Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WIAC Men's Basketball Preview

In a similar way to my preview of WIAC football, I will look at the upcoming Men’s basketball season in the WIAC.  This however will be just one post with short summaries of each team because I actually have classes and other things going on right now not just trying to do something somewhat productive in the summer like with the football preview.  Without further ado here is a look at the WIAC men’s basketball scene in 2011-2012

2011 Final Standings:

1.      UW-Stevens Point 26-4 overall, 14-2 WIAC
2.      UW-River Falls 20-8, 12-4
3.      UW-Whitewater 17-9, 10-6
4.      UW-Platteville 17-10, 9-7
5.      UW-La Crosse 14-12, 9-7
6.      UW-Superior 15-12, 6-10
7.      UW-Oshkosh 11-14, 5-11
8.      UW-Stout 10-15, 4-12
9.      UW-Eau Claire 9-16, 3-13

Team by Team Breakdown (in order of last year’s finish):

2011 Recap:

Despite being without the back court of the previous season’s national championship team, Matt Moses and Jared Jenkins, the Pointers were still a national force to be reckoned with.  A talented front court and experienced players paved the way for UWSP to take home both the regular season and tournament crowns in the WIAC with some ease.  The front court of Hoezel, Krull and Hurd was just too much for most teams. Couple that with Jerrel Harris and Dan Tillema scoring from the backcourt and you’ve got a deadly team.  Unfortunately for the Pointers Tillema went down with a brutal elbow injury and that hampered the Pointers’ ability to make a longer run in the NCAA tournament.  Overall the Pointers 2011 team was just another juggernaut for the most historically dominant school in the conference.

2012 Outlook:

This season will be much different than previous seasons for this Pointer squad.  This year’s team will be set back by the departure of 4 of its starters.  The starting frontline graduated and the main hope for the future in dead-eye shooter Jerrel Harris followed former Pointer assistant Lance Randall to St. Leo.  That leaves a ton of responsibility at the feet of Dan Tillema.  Tillema impressed me with his performance in the exhibition game against the Badgers, putting up 24 points on former Platteville coach Bo Ryan’s squad.  He and his brother Tyler will handle many of the scoring duties and will start along with Jordan Giordana, Jordan Brezinski, and Trevor Haas.  Dan Tillema aside the rest of the starters are role players at best on most Point squads of the past.  These guys have some experience and have defining roles they can contribute with but just aren’t the caliber of player Point normally has starting.  After those guys is where the real trouble starts.   A whole mess of unknowns and young players fill out the bench and that is where Point will be weakest this season.  Especially with the type of grind it out game and tough defense they love to play it will be interesting to see how Point does when a number of starters have to get some rest or sit on the bench due to foul trouble.  That, in my opinion, is how you attack this team. Get their starters in foul trouble and make hay when those guys are on the bench.  Despite not being on the level of past UWSP teams Point will still be Point and will at the very least be hosting a first round WIAC tournament game.

Player to Watch: Dan Tillema
Big Question: How does the team play with starters on the bench?
Best Game(s): At Augustana 12/10/11 OR Vs. St. Thomas 12/22/11

2011 Recap:

What to say about the Falcons in 2010-2011? I’ll start with “WOW.”  The Falcons came from relative obscurity to make it all the way into February undefeated in the conference and then lost 4 straight conference games down the stretch, made it to the WIAC title game but then lost to the Pointers and then got bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  UWRF only lost 1 game at home all year, a 70-66 loss to UWW to start their 4 game slide.  From November to February UWRF just kept winning.  Jake Voeltz led the charge upfront with 15 points and 7 boards per game.  Shane Manor and Jontae Koonkaew also averaged double digit points for the Falcons.

