A1 Winter 08 Preseason Preview

The Best Ever?

Remember when the preseason preview was like finding a $10 bill in the pocket of a pair of jeans you hadnít worn in a while?  Sure it didnít happen often, but when it did, you got really excited about it and felt great for a couple hours.  Now, if you donít get a preview for every league, every new season, there is something wrong with the staff, which clearly isnít doing their job, covering that respective league.  Remember how grateful you all used to be?  Yea me either, really, but since itís expected there is immense pressure to produce.  Too bad I mailed this one inÖ

1) Hurtiní For a Squirtiní – OíCal (c), Hitman, Corey Draffen (r), Floni Bajraktari (r), Matt Wrobel, Hinks

Once again the Stallion has assembled a top notch unit, snatching the Hitman out of the air, as he was free falling the skyscraper that is the C.A.C. elite.  Thankfully he didnít hit rock bottom, but OíCal will still be able to use the Paul Peirce and Gilbert Arenas, ìAll these teams passed on you, seek and destroyî mantra.  Pair with the Carlos Boozerís long lost cousin (Corey) and the 6í6î enigma that is Floni, and OíCal is primed for another title run.  As usual, the steal of the draft went to the Stallion, who also plucked Wrobz off the free-falling list in the fourth round.  After seasons of being needled for only being able to win in the summer (once every 5 years), OíCal could finally shed that ëwatered down champí label that has been haunting his dreams and forcing him to huddle under the covers with Mama OíCal.

2) Real & Spectacular – AK (c), Majic Man , Tyler Putnam (r), Greatest American Hero, Dan Macgregor (r), Jim Kopriva (r)

Thereís nothing harder than defending a title, especially for an A1 captain who usually comes back with a completely different team.  But after contemplating a retirement in the off-season, AK was lured back by all of the quality players in this seasonís draft.  Once he found out that the Majic Man was going to fall into his lap once again, he drove into his draft analysis with renewed vigor.  Sure his other teammates got drafted earlier than expected (thatís what happens when you win a Brick, everyone thinks youíve now got what it takes), but AK still got a very, very good squad.  Heís got the best WR duo in the league with rookies Putnam and Kopriva having played D1-AA and D1 football, respectively.  Shockingly, AK may have a better team this time around, but the title defense wonít be easy.

3) Shock the Monkey– Tibbs (c), OD, Roger Lau, Ivan Liriano (r), Kaif Thompson (r), James Bushell (r)

I make a habit of ranking my teams in this spot so no one can accuse me of being too biased.  Of course, AK still thinks itís a spot too high, but screw him, what does he contribute to his team besides good coaching, good game plans and the ability to massage all the egos of his players.  Damn it I just called him Phil Jackson.  Back to Shock the Monkey, this team is Huge, with some Long players that have a ton of Upside Potential.  Iíll really get my first look at the rookies on Sunday, and get a better gauge on my guys, but in overvaluing my own contributions, this is right where we should end up.

4) The Truth – Sweens (c), Ryan Suprenant, The Big Ticket, Hinton, XXX (r), John OíBannon (r)

This was a really solid debut effort by rookie captain Mike Sweeney.  He stuck to known qualities until his last pick and has assembled a strong squad at every position.  It looks like he carefully studied the mistakes of first time captains in the past and drafted solid team players who are easy to play with.  Either that or he just broke into AKís apartment and stole his rankings.  Supe the Chemist is going to be mixing and matching his skills all season long to fit around his guys.  With the Big Ticket hopefully healthy for an entire season and Hinton making a triumphant return to Wall Ball Arena, this is a team thatís going to go far this season.

5) Together We Can – Kahana (c), Mazz, Salazar, Mike Arsenault (r), John Eckenrode (r), Kevy Kev

Wow, talk about a shooterís paradise.  With Kahana, Mazz, AND Salazar hoisting up shots, it will be a surprise when Together We Can takes a shot from within 14 feet.  That being said, this team wonít have the same problems that a team like, say Sergeís will.  These guys are going to like playing together and spread the shots around accordingly, and the D, with RoYin the passing lanes and Salazar hitting people, should be top notch.  Kevy Kev coming off the bench will be a huge lift, with nothing lost on either end of the floor, and I really like how this team is put together.  The two rookies are going to be huge contributors, as Iíve already heard rumors that one of them is a close friend of Tim OíKeefe, and we all know that ballers stick together.  Thatís right, no derogatory comments about Mazzís crappy 3 point shooting, or soft little fade, or refusal to bang bodies in the post, or the fact that his significant other is more intimidating on the court than he is and I would rather draft her.  Nope, none of that this time around, Iím a changed man in í08.

