2014 Chicago Men’s PLAYOFFS – Opening Rounds Hoops (July 28)

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Updated: August 3, 2014

Monday Night will go down as one of the craziest in All Sports Series history.. We started the Opening Round of the Playoffs with 17 Teams — all with the hopes of becoming Champions — by Night’s end only a Final4 were left standing.  Shortly we’ll Recap the week that was and then Preview the Final4 and Championship Game that is upon us on Monday August 4.  First, here’s a Link to the Weekly Video Highlights!  Also, in case you missed it last week — want to once again Congratulate the Chicago Men’s All-Star Team and MVP** as voted on by you:  MVP** Eytan Azaria of Team Hakimian, Chris Wroblewski of Team Maione, Matt Sharp of Team Watts, Captain Jon Horwitz of Team Horwitz, and finally Benny Lalez and David Gershenzon of Team Hakimian.

Opening Round – Hoops (17 Teams Remain)

16. Team Schulte (PPM Apartments) v. 17. Team Daar (popchips) – 16. Team Schulte wins 73-64

The Chicago Men’s League is the deepest League that All Sports Series has ever had (any city, any iteration)..  So getting into the Playoffs is nothing to scoff at. Coming into Monday Night, neither of these Teams would be viewed as favorites for winning the Championship, yet that’s why you play the Games as they say.. Playoff Ws are a treasured commodity in the All Sports Series universe and  these two squads left everything out on the Court in the Opening Game of the Playoffs with an attempt to grab hold of one.. You’d never know that the Winner had potential to play two more games in the evening, because both Teams were really giving it their 100%.. When it was all said and done Team Schulte had a few more timely jumpers go down and their hands were raised in victory..  For Team Daar, nothing to hang the heads about.. They played well and just didn’t have the firepower to keep the dream alive this time around. Their night was long from over anyways as they suited up minutes later in the Co-Ed League Playoffs.  Team Schulte would move on to the Sweet16 and meet #1 overall seed Team Holzman.

 

Sweet16 – Hoops (Listed from Top to Bottom and Left to Right on the Bracket)

1. Team Holzman (Trifecta Grill) v. 16. Team Schulte (PPM Apartments) – 1. Team Holzman wins 59-51

Everything you’ve ever heard tells you that #1 beats #16.  Every single time.  Never before..  Well, for about 32 minutes it seemed as if the first #16 over #1 upset would happen right here in All Sports Series.  Team Holzman regrouped during the Game’s final moments and grabbed the lead for good with about 10 minutes left to play.  You wonder if Team Schulte didn’t have to battle w/ Team Daar earlier in the night if their legs would have allowed them to close the deal..  That right there, is why the Regular Season matters though.. Team Holzman did what it needed to do to be in position to play a Team that would be coming off of an Opening Round Game..  For Team Schulte, they walk away from their first Chicago Men’s League (2nd All Sports Series appearance) as one of the nine Teams to win a playoff Game. That’s the type of stuff you build future runs on. These guys are young and talented.  They will be back and better for it next year.  Team Holzman would move on to the Elite8 and play the Winner of..

8. Team Mason (Alternative) v. 9. Team Riskin (SLA Insurance Navy) – 9. Team Riskin wins 56-49

The 8/9 matchup is without fail always one of the most exciting in any tournament, and these guys did not disappoint on Monday Night. These were two teams who’ve shown all season that they can dig deep and get key Wins. It was a close match for 44 minutes but Team Riskin was able to come up clutch in the Game’s closing moments..  It was exactly 1-year ago that Team Riskin found themselves in the same 8/9 spot in the Men’s League and came up just short.. Goal #1 of improving on their Playoff run from 2013 has definitely been accomplished.  Now how far can they climb?… A date with #1 Team Holzman in the Elite8 awaits.  For Team Mason (formerly Team Greenberg) retooled this Season and the new Roster paid off in a big way.  Have to wonder about what one more Regular Season W would have done for them.. An improved seed could have done wonders for their longevity this season but it wasn’t meant to be.. They still have celebrating left to do this Week as it is Josh “Big Show” Feld’s Bday.  Party smart.