2012 Outlook:

Newsflash to the Conference’s SIDs who picked Falls to finish 3rd this year, the Falcons are GOOD.  Yes Voeltz and Koonkaew are gone but back are Manor, Aaron Anderson (who shot a ridiculous 50% from beyond the arc last season on over 100 attempts), as well as Brian Kimble and Ollie White a couple of more than capable role players at the guard and forward positions respectively.  Just as if not more important than those returners is a couple of guys who weren’t on last year’s team but will be on board for the 2011-2012 season.  First of which is Wade Guerin, the 6-8 senior Center from Bloomington, MN was an All-WIAC Honorable Mention in 2010 but missed last season due to injury.  The 5th year senior averaged 14 points and 8 boards a game in 2010 and will more than make up for the loss of Voeltz.  Another important influx of talent to this team is Chris Palmer.  The 6-4 junior transfer forward from St. Mary’s University in Winona, MN is going to be a big time player for this team. Palmer averaged nearly a double-double for the Cardinals out of the MIAC with 17.5 Points and 9.5 rebounds per game.  He also shot 90% from the line 52% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. He averaged about 2 assists and 1 steal a game and had a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio.  If this team has to play on the first day of the WIAC tournament, I’ll be shocked.

Player to Watch: Chris Palmer
Big Question: How does the chemistry work with Guerin coming back and Palmer in the fold?
Best game(s): 11/22/11 Vs St. Thomas and 11/26/11 @ Puget Sound

2011 Recap:

Not many knew what to expect out of UWW in 2011 after the departure of Dustin Mitchell, but most probably thought that the Warhawks would still be a top 4 team in the league, and they were right.  Transfers Chris Davis and Antone Byrd were the team’s leading scorers at 21 and 13 points per game respectively.  DJ Dantzler and Alex Edmunds also averaged double digits for the Warhawks.  Davis also averaged 9 boards a game for UWW.  I honestly don’t have much to say about the season, they basically won the games they should have, with the possible exception of a loss at Stout and the tournament loss to Superior, and lost the games they should have too.

2012 Outlook:

Well another season of Warhawk basketball and another slew of new faces.  As I look down the roster the only names that jump out to me are Davis and Edmunds.  Everyone else was a minor role player at best on the Warhawks last year.  That being said I expect Pat Miller to squeeze every last drop out of this team.  Davis will be the focal point for sure but I’m not sure even he can carry the load he will be likely asked to do but the guy did almost average 20-10 last year so he’s obviously got quite a bit of talent.  Davis is too good for this team not to be tourney bound but whether this team starts on the road or at home is not as clear.

Player to Watch: Chris Davis
Big Question: Who will step up to share the load with Edmunds and Davis?
Best game: Vs Illinois Wesleyan 11/30/11

2011 Recap:

Pioneers, oh Pioneers.  You talk about a team that is balanced as all get out and refuses to lose at home and there are your 2011 Platteville Pioneers.  Despite finishing just above .500 in conference UWP had 4 players average double digit points and lost only 3 home games all year.  While Nick Allen lead the team in points and was an All-WIAC selection Chas Cross was the story down in the driftless area.  Cross was the only freshman to receive votes for All-WIAC honors and was the 2nd leading scorer on the team.  UWP had a really rough stretch early in the year with 5 striaght losses, 4 of which were by 2 points or less and 2 of which went into overtime.  The high points for UWP were wins at home against UWSP, on the road at Superior and the tournament win at La Crosse.

2012 Outlook:

Three of last year’s top four scorers are gone including Nick Allen and word is Chas Cross will be out until about January with an injury so the early going may be rough.  UWP does have 4 guys coming back who were solid role players and could step-up this season.  Brett Stangel, Eric Gerber, Rob Stallion and Matt Weik all were solid last year and will need to grow this season in order for UWP to be successful.  If the Pioneers can navigate the early part of the schedule without Cross they could be hosting a WIAC tournament game, even if they don’t I still see them playing in the post season.

Player to Watch: Chas Cross
Big Question: How do the Pioneers do without Cross early on?
Best game: 1/18/12 Vs Stevens Point

2011 Recap:

It was the Tony Mane show in La Crosse last season as the Senior guard split the Player of the Year award in the WIAC with Superior’s Jake Smith.  Mane averaged a whopping 25 points per game which was 15 ppg higher than the next highest Eagle, Al Cherry.  The high points of the season were a 5 game home winning streak in December and winning 5 of their last 6 conference games. On the downside UWL lost to each of the 3 teams that did not make the WIAC tournament but only one of those was at home.  It was in that home game that Mane scored “only” 20 points the only one of the three he scored below his season average.  In their best games, Mane dropped 35 on the Warhawks in a big win and put up 27 against River Falls. What made the difference in the River Falls game was the output of Mane’s supporting cast with Cherry, Rumpel and Degner combining for 51 points.  The Eagle’s season ended in disappointment losing 66-63 at home to Platteville in the first round of the WIAC tourney.  Mane had 33 in that one but no one else reached double digits for the Eagles.

