In preparation for the opening weekend of the 2019-20 College Dodgeball season, NCDA commentators Shadeed Drakeford and Kevin Bailey sat own to chat about what they expect from Michigan State’s Early Access Tournament on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. Below is their discussion previewing this weekend’s event:
Kevin Bailey: First off, for those who don’t know, Shadeed will be in East Lansing this weekend to help run the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association’s stream for the tournament. So Shadeed, thank you for taking the time to help run this weekend’s filming. With that said, how excited are you for opening weekend?
Shadeed Drakeford: I’m very fortunate and blessed for this amazing opportunity to stream on behalf of the NCDA. When I found out about the fall schedule, I circled this tournament on my calendar and purchased my tickets soon afterwards. On a scale of 1-10 on how excited I am, I’m at 100 right now.
KB: We have a pretty wild tournament set for this Sunday, with the big four from Michigan (Grand Valley State, Michigan State, Central Michigan, and Saginaw Valley State) along with a few other notable teams: Bowling Green State and Kentucky. According to the Preseason Power Rankings we have the following teams in attendance: #1, #2, #4, #7, #10, #18. Pretty stacked field for such an early season event.
SD: I have to give credit to UK and BGSU for making the trip for this tournament. It’s going to be a tall order for them but they might shock some people if their opponents aren’t careful. I see GVSU as the favorites for this tournament. They’re very motivated and ready to compete this season.
KB: Agreed. Major respect to Kentucky and Bowling Green for challenging themselves by coming up to East Lansing for this tourney. I was about to ask you what your predictions are for this tournament. I personally think this will be the most vulnerable Grand Valley is all season, so if teams want to get wins against them, this will be a great time to do it. GVSU has to replace so many studs that it is going to take some time to adjust. Before I let you give your input, I will say I have some high hopes for both MSU and CMU this weekend. Both of them return a larger portion of their starters than GVSU or SVSU, so they should both look sharp.
SD: CMU and MSU are entering this season with high expectations and rightfully so. Both teams are led by juniors who have the experience and the depth that is necessary to win a championship. I’m expecting big things from both teams. One important note I need to point out: Since 2017 (UK Nationals), MSU has lost to the eventual champions every year. Lost in the Final Four to GVSU (2017), Lost in Elite 8 to GVSU (2018), Lost in the Final Four to Towson (2019).
KB: That’s a pretty crazy stat for Michigan State. That means seniors on that roster have never gone to a Nationals and been defeated by anyone besides the eventual champs. Looking ahead to this year, they have the talent to be the champs. The Spartans don’t seem to be backing down from anything. They have scheduled themselves to play CMU, GVSU, and BGSU on Sunday. All three of those games should be wild. Looking at the schedule, which games are you most excited to see? There could be so many tight matches this weekend.
SD: MSU/CMU, MSU/GVSU, UK/SVSU, and MSU/BGSU are the games I’m looking forward to.
KB: If you could pick one team outside of Michigan to also be in attendance for opening weekend, which team would it be and why?
SD: Miami. This team is built to win a championship this year and with the addition of Reid Manger and a more experienced Tom Morand being the captain, I feel like this would have been a great test for them early this season. However, they got a game plan on how they want to do things and I respect that.
KB: You’ve been working on some new things for the NCDA livestream. Can you walk us through the plan for this weekend? With it being the first event of the year, I’m sure people are excited to tune in and they will be pumped to hear all the stuff you have planned.
SD: Of course. For a long time, players, parents and fans have wanted better quality videos from the NCDA and rightfully so. The league didn’t have the resources, support, or manpower to pull off the task in the past. At nationals 2019, the league was able to integrate scoreboards into the live feed for primer games on Saturday and multiple camera feeds on Sunday. I want to integrate both of those qualities within the stream as well as others things such as prerecorded videos, cool graphics, logos, and shout-out to team sponsors so we can set ourselves for future sponsorships down the road. I’m very excited to test this out.
KB: Yes sir. It’s going to be an exciting weekend of dodgeball, and it will be great to capture all of it on a quality stream. Last questions as we get ready for the start of another season: who will be the most impressive team this weekend, and who are your way-too-early Final Four picks?
SD: You’re putting me on the spot right now. The most impressive team is going to be MSU. Early final picks… it’s so early for that and we haven’t seen anybody played yet, but if we must: GVSU, Miami, MSU, and CMU.
KB: I’ve got the same four! And with that, can’t wait for things to kick off this Sunday. Everyone make sure to tune in on Facebook. First game starts at 10:30 a.m.!