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PRINCETON: Preseason Power Rankings
By Phil Jackson | Princeton League Coordinator
Based on this being our first season, Power Rankings couldn't be more basic and surface level. Rankings are based mostly on recognized pickup basketball talent. We have four teams currently with a STRONG POSSIBILITY of adding in a fifth as player interest continues to rise!
1. The Fundamentals
This season should see the team with the 1st overall pick in the draft taking the cake. Javian Clarke 6'5 was first-overall pick and has been a solid player in the pickup basketball scene at the club. The team is also well rounded with good supporting height in Nakul Rao 6'4 that should come in handy on the boards, and solid guard play and shooting in team captain Marcus Lotierzo 6'1.
The pick was not the easiest with each team being ultra competitive on paper, but this team should be fun to watch each night! This team will need to lean on it's first round and first overall pick to lead it to a championship season. I'd go with a box and 1 defense here but the dark horses can prove to be a problem for opposing teams.
2. Princeton Generals
The generals are a solid mix of good height in team captain Mike Montella 6'3 and Eric Puchon 6'6 coupled with solid and consistent guard play in Phil Jackson 6'2 (who was a top performer in a few seasons at Life Time Athletic in Mount Laurel). The Generals are sure to be the team to beat this season even placing second on the list with a solid mix of shooters and scoring ability. Ahswin Narra 6'2 (18 years old) and Gilberto Parker 6'4 should be on each teams radar for standout nights respectively.
It should also be noted that this team has only one player under 6'0 so expect there to be heavy post play. Ultimately this team has multiple weapons and will need to move the ball and take advantage of height mismatches. Man-to-man with an occasional 2-3 zone defense would be best against this squad to keep them off the offensive glass. this should keep the ball out of the paint but shooters are rampant on this team.
3. Life Time Lakers
The Lakers come in at third in the rankings due mostly to the fact that they are an under sized team. With their tallest player in Angelo Sosa coming in at 6'2 and one of their best players overall in Craig Swiney at 6'1, the Lakers could be doomed for a few bad nights on the boards. That being said, the crew is comprised of some of the quickest backcourt players led by their team captain Kosty Yablon 5'9.
This team will thrive in causing turnovers and will need to get themselves to the free-throw line frequently to get other teams in foul trouble early. Craig Swiney and Kosty Yablon will prove to be a frustrating backcourt to deal with, and the late addition to the team in Ashonti Sweat 5'3 is sure to be a solid addition to the team as well. Joseph Durante 6'0 will be the differentiator in my opinion as his play will play a big factor the longevity of this teams success. 3-2 and 1-3-1 zone defenses will prove to be the best tool against this team to slow down the tempo. Rebounding should not be an issue for the remaining 3 teams, but be careful with those crafty guards driving the lane!
4. Princeton Pelicans
The Pelicans have every opportunity finish higher than last in their first season together, but the team places for 4th in the rankings for a few different reasons. The good news is that the team is led by team captain Bryan Wilson 5'11 who has a proven 3-point and mid-range jump shot. Teams will need to keep him out of rhythm or it'll be lights out from deep. Marquis Noble 6'0 and DeMikel Shankle 5'11 should prove as a great supporting cast and provide the energy and hustle the team will need to grab wins.
The Pelicans will also look to lean on Shawn Davis 6'2 night in and night out to be a top producer and a jack of all trades. He will need to wear many hats in order for the Pels to see success this season. The team is undersized, but is most likely the hardest working bunch to grace Princeton's gym. Expect teams to go Man man to man against this team and take the shooters out of the game. The Pels will need to get to the rim early to open up shots for their shooters.
All in all, this season is sure to be an exciting and action packed battle for the championship. Each team has a solid core of players and we are looking forward to crowning our first ever Ultimate Hoops champion in Princeton this fall!
See you on the court!
This Season's Referees: Elton Jordan, Diane Poletti, Leo Yanogacio