2012 Outlook:

Mane is gone but back is most of his supporting cast from last year.  It will be tough to replace 35 points per game between him and Jordan Rumpel but I think balance will be much welcome on this team.  I think newfound scoring balance and expirence on this year’s squad puts this team in a very similar place to the team that knocked them out of last year’s tournament, UW-Platteville.

Player to Watch: Al Cherry
Big Question: How do you replace a Tony Mane?
Best game: 1/4/12 @ Platteville

2011 Recap:

The 2011 Yellow Jackets were a bit of an enigma.  So much talent and experience between co-POY Jake Smith, Marcus Helland, Dan Culy and Greg Roeder got this team to 6-10 in conference and a 6 seed in the tournament.  I just don’t get it.  I saw a bunch of talent and not a lot of wins.  The only win that stands out was the win the first round of the WIAC tournament over Whitewater. Every other win was expected.  How this team lost to last year’s UWEC squad still boggles my mind.  I could just never get a grip on this team.

2012 Outlook:

It does not look good for UWS this season. All that talent is gone.  All that remains are Dustin Ritchie, Trent Davis and Ben Aalfs, some decent pieces but not ones that are going to get you very far.  Unless coach Silverling’s recruiting class is off the charts I don’t see how this team sniffs the WIAC tournament.

Player to Watch: Ben Aalfs
Big question: How does this team deal with the loss of its core for the past 4 seasons?
Best game: 2/4/11 Vs Oshkosh

2011 Recap:

The Titans 2011 season was the second consecutive season in which UWO finished 5-11 in conference and finished outside of the WIAC tournament.  It was disappointing to say the least.  It was a growing season for many players and overall the Titans simply struggled to score the basketball. UWO never won more than 2 games in a row all season and only once won back to back conference games.  The Titans best game was a loss in 2 overtimes to UWW at home.  Overall 2011 was just a bad, bad year for UWO men’s basketball.

2012 Outlook:

You know how I said 2011 was a learning year for many Titan players, specifically the sophomores from TVD’s large 2009 recruiting class? Well here is the thing, most of those players are no longer on the team so that whole season of learning went right down the drain.  Besides graduating senior Cory Wittwer UWO also lost Brian Washington, the high flying sophomore center from last year’s team, Paul Wojahn, the team’s 6th man, TJ Kellner, the starting small forward in 2011, and Bryan Gregory, a freshman in 2011 who was a rotation guy. 5 pretty key losses from last year’s squad. Here is the upside, TVD got a couple of transfers that can have an immediate impact on the team and the top 2 scorers from last year are back.  Jade Royston is also back after an injury caused him to redshirt last season.  I can’t say I’m in love with this year’s Titans squad because you never know what will happen with transfers, but I don’t hate it either. If Mario Johnson and Martell Hutchinson can contribute, this year’s team will be nothing else if not fun to watch.  I see this team squeaking into the WIAC tournament this year.

Player to Watch: Mario Johnson
Big question: How do the transfers gel with the team?
Best game: 11/22/11 Vs Augustana

2011 Recap:

Run and gun was the name of the game for the Blue Devils last year.  Stout put up 78 points per game but let up 79 points per as well.  While outscoring their opponents in the first half the Blue Devils were crushed in both the 2nd half and overtime by 40 points on the season.  Mahlon Thomas was only able to play 9 games before injury cost him the rest of his season. Eric Hoestter was left with the scoring burden and did average 17 point per game.  Overall Stout couldn’t stop anybody in 2011 and thus didn’t win many games.

2012 Outlook:

Remember how I said it doesn’t look good for Superior this year? Well it looks as bad if not worse for Stout.  Zero seniors on this year’s roster and the top 2 returnees averaged 18 points per game combined last year adds up to very few wins for Stout this year.  They’ll be on the outside looking in come tournament time.

