Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Runs #2

The Lynx did it again last night to the San Antonio Silver Stars--ripped off one of their patented runs, that is, en route to an 85-75 win at the Target Center. That ran their won-lost record to a remarkable 22-6 and lowered their magic number to 1.

The Lynx led the Stars just 61-57 after 3 periods and San Antone was on an 11-5 run. But over the next 7 minutes the Lynx outscored the Stars 17-1 for an insurmountable 78-58 lead with 5 minutes to play.

The killer-diller was a series of 3 straight possessions on which the Lynx scored off the offensive glass. The Lynx had already scored the 1st 6 points of the period on a 3 by Moore and a 2 + 1 by Augustus, when Whalen missed a shot, but Seimone grabbed the board and put it back in. 26 seconds later Moore missed a 3 but Taj put it back in. And another 37 seconds later Brunson missed the shot but Moore put it back up and in. Suddenly it's 73-57 and the Stars took the obvious timeout...too late.

Moore scored 8 of the 17 and Augustus 5 in the run, and all 5 starters had an offensive board. Whalen had 2 assists and a steal.

The Lynx coasted from 78-58 and won by 10.

Overall the Lynx won the possession game with 14 offensive boards to 6 for San Antone. Turnovers were about even, and so the Lynx got off an extra 10 FGA, making 6. The shooting percentages were about even.

All 5 Lynx starters were in double figures--Augustus led with 19, Moore scored 18 thanks to 4-0f-8 from 3-point land, Brunson 15, Whalen 14 with 9 assists, and Taj 10. The Lynx bench, recently something of a dynamo, went flat, getting outscored 39-9.

The Silver Stars have lost 6 in a row and have been a shadow of their early selves since rookie forward Danielle Adams got hurt. She's back and scored 10 off the bench. Right now the Lynx would draw the Stars in the 1st round of the playoffs and with Adams back they are not to be underestimated. Still the Lynx have a lot of weapons are have beaten the Stars 3-out-of-3. The rest of the league has got to be wondering if and how the Lynx can be beaten.

Monday, August 22, 2011

USA to Play for 5th Place

The previously undefeated USA fell to 4-1 Lithuania 76-74 in the quarter-finals of the World University Games. This was the same Lithuanians who had already lost to the Russians by 15 and would go on to lose in the semis to Canada (Canada!) by 15.

But the USA had a horrible shooting day, making just 23-of-67 (34%) of FG and 5-for-30 (17%) on 3s. Trevor Mbakwe led the USA with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks but shot 0-for-3 from the field.

The USA bounced back to beat Romania 94-63 in the consolation semi-final but that was small, er, consolation. Mbakwe had 7 points and, again, a team-high 8 boards.

Canada will play Serbia for gold. The USA will meet Germany for 5th place.

Meanwhile the USA women won the University Games, hammering Taiwan 1o1-66.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mbakwe Contributing to U.S. Gold Medal Pursuit

Trevor Mbakwe of the U of M has been a big contributor so far as the U.S. men seek the gold medal at the World University Games. The U.S. finished pool play at 5-0 and #1 in Pool D. They'll play Lithuania (4-1 and #2 in Pool C) in the quarter-finals on Saturday. If victorious it's likely that they'll get the weakest of the 4 remaining, possibly Germany. And if successful again in the semi-final, they should draw Russia in the final.

The U.S. has defeated Mexico, Hungary, South Korea and Finland by an average score of 110-66. Game #5 was the toughest by far as the U.S. edged Israel 94-84, and Mbakwe came up big with 12 points and 13 rebounds plus 3 blocked shots.

Overall, Mbakwe is the team's #5 scorer and #1 rebounder after 4 games with 11.5 points and 9 boards. He started 2 of the 1st 4 games (I haven't seen a box score for the Israel game yet). He had double-doubles against Mexico with 12 points and a team-high 10 boards, and against South Korea with 14 points and 11 boards. He also led the U.S. in rebounding with 9 vs. Hungary.

