2014-15 Hoops – Week 10 (Jan. 4)

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Updated: January 6, 2015

2015 is here and with it comes the second half of the Chicago Hoops League’s Regular Season… We started the year off with some craziness, including one of our final 2 undefeated squads finally taking a Loss and a FOUR OVERTIME thriller.. More on all of that later..  A bit housekeeping — There will be Games each Sunday through the end of April with two exceptions — the Super Bowl and Easter.  The Playoffs officially tip-off on Sunday March 15.  The All-Star Ballot will be coming out in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for that — there will be new rules for this season in terms of voting (that is a teaser.. more to follow soon).  Here’s your the Link to the first Weekly Highlight Video of 2015.  OK without further ado.. Let’s Rank ’em!

1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) – 10-0, 1st in West Division

See below with 2. Team Lalez.

2. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 9-1, 1st in South Division

Going to take the old but new Top 2 in one helping this Week..  Let’s not bury the lead.. The Top 2 Teams in the Power Rankings, who happen to also be the Teams who competed in last year’s Championship, are going toe to toe on Sunday Night in the Accelerated Game of the Week (month)!  Not only will this provide a huge measuring stick for both squads as we barrel toward the Playoffs, but #1 in the Power Rankings going forward is up for grabs and also an inside track at the #1 Seed in the Playoffs come March.

Now, one thing you’ll notice.. Well, two.. First, In the paragraph above, there was no mention of the “Undefeated Showdown” that we have been counting down toward to finish 2014.  Second, while the Top 2 Teams are the same they have been all season.. They have flip flopped in order.. That is because Team Horwitz took down the Defending Champs last Sunday Night (and in impressive fashion).  Team Maione took care of their business against a feisty Team Levitan squad and just like that they are the last unbeaten crew in the League.. The question becomes, how long can they last?  Team Lalez plans on making it a short run..  It bares mentioning that last Sunday, Team Lalez was without half their Team, including a few All-Stars from a season ago.. It’s not to take anything away from Team Horwitz, but it would be unfair to not mention it..

Anyways, back to THE showdown of the Regular Season.  After 10 Weeks of the Regular Season we are getting a Championship Rematch between Teams who have a combined 1 Loss.. What more can you possibly want?  The Game will start at 7pm.. Bring Your Own Popcorn. Good Luck Guys.

3. Team Harris (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) – 9-1, 1st in North Division

You are probably thinking, “What do we have to do to move up into the Top 2 already?”  The simple answer is of course.. Just keep winning and be patient.  Team Harris has rattled off 9 Wins in their first 10 Games in the Hoops League.. Their sole loss coming at the hands of Defending Champs and current #2 Team Lalez.. Here’s the deal — if Team Harris gets another huge W on Sunday v. Team Goldin in what would normally be an Accelerated Game of the Week AND if Team Maione moves to 11-0, meaning Team Lalez has dropped two in a row.. Team Harris will move up to #2.  Done Deal. It’s a promise..  However, If Team Lalez knocks off Team Maione.. And we have a log jam of 10-1 Teams.. It’ll be awfully difficult to knock last year’s Championship combatants from their perch.. For next week at least.. More important than the Rankings is the fact that these guys are getting stronger each Week.  They are really comfortable with one another and as the season has gone on, it seems more and more as if they can really win the whole thing in their first season.

4. Team Horwitz (Esser Hayes Insurance Co.) – 7-3, 2nd in West Division

There’s a new Giant Slayer in the Hoops League and they are known as Team Horwitz.  They leap frogged a couple Teams who won this past week in the Power Rankings and for great reason.. They ended Team Lalez’s streak on Sunday Night. It’s Over.  Last year’s Defending Champs opened up 9-0 to start the 2014-15 but Team Horwitz refused to become the 10th victim.  Team Horwitz came out, as they so often do, on fire.  They couldn’t miss.  They took advantage of mismatches down low and got buckets.  Then it started pouring in from the outside.. The shots they were hitting would make most Teams thump their chest — if it was in warm-ups without a Defense.. It was crazy.  Drew Zahora, the League’s Leading Rebounder, had a field day scoring on Sunday Night.. He had 36 points but it felt more like fifty.  At the end of the first half, Team Horwitz hit a full court heave, which truly was the cherry on top.  They were up 31 at half time (after being tied at 23 midway through the half) and well that was all she wrote.  Plain and simple..  When Team Horwitz is at their best..  They are nearly impossible to stop from scoring and if they score most of the time.. Well, that’s how you win Hoops Games..  Can’t wait to see how they do with a target firmly planted on their backs the rest of the way…

5. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) – 7-3, 1st in East Division

See below with 6. Team Zimmerman.

6. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) – 7-3, 2nd in South Division

Let’s do #5 Team Goldin and #6 Team Zimmerman together this week.. Reason being, they have the same gripe after this Week’s Power Rankings.. They both won on Sunday Night and in impressive fashion.. Yet, both fell a spot in the Power Rankings this Week.. Sorry..  Team Horwitz knocking off former undefeated #1 Team Lalez and the way they did.. Well it justified them moving up and, thus, the bump down for Team Goldin and Team Zimmerman.. Now, let’s focus on the positive.  Both sit at 7-3 and are firmly situated among the League’s elite AND next week they will both be challenged by fellow top tier Teams.. Team Goldin will face off with Team Harris in what will be a battle of wills.. Team Goldin likes to play “slugfest” basketball. They are a great defensive Team and just wear out their opponents.. While, Team Harris wants to get out and run, run, run.. Brandon Lathon is coming off a very rare Triple Double with 15 points, 10 dimes and 17 rebounds.. If he plays like that next week Team Goldin will be moving on up.  Feed him more!  While Team Zimmerman, will meet familiar foe — Team Apuli on Sunday Night.  Team Zimmerman has bounced back from a small skid in early December and a lot of it can be contributed to Kyle Nelson (36 points on Sunday) and Esto Vega (30 points on Sunday)… They have so many weapons on that squad, but those two have really stepped it up as of late.

7. Team Apuli (iShot Mounts) – 6-4, 3rd in West Division

Team Apuli got another W on Sunday Night and move to two games above .500. This is the best they’ve looked all year and it seems they are ready to go on an extended run in the season’s second half.  Their rise into the #7 spot brings some bragging rights to the West Division who have 3 Teams in the Top 7 which also include new #1 Team Maione and Giant Slayer #4 Team Horwitz. Team Apuli’s 1-2 start seems really far away now as they’ve been 5-2 since.  They are a Team no one is really talking about but that  will change in the coming weeks.  They have a chance to put the entire League on notice and potentially move into the Top 5 next week as they take on rivals Team Zimmerman.  If Kyle Daniels can keep getting 29 and 12.. They will be tough to beat. He’s another guy that needs to get the ball as much as possible.. Opens up so much for their athletes on the outside.. Congrats on starting 2015 off right.

8. Team Bernkopf (Stems) – 4-6, 3rd in East Division

2015 will be better than 2014 for Team Bernkopf in the Hoops League.  Not a prediction. Just a fact.  They are finally healthy and the past few weeks they’ve shown the true make-up of their squad.  They’ve won 2 of their last 3, including this past Sunday and are now once again in the top half of the Power Rankings.  They’ll be the first ones to tell you they aren’t firing on all cylinders yet but they are certainly heading in the right direction.. This charge is led by Zach Bulwa who went for 24 points on Sunday Night.  This is a group of hungry players who have had tons of past All Sports Series success.. Their slow start will cause their Playoff seed to be a bit lower than it should be and because of that they may fly under the radar come the Spring..  They are a dark horse to start keeping an eye on.  Just word to the wise. Next Sunday they take on #9…