Player to Watch: Steve Pax
Big Question: Can Stout stop anyone on defense this year?
Best game: 2/11/12 Vs Eau Claire

2011 Recap:

Terry Gibbons’ final season was not a great one for the Zorn Zanies.  The proud program finished last in the WIAC due mostly to the fact that the team was made up of a bunch of freshmen and transfers.  The team didn’t win a single conference game away from Zorn Arena.  They were outscored by an average of 4 points per game, by contrast even the other bad teams in the conference were around 1 point per game.  Not much to say but a bad, bad year for UWEC.

2012 Outlook:

It doesn’t look any better this year.  Marcus Ruh went with Jerrel Harris to St. Leo and left new Coach Tyler Green scrambling.  Add on the leading returning scorer coming in at under 10 points per game and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.  UWEC finishes outside of the WIAC tournament by a long shot.

Player to Watch: Nick Craggs
Big Question: What does coach Green do with this team?
Best game: 1/4/12 Vs Stout
Predicted Finish:

1.      River Falls
2.      Stevens Point
3.      Whitewater
4.      La Crosse
5.      Platteville
6.      Oshkosh
7.      Stout
8.      Superior
9.      Eau Claire

Preseason All-Conference

Chris Palmer
Chris Davis (co-POY)
Dan Tillema (co-POY)
Al Cherry
Chas Cross

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Economic Geography of the NBA and the Lockout

I wrote the following for my Human Geography Class. I hope you enjoy.         

