2014-15 Hoops – Week 11 (Jan. 11)

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Updated: January 14, 2015

Overtimes are running rampant in the Chicago Hoops League right now.. Can we please finish the Games in 44 minutes from now on gentleman?  Thank you.  In all seriousness, we had another great set of Games on Sunday Night with numerous fantastic finishes.. The Accelerated Game of the Week aka the Championship Rematch aka the Battle for #1 in the Power Rankings certainly did not disappoint. More on that shortly.  Here’s the Link for the Weekly Highlight Video.  OK Let’s Rank ‘Em.

Power Rankings

1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) – 11-0, 1st in West Division

Team Maione has spent about 9 months at #2 for the Chicago Hoops League — just staring at #1 Defending Champs Team Lalez standing alone atop the mountain..  Not anymore.  Last week, Team Maione actually jumped Team Lalez in the Power Rankings as Team Lalez lost for the first time this season to Team Horwitz… However, this week cemented the switch in a much sweeter fashion.  We had been counting down to this Championship Rematch for some time.. The two squads came into the Accelerated Game of the Week with just 1 loss combined and the Game itself did not disappoint.  Team Lalez jumped out to an early lead in the first half as Team Maione, uncharacteristically, struggled on the offensive end..  That lead was maintained deep into the second half and it seemed that Team Lalez was going to regain their spot.. Team Maione would just not give-in though.  They stormed back at the end of the second half and was able to force Overtime!  In OT, it was all Team Maione and they got easily the biggest win of the Regular Season so far.. Not just their biggest win, but the for the entire League.   Now the storyline becomes how long can they stay undefeated and how will they fare as the clear “Hunted” in the League… Can they do the unthinkable and rattle off another 7 Ws and get to the Playoffs undefeated?  This group will certainly stay hungry as they strive for greatness but much more important than an undefeated Regular Season is the Crown given out at the end of April.  Will they grab it?

2. Team Harris (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) – 10-1, 1st in North Division

For the first time all season we have a Team not named Lalez or Maione in the Top 2 of the Power Rankings and, frankly, Team Harris deserves it.  They’ve rattled off 10 of their first 11 in the Chicago Hoops League and more often than not do so in very impressive fashion.  They took it to the always tough Team Goldin on Sunday Night and it was just another indication that Team Harris are true Championship Contenders.  They have another tough task ahead for Sunday Night as they will take on Team Apuli.  Both Teams like to get out and run — so this should be a high-scoring, up and down affair.

3. Team Horwitz (Esser Hayes Insurance Co.) – 8-3, 2nd in West Division

Fresh off their W against Team Lalez last week.. this week presented a classic “trap-game” scenario for Team Horwitz against Team Levitan. For starters, Team Levitan is significantly better than their record would indicate and it’s just difficult in general to come back a week after the biggest win of the season and keep up the intensity.  Well, for much of this Game it seemed like Team Horwitz would fall into that trap… When the dust settled, Team Horwitz pulled it out though.  These Guys are really racking up the Ws and it seems they are destined for a fantastic finish to the season. What’s unfortunate for them is they happen to fall in the same division as the 11-0 Team Maione.. So they aren’t gaining any ground on the division lead.. That being said, they’ll still wind up with a great seed.. Next up is Team Hernandez in what should be another offensive battle.

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

Before everyone hits the Panic Button, let’s put everything into perspective here.. Yes, they’ve started off 2015 with two straight Ls.  HOWEVER, they’ve lost two of the top squads in the League, with one of those coming in OT.. They’ve done so without many of their regular rotation guys and frankly they should be allowed a couple weeks of non-perfection after the 2014 they had.  Team Lalez is going to be just fine.  They are still first in their Division and have a firm grasp on a Top 3 seed come Playoff time… This has to be said though.. They must regain their mojo and fast.. Their schedule is not easy to finish out January..  This stretch is an early preview for their Playoff run where they will try to re-run the gauntlet that they completed last April.  The Defending Champs are still going to be heard from when all is said and done.. This will just be a minor blip on the radar a couple months from now.

5. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) – 8-3, 2nd in South Division

After a win against Rivals – Team Apuli on Sunday, Team Zimmerman find themselves just one game out in the South Division and a rematch with Team Lalez looms to close out the Regular Season.  They have a real chance to swoop in and take the Division now and it should be their goal to do so.. Here’s a reminder for those who haven’t studied the gruesome Triple Elimination Playoff Bracket (which is paralleled only by the Bracket used at Wrestlemania IV)…

Playoff Seeding:

1. All Teams make the Playoffs. Teams seeded #1 through #4 essentially get a bye in the Opening Round while Teams seeded #13 through #16 start the Playoffs with 1-Loss already.  That Leaves Teams seeded #5 through #12 to play in the Opening Round.

1a. The Four Regular-Season Division Champs being seeded #1 through #4. Unless..

1b. If a Team who finishes in 2nd in their Division finishes with the 2nd or 3rd Best Record in the League they will be seeded above the Division Winners with worse Records. Note: This can only happen twice so the lowest a Division Winner can be Seeded is #6.

Anyways, there’s a big difference between finishing the Season in 4th and 5th.. Team Zimmerman is right on that brink right now.. They will find themselves in the Accelerated Game of the Week on Sunday Night against..

6. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) – 7-4, 1st in East Division

Team Goldin took one on the chin a bit on Sunday Night.  Team Harris just wouldn’t be denied and it snapped Team Goldin’s 3-Game Winning Streak.  Team Goldin is entering a tough part of their schedule and will have to do so without some of their regular starters.. They should be able to hold down the fort though for the next couple of weeks until everyone is back.. They still have the lead in their division and, thus, control much of their own fate heading into the Playoffs.  Sunday Night, they will take place in the Accelerated Game of the Week when they lock up with Team Zimmerman.  This will be a clash of styles as Team Zimmerman likes to get out and run with their ideal games finishing in the 80s.  Team Goldin likes slow it down and win games in the 60-70s.  Should be a fun one that both Teams really need..

7. Team Shamberg (Muchacha Salsa Silver) – 5-6, 2nd in North Division

For the first time in their Franchise’s 2 years of the Chicago Hoops League, Team Shamberg finds themselves in the top-half of the Power Rankings.  That’s not really the story that matters here though.. The story is what (and who) have gotten them here.  They have now won three straight including a 4OT marathon against Team Kozin a couple weeks back and 2pt nail-biter vs. Team Bernkopf this past Sunday… They’ve learned how to win close Games.. Something that has plagued them in the past.  Brothers Michael and Danny Kaufman have really played well and Bret Darcy has helped shoulder some of the scoring load.. This group works as hard as any each and every week.. If they can keep putting the ball in the basket than they are going to be an extremely tough out later this Spring.  No Congrats given out here.. They have much more to still do, then the Congrats will be given.

8. Team Kozin (Theory) – 6-5, 2nd in East Division

Last Week, Team Kozin came in at #10 in the Power Rankings — which admittedly is a joke. There are not 9 Teams better than Team Kozin in this League.  In fact, there aren’t 7 Teams better.. There may be none when all is said and done.  They’ve had a rough winter so far after coming out of the gates hot.  That all came to a head last week when they lost the longest Game in the Hoops League’s history to Team Shamberg in 4OT.  This week, they had their entire crew back and reestablished that hunger they began the year with.  On each possession they wanted a basket and to follow it up with a stop.  The passion was oozing out of them for the entire 44 minutes and it was fun to see them really get after it on both ends.  The losing skid they went on may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them (and the worst for everyone else).

9. Team Apuli (iShot Mounts) – 6-5, 3rd in West Division

Battled a tough Team Zimmerman crew but came up a bit short on Sunday.  The BIGGER story stemming from Sunday Night is that Big Man Dan Stone made his return to Team Apuli this past Sunday.  For those who don’t know or may have forgotten him from last season.. Well, you’ll take notice soon as he immediately becomes the largest player in the League.   He’s a true force down low and provides Team Apuli with one of the more dynamic front-lines in the League as he pairs up beautifully with Kyle Daniels (who missed this past Sunday).  Team Apuli is on the rise.

