2015 Drew League – Week 11 Preview

By: Law Murray

We’re here! The end of the regular season is finally h…

Enough formalities. There’s a lot to sort out here in both the Russell Brown and Keith Anderson divisions. Playoff spots are still up for grabs. The top eight teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs. The team that earns the top seed are expected to play Friday night, potentially earning a Saturday off if they can defeat the  #8 seed. The top seed is still up for grabs too after the events of Week 10, recapped in depth by Aaron.

In short, Week 11 is a big deal. Let’s get into it.

We’ll start in the Brown division, where six teams have clinched: Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars, NWA, M.H.P., Hank’s Panthers, Hard Times, and I Can All-Stars. Four teams have been eliminated: C.O.A., Hank’s New Image, Hank’s United Ballers, Reapers.

That leaves four teams teams competing for two spots. Legacy is 5-4, and can clinch a playoff spot by winning at least one of two games. Legacy plays 2-7 Hank’s United Ballers Friday night and 6-3 Hank’s Panthers on Saturday. Tradition is 5-5, and can clinch a playoff spot by defeating 3-7 C.O.A. Friday night.

If Legacy and Tradition fail to get it done? It gets interesting. Problems and The Clozers are both 4-6. Problems beat The Clozers in Week 10, Tradition in Week 9, and Legacy in Week 1. Problems plays 7-3 M.H.P. on Sunday; a Problems win combined with winless weeks by Legacy/Tradition could vault them into the playoffs. The Clozers get 2-8 Reapers Saturday, and they also beat Legacy and Tradition. Legacy also beat Tradition, so Tradition is under the most pressure to win being that it doesn’t own a single tiebreaker. If all four teams finish 5-6, then Problems (3-0 against tying teams) and The Clozers (2-1 against tying teams) would get the playoff spots over Legacy (1-2 against tying teams) and Tradition (0-3 against tying teams).

Now for the more complicated Anderson division, where only five teams have clinched: Citi Team Blazers, LAUNFD, ICEO, BB4L, and Sky Ryse. The only team that has been eliminated in the Anderson division is the Jaguars.

That leaves eight teams competing for three spots. Salvatori’s Spirit is 5-5, and they clinch a playoff spot with a win over 4-6 #Juglife on Saturday. LA LOOP is 4-5, and they can clinch a playoff spot with wins over 3-6 Hank’s Bulldogs on Friday night and 8-2 LAUNFD on Sunday.

It’s a mess besides that, and it can get worse. #Juglife holds the 8th spot going into the week due to wins over two other 4-6 teams, C.A.B.C. and Pandas. But even if #Juglife wins Saturday, C.A.B.C. and Pandas can also win and create a tiebreaker situation with at least Spirit and LA LOOP. Hank’s Bulldogs can win two games in Week 11 and get to 5-6 as well. And there are even scenarios where Salvatori’s Nova Stars and Salvatori’s No Shnacks can win, get to 4-7, and force as many as six teams to be tied for the 8th and final playoff spot. Six games will have to help decide this catastrophe this weekend. Here’s the full schedule:

  • LA LOOP (4-5) vs. Hank’s Bulldogs (3-6) (Fri. July 24, 5:30pm): LA LOOP controls their situation – two wins gets them in the playoffs. Hank’s Bulldogs can also get two wins this weekend against teams they are in direct competition for a playoff spot against, which will help in potential tiebreakers. Tyrone Riley has been playing great over the last month for Bulldogs, while the LOOP has several players clicking on offense (Justin Johnson had 29 points last week).


  • Legacy (5-4) vs. Hank’s United Ballers (2-7) (Fri. July 24, 6:45pm): On paper, this is the best opportunity for Legacy to clinch a playoff spot. They have won back-to-back games, embracing an aggressive style on defense that gets their athletes more opportunities to run. Jaylen Bland and Taylor Johns are both coming off huge scoring games, with Bland hitting from outside and Johns putting guys on SportsCenter. The United Ballers are here to play spoiler, and they can do it if they get effective games from big men Luke Nevill and Khalfani Williams, one of the top shotblockers in the Drew League.


