Stampede Set to Trample the Competition

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METROWEST DRAFT: Week 2 Power Rankings

By Taylor Pettiford | MetroWest League Coordinator

Week 1 in MetroWest was filled with ugly basketball. Three of the top five picks were missing, many players were rusty and/or out of shape and few teams have jelled. We have a tough task ahead of us in ranking our field, but one team has jumped out as the early favorites: Stampede. Regardless of who else around the league shows up and which teams jell, it’s tough to project many collective units ousting Stampede. Let’s dive into our rankings and break down Stampede and the rest of our league.

1. STAMPEDE | 1-0 (2)

Tommy Hubbard and crew are a PROBLEM. Stampede was the only team in Week 1 that came out equally impressive on both sides of the ball en route to their 36-point annihilation of Classic Barbershop. Hubbard (35 points, 14 rebounds) led the way for a balanced scoring attack that saw four of their five starters score in double figures. With Hubbard’s scoring, Keyon Armstrong’s versatility and Mario Payne’s IQ, not to mention second-round pick Roger Hamel, who was absent Week 1, and Stampede has the makings of a matchup nightmare for opponents. Not only was Hamel missing, however, 6’4 rookie Chris Lewis was, as well. But Stephen Dion (14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals) and Kevin Neal (19 points) more than picked up the slack. The rest of the league should be hearing hooves beating into earth any time they step into the gym at MetroWest. Stampede is coming for a championship.

2. BUCKETS GALORE | 1-0 (3)

Buckets Galore got the most crucial win of Week 1 with their narrow victory over a loaded Hustle team. With John Iarussi set to miss the next three contests, a Week 1 win was crucial. Yet the odds were stacked against Yemi Ajao and crew as their first-round pick, Shane Coleman, was a no-show. But Ajao (23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) led the way as BG got a two-point win over Hustle. Josh Gates’ continuity with Ajao showed as the wing dropped 22 points. Kevin Johnson (16 points) also came up big for Buckets Galore in the win. This is the type of team that isn’t going to wow fans or beat opponents athletically. They’re truly a high IQ, defensively gritty type basketball team. But with Coleman in the lineup with Iarussi running point and Ajao freed up to score or facilitate, BG could quietly keep surging up the power rankings. Perhaps their toughest test of the season is ahead of them, though, whereas they’ll play three in a row without Iarussi.

3. CLASSIC BARBERSHOP | 0-1 (1)

Our preseason No. 1 got quite the reality check in Week 1 as Stampede stomped all over them to the tune of a 90-54 loss. Woof. Championship hangover for Jay Resto and crew? Perhaps. But more likely is that Classic Barbershop ran into a team more mentally ready than they were. Before the game even started, Classic was dealt a tough blow as the fifth overall pick, Mychal Parker, notified the team they would be without his services to open the season. Naysayers are claiming the Maryland alum wouldn’t have made a 36-point difference and maybe they’re right. But we’ll let the rest of the season determine just how much of an impact he can make. While the loss hurts, Resto and Nick Kineip await the third cog in their big three as Parker is set to make his highly anticipated debut tonight against Fearless. Get your popcorn ready.

4. WARRIORS | 1-0 (6)

The Warriors may have been the second-most impressive team in Week 1 as they roasted the Black Mambas 90-79. Captain Guy Pistone (23 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) was back to his stat-stuffing ways and Tomas Morales (31 points, 11 rebounds) welcomed a highly touted rookie to the league in dominating fashion. The Stockton and Malone-esque combo was unstoppable and made it easy for Michael Perreault (19 points, 9 assists) to find open looks. Their promising rookie, Mike Byron, only managed four points and wasn’t involved much in the offense. But that only speaks to how dangerous the Warriors are. Imagine how they’ll look once Byron gets going. Defense will still be their achilles heel, but they may have enough offensive fire power to overshadow their defensive deficiencies.

5. REBELS | 0-1 (4)

The Rebels’ Week 1 performance was ugly. They were missing the number-one overall pick, Roland Millien, and ran into an opponent that shot 60 percent from beyond the arc. On the bright side, Chris McLaughlin’s versatility shone through as he amassed 14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks, proving he is undoubtedly the team’s backcourt leader. And newly-acquired Devon Frye (24 points, 4 assists, 4 steals) played well alongside McLaughlin. But Micah Duarte’s team will have to show considerably more pride in future outings whether they’re shorthanded or not. Letting up 98 points is inexcusable and a terrible way to start the season. Millien’s insertion into the lineup will help, but the team will need to give more effort as a collective unit to truly patch up the holes Fearless shot in their defense.

6. FEARLESS | 1-0 (8)

Let’s get this out of the way: we do NOT believe in Fearless. They’re a team that can certainly get hot and win some games on their streaky shooting and mismatches. But as far as championships are concerned, we will be shocked if they win one. But they did have a nice debut. Pat Luckett’s team beat the brakes off the Rebels notching 98 points in the victory. Jude Valmeus (35 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals) led the way and Wally Callam (25 points, 7 rebounds) put in work as well. But with questionable depth and an undersized backcourt, it’s tough to imagine Fearless coming out on top of too many more 20-plus point routs.

7. HUSTLE | 0-1

For just the second time in his career, Hustle captain Joel Katana was held under 30 points. Albeit, he did get a monster triple-double (21 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists). But Hustle’s Week 1 outing did nothing to dispel rumors that this team is too overly reliant on the scoring king. Hustle did feature a balanced scoring attack as all five starters scored in double-figures including 16 points and 12 rebounds from Jeff Raymond. But the chemistry was lacking and Hustle’s brass sent Tambo Barrow packing via trade after the game – just hours before trading Devon Frye for Brandon Portillo. Is there a method to their trading frenzy? Or is this team trying to make amends for a lackluster draft? Can Aaron Anniballi’s insertion into the lineup remedy their apparent lack of a secondary scorer? Only time will tell.

8. BLACK MAMBAS | 0-1 (5)

There were a couple other teams that looked worse in Week 1 than Black Mambas did. But each of those teams were missing a key piece to their roster. The Mambas weren’t and they still nearly got 20-pieced. Jose Roman’s squad had absolutely no chemistry as their offense was almost entirely predicated on “feed the big man the ball and watch what happens”. While their rookie center, Reggie Brown Jr., was impressive (21 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 blocks), he had his hands full with Tomas Morales and seemed a bit disengaged at points during the game. Jasper Landrum (21 points) was effective and Roman had it going on with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. But Taylor Pettiford and Marcin Papla combined for just 7 points on 1-12 shooting from deep. With a team that relies so heavily on those two to space the floor, they’ll need a MUCH better performance from them. And the team’s overall ball movement will need to foster their success. If they don’t figure it out and quick, it will be a long season for Roman and crew.

 

PREDICTIONS

Season Record: 1-3 (.250)

7 p.m. – Rebels (0-1) vs. Stampede (1-0) | STAMPEDE by 8

7 p.m. – Classic Barbershop (0-1) vs. Fearless (1-0) | CLASSIC by 8

8 p.m. – Buckets Galore (1-0) vs. Black Mambas (0-1) | BUCKETS by 5

8 p.m. – Hustle (0-1) vs. Warriors (1-0) | HUSTLE by 4

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