10. Team Bernkopf (Stems) – 4-7, 3rd in East Division

Dropped a tough one that they could have (and maybe should have) won on Sunday Night.  They definitely got a couple bad bounces that impacted the outcome — and in a 2pt game — there are several of those instances.. What’s more important though, is they’ve continued to look better over their last 5 Games than they did in the early parts of the season and no matter what their record is come Playoff time, as long as they are playing this way, they’ll exceed all expectations that their seed will provide.  They need to take the next 7 weeks and lockdown their rotations and figure out where the ball is going in late game situations.  Their schedule is going to be tough over the next few weeks.. Next up, Team Lalez who is coming off of 2 straight Ls.

11. Team Holzman (Benjamin & Shapiro Law) – 2-9, 4th in East Division

Team Holzman showed up big-time on Sunday and got a much needed W.  Alex Parmacek was big on the offensive end and led the Team in scoring.  These guys have had tons of past All Sports Series success and Sunday was a nice reminder for them that they can win in this League.  They have another very winnable game on Sunday Night before the Schedule takes a turn for the worse..  They are right in the hunt for the magical 12th Seed.. Which will keep them out of Bottom-4 and starting the Playoffs with a Loss. There’s still a ton of time left and they have the necessary talent to string some wins together.

12. Team Schwartz (Greater Than) – 2-9, 4th in West Division

Rounding out the Rankings this Week is Team Schwartz..  In the past few weeks they’ve rediscovered a bit of what made them so lethal in 2013-14 and have added another layer or two to that.. A) Newcomer Danny Roseth has really started to take a more active role on the offensive side.. which is a boost they’ve really needed and B) right behind Roseth, is Captain Matt “new dad” Schwartz, who has been known for many things in his All Sports Series past — but scoring was not necessarily one of them.. He’s changed course in 2015 and has gone for well above his season (and career) average in the past couple of weeks.. For this group its real simple.. They are always good on the defensive end. They work hard.  They just need to put the ball in the basket.. Seems as if they’ve figured it out once again.. Jason Vismantas’ 26 points didn’t hurt either.  They have a few very winnable Games in coming weeks.. They have a real chance to rise up in the Rankings.

Rest of the Pack (Alphabetical Order) 

Team Elrod (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Navy) – 1-10, 4th in North Division

I think this group needs a fire lit under them. No more Mr. Nice Guy.. To win.. They’ll need to make more shots.  There.  It’s been said.

Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 3-8, 3rd in North Division

Yes, their record has taken a dip in the past month or so. Yes, they’ve fallen out of the Rankings. However, this roster is much more complete than it ever was in 2014… Their new pieces are still getting acclimated and they are going to be a Team that people don’t want to play come March.

Team Levitan (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Maroon) – 3-8, 3rd in South Division

Nearly pulled off another upset on Sunday Night as they lost a heart-breaker to Team Horwitz.  For those keeping tracking such things, and we are, they’ve lost by 3 to Team Lalez and Team Harris in addition to last week’s 2 point loss to Team Horwitz.  That’s 3 losses to Top-4 Teams by a combined 8 points.. They are going to beat Teams in the Playoffs.  They just are.  It’s not “if” it’s “how many” and “who.”

Team Shaffer (Muchacha Salsa Black) – 2-9, 4th in South Division

Let a winnable one get away from them on Sunday Night, but it’s on to the next one.  They’ll face Team Holzman on Sunday Night  — a Team with the same record as them and currently the same goals — get out from the Bottom 4 of the Standings.. Sunday Night might be as an important of a Regular Season Game as these guys have left. Seems extreme but it’s the truth. Good Luck guys.

 

That’s it for this week.  See everyone Sunday Night!

– Holden