Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 Team Preview #2: Johns Hopkins

Andy Hersh

Coach: Chuck Willenborg, 7th Season
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Conference: Centennial
2008 Ranking: 19
2009 Ranking: 11
2010 Ranking: 13
2011 Projected: 10

Last year, I picked this team #5 in the pre-season and I thought they had a shot at the Final Four. They ended up finishing #13 with a loss in the Sweet 16, so don't pay attention to this preview. Their past few postseasons have been huge disappointments and of course the question on everyone's mind is whether they can turn it around. This year's team has strong players at the top, depth, and a wealth of doubles players, so I don't see why they shouldn't make it the the Elite 8 this year. They brought in a decent recruiting class, and those players should be adequate at the bottom of the lineup. Hopkins has the luxury of not having to worry about making the NCAA tournament because of their easy conference. Their schedule is fairly soft, and a big part of this is because they missed Indoors and won't get those extra 3 matches against top ranked teams. When looking at their schedule, there are really only 3 matches that they are in danger of losing and those would be @NCW, @Emory and at home against Carnegie Mellon. Other than that they should breeze by their schedule. I'm very interested to see what Hopkins will do with their lineup this year, especially in doubles. The once untouchable team of Barnaby/Blythe wasn't very good last year, but I think they will probably play in the #1 spot. After them, you still have Wang, Hersh, Elgort and Rauck to fill out the other two spots. In singles, Hersh was a player to watch and I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a great #2 this year. The bottom of the lineup is key and players like Barnaby and Blythe will need to play top notch singles against NCW and CMU. This is where Hopkins fell short last year. A lot depends on the NCW and CMU matches, because this may determine where Hopkins goes for NCAAs, and this in turn would determine whether they can make the Elite 8. Hard Luck Hopkins has the team to make the Elite 8, I'm just not sure if they can do it. They shouldn't be thinking about 2012 just yet with that amazing recruiting class coming in.