9. Team Shamberg (Muchacha Salsa Silver) – 4-6, 2nd in North Division

This is the highest Team Shamberg has been in the Power Rankings this season.  They are on the cusp of entering the top half of the Power Rankings for the first time in their two seasons of the Hoops League and it’s for a great reason.. They’ve won 2 in a row with the latest coming this past Sunday in QUADRUPLE OVERTIME against Team Kozin.  This Game could have gone either way and at 20 different times during the marathon it seemed as if one Team had won it.. When all was said and done.. Team Shamberg got the biggest Win in their Franchise’s history.  At the end of regulation they let a 5 point lead disintegrate in under a minute.  However, they kept their composure throughout the many over time periods.. When we got to the 4th OT — the Game turned into Sudden Death..  Team Shamberg actually lost the tip but forced a jump ball on that possession which led to a tough bucket on the other end which meant victory.  This was one that they can look back on come Playoff time and know they can beat anybody and do so in close games.. Next week they’ll have a shot to leap into the top half of the Power Rankings when they take on #8 Team Bernkopf.

10. Team Kozin (Theory) – 5-5, 2nd in East Division

Just a total heartbreaker.. They could have and maybe should have won their 4OT Game a couple times.. Including a would-have-been-gamewinning tip-in at the buzzer from Matt Wolk which was waived off as being late.. It could not have been any closer really.. Let’s just turn the page to next week for this bunch.  They have the feisty Team Hernandez group lined up..  Just to reiterate.. No need for panic.. It wouldn’t matter if they came in as the #16 seed (they won’t), these guys still are capable of being the last Team standing and that will be the belief until someone knocks them out come April.  Seed is just a number for them.

11. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 3-7, 3rd in North Division

Still figuring out some moving pieces as they added a few guys before the break.. They ran out of gas with just having 5 actives on Sunday..  They surely aren’t happy with their record right now but they truly have serious building blocks and more talent than many other Teams in the League.  The reality is, there are still 8 weeks left in the Regular Season and the Playoffs are a marathon to boot.. Basically, they have a ton of time to get everything right and once they do.. Well, these first 10 weeks will be nothing but a distant memory.

12. Team Levitan (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Maroon) – 3-7, 3rd in South Division

They are clinging to the final spot in the Rankings right now as they are on a bit of a slide.. They are about to enter a difficult portion of their schedule as well.. What we’ve learned in their first 10 weeks of All Sports Series is that they seem to play up and down with their competition.. If this holds true, we can expect to see them at their best to close out January.  I think some Teams in the top of the Standings have their eyes on Team Levitan, as they have given many of them close scares.. They are going to be a fun Team to track come the Spring..

Rest of the Pack (Alphabetical Order) 

Team Elrod (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Navy) – 1-9, 4th in the North Division

They were just overmatched down low against Team Goldin.  That’ll happen. Some matchups are better suited than others.  They are getting to point in their schedule where they can really build a few wins on top of one another.. Exactly what they need to get going before March rolls around..  This Team is going to end up surprising some people before all is said and done.

Team Holzman (Benjamin & Shapiro Law) – 2-8, 4th in East Division

Team Holzman is facing two unranked Teams in the next two weeks.. Perfect time for them to gain some momentum for the season’s second half.  They are so, so much better than their record indicates and eventually the talent will shine through.  Captain Andrew Holzman knows how to navigate through an All Sports Series League as well as any and he knows when its time to push the right buttons.. These guys are going to get some Ws in the coming weeks..

Team Schwartz (Greater Than) – 1-9, 4th in West Division

A little schedule digging shows that these guys will play 4 of their next 5 Games against Teams that are currently under .500.  This run is going to be crucial for their efforts to climb out of the Bottom 4 before the Playoffs..  As stated above the West has turned out to be just completely loaded and they will finish the season against their Division (as everyone does).. So the time is now to strike and try to put together some Ws.  This Team is still capable of an extended Playoff run.. Maybe the most suited for one of the unranked Teams right now.. However, they need to get it going now so they have some positive to draw from come March.  They have everything it takes to get it done.. Just need to pull out some of these tight ones.

Team Shaffer (Muchacha Salsa Black) – 2-8, 4th in South Division

Didn’t look like themselves this week.. They’ll be back next week and ready to get their first W of 2015.

 

That’s it for the first Power Rankings of 2015.  See you next Sunday!

Holden