5. Team Horwitz (Benjamin & Shapiro Law) v. 12. Team Bernkopf (Accelerated Rehab Centers) – 12. Team Bernkopf wins 72-36

When the Bracket was finalized late Saturday evening this was a matchup that immediately popped off the page.. Not just because these two crews know each other so well but because of the years they’ve had that have led them here.. History would say Team Bernkopf should be the Team coming in at #5 and Team Horwitz would be the sneaky #12 squad.. Well not in 2014..  Team Horwitz sat at or near the top of the Standings while teams gunned for them all season long.. Team Bernkopf, got off to a hot start but faded in the middle of the Season and saw them fight hard week after week to avoid the bottom group of Playoff Teams.  Forget the score here.  It’s not indicative of the great Season the Horwitz crew had.. Captain Jon was banged up during the Game and his brother-in-law Mike Doan stepped into to give him a helping hand when he needed one.. Thats much more indicative of their Season than the score of this one.. Sometimes the ball just won’t go down.  Ricky Silverman had a big performance in this one to help push Team Bernkopf into the Elite8.

4. Team Zimmerman (Duke Cannon Supply Co.) v. 13. Team Fallows (Teplitz & Bel) – 4. Team Zimmerman wins 68-50

Team Zimmerman’s talent is just crazy and its especially evident on the Hoops Court.  Captain Jack’s crew led by big-man Kyle Nelson and Eugene Connor move the ball around with speed and ease. They truly are a matchup nightmare both in terms of the Bracket and of course on the court as well.  Team Fallows had another successful Season (formerly Team Glass) and looked to be building some much necessary momentum stemming from the Vball Tourney last week.. However, nothing was going to stand in Team Zimmerman’s way to the Elite8, and unfortunately it was Team Fallows that got put in their way.  Much of Team Fallows will take part in the All Sports Hoops League under the Team Kozin banner and then will once again lace them up next Summer too.  They are vets and won’t let a single Playoff Loss affect them.  They have enough talent to win the whole thing one of these years.. Just need the stars (and bracket) to align.

2. Team Maione (Wrigley View Rooftops) v. 15. Team Cohen (Crystal Lake Jeep) – 2. Team Maione wins 76-51

Team Cohen is one of the smartest Teams that plays in this league. Not sure how many take notice or pay attention to that type of thing, but they are.  They’re able to adapt to any opponent and adjust their style of play no matter the sport. But what do you do when you play an unstoppable force? We’ve been wondering all season if anyone could beat the Reigning, Defending Champions of the Summer Universe – Team Maione on the court (or field, or diamond, or rink or pool or planet).. and Team Cohen just wasn’t the answer to that question on Monday Night.. Maybe someone else would be the answer?  That’s what they call a tease folks.. Back to Team Cohen briefly.. These guys have played in as many All Sports Series Games as anyone over the years and you can’t help but feel bad for their consistently terrible Playoff draws.. Now, when you are the #15 seed no one is going to be up in arms about a tough matchup, but it wasn’t too long ago that these guys were the #2 Seed and drew the toughest Hoops matchup in Round 1 of the Playoffs.. These things have a way of equalling out over time.. They have a big run in-store down the road.

7. Team Wilneff (Camp Ojibwa) v. 10. Team Watts (West Coast Shaving) – 10. Team Watts wins 65-48

Team Watts went over a significant makeover during this past off-season.. They retooled and on Monday Night they proved it was for the better.. They were a strong Hoops Team all season long — one that experienced a brutal Hoops Schedule that included both Teams Hadelman and Hakimian.. They laid low for a significant portion of the Season.. But this Sweet16 Game was truly their coming out party.. Team Wilneff had a great run finishing #7 in their first go of it in the Chicago Men’s League. These guys have been around since the very first All Sports Series back in 2010 (in Highland Park).. For years they have been a terror up there and have been chomping at the bit to get a test of the “Big Leagues” in Chicago. Well, they did just that this Summer and knowing Captain Brian like we do.. He’ll be back with a few key additions for 2015.  They’ll improve upon their #7 finish in the Regular Season next Summer. Book it.

6. Team Hadelman (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) v. 11. Team Kornblatt (VIP Sports Marketing) – 6. Team Hadelman wins 64-48

