By: Law Murray
The Week 5 schedule features only four games on Saturday, which give six teams a bye week: NWA, C.O.A., ICEO, #Juglife, C.A.B.C., and Citi Team Blazers. Three of those teams made the top-five Power Rankings for this week: Citi Team Blazers (#1, 4-0), NWA (#2, 4-0), and ICEO (#5, 3-1) all won in convincing fashion last week. The other three teams that won’t play in Week 5 have another several days to get over forgettable performances. C.A.B.C. (2-2) was terrible in a 74-46 loss to LA LOOP that wasn’t even that close – they looked like a high school junior varsity team Saturday night. #Juglife is 0-4 after a last-minute 71-70 loss to previously winless Salvatori’s No Shnacks Sunday morning. And C.O.A. lost twice in Week 4, first blowing a huge lead to Hank’s United Ballers Saturday night despite Billy Knight’s return, then getting blown out by Hank’s Panthers Sunday night despite the return of The Rhino Craig Smith. C.O.A. is 0-4 – arguably the biggest disappointment of the league after falling just short in the title game last summer:
- Hank’s United Ballers vs. Tradition (Sat. June 13, 10am): While the United Ballers got their first win of the season last weekend against C.O.A., they didn’t compete the next day against NWA. The United Ballers did show that they can be good in transition, but they appear to be overmatched when they don’t get stops. Tradition has now won and lost with and without G Seth Curry, and they will try to get a winning streak going after F Marcus Johnston led an impressive win against M.H.P. in Week 4.
- Legacy vs. M.H.P. (Sat. June 13, 11:15am): Legacy got themselves a major acquisition last week, picking up former Nova Stars PG Mark Peters. While Peters makes Legacy’s dangerous stable of shooters better (namely, Jason Johnson and Anthony Kimble), Legacy has big problems defending teams with size. M.H.P.’s indifference to defense cost them last week, and Victor Rudd struggled with turnovers. This could be the highest scoring game of the weekend.
- Hank’s Panthers vs. I Can All-Stars (June 13, 12:30pm): The Panthers are about to earn a reputation as one of the most physical teams in the Drew League. They gave C.O.A. PF Craig Smith a rude welcome back party last week, refusing to give him anything easy. With the return of F Darryl Arnold from a broken nose, Hank’s Panthers have more than enough active defenders for any individual. This means that Week 4 Player of the Week, I Can All-Stars G Vince “Body Snatcher” Camper, will need his mates to help him out. Camper is a standout passer in addition to his ability to score from anywhere. It remains to be seen if I Can All-Stars C Jordan Bachynski (Canada) will make it back in time for Saturday’s game.
- Reapers vs. Hank’s New Image (June 13, 2pm): Both teams are reeling a bit at 1-3. Folks like the Reapers, and F Mike Jones is fun to watch. But these dudes are getting a reputation for folding in the fourth quarter. New Image got Sean Marshall back from overseas, which helps one of their two big issues (go-to guy). Unfortunately, anyone who has seen New Image knows that their other issue is costing them every week (lack of size).
- Salvatori’s Spirit vs. LA LOOP (June 14, 10am): Salvatori’s Spirit keeps losing close games, and after awhile, that stops being a compliment. At 0-3, the Spirit need to get it done at some point. Players not named Frank Robinson, DeDe Prejean, and Leo Lyons scored only 11 points in last week’s loss to LAUNFD – unacceptable. LA LOOP embarrassed C.A.B.C. last week but the competition will be tougher in this Breakfast Club game.
- Salvatori’s Nova Stars vs. Hank’s Bulldogs (June 14, 11:15am): The Nova Stars had a chance to pick up an impressive win last week against ICEO, but they spent most of the 4th quarter making the final margin look respectable; ICEO beat Nova Stars 89-86 in a game they led by as much as 20. Hank’s Bulldogs problems are far bigger – they didn’t even bring enough dogs to the yard Saturday morning, dropping to 0-4 after losing to Sky Ryse with only six players available. Frank “Nitty” Session has played well, and it will be interesting to see if the Nova Stars defense bounces back after getting lit up by ICEO G Charles Hinkle for 34 points.
- Jaguars vs. LAUNFD (June 14, 12:30pm): After a 2-0 start, the Jaguars have fallen back to the pack at 2-2. The offense has been crippled with some abysmal shooting, and PG Jacques Streeter has to get it together. LAUNFD is trending in the opposite direction, winners of three straight. When LAUNFD has been relying on Dijon Thompson’s scoring and a solid defense, and now PF Scott Cutley is back. The Jaguars will have their work cut out for them.
- BB4L vs. Sky Ryse (June 14, 2pm): BB4L is at 2-2 after an outrageous buzzer-beater from ¾ of the court away gave them a 70-68 loss vs. Pandas. Casper Ware went off for 31 points though, and he and his brother Ervin Ware are capable of turning games with their stingy perimeter defense. Sky Ryse is 4-0 due to the impressive interior play of Mark Dawson, Shannon Garner, Marcus Bell, and Brandon Davies. Big Ceez is getting a chance to run Sky Ryse Sunday, but he won’t have the services of Lemar Gayle.
- Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars vs The Clozers (June 14, 3:15pm): This is the Commissioner’s Game of the Week. The key matchup will be new Houdini’s All-Stars G Josh Greene vs. Clozers G Keion Bell. Greene is a bulkier backcourt mate for PG Antonio Biglow than Tim Johnson was. It’s like Houdini is an actual magician when it comes to finding all of these guards to play on this team. Bell has been a scoring force during The Clozers’ two-game win streak, and at 200 pounds, Bell is bigger than any of Houdini’s All-Stars’ guards.
- Hard Times vs. Problems (June 14, 4:30pm): Hard Times is 3-1. It’s a new season, and they’re getting contributions from new players every week. 2013 co-MVP Nick Porter hasn’t even had a major on-court impact, but he’s not complaining – he’s even started coming off the bench for Hard Times. For 2-2 Problems, it’s been as simple as this: they’re dangerous with Mike Efevberha, and they haven’t shown they can win without him yet. Doug Thomas and “Iron Man” Moe Spillers are going to be a real problem inside for an undersized Hard Times squad, but Problems has been pretty bad with perimeter scoring. Hard Times G P’Allen Stinnett will face his former Problems team in this one.
- Pandas vs. Salvatori’s No Shnacks (June 14, 6pm): The Pandas got a thrilling win after Gerard Anderson put the offense on his back and Ian Pinckney hit the shot of the basketball season to beat BB4L. What made it even more impressive is the fact that Metta World Peace and Daniel Artest let their young teammates figure it out down the stretch. No Shnacks also got clutch play on Sunday, as a Troy Leaf and-one (assist from PG Sango Niang) gave No Shnacks their first win of the season as well. Like the end of both of these teams’ games last week, this matchup is a toss-up – and it may come down to the impact of World Peace.
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.