Saturday, February 12, 2011

2011 Team Preview #30: DePauw

Michael Rardon

Coach: Scott Riggle, 2nd Season
Location: Greencastle, Indiana
Conference: SCAC
2008 Ranking: 17
2009 Ranking: 12
2010 Ranking: 18
2011 Projected: 17

I really have nothing but praise for this program. DePauw has cemented themselves in the 2nd tier of teams and one of the givens each season is that the Tigers will be really tough to beat, no matter who they are playing. They don't get the top notch recruits that a lot of other top D3 schools get, but they maximize the talent that they have and mold hardworking players who aren't intimidated by anyone. I don't know if this is the case with any other team in the country, but DePauw has had 4 different seniors play #1 singles during the past 4 seasons. It seems when a player is finally developed and ready to compete at the top of the lineup, it's time for him to graduate. This year I don't think that will be the case despite DePauw returning an excellent core of 4 players led by Hunter Schouweiler and Michael Rardon, two of the most underrated players in the country. Also in the lineup should be sophomores Noah Swiler and Andrew Kahn, who will be stronger after getting a year of experience under their belt. They finished 18th last year and missed the tournament, but this team was points away from sweeping Emory in doubles in the Indoors 1st round. That's the story of this team though. They are always close and will give anyone a battle, but they rarely beat the top teams. One thing to remember is that DPU won their conference between '07-'09 before Trinity took it back last year. A conference title should be on the list of goals for DePauw this year because I'm not sure if they are quite strong enough to grab a Pool C bid. I can see this team finishing anywhere between 10 and 19 this year and a lot will depend on the prowess of their enormous freshman class. Everyone in the country knows not to take this team lightly, so their element of surprise won't be there in their big matches against Chicago, Wash U and a likely GLCA semifinal against Kenyon or CMU. They are going to have to play tough doubles if they want to hang with Trinity (TX) this year in the conference final because last year a doubles sweep did in their NCAA chances. The unfortunate thing is that I'm seeing a plateau for this program since their run to the Elite 8 in 2007, and I'm not sure how they are going to break out of it. Teams gain elite status with recruiting, and I don't know if DePauw has the potential to get the necessary recruits to compete with the best. Until they solve this problem, they will continue to grind away and hope to find their way back to the NCAA tournament.