2014-15 Hoops – Week 6 (Nov. 23)

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Updated: November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it serves as a major checkpoint for the Hoops League..  We are officially 1/3 done with the Regular Season.  Many things will change over the next 12 weeks of the Regular Season but we can certainly see trends coming to light.. The past 3 weeks we’ve had cross-division Games.. Interesting to note that the South Division has gone 8-4 v. the North and the West Division has a narrow lead going 7-5 against the East.. Just something to keep an eye on.  As always, before we get into the Power Rankings, here’s a Link to the Weekly Video Highlights! OK let’s Rank ’em!

Power Rankings

1. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 6-0, 1st in South Division

114 is a lot of points. So, so many points..  It’s the most this scored by any team this Season.  It’s not the most points scored ever though or even this Calendar year — just this Summer we had a Team put up 117 in the College/Prep League (headlined by Bradley Reibel’s record-breaking 63 points)..  So there you go.. Something to shoot for..  The undefeated Defending Champs of the Hoops universe get to stay at #1 for another week.. and as we’ve said multiple times.. they will continue to be atop the Power Rankings until someone knocks them off.  This week, it was Captain Benny Lalez’s turn to shoulder the scoring burden as he put in _____.  That’s what makes these guys so good..  They can come at you from a hundred different ways, they are unselfish and they genuinly enjoy seeing their teammates shine.  They are a TEAM in every sense of the word and that is why they are so good each and every week.

1.9 Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) – 6-0, 1st in West Division

It’s often hard being #2.  In many cases, #2 could really be a deserving #1.. There can’t be two #1’s in the Hoops Power Rankings — not when we have an undefeated Defending Champion still going strong.. However, sometimes you have to tip your cap to #2.  Team Maione has been #2 all season long.. In fact they have been #2 since April when they were the Runners-Up last Season.  They’ll eventually get a chance of their own to claim #1 — obviously a ton has to go right for both Teams but they have a date (and Championship Rematch) lined up for January 11 with Team Lalez.. Anyways, back to Team Maione’s current status.  This past week they showed the heart of a champion.. They faced off w/ #3 Team Kozin and without leading man Chris Wroblewski.  They were down 25-18 after a rough first half.. Midway through the second half things didn’t look like they were going to get much better.. But they were able to keep battling, get a couple buckets and a bit of momentum. Following a timeout they instituted a 2-3 Zone and went on a tear to end the Game and ended up winning by double digits.  They could do no wrong for the final fifteen minutes of that Game and it should be a great reminder to everyone out there — to beat these guys, you need your absolute best for 44 minutes.  That is why for this week, while they can’t get to #1, they get that tip of the cap and come in at #1.9.

3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) – 5-1, 2nd in South Division

The South Division has a lot to brag about this week as they have two of the Top 3 squads..  This is the highest Team Zimmerman has appeared in the Power Rankings in their two years of the Hoops League.   Now, they are no strangers from being atop the Power Rankings as the core of this crew finished as the Runners-Up this past Summer in the ultra-competitive 24-Team Chicago All Sports Series League.  They have been universally known as a part of the top tier for a while now and they have really put together a fantastic opening third to what they hope is a Championship season.   They are a couple of possessions away from being undefeated and leading their division.. Either way 5-1 is a great start and they’ll look to stay on the Champs’ heels next week.. It just so happens that they are also part of next week’s Accelerated Physical Therapy’s Game of the Night with… Also, quick shout-out to Eugene Connor who tied for the League lead in points on Sunday Night with 34.

4. Team Harris (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) – 5-1, 1st in North Division

So some people might have thought they flew out of the gate due to the North Division being a bit “weak”.. Well, they’ve gone 2-1 in the cross-Division Games so far.. I think it’s safe to say these guys are just really good..  They will surely be put to the test once again though next week as they square off with #3 Team Zimmerman in the Game of the Night. Back to this week, they controlled the Game from the opening tip and never let the result come into doubt.  They are still figuring out their rotation as they’ve had many moving parts the past few weeks.. However, they’ve done so while getting Wins and it’ll end up paying off later in the year when they’ll know for sure what worked and what didn’t.  No need to tout these guys as the “best Team no one is talking about” — they are on the map. People know about them. 5-1 is no fluke.  Now the question is how high can they climb?

