan Keller went off for 28 points (2nd most in the League) on Sunday and Dave Gershenzon added 23 of his own.

You probably should get used to these guys being #1 — they sure are.

2. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) – 1-0, tied for 1st in West Division

Last Year’s Runners-Up will begin this Season at #2 and rightfully so.  These Guys have an impressive All Sports Series Resume as well.. They are the 2013 Chicago Men’s Summer League Champs and many of them hold a Crown from the College/Prep League back in the day.  They are likely the deepest Team in the field and are deadly from beyond the arc.  They were seconds away from a Championship last season and they have been chomping at the bit to get back out on the Court and take what they feel is theirs..  You’ll notice one Roster Transaction this Summer which will surely be felt League wide.. All-Everything Johnny Lindquist is away for the year for Grad School but replacing him is All-Everything himself Tellef Lundevall..  Last year, size might have been the only thing Team Maione really could have used more of.. Tellef adds that in spades.  He led the Team in scoring on the night with 23 points.. But as is so often the case.. Team Maione had another three Players in Double Digits during their W on Sunday Night — Josh Bartelstein had 16, Chris Wroblewski had 15 and Bradley Deutsch had 13.  These guys can put up points in a hurry..  Look out.

3. Team Kozin (Theory) – 1-0, tied for 1st in East Division

Team Kozin is back for its second year of the Hoops League, bigger and better than last year, when they were a Final4 participant.. Captain Jason Kozin has crafted arguably the most improved Team in the League centered around former Simeon standouts. He’s certainly leading the in the GM of the Year ballot right now. Last year’s go to man in Josh Davis is surrounded by a strong group of guys, including center Tim Flowers who led the Game in points with 23, and one of the craftiest guards in the league in Randall Hampton, who hit each of his final nine shots to end with 22 points. The speed and athleticism of its guards are well complemented by a solid group of big men and supporting shooters – the combination of which will lead to a successful season.  In fact, and with all do respect to #1 and #2 above, you could be looking at the Team to beat by Season’s end.

4. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) – 1-0, tied for 1st in South Division

Team Zimmerman rounded out the top tier last season.. It was a group of 5 Teams that saw Team Zimmerman finish in 5th last Spring.. They of course are back this season and they too have improved.  They’ve improved both with confidence as they are fresh off a visit to the Chicago Men’s Summer League Championship Game as well as their talent.. Newly additions — Kyle Nelson went for 23 points and Riaz Hoveydai went for 19 points as well. Sharpshooting Eugene Connor also got off to a hot start for his Team.  They were without Captain Jack on Sunday Night so they looked to Ross Neuman for leadership and coaching.. No matter the “Coach”.. this team is full of talent and is going to take home it’s fair share of Ws this Season.. That’s exactly what happened against the Rookie squad Team Levitan. Along with defensive specialist Dan Lehtman (who averaged 2.3 charges per game in 2013-2014), Ross Neuman complements a serious contender in Team Zimmerman as arguably the most efficient player in the league. Look for Team Zimmerman to maintain their spot in top five and make some noise down the line.

5. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) – 0-1, tied for 3rd in East Division

As stated above last year’s League had a top tier of 5 Teams.  It’s no coincidence that those 5 squads begin the 2014-15 year on top of the Power Rankings.. You may scratching your head thinking, “Why would a Team who Lost on Sunday, be in the Top 5.” Well, I’d like to share with you an excerpt from last year’s Week 1 Power Rankings article about Team Goldin:

Some of the avid Power Rankings readers might recall that over the Summer I always like the chances of the Team that I thought lost Week 1’s best game.. The reason being is that usually in Week 1 two of the top X amount of teams will face-off and while the Winner leaves feeling happy.. The Loser leaves feeling hungry..  Yes, they dropped their first game on Sunday Night but I think far and away they played in what should be considered Week 1’s best game.  These guys can play with and beat anyone in the League.  They also now have this Week 1 Loss to look back on and make sure they don’t get too complacent.”

