The last day of the Minnetonka fall league was yesterday and what stood out were the impressive defensive efforts of teams like Tartan and Hopkins although playing in a fall league setting. No team is where a coach wants them to be from day one but you have to think that Mark Klingsporn and Ken Novak Jr. may be a little happier coming in than some others considering yesterday's defensive efforts. I said a little happier coaches!
I had a chance to watch the first half of Tartan defeating Mounds View and then the second half of Hopkins beating Osseo in yesterday's first session. What I took out of those viewings was the collective team defensive efforts of the five guys on the floor. Tartan was rotating five guys in and five out but yet you still saw Tim Lubke get his nose burnt on the floor while diving for a loose ball, junior Ryan Burns with hands up in the passing lane deflecting ball after ball, and their ball pressure on the wings seemed to be in mid-season form. Although the Mustangs were short some guys due to football they still were no match for the Titan defense.
In the other gym Hopkins went to work against Osseo bagging several deflections and steals and turning them into highlights for all four of their stars: Siyani Chambers, Marvin Singleton, Joe Coleman, and D.J. Peterson. There may be some position things they will step onto the floor and go to work on but you had to be impressed with the pressure they were applying both on the ball and on the wing yesterday. The Royals were regularly turning these efforts into fast break showcases where Chambers dropped numerous dimes.
I also thought sightings of both Henry Sibley and St Louis Park produced some defense. Mike Rostampour is always playing defense but I also thought Jordan Jackson made Dyami Starks really work for his attempts. As good as Dyami is at creating space and of course hitting shots you can't completely stop him but you can make his shots more difficult with effort and I though Jordan did that leading the Warriors to a nice win. Remember, this same Duluth East team hampered Sibley in the MBA fall league buy 30 some points just a month back.
• Tartan's Troy Klingsporn hit four three-pointers in six tries in the first half of the Mounds View game. Troy is really starting to come into his own as a basketball talent and I think colleges are going to take a stronger look.
• Tartan freshman Darian Strong has one of those first steps that may be deemed elite. Plus he's a physical young player with some of that Chicago toughness.
• People from Hopkins continue to rave about the improvement of Marvin Singleton's ball skill. Yesterday he was most impressive in the open floor catching and scoring at the rim while getting bumped but Marvin also showed some flashes of what they are raving about.
• Write this name down: Joey Sonnenfeld of Osseo. This young man is a football standout at tight end and he may just lead the basketball team in scoring this year with Aaron Anderson taking more of a point guard role (now that D.J. Phillips has graduated). Sonnenfeld is a very physical player who knows how to create space and finish with a nice touch out to 12 feet. Plus he's an agile kid who can put the ball on the floor and attack. Hopkins beat Osseo but I thought Sonnenfield did a fine job of taking things at Singleton. Chris McMorris is another one to watch at Osseo. He did some good things from the wing position yesterday.
• Alec Brown will be a spring decision. Loyola-Chicago and Wisconsin-Green Bay had Alec in for visits this fall and really wanted his commitment. But Alec is just going to take his time and develop more as a player (he's only had a half a year as a varsity center and one AAU summer) and see what schools are recruiting posts this spring. Santa Clara was in town recently and made the trip to Winona to see Alec. They are interested and called right away when they heard Alec is going to take his time. Northwestern, Iowa State, and Washington State also put in calls this week as they will follow Alec through the winter as well.
• Jake Kreuser may wait until spring as well although there is still the outside possibility he could sign early. Two weeks ago Jake visited Saint Louis officially and this past week (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) he checked out Lafayette. Yesterday Jake scored three quick field goals in the game against Duluth East to help give Sibley the early edge. Rostampour had five first half field goals.
• Sibley wing Jimmy Ryan caught first yesterday hitting his first three three-point attempts, four of his first five triples, and five of his first six jumpers. If he can shoot like this all year Sibley will have yet another scoring weapon. Even if he's not hitting Jimmy is always a good defender and when you consider what he, Jackson, and Rostampour can do as team defenders with Kresuer behind them you have to think this may be Sibley's best team defensive unit. Potentially.
• Starks and Johnny Woodard are big time scoring weapons for East but against Henry Sibley they didn't have high percentage shooting days. They guy that did was senior forward Nick Toland. Nick averaged almost 14 points a game last year and he had at least 20 yesterday playing a tough game for East. Toland had mid-range scores and he put up some points inside over Kreuser and Rostampour.
• Nick Latzke scored a game winner inside late for Minnetonka who despite not having Leonard Glass or Tor Anderson still beat Bloomington Kennedy. Kennedy's Deron Murphy had another one of those amazing dunks yesterday and maybe we should start talking about him being in the conversation as one of the most explosive players in state.
• Rostampour had a monster second game against Minnetonka as Sibley defeated the Skippers. I was told his totals were close to 30 (points) and 20 (rebounds).