High school basketball fans are a day away from the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic putting together most of the top talent in the state of Minnesota. Twelve games with some of the most interesting match-ups of the season take place tomorrow and today we look at ten of the best things (not in a particular order) to watch for.
No. 1 Isaiah Zierden vs. Riley West
Zierden of Benilde-St. Margaret's and West of Lakeville South are two of Minnesota's best point guards. Zierden is the competitive skilled playmaker while West is the never say die aggressive South leader. The contest won't be about these two going head to head but it is something that will catch the interest of fans.
Same game another fun match-up. Crawford is the leader of the BSM Knights and Richter is the face of the South hoops program right now. Peter's defense using his footwork and length will be used to try and slow down Richter. Will Crawford get it done? Apple Valley slowed down Alex leading the Eagles to victory so we know Peter's defense is key. Darren Glover is another top Benilde-St. Margaret's defender but at this point I'm not sure he's 100 percent from a leg injury.
No. 3 Top teams playing without top players
Minnetonka and Cretin-Derham Hall are currently top five teams in class AAAA basketball but both teams are missing some of their top talent. Minnetonka took on Waconia this week playing (and losing) without Cole Stefan, Tor Anderson, and Leonard Glass. The Skippers face Ross Travis, Jake White, and Chaska tomorrow and if all three of these guys are still in street clothes the Skipper task will be much tougher.
The Raiders lost Clay Horne to a prep school out east last Thursday and it sounds like Seantrel Henderson could be taking his official recruiting visit to Florida this weekend (although it's not in the Rivals.com database so who knows for sure). Without Horne and Henderson the Raiders lost a lot of height and brawn meaning they lose their significant size advantage to the Champlin Park Rebels. Both teams still have a ton of talent to watch although the Rebels have the advantage in experienced talent.
No. 4 Cole Olstad against Mpls. North defenders
This is a big match-up that many local hoop heads as well as college coaches have wanted to see. How will Plainview/Elgin-Millville junior forward Cole Olstad perform against an aggressive athletic defense? With Olstad not playing on the AAU circuit this will be a contest many will judge him on.
You have to factor Mike Rostampour in here too as both he and Jake will see time defending Calcaterra. Jake will use his length to try and stop Chad while Rostampour will use hustle and physical play. Can they slow the Colorado State commit down? And how about the Sibley bigs, will big Jake be able to score over Calcaterra? Hopefully the refs let the bigs play and hopefully the guards get the ball down to the bigs so we can see them go to work.
No. 6 Ken Novak Jr. vs. Mark Klingsporn
You can't just pick any one match-up out of this game because it's going to be two very well coached teams that play physical defense going at one another. The teams played without their veteran leaders (Novak and Klingsporn) in the Pacesetter Sweet 16 this summer and the game was close until a couple of Tartan's best players sat down in the final quarter. Will Joe Coleman and Marvin Singleton be too athletic for Tartan? The pair was too physically explosive for Columbia Heights and Minneapolis Henry to slow down for a full 36 minutes.
This may be the most fun match-up of the weekend. Watching Bjorklund, the constant banger, against Moats, the skilled but aggressive four man, is going to be something to see. Sibley East and Waconia also have some interesting parts around them to watch but the eyes will be on the bigs. Can Marshall stop the shooting touch of Moats from being effective? Will Moats be able to stop Bjorklund from having his way in the post? Somebody better let the refs know who the fans came to watch!
No. 8 The Henry guards vs. the Noreens
Jordan Hughes and Louis Cox of Minneapolis Henry and Kevin Noreen and Kyle Noreen of Minnesota Transitions will hardly be going face to face all game but the match-up is more of a face of the program type thing. All four of these players have been the figure head of these basketball programs for four years now and it will be fun to see their teams go after each other.
No. 9 Jonah Travis vs. Joey Sonnenfeld
The entire Osseo against DeLaSalle contest puts fun match-ups against one another all over the floor. But the head to head battle of junior forwards is going to be fun to see if they go face to face. Jonah and Joey are players who do not know the meaning of quit and they will attack one another all game long off the bounce. Box-outs, penetration, aerial battles, it's all going to be fun to see. Watching Aaron Anderson of Osseo (North Dakota signed) and Jalen Jaspers of DeLaSalle (U of Mary signed) be defended will also be interesting.
No. 10 Jacob Thomas vs. Jordan Riewer
Thomas and Riewer are both capable of putting up big scoring numbers. They are different players and chances are they are to valuable to be defending one another but their offensive production will be huge in the outcome of this game. Can Staples-Motley stop Thomas from scoring another 40 plus game? Will the Hylanders be able to slow down Riewer's crafty offense?
The hype of this event has been everywhere but the Breakdown and Minnesota Preps have to give you one more set of stats about how much talent will be on the floor. The top six 2010 prospects in the state of Minnesota (as well as half of the top 30) will be playing in the event as well as eight of the top eleven 2011 prospects.