B1 East Spring 2006 Preview
1. Silky Johnson – I struggled with the decision on who to place in the top spot. But, you know what, they’re the defending champs. Everyone on the roster returns for the deepest team in the league as they’ve played even better with each passing season. Look for O’Connor and the rest of his mates to play with a chip on their shoulder after having lost the Unification Game last season. John Smith, Josh Hoekwater and Cullen Roberts will be aggressive on the boards, while Mike Haven, Joel Conkling, Stein will handle the ball and knock down open jumpers.
2. Little Nasty – Undefeated in the regular season last time around, Little Nasty returns in full force to try and improve upon its weak playoff showing. Although the East may be even better this time around, look for Nasty to use the same strategy as last season to run the table and keep their regular season record unblemished. Look for pressure defense and fast breaks to be the staple of these guys, as Manning and Hinton love to run. Edwards and Brady are two of the highest energy guys coming off the bench in the league, and will have to contribute in each facet of the game if Nasty wants to be successful again. Plus, if Jpro and Tibbs can set aside their junior high argument of who stunk it up worse in the playoffs, these guys will be alright.
3. Rusty Trombones – I don’t know any of the other guys, but everybody knows what Trevor can do with a ball in his hands. This in and of itself would make the Rusty Trombones a contender, but with a big guy and some quick guards, I have the feeling that Trevor could sandbag his way to a championship. After feeling the pain of being knocked out of the playoffs short of the championship I expect big things from these guys. Look for Trevor to turn the MVP race in his favor this season, after being edged out in both the A1 and B1 last season.
4. Kool Aid – The addition of Mark Raymond is going to be absolutely huge for Kool Aid. GM Ian Whitney realized adjustments were needed and picked up a high quality # 2 scorer so that defenses won’t be able to focus solely on returning B1 East MVP John Mazzone. The pickup may be felt most on the defensive end, however, as the Iceman was the cap casualty that cleared room to add Raymond to the roster. With Bermont and Mazzone seeing fewer double teams as a result of Raymondís offense and floor leadership, the interior should open up in a big way. All in all Kool Aid should be a more complete team this season and win quite a few games.
5. CTC – Another team that decided not to make any changes in the off-season, CTC returns with full its roster intact. I donít know how much better they can play this season; however, as CTC seemed to max out their effort and potential with each game they played. I see a drop in the standings, simply because the league has gotten even better than it was. The key for them will be to keep opponents under 60, which theyíve done regularly, and for Wilson and Merrill to keep jacking up 3’s until they fall. Mark Katz will have to be able to pick up the offense if the outside shots arenít falling, but these guys will find ways to win games.
6. Tenacious D – By far the most improved team from the start of the season to their playoff loss in the East Semis. These guys thrive off the slightest perceived disrespect so well, Gilbert Arenas takes notes. The always volatile Dave Delcourt will get plenty of help from the stellar defensive play of big men Erik and Ben Brown (any relation?) to balance the floor. The big guys had their coming out party in the playoffs, Ben on the offensive end, Erik, as usual, on the defensive. Composed guard play from the starting line-up will determine their fate, however. If they can slip into the playoffs on a bit of a role again, I wouldn’t bet against them.
7. TFT – Here’s what I know about these guys, Joel Cuadrado, Will Gonzalez and Ernesto Perez walked away with the 3 on 3 B1 Championship back in March. I may not be giving these guys enough credit, as it takes a lot to even make the finals of the 3 on 3, let alone pull it out, but this is where I see them finishing out the year. Don’t be surprised, however, if I am wrong yet again.
8. Seriously, That’s Enough – The Greaser gets an infusion of height and outside shooting (like they need anymore) and will gunning for that elusive first playoff victory. Free agent signings Nip Jethi and Derek Zundl, both formerly of the Nationals, make this team a force to be reckoned with. Nip runs the break as well as any big in the league and will have plenty of opportunities to pick up double doubles, as the guards won’t be shy about jacking up shots from everywhere on the court. By unofficial count, STE led the league in turnovers last season, and will need to improve upon that if they want to make the playoffs.
9. Irate Ambassadors – It says a lot about the quality of the league when a team that originally signed up for the A2 league gets ranked at number 9. Mostly, it says I don’t know a thing and have been slacking in my research. But my sources came up empty as well, so if these guys turn out to be ridiculously good, doní’ just blame me for misleading you. After being seen as the 9th best team before the season even starts, these guys at have a chance of living up to their billing as the Irate Ambassadors.
10. OFF – Another team in the same situation as the Ambassadors above. The most I could dig up about these guys is that Captain John Schmid will bang on the boards with the best in this league. Also, they have a couple guards, some big men, you know, they’re a basketball team. Did I mention Schmid will get some boards? Unfortunately familiarity breeds contempt and it shows through, as the teams that are familiar to the media constantly get more respect and ranked ahead of the unknown. But I digress.
11. Old Dirty Bastards – Hinkel dabbles in the B league for the first time, putting in a balanced team that should give unprepared opponents fits. Dan Herman will shoot lights out, and Kip West will clean up the boards when he doesn’t. How well Brian Harms and Jim Murray fit into this rotation will go a long way in determining how well this team plays down the stretch.
12. Genzyme – Despite not knowing a single thing about the 3 teams ranked ahead of Genzyme, I still have to rank them in the 12 spot. Attendance has always been a problem for these guys, and my sources tell me that sharp-shooting Mark Allyn will miss about half their games. The thought of missing their best shooting is about as exciting a prospect as an audit from the IRS. Add to that the questionable status of previously injured Richard Manning, it will be up to brother Keith, again, to carry the load. Iíd still pick them to beat the Knicks, however.