I (Holden) was privy to some behind-the-scenes chatter between Team Kornblatt and a former teammate (now a Team Hadelman member).. Certainly happy when this one ended and everyone was healthy 🙂  In all seriousness though there was some added depth to this Sweet16 matchup.. Not that you need to add any fuel to the “win or go home” fire..  At the end of the day Team Hadelman was just too much.  They are among the best Hoops Teams in the League (maybe the best) and Team Kornblatt just couldn’t get enough baskets to pull off the upset.  They certainly made it interesting though. This Game was not over with just minutes left to play.. Team Hadelman added a few buckets at the end of the Game but this one was certainly close throughout..  Team Hadelman would go on to face the Winner of the Game listed below in what could shape up to be the best Hoops Game of the Summer.   For Team Kornblatt, another Season that ended in the “what if” category..  They had a ton of high points this Season including at one time being alone atop the Standings..  The format has bitten them in the butt year after year and you got to think eventually they’ll get the bounce they need.  They are one of the strongest Teams in every sport, with the exception of Hoops, and they’d be the first to tell you the same.. If they can find a way to get some Offensive punch on the Hoops court (potentially from a silky haired, left-handed sharpshooting brother) they really could win the whole thing.  They are that close.  Not many Teams can say, “okay if we get this one thing, it’s ours for the taking..”  They can.  Now they just need to get it done.

3. Team Shlofrock (Danley’s Garage World) v. 14. Team Hakimian (the MacMentor) – 14. Team Hakimian wins 61-52

At first glance at the seeds involved in this one, it looks like an enormous mismatch, but looking at the way they got there and who the Teams are tells a truer story. Team Shlofrock catapulted to 3rd place in the last couple of weeks with a couple key wins after an up and down start, while Team Hakimian has slogged through the toughest schedule of any Team and lost some truly heartbreaking Games.. This doesn’t even take into account the past-success of All Sports Series’ first Dynasty.. It’s been said many times right here but Team Hakimian is two-time Summer League Champs (2010 and 2012) and they won the first ever All Sports Hoops League this past Spring. So throwing out the Seeds, this was hands down the most intriguing matchup of the Sweet16.  The Winner of this Game knew before the Opening Tip that they had a potential date with 6. Team Hadelman looming that night.. But to start thinking ahead would mean certain Elimination.. These two squads put on a show..  This Game actually started at 6:30 (first of the night) and it helped raise the bar for the entire evening. Their was an electricity surrounding this court that transferred to the rest of the Gym.. Each possession was a battle… When the buzzer sounded Team Hakimian won a few more of those battles and would add another W to their Playoff mantle..  For Team Shlofrock, you can’t help but feel for them.. They were #3 Seed in the deepest League we’ve ever had and without a doubt drew the short end of the stick when the Bracket was finalized.  Team Shlofrock has one of the deepest lineups we’ve seen and they will only get better as time moves on.. It was their first run in the Chicago Men’s League and they put everyone notice Monday Night by taking Team Hakimian to the brink..  Congrats on a great season guys.

 

Elite8 – Hoops (Listed from Top to Bottom and Left to Right on the Bracket)

1. Team Holzman (Trifecta Grill) v. 9. Team Riskin (SLA Insurance Navy) –  1. Team Holzman wins 66-56

Team Riskin has certainly faced challenges this season. They’ve come head to head with the toughest teams in the league, in fact, 3 of the eventual Final4 teams. They’ve had several Ws throughout the Summer but were unable to break through against any of those eventual Final4 squads.. That would include #1 Team Holzman after Monday Night.  #1 Team Holzman is as under the radar as any #1 Seed we’ve ever had in All Sports Series.. Which is pretty incredible when you think about how deep the League is.. The fact that they finished #1, forget what their schedule looked like, should be enough to tell people “Hey we’re good, pay attention to us.”  These guys are the real deal and they are 1 of the only 4 Teams that can hold the Crown next Monday Night. They are headed to their first Final4 as a group.  Team Riskin certainly did not take them lightly however.. They knew what they were up against from the opening Tip and it was truly a great game.. Team Riskin secured their spot in the upper-echelon of the League on Monday Night by grabbing their first Playoff W and going toe to toe with the #1 Team in the Land..  2015 should shape up to be their true run at the Crown.. Just like in the NBA, many Teams need to get through a few Playoff Ls together as a unit before truly breaking through and winning the whole thing. Team Riskin is moving steadily along that path.  Congrats on a great year gentlemen.