            Currently the National Basketball Association, or NBA, is experiencing a work stoppage.  The collective bargaining agreement that the National Basketball Players Association, or the NBPA, and the NBA owners had been operating under for the past 10 years ran out after this past season ended.  In negotiating for a new deal many different topics have been fought over including how basketball related income, or BRI, is divided between the players and owners, length of contracts players can be signed to, the possibility of a harder salary cap, and many other smaller matters including the Mid-Level Exception.  The one issue that is pertinent in this case study however is the possibility of merging, contracting or moving NBA franchises.  Bill Simmons states in his article “Behind the Pipes: Into the Arms of the NHL”:
I think we should contract/merge several franchises until we settle at 27 teams; I think Seattle should have a team; I think Chicago should have two teams. I don't think that the L.A., Chicago and New York teams should pay to keep struggling basketball teams afloat in Charlotte, Indiana, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Minnesota and New Orleans.
It is important to note that Chicago, unlike New York and Los Angeles, currently does not split its media market between two teams.  Simmons is the foremost expert on the NBA, particularly when it comes to off the court topics, and much of his work will be used throughout this case study.  This case study will examine the current spatial distribution of NBA franchises and how that distribution affects the league and its teams.
            All of the NBA franchises in the United States are located in cities that are in the top fifty media markets in the U.S. (“Top 50 U.S. Television Markets”).  The NBA has teams in each of the top ten media markets in the U.S. including two in Los Angeles and New York, the top two media markets in the United States.  The largest market left vacant by the NBA is Seattle, where the NBA did have a franchise from 1967 until 2008 when the Supersonics left Seattle to become the Oklahoma City Thunder (Sandomir).  Ironically enough Oklahoma City is now the smallest media market with a NBA franchise at 45th. Moreover there is an NBA franchise in 17 of the top 20 media markets in the United States (“Top 50 U.S. Television Markets”); needless to say media market size is a major factor in the distribution of NBA franchises. 
            Now that it has been established where NBA franchises are located and why they are located where they are, media market size and regional appeal, the next step is to look at what effect location has on an individual franchise both on and off the court.  When it comes to championships won, the 8 franchises in the top 6 media markets have won 41 of the 63 NBA championships since the inception of the league (Florida) that is 65% of the league’s championships held by just 20% of the league’s franchises.  In theory if every team actually had an equal shot of winning the championship, something it seems the league would like, these numbers would be more proportional.  Now in a total free market system this would make a lot of sense that these teams are winning a disproportionate about of titles but the NBA is not set-up to be a total free market system, it actually has rules and regulations such as a salary cap, the luxury tax, inexpensive rookie contracts and even some revenue sharing in order to ensure as much parity as possible but obviously none of those measures have worked.  The first red flag that would indicate why these teams have such a competitive advantage on the court is because they, more than likely, make the most money off it.  Of the 8 franchises in the cities within the top 6 media markets 4 are also in the top 8 in total revenue and those same four franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, are the four most valuable franchises in the league .  If you count only those four most valuable franchises 13% of the league’s teams hold 57% of the league’s championships, an even more striking statistic than just looking at the media markets alone ("The NBA's Most Valuable Teams").  Money is not everything though, the New York Knicks play in both the largest media market in the country (“Top 50 U.S. Television Markets”) and are the most valuable franchise in the league ("The NBA's Most Valuable Teams") but only have 2 championships to their name both coming in a three year span almost 40 years ago.  A factor that cannot be ruled out is the ability for players to choose the team of their choice in free agency.  Players tend to prefer major media market cities, wealthy franchises, winning tradition, and warm locations.  Milwaukee for example is neither of these; it is the sixth smallest market (“Top 50 U.S. Television Markets”), is the least valuable franchise in the league ("The NBA's Most Valuable Teams"), has just one championship to their name and is notoriously cold.  It is no wonder players like John Salley, Gary Payton, and Todd Day had absolutely no desire to come to and play in Milwaukee (Schmidt).  The team that best illustrates how to overcome its geographic hurdles is the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have won 4 titles over the past decade and is second in the league in championships per capita behind only Boston whose 17 championships keep it on top of the pile (Florida) even though it is the sixth largest media market in the league while San Antonio is the 4th smallest media market in the league (“Top 50 U.S. Television Markets”) but is in a warm climate and, in no small part to its four championships, is the ninth most valuable team in the league despite having the 12th most revenue ("The NBA's Most Valuable Teams").  So the case of San Antonio shows that geographic disadvantages can be overcome but they are one of the few franchises that have shown the capability to do so.  Only Detroit and Houston have current franchises not in the top six media markets that have won multiple titles (Florida).  There is no doubt that money and media market size play a tremendous role in determining what a franchise is capable of.
            When it comes to the current lockout, the idea from the owner’s perspective is that the league is losing money and thus must restructure the collective bargaining agreement with the NBPA in order to become profitable.  The owners have a point; over half of the franchises in the league lose money year to year ("The NBA's Most Valuable Teams").   So examine Simmons’ proposal of making two new franchises out of four existing ones.  Chicago currently has one team, the Bulls, that is the third most valuable, has the third highest revenue and has the second highest operating income in the league ("The NBA's Most Valuable Teams").  Surely the city could support another team.  He also wants a team to return to Seattle; a team there would secure a franchise in 14 of the top 15 and 18 in the top 20 media markets (“Top 50 U.S. Television Markets”) something that, as demonstrated above, tends to lead toward both on the court and off the court success.  The new object is to find what four teams to contract or merge in order to make this possible.  Combining factors of market size, franchise value, revenue and operating income those four franchises should be Milwaukee, Charlotte, Memphis and New Orleans.  If the owners merged these four teams into two new teams as they saw fit and place one in Seattle and one in Chicago they would be able to make concessions in other areas and get the league back up and running which would be better for the owners, players, cities and fans.

Works Cited

Florida, Richard. "Is the Geography of NBA Dominance Shifting?."Creative Class, 1 June 2011.
Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.creativeclass.com/creative_class/2011/06/01/is-the-geography-of-nba-dominance-shifting/>.

Map of NBA Teams. Map. SLC Dunk. SB Nation, 5 Mar. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2011.

"The NBA's Most Valuable Teams." Forbes. Ed. Kurt Badenhausen, Michael K. Ozanian, and
Christina Settimi. Forbes, 26 Jan. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2011.

Sandomir, Richard. "Sonics Given Approval to Move to Oklahoma." New York Times
19 Apr. 2008. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/19/sports/basketball/19sonics.html?ref=

Schmidt, Jeremy. "Best of a Bad Situation: 19. Todd Day." Bucksketball. Ed. Jeremy Schmidt.
26 Aug. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.bucksketball.com/2011/08/>.

Simmons, Bill. "Behind the Pipes: Into the Arms of the NHL." Grantland. Ed. Bill Simmons.
ESPN, 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2011.

"Top 50 U.S. Television Markets." Janson Media. Janson Media, 26 Dec. 2008. Web.
20 Oct. 2011. <http://www.janson.com/media/2008/12/26/top-50-us-television-markets/>.

