- Joined: Nov 3, 2009
- Last Login: Sep 24, 2021, 12:37pm EDT
- Posts: 18
- Comments: 1,549
College basketball wonk and soccer fan. I've been blogging at College Basketball Chronotope (and Hoosier Fun Ball Ratings) on these topics since 2005.
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It seems the national picture has returned to a pre-2015 situation
If you’re going to bet on the next champion (WWC, Olympics, etc.), it’s smarter to bet on the field rather than just on the US. The US has been great in terms of talent, strategy (I know!), and depth for the last six years, but the top-tier talent just wasn’t there in the Olympics (no brilliant Hamm/Akers, Wambach/Solo, or Lloyd/Rapinoe duo to providing that finishing separation) to overcome foes’ defensive schemes, and the depth is finally flagging. The youth (outside of Lavelle) just aren’t integrated and experienced enough yet to really step up to overcome the improvements other nations are making. That’s really got to be the goal for the next two years – get players like Macario, Sophia Smith, Sullivan, Davidson and others not called up some PT and experience. Every fan has players that they think should’ve gotten more PT or a spot on the Olympic roster (like, say, Midge Purce) and some youngish players like Mallory Pugh will probably see a Kristie Mewis-like resurgence.
The point here about vets is a valid one – there’s a lot of top-notch players that aren’t going to be relinquishing their roster spots – for example, Julie Ertz, Lindsay Horan, and Kristie Mewis make for perhaps the world’s best midfield. And I’m betting Abby Dahlkemper bounces back from a poor showing in Tokyo. But maybe in the next couple of years say, Tobin Heath and Kelly O’Hara, should get a few less appearances and minutes in favor of some of the younger folks. No shade on the vets, but we already know what we’re going to get with them.
My biggest question for the next World Cup is what will be the performance level of a 34-year old Press and Morgan? They’re still world-class strikers when healthy, but Wambach saw a significant decline at that age, whereas Megan Rapinoe had arguably her best performance at 34 in the 2019 WWC. (from earlier generations – Hamm, Milbrett, and Akers all retired at or before 34). I’ll be surprised if either of them is not on the roster, but already Morgan’s not the fearsome breakaway threat she once was, and Press was effectively neutralized by opposing defenses in the Olympics – but hopefully they can develop counters to restore the primacy of the US women’s team?
Agree with all of this
Baseline expectations should be a lot of non-conference wins and enough conference wins to get the field of 68. But the bar, well, it should be higher.
If I was hoping for this team to make a deep March run, then I’d be a bit worried about the ability of the non-conference games to prep this team for anything. It’s really, really light. At Syracuse is an excusable loss. St. John’s and Notre Dame will be if they happen to win – but mostly because that likely means they’re good enough to compete for a tourney berth (a level at which they are not currently projected). Going anything less than 10-1 in those games is going to be some level of disappointment.
And Syracuse isn’t even looking all that great. They return basically three guys from their eight-man rotation last year, and that’s counting back-up center Jesse Edwards (who averaged roughly as many personal fouls as points). They add a top-100 power forward*, and another Boehiem kid – who had a decent year in the Ivy league in 2019-2020, and then former Villanova recruiting disappointment Cole Swider. That roster might coalesce into another Sweet 16 run, but may just as easily fail to mesh – there’s precious little margin for error. If center Bourama Sidibe returns to health, that would be a big help, but I still don’t see any perimeter depth. It looks like Buddy and Girard and a bunch of walk-ons. I have to be overlooking someone?
Notre Dame returns a lot more and has a couple of good recruits and a solid big-man transfer, albeit also from the Ivy. And the Irish weren’t that good last year. St. John’s was better than Notre Dame, but has a lot of roster turnover and is counting on a couple of transfers to plug the holes. I suspect both ND and St. John’s will be in the bubble discussion for most of the year. Marshall should be decent again, but loses a couple of starters and isn’t really bringing anyone of note in, and will likely have to win their conference tourney to get a NCAA berth. And then given the complete turnover and team discontent with coach Greg Gard for Wisconsin, there’s a non-zero chance that the home game with Nebraska is the toughest test this team will face until Jan. 6th’s home date with OSU. Big Ten games will be pretty rough again this year (and hopefully the conference will represent itself better in the postseason than it did last year), so I’m unusually uncertain about how this all falls out. But at a quick scan, I think IU can notch 20 wins overall (10+ in conference play) and grab a decent seed for the NCAA tournament.