This crew is very familiar with adversity and turned last season’s slowish start into a 3rd place finish and were seconds away from punching a ticket to the Championship Game.  Yes, the rest of the League got better.. But, so did they. Team Goldin’s talent is spread across entire Roster and their Depth will be key as the Season rolls on. Newcomer Dominic Lopez and Garrett Staniec each put in 16 points, while Captain Danny Goldin and Ben Chesterman added 13 and 12 each, respectively.  They are a top squad and will prove it soon.

6. Team Harris (Chicago Double Decker & Trolley Co.) – 1-0, tied for 1st in North Division

Our first new squad to hit the Power Rankings is Team Harris.  These guys are new only to All Sports Hoops as they have been All Sports Series vets for quite some time.. In fact, Captain Brian is nearing the “Most Games Played” tag in All Sports Series history.. His bunch is the nucleus from a Team that took home the 2013 Champaign League Championship down at U of I last Fall.  They have graduated since then so instead of defending their Crown they are here looking to take someone else’s.  You might not know them just yet.. But you will.. Led by a group of former Stevenson and Deerfield high school basketball players, this is a team that will end up in the top half of the league with wins against some of the top teams. Their two headed monster down low performed well, with Alex Toth and Dylan Richter scoring 19 and 17 points, respectively. Talent is spread throughout this team as well (a theme across the board), with 8 of 9 players scoring at least 5 points, 6 of which hit a three.

7. Team Bernkopf (Stems) – 1-0, tied for 1st in East Division

Team Bernkopf has been around since the beginning of All Sports Series as they competed in the very first way back in 2010.  Since then, they have been a part year after year — searching for that elusive Crown.  They’ve gotten close (many times) but haven’t been able to win one just yet.. They have a Roster full of guys who can create their own shot and bring something else to the table.. Like many Teams listed above they knew they needed to get better in the off-season.. They did just that.. Leaving the scorer’s table and entering the action this year is Frank Maione who is fresh-off a Championship in the College/Prep League this Summer.  He along with Mikey Gutman and Alex Simmons will help bring some new energy and (scoring punch) to the feisty Team Bernkopf bunch. They have enough to compete with the very best the Hoops League has to offer — they just need to play their best to do it.  Could this be the year?

8. Team Horwitz (Esser Hayes Insurance Co.) – 1-0, tied for 1st in West Division

Captain Jon is an All Sports Series vet.. However, this is his first run in the Hoops League and along with him comes a great deal of Rookies.  On their debut night they took down a Veteran bunch and made themselves feel right at home.  Swingman extraordinaire Alan Tucci was the League’s Leading scorer in Week 1 with his 32 points. Other Rooks CJ Ryan had 16 and Phil Hayes had 15 as well. Big Man Drew Zahora just missed a double-double grabbing hold of SEVENTEEN Boards to go along with 9 points.  This may be the most unknown crew in the League this year and my sense is that won’t last too long. These guys in gold can play.  Take notice.

9. Team Elrod (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Navy) – 1-0, tied for 1st in North Division

Team Elrod is one of a couple “Free Agent” squads that formed this off-season with guys who just wanted to get in the Hoops League. Many are All Sports Series vets and a few are Rookies..  Many of them used to call Camp Ojibwa their Summer homes so they are no strangers to great competition. It’s going to take some time for them to gel as a unit but they are already off to a very positive start as they won the most exciting game of the night on Sunday with an OT thriller over Team Shamberg.  Dean Baba netted 19 to lead the Team in scoring while Scott Bagan (16 points) and Zach Nudelman (11 points) both hit clutch shots to either tie the game or take the lead down the stretch and in OT.  They definitely have a solid core and will only get better with time.. Excited to see how high they can climb.

10. Team Schwartz (Greater Than) – 0-1, tied for 3rd in West Division

One of the scrappiest Teams we had last year, Team Schwartz, is back this year and added some scoring punch.. All Sports Series vets – Danny Roseth and Bradley Schwartz were picked up by Captain Matt in an effort to climb all the way to the top this season. They had an unenviable opponent in Team Maione this past Sunday but don’t let the one week fool you.. They can play and on both ends of the court. Jason Vismantas led the way for them w/ 17 in the Loss.  They are a real solid group that goes 9-deep and if they can get on the same page, they’ll get on quite the roll..

