2015-16 Chicago Hoops – Week 15 (Feb. 21)

Updated: February 24, 2016

Kyle Nelson had FIFTY on Sunday Night.  Thought that deserved to be the lead-in.. Now on to the regularly scheduled programming..  The last break of the Regular Season is now behind us and Sunday Night’s Games means that each Team has now competed in 15 Regular Season contests.. 4 Weeks remain in the sprint toward the Playoffs.  As we get closer to Regular Season finale on March 20, the final Standings (and Playoff seeding) will come into clearer focus.. Another sign that the Playoffs are looming — the ALL STAR BALLOT — is now LIVE!  You will have until Monday April 4 (day after first night of the Playoffs).  Instructions and How Voting works are included on the Ballot itself.

Going to continue to issue a Reminder on the change to the Playoffs this year.. Here’s the Playoff Bracket.  Double Elimination and everyone starts with No Losses, seeding dictates at what point you start in the Bracket..  As you can see from the Bracket, there are 4 different rounds at which Teams enter the Playoffs. Seeds 15-20 start the furthest from the Crown, then Seeds 8-14 enter, followed by Seeds 5-7, while Seeds 1-4 start the closest to the Crown.  Races for Seeds #14, #7 and #4 are especially important. 

Here’s a Link to the Weekly Highlight Video powered by Orunje On-Demand Healthcare!  People have asked about Orunje.. Essentially you can get a Doctor or Nurse Practitioner out to your home/office within 2 hours. No need to waste time going in anymore..  OK Let’s Rank ‘Em!


Power Rankings

1. Team Maione (popchips) – 14-1, Currently in 1st 

#1 Team Maione picked up right where they left off before our February Break as they got a hard fought W against Team James-Hagari in Week 15.  That makes it 10 in a row for the Team currently sitting atop the mountain.. This one was just a little bit sweeter for them as well, as they got to avenge the Game-Winner from Christian James a year ago.. They got 5 Players on the All Star Ballot and deservedly so as they sport the best record in the League and have for quite some time..  Those 5 have basically been their consistent starters for some time and none of them plan on partaking in any of the All Star festivities come May, as they have their sights set on the Crown..  Of course the Team that holds the Crown (x2) is Team Lalez and they just happen to be Team Maine’s next opponent in what will be the Orunje Game of the Week.. And a Rematch of the 2013-14 Championship.


2. Team Bulwa (Le Brocq Lawyer) – 13-2, Currently tied for 2nd 

Team Bulwa extended their League-high Win-Streak to 11 Games on Sunday Night.  They took on the feisty Team Sternberg squad and did so with no bench.. They didn’t let that stop them however.. It was more of a defensive Game than we are used to seeing out of them but that’s likely what we’ll see come Playoff time and it was nice to see them be able to win one of those grind-it-out Games.. Congrats to their 4 All Star Ballot nominees. What’s most notable for them here is that many past nominees have taken a step back in order for the Team to take a step forward and that depth is the reason why they are going to be one of the favorites to be the last Team standing come May.


3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Navy) – 13-2, Currently tied for 2nd

Kyle Nelson’s 50-spot was mentioned at the top, but why not give it a bit more attention? Just unreal.. Here’s the deal though.. Kyle scoring 50 wouldn’t happen without the rest of this group “buying-in” and wanting others to succeed.. At 13-2 you’d think more Teams would try to emulate what Team Zimmerman has going on here.. They are truly a unit in every sense of the word and they trust that if they just keep the ball moving that good things are going to happen.  Their unselfishness helped lead to 5 All Star Ballot appearances for their Team and that doesn’t just occur accidentally.. They are going to take on Team Sternberg who is on the verge of cracking that top tier.. This is going to be a great barometer for both Teams as we sprint toward April.


