Wednesday, February 16, 2011

National Indoors Preview: Quarterfinal #4: #5 UC Santa Cruz vs. #4 Trinity (TX)

Santa Cruz's Parker Larsen

I've been debating for a month who to pick in this match, but I decided I just can't ignore the history of Indoors and the history between these 2 teams. This is the blockbuster quarterfinal this year, pitting defending champion Cruz against a Trinity team that is hungry to get back in the limelight after a couple years outside the top 10. This is the Tigers first test, and they couldn't have asked for a harder one. I've praised TU's doubles lineup so much in the preseason and it's a given they are going to play good doubles, but the one team that has the ability raise their game in doubles and hang with Trinity is Cruz. We saw it last year from the Slugs. They went through the motions in their first 2 matches and got close wins, but all of the sudden they turn it on in the final and blitz Wash U in doubles. Coach Hansen has a 6th sense about when his guys need to raise their level, and they are going to have to do it during doubles in this match. I don't know if I expect Cruz to come out on top after doubles, but I think they will be in all 3 matches with chances to win. To me, this match is about the bottom of the lineup in singles. The 3 through 6 positions will determine who ends up a winner. I think Pybas and Koenig will be a bit much for Trinity to handle at the top 2 singles spots, so they'll have to win it with their depth. They are the more experienced team in the bottom of the lineup with senior captain Cory Kowal and reigning West ROTY Erick Delafuente going up against Cruz's bottom of the lineup, who has only 1 starter from last year's team. The Slugs always do this though. They take players that no one knows, throw them in the bottom of the lineup and make a good team out of it. This year will be no exception, Cruz will be solid at every spot. I consider Trinity the only team who's a real threat to beat Emory in this tournament because of their doubles play. Cruz's strong top of the lineup is negated by Emory, so the Eagles should be rooting hard for the Slugs in this. I think it's very likely that the winner of this quarterfinal will find themselves in the final against Emory. When Brad Gilbert does his pre-match analysis on ESPN, he gives checks to whoever is stronger in a given category. Trinity gets many more checks than Cruz heading into this match, but then you get to the "intangibles" category and Cruz gets infinite checks, because the bottom line is they are great at this tournament and they have owned the Tigers for a decade. Keep in mind McMindes was TU's assistant during their current 5 match losing streak in the Indoors first round. I just can't pick against Hansen and the Slugs in this even though logic tells me to go with Trinity. I'll take Cruz 5-4 and it may come down to the last match.