Warm Up: 2012 Preview

by | February 2, 2012, 11:44am 0

At last we find ourselves upon one of the first early season tournaments that could give us an insight on who might just be the favorite for the national championship. While the field has lost some depth, Pittsburgh has joined the fray and the likes of Wisconsin and Carleton are returning, Warm Up is the precursor towards Pres Day and Stanford Invite. 8 teams will battle it out round robin style with the top two gaining byes, and the next four forced to play into the quarterfinals.

When I root, I root for the defense, Florida.

Florida has already started the season by besting regional rival Georgia in the finals of Joint Summit Classic. Without looking past the regional opponents this weekend, this is a chance for the nation to see if the boys from Gainsville will find themselves not only in the top 20, but top 10 or 5 at the end of the year. Make no mistake, this squad is the favorite to take the South East, and they have the defense to prove it.

Bobby Ley gets up for a disc vs. Georgia - Photo by Danielle Nyquist

Defense wins championships? There’s no doubt that their defense will be able to produce turns, as it consists of some of the most physically intimidating specimens around. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed with the departure of last year’s seniors. However, the concern this weekend is not surrounding the defense, but the departure of offensive play makers Alex Hill, Nathan Sage and of course Cole Sullivan. Florida’s style has shifted from pick up, hold the disc offense, to a dump swing vertical stack that requires correct spacing and movement from all players.

Who is there to replace the old stalwarts? Alan Baird was missing in action on Sunday of Joint Summit but has the traditional look of a big bodied receiver that can make plays down the field. Travis Catron is the glue that holds the team together, along with Rob Brice, Jason Silverman and others. Bobby Ley and Remy Mullen are two young freshman that look more like replacements for Alex Hill rather than Cole Sullivan, but should certainly add a spark to the Florida offense.

How do they do it? Carleton?

Julian Childs-Walker hopes to lead CUT back to the finals - Photo by Andrew Davis

Year after year, pieces leave, and CUT still performs. It’s a testament to your program when you make 3 consecutive championship games and take two out of three. First it was the loss of Sam Kanner, and now this year it’s the loss of Grant Lindsley that the team will have to “recover” from. I say recover, because Carleton will continue to churn out new names regardless. This year there may be too many to choose from, but the big names will be Simon Montague and Julian Childs-Walker.

What can we expect for this weekend? Carleton continuing to work on their game and develop depth. As they’ve been quoted many times, their view point is that it is important to trade early season success for development. Last year, they spoiled us, nearly running the table in the regular season before not adjusting their strategy in the winds of the North Central region. None-the-less, it’s a chance to get a look at how the pieces fit in, and if they will be capable of getting to the finals for the 4th straight year.

Wisconsin, early season favorite?

Colin Camp hopes to repeat his semi-final performance throughout 2012 - Photo by Andrew Davis

It’s not often that many teams come back from losing the championship game to find themselves poised to get back there and win it this time around. There seems to be an exception for teams from the North Central. The Hodag’s return a deep roster with six Madison Club players, and of course experienced coach Hector Valdivia.

The big losses from 2011 are Cullen Geppert, John Bergen, and Ben Feldman, but Dave Wiseman, Dayu Liu, Dan Park and of course NexGen’s Colin Camp plan to pick up the slack for another shot at the title. Also watch out for Alex Simmons, who should take on a role like Feldman or Geppert. Last year, it seemed Wisconsin adopted CUT’s strategy of developing early in the season. I left Easterns feeling that the athleticism and talent was there, but for some reason there wasn’t consistency.

For anyone who watched the run through 2011 Nationals noticed that Wisconsin’s offense became consistent, and the athletic defense stepped up to shut the majority of teams down. I expect to see that same type of athletic play making squad at Warm Up, but I am anxious to see an early look of their offense as well.

For more information on Carleton and Wisconsin, check out our North Central Preview.

P-I, T-T, Pittsburgh Pittsburgh… Yeehaw

Pittsburgh was supposed to be the chosen one, the one who would give the Metro East a college championship. But alas, Pittsburgh has reached a stagnant point, trying to get over the hump and make it into a national final. These guys have talent, and maybe more relevant for discussion, swagger.

Swagger brings attention, and sometimes it’s in the form of hate or high expectations. It can also bring about the idea that Pittsburgh enters tough games over confident. Over confidence could lead to frustration, frustration to suffering… Anyways, the point being is that with these high expectations, the “media” has put Pittsburgh under a microscope.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Pittsburgh is the new kid on the block. They are the ones who have to overcome their inexperience to beat the Colorados, Carletons and Wisconsins. They are a top five program with high school talent continuously coming in. Eventually with the talent available, Pittsburgh will get their due and make their way to the top of the heap. This weekend will be a start towards that goal, and we’ll start to predict whether this is Pitt’s year.

Tyler Degirolamo tied for 1st in goals at Nationals in 2011 - Photo by Andrew Davis

With Tyler Degirolamo leading players at nationals in goals and Alex Thorne only gathering 9 turnovers, Pittsburgh has the stars. With Isaac Saul gaining more and more experience, they have guys in other roles stepping up. Finally, with freshman Max Thorne, Joe Bender and Trent Dillon, you have the energizing youth. Want a spot on Pitt your freshman year? Better have some high school experience.

Pitt dominated Classic City Classic in the fall despite losses to big contributors Chris Brenenborg and Eddie Peters. Last year, we typically saw Brenenborg or Thorne isolated off an L stack and putting it deep for Degirolamo. You can expect Degirolamo going deep as usual, but in the fall he played a lot behind the disc, running the end zone offense at times. Look for Julian Hausman to also be one of the first isolated cuts out of the stack this year.

Expect Pittsburgh to be top 3, other than that, that’s why they play the game.

Best of the Rest

It’s a party in the South East as No Look Scoober’s top 4 will battle it out for an early season preview. Georgia, Georgia Tech, Central Florida and South Florida will battle it out with the aforementioned Florida.

Things I’m looking forward to from these match-ups:

• Can any of these teams get another strength bid? Central Florida and Georgia might have a chance and can prove it here

• How does UCF stack against top teams? They crushed at T-Town-Throwdown, but this weekend is a whole nother’ level

• Elliott Erickson, I got to see him briefly vs. Florida, what can he do consistently vs. CUT, Wisconsin and Pitt

• Can Nick Lance and Jay Clark do enough to dominate a game against the top 4? Their depth is lacking, and won’t develop until late in the season, so they will have to rely on their two studs to win games now.

Now for some crazy media predictions

Bryan Jones: 1) Wisconsin 2) Carleton 3) Pittsburgh 4) Florida 5) Georgia 6) UCF

BJ -Wisconsin, too much experience returning to handle.

Zack Smith: 1) Pittsburgh 2) Wisconsin 3) Carleton 4) Florida 5) Georgia 6) UCF

ZS- I’ll let this video do the talking…


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