12/10/13

Scene Report: Prep Hoops, Apple Valley at Hopkins

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.

Game notes:

- 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
@OMG_NOB

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.

12/5/13

Scene Report: Prep Hoops, Holy Family at Washburn

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. 


Holy Family vs. Mpls-Washburn; Washburn High School; Minneapolis, MN; 12/5/13
Well, on the coldest day of the year so far, I dragged my butt off of the couch and out the door to brave arctic temps to take in what amounts to only my sixth game the season so far. That's counting four Wolves games.

I don't mean to imply that I was being lazy, because in all actuality I had already had pretty productive day. One that included making breakfast with two types of meat, eggs and cheese; washing the dishes; folding laundry that consisted mostly of old punk tees, various flannel pajama pants, and Smart Wool and Nike basketball socks; assembling some zines; watching The League season finale (which is actually kind of lazy;) and working out for the first times since I threw my back out on some Hindu squats a week and a half ago.

How does one throw their back out on Hindu squats, you may ask. Well it's called being old and not stretching. AKA treating your body like an asshole. Basically I was cramped for time and wanted to get a quick workout in before heading off for the night to drink beers with my friends. I didn't do any sort stretching or warm-up; instead choosing to jump right into a WOD, and boom, wouldn't you know it, there goes my back. Anyway, it felt good to be able to get some work in again. It's also the first time I've actually been a gym in several months, as I prefer to do my WODs outside. I'll push myself right up until the snow falls before I go back to the stuffy confines of "the gym."

I had originally planned to drive down (and over) to Eden Prairie for the Lakeville North vs. EP game. But plans changed when the terrorist attack known as a Minnesota snow storm prevented that from happening. (BTW it's been rescheduled for Sat, Jan 11th, 7 PM. See you there?) So instead I opted for my second choice, Holy Family at Washburn.

I have sort of adopted Washburn, along with DeLaSalle and sometimes Apple Valley, as my makeshift "home teams." As I have previously discussed, De is an easy, and pretty much non-negotiable choice. Apple Valley happens because of, well, Tyus Jones. Duh. And Washburn, ah, I'm not totally sure. But I'd guess it probably has something to do with that fact that I have lived near it in some capacity for over a decade now.

My uncle went to Washburn. He was the only one on my mom's side of the family that was able to break away from the private Catholic school tradition that my grandfather had laid out for them. He still has a tee shirt that says "Washburn Millers: The Original Cake Eaters." Rather than get into a discussion about economics and cultural diversity, I'll just say that terminology like that implies different things these days than it did in the '60s, and in no way whatsoever is applicable to the present-day Washburn Millers.

I took a community education oil painting class there back in 2006, where I re-discovered how much I dislike structured art classes and/or anything remotely close to "classically trained" instructors. I like my art the same way I like my music: loud, fast, and fucked-up. On the last day of class we were doing a portrait study and I finally lashed out, painting our subject in KISS makeup and dreadlocks. It earned a few chuckles from ladies, but the instructor was flabbergasted at my lack of discipline. A few years later I took all the bullshit still life paintings I had done in that class and wrote graffiti over the top of them with bold black magic marker. I don't think my mother was very impressed with that, as she had paid for the class as a Christmas gift. Anyway, there was something strangely familiar about being there. In many ways it reminded of an inner-city version of the old Bigfork High School; where I spent grades 7 through 12 as a rap music-craving white boy trapped in the middle of the woods.

Walking into the Washburn gymnasium, hearing A$AP Ferg over the PA feels a little like coming home.

Game notes:

-Things got out of hand rather quickly. It didn't take long for the Holy Family Fire (which, religious implications aside, is a great name) to pull away. At 9:10 of the first half the score was only Fire 22, Millers 13, but it was apparent that the distance was only going to swell, and quickly.

-I always like to how much Washburn uses their bench. In the first half alone they had already gone 10 guys deep. Growing up playing for a coach that wouldn't dare extend the rotation beyond six, maybe seven guys unless we had 40 point lead with only a minute and a half left on the clock, the idea of frequent substitutions still blows my mind. Up north, back in the day, the only schools that we played against that I can remember employing a large rotation were Deer River and Remer-Northland. And us Huskie bench mobbers were envious, believe me.

-Gopher football commit Jeff Jones swung a high elbow that caught his defender in the face, knocking him to the ground. In disappointing fashion, he then threw the ball to his downed opponent, earning him a technical foul and a seat on the bench for the rest of the half. He would return in the second half but it seemed as though his desire to compete had been stifled.

-At halftime the Fire had already nearly doubled the Millers in points at 57 to 29, and I had determined that the best shoes on the court were in the form a pair of camouflage Jordans belonging to Holy Family senior forward Joe Hanel. Washburn does a get a shoutout for their matching blaze orange Nikes though.

