Monday, January 25, 2010

Season Preview #19: Emory

General Team Discussion - Probably the most impressive streak in D3 today is 8 straight Final Fours by Emory, not to mention a year end ranking in the top 5 for 10 years in a row. I think you can pencil the Eagles in for a 9th consecutive Final 4 in 2010. Coach Browning does a great job constantly recruiting top players and NCAA Champion Michael Goodwin is now replaced with Dillon Pottish. Emory has arguably the 2nd and 3rd best players in the country. No disrespect to Cruz last year, but I still think Emory had the best team. Both D3 matches they lost last season were because of a doubles sweep, and they still ended up losing 5-4 in both. I don't expect this year's team to be quite as good, but they have a great shot at a national title. Like I've said in two previous previews, their national championship hopes come down to how well they play during the three days of the Final 8. One goal I would set my sights on is taking back the UAA Championship. I think they had won something like 19 straight before being beaten in the finals last year. Emory is pretty much a lock for the Final 8 with the amount of talent they have and I would be shocked not to see them in the Final 4 as well.

Where They'll Win - In my opinion, the best 1-2 punch in the country rivaled only by Kenyon. Pottish and Goodwin are both national title contenders in singles and they make a great team. However, if I coached Emory, I would separate these two in doubles and look for two wins. I think 5 and 6 singles can possibly be very strong spots for Emory as well. It seems as though they have several fairly even players after their top two. Caplan, Egan and Lopp are all experienced players and whoever is in the 5 spot out of those 3 should almost never lose.

Where They'll Lose - I mentioned separating the superstars in doubles because I think 2 and 3 doubles is where Emory will be beaten, just like last year. If the 1 team has a bad day then Emory could find themselves in a big hole because they don't have the strength at the other doubles positions. I think 3 singles and potentially 4 could be weak spots when they play the best teams in the country. I mentioned the experienced trio above and I think whoever has to step into the 3 spot could struggle. Caplan has been a good 3 in the past but he was nowhere to be found last year in singles so he could be a key to Emory's success if he can be a winner at 3 again.

Schedule Analysis - I have the Indoor semifinal circled on my calendar. Most likely an Emory-Wash U battle and the winner of that will almost certainly end up winning Indoors. They don't have any D3 competition for the next month when they take on Kenyon, DePauw and Williams in a 2 week stretch all at home. I think Kenyon is a potential danger match because the Lords match up fairly well against Emory. They then have another 3 weeks before UAAs and they will certainly have two very tough matches there before NCAAs.