The other double figure scorers for the U.S. are:

• Ashton Gibbs, 6-2, senior, G, Pitt, 13.5 ppg
• John Jenkins, 6-4, junior, G, Vanderbilt, 13.0
• JaMychal Green, 6-8, senior, F, Alabama, 12.3
• Scoop Jardine, 6-3, senior, G, Syracuse, 11.0

Next up: Lithuania in the quarter-finals on Saturday. If the U.S. keeps winning, then there will be a semi-final on Sunday and the finals on Monday. For my money, it'll be the U.S. vs. Russia for all the marbles.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chris Palmer Transfers to River Falls

Chris Palmer is leaving St. Mary's University and will be playing ball this season at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Combined with the graduation of senior guards Will Wright and Lukas Holland, this leaves the cupboard pretty much bare down in Winona.

Meanwhile the Falcons enter 2011-2012 with high hopes, having earned their 1st NCAA tournament bid ever last year and having 4 starters coming back from that 20-8 team. The one big loss to graduation just happens to be at Palmer's position where local boy Jake Voeltz (of River Falls, that is) has completed his college eligibility. Chief among the returnees is 6-6 senior guard Shane Manor who scored 15 ppg last year with 6 boards, 2 assists and a steal. 6-4 guard Aaron Anderson from Stillwater and 6-7 forward Ollie White from Mound also return.

Palmer played his high school ball at Faribault Bethlehem Academy under coach Franz Boelter.

Monday, August 15, 2011

End-of-Summer High School Highlights--BOYS

The king is dead! Long live the king! Long live King Eastview, winners of the Sweet 16 and (just a week earlier) of the Minnesota Invitational Tournament, both sponsored by Pacesetter Sports. Eastview hammered Stillwater and Spring Lake Park in semis and finals of the MIT but that, of course, doesn't prove nothin.'

Sweet 16

So, by way of punctuation, Eastview beat Rocori 69-35, Grand Rapids 77-43, Duluth East 74-52 and finally the Royals themselves, the Kings of boys basketball, the Hopkins Royals 79-73 in OT in the finals of the Sweet 16.

The various finals at the Sweet 16 went like this:

1st Eastview (4-0) 79 Hopkins (3-1) 73 (OT). Hopkins had beaten Pelican Rapids 64-62, Windom 99-43 and Benilde-St. Margaret's 69-66.

3rd Duluth East (3-1) 78 Benilde-St. Margaret's (2-2) 77.

5th Mankato East 78 Ellsworth 62. Mankato hammered Perham and Grand Rapids but lost to Duluth East 91-87. Ellsworth surprised Osseo and Windom, but lost to B-SM and Mankato.

7th Grand Rapids 54 Windom 48. Windom beat Spring Grove, then lost 2 by big margins. Spring Grove surprised Perham but lost 3 other games.

9th Montevideo 70 Rushford-Peterson 40. Montevideo lost to B-SM by 13, then beat Pelican Rapids by 3, Spring Grove by 20 and R-P by 30.

11th Perham 69 Spring Grove 55.

13th Osseo 72 Rocori 60. Osseo lost a surprise to Ellsworth 70-60 and then a real shocker to Montevideo 66-63. Then they Maranatha 69-55.

15th Osseo 77 Maranatha 55. Osseo lost to Ellsworth and Montevideo. What's with that"


In the MIT Eastview beat Litchfield in the North pool final.

Some MIT surprises: Pierz 52 Cooper 50. Austin 75 Braham 46.

Some MIT great games: Tartan 52 Waconia 50. Delano 58 Montevideo 57. Spring Lake Park 61 Marshall 60.

1st Eastview 84 Spring Lake Park 53
3rd Woodbury 81 Stillwater 53
5th St. Michael-Albertville 74 Forest Lake 57
7th Litchfield 71 Marshall 68
9th Huron, SD 82 Tartan 77
11th Dawson-Boyd 77 Delano 67

Summer Showcase Gold

Meanwhile, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown served notice that it will contend for the AA state title again in 2012, beating host Lakeville South in the Gold division final. Guards Tate Harmon and Grant Pope led the way for the Buccaneers.