-Speaking of apparel, I have to also give it to Holy Family on the unies front because of their Adidas-made ones. They are a crisp white, with dark green trim ala Michigan State or the less-popular Beavers of Bemidji State. Color-wise, Washburn's orange and blue combo is much more aesthetically pleasing to my eyes, but their Jordan brand unies are showing the wear 'n' tear of that last few seasons now.

-As for the 2nd half, there's not much to report. It was straight blow-out style. Fire 67, Millers 37 at the 9:37 mark. Out of boredom rather than hunger I went the concessions where I bought the Miller Combo. It's a hotdog, chips and soda for $3. Chili Cheese Fritos and Diet Coke for me. At one point shortly after eating it I thought I was going to have diarrhea, but luckily I escaped it. I haven't done the biz in a high school bathroom since Mr. Molland's study hall in 10th grade and I intend to keep that streak (no pun intended) alive.

-Final score was Holy Family 84, Washburn 50. Of note was the absurd foul count, which had the Millers with 10+ and the Fire with just 4.

-In the best haircuts department, we have a four-way tie! Washburn junior guards come through strong with Even Shepherd's wavy fade, and JoBreil Powell's shoulder-length dreads. Meanwhile Holy Family's senior guards are holding their own with starter Kyle Schumer's Cali surfer-meets-Mad Men thing, and bench mobber Evan Stedronsky's curls that are very reminiscent of Oregon-era Luke Ridnour.

-As for who needs tans, well that award goes to ALL of Holy Family. Come on dudes, I know there's a tanning booth in Chaska.

-Nathan G. O'Brien
@OMG_NOB

I'll be in Hopkins at the girl's Breakdwon Tip-Off Classic most of the day on Saturday, trying to secure a seat for the big DeLaSalle vs. Apple Valley boys game that headlines the event. If you feel inclined, come on out and say hi. Look for the middle-aged dude that's dressed like a twenty-something. I'll be sitting next to him; older and dressed like a teenager. Or just tweet me and we'll meet up for some popcorn and jokes. Or, even better, you could save me a seat!

12/4/13

Scene Report: Prep Hoops, Blake at DeLaSalle

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 basketbll makes me feel, and what I might purchase from the concessions, well then, I'm your guy. 

Blake vs. DeLaSalle, DeLaSalle High School, Mpls, MN, 12/3/13
As I walk through the doors of DeLaSalle High School for the first of what will surely be several times this season, it occurs to me how ironic it is that I am listening on my iPod to a band called Broken Prayer. I am entering a private Catholic institution afterall. Aside from pausing briefly to Tweet about it, because duh, EVERYTHING MUST BE TWEETED, I don't give it much more thought. If you're into punk and you're not up on Broken Prayer yet, well geez man, what are you listening to? Their self-titled record came out early this year and has held a favorable place on my turntable and the aforementioned iPod for some time now. In case you're wondering, said iPod is a purple 16 gig Nano that's named Skol Vikings and is jam-packed with punk, rap and wrestling podcasts.

Although there have been games going on for a week or so now, real life things like hanging out with old college friends in Dundas, eating massive amounts of turkey and pie in Nashwauk, and over-imbibing on craft brews at the Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub on 38th street with my wife have not permitted me to attend any until tonight. And it's only fitting that it be at De; my father's old high school, a virtual mecca of Minneapolis basketball, and one of my favorite gyms in the city. I've gone to so many games at De over the last few years that things have become somewhat ritualistic in nature.

Part of that ritual starts when I get ready for work in the morning. I have a real life job in downtown where I am nice to people for a living. I dress sort of business-casual-meets-aging-hipster, or, basically, however I want provided I don't look like a complete slob. In other words, If I'm going to wear an old Snapcase tee shirt I should probably dress it up with a cardigan. So mostly I wear of a lot of cardigans. I also wear jeans and a wide variety of footwear. Whenever I know I will be heading to De for a game after work, I instinctively wear a pair of basketball socks and shoes. I suspect this stems from some deep-rooted thing that... Ah, I'm stuck on how to word this... Basically I think there is some part of me, a part of my youth maybe, that feels fucked-up if I'm wearing anything other that basketball shoes when I'm in a gymnasium. It's probably the same reason I won't play pickup ball against someone who's wearing jeans.

Once I clock out of work, it's time for the medium-sized walk from downtown across the Hennepin Bridge to the island. It's almost always windy, rainy and/or snowy, and biting cold. But I like it because it gives me time to listen to rad bands like Broken Prayer on Skol Vikings and think about important life things like how there's too many rappers, why people jump off of bridges, and what I might get from the concessions stand even though I know I shouldn't be eating ANY of that stuff.

