Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Season Preview #23: Wash U

General Team Discussion - Over the past two season, the Bears have really become a powerhouse in D3. They were good in the early part of the decade, but not quite what they are now. Coach Follmer has just done a great job with this program. The Bears were national champions in '08 and last year they ended Emory's 19 year streak of conference titles with a shocking win in the UAA Finals. For the second year in a row, they entered the NCAA tournament as the top seed, but they were upset by Amherst in the semis. Coming into this year, the Bears are my preseason pick to be national champions. They return 4 players from last year's team, including John Watts, the most dominant player in D3, currently ranked #1 in the country. Not only do they have Watts+supporting cast, they also brought in another outstanding recruiting class. At least 2 of their freshmen if not more should see time in the starting lineup consistently. Wash U's goals this year are probably the same as always. Beat Emory and win a national title. Another accomplishment that could be added to that list is a National Indoors title, something that has eluded them the past few seasons. They will have quite a tough road to the title but that would be a great start to the season for the Bears.

Where They'll Win - Watts is the heart of the team and I think it's important that he comes through not only in singles, but also doubles. He mostly likely will be in the 2 doubles spot and Wash U needs to dominate that spot if they want to win another national title. They have an excellent top 4 in singles and a strong #1 doubles team to go with it. Cutler is tough to replace at 2, but I think the Bears are hoping freshman Adam Putterman can fill that void after a strong fall. That would leave Woods and Stein at 3 and 4 and they are some of the best in the country at those positions. They should also combine to be a top 5 doubles team in the country and NCAA Championship contender.

Where They'll Lose - The bottom of the singles and doubles lineup could be weak for Wash U. Levy went from being an amazing 3 to an average 5 in one year. If he can produce big wins at 5, Wash U will be very tough to beat. If he can't then I don't know if they can beat Amherst or Middlebury. 6 is still up in the air and I'm not sure who will fill in there. Wash U also doesn't have a 3 doubles team set in stone so I'll be interested to see how they fair at this position during the Indoor Nationals.

Schedule Analysis - A match I've been looking forward to since it was announced the 3-6 match in Indoors between Wash U and Hopkins. This will be such a good test for the Bears and we will really see what they are made of. If they get by this, Emory awaits in the semifinals so it could be a very tough 2 days. Before Indoors, they have to pass an early season test against Chicago, and a few weeks after Indoors they have a tough 2-day stretch facing Kenyon and NCW in Hilton Head during spring break. They don't have another big match in D3 until the UAA championships where they will certainly have a tough semi and most likely final against Emory.