3rd Osseo 51 Bemidji 29
5th Pelican Rapids 60 Mankato East 46
7th Roseville 75 Holy Family 47

Monday, August 8, 2011

End-of-Summer High School Highlights--GIRLS

Pacesetter Sports has had a busy couple of weeks, with the MN Invitational Tournament 10 days ago followed by the Sweet 16. So busy, in fact, that they haven't got any Sweet 16 results up on their Web site as of yet. Hey, it's only been 48 hours. You'd have to be moving at the speed of your average turtle to get the results up already! C'mon guys.

Below are the results for the Sweet 16 Girls, MIT Girls and other summer girls.

Sweet 16 Girls

Fortunately, I can find the girls results, thanks to Kevin Anderson at And it was Hopkins in a cakewalk after the Royals settled for 2nd place the past 2 years. Of course, it's really the Sweet 12 this year, so they divided into 4 pools of 3 each.

East--Hopkins hammered Prior Lake and Fulda, while Prior Lake edged Fulda 61-58 for the #2 seed.

West--Wayzata won easily, while New Prague beat Staples-Motley 63-58 for #2.

North--Kennedy had a surprisingly tough time of it, but defeated Providence 53-50 and Fergus Falls 47-45. Providence defeated Fergus for #2.

South--Braham won easily, while Lake Crystal-Welcome Memorial beat Sebeka easily for #2.


#1 Bracket--Hopkins was up 24-6 and cruised, 72-52. Kennedy defeated Braham 67-49.

#2 Bracket--Lake Crystal-WM shocked Providence 50-36 while New Prague edged Prior Lake 50-48.

#3 Bracket--Fulda beat Staples-Motley 57-52 while Fergus hammered Sebeka.


1st--Hopkins beat Kennedy 53-41 as Nia Coffey scored 17, Sydney 13 and T.T. Starks 11.
3rd--Wayzata 62 Braham 60
5th--Lake Crystal-WM 52 New Prague 35. LCWM is the breakout story of the Sweet 16.
7th--Providence 54 Prior Lake 43
9th--Fergus Falls 70 Fulda 32
11th--Sebeka 59 Staples-Motley 53

Girls Minnesota Invitation Tournament (MIT)

A week earlier, 31 teams played in the MIT, and Centennial White emerged as champion with a 60-46 win over Moorhead. The big surprises (to me, at least) were Moorhead's win over White Bear Lake 54-50 in a semi-final, followed by Cambridge-Isanti knocking off the Bears 58-56 in the 3rd place game.

The teams played in 4 8-team (well, the East had 7) divisions. Based on Saturday's pool play, they all advanced into 1 of 8 4-team divisions on Sunday.

5th place went to Hawley 41-33 over St. Cloud Tech, and 7th to Sartell 55-53 over Goodhue.

9th--Pelican Rapids 59-40 over Norwood-Young America

11th--New London-Spicer over Centennial 61-42. It seems odd that Centennial White finished 12 spots ahead of Centennial, but that's the way it is. And Pelican Rapids 52 New London 39 in the 9th place semi-finals seemed like a bit of a surprise.

13th--Crookston over Sebeka 57-56. Sebeka finished 2-8 in the 2 tournaments.
15th--Cook County over Cloquet 54-39
17th--Irondale edged Esko 57-44.
19th--Eden Valley-Watkins lulled Howard Lake-Winsted-Wavely to sleep 43-20.
21st--Fergus Falls beat Foley 53-35. Fergus was 9th in the Sweet 12 and 4-5 overall.
23rd--Litchfield beat Buffalo Lake-Hector 60-50.
25th--Perham lost to Estelline (ND) 60-40.
27th--Montevideo 47 Crosby-Ironton 43
29th--Thompson (ND) defeated Lake of the Woods and CHOF in a round-robin.