4. Team Lalez (Orunje) – 12-3, Currently tied for 4th

The 2x, 2x Defending Champs hit a bit of a skid to begin 2016.. It flew under the radar a bit, but they lost 3 of 5 Games to start the new Year..  They dropped from #1 in the Power Rankings for the first time in months and it seemed for the first time, in a long-time maybe they weren’t the favorites..  Now, what do Championship Teams do when they are backed into a corner?  They fight out..  That’s exactly what Team Lalez did on Sunday Night as they got a huge W over #5 Team Harris to pull even with them in the Standings (and grab the head to head tiebreaker for the 4th Seed in the event the Standings stay the same — doubtful, but it doesn’t hurt).  With just that 1 W, all semblance of doubt has been evaporated and they can continue on their way.. This group placed 5 on the All Star Ballot and the most interesting part is that a couple of them were not on the Roster a year ago.. They know how to replenish.. Scott Campbell, for instance, had 27 points on just 12 of 15 shooting in Week 15. They’ve been in the thick of a very difficult schedule as of late and that will not change this coming Sunday one bit.. As mentioned earlier, they will take on #1 Team Maione in Week 16 in a Rematch of the 2013-14 Championship.  This Game has gigantic Playoff seeding ramifications for multiple Teams.


5. Team Harris (DoorDash) – 12-3, Currently tied for 4th

They were in it until the end with Team Lalez but just couldn’t get enough shots to stay down in the closing moments to over take the 2x Defending Champs.. Team Harris had just 5 dressed for this one on Sunday Night and it’s just another example of Teams being able to defeat Teams without a bench.. Games are just too long and grueling..  Team Harris got 5 on the All Star Ballot and realistically could have had another one or two.. They are as talented as any Group in the League and this coming Playoff run is basically two years in the making after last year’s was cut short..  As we look ahead for Team Harris they have to put last Sunday Night in the rear view mirror and fast.. They will take on #7 Team Goldin in what should be an excellent Playoff-like Game.. The two Teams sit just a Game apart in the Standings and a Win will do a ton for both squads..


6. Team Gutman (Teplitz & Bell) – 9-6, Currently tied for 7th

Holding serve at #6 this week is Team Gutman.  It’s hard to win 6 Games in a row (and 7 of 8) in this League.. It’s even harder to do so and basically fly under the radar.. That’s seemingly what they are accomplishing right now. They are playing GREAT ball right now and there is no sense of them slowing down.. We’ve talked about their depth, size and their depth of size countless times this Season but it still seems to take Teams by surprise on the court. They are long and athletic and nothing comes easy against them.. In their first run in the Hoops League together, they got 3 members to the All Star Ballot which is a tremendous feat.. This Team is more concerned with their place in the Standings though as they keep gaining ground on the top tier above them.. They are now tied for that important 7th spot with Team Sternberg and hold a head to head tiebreaker over them.. If they stay hot this group can be sitting pretty come April. They’ll get the hungry Free Agents in Week 16.


7. Team Goldin (StudentCity) – 11-4, Currently in 6th

It may not have been labeled the “Game of the Week” coming into Week 15 but it can be argued that the most important Win of Sunday Night was earned by Team Goldin.  They had lost 3 of 4 before the February break and there are a couple of Teams hot on their heels in the Standings.. They also happen to be taking on Team Malvin who were as hot as anyone in the League and fresh off a W over Team Lalez prior to the Break.. Simply put Team Goldin didn’t care and just took care of business.  They routinely hit big shots to maintain a League throughout and even when Team Malvin cut into the Lead and would surge.. Team Goldin had an answer.   They actually led all Teams in the All Star Ballot with 6 members named as nominees.. They’ll need to bring the same effort when they take on #5 Team Harris next Sunday Night in a Game that has tremendous seeding implications..


8. Team Sternberg (Pear Tree Catering) – 9-6, Currently tied for 7th

Came up a bit short against #2 Team Bulwa on Sunday Night, nothing to get down about.  They are now tied in 7th of the Standings with Team Gutman (but have lost to them head to head).. To get back into that Top 7 they’re going to really turn it on these last 4 weeks..  These guys put 4 nominees on the All Star Ballot in their debut season in the Hoops League. Well deserved.. They are going to have their work cut out for them once again come next Sunday Night when they take on #3 Team Zimmerman.  If Team Sternberg can pull the “upset” and with Teams Goldin/Harris and Maione/Lalez competing in Week 16, they could gain ground on at least 3 Teams ahead of them in the Standings. That’s a rare opportunity and they need to take advantage..


