Archive for October 2007
UPDATE: WHILE WE’RE WAITING (AT WHAT POINT TO DO THE WORDS “COMING UP” START TO LOSE MEANING?), I LOOKED AT 38 AUTO BIDS FROM AROUND THE NATION. NO. 1 SEEDS WON 26 OF THE CONFERENCE TOURNEYS. EVERY ONE OF THE CONFERENCES THAT HAD UPSET WINNERS WERE EITHER FROM WHAT I WOULD CONSIDER 1-BID LEAGUES (ASC, NJAC, PAC, CAC, GNAC, GSAC, LITTLE EAST, MASCAC) OR WON BY NO. 2 SEEDS OVER NO. 1 SEEDS IN WHICH BOTH TEAMS WERE PROBABLY IN ANYWAY (AMHERST/WILLIAMS, MIT/WELLESLEY, WASH U/EMORY, WASH&LEE/BRIDGEWATER).
IN OTHER WORDS, I DON’T THINK ANY POOL C BIDS WERE VULTURED THIS YEAR.
MWC: CARROLL DEF. MONMOUTH (3-1)
IIAC: CENTRAL DEF. COE (3-0)
MIAC: ST. THOMAS DEF. ST. BENEDICT (3-0)
WIAC: WHITEWATER DEF. PLATTEVILLE (3-1)
CCIW: CARTHAGE DEF. AUGUSTANA (3-0)
NAC: LAKELAND DEF. BENEDICTINE (3-1) (NOT AN AUTO BID)
SLIAC: WEBSTER DEF. PRINCIPIA (3-0)
UAA: EMORY DEF. WASHINGTON (3-2)
In 2005, when the regionals were in similar locations (Oshkosh and St. Thomas), the NCAA doled out 9 Pool C bids (half of the 18 total alloted to the nation) to the Central and Midwest regions.
Last season, the NCAA had a regional in St. Louis (Wash U), creating a scheduling nightmare that resulted in only 4 total Pool C bids for WIAC, IIAC and MIAC teams because most of the trips would have required the NCAA to fly those teams to St. Louis.
I think the NCAA will get back to the 2005 model and give more Central and Midwest teams Pool C bids than it did in 2006, when the NCAA simply couldn’t do so.
In 2005, there were 17 total teams from the two regions in the tournament – 9 Pool C, 7 Pool A and 1 Pool B. Two teams (Fontbonne, Pool A from SLIAC; Millikin, Pool C from CCIW) were driven to the Great Lakes Regional in Springfield, Ohio.
In 2005, the St. Thomas Regional had 7 teams (2 Pool A, 4 Pool C, 1 Pool B). The Oshkosh Regional had 8 teams (4 Pool A, 4 Pool C).
I think the 2007 bid share will be similar (slightly less) than it was in 2005.
What in the wide world of sports? Platteville did it again?! For the second year in a row, the Pioneers walk out of Kolf with a WIAC tournament quarterfinal victory. Jeez, was Lisa Bell good for Platteville.
I jinxed it with my predictions, I guess. That’s as good of an explanation as any for what happened tonight in the Titans’ four-game loss to Platteville. I just can’t comprehend the complete collapse in most phases of Oshkosh’s play after that first game.
All I know for sure is that’s not the Titans I’ve watched for the last four years.
Only one time since 1999 has the No. 1 seed won the WIAC tournament. That was way back in 2000, when Whitewater avoided an upset for three whole matches.
That’s all it takes – three matches – to win the darn thing, but only once in the past eight seasons has the home team pulled off the probable. That, more than anything, proves how strong and balanced the WIAC is, year in and year out.
Not every WIAC tournament has a big surprise winner, like in 2005 when Platteville won every match on the road as the No. 5 seed. But being the top seed has not been kind over the years.
Year Top Seed Tourney Champ
2006 Eau Claire Whitewater (No. 3 seed)
2005 Whitewater Platteville (No. 5)
2004 Whitewater Stout (No. 2)
2003 River Falls La Crosse (No. 2)
2002 River Falls Whitewater (No. 2)
2001 Oshkosh Whitewater (No. 2)
2000 Whitewater Whitewater
1999 River Falls Whitewater (No. 2)
1998 Whitewater Whitewater
Two trends are evident. First, Whitewater is money in the tournament. Only three other teams have won it in the last nine seasons, although Whitewater has lost the last two times it hosted. Second, the No. 2 seed has won five of the nine tourneys. After this one, make it six of the last 10.
In my eyes, this season there are two top dogs, Whitewater and Oshkosh. Not far behind, in the deputy dog position, is La Crosse, which proved it can beat anyone when the Eagles beat Juniata. I think only those three teams can/will win the 2007 version of the WIAC crapshoot.
Here’s how I see things playing out:
In a stunner, Wittenberg lost game two to Earlham, 30-28, tonight in Springfield, Ohio. No. 1 and undefeated Wittenberg’s consecutive-games streak is over at 54. The Tigers won the match over Earlham in four games.
Oshkosh keeps its D-III record 57-game winning streak.
As I posted last week, what makes the game loss stunning is that Earlham was crushed in three games in its previous match against Wittenberg. Earlham had managed to get into the 20s just once in the prior whitewash.
So, on a night when Oshkosh could use some good news, Wittenberg provides it. I’m positive that the Titans couldn’t care less about any records right now besides the one that reads 27-4 instead of 28-3 after Whitewater wriggled off the hook tonight.
But it might take the disappointment level from 100 percent down to maybe 99.9999 percent. In any event, it’s nice to see the record stay in the Titans’ hands.
The Titans had Whitewater on the ropes but couldn’t get the knockout punch when they needed it. One thing is certain – everyone got their money’s worth. It was a great match, with great momentum swings, between two great teams. You can’t ask for anything more.
