2014-15 Hoops – Week 12 (Jan. 18)

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Updated: January 20, 2015

With Week 12 in the books, we are officially 2/3 the way through the Regular Season.. Much will change in the next 6 weeks but we have officially entered the #PlayoffPush.  Week 12 had it’s share of crazy moments but it will mostly be remembered for a night where the “Rich got Richer.” For the first time in what seems like an eternity — each Team in the Top 5 of Last Week’s Power Rankings got a W this Week. So you won’t see much turnover at the top.. However, there’s a ton of shake-up in the middle of the Power Rankings.  The All-Star Ballot is officially LIVE (w/new rules) — right here!  Also, want to quickly thank Kelly Parker Home Collective for stopping by once again to say hi to everyone.  Finally, before we get to the Power Rankings — here’s the Weekly Highlight Video (along with the League Leader updates).

Power Rankings

1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) – 12-0, 1st in West Division 

Team Maione won again.  That’s 12 in a row.  It’s the longest winning streak in the two-history of the Chicago Hoops League.  Ponder this — they’ve swept the West Division (their own), then they swept the East Division, then they swept the South Division.  This past Sunday their quest to sweep the North began — with a W over Team Shamberg.. Not to get too ahead of ourselves but.. The North has the weakest W/L record by division and Team Maione already ran the gambit once in their own division (whom they will close the season against) — so the question becomes — can they go undefeated?  This was basically an unthinkable task and now it has real relevance as we head into the final 1/3 of the Regular Season.  There are six Teams that will get a crack at the top dogs before the Regular Season comes to a close.. Most notably, the current #2 in the Power Rankings — Team Harris on Sunday Feb. 15.  Also, Team Maione had 6 Players named to the All-Star Ballot — a true testament to their depth.

2. Team Harris (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) – 11-1, 1st in North Division

While, Team Harris, has not been able to reach the top of the Power Rankings (just yet) this Season, they do lead the League in something.. Team Harris is the only Team with 7 Players named to the All-Star Ballot.  Congrats to the whole crew.  They also picked up their 11th win on the Season Sunday.  That’s 8 Ws in a row, with their only blemish, coming all the way back in Nov. to Team Lalez.  In any normal league, an eight-game winning-streak is likely to be the longest, however the Hoops League is far from a normal one.  Their next 3 Games should say a lot about this first year squad.  They have Team Schwartz on Sunday, who are playing their best ball of the season right now, before entering a gruesome two-week stretch with Team #3 Team Horwitz and #1 Team Maione.  If Team Harris can get through that run with a couple of wins, it will a) say a lot about them and b) be huge for their playoff seeding.

3. Team Horwitz (Esser Hayes Insurance Co.) – 9-3, 2nd in West Division

Team Horwitz got a W on Sunday Night.  That’s all that matters yo.  They didn’t play their best but they still wound up tacking another dub to their W/L Record.  Since Thanksgiving, these guys have lost just once — a 1-pt defeat to #5 Team Zimmerman.  Simply put, since getting their feet wet in the League, they have been just about as good as any Team out there and they are figuring out how to win games in different ways. They have a luxury that many Teams only dream about.. Multiple people on this crew can go off for 20+ on any given week and it’s going to make them an extremely scary Team to face-off against in the Playoffs.  They also had 6 Players make the All-Star Ballot.  Next week, they’ll get a scrappy Team Shamberg club.

4. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 10-2, 1st in South Division

While it seems crazy based on the 2014 these guys had, it took the Defending Champs, 3 attempts to get their first W of 2015.  Now  that the first one is out of the way and they’ve snapped their two-game skid, they can focus on more important things.. Such as holding off Team Zimmerman in the South Division (only a 1 Game lead) and catching back up to Team Harris and Team Maione in the Standings.  Truthfully, their schedule is extremely rough over the final 6 weeks of the Regular Season and it’s not crazy to think that Team Zimmerman may catch them before the final week — which could set up a Game for the South Division and potentially a Top 4 seed in the Playoffs (Opening Round bye goes to Top 4)..  Anyways, still a ton of Hoops left to play and they are back on track.. From the opening tip on Sunday Night you could tell they meant business. The Defending Champs put 6 Players on the All-Star ballot as well.  Next week they’ll take part in yet another Accelerated Game of the Week and this time it’s with Team Kozin.  This is a contest that has been circled for both Teams for quite a while. Should be a good one.

5. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) – 9-3, 2nd in South Division

Team Zimmerman has won 4 in a row and during that stretch they’ve beaten Teams Horwitz and Apuli and this Sunday they added Team Goldin to that list in what was a true slugfest.   As mentioned above, with their recent win streak and Team Lalez’s brief skid to open the 2015 calendar year — they find themselves just a game out of the Division lead. This coming Sunday they’ll lock horns with the recently hot Team Holzman squad in what should be a high-scoring game.  Team Zimmerman had 5 Players placed on the All-Star Ballot and should get at least a couple guys eventually named to the Team.  They haven’t gotten as much notoriety in the second-third of the season as they did to open up the year, and that’s likely because they’ve stayed pretty solid all the way through. They haven’t been able to get to the top of the Power Rankings just yet — but they are as likely of an eventual Champion as any.

6. Team Kozin (Theory) – 7-5, tied for 1st in East Division

A couple weeks ago Team Kozin was ranked #10 in the Power Rankings.  That was on the heels of a 4OT Loss (making it 4 Ls in 5 Games) and this is what was said about them — “ 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.”   Since then, they’ve rebounded nicely and are now winners of two in a row.  They look rejuvenated and like the Team we came to expect in the beginning of the season. They’ve placed 6 Players on the All-Star Ballot.  This coming Sunday they find themselves in the Accelerated Game of the Week against the Defending Champs Team Lalez.  This one has the potential to be a Game of the Year candidate.. Forget the current Power Rankings positions — these two Teams matchup so well on paper and it’s a Rematch of several great games from last Spring.  Both Teams have retooled since then and its going to be great to see how everything mashes up.  Few Teams can matchup on the block with either of these groups but when they meet their best is usually brought out for one another.  This is going to be an all out battle and personally I can’t wait.  If Team Kozin can get the W in this one, they’ll be making a statement that not only are they back from their little swoon but they are here to take the Crown. 

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

They’ve lost a couple in a row — both coming to top Teams in the League — so no reason to get nervous from that standpoint.  What does some cause for concern is they are really banged up right now. Several of Team Goldin’s regular and important pieces are on the shelf for a bit — and it’s all coming at the same time. The rest of the crew is going to have to really buckle down to try and stay afloat over the coming weeks. They’ve managed to hold a share of the Division lead since November and after their brief skid Team Kozin has caught back up to them in the East.   They play clubs with losing records in their next 2 Games and if you include the Super Bowl break, they have over 20 days to get healthy for a showdown with Team Lalez on Feb. 15.  Team Goldin placed 5 Players to the All-Star Ballot.  Got to take care of business this Sunday, and they’ll line up with Team Shaffer.

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

Their 3 Game W-Streak came to a halt on Sunday Night but no shame in dropping one to the Undefeated Team Maione.  Team Shamberg actually led at halftime and it seemed as if they were going to do what many would have classified as “unthinkable.” Team Maione did what they have so often done this Season — found a way to win.  This is what we and more importantly Team Shamberg knows though as we enter the stretch run — they can compete with each and every Team in the Hoops League.  For a year and a half now they have been on the teetering between “contender” and “almost contender” — this January has proved they are now “Contenders.”  This group, led by Michael Kaufman’s impressive scoring ability, is going to make waves come March and April.  They put 5 Players on the All-Star Ballot as well.  Next week, they’ll get another real test when they take the court against #3 Team Horwitz.. Just another opportunity for them to make a name for themselves.

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

At 6-6, Team Apuli, could be just a game out for a Division Lead if they were in the East and still in the race in the North and South, however being in the West is another story.  Plenty of short-term goals are still attainable for this group.. A Top 4 seed, while difficult, is still out there.. More likely, and certainly reachable is a Top 6-7 Seed come Playoff Time, which will not get them an Opening Round bye, but it will certainly make them favorites in their first Playoff contest. As the Standings shake down today, they won’t face a Team with an above .500 record until Feb. 22 — that’s a lot of time to make up some ground on Teams above them in W/L.  They’ll face Team Elrod on Sunday who are very hungry for a win, so they can’t sleep walk through it and surely they won’t.. Team Apuli sends 5 Players to the All-Star Ballot as well.