11. Team Holzman (Benjamin & Shapiro Law) – 0-1, tied for 3rd in East Division

Those familiar with All Sports Series will surely know Team Holzman both from last season’s Hoops League — where they had some nice Playoff upsets and then this Summer where they parlayed that momentum into finishing #1 out of 24 Teams in the Chicago Men’s League Regular Season.  They are an impressive bunch that have added some firepower.. Absent on Sunday was All-Defensive Teamer Josh Cowin who will now join forces with his brother Danny on Captain Andrew’s crew.  Danny went for 14 and 14 (boards) in his Hoops League debut.  Not a bad start. EJ Silver led in scoring as he so often did a year ago.. Netting 17 on Sunday Night.  They will need to learn how to work in many new pieces but once they do.. they should shoot up the Rankings.

12. Team Apuli (iShot Mounts) – 0-1, tied for 3rd in West Division

A tough loss for Captain Apuli and his squad in their debut for their second season in the Hoops League. Last season, these guys ran hot and cold.. Knocking off some of the League’s finest squads on a number of occasions but also falling victim to a few of the Teams at the bottom of the Standings. They hope that their new additions will help with consistency..  In the Loss, we were introduced to identical twins Tyler and Mike Austin, who scored 19 and 14 points, respectfully.  Team Horwitz simply got more shots, because of ball security, which was the difference in their game. Expect Team Apuli to bounce back in Week 2.

Rest of the Pack (Alphabetical Order)

Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 0-1, tied for 3rd in North Division

A tough pull for Team Hernandez in their first Hoops League Game in facing Team Harris. Many of this Group has competed in past All Sports Series Leagues and will pull from the past experience as the year moves along. After a red hot start making their first four shots, which were all threes, Team Hernandez came back down to earth and shot just 15 for 44 the rest of the game. Despite the loss, there were several bright spots for Team Hernandez. Dave Altman showed he will be one of the league’s top scorers with a solid showing of 24 points, including four 3’s. Another bright spot was Christian James who sank three 3’s as well. Team Hernandez looks like they will go as far as their 3pt shooting will take them.. They have some Wins in-store for sure.

Team Levitan (Dr. Jacob D.D.S Maroon) – 0-1, tied for 3rd in South Division

Team Levitan is the only true Rookie squad in the League. No one on their Roster has competed in All Sports Series before.. They were welcomed to the League with a matchup against Team Zimmerman, who finished in 2nd in the All Sports Series Men’s League this past summer. After falling into a hole early in the game, it was nearly impossible to dig out of against a serious contender in Team Zimmerman. Team Levitan shot just under 40%, led by Dale Mickelson’s 19 points and Ryan Winiarski’s 13 points, who also grabbed 10 boards for a solid double-double. They played well in the second half and definitely have something to build upon. They were also missing their two bigs, which undoubtedly would have changed the course of their game on Sunday Night.  They’ll be Ranked in no time! Welcome!

Team Shaffer (Muchacha Salsa Black) – 0-1, tied for 3rd in South Division

Team Shaffer is a combo of several Teams from last Season (Team Bauer, Team Eilian and Team Shamberg) all have representation on this squad in addition to some Rooks.  Those Guys wanted to take a step up and get a deeper roster — well they did just that. They had the toughest test of any Team in Week 1 — Defending Champs Team Lalez, especially considering this is the first time that many of them have played with one another.  This Team has everything you need to be successful in the Hoops League.. Scoring, Size, Speed, a PG.. They also individually know how to play.. Just going to take a bit of time.. A few weeks from now they are going to look like a totally different team.

Team Shamberg (Muchacha Salsa Silver) – 0-1, tied for 3rd in North Division

Briefly mentioned above in Team Shaffer’s section — Team Shamberg has obviously retooled for the 2014-15 season.  They are listed last here but only for alphabetical reasons.. They actually lost the closest Game of the Night — an OT heartbreaker to Team Elrod on Sunday Night.  They started off slow a season ago before turning on the jets and looking great in the season’s second half. Their roster looks really strong this Season and if they can figure out a way to avoid the sluggish start in 2014, they might be a dark horse by the time 2015 (and more importantly the Playoffs) come around.

That’s it for the Power Rankings this Week. Have a great weekend and See you Sunday Night!

– Holden