After a week off with the magic crystal ball in the shop for a tune-up, your favorite sage, Prophet Pat, is back with his six-pack of high school hoop picks.
When we last heard from the Prophet, he had finished the fall season with a more than respectable 76-28 record, good for a percentage of .731.
Since Annapolis coach John Brady started all this "84 feet in 32 minutes," run-and-stun business, the Prophet has drastically souped up his crystal ball. The Prophet has put in a V-8 engine to keep up with the fast-paced style most clubs now are running.
Annapolis won a state championship with the Loyola Marymount-Denver Nuggets style of flying up and down the court and getting off a shot before five seconds tick off the clock.
As a result, all of the copycats have come out of the woodwork to see if they can imitate the Fighting Panthers and attain the same success.
It all should make for an exciting season, so let's get to it, hoop fans. And remember, the Prophet gives you a point spread on each game to make it tougher for him to be right in his six-pack. Picking winners is a breeze, but to pick the number of points a team will win by puts the pressure on the Prophet.
Meade at Broadneck, "Game of the Week," 7:30 p.m. Friday
Yes, this is a big game in Class 4A this early into the season, and for the visiting Mustangs of Butch Young a second big one within three days.
Meade opened last night (after press deadlines) at defending state 4A champion Annapolis. That's what you call jumping into the fire feet first.
After what, for Meade, was a down year at 12-11 last season, the Stangs should be much improved and ready to retain their No. 2 position behind Annapolis as the county's best.
That, of course, means beating out Broadneck, which has been No. 2 behind Annapolis the past couple of years.
This is a tough game to call because the Bruins are extremely tough on their home hardwood, but the Mustangs have more experience. At first glance, Broadneck without a Matt Campbell or Kenny Wood, both impact players and former Anne Arundel County Sun Players of the Year who have graduated, lacks that man who can take over a game.
Broadneck looks to be the kind of team that will get better as the year wears on, and should be playing its best come February. The steadying influence of hustling senior guard Johnny Williams will keep this team competitive.
Take Meade in a thriller because of its experience, height advantage and 6-foot-4 senior forward Ron Hubbard and 6-1 guard David Beck. Broadneck lacks height with the exception of 7-2 senior German import Boris Beck, who doesn't figure to be much of a factor for a while.
Meade plus 2 over Broadneck.
Parkdale of Prince George's County at Annapolis, 7:30 p.m. tonight
Brady says the visitors should be tough, but playing Parkdale at home gives Annapolis the big edge in this one.
"They're a very good team and only lost by two points to us at their place last year," said Brady. "They ended up about .500, which tells you how tough their league must be."
Parkdale returns two 6-7 cagers and only lost one starter.
"This is a really important week for us in terms of getting off to a good start," Brady added.
Annapolis looks like it is loaded with a wealth of talent, height (including 6-9 senior center Jon Holden) and quickness. Seems like everybody is lightning quick on this Panther squad with 6-5 senior forward Dennis Edwards the man who can take over.
Edwards is absolutely deadly underneath and will have to be in this one for Annapolis to win. The Panthers should do it in a squeaker.
Annapolis plus 2 over Parkdale.
Old Mill at Southern, at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday
Check out Coach Tommy Albright down yonder at Harwood playing his home games at 7:15 p.m. For the past couple of years, principals, administrators and coaches have been moaning and groaning over whether to start nights at the old 7:30 p.m. time or go to the new-breed preferred tip-off at 7 p.m.
Always the innovator, Albright compromised with 7:15 p.m. Already county coaches are wondering if that will throw them off in timing warm-up drills.
The AST -- Albright Southern Time, 7:15 p.m. -- will be the least of Old Mill's worries, however. The Pats don't have nearly the squad they had a year ago when they went 17-7.
Coach Paul Bunting is lacking in height and overall depth, but has an outstanding player in 6-2 senior forward Damien Sewell. One man won't be enough to stop those Dawgs, who run from buzzer to buzzer.
Southern is led by flashy 5-9 senior guard Vince Barnett, who averaged 24.4 points a game last year for a 15-7 Southern team. Barnett and mates will run the Patriots out of the gym early then hold on for victory.
Southern plus 4 over Old Mill.
Broadneck at Severna Park, 7 p.m. Tuesday
Host Severna Park should be fun to watch now that coach Wayne Mook has installed a run-and-shoot style, but the Bruins' methodical manner should be enough for a road victory.