Week 8 Preview

Week 7 saw some pretty unusual occurrences itself, including upsets of MHP, who had not one, but TWO pros, yet lost to De’Anthony Melton and Hometown Favorites missing their own pro, Dorell Wright, on the second game of a back-to-back (Hometown won both games of the weekend), and LA Loop, delivering ICEO their first win of the season.

Pooh Jeter went on a rampage for LAUNFD, sparking a come-from-behind victory over Baron Davis and New Edition, and two point guards collected triple-doubles: Speedy Blackmon (Bulldogs) and Antonio “Swagg Champ” Biglow (Houdini’s Problems).

It was an exciting week, and now that the pressure is on for those coveted playoff spots, many players jumped rosters for the opportunity to play at the end of August.

Friday nights have brought about some of the most exciting (41 points from Body Snatcher Vince Camper) and most unusual (the “lights out” game between Ascension and LAU that ended with multiple ejections) games of the 2017 Drew League season, so I’m actually pretty excited about what’s coming up in Week 8, which tips off Friday night at 5:30 p.m.

The ICEO-Pandas matchup is most intriguing with ICEO’s recent upset over LA Loop. I know, I know, it’s ICEO! Hear me out though. They should have a lot of confidence heading into the game, and they have a lot of decent players now that they’ve completed their Ivy League overhaul, with roster spots going to versatile big Stone Gettings (Cornell), Henry Welsh (Harvard)  and Grand Canyon forward Camyn Boone backing up Charles Hinkle.

Meanwhile, those pesky Pandas are always unpredictable, with the ability to win a game at the drop of a hat, or lose it just as quickly. They’re one of the bigger teams in the league, with Metta World Peace, Kevin Fletcher and Ron Artest III filling up the front court, so they’ll match up a lot better than LA Loop did. This one could surprisingly go either way and that’s what will make it a fun matchup to watch, even without the significant playoff stakes.

On Saturday, the Clozers will be taking on IE No Shnacks. While many fans will want to see the star-studded matchup between LA Loop coming off a loss (and boy, will Coach Kindred be mad if BOTH of his teams lose back to back in the same season after it had never happened before with either) and undefeated Houdini’s Problems. I’m more interested in this one, due to the playoff picture they’ll be helping to paint and because both teams seem to be on an upswing in fortune after rough starts earlier this year.

Both teams had a bit of trouble finishing games early on. Clozers became a running joke for their failure to “cloze” tight games, while No Shnacks had been iffy against any but the strongest opponents.

These two squads seem to get up for the big games but have a tendency to go through let downs when they underestimate their opponent. Since both have similar records (Clozers, 5-3; No Shnacks, 5-4), there’s no telling how they view each other.

I expect a slow start to the game but an exciting, close finish as Dwayne Polee and Stephen Thompson help Clozers trade blows with Sean Marshall and Rene Rougean.

I like Panthers and LAU for Sunday, as one is overachieving and the other is scrapping for a playoff spot, but I’d say that last game of the day looks like the most fun. Call me crazy, but NWA is starting to bounce back and share the ball after a bumpy early season that saw vets like Mark Dawson and Jordin Mayes butting heads with newcomers Joe Udeoji and Taylor Statham, who’d come over from Hard Times after that team’s dissolution.

Here’s the thing though: This team has mad firepower, but they just needed to learn to utilize the whole team instead of hero balling it through games where their defense wasn’t up to snuff. They’re putting it together, which has been kind of endearing to watch.

Meanwhile, the Blazers have had little to no trouble incorporating their dreadlocked new addition Latraius Mosley. Affectionately referred to as “Bama,” he’s provided the Blazers a huge punch backing up Jushay Rockett and Kyle Gibson as a strong scorer and hustle player.

It’ll be fun to see if NWA can either race to outscore the highly efficient Blazers offense or whether or not they’ll finally break out the straps and play some lockdown D to preserve the little playoff cushion they have.

Word around the gym is “Seven wins gets you in,” and the race is on. You don’t want to miss it. Also, Ms. Dena’s famous chicken wings are back! Trust me, you want to visit the snack bar earlier rather than later. They tend to sell out quick!