Summer Showcases

The Lakeville South Invitational is the 9th of 9 showcases sponsored by the folks at the Breakdown, and it's the only Invite. And they played in 2 divisions, Blue for the girls and Gold for the boys. And, also among the boys, you also had the Big Four featuring 4 of the best teams in the state, one from each class. Watch for a separate report on the boys.

Wayzata took the Blue division beating New Prague 44-21, Champlin Park 50-23 and then Alexandria by 16 in the final. Buffalo beat Champlin for 3rd, and New Prague beat Orono for 5th. 1st team all-Showcase included Kayla Timmerman and Marissa Grossfeld of Wayzata, not surprisingly, Lauren Trumm of Alexandria, young Alexis Alexander of Champlin, and Anna Rynda of New Prague.

The other summer showcases had the following results:

June 18 at Prior Lake: Hutchinson hammered New Prague in the final by the improbably score of 53-18. But that's what they did to their other opponents: Red Wing 42-17 and Rockford 50-17.

June 25 at St. Michael-Albertville: Hopkins took the Red division 66-27 over Alexandria. The hosts took 3rd over Cambridge-Isanti 40-25. Braham took the Black division over Staples-Motley 58-40, while Eden Valley-Watkins beat New London-Spicer 49-40 for 3rd. Forest Lake won the Silver division over St. Michael-Albertville Gold 40-18.

July 9 at Grand Rapids: Wadena-Deer Creek beat the hosts on the Blue division, while Northwoods edged Northwestern in the Red division.

July 9 at Mankato: Caledonia and Kenyon-Wanamingo won the titles--Caledonia in Blue over Worthington 40-34 with Hutch 3rd over Roseville 42-33. St. Peter hammered New London-Spicer 54-18 for 5th. Kenyon beat Dassel-Cokato 39-27 in White.

July 16 at St. Michael-Albertville: There were 15 boys and girls divisions, 7 for the girls, 5 of them at the varsity level. Champions include Sebeka (over Big Lake) in Silver, New London-Spicer (over St. M-A) in Orange, Rogers (over Alexandria) in Blue, Champlin (over Sartell) in Red, and Wadena-Deer Creek over Isle in Green. The best game was probably New London-Spicer's 30-26 win in Orange. But lest the Wildcats get a big head or anything, it should be mentioned that St. M-A beat NL-S 33-28 for 3rd place in Silver.

July 23 at St. Cloud: Here there were 8 divisions, 4 of them girls, 3 of those varsity, where Mora, Pelican Rapids and Spring Lake Park were victorious. Mora beat Litchfield 49-44 in Maroon, the Pelicans beat ACGC 55-38 in Gold, and Spring Lake Park beat Stillwater 43-34 in Blue.

July 23 at Lakeville North: Forest Lake defeated Jackson County Central 48-32 for the title. In Junior Varsity, Mt. Iron-Buhl shocked the hosts 31-28.

On July 30 at Lakeville South, the day before the Invite: Wayzata also won this one in Blue 43-38 over Forest Lake. Jackson County Central edged Barnum 46-43 in Maroon.


After all is said and done, Kevin ranks them as foll0ws. 2. Osseo 3. Eden Prairie 4. Jefferson 5. Wayzata 6. Lakeville North 7. St. Paul Central 8. Centennial 9. White Bear Lake 10. Alexandria 11. Prior Lake 12. Cambridge 13. Minnetonka.

Oh yeah: 1. Hopkins. Duh. But, Kevin, where's Kennedy?

Lacks pri

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Runs

The Lynx B Hot! Hot. That's one word that comes to mind. The other is, well, two words. The runs. No, not that kind. I mean the kind that just kills basketball teams. You know, like 22-to-8, 19-2, 26-to-13, or 21-to-4. Runs. Where everything goes right, and everything goes wrong.