A few of my dad's old friends still go to De games. So when I get there I always look for them because they will have saved me a seat in the lower bleachers near mid-court and just up from the De bench, and often times, next to the mother of De's point guard Jarvis Johnson. I forget her name right now but she's really nice. Then they say things like, "Hey kid, how ya doin'?" I really like this part because no matter how old you are, when someone calls you "kid" it's pretty damn great. And then they tell me the same stories they tell me every time, that I would never get sick of, about how they went to school at De and what the gym was like back then and how my dad was a troublemaker and a ladies man.

And then we watch the Islanders play basketball.

Game Notes:

-Missing in action tonight was recent Stanford commit, and 2014 Minnesota "Big 3" dude, senior big Reid Travis. My sources (read: I overheard his dad talking in the hallway) say he'll be out "another week or two." Kind of a bummer that he will miss the big high profile match-up against Apple Valley this Saturday. Junior Jeffrey Daubanton started in his place, and did quite well.

-At the 15:04 mark, junior point guard Jarvis Johnson capped off an 8 - 0 run by De to start the game with a huge dunk.

-De Coach Dave Thorson got a lot of really effective play out of his bench. Realistically, he could have gotten by not playing any of his starters tonight and come up with similar results.

-At halftime the score was DeLaSalle 51, Blake 19. I went to the bathroom, where I heard a couple of De students saying the F word and talking about girls; which made me feel weird about not feeling weird about hearing Catholic high school kids say the F word and talking about girls in front of an adult.

-De senior guard and North Dakota commit Geno Crandall dazzled the audience with a plethora of flamboyant yet spot-on passes and assists. He's highly entertaining and worth every single "ooooh" and "ahhhh" that he gets.

-De appears to have gotten new unies since last year. Jordan ones. Pretty dope except for on the back of them, where a name would be, it says Islanders. I get what they're going for there but I'd just assume no words on the back. Blake's unies looked dirty. Like someone accidentally washed them with bleach and a brown sock.

-With 9:00 left on the clock, the score was DeLaSalle 79, Blake 36. For De, there were some impressive minutes from freshman Goanar Mar and junior Josh Collins. Personally, I would have liked to see more of senior guard Mike Pucci, as I think he matches up well against the Blake dudes. That and he's a senior, who's paid his dues on the JV last year; which is something the bench mob-er in me can totally identify with.

-Everytime De's senior big and South Dakota commit James Lawson hits a tre I am reminded that he can hit them.

-Final score was DeLaSalle 86, Blake 48. At some point, I think around the 5:00 mark, they went to the mercy clock. I was actually impressed how well Blake kept their collective chin up throughout the game despite taking a massive beating.

-De junior Sacar Anim lead all scores with 22 points, and all hairstyles with, well, the best one.

-I was hoping to only get by with a bottle of water, but ended up having both a hotdog and a bag of peanut M&Ms. It only cost me $4.00 but the shame and love handles will last me a lifetime.

Nathan G. O'Brien
@OMG_NOB

Weather-depending, my next game will be Lakeville North at Eden Prairie on Thursday. If it's too crappy to make the drive from where I live in South Mpls, I will run over to Washburn for their match-up with the visiting Holy Family. If you feel inclined, come on out and say hi. Look for the middle-aged dude that's dressed like a twenty-something. I'll be sitting next to him; older and dressed like a teenager. Or just tweet me and we'll meet up for some popcorn and jokes.

12/3/13

Record Review: Autistic Youth - Nonage

Autistic Youth - Nonage (Dirtnap)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

I nearly died one night in the kitchen of Mexican restaurant I was cooking at. When it came time to clean up the floors at the end of my closing shift, I erroneously (read: stupidly) mixed ammonia and bleach in a mop bucket full of steaming hot water. One breath of that potent mixture and I was seeing stars and scrambling for fresh air. I sometimes wonder what that scene would have looked like to the person that found me the next morning if had I dropped right there; me piled over a mop bucket, butt in the air, face first in the floor sink, with my cheese and verde-covered Doc Martens stuck out to the sides like some sort of punk jester. Anyway, on that night, as with most shifts back then, I was probably listening to something that sounded just like this album on the kitchen’s boom box.  ...Read the full-length review at this place right here.

12/2/13

Record Review: Useless Eaters - Hypertension

Useless Eaters - Hypertension (Jeffery Drag)
By Nathan G. O'Brien on Scene Point Blank

The songs “Moody Bitch” and “Addicted to the Blade” could be the soundtrack to a Southern California surf blog. You know, those ones with lots of pictures of skinny dudes wearing striped tee shirts under jean vests, with sailor caps on and stuff. Maybe throw in a button or patch with a picture of an anchor on it and a wrist band that used to be the top of tube sock. Yeah, you get it.  ...Read the entire review on the next page.

12/1/13

up nortz

Whenever I'm up north and looking for meth, I just find the nearest I.C.P. graffiti and wait five minutes.

 JK, JK - I don't go up north.


Hwy 65, "up north", 11/28/13