Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Early Girls Team Rankings and All-State

EDIT: PRe-season all-state picks added on 8-29.

Hey, the tomato crop isn't even fully harvested, but school's in, so it's time for those Early Girls rankings (get it?).

Pre-Season All-State


Nia Coffey, Hopkins, F, Sr., POY
Carlie Wagner, New Richland-HEG, G, Jr.
Rebekah Dahlman, Braham, G, Sr.
Tyseanna Johnson, DeLaSalle, F, Sr.
Cayla McMorris, Park Center, F-C, Jr.


Allina Starr, DeLaSalle, G, Sr.
Kenisha Bell, Bloomington Kennedy, G, Jr.
Maddie Guebert, Eastview, G, Soph.
T'Kendra Elbert, Tartan, G, Jr.
Jessica January, Richfield, G, Sr.


Jade Martin, Bloomington Kennedy, F, Sr.
Bailey Strand, Fergus Falls, G, Sr.
Savanna Trapp, Esko, C, Sr.
Taylor Thunstedt, New London-Spicer, G, Jr.
Taylor Anderson, Hopkins, G, Sr.


Phyllis Webb, Osseo, F-G, Sr.
T.T. Starks, Hopkins, F, Soph.
Ali Greeene, Mathomedia, F, Soph.
Joanna Hedstrom, Minnetoka, G, Sr.
Onye Osemenam, Maranatha, C, Sr.


Ellen Thompson, Chaska, C, Jr.
Viria Livingston, Hopkins, G, Soph.
Leah Szabla, Providence, G, Sr.
Kylie Brown, Simley, F, Jr.
Grace Coughlin, Benilde-St. Mary's, Jr.


1. Hopkins. The closest thing to a lead-pipe cinch since the iceberg. Nia Coffey and Taylor Anderson provide the senior leadership, T.T. Starks and Viria Livingston additional energy, and Molly O'Toole the muscle. What weakness? Wins Section 6, gets the #1 seed and wins the state title for the 3rd year in a row.

2. Bloomington Kennedy. Ever the under-achievers. This year Kenisha Bell and Jasmine Martin will try to break the hex, along with new coach Quentin Johnson. Wins in Section 2, #2 seed.

3. Osseo. Janay Morton and Phyllis Webb return. Takes Section 5, #3 seed.

4. Eastview. Maddie Guebert, now a sophomore, and coach/mom Melissa Guebert lead the way. Repeats in Section 3.

5. St. Paul Central. Willie Taylor has slowly rebuilt the Minutemen and they've now got more weapons than at any time since the 2007-2008 champions. Takes Section 4, #4 seed.

6. Roseville. Jaqlynn Poss leads the way but the Raiders fall to Osseo in Section 5.

7. Minnetonka. Gopher recruit Joanna Hedstrom is back after all, along with the Fredericksons but the Skippers cannot cope with Hopkins in Section 6.

8. Centennial. A cast of thousands but is Paige Waytashek the go-to girl? Another Section 5 also-ran.

9. Lakeville North. Fighting off decline. Taylor Stewart plays her final year after what seems like a decade on Andy Berkvam's team. Takes Section 1.

10. Chanhassan. Building a powerhouse. Another cast of thousands type of team, with Lauren Shifflett as the occasional savior. 2nd best in Section 2.

11. Robbinsdale Cooper. Chelsey McGee and Tailiyah Rich, once upon a time of Mpls. North fame, lead the way. Another Section 6 also-ran.

12. Park. Guards Sidney Lamberty and Larissa Lurken are a dynamic duo. Falls to Eastview in Section 3.

13. Mounds View. It's Katie McDaniels team now. Another Section 5 also-ran.

14. Lakeville South. A year away but building toward a powerhouse. Another Section 2 also-ran.

15. St. Michael-Albertville. Nathalie Van Whye leads the way to a Section 8 title.

Hopkins, Kennedy, Osseo and St. Paul Central advance to state semis. Hopkins defeats Osseo in the final. Nia Coffey is tournament MVP.


