We all know what time of the year it is. It’s time to go back to school and get back in the books. More importantly, it’s time to get rid of that Holiday season fat and get ready for the second half of the season. There’s still three months of quality dodgeball to be played before everyone heads to Ohio State for Nationals. A week in to the semester and we already have one of the league’s classic tournaments going down this Sunday, the Chicago Dodgeball Open.
It is famously hosted by the DePaul Dodgeball Society and held at the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center on the southeast side of the Lincoln Park campus. Just like JMU’s B.E.A.S.T. tournament and the MSU Invite, the CDO has become one of the more sought after tournaments to attend each school year. Typically four or five other teams attend and join in with DePaul for a day of classic dodgeball matches, tons of shenanigans, and halfway decent pizza. Most of all, it’s another opportunity for cross-country friends and rivals to get together in the friendliest setting the NCDA has to offer.
This year’s group of team’s include the host team DePaul, 2013 National Champion runner-up Michigan State, current undefeated and reigning NCDA Champion Grand Valley State, and a juggernaut squad from the East Coast in James Madison.
#14 DePaul Dodgeball Society (2-8)
Zigmas: Chicago will be represented by DePaul Dodgeball for this 2014 CDO, Moody won’t be able to attend due to numbers, which is a real shame in my opinion. Both the event and DePaul are storied in tradition, and you wouldn’t find much deviation from that norm. DePaul has always been able to field its strongest players at the key home event of the Season (that spans many other schools as well). You’ll get both veterans, rookies, and second years playing from DePaul, including both genders as well. They certainly have plenty to choose from, with 30-45 people regularly attending dodgeball nights.
DePaul’s play style certainly won’t deviate much from the norm either. The arms have grown more powerful over the years, matching overarching trends within the League. The hands and athleticism of the team continue to be there. Hopefully they will be able to outrun the other team early in the match. In my opinion, I still think they’ll play the first couple points all out, then adjust to a dodgeball-first over winning-first attitude. If the game stays close, you’ll likely find DePaul playing more serious to keep the game closer, but within five minutes that could fly out of proportion. Keys to DePaul Dodgeball success remain in the team staying “Undefeated.”
Troy: There is nothing more that needs to be said to describe this team. DePaul is “undefeated” and it always will be. Sometimes the scoreboard may say otherwise, but if numbers are all you go by then you can’t possibly understand what that phrase means to them. More to the point, the other three teams shouldn’t be surprised if they get their money’s worth in their matches with DePaul. They have a real fixation for shocking teams and enticing them to play their brand of dodgeball.
#10 Michigan State University (3-5-1)
Troy: Michigan State undoubtedly is coming into the CDO looking to gain some momentum towards the second half of the season. They had a fantastic run last season. However, we came into this season with the realization that they were going to lose some key pieces due to graduation and they were going to need some of their longer tenured players to take their game to another level to sustain their highly competitive culture. In my opinion, their record truly doesn’t speak to how dangerous this team can be on any given day. MSU is known to schedule tournaments that feature tough and talented teams. So, the fact that they have only won three of the nine matches they’ve participated in is nothing to sneeze at. Remember that they share a state with Grand Valley, Saginaw Valley, Central Michigan, and recently formed Sienna Heights. Don’t be surprised if they hand out a couple of losses on Sunday.
Zigmas: MSU has been a mainstay of Chicago tournaments, and I’m glad to see them on the floor again. I’m going to say they will bring a strong team along, but less than a full squad. MSU has had some bad luck regarding injuries, and this early in the semester I’m worried that teams might have enough people to bring. I feel that State will make a good showing against JMU and DePaul, but fall short of playing well in Nationals Championship rematch against GVSU.
#2 James Madison University (11-2)
Troy: JMU’s record shows that they are playing as well as any team in the league up to this point in the season. Nothing really surprising there. I’ve been in awe for the last two seasons of how good this team can be when they’re playing to their full potential against top tier teams. Rewind to Nationals 2013. We had JMU facing off against eventual champion GVSU on Day 1. What you saw was JMU working the clock and methodically picking off opposing players to take the big time win. I don’t even know if you can really call it an upset anymore because I believe they’re just flat out that good. Sunday, I finally get to see these two teams go at it again in person. The question I have is what JMU squad will be coming to Chicago? I’ve heard that they’ve had to play a few games earlier in the season either short handed or without their A-squad. Regardless of who they bring, they’re going to be pedal to the metal for 50 minutes each game.
Zigmas: I heard JMU will be bringing 25 people to Chicago this weekend; they always travel well. I estimate their core squad will be about 10 people, and fairly strong. I don’t predict a win against GVSU, but there are some strong chances for the MSU-JMU matchup.
#1 Grand Valley State University (14-0)
Troy: What else needs to be said about Grand Valley? They’re the reigning champs. They’re the top team in the NCDA. They’re undefeated on the season. They had an unbelievable point streak going early on (teams wouldn’t win a single point in their matches). The rest of the NCDA is chasing them and that’s exactly the way that they want it. Until a team is able to change the zero in GV’s loss column to a one, they’re the best team. No questions asked. End of debate. I’m not going to crown them this year’s champ just yet. They’re going to have to take care of business April 13 at Ohio State for that distinction. I do challenge one of the other three teams to put in some work against GVSU Sunday and help kick start the debates again though.
For all the teams that will be in Chicago on Sunday, good luck and we’ll see you on the courts. Other teams, be sure to express interest early on for next year’s CDO and you’ll see why teams like GVSU an MSU love to keep coming back.
“Always been a good way to see a good gathering of teams outside of Nationals. As well as an excuse to see this beautiful city and play some awesome DePaul rules dball.” -Luke Mockaitis #54 (DePaul Alum)