9. Team Kozin (Camp Ojibwa) – 7-8, Currently tied for 9th

Don’t look now but last year’s Runners-Up have gotten back on track and are tied for 9th in the Standings.. With 4 to play they are just 2 Games Back of getting to the much heralded 7th seed and would be in an extremely familiar position to the one they found themselves in at the start of last year’s Playoff run that ended with them in the Championship Game..  This group places 4 nominees on the All Star Ballot and should definitely have their presence felt when the actual All Stars are named..  If Team Kozin can take care of business, as we’ve seen countless times, in the coming weeks they really should have a chance to crack that Top 7.. They have a few very important Games left on the Schedule as they’ll get Team UC Booth in Week 16 and the Free Agents in Week 18 (both of whom they are tied with at 7-8)..  If they can go 3-0 coming into their last week.. There’s a good shot that they will be playing Team Sternberg, who is currently tied for that 7th spot, for the 7 seed in Week 19. The difference between 7 and 8 is enormous..


10. Team Malvin (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.) – 6-9, Currently in 14th

The break came at a bad time for Team Malvin.. As January came to an end they were among the hottest Teams in the League and had just gotten their biggest W to date.. Over the 2x Defending Champs, Team Lalez.. As we got back from the February break, they ran into a recharged Team Goldin squad and just couldn’t get enough stops to ever really get a lead.. They made a couple valiant comebacks but Team Goldin always had an answer.. In their first season, they put 3 nominees on the All Star Ballot.. A very nice representation for them.. Including Nate Johnson who had 35 and 14 on Sunday Night.  He’s flying under the All Star radar right now but there may not be any single player more deserving.. As they currently sit in the Standings.. They are at 14th and have a Game up on Team Schwartz.. The difference between 14 and 15 is a big one and as luck would have it.. That’s exactly who they will play in Week 16.


11. Team Free Agent (VIP Express Limo) – 7-8, Currently tied for 9th

The Free Agents came back from the February break and got a nice W over Team Cohen.  They needed it to keep pace with several Teams who they are tied with in the Standings. There are actually 5 Teams tied at 7-8 right now and over the course of the final 4 weeks we’ll see a couple of those Teams jump up and a few fall down in the Standings.. The Free Agent squad has one of the tougher schedules to finish the Season but with that the tough slate, comes an opportunity to really gain ground on groups. In a way, they at least will have control over their destiny in many ways.. If their 4 All Star nominees can play to the best of their availability these guys can be sitting with a single digit seed in their first Playoff run. A truly remarkable feat.  The streaking Team Gutman is up next for them.


12. Team James-Hagari (Biaggi’s Red) – 7-8, Currently tied for 9th

They were in it until the very end with #1 Team Maione in a Game that felt eerily similar to a year ago when Christian James hit a fallaway at the buzzer to give the then undefeated #1 Team Maione, their first loss of the 2014-15 season.. On this night, Team Maione managed to get some revenge.. This group places 3 on the All Star Ballot as nominees.   They’ve gone toe to toe in recent weeks with some of the League’s best and the truth is, they can compete with anyone on any given night.. They have a brutal schedule to finish including a date with #2 Team Bulwa this coming Sunday Night.. These next 4 weeks they really need to focus on where their good shots are going to come from and focusing on D.  If they do those things this is a group that can be playing with the League’s best come May.


13. Team Tucci (Esser Hayes Insurance) – 7-8, Currently tied for 9th

We’re coming up on reigning-MVP Alan Tucci’s 11-month in that seat.. We’ll see if he can make it two years in a row.. On Sunday he night he surely made a case as he scored 31 in a Game his crew needed in the worst way. He led them past Team UC Booth to get Team Tucci into that 5-way tie for 9th in the Standings at 7-8.  In their final 4 Games they will take on 3 Teams who are below them currently in the Standings.. We’ve talked about this throughout the year but Team Tucci, who of course struggled early, has been on a tear and has a chance to come into the Playoffs truly rolling.  They are 7-8 right now and were 2-6 at one point.. So they are 5-2 in their last seven and have a chance to run the table.. Talk about dangerous..


