1. Justice League – Clearly the class of this league on paper. On the court, it may be a completely different matter. Considering their bench (OíCal, Finn, and Hrkack) could start for almost any other team in the league, saying these guys are deep in talent is like saying that China and the US are separated by a large ocean (which our wonderful President recently did). Kent and the Human Pogo Stick (Google) are the only big bodies, but the Justice League will have a decisive advantage in pushing the ball up and down the floor with all their quick guards. Don’t leave DMac and GP open, but with BRip driving and pulling up, it will be hard for opponents to resist the urge to help on defense. The big question that I have for this team, is how effective will the Local Hero Ed Finn be without the ball in his hands all the time? Better yet, how will all of these guys individually react if, in their opinion, they aren’t getting enough shots and touches?
2. Stackpole – The team to beat from Saugus may end up being the team to beat in the whole league when all is said and done. After hearing just rumor and hushed stories, I’m as giddy as a school girl to see McMahon paired with the Wolverine. This dynamic duo will surely challenge the Justice League for supremacy through the summer. Chris Toglia and Hunter will run the backcourt and clamp down on other teams’ shooters. Maybe Toglia can give the rest of the league insight on how to stop DMac, or at least a way to contain him. Each team has a question, and Stackpole is no different. Here, it’s whether or not the Ticking Time Bomb will reek more havoc on opponents or his own team’s chemistry. Only time (and the quality of the refs) will tell.
3. Five Knuckle Shuffle – As the red headed step-child, being the 2nd Saugus team, Five Knuckle Shuffle will be crooning all season for respect. Another solid team on paper led by OD, already talking smack on the boards, Flash and Sartori, shots may be another problem for these guys. OíConnell will eat up space and loose balls in the paint, while yea another college player (Bain from Northwestern), will be expected to light up the scoreboard. Captain Mike Diranian will have to keep egos in check, and unlike Doc Rivers, find a rotation that works and stick with it. As mentioned on the boards, FKS will be employing a 3 guard offense, but just a reminder in case anyone forgot; Villanova couldn’t get it done when it mattered most. Will that problem afflict Five Knuckle Shuffle?
4. Charlestown – No respect for the hometown club (formerly the Townies), but they’ll be dangerous none the less. All-star Nick Smith will headline a team that should constantly put up 100 points. The always dangerous brother connection is in play, as Derek and Jason Gallagher team up to anchor a huge frontcourt with Danny ‘the Rhino’ Ryan. Andrew Ray and Joe Fitzpatrick should start in the backcourt and will look to push the ball to get open jumpers. How good the bench will play is unknown, but based on how they put their team together, I’d say that itís as good as any in the league.
5. Net Gain – I believe Hinkel put this team together, and if he has, it’s quite a team. KJ Van Stry (formerly banned from CRFC) and Anthony Taylor (formerly of Miami of Ohio, played with some stiff named Szczerbiak) come over from the first 3-on-3 A2 championship squad. For insurance, throw in the always infallible Keith Thompson whose motor and hops are as fast as anyone’s in the L. You then have to consider the contributions of old man Cheese and the young spry Trevor McAndrew, who won’t hesitate to pull up for 3 on a 1 on 4 fast break. Apparently, they have the luxury of bringing in Matt Wolfe and Kyle Hofmann off the bench. Itís a glut of talent, one that few teams in the league have the privilege of bringing in players off the bench that are just as good as its starters.
6. Little Nasty – Apparently Kevy Kev’s cap number was too big, and Little Nasty had to release him before the start of the season in order to avoid paying his roster bonus. In his place free agent and A1 MVP Al Smooth has been signed for a discount at the last minute. Needless to say, when Al is paired with the enigmatic James Brown, and with Tibbs coming off the bench, length and athleticism won’t be a problem for these guys. With Manning, Hinton and Jpro running things in the backcourt, and Raj and Brady also coming in off the bench, Nasty will look to finish better than their current seeding. To do so will require more drive and hustle than these guys may be willing to put out. Usually it’s not a question of whether guys want to put out.
7. Come ‘N’ Get It – The last time the A2 was in session, Come ‘N’ Get It walked away with the championship. Tree Rollins leads his men back into battle after a season off to regenerate the batteries. Expect a similar style of play, as their big men will hover around the perimeter to jack 3í’s, while their guards and small forwards make life in the paint hell on earth for opponents. Matt West will again be the emotional leader of this bunch, and if he doesn’t constantly foul out, will wear down bigger and stronger players that he faces. Expect this team to lead the league in volume and loud noises.
8. The Has Beens – When little is known about the new teams in the league, there is little to do but rank them at the bottom and watch as they take the rankings personally, only to come out and destroy teams to prove you wrong. I probably made that mistake here, as Eric Clancy leads a team of unknowns onto the court to fight for wins and respect in a league where both will be tough to come by. Little is known about the team’s height, shooting, guard play and bench, but what is known is that this club will be scrappy, and with Clancy leading the way, earn quality wins.
9. Vitale – Brad Santarpia and his co-workers enter in a team that is sure to be competitive in every game. Brad got more physical as last season wore on, and I have a feeling his inside-out game will be better suited on a regulation court. I don’t know much else about these guys, so this is where they land, crouched near bottom of the rankings, waiting to pounce on their unsuspecting opponents like a ferocious beast patiently stalking prey.
10. Little Lebowski – Somebody always has to be ranked last in the league, and I know the littlest about these guys, so they get the dubious honor. Aaron Fernandes is the only familiar face around CRFC to play on this team, but I’ve found out that at least two of the guys on this roster played D3 ball. Where they went or how they did is unbeknownst even to myself, so weíll see what these guys have to offer as the season progresses.