1. DeLaSalle. Almost as good a bet as Hopkins with Tyseanna Johnson and Allina Starr back in the saddle. Should take Section 3, get #1 seed, and three-peat at state.

2. Chaska. Successfully rebuilding after split into Chanhassan and Chaska. Center Ellie Thompson leads the way to Section 6 title and #2 seed.

3. Park Center. Unfortunately the spectacular Cayla McMorris goes down to DLS in the Section 3 final.

4. Fergus Falls. Bailey Strand joins Brianna Rasmussen in a truly dynamic duo. Best in Section 8. #3 seed.

5. Richfield. Jessica January will lead the Spartans vs. Chaska for the Section 6 title.

6. Mankato East. Minnie Childress and Claire Ziegler lead the way. Should take Section 2. and #4 seed.

7. Benilde-St. Margaret's. Falls short in Section 6 despite Grace Coughlin's best efforts.

8. Simley. On the rise with Kylie Brown and Abby Kain, should take Section 4.

9. Red Wing. Should take Section 1 behind Tesha Buck.

10. Alexandria. Falls short in Section 8.

DeLaSalle, Chaska, Fergus Falls and Simley advance to the semis, and DeLaSalle defeats Chaska for its three-peat. Tyseanna Johnson and Allina Starr are co-tournament MVPs.


1. Providence. Another defending champion with every opportunity to repeat. Should take Section 5.

2. New Richland-HEG. The sensation of 2012 behind Carlie Wagner. Should take Section 2 but no chance vs. Providence.

3. Esko. Savanna Trapp should get to state out of Section 7 in her last hurrah.

4. Crookston. Best team since 2008, should take Section 8.

5. Annandale. Unfortunately, draws Providence in Section 5.

6. Pine Island. Can they beat the hex (and Chatfield) in Section 1?

7. Chatfield.

8. Sauk Centre. Will miss Kali Peschel but there's talent remaining, and should sneak back to state from Section 6.

9. Staples-Motley. Also from Section 6.

10. Albany. And another from Section 6.

11. Jordan. Still another Section 5 also-ran.

12. Worthington. Falls short in Section 2.

13. Foley. Tara Dusharm leads the way but Section 5 looms.

14. Minnehaha. A clear path to a repeat in Section 4.

15. Braham. How far can Rebekah Dahlman take the Bombers in her last go-round? Esko blocks a return to the state tournament.

In both A and AA, the brackets have Section 1 vs. 5, 3 vs. 7, 4 vs. 6 and 2 vs. 8. That means that Providence, Esko, Minnehaha and NRHEG advance to the semis, and Providence knocks off NRHEG in the final. Carlie Wagner is tournament MVP.


1. Maranatha. Could make it 4 repeat champions out of 4 attempt. Onye Osemenam makes Maranatha very difficult to beat. Should win Section 4 with ease.

2. Mountain Iron-Buhl. Should win Section 7. Could make it a repeat state title match-up v. Maranatha.

3. Minneota. Taylor Reiss leads the way. Should win Section 3.

4. Parkers Prairie. Should return to state from Section 6.

5. North Woods. A strong challenge to MIB in Section 7.

6. Upsala. Aimee Pelzer should lead the way back to state from Section 5.

7. Faribault Bethlehem. Jessie Matthews leads the Cardinals. Should take Section 1.

8. Ada-Borup. Will challenge Parkers Prairie in Section 6.

9. Win-E-Mac. Should take Section 8.

10. Isle. A chance to repeat in Section 5.

Here, Faribault BA, Minneota, Maranatha and Win-E-Mac advance. Watch for a possible match-up of Aimee Pelzer and Jessie Mathews in the 1st round, and also Minneota vs. MIB. Maranatha three-peats over Minneota in the final though Taylor Reiss is tournament MVP.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rebekah Dahlman's College List

According to Radio KBEK, Mora, MN, Rebekah Dahlman's college choices have narrowed to the following:

Iowa State

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dahlman, Coffey, January Make Hoopgurlz Top 100

Hoopgurlz unveiled its latest rankings of girls basketball recruits and MN placed 3 on the list.