5. Team Kozin (Theory) – 4-2, tied for 1st in East Division

They dropped one to the undefeated Runners-Up of a year ago. No shame in that. Nothing to worry about here either.  They played well enough to win. Especially in the first half.. They held offensive powerhouse Team Maione to just 18 points in the first half.. In the second half though Team Maione turned the tables and really buckled down.  Team Maione went to a 2-3 zone that frustrated the Team Kozin offense a bit — it will be interesting to see if more Teams to try to implore that in the coming weeks.. Either way they are 4-2 and hold a share of the East Division Lead.. They are in great shape.  Josh Davis put up a vintage performance with 31 points on Sunday Night.  In the long run, I think a couple losses are going to do Team Kozin good.. They are going to stay hungry through out the Regular Season.. A year ago, they were the last undefeated Team and after that first loss the hit a bit of a lull prior to the Playoffs.. That’s not happening in 2014-15.

6. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) – 4-2, tied for 1st in East Division

Great Teams win when they aren’t at their best.  It’s been said over and over and over again.. because it’s true.  They were without a couple of their starters but didn’t let that stop them.  Team Goldin and Team Schwartz have had an under the radar Rivalry brewing for the past two years and it was no surprise that Sunday Night was intense from the opening tip. The lead sea-sawed throughout the Game.. In the closing minutes of the Game these guys did what needed to be done, hit some big time free throws and left the gym with another W.  Alex Filin tied for a League high 34 points on Sunday Night and they needed every one of those buckets. It won’t get any easier for them as they tussle with Team Hernandez next week.  As for #AssistWatch — Alex Filin led the way there as well with 4 and Brandon Lathon added 3 dimes.

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

We started the Season with a seemingly established “Big 5” in terms of the Power Rankings.. Teams Lalez, Maione, Kozin, Zimmerman and Goldin had done enough last season to earn their spot in a crowded top tier.. In the first month of the season we saw Team Harris force their way in and make it a “Big 6”..  Through six weeks it seems Team Horwitz is knocking on the door of making it a “Big 7.”  They had a great W over Team Bernkopf on Sunday Night.. They finally had the entire Roster there playing together and they looked so impressive..  Now all they need is one true signature W over a Team ranked higher than them and their spot will be solidified.  As luck would have it — they go toe to toe with Team Kozin next Sunday Night!

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

Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win.  Team Apuli has established a pattern in the first 6 weeks of the 2014-15 season.  They got a big time W on Sunday Night when they took on Team Holzman — a Team that defeated them twice a season ago.. Mike Austin led the scoring charge with 25 and his twin brother Tyler netted 17 as well, while big man Kyle Daniels had 22. Being .500 at this point is nothing to scoff at as eight other Teams are currently below them in the Standings.. However, these guys don’t want to be just .500. They know they can do more than that, and in order for that to happen, they need to get on a real winning streak.  It’s not going to be easy as they are lined up with Team Goldin next Sunday but they have what it takes.

9. Team Levitan (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.) – 2-4, 3rd in South Division

Team Levitan started the Season with a tough schedule in the very, very tough South Division.  They’ve gotten their footing though as of late and have a real opportunity to make a surge to end 2014..  Over the next 3 weeks (the last 3 weeks before the Winter Break) they will face Teams with a combined record of 5-13.   It’s very possible they are going to go on a mid-season surge here to propel them to great heights for the Playoff Push.  Just something to keep any eye out for.. Of course, nothing will come easy and they’ll have to play well to earn those Ws.  If Brian Holtz can keep scoring the way he did on Sunday Night they should be in good shape (he had 17).  Congrats on the dub guys.

10. Team Bernkopf (Stems) – 2-4, 3rd in East Division

Team Bernkopf is off to a slower start than we are used to seeing from this bunch and a lot of that can be attributed to not having the full crew just yet.. Ricky Silverman who helps with the scoring punch has not made his debut in 2014-15 and All-Star PG Zach Bulwa is still nursing an off-season injury.. These guys are going to continue to fight and in all honesty they are one of the groups that their seed or record may not matter.. Eventually they will have their full roster intact and whenever that is, the Team they put out on the court, will be better than their record shows. They have the ability to knock off a few of the top Teams come Playoff time.. They’ve been in All Sports Series since the beginning and a slow start isn’t going to shake them.  Look for them to start the climb back up the Rankings sooner than later.