  • C.O.A. (3-7) vs. Tradition (5-5) (Fri. July 24, 8pm): C.O.A. went from title game runner up to eliminated before the final week – they went the Kings of L.A. route this season. However, they did suit up C Jerome Jordan and snuck in SG Russell Carter and pulled a huge upset in their rematch against the defending champs, Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars. If Jordan (Week 10 Player of the Week) and Carter show up against Tradition, then Tradition may need another 35-point game from Mike Ojo to clinch their playoff spot.


  • Hank’s United Ballers vs. Hank’s New Image (2-7) (Sat. July 25, 10am): While United Ballers are a new team put together at the last minute by head coach Jamar Cramer, New Image has been around for awhile with much of the same core. This year, New Image’s core cracked, as last year’s playoff team saw Keith Closs leave before the season and Hassan Stephens/Sean Marshall defect to Sky Ryse. The result is this Breakfast Club game, the only one between two teams eliminated from the playoff race before the start of Week 11.


  • The Clozers (4-6) vs. Reapers (2-8) (Sat. July 25, 11:15am): While The Clozers get the last-place Reapers, it must be noted that The Clozers are on a two-game losing streak. The offense has been hard to watch most of the season. Bennie Boatwright figures to be the go-to guy against a Reapers squad that saw Richie Williams get injured and Renaldo Woolridge defect to NWA. A Reapers win would eliminate The Clozers from the playoff race, though The Clozers need to win and have at least two of three teams lose all their games in Week 11 (Legacy, Tradition, Problems).


  • Hank’s Panthers (6-3) vs. Legacy (Sat. July 25, 12:30pm): Despite seeing their six-game winning streak snapped, Hank’s Panthers are in the playoffs. They aren’t getting much respect due to their dearth of shooters (PG Kevin Houston is the only reliable shooter on a deep roster). They do get respect for their punishing defense; their style of play mucks games up, but gives them a chance every week. If Legacy doesn’t take care of business Friday night, then it will be hard to see how they will have more energy than the Panthers 17 hours later.


  • #Juglife (4-6) vs. Salvatori’s Spirit (5-5) (Sat. July 25, 2pm): Well, someone has to win this game. Salvatori’s Spirit has made things interesting all season, turning winnable games into toss-ups while surprising strong teams when the odds seem low. All bets are off with this one, with a Spirit win clinching their playoff spot. We can tell you that #Juglife brought in some serious help last week, and even in a losing effort, it is clear that they are a different team than the outfit that started 0-5. Meanwhile, Spirit lost a game last week with Frank Robinson, DeDe Prejean, and Leo Lyons to Pandas, while knocking off Sky Ryse last Sunday without any of those guys (and with Jeremy Pargo recovering from a 3/18 dud Friday to score 31 points Sunday).


  • BB4L (7-3) vs. ICEO (7-3) (Sat. July 25, 3:15pm): Both of these teams have clinched, and none of these teams have a shot at the top seed in the division, so this game only means that the winner will be seeded higher in the playoffs. BB4L appears ready to go with the Ware brothers turning games defensively, Casper Ware and Baron Davis running the offense, and Eugene Phelps and Van Girard being transition threats, all while C Keith Closs protects the rim. ICEO keeps bringing out expansions to the roster, and they apparently have another one coming. But what is Charles Hinkle’s role now?


  • NWA (8-2) vs. Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars (8-2) (Sat. July 25, 4:30pm): July gave hope to all the Drew League underlings, as every team with at least 8 wins took losses. NWA recovered from their Week 9 loss to Hard Times to end the Panthers’ winning streak, debuting 2013 co-MVP Jonathan Gibson in the process. NWA also got Mark Hill back, while Renaldo Woolridge joins Mark Dawson up front with Mike Martin and Chuck Garcia. Houdini’s All-Stars lost to C.O.A. in dramatic fashion, coming back from 20 down in the 3rd quarter to take a 3-point lead late in the 4th, but ultimately losing in overtime. Houdini’s All-Stars took a Week 10 loss last season as well and didn’t get to play their Week 11 game after #Juglife forfeited – they ended up winning the title. So no need to overreact to the losses, but this should be a great game with the top seed in the Russell Brown division on the line.


