Saturday, February 13, 2010

Season Preview #30: Whitman

General Team Discussion - Whitman had a great 2007 campaign finishing around 15 in the country but they haven't been able to find that level since. They have been hovering in the 22-28 range given their results this year it doesn't look like they will be able to break the top 20. This is one of the only teams who has played 2 big D3 matches so far with a loss to Cruz and a 5-4 against Pacific Lutheran today in a nailbiter. Looking at Whitman's lineup I think they should be better than they are, but they are struggling so far this season. They aren't traditionally a slow starter so maybe this team isn't as strong as it seems. After a semester at Boise State, I expected Matt Solomon to come back as a top 10 player in D3. I think he needs to be absolutely dominant if Whitman wants to have a chance at top 20. They play mostly in-conference matches but will get a shot at a few other top D3 teams later in the season. This is a strong program with a rich history and they will certainly be a fixture in the top 30 for the entire season, but I'm not sure how much more they can do after that. This team has a lot of experience so I certainly wouldn't want to see them in NCAAs. A lot of their success will depend upon where they are sent for NCAAs.

Where They'll Win - The top of the lineup is the clear strength in my opinion. I said I expect Solomon to improve throughout the season and be an NCAA qualifier in the West. Moshevich was a solid #1 last year so I also expect big things out of him in the #2 spot. Both of these guys have had nagging injuries so a lot depends upon their health. Tolman is probably one of the top 15 freshmen in the country and he needs to step up in the middle of the lineup. #1 doubles is a potential strong suit as well as #2, but I feel like Whitman's doubles struggles a bit with consistency.

Where They'll Lose - Their bottom guys have a lot of experience and this will certainly help, but I think they will have trouble matching up with top 20 teams in the bottom of the lineup and this is where they fall short. They played Cruz fairly tough in the bottom so that was a good sign. All of their doubles spots are really a question mark in my mind. They won #3 dubs against Cruz so that was impressive and the top 2 lost close ones. But if they get on a neutral court, this could be a different story without the energy from a large crowd.

Schedule Analysis - The majority of their schedule is filled with conference matches since the rule is that they have to play everyone twice. The only time we will really get to see them in action is when they travel to California. They play at Cruz and at Redlands and they will probably lose these two. The two matches I have my eye on this season are Pomona-Pitzer and Cal Lu. I think these two will be the best indication of how good they are. Today shows they will have a battle with PLU in the conference final so they have to be ready to play to qualify for NCAAs.