By: Law Murray
Before Week 9 gets underway, the Drew League Foundation will host the 7th annual scholarship awards dinner. The event will take place in Carson, Calif. Friday night.
While last week marked the pros season debut, Week 9 marks the end of the constant player movement that has defined some of the top teams in the league. Players are locked onto their Week 9 teams for the remainder of the season, according to Commissioner Dino Smiley. The Commissioner also warned that players must appear in at least one regular season game to be eligible for the postseason:
Salvatori’s No Shnacks (3-5) vs. LAUNFD (6-2)
(Sat. June 11, 10am)
Despite a couple of incredible stat lines from PG Sango Niang (40/11/9 last week) and C DeShawn Stephens, No Shnacks is on a two-game losing streak. LAUNFD’s six-game winning streak was unceremoniously ended by BB4L and Baron Davis’ vintage performance. Both of these teams gave up over 100 points last week. Don’t worry about that: the talent overload starts early Saturday.
NWA (7-1) vs. Hard Times (5-3)
(Sat. June 11, 11:15am)
This is one of the Commissioner’s Games of the Week. NWA earned the #2 spot in this week’s Power Rankings despite their inconsistent composure. Travis Nichols has had a really nice season for NWA. Hard Times has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, and they need to show they can win a big game. They’re not sneaking up on anybody anymore.
Hank’s United Ballers (2-5) vs. Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars (7-1)
(Sat. June 11, 12:30pm)
The only team Houdini’s All-Stars lost to was M.H.P.; they’ve been one of the most poised and consistent teams in the league. Hank’s United Ballers have struggled most of the season, especially in the backcourt, but they managed to blow out M.H.P. two weeks ago. Hank’s United Ballers had last week off, but will they be prepared for the return of Kwame Alexander to the defending champs?
C.A.B.C. (3-5) vs. Sky Ryse (6-2)
(Sat. June 11, 2pm)
The return of 7’6” C Mamadou Ndiaye didn’t lead to wins for C.A.B.C. due to the team’s poor guard play. Ndiaye didn’t play last week, but 6’11” F Austin Daye did – and he dropped 52 points for C.A.B.C. to take Player of the Week for Week 8. Sky Ryse lost in double overtime on a buzzer beater to the Pandas last week. Sky Ryse has a more balanced team, but Josh Gordon and Donovan Morris need to take advantage of their matchups throughout this game.
ICEO (5-3) vs. Jaguars (2-6)
(Sat. June 11, 3:15pm)
ICEO may be without their perimeter scorers, which would be a problem. They’re not exactly a deep team, and only four players scored in their loss to Salvatori’s Spirit last week. They do catch the Jaguars, who were burned for 52 points by Austin Daye last week and haven’t been competitive recently, losing games by an average of 16.8 points.
Citi Team Blazers (8-0) vs. Salvatori’s Nova Stars (3-5)
(Sat. June 11, 4:30pm)
Citi Team Blazers may be undefeated, but their defense has been poor lately. They have allowed an average of 92.7 points per game in their last three games, and simply put, they can’t win a championship like that. But they’re winning because teams can’t stop them. And winning is something the Nova Stars haven’t done since May. Even with the addition of former Problems C Andre Smith, the Nova Stars just aren’t the same kind of defense they were when the season started.
Pandas (2-5) vs. #Juglife (3-5)
(Sat. June 11, 6pm)
Both of these teams won last week. Marcus Morgan caught an inbounds pass from Metta World Peace and hit a turnaround jumpshot to give the Pandas their second win at the buzzer this season. #Juglife, on a three-game winning streak, may want to keep this game from being close at the end.
Hank’s Bulldogs (2-5) vs. Salvatori’s Spirit (3-4)
(Sun. June 12, 10am)
Hank’s Bulldogs had the week off, and they have been fighting an uphill battle all season due to their 0-4 start and poor fourth quarter play. As with most of the Breakfast Club games this season, this one promises to be a battle. Salvatori’s Spirit has been getting some solid performances from DeDe Prejean, and Leo Lyons is coming off a 28-point game.
Hank’s New Image (2-5) vs. Legacy (3-4)
(Sun. June 12, 11:15am)
Outside of some strong performances from Larry Gordon and Hassan Stephens, New Image has just been underwhelming this summer. Legacy has been trying to get a consistent performance from their young players all season; Coach Kevin Matthews has also been looking for some credible size all season. Both of these teams had last week off.
Reapers (2-6) vs. Hank’s Panthers (5-2)
(Sun. June 12, 12:30pm)
Hank’s Panthers didn’t play last week, meaning they didn’t lose. Now, they’re in the power rankings as they put their five-game winning streak on the line. The Reapers finally broke a five-game losing streak that was just getting depressing; even in a double overtime win over Problems, Reapers PG Richie Williams struggled with an injury before shutting it down in the 4th quarter. The Panthers have been impressive on defense, and they haven’t lost when Week 7 Player of the Week SF Daryl Arnold finishes a game.
LA LOOP (2-5) vs. BB4L (6-2)
(Sun. June 12, 2pm)
The last time we saw LA LOOP, they almost knocked Citi Team Blazers from the ranks of the undefeated, and that was without SG Justin Johnson. LA LOOP had Week 8 off, while BB4L G Baron Davis put LAUNFD on a viral highlight reel. LA LOOP hasn’t really stopped any team defensively this summer, and that could be a problem against a BB4L team that is trying to establish some consistency this month.
M.H.P. (4-3) vs. The Clozers (4-4)
(Sun. June 12, 3:15pm)
This is the other Game of the Week, and it features two teams that can look great one week and look frustrating the next. Their records are strong reflections of what they have shown this season. M.H.P. may not have Victor Rudd or Nick Young available, and even with both players, they had to score 113 points to beat C.O.A. last week. They’re the best scoring team in the league, but they don’t defend at all. The Clozers are long and athletic, and when they don’t turn the ball over 30 times, they look like a decent squad. Lonzo and LiAngelo Ball have made a big difference for The Clozers, while PG Michael Williams has been a key player for M.H.P. all season.
C.O.A. (2-6) vs. I Can All-Stars (4-3)
(Sun. June 12, 4:30pm)
C.O.A. didn’t have PF Craig Smith last week. They still dropped an unfathomable 112 points … and they lost. That’s the kind of season it’s been for C.O.A. F Sherman Gay had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and the vultures were waiting to poach him off of C.O.A.’s roster as soon as they lost to M.H.P. I Can All-Stars also lost last Friday night in a heated game against NWA. MVP candidate G Vince Camper has been a workhorse this season, but how much more of the load can he handle?
Tradition (4-4) vs. Problems (2-6)
(Sun. June 12, 6pm)
Tradition needs to get their act together. A couple more wins could lock up a playoff spot, but they have lost multiple games this season due to rolling out no more than six players. As George put it Sunday, they had to play with, “a Nike crew member and a writer.” (That’s the first time I’ve ever played basketball as a writer, by the way.) Meanwhile, Problems is on the longest losing streak in the Drew League, a shocking turn of events for one of the league’s pillars, while going extremely young in the process. The backcourt battle between Tradition’s Zeon Gray and Michael Ojo vs. Problems’ Gerry Blakes and Derrick O’Neil still make this game very intriguing.