Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Season Preview #2: Denison

General Team Discussion- Denison has established themselves as a Central region power, but they haven't been able to crack the national scene lately. Since winning the NCAC tournament in 2006, they really haven't been competitive with Kenyon, particularly since the arrival of Mike Greenberg. Denison has a very young team though and with Kenyon graduating several starters, we could see some closing of the gap in the NCAC again in 2011. For now, Denison really isn't a threat to make the national tournament because they won't have the non-conference resume. I don't consider them a threat to Kenyon this year, they probably lose 6-3 on their best day and that's being generous. Denison brings in solid recruits and they are well coached in doubles, but I think their top guys would struggle to even make Kenyon's lineup. I expect them to hover between 20-30 in the country like the last few years but don't expect too much more.

Where They'll Win- Against most of their schedule the top of their lineup with Hobrath and Cempre will be dominant. However when they take on the Lords, they need the bottom of their lineup to step up which is their weak spot. Again, the top of their doubles lineup can be a winner most of the time. They have some experience in doubles so against Central region foes, I think they will win matches by being dominant in doubles. Basically, doubles and their top guys will carry them against the majority of teams but against Kenyon they need their 3 through 6 to step up.

Where They'll Lose - I said above that their top of the lineup is their strong suit. I question the bottom of their singles lineup since these players were not as established in the juniors. Most of their schedule is fairly simple so these players shouldn't have much trouble, but against tough teams I don't know if they will come through for the Big Red.

Schedule Analysis - Obviously the biggest match of the season will be the NCAC championship match against Kenyon on Denison's home courts. This will be their only way to make NCAAs. Other matches to watch are a mid-season contest against a tough Bates team. They are playing at home and this should be a very even match. Lastly, a probable showdown with Kalamazoo at the GLCA could show us how good Denison is. A win in that match could give them a shot at Carnegie Mellon or DePauw.