10. Team Holzman (Benjamin & Shapiro Law) – 4-8, tied for 3rd in East Division

Since this crew was put together before the 2013-14 Season, their Hoops League Games, have come down to one thing.. How well they were shooting.. Now, that may seem very simplistic.. With the talent assembled in the League, it’s easy to say that if any Team shoots really well that they are likely to win.. However, it’s held especially true with Team Holzman over the past year and a half.. Here’s why.. They always play hard.  They always fight on the defensive end.  They usually play within themselves and do the little things that help get Ws. However, they don’t always get the ball to go down.  When they do, they win.  Period.  Sunday, the ball went down. Over and over again.  Ej Silver had a career night and led all scorers with 39 Points.  Josh Cowin followed with 26 and Jeremy Mizraji had 24 points as well. They went over the century mark for the first-time and it’s nights like last Sunday that make you remember their Playoff success from a year ago.  They are getting going at just the right time and it should be scary for everyone else. They had 4 Players placed on the All-Star Ballot and they will look to help the rest of the group on Sunday Night in an effort to keep the hot-streak going against the always tough #5 Team Zimmerman.

11. Team Schwartz (Greater Than) – 3-9, 4th in West Division

Winners of 2 in a row and 3 of their last 5 have many forgetting about Team Schwartz’s slow start.  Been touting them as a squad who was way, way better than their record for months really.. Finally, they are showing off why.  They took it to Team Elrod on Sunday Night and it seems as if they’ve finally gotten their new players acclimated and have found out how to use everyone’s strengths.  They are going to be a bear to deal with in the Playoffs.  Some higher seed is going to be really disappointed when they have to lineup against them in the Opening Round of the Playoffs. That’s for sure.  The way it looks now if Team Schwartz can keep this up, then they’ll get out of the Bottom-4 before the Playoffs begin and, thus, avoid starting their Playoff run with a Loss.  They got 5 Players named to the All-Star Ballot, which is many more than Teams who are around them in the Standings.  Their roster is strong and that’s finally turning their Team into a strong one as well.  They’ll have a tough (tough, tough, tough) one on Sunday Night — with #2 Team Harris who has an 8-Game Winning-Streak going.. They can win though.  They know it as well.

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

Team Lalez, the Defending Champs, are a powerhouse — so losing one to them — no big deal.  It happens to most.  However, they need to focus on the bigger picture.  They are getting their PG Zach Bulwa back into the fray and have improved offensively since then. However, they are still failing to generate consistently good looks on that end of the floor.  They work as hard as any squad on the other end and if they get hot (which they are more than capable of doing) they can go on a magical run.  For those who are dismissing them because of the Regular Season are doing themselves a real disservice.   In all honesty, this Team can win the whole thing.  They have 6 weeks to start playing like they believe that.  Then it’s win or go home time. They have 5 Players on the All-Star Ballot.  Next Sunday, they’ll take on the unranked Team Levitan in a Game that both Teams need.

Rest of the Pack (Alphabetical Order) 

Team Elrod (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Navy) – 1-11, 4th in North Division

The tough love from last week didn’t help — what these guys need is really just more playing time together. While it’s been the same 9-10 guys taking the court for them this season — it’s been very rare to have the same guys there even 2 weeks in a row.. They can’t really make rotations and each week it seems like they need to adjust a ton based on the shifting of the roster.  Forget the Regular Season record. They just need to get comfortable together and still have 6 games to do so.. Then the Cinderella run can begin.

Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 3-9, 3rd in North Division

The story remains the same for Team Hernandez. One week they have 10 guys and the next 5 or 6, then 10 again.. They are just having a tough time learning where their respective places are on the Team — that’s part of being a Free Agent Team.. There’s a definite learning curve. Fortunately, they have 6 more Regular Season Games to right the ship. They had 4 members placed on the All-Star Ballot.  Next week, they’ll look to turn it around against the undefeated Team Maione — a tough task indeed.

Team Levitan (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Maroon) – 3-9, 3rd in South Division

Last week, was a rare sight for Team Levitan — they got down big early and never really bounced back. Team Kozin was determined to show everyone they “were back” and unfortunately Team Levitan happened to be the Team lined up against them.  They have 5 Players on the All-Star Ballot which really shows their depth and talent.  Again, another Team better than their record who have fallen victim to many close defeats.. While they will likely enter the Playoffs under .500 — they have so much time to still get prepped for their initial Playoff run — that will begin on Sunday vs. Team Bernkopf.

Team Shaffer (Muchacha Salsa Black) – 2-10, 4th in South Division

Sunday Night was not their best Game.  They have better in them and will show it as the season rolls along. No reason to give it much more though than that. They put 3 Players on the All-Star Ballot and will look to lean on those Players in the coming weeks to get them right during this stretch run. Plenty, plenty of time still.. They draw a hobbled Team Goldin group on Sunday Night — the perfect situation to try and make a U-turn.

That’s it for the Power Rankings this week.  See everyone Sunday!

– Holden