Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 Team Preview #8: Chicago

Will Zhang

Coach: Marty Perry, 8th Season
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Conference: UAA
2008 Ranking: 25
2009 Ranking: 17
2010 Ranking: 21
2011 Projected: 13

Chicago is either great or terrible. They can come within points of beating Wash U and lose to Kalamazoo in the same season. They were legitimate NCAA contenders the past 3 years if you just look at their talent. They missed the tournament 3 times and in fact didn't really come close to making it any of the years. They had a certain swagger to them and their obnoxious on-court mannerisms made them very unpopular with other teams. I think they need to rethink how they carry themselves because they aren't good enough to act like jerks on the court. If they don't make the tournament this year, something is seriously wrong and changes need to be made. Chicago brought in one of the best recruiting classes in D3 and I expect them to have 3 freshmen starting this year coupled with All-American Will Zhang, Troy Brinker and Jan Stefanski. If you see Brinker at 4 or 5 in the lineup, he could be one of the best in the country at his position. Something always seems to go wrong for the Maroons. Either their doubles is weak, or the top of the lineup isn't showing up or the bottom of the lineup isn't showing up. This year, there should be no excuses. This team is loaded with talent and they should be top 10 if they play to their potential. Their middle of the lineup should be as strong as anyone in the country and I would also expect them to have very strong teams at #2 and #3 doubles. Chicago seems to always mess up their NCAA chances with a bad loss sometime during the season. This year, I think there are 2 must wins on their schedule. The first is Kenyon, which was one of my matches to watch, and also a match against DePauw. The Tigers got the better of Chicago in '08 and '09 and it was probably the loss to DePauw in '09 that kept Chicago out of the tournament. The Maroons will have chances at Emory and Wash U during their season as well as at UAAs and these are definitely potential upsets. Chicago is good enough to play with anyone this season, they just need to stay modest and focus on the task at hand.