Rebekah Dahlman, Braham, listed as a 5-9 point guard, is #16 overall and #4 at her position.

Nia Coffey, Hopkins, is described as a "mover," going from #41 a year ago to #24. She is listed as a 6-1 forward and is of course a Northwestern verbal. She is #8 at her position.

The big surprise is Jessica January, Richfield, at #74. She is listed as a 5-9 point guard and #16 at her position. Like Dahlman, she is uncommitted.

You may recall that MN Hoops has the 2013s rated a little different: Coffey #1, Tyseanna Johnson #2, Dahlman #3, January #7 behind Allina Starr, Jade Martin and Savanna Trapp. These are the "mighty 2013s," long regarded as one of if not THE best MN recruiting class ever. Among my top 7 we've got a Northwestern verbal and 2 Georgetowns, but the 2 Georgetowns are almost surely on the move after a coaching change in D.C. Terri Williams-Flournoy has moved to Auburn, and word is that Martin and Starr AND TYSEANNA JOHNSON are all looking really hard at the Tigers.

Monday, August 13, 2012

U.S. 107 Spain 100

OK, so, in a game of basketball played 5-against-1, 5 wins every time, right?

But, wait, not so fast. What I mean is 5 great individual players against 1 great team. Even maybe the 5 best players in the world against a smart, highly motivated veteran team. Now who wins?

Well, the U.S. and Spain gave that scenario a test today for Olympic gold and, in fact, 5 (the U.S.) won, 107-100. But if you didn't see the game, you'll have to trust me on this. This one could have gone either way.

In fact, the U.S. was reeling--leading, but reeling--in the 2nd half. Leading because of Kevin Durant's 30 points on 5-of-13 3s, including 9 in the 1st quarter, which concluded with the U.S. ahead by 8. By way of contrast, Durant sat out much of the 2nd quarter, the U.S. made just 1-of-8 3s, and Spain stormed back to within 1 at 59-58.

Now, the U.S. was reeling because of a Spanish box-and-1 defense that caused one of he announcers to guess that this was the 1st time Kobe Bryant has ever seen an and-1 defense that wasn't for him. No, it was for Durant and it worked. Suddenly the U.S. couldn't find a way to score. Then Kobe, then Carmelo Anthony threw it away, and then LeBron got his 4th foul and was forced to the sideline.

For their part, Spain was led by point guard Juan Carlos Navarro, who matched Durant 3-pointer for 3-pointer through the 1st half, finishing with 21 points and 4-of-10 3s, and the Gasol brothers. In the NBA, Marc and Pau Gasol are merely big. Against this U.S. roster they're huge. Tyson Chandler can't stop 'em. Kevin Love comes in and he's better, but he can't step 'em both.

The only thing that stops the Gasols is the officials, who are calling everything. 54 fouls in total, 27 on each team but, more importantly, 4 on Marc in the 1st half. That's right, 4 in the 1st half. So he has to sit out the entire 3rd quarter. Pau gets his 4th in the 4th and sits out a crucial stretch. But, hey, the Spaniards wanted a physical game and that's how they played it--in fact, getting both a flagrant and a technical foul in the 1st quarter to set the tone.

But the Americans had to defend Pau with LeBron, and thus James' too trip to the bench in the 4th quarter with his 4th foul, with the game very much in doubt.

So there's the set-up: Durant, Kobe, Carmelo, LeBron and company versus a well-oiled machine that alternately exploited the American's weak 3-point defense and its even weaker inside defense. Oh, and protected the ball, committing just 11 turnovers, same as the U.S., and limiting the American's fast break chances. That, in other words, perfectly executed a pretty good game plan.

But in the 4th quarter, talent took over.

• With the U.S. leading just 83-82, Kobe assists LeBron, then after a Spain lay-up, Chris Paul hits a 3 to make it 88-84.

• Paul gets another 2. 90-84

• LeBron gets a steal but then his 4th foul. Marc Gasol returns to the game and scores on a lay-up.

• Durant hits a 3 and Kobe 2 of 3: 95-86 at the 6:00 mark exactly.

