Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Team Preview #18: Brandeis

Simon Miller

Coach: Ben Lamanna, 6th Season
Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
Conference: UAA
2008 Ranking: NR
2009 Ranking: NR
2010 Ranking: 30
2011 Projected: 25

This is case number 2 where the NCAA selection process does in a team. I didn't pay much attention to Brandeis most of last year, and that's because they didn't really do anything. UAAs roll around and all of the sudden these guys are knocking off a top 20 team and giving top 10 teams just about all they can handle. Credit to the coach for getting his players ready to play, and credit to the players for realizing the importance of the conference tournament and believing that they were as good as anyone else there. They should carry a huge amount of confidence into this season and I think they will. 3 or 4 years down the road when Brandeis is top 20 in the country, I think Coach Lamanna will look back at the UAA 1st round in 2010 and realize that those 4 hours were a turning point for his program. Had they lost that match, I probably wouldn't be writing about them now and they probably wouldn't expect much from themselves this season. That's over and they have to think about the present. I'm not going to count Brandeis out of the NCAA tournament, but I'll say they are a real long shot. They will have a crack at 9 ranked teams this year, so they will certainly have their fair share of opportunities. They start with a California trip and managed to schedule CMS and CLU. These matches will be good for Brandeis because it will show them the level they need to get to eventually. The biggest match for them in California is against Pomona-Pitzer, a team closer to their level. Later in the season, I'd keep an eye on contests against Bates, MIT and Trinity (CT). Brandeis' current #1 Nick White transferred from Trinity (CT) after his second year. They host the UAA tournament this year and will surely have a crack at a top 20 team there. I expect them to start 4 seniors this year, most notably Nick White and Simon Miller, so they certainly won't be short on experience. Brandeis is currently a good team who has shown vast improvements over the past couple years. It's an uphill battle from here though as it's easy to become a good team, but very difficult to be a great team. The next few years will tell us if they have what it takes to break into the elite of D3, and that starts in 2011. They have to finish better than they did last year and continue to show improvement.