After the first game, it seemed like every point was a tense battle. Whitewater handled the tension a little bit better. It appeared the Titan defense was flat-footed during some crucial points. And Oshkosh’s match-point serve …
No one play can determine a match, but Whitewater didn’t seem to have as many mental and physical lapses as Oshkosh. I’m no expert, but for me that’s what it came down to. If those two teams played a best-of-15 match tonight, it would have gone 15 games. I think they are that close, as are all of the elite teams.
The conference season has played almost to form, and the WIAC regular-season championship is down to Oshkosh and Whitewater Oct. 24 at Kolf Sports Center.
Oshkosh (6-1 WIAC) needs a victory to share the regular-season title with Whitewater (7-0).
The winner will be the potential host for all WIAC tournament matches after the first round. The four quarterfinal matches are played at four locations, while the semis and finals are played at the home of the highest remaining seed.
The Titans head into the showdown with Whitewater on the heels of an ugly four-game win today over Stout. I did not see the match, although I can only assume it was ugly because Oshkosh committed 35 attack errors, 24 service errors and 11 serve-receive errors against Stout.
With any luck, the Titans got all of their sloppy play out of their systems. The sloppy play also includes last Wednesday – the Titans’ first loss to Stevens Point since 1998. Again, I can only assume it wasn’t pretty because I was not there. Those kinds of efforts obviously will not be enough for Oshkosh to earn a share of its third straight WIAC regular-season title.
UPDATE 2: DOWN GOES WITTENBERG! WITTENBERG’S STREAK ENDS AT 54 GAMES
EARLHAM TAKES GAME OFF OF NO. 1 TEAM IN THE NATION, OCT. 24 – TITANS MAINTAIN RECORD AT 57 CONSECUTIVE GAMES.
UPDATE: WITTENBERG SWEEPS HIRAM AND HEIDELBERG OCT. 20, STREAK AT 53
Wittenberg, undefeated and No. 1 in the nation, appears to have a good chance of breaking Oshkosh’s D-III record 57-game winning streak.
Wittenberg’s current streak is at 44 games. Next on Wittenberg’s schedule are four seemingly easy conference matches and a nonconference tilt against a competitive Heidelberg team sandwiched in there. It will take a minor miracle by Heidelberg for Oshkosh to keep its record.
Wittenberg’s countdown to history begins tonight at Allegheny and Saturday at Hiram. The Tigers should easily be at 50 consecutive games after those two matches. In two matches earlier this season, Wittenberg crushed Allegheny and Hiram by a combined 180-114 score. The only competitive game was a 30-28 game-three decision over Allegheny, although Hiram is ranked 22nd, according to the AVCA.
UPDATE: UWO BEATS STOUT, WHITEWATER DOWNS RIVER FALLS – STAGE SET FOR WIAC REGULAR-SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN OCT. 24 AT KOLF SPORTS CENTER
OSHKOSH DEFEATS STOUT IN FOUR GAMES DESPITE 24 SERVICE ERRORS, 35 ATTACK ERRORS, 11 SERVE-RECEIVE ERRORS
So, the team stumbled at Stevens Point. A shocker? Definitely. Humbling? Probably. Did it cost Oshkosh the chance of hosting a regional? Hardly.
Sure, Stevens Point hadn’t beaten Oshkosh since Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” was a crossover radio hit and “Saving Private Ryan” was a box office smash. But the Titans’ first loss to the Pointers since 1998 will not preclude Oshkosh from attaining some season goals.
If the Titans were to beat Whitewater at home on Oct. 24, Oshkosh would win the conference title via the tie-breaker (I’m also assuming UWO beats River Falls and Stout). That would mean the WIAC automatic NCAA tournament bid would go through Kolf Sports Center, where the Titans have only lost once this season – and to the No. 1 team in the nation, no less. In fact, Oshkosh has lost only those three games at Kolf this season.
That was Juniata’s backup setter? All right then. Hard to imagine the regular starter, who is injured and didn’t make the trip, would have given the Juniata hitters better sets. It seemed like every ball was right on the money.
As for Oshkosh, they battled and made some spectacular digs. It just wasn’t enough today. It seemed like Juniata played well. If they didn’t, they will be tough to beat when they do.
The Oshkosh serve receive struggled for much of the match. The offense went the way of the receive. When the Titans got a good one, Kim Vail and Rebecca Masephol were crushing.
Service errors may be OK against Marian, but giving Juniata nine free points and a serve that you’re having trouble handling can only lead to runs. Juniata took advantage.
You can talk all day about what ifs. What if the Titans stopped a few runs with a better serve receive? What if the Oshkosh blockers presented four hands more often? What if the Titans had five service errors instead of nine?
So that’s how Oshkosh would play without All-American MB Leah Rosenbaum, huh? Rosenbaum sat out the first day with an illness that could shelve her for the rest of the season, and the Titans were, to put it mildly, not sharp.
Oshkosh won both matches in three games, but I have not seen the team play as poorly as it did against Lakeland and win since a Superior match three seasons ago. No way Oshkosh wins Saturday’s championship match playing like it did today. Then again, it may take a while to adjust to not having Rosenbaum.
The silver lining is that the Titans won both matches, which is something only No. 5 Oshkosh and No. 9 Carthage College can say after a wild day one.
No. 3 UW-Whitewater went into the day with two losses. The Warkawks left with four after dropping a four-game match to No. 1 Juniata before No. 9 Carthage swept Whitewater in the late match.
Whitewater at 0-2 after day one isn’t all that unexpected, considering the teams it played. What I didn’t expect was for No. 1 Juniata to lose in five games to No. 19 UW-La Crosse to end the day 1-1.