• But still Spain comes roaring back. Kobe hits a 2 at 4:19 but Pau hits a throw and Navarro and Rudy Fernandez a pair of twos. Its 97-91 at 3:20 and the U.S. needs a timeout.

• LeBron dunks, but Marc answers with a dunk.

• Then LeBron hits the key basket, a 3 right over Marc. 102-93 at 1:51.

• The next score isn't til 0:53 on a Chris Paul layup. 104-93. And Coach K empties the bench. Game over?

• Still Spain comes back, making it a two-possession game at 106-100. But James Harden hits a throw and Spain cannot score on its final trip down the floor.

U.S. wins the gold. LeBron, Kobe, Kevin, 'Melo, Chris Paul win gold. Spain has to settle for silver and for being the best team.

See you in Rio.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

U.S. Women Face France for Olympic Gold

The U.S. women and France each advanced to the gold medal game with an undefeated 7-0 record. France defeated the Russians 81-64 to advance.

Over the course of 7 wins, France has out-shot its opponents 46-36 percent, and 41.5 to 27 percent on the 3. But the French lose the possession game with just 10 offensive boards and 15.5 turnovers, while giving up 13.5 offensive boards and creating 14 turnovers.

Point guard Celine Dumerc is their key. She scores 15 ppg on 59 percent shooting while adding 3.5 assists and a steal. Then there are inside players Sandrine Gruda (6-4) and Isabelle Yacoubou (6-3) who combine for 19 ppg on 50 percent shooting with 11 boards. Forward Emilie Gomis scores 11 points on 53 percent shooting, and back-up point guard, 37-year old Edwige Lawson-Wade adds 9 points and 2 assists.

Like France, the U.S. out-shoots its opponents 49-34 percent. But unlike France, the U.S. wins the possession game by a wide margin with 17 offensive boards to 10 for the opposition, and commits just 10 turnovers while creating 20. The game is likely to be decided off the offensive glass and off turnovers and in transition.

Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird are the U.S. big three, starting all 7 Olympic games. They score 24 points among them on 46 percent shooting.

The inside pair of Tina Charles and Candace Parker have scored 20 points on 46 percent shooting while adding 15 boards.

Angel McCoughtry has been the U.S. best player in several games, and is scoring 11 points on 64 percent shooting with 2 steals.

Lindsay Whalen has also been terrific off the bench, leading several 3rd quarter comebacks, scoring 9 ppg on 55 percent shooting. Maya Moore has now moved into the U.S. starting lineup and has contributed a steady 9 points on 46 percent shooting with 3 assists.

Australia hurt the U.S. inside in the semis, but of course we're talking 6-7 and 6-5 in the Aussies' case. France goes a more reasonable 6-4, 6-3. Still, look for France to pound it inside. A big shooting percentage will be needed for France to win, and they'll have to cut down on their typical 20 turnovers.

The U.S. will look to create some turnovers and get out in transition. If they cannot do that, they can still win off the offensive glass. As always, it should be close into the 2nd half when the U.S. 2nd unit featuring McCoughtry and Whalen should take over.

Final: U.S. 83 France 60

Is Usain Bolt the greatest athlete ever?


How about the greatest track and field athlete?

Still no.

1. Jim Thorpe 1912. They never say "decathlon" without saying "the grueling decathlon." Well, how about the grueling decathlon (10 events) plus the pentathlon (5 more events) on the side? That's what Thorpe did. Won 'em both. And he was one of the top half dozen football running backs ever and, while not a star, good enough to play major league baseball. Now that's the world's greatest athlete.

