Monday, February 22, 2010

Team By Team Discussion from Indoors and Other Weekend Thoughts

Gustavus Adolphus - The Gusties did about as well as they could this weekend. If you told me they would get 5 points over 3 matches, I may not have believed you. I thought it would be more like 2 or 3. I think this is encouraging for them going forward when it comes to winning the conference. With a homecourt advantage I think they could sweep doubles against Carleton and also manage to find 2 singles wins. Gustavus could finish the year in the top 20 but they have work to do.

DePauw - The Tigers played great against Emory and wilted a bit after that loss. I expected them to take 2 of the doubles against Hopkins and when they didn't do that they were done. They have a huge weekend next weekend and we will really see what they are made of. They could get a really nice jump towards an Pool C NCAA Bid if they can knock off both Chicago and Kzoo on their homecourts. If I'm the Tigers I'm pretty happy with my weekend because we saw flashes of brilliance from them on Day 1.

Carnegie Mellon - I should have mentioned the word volatility in their season preview. I thought CMU would be a new team after their Fall Amherst win but they were the same old team this weekend. They let Cruz off the hook and weren't nearly as close as I thought they would be against Hopkins. They need to watch out for a tricky CNU team next Tuesday. Also, we will see what they learned from this weekend when they go to Cali. 3 top 15 teams out there. 0 wins = very overrated, 1 win = their typical 12-15 season, 2 wins = potential Elite 8 contender, All 3 wins = national championship contender. I'm not sure if that near upset of Cruz was a fluke or not.

Johns Hopkins - Yes they went 2-1, but the Day 1 match is the one they really needed for their confidence. They beat 2 good teams on Day 2, but they are also better than those teams. They have a month of down time from D3 play and their next match is against a very dangerous NCW team. This is a must win for Hopkins. I expected a lot more from them at the 3 through 5 singles positions. This is supposed to be their strength and the wins weren't coming. They need to start winning at these spots if they want to make a national title run. Doubles has room for improvement but they got better as the weekend progressed.

Kenyon - Maybe the most disappointed team after this weekend. A good showing against GAC, the doubles loss is expected against the fired up Gusties. The Cruz match is the one I thought they would run through. Their seniors let them down and this is the core of their team. If they are down 2-1 in doubles, their top 2 need to win or they are done. They just don't have the depth to match the other top 5 teams in my eyes. I still think this team can win a national title, I just expected a Finals appearance from them this weekend and they didn't produce.

Emory - Overall, a pretty shaky tournament from the Eagles. They could have lost to DePauw, but used their experience to grind through that one. The Eagles are always a national championship contender no matter what happens in the early portion of their season. They lost to their heated rival, but bounced back nicely against Kenyon. The good thing about this weekend from Emory is they will see all 3 of these teams again during their season so they will find out how they've progressed a team. I'm still searching for an update on Lopp because I think he can make a huge difference.

Wash U - An amazing first 2 days from the Bears followed by a poor finals performance. They were just flawless on Day 1 crushing a potential top 5 opponent and then followed it up by beating a very good Emory team with a doubles sweep and some good singles play by the bottom of their lineup. They showed they have the depth to compliment Watts at the top of the lineup. They play Kenyon in 3 weeks so we'll see if they learned from the Cruz match. I was expecting them to roll through the finals but it goes to show that even the top teams still need work.

Cruz - What can we say about these guys besides what a performance. They won 3 matches which they should have lost and took home another Indoor title. They funny thing is if they played Wash U every day for the next 10 days at a neutral site, I'll take the Bears in 8 of those. Just an amazing coaching job by Hansen and unbelievable leadership by Pybas and Vartabedian taking the team on their shoulders and leading them in all 3 matches. Even though they won the whole thing, as Hansen said in the match recap, a lot of work still needs to be done before they can defend their national title. A great 3 day performance, but I'm not a believer yet.

Besides the final of Indoors, the most surprising result for me is Kzoo over Chicago. The first thing that pops into my head is it's not even March and Chicago is already in a huge hole for NCAAs. Pool C is too deep to have losses like this, even if Kzoo ends up being a top 20 team. Chicago needs to rebound and beat DePauw next weekend or they can basically count themselves out of the tournament already. How do you go from losing 5-4 to the Indoors finalists to losing 7-2 to a team outside the top 20? I give Kzoo credit. They played a decent match against Kenyon and this match showed they are making great strides as they won every match easily. This is a top 20 team to me after this weekend and they could pull an upset this year when we are least expecting it.

CMS lost to an NAIA team 5-4. That same NAIA team was beaten by Cruz 8-1. This worries me a little bit. CMS isn't getting production from the middle of their lineup. They need to step up given the depth in the top 10 this year.

Cal Lu is a team to watch, as is CNU. Both have started well this season and both have top 20 potential if all their players play well. CLU got a good start with a win against Pomona-Pitzer on the road, winning 5 singles matches. CNU has been playing mostly D1 teams and they have a match that I'm really looking forward to this Sunday against Vassar.