4. Team Zimmerman (Duke Cannon Supply Co.) v. 12. Team Bernkopf (Accelerated Rehab Centers) – 4. Team Zimmerman wins 61-41

When the Bracket was revealed last week, this was a potential matchup that really garnered excitement.  Team Zimmerman has been an elite Hoops Team all year. They are just too sizable for most Teams and then capitalize on the perimeter because of all the attention post is calling… Team Bernkopf is one of the only Teams in the League that could at least try and neutralize their size.. This seemed like a true test for Team Zimmerman.. Well, they had other plans.  Team Zimmerman asserted themselves as they have done all season and never let Team Bernkopf feel like the Game was up for grabs.. Team Bernkopf was definitely hurt by a short bench (due to many members taking the Bar Exam — Congrats on being done guys!).. At the end of the day they have nothing to be mad or disappointed about. They’ve had many All Sports Series runs in the past and will have many more in the future.. They have past Champions among them and will not dwell on this for too long. As for Team Zimmerman they will enter their Franchise’s first Final4 as well on Monday Night.  They were dominant in their Softball Game earlier this Summer over another Team who will wind up in the Final4 (scroll down).. Ross Neuman will take the bump again for his club going on about 34 days rest.. So things are looking really good for the #4 Seeds.

2. Team Maione (Wrigley View Rooftop) v. 10. Team Watts (West Coast Shaving) – 10. Team Watts wins 71-67 in OT

Where’s Gus Johnson when you need him? Wow. What a game.   Team Watts has powered its way through their Hoops Games all season long but they haven’t faced a Team with even a hint of the perimeter skill possessed by Team Maione.  This was truly a clash of styles and it took a titanic performance to get the W.  The Defending Champs Team Maione and the #10 Team Watts went back and forth for much of this contest.. In the closing moments Team Watts got a crucial bucket to tie the game with about 20 seconds left..  Team Maione with the ball and would hold for one final shot to hopefully send them to another Final4.  Who else would you rather have the ball in the hands of than All-Star and past MVP Chris Wroblewski.. He made the right play as he so often does with a few seconds left — passing it to a teammate on the block but the ball just did not go in.. OVERTIME. In OT it was Team Watts who struck first and then second.. From there it was all about Free Throws and Team Watts cashed in at the line.  There were as many on-lookers as we’ve had all season watching the conclusion of this one as it was the final game to finish on Monday Night.  People were not surprised to see Team Watts win two Hoops Games in one night.. They are huge and very talented on the Hoops Court.. But it certainly felt as if people had pencilled in Team Maione into their Final4s.. Just not meant to be.. Team Watts heads to their 2nd Final4 and first since 2011.  Team Maione is the perfect example of why going Back2Back is nearly impossible in All Sports Series – in fact, it’s never been done in a Men’s League.. So much has to go right for you to win one of these things that you are bound to catch a bad break the following year.  This was the first Summer League Game (non-Volleyball) Team Maione has dropped since way back in July of 2013.. They were due.  These Guys will be back in the Hoops League starting in October with a goal to avenge their Runners-Up next April.  They are among the best this League has to offer and show it week in and week out. See you guys soon.

6. Team Hadelman (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) v. 14. Team Hakimian (the MacMentor) – 6. Team Hadelman wins 80-65

It’s been said a few times above about potential matchups that popped off the page when the Bracket was finalized last week — well this was THE Matchup people were talking about heading into Monday Night.  Both Teams took care of business and were pushed more than either probably would have liked in the Sweet16.  For Team Hadelman this Game was about validation and showing everyone they had what it took to win a truly big game.. They were the Runners-Up last year and going to Back2Back Final4s in this League is something that just doesn’t happen all that often..  For Team Hakimian, every Playoff Game is about their Legacy at this point.. They have nothing to prove to anyone and their Franchise has more Championships than any other in the 5-year history of All Sports Series..  As the Game moved to the second half Team Hadelman began to pull away and at one point it was clear that they were going to grab the statement W their Team has been searching for all Summer.. That would mean a 2nd straight Final4 and a date with #10 Team Watts next Monday Night with a spot in the Championship on the line. Softball has been their one weakness in their incredible first two years in All Sports Series.. They’ll need to exercise those demons to hold the Crown on Monday.  For Team Hakimian, their string of 4-consectuve Final4 appearances would come to an end in 2014 (which will likely never be matched again).  That truly is an under-appreciated accomplishment that does not get the recognition that should.. It speaks to the depth of their Roster and their ability to overcome adversity year after year after year.. It also speaks to the amount of talent that has been infused into the League in the last Year.. There’s an entire new crew coming for the League’s founding fathers.. Sometimes you need to be knocked down before you can come back and claim what’s yours..  If forced to make a selection for who will win the 2015 Chicago Men’s League — Team Hakimian would be the pick.. They are getting former Captain and GM – Daniel Dorfman back on a full-time basis and that could be the thing to send them right back atop the mountain #TheReturn.

 

That’s it for this Week.  Good Luck to those still alive and have a great weekend.  By this time next week there will be a NEW CHAMPION!