By: Law Murray
Summer is here – officially. And at the end of Week 4, the June schedule at the Drew will be over. We’re back to a 14-game schedule this weekend, and this figures to be a week where we get to see some teams and players really show what they’re about this summer:
- No Shnacks (1-2) vs. Hard Times (1-2) (Sat. June 25, 10am): This is the kind of game that makes the Drew League season so intriguing. Both of these teams have fun players to watch with really intense coaches. But the loser of this game drops to 1-3; Hard Times has seen strong play from F Taylor Statham but they may have a hard time stopping the forward corps of No Shnacks.
- Panthers (0-3) vs. Nova Stars (1-2) (Sat. June 25, 11:15am): The Panthers, a playoff team a year ago, go through a stretch of struggling offense every week. Both of these teams are going to compete, but the Nova Stars have a go-to guy in F Deon Marcus. Who is going to step up and score for the Panthers?
- C.A.B.C. (0-3) vs. #Juglife (1-2) (Sat. June 25, 12:30pm): Just facts – C.A.B.C. is the team that has shown the very least in the Drew League so far this season. They competed last week for 3.5 quarters, and still lost by 13 points to the previously winless Bulldogs. #Juglife has lost back-to-back games following G Tre Brewer’s Week 1 buzzer-beater, and they have been wildly inconsistent.
- LAUNFD (2-1) vs. I Can All-Stars (1-3) (Sat. June 25, 2pm): The defending champions LAUNFD have two close wins bracketing a Week 2 blowout loss, but they’re not concerned – they got younger last week after Coach Dart added Southern California Trojans Elijah Stewart and Shaqquan Aaron. Reigning MVP G Vince Camper has had a target on his I Can All-Stars jersey all season, and his team hasn’t done a good job at all of relieving the pressure off of him.
- Citi Team Blazers (3-1) vs. ICEO (3-0) (Sat. June 24, 3:15pm): Game of the Day: The Blazers have one of the strongest reps in the Drew League, and they were on both sides of decisions that came down to the last shot last weekend, but the defense is certainly vulnerable. Their thin roster last week was a red flag as well. Consistent defense used to be a major ICEO question, but after Week 3 Player of the Week Katin Reinhardt dropped 42 points and 11 3s, the only question is who will go off for ICEO this week?
- Problems (3-0) vs. Legacy (1-2) (Sat. June 25, 4:30pm): Problems games have all gone about the same way so far – they play down to the level of their competition, then when they decide they want to stop messing around, they go on a run to end the drama. F Victor Rudd has had to deal with minor conditioning and shooting issues, but he’s still putting up sick lines. Legacy had some success putting pressure on Sky Ryse last week, but they need to get more complete play from Gs Jason Johnson and Jaylen Bland if they’re to upset Problems.
- Sky Ryse (0-3) vs. LA LOOP (2-1) (Sat. June 25, 6pm): Not all winless teams are created equally. Sky Ryse has certainly put talent on the floor, and it’s not like they’re getting smoked. They added a lot of intriguing pieces like G Justin Johnson and F Robbie Robinson, but LA LOOP has one of the best duos in the league with G Pat Rembert and F Eric Williams going off every week.
- Pandas (1-2) vs. Bulldogs (1-2) (Sun. June 26, 10am): After being one of the worst offensive teams in the league the first two weeks, the Pandas went off for 95 points in an overtime win last week. Of course, they needed overtime because Bennie Boatwright went ballistic in the 4th quarter and ate up a Pandas 19-point 4th quarter lead pretty much by himself. The Bulldogs are at their best when PFs Tyrone Riley and James Boyd are dominating the boards and not wondering about their inconsistent PG play. The size of the Pandas suggests that the Bulldogs are going to need a strong game from Speedy Blackmon.
- Reapers (1-2) vs. Spirit (3-1) (Sun. June 26, 11:15am): Reapers F Mike Jones is a good source of offense, but head coach David Hollaway needs to get some depth up front, especially if F Richard Solomon won’t be around every week. What Spirit lacks in star power they have made up for with some really effective play from G DeDe Prejean, F Leo Lyons, and G Deontae North. When Lyons is imposing his will on opponents, the Spirit have been at their best.
- Clozers (1-3) vs. One Culture (1-3) (Sun. June 26, 12:30pm): These two teams play some fun basketball (Bennie Boatwright and Lonzo Ball have had memorable games for Clozers already, while Ian Pinckney of One Culture can go), yet the loser of this game will be three games under .500. Both squads could be over .500 if a play or two went their way, but that’s the problem with both squads. Clozers are the youngest squad in the league, while One Culture is a brand new squad with some bad luck at the end of games.
- Redemption (3-0) vs. Scrapes & Gravel (1-2) (Sun. June 26, 2pm): This game should be closer than the records indicate. Redemption has smacked their opposition so far by more than 70 points, but G Jonathan Gibson might not be available for the first time this season, so that will add more to the plate of walking mismatch F Chuck Garcia and F Travis Nichols. Scrapes & Gravel head coach Reggie Morris has done a nice job with young guys like Gs Jonah Mathews and De’Anthony Melton, and the next step is getting a complete game from them.
- Jaguars (3-1) vs. C.O.A. (1-2) (Sun. June 26, 3:15pm): The Jaguars laid an egg last week against One Culture, which satisfied folks who don’t think they’re a very talented team. Then they went out and outplayed #Juglife to get to multiple games over .500; F David Hall’s athleticism has shown up on both ends of the floor this season. C.O.A. has shown the last few seasons that they struggle mightily without C Jerome Jordan, and their defense has not been satisfactory to start the year.
- BB4L (3-0) vs. Birdie’s Revenge (3-0) (Sun. June 26, 4:30pm): There are good games this weekend, but this is the Game of the Month, period. BB4L and their lineup of Van Girard, Eugene Phelps, Ervin Ware, Jordan Mackie and Charles Jackson has arguably been the best in the league so far. When Birdie’s Revenge head coach Ice Latimore was asked why his team’s games have been so close, he deferred to the difficulty of winning in the Drew League, especially with so many players that deserve playing time. He has leaned heavily on G Frank Session, though, and a close win against BB4L in a marquee matchup won’t be questioned.
- Houdini’s All-Stars (3-0) vs. New Image (1-2) (Sun. June 26, 6pm): The weekend ends with another team looking to stay undefeated, as Houdini’s All-Stars C Keith Closs faces his former teammates from the 2014 season. New Image fell apart last week and were burned by Katin Reinhardt, so they might want to identify a plan to defend Houdini’s All-Stars sharpshooter Garrett Nevels.
Law Murray first covered the Drew League in 2014 as an intern while getting a masters in journalism from Southern California. He is from Philadelphia and is also a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania. Law has also served two years in City Year, covered the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia and the Los Angeles Clippers, and is an NFL Network researcher. He has long arms, but his dunks are terrible.