14. Team UC Booth (Kelly Parker HC Maroon) – 7-8, Currently tied for 9th

They are in the midst of a bad skid and when that happens you start pressing and getting out of rhythm.. This is one of the most talented Teams in the League and that’s backed up by their first few months to start the Season.. For example, Victor Ojeleye had FORTY TWO points, 7 dimes and 9 boards on Sunday Night.  He’s among the League’s very best..  Remember they were 7-3 once upon a time.. That Team is still here.  They just need to get one in the Win column so they can exhale.. They have 3 All Star nominees and probably could have had even more.. Tons of talent here.   Their schedule is tough to end the season. Very tough.. That being said, they are going to come into the Playoffs ready to go.. Many Teams who may come in on extended Playoff streaks will not have faced the same level as competition to end the season and might be a step slow.. Team UC Booth won’t have that problem.. They take on last year’s Runners-Up Team Kozin who they are currently tied with in the Standings next Sunday. It’s a big one.


Rest of the Pack (Alphabetical Order) 

Team Apuli (Chicago Trolley) – 3-12, Currently tied for 17th

Don’t look now but one of the hottest Teams in the League is Team Apuli. They’ve won 3 of 4 and are now jumping Teams in the Standings with each W.   They got a couple of players on the All Star Ballot and it’s time for everyone to start taking notice of Rob Kamentsev who has been instrumental in their late-season turnaround.. This group is going to come in with a lower seed. There’s not enough time to make a serious run at a single-digit seed.. That being said they are going to be playing at a significantly higher level than their seed will show and it’s going to be unlucky for whatever top Teams have to take them on at an early stage.. They get Team Silver in Week 16. Can they make it 4 of 5?


Team Cohen (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 4-11, Currently in 16th

They currently sit 2 Games back of Team Malvin who is in the 14th spot.. That’s where everyone who currently sits in the Bottom 6 wants to get to.. That means you have one less Playoff Game to get through.. They have a favorable schedule compared to many others and if they play their very best in the final 4 weeks its not inconceivable to see them get out of Bottom 6.  Can only do that with Wins however.. Playing well but not winning won’t cut it.. They have 3 on the All Star Ballot as well.. Next up is Team Gainski who is still searching for their first W.. Team Cohen needs to start stockpiling Ws and fast..


Team Gainski (SLA) – 0-15, Currently in 20th

Their Roster is the best it’s been all season. It hasn’t translated to the Win-Column yet but they have bolstered their numbers in recent weeks and they have a couple winnable Games left on the Schedule.  If they can just get over that hump in the Regular Season they can start a new come Playoff time when everyone will start at 0-0.  Axel Playner made the All Star ballot. Congrats to him on the nomination.  They will take on Team Cohen in Week 16 and it really could be the week…


Team Schwartz (Jam ‘n Honey) – 5-10, Currently in 15th

Timing in life is everything and Team Schwartz had really poor timing last Sunday Night. They were without much of their Team and had to go against Team Zimmerman with an undersized 5-man rotation that had little answer inside for Kyle Nelson.  Let’s just move past that and look ahead for a bit.. They placed 3 on the All Star Ballot and are just a Game back of the key 14th Seed which is currently held by Team Malvin.. That’s exactly who they will face in Week 16.  It is likely the most important Game of their Season.. A win means they hold a head to head tiebreaker for the 14th seed.. Remember seeds 15-20 will have to put their Playoff lives on the line an extra time in the Opening Round.. That’s a place no one wants to be in.. Time to make moves.


Team Shamberg (Schweitzer Title) – 1-14, Currently in 19th

Here’s what is in store for them over the course of the next 4 weeks.. They will not face a Team that currently sits over .500.  There will be opportunity for them to get a win or two (or three or four) and not a long shot do see them do so.  They need to forget their record and not think about who their opponents are.. They just need to get to the gym and play basketball. No matter what their headed to the Playoffs where they will start fresh just like the rest of the League.. Their goal should be to get to their best selves for that time..


Team Silver (Kelly Parker HC Gold) – 3-12, Currently tied for 17th

Certainly some positives can be taken from Sunday’s Loss.. They had 7 Guys for the first time in seemingly forever and got both Sam Witt and Sean Cassel back from long stints on the DL.  This is a group that can now use the next 4 weeks to get their rotations and roles figured out and come into the Playoffs playing their best ball.. No matter what their record/seed is next to their name when the Playoffs start in April, they have a good amount of talent and if they get hot can certainly pull a stunner or two.


That’s it for this edition of the Power Rankings. Have a great week and remember to VOTE!