2. Jesse Owens 1936. Four golds. And who says he wouldn't have defended them if there had been an 1940 Olympics.

3. Paavo Nurmi 1920-1924-1928. 9 gold plus 3 other medals in long distance running events.

4. Carl Lewis 1984-1988-1992-1996. Did everything Bolt did (100 and 200) plus the long jump.

5. Bob Beamon 1968, Long jumped 2 feet further than anybody, ever.

6. Usain Bolt 2008-2012. 1st to repeat at both the 100 and 200.

7. Florence Griffith-Joyner 1988. 3 gold, 1 silver.

8. Babe Didrickson 1932. 2 gold, 1 silver. Later became a champion pro golf.

9. Emil Zatopek 1948-1952. 4 gold in long distance running.

10. Fanny Blankers-Koen 1948. 4 gold.

11. Wilma Rudolph 1960. 3 gold.

12. Jackie Joyner-Kersee 1988. 2 gold.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sweet 16 Results

The results were finally posted long about Tuesday. The big news--well, there's the winners, the Apple Valley boys and Hopkins girls. But the other big news is the continuing decline of competitiveness among the classes. The higher class team, so to speak, won 38 games while losing 10. The bigger schools went 21-5 among the boys and 17-5 among the girls.

The third news item is the reluctance of the better small school teams to come and get hammered by Hopkins et al. The girls' field was only filled by an all-star team of girls who participated in the Pacesetter camp, which was called Pacesetter Tech.

Still there was some good basketball, judging at least by the scores.

Boys Highlights

Blake 70 Edina 68 (OT) quarter-finals
Apple Valley 74 Waconia 67 quarter-finals
Hopkins 67 Austin 60 quarter-finals
Blake 62 Osseo 60 semis
Apple Valley 97 Hopkins 81 semis
Apple Valley 84 Blake 74 championship finals

3rd Osseo 70 Hopkins 61
5th Austin 67 BBE 59
7th Waconia 71 Faribault BA 56
9th Edina 57 Litchfield 52
11th Rochester Lourdes 59 Fairmont 49
13th Hayfield 56 Heritage Christian 51
15th Grand Rapids 56 Southland 51

The Girls

In the final it was Hopkins 63 Tonka 51. Hopkins defeated Eastview 64-53 and Mankato East 57-34 to reach the finals. Eastview edged Lakeview North 48-45 in OT in the quarter-finals, and surprised Kennedy 54-48 in the semis. Kennedy had edged Providence 54-48 in the quarter-finals of the loaded top bracket. Eastview edged Kennedy 48-42 for 3rd place as AAAA swept all of the top 4 places.

5th Lakeville North 55 Providence 38
7th Crookston 53 Mankato East 46
9th Chaska 65 Fergus Falls 54
11th Pacesetter Tech 77 St. Paul Central 75
13th Minneota 54 Mountain Iron-Buhl 38
15th Isle 43 Foley 36

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian Ever?


1. Jim Thorpe, United States, Decathlon and pentathlon gold 1912
2. Sonja Henie, Norway,Figure skating gold 1928-1932-1936
3. Jesse Owens, United States, 4 track and field gold 1936
4. Paavo Nurmi, Finland, 9 gold, 12 medals long distance running 1920-1924-1928
5. Michael Phelps, United States, 15 swimming gold 2004-2008

6. Carl Lewis, United States, 9 gold, 10 medals track and field 1984-1988-1992-1996
7. Larissa Latynina, Soviet Union, 18 gymnastics medals
8. Emil Zatopek, Czechoslovakia, 4 long distance running gold 1948-1952
9. Mark Spitz, United States, 7 swimming gold 1972
10. Eric Heiden, United States, 5 speed skating gold 1980

11. Bob Beamon, United States, Long jump gold 1968, jumped 2’ further than anyone ever
12. Fanny Blankers-Koen, Netherlands, 4 track and field gold 1948
13. Bjorn Dahle, Norway, 8 XC ski gold, 12 total medals 1992-1994-1998
14 (tie). Florence Griffith-Joyner, United States, 3 track and field gold + 1 silver 1988
     Jackie Joyner-Kersee, United States, Gold in pentathlon and long jump 1988

16. Johnny Weismuller, United States, 5 swimming gold 1924-1928
17. Babe Didrickson, United States, 2 track and field gold + 1 silver 1932
18. Wilma Rudolph, United States, 3 track and field gold 1960
19. Nadia Comaneci, Romania, 3 gold, 5 gymnastics medals, 7 perfect 10s 1976
20. Lisa Fernandez, United States, Pitcher, gold medal softball team, out-scored opp. 51-1 2004