By: Law Murray
The 42nd season of the Drew League tips off this weekend with 12 games. While some teams are easily recognizable and draw their own buzz, others have an air of mystery to them – clouds so thick that we may be left with more questions than answers even after the weekend ends:
- Problems vs. Legacy (Sat. May 16, 2pm): Legacy is a new squad coached by Kevin Matthews, a Drew League veteran who wound up taking over for last year’s fledging Stingrays team. His first test? The legendary Problems, who are reloaded with 2014’s MVP, “Money” Mike Efevberha.
- NWA vs. Reapers (Sat. May 16, 3:15pm): NWA was the last team to lose a game in the 2014 season, but they were upset in the second round of the playoffs despite their top-seed status. They’re getting a boost this year with the addition of Horace “Gingerbread Man” Wormely.
- Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars vs. Hank’s Panthers (Sat. May 16, 4:30pm): Houdini’s team raises the banner and brings back a championship core featuring Antonio “Swagg Champ” Biglow, Corey Allen and Kwame Alexander.
- LA LOOP vs. Sky Ryse (Sat. May 16, 6:00pm): Last year, LA LOOP barely missed the playoffs despite having one of the league’s better scorers in “The Body Snatcher”, Vince Camper. Sky Ryse, led again this season by Donovan Morris, snuck in as an 8th seed. Every week matters for playoff positioning.
- Hank’s New Image vs. The Clozers (Sat. May 16, 7:15pm): Coaches Wally and Kelly spent the early part of the 2014 season bragging about the talent they would acquire later in the season for The Clozers. But who is actually playing for the team now?
- Tradition vs. Hard Times (Sun. May 17, 10:00am): This is the first “breakfast club” game of the season, and it features two teams that are probably thrilled to move on from last year as soon as possible.
- United Ballers vs. C.O.A. (Sun. May 17, 11:15am): C.O.A. lost last year’s title game in heartbreaking fashion. Craig “Rhino” Smith is back with a familiar crew as they look to bully their way to redemption.
- #Juglife vs. Jaguars (Sun. May 17, 12:30pm): Despite literally not showing up to the final game of the season, #Juglife returns to the Drew League. Coach Lovely’s Jaguars overachieved in a big way last season, getting the 2nd seed and blowing out La Familia in the playoffs before losing to the eventual champs in round two.
- Salvatori’s Nova Stars vs. LAUNFD (Sun. May 17, 2:00pm): After dissolving for the 2014 season, LAUNFD is back, featuring Bobby Brown. The Nova Stars have been playing together for some time as well, so this may be one of the cleaner games of the weekend as far as execution goes.
- Hank’s Bulldogs vs. BB4L (Sun. May 17, 3:15pm): The Bulldogs lost too many close games last season, which hurt them when it came down to tiebreakers for a playoff spot. They’ll need to bring it Sunday against a new BB4L team featuring some familiar names: Baron Davis, Casper Ware, Tarron Williams, Keith Closs.
- ICEO vs. Salvatori’s No Shnacks (Sun. May 17, 4:30pm): Last season, Sango Niang and No Shnacks narrowly defeated a SoleClinics team that had A.J. Gasporra on the roster to claim the last playoff spot on the final weekend of the regular season. Gasporra is now on ICEO, while Niang is back to lead Coach Gary’s No Shnacks team.
- C.A.B.C. vs. Citi Team Blazers (Sun. May 17, 6:00pm): The Blazers won it all as an 8th seed in 2013, but they fell in the second round last summer as a 3rd seed. Larry Anderson returns, but Horace Wormely and Frank Robinson have moved on.
Finally, four teams have byes this weekend: M.H.P., I Can All-Stars, Spirit (featuring Frank Robinson), and Pandas (featuring the Artest family). Look for them in Week 2!
Law Murray is in his fifth year in Los Angeles via Philadelphia. He is in his second season at the Drew, and has made stops at the NFL Network, Fox Sports, and Marketplace, in addition to contributing to ESPN TrueHoop’s ClipperBlog since 2014. Law has also served two years in City Year and covered the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia. He graduated from California University of PA in 2009 with a B.A. in communication studies, and from University of Southern California in 2014 with a M.A. in journalism. He specializes in breaking down teams and players on a variety of media platforms.