11. Team Shamberg (Muchacha Salsa Silver) – 2-4, tied for 2nd in North Division

Dropped one that they could have had on Sunday Night. Those never feel good.. The positive that can be said is this.. These guys are entering the gym with the expectation of getting Ws.  That’s a very different feel from a year ago.. They have a lot of weapons and when they figure out how to utilize all of them at the right time — well look out. The Kaufman brothers led the way again for scoring — Michael had 18 and Danny had 15.  Many wins are still ahead.

12. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 2-4, tied for 2nd in North Division

They were 2-2 leaving Week 4 and feeling pretty good about themselves.. and rightfully so.. then they met up with Team Zimmerman and Team Lalez in back to back weeks… which is as hard as it gets one after another.. they can’t let these two weeks get them down though. All of the pieces they had leaving Week 4 are still there.  These guys can win Games and will do so if they can just take care of the basketball more and get the right shots.  Dave Altman is the League’s Leading Scorer after 6 weeks.  He’s also in the top 5 in Rebounding.  Christian James is also filling up the stat sheet.. It’s still a work in progress as learn what their rotations should be and where people need to get the ball in order to succeed.. Just don’t hit the panic button.

Rest of Pack (Alphabetical Order)

Team Elrod (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.) – 1-5, 4th in North Division

Sometimes a Team’s record does not tell the entire story.. These guys won a thriller in OT during Week 1 — their first night as a unit.. Since then they’ve dropped 5 in a row.  That much is a fact and can’t be disputed.. BUT — in those 5 weeks they’ve played Team Harris and then Teams Lalez and Zimmerman back to back..  Since they are 3 of the top 4 squads — there aren’t many Teams who would have likely faired too well during that gambit.. I know these guys might be feeling down.. But they shouldn’t.. It’s only a 1/3 of the season done and they just went through what could be the toughest stretch of their Schedule.  Next week they lock up with Team Shaffer who is also off to a slowish start and it’s the perfect opportunity for them to get back on track!

Team Holzman (Benjamin & Shapiro Law) – 1-5, 4th in East Division

They suffered from a similar rough patch last year and turned it around in time for the Playoffs before winning multiple Elimination Games to send others home for the Summer.. They are a better Team in 2014-15 then they were in 2013-14 and it will eventually show up in the record book. For now, they are still adjusting to their new pieces and frankly the ball just hasn’t gone down as much as it should for them. They are getting open shots and ones from people who make them.. Just through the start of the season it hasn’t gone their way.. yet.. EJ Silver was a bright spot as he had 21 in the defeat.

Team Schwartz (Greater Than) – 0-6, 4th in West Division

Last week, it was said that these guys are going to keep fighting no matter their record — and that’s exactly what they did.  They were undermanned (missing one of the League’s best – Jason Vismantas) as well as a couple of their other key contributors and still went toe to toe with Team Goldin for 44 minutes. This really was anyone’s game and it showed again that they are better than 0-6.  Forget the record.  These guys are a talented Team and if/when they can get all 8 of their guys to the gym at the same time the streak will be broken.. Max Kaplan had 29 and Austin Brown had 24 on Sunday Night.  The flood gates will open once they get the first one..

Team Shaffer (Muchacha Salsa Black) – 1-5, 4th in South Division

Captain Ian had 25 points and 9 boards on Sunday Night and David Hakimi added 18 points as well.. There’s positive things happening for this bunch.. A slow start was to be expected.. They are playing with one another for the first time and it’s not something that just comes together easily.. They have Team Elrod on the docket for next week (and as it was stated above in their section) — it’s a very winnable Game — something that can help propel them into a strong finish before the Winter Break in 3 weeks..  They’ll get Ws.  They will.

 

That’s it for this week.  Have a great Thanksgiving!  See you Sunday Night!

– Holden