Thursday, January 28, 2010

Season Preview #21: Bates

General Team Discussion - As a team, I don't think Bates has quite reached their full expectations in the past few years. However, last year's NCAA tournament could be a turning point for this program. They had the NCAA Singles Finalist as well as the NCAA Doubles Champions. We knew these two were good players but going that deep into NCAAs was a long shot. Bates has a couple things going against them. The first is that they play in the toughest conference in the country and with the new NCAA structure, it's nearly impossible for them to make the tournament. This is a team that qualifies with the old process but won't see the tournament for a very long time with the new selection process. This leads me to my second point which is that they simply can't draw the recruits of their NESCAC rivals. They are a similar school to Middlebury and Bowdoin, both location wise and academically so I'm surprised that they can't attract more big name recruits. As of now, they are a solid #6 in the NESCAC and I would expect them to hover somewhere between 22-28 in the rankings for this season. They just lack the depth to compete with the top teams in the country.

Where They'll Win - Rupasinghe is their strongest player and he's very experienced in big matches. He should be strong at the #1 line against most of Bates schedule, but he will struggle when they play top 15 teams. They have what seems to be a good freshman in Bettles and he's most likely going to fill in the #2 spot as well as complete the other half of #1 doubles. I would expect him to have similar results to Rupasinghe. Their third strong player is senior Michael Reiss who should fair well at the #3 spot and maybe anchor a #2 doubles team.

Where They'll Lose - As I stated above, Bates just doesn't have enough players to hang in this power conference. Even against a team like Trinity (CT), they are overmatched at almost every spot. I think Bates will most likely get crushed in the 4-6 spots in singles when they play the top 5 NESCAC schools and 3 doubles should be a huge problem as well. This has been Bates' weakness the past few years, they just need more depth to compete with these strong programs.

Schedule Analysis - Although MIT is decent, Bates won't be tested until a month into their season when they play Denison on the road. They should be evenly matched with the Big Red and this is a match to keep an eye on for the 20-30 range in the rankings. They should get trounced by a better Kenyon team the following day. They then move to NESCAC play the following week. They should get beaten up by Midd and Amherst, but they may be able to hang with Bowdoin and Trinity (CT) on a good day. They should enter the NESCAC tournament as the #6 seed.