The East Coast saw another season of improvement in 2013-14. Led by James Madison’s Final Four appearance, the teams from the east made more noise in the NCDA this year than ever before. Towson, Virginia Commonwealth, and Penn State all improved as overall teams, while Maryland made their first ever appearance at Nationals. It was a fairly successful year of dodgeball on the East Coast. Here are my awards for this region:
This is an easy choice considering the Dukes were the first East Coast team to ever reach the Final Four at Nationals. JMU proved once again this season that they are a few steps ahead of any other team from the east. They finished with a combined 9-1 record against their East Coast foes.
Most Improved Team:
Maryland gets the nod here. The Terrapins turned a lot of heads at Nationals this year, with a very strong performance. UMD finished the season 9-10, but really made a name for themselves as a legitimate opponent this year.
Most Valuable Player:
Joey Cardella (JMU)
This is a very tough choice considering how many outstanding players are from the East Coast. While Brent Gromer has always proven that he is one of the best all-around players in the NCDA, he missed most of the season with an ACL injury so I will give the MVP award to his teammate Joey Cardella. Joey played an integral part in JMU’s run to the Final Four this past season. He has earned a reputation as one of the league’s top catchers. I personally have had the opportunity to go up against Joey many times in the past, and from my experience he is one of the hardest players to eliminate in the NCDA.
Team to Watch Next Season:
While I am very high on Maryland, and expect them to be much improved next year, I am going to say Towson is my “Team to Watch”. For a team that was eliminated in the first round of Nationals, Towson is very talented. This team has a lot of upside if they can build on the talent of their top 5 or 6 players.