Disclaimer: If you're looking for play-by-play accounts of the games and a bunch of stats, you've landed in wrong place. There are a few really good sites covering metro area prep hoops in a professional and thorough manner, but this is not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I am lifelong player and fan of the game, and an Elite Basketball Mind, but this column is about looking at the game and all the peripherals in an interpersonal and sometimes comedic manner. If you want to know which team has the best jerseys, which players have cool haircuts or need tans, how basketball makes me feel, and what I might purchase from the concessions, well then, I'm your guy.
Apple Valley vs. Hopkins; Hopkins, MN; 12/10/13
This marks the second time of the season that I've seen both these teams, as well as my second visit to the Lindbergh Center. Second time in four days on all fronts, actually. I was able to make it out to the Breakdown Tipoff Classic last Saturday where I saw Hopkins beat the ever-loving shit out of St. Michael-Albertville, a really good girl's game that had Hopkins narrowly beating Andover, and the main event between last year's 3A and 4A State Champions, DeLaSalle and Apple Valley; a game that, despite missing one of the key players in an injured Reid Travis, lived up to all of the hype. That game, which Apple Valley won, was pure basketball bliss on so many levels, believe me. And on top of that my Twitter game was clearly the best in the building. Leave your stats at home; I got jokes on jokes on jokes.
As fellow music journalists know, we are smack dab in the middle of the dreaded list season. That means all of my spare time is devoted to writing, writing, writing. In addition to doing my usual hip-hop lists for Scene Point Blank--20 each, best rap albums and best rap mixtapes--this year I've been assigned (read: volunteered myself, stupidly) to compile a list of the 30 best punk and hardcore records of the year. 30! What am I, an idiot? Don't answer that.
Writing year-end lists is an excruciating process. Not only do you have figure out your favorites, rank them (which is a fairly absurd idea actually), and write about them in a way that doesn't sound like you just said "this is really good" a million times; but you also have to deal with all the various types of self-induced mental torment. I have this weird self-gratifying, completion-ist mentality that wants me to include everything that doesn't undeniably suck. For me, one of the hardest things to do is eliminate something from the list. As someone who recently had to decide who was invited to my wedding and who wasn't, and more importantly, why those that weren't were not, let me tell, this is absolute fucking misery and totally unfair. That's probably why I write lists in incriminates of 20 and 30. On top of that, there's this looming peer pressure-y demand to include things that you think you're supposed to like, things that you think will make you seem cooler than you really are, and things that you didn't hear until five minutes before you sat down to make your list when you saw it on someone else's and realized it was indeed so awesome that it would be criminal not to include it on yours. The part of me that assumes nobody will respect my opinion because I didn't think that the Danny Brown album was all that good is a real bitch. At the risk of discrediting everything I have written in the past, and will write hence forth, I have to say this: Year-end list-writing, and for that matter, music journalism in general, is total bullshit.
What's not bullshit whatsoever though, is how goddamn good Tyus Jones is at basketball.
- Even thought it was piped in, tonight marks the first time I've heard a school fight song this year. Although it's not very punk of me to admit, I'm a sucker for a school song. I'm especially a sucker for a school song done by a pep band. So I still have that to look forward to.
- The home bleachers at Hopkins are brutal. There is plenty of room for your legs to stretch out, which is really nice, but the distance between them also means you can't do that thing where you lay back with your shoulders against the seat behind you. But when I say brutal, I'm mostly referring to the sheer filth. I have no idea how often they are cleaned, but as I've mentioned I've been out there twice in the last four days, and both times I've set my jacket on the seat next to me. When I put it on to leave, I end up looking Vigo Mortensen in The Road.
- After trading baskets for a good chunk of the opening minutes, Apple Valley took their first timeout at 13:17, down 13 - 10 to Hopkins. Coming out of the TO, Tyus hits a huge 3 for the tie.
- AV's sophomore big Brock Bertram got two early fouls, which put him on the bench until the 5:00 mark. He had to put up with the Hopkins student section's ruthless chant of "Ogar, Ogar, Ogar." Kids can be so mean.
- At 8:45 AV had gone up 27 -21. The Royals coach Ken Novak Jr. called a timeout hoping to keep the Eagles in check, as they were beginning to show signs of pulling away. Someone played Drake's "Forever" over the PA, which is typical, and I thought to myself, "Last name Ever. First name Greatest...yeah, yeah, shut up Drake. That's a good line, but you're not that good."