That's the Lynx. First, they're on a 4-0 run since the all-star game, in which they so surprisingly placed 4 players including 2 starters, Maya Moore and Rebekah Brunson. Of if you prefer, they're on a 7-0 or a 9-1 run. Overall they're a league-best 14-4. When was the last time a Minnesota basketball team got on a run like that? The Gopher men in 1997? The women in 2004? The Timberwolves? Never!

Because I'm not just talking about 4-0 or 9-1. I'm talking about those runs, where everything goes right for the Lynx and everything goes wrong for their opponent, and they just steamroll 'em long enough to say, "Game over."

Like that 22-8 run, for instance. The Lynx outscored the L.A. Sparks 22-8 to open the second half of the season at the Target Center. The Lynx hit 10-of-their-1st-13 shots, got assists on 8-of-the-10 buckets, and registered 6 assists in the 1st 6:29. By then, Lindsay Whalen had 6 points, 4 assists and a steal and Taj McWilliams-Franklin 8 points, 2 steals, an assist and an offensive board.

L.A. got within 4 at 45-41, but then came a 24-13 run and a 69-54 lead after 3 quarters. The final was 82-75.

Then there's that 19-2 run. The victim there was the defending WNBA champs, the Seattle Storm, though without WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson the Storm is more of a little Drizzle. The Lynx trailed 14-11 in the early going, then busted it open. This time Augustus hit 3 2-point buckets in the final 2:43 of the 1st quarter and Candice Wiggins hit a pair of 3s and added 2 assists, and suddenly it was 30-16. The Storm got within 9, but soon it was 46-26, then 89-57 and, finally, 92-67.

Then the other night at San Antone, well, I gotta admit they didn't run roughshod over the Silver Stars. But trailing 42-30 at half-time, they did just enough damage in the 3rd quarter to get back into the game, then pulled it out on a Whalen jumper with 1.5 seconds left. It was in fact all Lindsay all the time. For the game she had 23 points, 7 boards, 6 assists and 4 steals. She keyed the 3rd quarter rally with 12 point, 3 assists and a pair of steals. It was her assist to Brunson that gave the Lynx their 1st lead since 13-12 with 1.7 seconds left in the 3rd. Then with the game on the line, she took it herself and instead of a 1st place tie with San Antone (a Stars' win and they're both 12-5), the Lynx were 2 games up at 13-4 versus the Silver Stars' 11-6.

Then tonight it was Phoenix, the last team to beat the Lynx. Oh, and the last team to really embarrass the Lynx, coming from 11 down (91-80 at 6:31) with a barrage of 3s to beat the Lynx 112-105 in OT. Not tonight. This one was close for almost 3 quarters; in fact, it was 60-all with 1:21 left in the 3rd. By 7:29 of the 4th it was over, as Augustus and Charde Houston each scored 8 points and the Lynx had 4 assists on 6 buckets. Defensively, the Lynx stifled the Mercury with 2 steals (Adair and Augustus) and 2 blocks (Houston and Moore). From 78-62, Phoenix got with 12 but the final was 90-73.

So now on this 4 game run the Lynx are dominating the possession game. They're getting off 68 FG attempts per game to the opponents' 58, and making 48.5 percent of them to 41 for the other guy. The result is a ridiculous 9 more FG than their opponents. That's because they're getting 10 offensive boards (to their opponents' 6) and turning the ball over 14 times (to their opponents' 17).

Over these 4 games Augustus is scoring 17 points, Whalen 15, Taj 12.5, Moore 11.5, Wiggins 8 off the bench, and Brunson 7. Taj and Brunson are cornering 15 boards between 'em, while Whalen leads with 5 assists and Moore with 3 steals.

I admit that I doubted the Lynx' ability to play this well as a team, and especially to play this well on defense, and I doubted Cheryl Reeve's ability to coach at this level. So far, wrong, wrong, wrong. To which I say, more, more, more. Over the past month, this is the best basketball team (above high school level) that Minnesota has seen in at least 7 years.