Out & About: 7 Sunday Battles for #1 Seeds

STATE AAU QUALIFIER: Battle for #1 Seeds

So, what did we learn?

The North Tartan program won four of the seven #1 seed battles and finished second four times. Twice they faced each other in seventh and tenth grade guaranteeing a NT 1-2. They are the Yankees (or to use a basketball reference the Golden State Warriors), and everyone is gunning for them. The only grade they were shut out in this week was in grade 8. MN Fury was second with two titles, and one second. MN Stars took one title. Tayler Hill Elite and MN Elite were runners up once.

The 57% rule states the three of these #1s will not win the state title. The 57% rule says that six of these teams won’t be playing in the title game next week. Usually the 14 minute crowd as the most topsy turvy changes. The difference is this season the turnaround is only four days off before it begins again (this time in Shakopee). The abbreviated calendar may prevent some needed (and it is needed) practice time. I haven’t run the numbers yet, but I can tell you free throws torpedoed some chances. I can tell you that benches need to be more productive for certain teams. This relates to trust. I don’t trust some of the players on the floor at times. This is a serious issue.

I learned that puddle teams require a two game break while pool teams only get a game off (basically an hour). How is this allowed? Is this proper recovery for players? Is it about the players or is it about greasing the gears? The playing field is as slanted as the Joker or Riddler’s hang out in the old Batman 60’s TV show. This requires some serious revisions. With eight courts there is no reason this can’t be addressed.

Some teams are fading fast from past glory. Some teams are on the rise. The surprise team, the talk of the tournament, came in the 2021 division with North Tartan 16u Elite team, now coached by Andy Berkvam. They made it to the seed game. They were overachievers. Now maintaining that standard going forward will be examined.

Some teams are allergic to the paint. All they want to do is hang on the 3 point line. Guess what? The 3 is ALWAYS open. Jacking 3s when there is no weakside position is the equivalent of a turnover (if missed—-which they do about 90% of the time). Jacking a 3 four seconds into the possession doesn’t force the D to move too much. Everyone can play D for four or eight seconds. It is after eight seconds defenses get exposed.

Body language indicates a state of mind. I saw defeated teams before the clock struck zero—some in the first half!! Looking at shoelaces instead of keeping a head on a shelf, eyes ahead and another 3 inches of height can help change attitudes and outcomes.

There are a couple of slogans I would like to leave you with:

Teams (and by extension players) don’t rise to the occasion; they fall to the level of training. By level of training I am not speaking about the last six weeks. I am talking about their lifetime. That includes traveling, past club experience along with high school. I noticed many teams falling to their level of training today. How can this be addressed? Time, patience, practice structure that puts these players in situations with the same intensity of actual competition. It might get messy. That is what learning is about. You want to develop players that make decisions (see-decide-catch & go, not catch, see, decide & go). That is why I look at which kid is turning their head the most in a game. Usually it is the best player out there. A player doesn’t have the ball all that much. Half the time they are on defense. It is how they play when they are not in possession of the ball that separates a good player from an ordinary (or less than) player.

There is no such thing as good defense, only bad offense. This is a sacrilegious statement to most coaches and even fans. All defense does is expose the limitations a player has: their ball handling skills, their decision making, their balance, their tactical awareness. A team that is strong with the ball, passes to the same color they wear, takes shots with no hand in their face, on balance when the OFFENSE wants is probably going to win more often than not. Besides, in my estimation, all defense is is offense without the ball. ABA—-Always Be Attacking.

SUNDAY RESULTS (by age, not by when they played on the court)

5/2026: North Tartan Kuppe 43, Tayler Hill Elite 2026 34

6/2025: MN Stars Borowicz 45, North Tartan 6 Monahan 29

7/2024: North Tartan 7 Ohnstad 41, North Tartan 7 Tinjum 37

8/2023: MN Fury 2023 UAA 43, MN Elite 38

9/2022: North Tartan 9 Elite 66, MN Fury 2022 UAA 60

10/2021: North Tartan 16u EYBL 65, North Tartan 16u Elite 37

11/2020: MN Fury 2020 UAA 56, North Tartan 17u EYBL 47

Now it is time to crunch numbers and delve more deeply into the nuances of player and team performances.

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