6) Bump & Grind – Jason Gallagher (c), JaySar, Noah ‘The Ark’ Bergman, Matt Wolfe, Tim Beagan, Greg Classen

So we drafted this team for Jason Gallagher, but as always, the Commish had his back and drafted the best available player in every round.  Last time the Commish did that, the Dukes went all the way to the Finals, so there will be no worries that this team can compete.  There are a number of hustle players on this team to balance out the offensive firepower of J&J. The Ark is going to provide some serious muscle in the post, I think I saw him meet up with Clemens to ask advice about his off season workout to build his core, ënaturallyí of course.  This has the look of a team that everyone is going to underrate all season long, including yours truly, but theyíre going to do some serious damage.

7) Wide Open ñ Trevor (c), Erik Brown, BFrat, Chris Adams, Alias, Nim Cohen (r)

The rating of this team is in flux with the questionable status of Phi Slamma Jamma for the season.  Losing your first round draft pick is never beneficial to winning basketball, unless of course youíre the Portland TrailBlazers.  Weíll see what he can do to make up for it, but this is still a solid nucleus.  BFrat will be playing with a chip on his shoulder after I passed on him in the second round.  Of course, he can use this season and the next LNO to try and move his way up my draft board.  Adams and the Alias will have to be relied on heavily for the muscle inside, as this league has a lot more size than normal.

8) 6 For the Wall ñ Mike D (c), KO, Fizzle, Superboy, Chris Harvey (r), KJ Van Stry

What was Mike D thinking?? The past 2 seasons heís been going with size and itís worked until bodies wouldnít show for the playoffs.  Now his team is much smaller this time around. Everyone knows by now, or will after reading this, that KO gets easily frustrated when guys are scoring on him.  All teams have to do is feed the guy heís guarding to throw him off.  Fizzle even sniffed the playoffs the past two A1 seasons but Mike D thinks he has the answer for him.  With only Superboy being able to board and wall-dunk, these guys just wonít match up well with some of the bigger teams in the league.  I donít know, they might sneak into the playoffs thanks to an easy schedule, or Mike D paying off other teams in beer, but this doesnít look like a team thatís built for post season success.  This isnít an enter your own team league, Mike D, you canít buy your way to ëchips!.

9) The Black Donnellys – MixTape (c), Derek Gallagher, ICU, Mike Davis (r), Machooooo, John-Mark Ikeda

Is it me, or did Turin draft this team specifically so that he could stake his claim as the single greatest rebounder that C.A.C. has ever had?  Heíll need to be, as DGall may be their only other presence in the paint, because we all know how soft Machooooo is.  After a year of playing on my A1 team, my bet is that Macho gets buried on the bench by a merciless captain who only cares about his own stats and is begging for a midseason trade.  With ICU and rookie Mike Davis, I just donít see him contributing!! Thatís right Macho, youíve been called out! My money is that he responds by sitting on the bench with a towel over his head.

10) Gang Green ñ Allyn (c), Al Smooth, Cheese, Raj Singh, Jim Meldrim, Wayne Deats (r)

I liked this team when it was being selected on draft night, but the more that I looked at it on paper, the less impressed I became.  Al will be the center piece that teams focus on, but will he be able to guard all of the bigs in this league and still have enough energy left for that silky smooth jumper??  Certain captains like to overvalue their contributions to their teams (see: Mixtape, Tibbs), but Mark Allyn is one that constantly undervalues his.  As a result, Allyn drafted a number of guards and this team is a little undersized.  But if Meldrim can find a way to channel his inner 2001 baller, their height concerns wonít even be an issue.

11) The Wrecking Crew – Serge (c), Chris Kerr (r), Tim OíKeefe, Roache, Tosti, Lappy

Oh man, I just canít resist doing this.  The General started out really well, getting the beastly Chris Kerr with the first overall pick and then the sharp shooting Tim OíKeefe in the second round.  Then things went spiraling out of control quickly.  Roache lit up the 5v5 a few seasons ago from the 3 point arc, and seemed like he would have had a great A1 season on any other team.  But with Tosti joining the ranks with the next pick, heíll have to beg and scrape for shots like OíCal trying to get a date for Friday night.  Somehow, the Ladies always have previous plans to wash their hair.  Yea, shooting at two hoops with three balls still wouldnít get every one on this squad enough shots, and Iím seeing a team mutiny or a couple phantom injuries by week 3.