  • Pandas (4-6) vs. Hank’s Bulldogs (Sat. July 25, 6pm): The Pandas had a big Week 10, staying alive with two wins. Metta World Peace’s squad is enjoying the ride, but one more win may even extend it. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will be looking to do what the Pandas did last week and get two wins of their own. The playoff bracket will be reassessed after this one is over.


  • Salvatori’s Nova Stars (3-7) vs. Jaguars (2-8) (Sun. July 26, 10am): Yuck. Well, someone is about to break a huge losing streak. The Nova Stars have to be sick, wasting a 3-0 start and losing seven straight. They aren’t eliminated from the playoffs just yet, but they’re extreme longshots. The Jaguars started 2-0 and lost eight in a row; they haven’t played a close game all month.


  • Hank’s Panthers vs. Hank’s New Image (Sun. July 26, 11:15am): This game has no bearing on playoffs, though Hank’s Panthers can get as high as the 3rd seed with two wins and a loss by M.H.P. this week.


  • C.A.B.C. (4-6) vs. Salvatori’s No Shnacks (3-7) (Sun. July 26, 12:30pm): C.A.B.C. just hasn’t been able to get it done with C Mamadou Ndiaye on the floor, falling to 0-3 with the 7’6” phenom. But despite rumors, PF Austin Daye stuck with C.A.B.C., and they’re still in the playoff hunt as no team can clinch the playoffs win five wins going into Sunday. No Shnacks was at the center of playoff controversy last year, and they could be again if they can knock off C.A.B.C. and get losses by Hank’s Bulldogs, Nova Stars, #Juglife, and Pandas. Expect PG Sango Niang to go out with a bang against C.A.B.C.’s underwhelming guards.


  • M.H.P. (7-3) vs. Problems (4-6) (Sun. July 26, 2pm): This is the game of the day, although Problems needs Legacy or Tradition to slip up Friday and Saturday to get their shot at the playoffs. M.H.P. hasn’t been able to defeat Problems the last two seasons, but they are getting MVP candidate Victor Rudd back to go along with a reloaded lineup. SG Gerry Blakes has carried Problems like an MVP lately, and it would be interesting to see if 2014 MVP Money Mike Efevberha joins Blakes on Sunday.


  • Sky Ryse (6-4) vs. Citi Team Blazers (9-1) (Sun. July 26, 3:15pm): You know how people say things like, “No one wants to see them in the playoffs…”? Well, a lot of teams would love to see Sky Ryse in the playoffs. After starting 6-1, Sky Ryse is backing into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak that is frustrating players and coaches. Now, beating the Blazers could cure a lot of chemistry concerns. The Blazers need to win this game to ensure the top seed in the division, but we have been warning you about the defensive slippage for some time, and it finally came back to hurt the Blazers in their first loss of the season against LAUNFD last week.


  • LA LOOP vs. LAUNFD (8-2) (Sun. July 26, 4:30pm): LA LOOP clinches a playoff spot if they can get to six wins, meaning they need to win Friday night and Sunday against LAUNFD. LA LOOP has performed well against top teams all season, knocking off BB4L while nearly upsetting Citi Team Blazers. The fact that LAUNFD knocked off the undefeated Blazers was put on the backburner this past week due to the emergence of Cuttino Mobley getting his Uncle Drew League on at the Blazers’ expense. A Blazers loss and a win by LAUNFD gives The Unification the top spot in the Anderson division, which could possibly have a 4-7 team as the #8 seed.


  • I Can All-Stars (6-4) vs. Hard Times (6-4) (Sun. July 26, 6pm): While both of these teams have already clinched playoff spots, it will be worth sticking around to see/hear two of the Drew League’s most booming sideline presences (Rock Johnson and Blowpop Stewart) in a tuneup that features MVP candidate Vince “The Body Snatcher” Camper taking on one of the deepest rosters in the Drew League in the Hard Times Soldiers.