Saturday, May 25, 2013
In one year, Bowling Green State has switched from underdog to favorite. BGSU's lineup will be almost unchanged going into the 2013-14 season and that lineup seems to have an all-star caliber player at every position. Chaser Daniel Daugherty and offensive weapons such as keeper Zak Hewitt will be returning. Joe Pavlik will continue to be one of the most effective beaters in the Midwest even though his partner Anthony DeCapite will not be returning. After his performance at World Cup, seeker Sam Roitblat will have big expectations to face in the Midwest next year. Retaining her position as captain, is chaser Katie Miligan. From top to bottom, BGSU has no glaring weaknesses. For the black and orange, it's all about adding depth and continuing to get better.
Right with Bowling Green State at the top, will be Marquette. Despite their underwhelming performance at World Cup VI, Marquette is retaining many of their talented players. Chaser Bobby Roth's excellent point play and the female chasing duo of Cecilia Ware and Caroline Villa are the keys to Marquette's success. The Golden Eagles have so much size and physicality in players like keeper Pat Doyle, and if that athleticism isn't wasted by reckless play, Marquette will see fewer cards and more victories. Recruiting beaters should be Marquette's priority because a solid beating core with an understanding of beater strategy is what Marquette lacked in 2012-13. I give BGSU the edge over Marquette solely because of BGSU's superior beaters.
Five teams that have traditionally been at the top in the Midwest are losing their most well-known players.
Michigan State has built a deep roster full of consistent contributors, so the loss of Olympian keeper Lawrence Lazewski shouldn't hurt the Spartans terribly. Taking over at keeper, Tyler Rafferty can change games with his athleticism and strategic input. At chaser, Nic Dziadosz and Ian Hoopingarner are good ball handlers, while Meyessa Mansour is a threat behind the hoops. Michigan State will be most successful if they can tighten up their chaser defense. The Spartan's conservative beater strategy will work much better if their beaters are not left scrambling to beat open players.
The trio of keeper Connor Drake and chasers Hai Nguyen and Ronell Sharp will be leaving Kansas. Nguyen's speed, Sharp's physicality and Drake's point guard skills made Kansas a very versatile team in the past. Next year, keeper Jordan Callison will step into Drake's shoes as Kansas' primary ball carrier and scorer. Whether Kansas can replace Sharp or Nguyen waits to be scene, but don't be surprised if star seeker Keir Rudolph experiments with the white headband and becomes a Harry Greenhouse-esque chaser/seeker.
Michigan is losing chaser Andrew Axtell and keeper Evan Batzer. Axtell had explosive speed and the ability to carve up defenses, and Batzer was a great passer and defender. Together, they allowed Michigan to compete and play close games with any team in the IQA. During the 2013-14 season, Axtell and Batzer did a lot of Michigan's scoring and playmaking. Michigan possibly faces the toughest rebuilding job in the Midwest. With no young offensive stars, Michigan might become an entirely different team strategically, and focus more on passing and beater-play.
Graduating senior Tyler Macy is perhaps the most well-known player from Ball State due to his position on Team USA, but as long as Ball State has chaser Devon McCoy, they will be fine. McCoy is an outstanding emotional leader and provides an unmatched level of energy on the field. He is a power chaser who leads a fantastic Ball State transition game. Macy was reliable and clutch, but he is not irreplaceable. Ball State has amazing depth at every position and although they might have a seeking problem in the fall, by WCVII, someone trustworthy will don the yellow headband.
Ohio State will have trouble in the fall without captain and beater, Luke Changet, but by the spring, the Buckeyes will have worked out the kinks. Chaser Braden Stevenson and keeper David Hoops will be Ohio State's best offensive players. Stevenson and Hoops have great chemistry and will work together to punch the ball though the hoops. Ohio State has been gradually improving for the past two years and although the loss of Changet will hurt, it won't stop the progress.
Team to Watch
Miami, who were Division Two semifinalists at World Cup VI, have lots of young athletic players. Chasers Matt Dwyer and Katie Graham both were chosen to be on the Eighth Man's Honorable Mention Midwest Cup team. Miami came in second at the Rocky Top Rumble this spring and were third (out of eight teams) at their own Phoenix Cup in the fall. Other players to watch are towering keeper Morgan Jacobson and former football player Brian Neibecker at chaser.
I know most people already know the name Keir Rudolph (Kansas' seeker), but he is going to get better. Rudolph's has really long arms and it seems every time he goes out onto the pitch, he returns with a snitchsock in hand. Rudolph is determined, athletic and smart. He swoops in for the snatch with perfect timing and makes quick, hard-to-parry moves on the snitch. In his sophomore year, Rudolph can only gain new tactics, experience and become even more frightening for opponents in bracket play.
Can Bowling Green State and/or Marquette reach a level where they are far and away the best in the region? This is possible but, BGSU needs more depth and Marquette needs good beaters.
The Midwest may have the best seekers in the country. Who's the best seeker?! Who will rise to the occasion at MWRC? (Keir Rudolph, Sam Roitblat, Jacob Heppe, Alex Busbee...)
What's happening in the Chicago quidditch scene? Whole quidditch conferences have been organized around NYC and LA. Why hasn't the same happened in Chicago?
1) Bowling Green State
3) Michigan State
4) Ball State