Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2011 Team Preview #21: Pomona-Pitzer

Ramsey Bernard

Coach: Ben Belletto, 8th Season
Location: Claremont, California
Conference: SCIAC
2008 Ranking: 30
2009 Ranking: 28
2010 Ranking: 20
2011 Projected: 20

Pomona-Pitzer, similar to Whitman, is a team at the top of the 3rd tier of teams looking to break into the 2nd tier. They also happen to be my third victim of the NCAA selection process. Coach Belletto should be commended for what he's done with this program, taking them 10 spots higher over the past 2 years and making them a very tough team to play because you know they will always fight until the end. I really have no evidence to back this up, but I have a feeling P-P is going to plateau for the next several years and stay in the 20-25 range. I don't see how they can really move up with the stringent admissions standards of the college, but they are still a good enough team to always be ranked and get some wins against other top 30 teams. They use the strategy of stacking their schedule with the top teams in the country in an attempt to improve, but the only thing it's accomplished over the past 3 years is having them miss the tournament. This is a good program that is hoping to become a great program, but you can't become a great program without actual results. When I say actual results, I mean big wins in important matches. There is always speculation, and I take some of the blame for it, that the Hens are going to knock off a powerhouse when we least expect it. Their biggest win the past 3 years has been an early season victory against a weak Mary Washington team last year that got them as high as 17 in the country. I know they work hard, but that's nothing to write home about. I don't see their breakthrough coming for quite a while, but maybe 2011 will prove me wrong. They've got experience as well as depth, and almost their whole team back from last year. They've got one of the best players in the West in Tommy Meyer and one of the most underrated in Uday Singh. One thing I commend P-P for is always being ready to play against top teams and giving their best. They are a target for teams below them and a warm-up match for teams above them, so they are in an awkward spot heading into matches more often than not. There are several matches that stand out to me on their schedule this year that will show us if they've improved since last year. Pay attention to matches against Brandeis, Mary Washington, Tyler, Trinity (CT) and Redlands. I think they should be pleased going 3 for 5 against those teams. Their schedule is stacked and they have chances, but the NCAA odds are against them. I really like this program and I hope they prove me wrong, but I'm not a true believer until I see some real results.