What just happened?!?
Has anyone figured that out yet?
In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, James Madison University played host to a number of schools from across the country in the 6th annual Big East Appalachian Super Tournament, aka BEAST this weekend.
To put it simply, this was one for the ages. Before I dig in on my “reaction” (or should I say: overreaction), here are the results from the tourney:
JAMES MADISON – UREC
JMU def OSU 4-1
UK def Towson 3-2 OT
JMU def UK 3-1
MSU def VCU 3-2 OT
Towson def MSU 3-1
VCU def OSU 3-2
JMU def MSU 3-1
UK def OSU 3-0
Towson def JMU 2-0
VCU def UK 2-1 OT
MSU def OSU 3-0
Alright. So with that over with. Here are my thoughts on this crazy tournament:
- Towson is for real! What more can I say? This team came into a tournament where they were seen as underdogs, and did unbelievably well. This squad started the day off with a tough 3-2 (OT) loss to Kentucky, but after that they were on fire. Towson not only took W’s from JMU and MSU, but they did it by a combined 5-1 score! Yikes. The addition of former RIT star / Elite Dodgeball player Tim Wells has clearly help Towson this year. I could name a lot of Towson players worthy of recognition, but I’ll just say that the leaders of the team deserve a lot of credit. Today was, without a doubt, the biggest day in Towson Dodgeball program history. After their performance at BEAST VI, Towson will probably be “favored” to be a Final Four team at National. Let that one sink in…
- Virginia Commonwealth University! What a day! You know how I said this was the best day in Towson’s history? Same goes for VCU, but even more significant. Folks, Virginia Commonwealth has long been the bottom feeder of not only the East Coast, but the entire league. Watching this group go toe to toe with an MSU team that was ranked #2 in the most recent power rankings was a sight to see. What a moment this must’ve been for the leaders of the VCU squad. They took MSU to OT, beat Ohio State, then took down Kentucky in a thrilling overtime game. Watching Hunter Ford and teammates leaping with excitement after their final win, and Shadeed Drakeford collapsing to the floor for a moment of reflection after that groundbreaking victory, it really put things in perspective for me as a spectator. Today was an astounding accomplishment for VCU. They made a big time statement each game, then made a bigger one the next game. Can’t wait to see this group at Nationals. Noticeably more athletic than ever before. Noticeably more cohesive than ever before. Noticeably more confident than ever before. I wonder if the rest of the league will, well, take notice.
- James Madison is a solid team. I’m not jumping out of my seat in awe by their squad after their dominant wins over Ohio State, Kentucky and Michigan State, but I’m also not saying they should freak out about their 2-0 loss to Towson. In my opinion, JMU is in better position this year than they were a year ago. I don’t see them getting blown out in a quarterfinals game in April (like last year). JMU will enter Nationals with a real shot at winning it all. Let’s not forget their only loss prior to today was an overtime defeat at the hands of Grand Valley State.
- Michigan State. I only got to view one of their games, and it was the overtime thriller against VCU. Well, I don’t want to waste much time here, let’s get this over with. Sure, MSU didn’t have their full squad. With that said, their top guys were there, and they didn’t perform in as dominant a fashion as many expected. When your top 3 or 4 players throw a combined (probably 8 or 9) catches in one game (vs. VCU), don’t expect to look too great as a team. I’m sure the JMU loss wasn’t pretty either. As with the Towson one. Anyway, this team will regroup. They will be hungry when they stroll over to IM West on their home campus for the Michigan Dodgeball Cup on February 19th. Excited to see how they do in that one.
- Kentucky didn’t have their best day. Clutch win over Towson to start (especially in retrospect, since Towson dominated every other team they played). Losing 3-1 to JMU was tough, but UK was about to tie that game 1-1 before the half before some huge catches lifted JMU to a 2-0 lead. It was over at that point. UK beat OSU soundly, which was expected, then just ran out of gas against a VCU team with all the momentum in the world. It is what it is. UK still had an 11-game win streak at one point. They still get to host Nationals 2017. They still are a good team, and one that should contend for a title in April.
- Ohio State. Not much to say here. They are a young team. Not even close to the skill level of their Final Four group from a year ago. I do look forward to what they bring to Nationals, and prior to that, the Ohio Dodgeball Cup (ODC). OSU can still salvage this season, and build momentum for their program moving forward. It certainly helps to have Jeff Starr at the helm, and Felix Perrone as the coach of the team. Don’t write them off just yet.
Well, that was quite the tournament. It’s safe to say Nationals 2017 will be the most anticipated ever. For the first time in a very long time (maybe ever), there will be more than just 2 or 3 teams entering Nationals whom believe they have a true shot at winning it all. Seriously. There might be 7 or 8 teams out there who will drive to Lexington in April, planning to come home with the coveted NCDA National Championship Trophy.
As I mentioned earlier, today was the biggest day in program history for two schools: Towson and VCU.
This was quite possibly the biggest day overall in East Coast dodgeball history. This region is the real deal. They proved it today! How long until they surpass Michigan as the top region in dodgeball? Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself…
Without a doubt, today was a historic one for the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association. As a whole, we took a big step forward as a collegiate sport today. The competition at BEAST VI was amazing. Top to bottom, this league is improving significantly.
The future is bright for college dodgeball. That was very clear to everyone attending or watching BEAST VI.
What a tournament!
What a day!