Metro East: 2012 Open Preview

by | January 3, 2012, 4:00am 0

New Year, same old Metro East?

Due to the restructuring in 2011, every single Metro East team was given hope and optimism that they could win this weaken region. NYU almost realized the dream by making it to the finals to face the obvious favorite in Cornell. Despite taking half, David failed to defeat Goliath. Cornell won the region for the third year in a row in the second half, very convincingly. This hasn’t stopped the dream for the other teams in the top 8, and one in particular may just have what it takes to take down a giant.

Uconn – The Favorite?

In 2011, Uconn was the number 2 seed coming into Metro East Regionals, and planned to be the team to shock the nation by upsetting Cornell. Their tournament ran smoothly until the semifinals, where NYU proved to be too much for an athletic Uconn squad.  Much of the same team is back, with little roster turnover and more experience.  Another year together  has paid dividends in the fall with victories over Cornell, Rutgers, Penn State, and narrow losses to UNC and South Carolina.

2012 Uconn Grind is a physically imposing bunch with height and athleticism. Ben Weyers, Matt Turiano are two 6’4’’-6’5’’ receivers that create match up problems for anyone within the region. Kamil Skwarek may be the most important piece, especially near the end zone as he’s able to get around physical marks for the around backhand break. RJ Mcfadden is a refreshing burst of energy and finds a way to make impact plays on offense despite his small stature. Brian “The Torch” Varis , aptly named for his big play ability, will be favored in on any 50-50 disc.

This team is able to play to their strengths, displaying the threat of long hucks early in games and then  patiently working it underneath. With many individual playmakers, tall and short, Uconn will not hesitate to take their chance with a first throw deep huck.  Ironically, Uconn’s weakness may be their inability to grind close games out.  While not one dimensional, reliance on the big play can be predictable and teams in the top 30 will learn how to shut them down.  None the less, Uconn is my favorite to win the Metro East at this point in time.

Cornell- 4th Straight Title?

5th Year Neil Butler at 2010 College Nationals - Photo by Andrew Davis

In talks with former captain Alex Kadesch, a couple things became clear about Cornell’s strategy. Nothing matters until the series. Even last year, Kadesch  knew that it didn’t matter if his team was impressive in the regular season (they weren’t), but that their nationals finish is what would make the history books.  Cornell ended up making it to Nationals for their 16th trip in 2011.

Why care about the way Cornell played last season? It’s likely that they’ll treat this season the same way. While Uconn is the favorite, it’s unlikely that any team in the Metro East will be ranked in the top 20 or 30. There is every incentive to play all of the roster throughout the regular season. And Cornell knows how to build, knows how to develop their younger players. Kadesch , “It’s about getting players to play the right way as a freshman”, and Cornell has established itself as a team who historically plays the “right way”.

Cornell may not be the favorite at this point in time, but there’s no reason to count them out. Despite losses of Brian Grundy, Garrett Bernstein, and Kadesch, Cornell has returned 5th year players Bo Li and Neil Butler to their D line.  Both Li and Butler were injured in the fall, and you can bet that both will make a substantial difference in the spring season. On the offensive side of the disc you can look for Adam Salwen and Nick Thompson to be making the majority of the plays, while Matt Chun and Jake Stevelman will be stepping up to fill bigger roles for the Buds. Cornell excels in finding a specific role for their players. Come May, their success will be built on a structure. Efficient offense and hard D will likely put Cornell in the final once again.

The rest of the top 8

It’s pretty simple to say that Metro East is only 8 teams deep, and that isn’t likely to change. The only team that could have difference last year was Vassar, who didn’t attend due to graduation conflicts. After that we’re left with the list of NYU, Columbia, Buffalo, Rutgers, Wesleyan and Yale. NYU lost the premier playmaker of the ME in Husayn Carnegie but appeared to have the best structure besides Cornell last year. Buffalo lost two big pieces in Zack Smith and David Ferraro, but now has a large and more experienced junior class. Rutgers features 2011 Metro East Freshman of the Year Scottie Xu. Yale is returning a team mostly full of Juniors but will be without all region Yuri Sandusky, and 5 other seniors.  Expect some shuffling throughout the season as we’ll gain more information on these teams.

Players to watch

  • Neil Butler – Cornell
  • Nick Thompson -Cornell
  • Bo Li – Cornell
  • Kamil Swkarek – Uconn
  • Brian Varis – Uconn
  • Jon Bain- Buffalo
  • Scottie Xu – Rutgers
  • Sean Childers  – NYU

Power Rankings – Based on Fall Play

  1. Uconn – Wins over Cornell, Rutgers at UOA Big East, strong showing at Fall Easterns
  2. Cornell – Traditional Program still remains, will play better in the spring despite a poor fall
  3. NYU- Appeared to have a good program in place, not sure what to make of a poor fall season
  4. Buffalo – Finals of Woodside, X-Y teams had good showing at North Coast and Fall Brawl, previous years sophomores look to prove their worth
  5. Vassar – Scrappy players that play a loose system can be dangerous in bracket play if they show
  6. Yale – Young team from previous gaining experience, depth matters
  7. Wesleyan – Returning a large senior class? More information needed
  8. Rutgers – Scottie Xu will be a name in the Metro East for years to come
  9. Columbia – A loss to Ithaca in the fall? Losses of Milo Synder, Micah Babbit, Kerry Chang (Possible Return?) are huge

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