The Central Blair Recreation Commission's Men's Summer Basketball League began last week featuring 63 teams spread over five divisions.
Again, the league is showing growth as last year featured 62 teams, which was up from 58 the year before. Here's what you can look forward to this year.
Under a new format, Division 1 returns 10 teams in two sub-divisions. Returning teams are seeded based on last year's standings with league champions Dino's Pizza/PV Recreation Center and league runner-up Hotel Belmar at the top of each section.
The playoffs will take the top four teams from each section and feature a criss-cross format. Here, the top team in each section will play the bottom team in the opposite section and vice versa. The No. 2 seeds in each section will play the No. 3 seeds from the opposite section.
Division 1's Odd Section looks to be the tougher of the two sections. Headlined by Dino's Pizza, it also features previous league champions American Solutions Group and Guy Landolfi, CPA. The Odd Section is rounded out by Mike Miller's Auto and perennial Division II standout Snare & Associates Mortgage Services.
Landolfi again looks to be the favorites led by UPJ trio Jordan Miller, Ian Vescovi, and Paul Weatherly. Landolfi also features Drew Shubik, who can make them unbeatable if he is able to make most games. Travelling is always an issue with this team, but with its full complement of players, Landolfi is a tough team to stop.
Last season, ASG went 14-0, but was shocked in the first round of the playoffs, losing to the No. 8 seed, Your Logo Here.
ASG will look to avenge that loss and get back to the championship. Jesse Betar, Chris Buchanan, Cody Boone, and Anthony Lytle are back from last year, but its new pickups could be the key to ASG's success.
Tyrone graduate Richard Crabtree will be a great addition off the bench for ASG. Former player DJ Patterson returns, and ASG has also added Altoona grad Matt Dukery.
Defending champions Dino's Pizza could see itself as the third seed in this extremely deep section of D-I. Led by Keith Dinkins and newcomer Aaron Hansard, this is a very deep team and will only be bolstered when Tyler Franklin shows up for the playoffs. Franklin's title game arrival was the key in turning this from a middle-of-the-road team into a champion last year.
Miller's Auto is a Johnstown-heavy team that features the extremely talented and athletic trio of Trey Sharpe, Marcus Tullis and Xavier Thomas. The only negative for this team could be depth, with only eight players on the roster.
The last team in the Odd Section is former Division II team Snare & Associates. Snare's is comprised of familiar D-I names in Dom Vescovi, Justin Ohler, Jay Grove and Skip Hancuff. This team definitely has the talent and will compete with Miller's Auto for the fourth playoff spot in the Odd Section.
Hotel Belmar (formerly Bullpen) should have an easy time winning the Even Section and possibly making it back to the championship game. Belmar picked up former Steve Seltzer guard Roby Okonak which will boost an already strong guard rotation of Ricky Shannon, Tyler Mertiff and Jonny Hasson.
T-Cals, LLC pulled off a miraculous upset in last year's playoffs, defeating ASG as the No. 8 seed and should be the No. 2 seed in the Even Section. Aaron Chamberlain leads the way for T-Cals, with his great mix of outside shooting and strong penetration.
Alex Raymond's Advanced Regional Center returns from last year and could be a darkhorse as it features collegiate athletes from IUP and Juniata. If this team can get its full roster for games, it will pull off a few upsets.
Rounding out D-I is two new teams in Mountain Cat Basketball and EZtoUse.com. Both teams may find it difficult to compete in a strong Division 1.
Division-I Player Watch List: Jordan Miller (Guy Landolfi, CPA), Chris Buchanan (ASG), Dave Rizzo (Hotel Belmar), Marcus Tullis (Mike Miller's Auto), Keith Dinkins (Dino's Pizza)
Following the same format as Division I, D-II also has 10 teams comprised in two sections (Odd and Even).
Gone is last year's league champion Invisible Fence, but Division II will hold steady with about 5 or 6 teams being in the title picture.
Best Way Pizza/Fat Daddy's (formerly Barr's Auto) lost last year's championship but always finds itself as a contender.
Best-Way Pizza did lose two stellar players in Kevin Conlon and Crabtree but will be anchored by the solid duo of Josh Crabtree and Byron Kost.
Perennial D-I squad Moses and Associates moves down to D-II and should be a top team. Featuring the hard-working Russ Dickson, Moses always plays smart, fundamental basketball and can easily win a championship in D-II.
Perry Wellington Realty has league veterans Brent Gerwert and Brian Rehm leading a very strong D-II team, which also features newcomers Kevin Conlon and Tyler Port.
The darkhorse in D-II is Bill Frye's Buy The Slice/The Island. This team looks to be extremely dangerous with sharp-shooter Brian Forney, and the strong big man trio of Rob Wheeler, Daryl Lee and Anthony Librizzi. Frye, who is always ready to knock down the trey,, looks to lead this team to the D2 title picture.
D-II Player Watch List: Kost (Best Way): Rehm (Perry Wellington), Jason Little (KitchenSales.com), Forney (Buy The Slice/The Island), Jonathan Coleman (Minetech Engineers)
2011 champion Freedom returns to headline a strong field of 14 teams in Division III.
Freedom is a local AAU team which features standouts AJ Leahey and Isaac Vescovi. What this team lacks in experience, they make up for in execution and should be the favorite again in D-III.
Division IV champion Pitt Street Beverage (formerly Zimmer Ortho) moves up to D-III and should also be in the title picture along with last year's runner up Iron Horse Bar & Grille.
D-III Player Watch List: Leahy (Freedom), Brian Binduga (Pitt Street Beverage), Jim Kilmartin (Hoopsfest.net), Josh Heller (Traficante Family Chiropractic), Deshae Lee (Tom Dickey Law)
Division IV is also comprised of 14 teams; with last year's runner-up, Fat Daddy's, looking to avenge its loss in the championship. YTI and Park Audio are also teams to look out for.
D-IV Player Watch List: Shane Cafferty (Fat Daddy's), Xavier Stewart (Park Audio), John Carey (YTI), Andy Brokenshire (Fowler Logging), Scott Adams (Joe Merritt Remodeling)
Last year's champion, Colton's Cruisers, and runner-up, Beating The Odds, return to D-V headlining the field of 15 teams.
Carlson Realty, which made it to the 2010 D-V championship, will also be in the picture.
D-V Player Watch List: Phil Rimmer (Colton's Cruisers), Mike Luciano (BTO), Brian Dietzel (Carlson), Doug Schaefer (The Children's Place), Josh Vinglas (C.A.C. Associates)