Continuing on our series in reviewing Season thus far, here’s my top ten.
[Bailey’s Top Ten opinions]
Content Writer Jacob Leski’s Top 10 Picks
1. Grand Valley State: 20-0
This team is clutch. They have found themselves in a few close games this season and have always found a way to win with great teamwork when it matters most. This team is great at both catching and throwing and is extremely organized on the court. I believe this team is great year after year because of the leadership their captains bring. Kevin Bailey has done a tremendous job of leading his team and always seems to be in when they need him the most. Dylan Fettig and Aaron Terenzi have also done a tremendous job of keeping their team in the game with outstanding play. Another highlight of this team is their ability to change their strategy mid-game and execute it perfectly. They are in my opinion the smartest team in the league right now simply because they know how to adapt their game style and win. If this team continues to perform the way they do in the clutch, they will not lose.
2. Central Michigan: 18-6
While I am a little biased, this team has only gotten better as the season has gone on and continues to grow as a team on and off the court. As usual, the Chippewas are the catching team of the league. I have yet to see a team that has the catching talent that this squad has and can do it as consistently as they seem to do. While catching is their greatest strength it is also their Achilles heel. While I said this team is very consistent, just like any other team they have their moments where they are off. When this team is not catching they tend to implode and get frustrated with each other, which disrupts the teams chemistry. They are very fortunate to have a solid set of players this season that can throw relatively hard so they do not have to rely entirely on their catching skills. The Chippewas are adding playmaker Mike Riley back to the team next semester. They expect big things out of him and look forward to making a statement next semester.
3. James Madison: 8-0
I only have the Chippewas in front of them because they have yet to play against what I consider a top 8 team. JMU is without a doubt a very talented team and the hardest throwing team in the league. They are led by Brent Gromer who looks to replace Kevin Bailey as the MVP of the league. Their Captain Ben Sizemore has done a great job of leading this team to an 8-0 start. I have also heard that he has done a wonderful job of developing their new talent, which are already making moves on their top 20 roster. This squad has improved every year at Nationals and looks to take the next step to the championship game. I believe the only that will stop them is their reliance on their throwing and the lack of competition they get to play throughout the season. Who they play next semester will determine whether or not they are truly prepared for the level of talent they will see at Nationals.
4. Michigan State: 12-9
This team has a big question mark going into winter break. They have had a lot of ups and downs this season and have a lot of missed opportunities to win games. They are a very talented team that is known for improving dramatically in the weeks leading up to nationals. Similar to GVSU, this team can both throw and catch very well, however their biggest weakness is how unorganized they become when Captain Colin O’Brien is not on the court. More than once I have watched this team lose points and games to GVSU simply because of a lack of communication between teammates. They have had GVSU in the palm of their hands more than once, but always seem to let them escape with the win. I look forward to seeing whether or not they can pull out close victories over their Michigan opponents next semester.
5. Saginaw Valley State: 2-2
I wish this team played more this semester so we could see how they stack up against everyone else, but hopefully we can see them more in the spring. This team is very talented, but also top heavy. They without a doubt have what it takes to win it all this season; it just depends on how much play experience they will get during the regular season. Their head captain Nate Council will not be returning next semester and will be handing over the reins back to previous head captain Max Siler. In no offense against Nate, I believe SVSU will benefit more from having Max as their leader. He has been on a championship team and knows what it takes to be a winner. I also look forward to seeing how assistant captain Blake Grivetti steps us after the departure of another leader. He in my opinion has been the greatest playmaker on this team so far and I expect him to only get better as the season moves on. This team has a lot of young talent that needs to develop if they want to make a difference on this team, only time will tell if they can take it to the next level by the time Nationals comes around.
6. Kent State: 5-10
This team is full of playmakers, they just have yet to have all of them play at the same time due to traveling long distances. I am excited to see this team with its best roster come nationals because I see them making a lot of noise. Their captain Albert DePerro has done a tremendous job of leading this team and making clutch plays. Their overtime comeback victory over Ohio State was an incredible performance to watch and showed why this team should not be taken lightly. Although their record is at a 5-10 mark, I expect them to make some moves next semester that will better prepare them for nationals in April. Their biggest x factor is whether or not they can start travelling better and bring their top roster to each tournament. If they can for nationals then everyone should look out! This squad is definitely my “Dark Horse” for this season.
7. Ohio State: 6-5
This team has some great players, however they need to start developing their younger players if they want to be a more complete team. They have a lot of great throwers, but they seem to rely on that ability to much. I believe this team has a lot of potential; however it is up to Captains Jeff Starr and Josh Conner to bring it out of their teammates. This team’s biggest downfall is their inconsistency. They are so unpredictable because they will show up for tough opponents then have a super close game against a team that is not even close to their talent level. This is something that will need to be fixed if they want to make some noise at nationals.
8. Wisconsin Platteville: 2-0
This team made some noise at nationals last year and they started off their season with a bang by dismantling both of their opponents out in Nebraska. As usual, this team relies on strong throwing by their best players, however their biggest weakness is the rest of their roster. Once their best players are out they do not stand much if a chance. I hope these boys can make it to some more tournaments next semester so we can see them play against some greater talent.
9. Maryland: 6-3
I have heard nothing but good things about this team. The only negative I have heard is that they have a tendency to play as individuals rather than a team, which is scary to see. Their catching abilities have been compared to that of CMU’s, which says a lot about this team. One thing I really like about this team is that they always come out strong. Every first point they have played against JMU has been very close simply because they come out with everything they’ve got, which says a lot about the leadership on this team. I would really like to see how they would matchup against another catch-heavy team such as CMU and MSU. That does not seem likely until nationals, but until then I look to see the Terrapins make some noise by trying to beat JMU next semester.
10. Western Kentucky: 2-13
I know this team has lost a lot of games this season and by a lot, but I truly believe this team will shock a lot of people come Nationals when they will have their full roster. They have a lot of great players that just need more time to develop their basic catching and throwing abilities. They have also improved their communication on the court dramatically throughout the season. If they continue to improve as they have, they will definitely be a team to fear. Captain Nick Johnson is doing a solid job of developing his younger players, which in my opinion will be the x factor in determining how well this team does when Nationals rolls around.