Friday, January 22, 2010

Season Preview #16: Trinity (TX)

General Team Discussion - The Tigers have not been the Trinity that we know over the past 18 months. The legendary Coach Newman has changed roles and the men's team now has a new coach. Last year was definitely a rebuilding year for Trinity and it showed in their results, losing the SCAC finals to DePauw and missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in I don't know how many years. D3 is getting deeper, and Trinity will need to work harder to find the consistent top 10 form that they had in the early part of this decade. While I don't see them breaking into the top 10 in the country in 2010, it could happen in 2011. Trinity should set their sights on winning the conference this year and returning the the NCAA tournament. They have a very dangerous team and could make some noise if they find themselves in a nice region. I personally think they are a superior team to DePauw. If they don't happen to win their conference, they have improved their out of conference schedule so an at-large bid wouldn't be out of the question. I'm expecting a finish between 11-15 for the Tigers this year and I would think a Sweet 16 showing would be a good season for them.

Where They'll Win - This team should be pretty tough in the top 4 spots. I would expect Frey to return to #1 singles and he is improving. He has a good chance to make NCAAs again. Freshman Delafuente should be a tough out at #2 in their big matches this season like DePauw, Redlands and CMU. Cocanougher was a good 2 last year and he should be very good at #3 as well. Their top two doubles teams should also be excellent. Cocanouger/Kowal was an NCAA semifinalist team last year and a Delafuente/Frey combo at #2 should also be very good throughout the season. Their top of the lineup needs to propel them to a win against top 15 teams.

Where They'll Lose - Depth is a question mark in my mind. They struggled in the bottom of the lineup last year and I don't know if those problems have really been addressed. I consider 5 and 6 weak spots for now when they take on other top 15 programs. Another possible weak spot would be #3 doubles. DePauw plays excellent doubles and if they want to win the conference, Trinity needs a complete doubles lineup in case they happen to slip at one of the top 2 spots.

Schedule Analysis - The lack of a non-conference schedule came back to haunt the Tigers last year. They have added 5 non-conference matches to their schedule for this year in case they happen to lose to DePauw in the conference finals. A very difficult California trip with matches against three top 11 teams in 2 days, followed by Bowdoin a couple days later. If they do well in these 4 matches, they could guarantee themselves an NCAA spot early in the season. If they don't do well, then the biggest match of their season will be against DePauw in the conference final and this will determine their NCAA fate.