- Coming out of the timeout, AV's Tre Jones, the 8th grade brother of future Duke Blue Devil and future Mr. Basketball, Tyus entered the game for the first time. He looks green as hell out there with the big boys, but to no fault of his own. I get it - it's on that into the fire tip, and that's how you get better. I'll be curious, as will pretty much everybody in the state of Minnesota, to see how he develops over the next five years.
- AV's freshman offensive threat Gary Trent Jr. was jacking 3s all night, but he got one blocked by Hopkins sophomore Amir Coffey, in a high drama moment. The two went chest to chest afterwards, but split before the refs got involved.
- There was plenty of jaw-jacking on the court, but some of the more noticeable stuff was happening down on the baseline between AV's Dennis Austin & Tyus and a Hopkins student that was sitting in the front row of the bleachers. Eventually the student was scolded by a staff member.
- I forget what the score was at halftime because I was distracted by the guy behind me that was feeding his son full of misinformation. One thing that I can't stand about bleachers is that you can always hear the conversations of those sitting behind you. And more often than not it's a bunch of incorrect crap like, "Tyus is going to Kansas" or "Amir Coffey's dad used to play in the NFL." Come on man, that's just bad parenting.
- At 13:55 the Hopkins student section started the "I believe that we will win" chant. I have mixed feelings about this chant, and at which time is the best to bust it out. I feel like at this point in the game it was too early. I say either go for the bold move of doing it at the start of the game, or wait 'til near the end, when a win is either imminent or still possible. I know that latter is a safe move, but I fee like doing it in the middle causes it to lose a bit of its effectiveness.
- At 5:05 of the second half, the Royals' Jake Wright, a Citadel commit, hit three back to back 3s to tie the game once more; this time at 80 a piece.
- At one point Hopkins senior PG Kamali Chambers had to leave the game because of blood on his jersey. He was guarding Tyus on the baseline on an inbound play when Tyus turned to the ref, pointed at Chambers and said, "He's got blood on him." Kamali looked down, disappointingly acknowledged the blood, and then said to Tyus, "Are you bleeding?" To which Tyus just goes "not me." It was comical. Not as comical as Kamali getting away with an illegal jersey switch though. Shoutout to Parker Beak for offering up the #0 so his man could get back in the game.
- At 1:39 Jake Wright hit his 8th 3 of the game but it wouldn't be enough, as the Royals fell to Eagles 96 - 90.
- The biggest takeaway is the same as it is every time Apple Valley plays - the awesomeness that is Tyus Jones. He's far and away the best player in the state. Wise beyond his years, it's the little things he does that are as equally as impressive as his scoring and assists. Like when he's double-teamed, he sees that neither man is squared up on him, so he just plows through the opening, drawing the obvious foul. Or, like, pointing out the blood on his opponents jersey, thus removing one of their best defenders from the game. Or, when his teammate Brock Bertram is on the foul line at the end of the game, and all of the Hopkins squad comes up to harass him, Tyus comes to his aid and then lines up for the rebound even though the rest of his team is back on D. And the fact that he ends with 34 points (most of which came at the rim,) at least 10 boards, and a handful of assists doesn't hurt.
- Hopkins' Treyvon Edwards gets best shoes for his colorful KD35s. Although he got lucky because Amir Coffey didn't wear the ones he had on at the Breakdown Tipoff Classic, which were also KD35s but a better colorway.
- Best mustache goes to Tre Jones, the 8th grader. Just amazing. This is the same kid that just two years ago was running around at AV games eating Fun Dip. Ah, they grow up so fast don't they.
- $5 got me a hotdog, Twix, and a Coke Zero. And I wonder why I punch myself in the stomach every time I look in a mirror.
Nathan G. O'Brien
Next up for me is Thursday night, Buffalo at Osseo. I'd love to go to the Whitney Young vs. Apple Valley ESPN game but I that will be a mad house. I'm DVRing that shit for after the Osseo game. Then this Saturday, you can catch me all day at Minnetonka for the boys Breakdown Tipoff Classic. Tweet me if you wanna meetup and buy me some fresh-baked cookies, or, you know, talk about stuff.