Friday, September 2, 2011

WIAC Football 2011 Preview

WIAC Preview:

2010 Standings:

1.  UW-Whitewater  15-0 overall, 7-0 WIAC
 2.  UW-Stevens Point 7-3, 5-2
3.  UW-Stout 6-4, 4-3
4.  UW-Oshkosh 4-6, 3-4
5.  UW-Platteville 5-5, 3-4
6.  UW-La Crosse 3-7, 3-4
7.  UW-Eau Claire 4-6, 2-5
8.  UW-River Falls 1-9, 1-6

2011 Schedule

Games to Watch

Week 1: UWL @ UWW (nc)
It’s a non-conference match-up between these teams and the first game for Coach D at
La Crosse.  It is always good to see a game between the two most storied teams in the conference.

Week 2: UWEC @ St. John’s
UWEC knocked off the Johnnies in surprising fashion last year at home and now will have to head up to Collegeville, MN to face a St. John’s unit that certainly has revenge on its mind.  Not only that but the Johnnies have some of the most passionate fans around and a hard to pronounce but still pretty cool tailgate party.

Week 3: Wheaton (IL) @ UWP
If Platteville wants to come out of non-conference with a winning record they will probably have to beat Wheaton to do it.

Week 4: UWL @ UWP
It is the only conference game on the slate for the week and whoever wins gets to be on top of the conference for a week.

Week 5: UWEC @ UWST
An early rivalry game between 2 schools that are about a 30 minute drive apart.

Week 6: UWST @ UWSP
This game will basically be for 2nd place in the conference and give the winner a chance to make the playoffs.

Week 7: UWST @ UWW
If Stout wins the week prior they’ll carry momentum and their stout defense (see what I did there) into Perkins Stadium with a chance to knockoff the Warhawks.

Week 9: UWP @ UWRF
Despite the struggles that River Falls has had of late it has been a while since UWP was able to beat the Falcons at Ramer field. They’ll need to get a W there this season in order to stay afloat.

Week 10: UWSP @ UWW
If Point wins their week 6 match-up against Stout they will have a chance to repeat what they did in 2008, beat Whitewater at Perkins Stadium en route to a conference title.

Week 11: UWO @ UWSP
A late season rivalry game that Oshkosh will have to win in order to start to make the jump from pretender to contender.

Week 12: UWEC @ UWRF
This week matches up all the teams that play their phony-baloney non-conference games against each other.  River Falls gave former coach John O’Grady a win in their final game against Eau Claire last season for their only win of the year.  UWEC will surely be sure not to have a letdown this season.

2011 Outlook:

I’ll go through each team in order of how I think they’ll finish and give best case scenario, worst case scenario and predicted conference record.  They will also be grouped with teams in similar circumstances.

Group 1: UW Whitewater (a class unto themselves)

Best Case Scenario: 7-0, 7th consecutive WIAC title and a 3-peat for the national title
Worst Case Scenario: 6-1, lose to Point or Stout; lose in title game to Mt. Union
Prediction: See Best Case Scenario

Group 2: UW Stevens Point &UW Stout (contenders with strong defense and questions on offense)

UW Stevens Point
Best Case Scenario: 7-0, Conference champs and make a run in the playoffs
Worst Case Scenario: 4-3, Losses to Stout, UWW and a lower team make 2011 a disappointment
Prediction: 6-1 with their only loss being to UWW, slight edge over Stout because they're at home

UW Stout
Best Case Scenario: See Point
Worst Case Scenario: 4-3, Losses to Point, UWW and a lower team make 2011 a disappointment
Prediction: 5-2 with losses @ UWW and Point

Group 3: UW Platteville, UW Oshkosh & UW Eau Claire (middling teams looking to break through)

UW Oshkosh
Best Case Scenario: 6-1, break through beating everyone but the Warhawks
Worst Case Scenario: 2-5, fall back with loses against any team as good as or better than them
Prediction: 3-4, wins over UWRF, UWP and UWL

UW Platteville
Best Case Scenario: 5-2, get a win at Point in nonconference but lose to the Pointers at home
Worst Case Scenario: 2-5, inexplicably lose at UWRF
Prediction: 3-4, wins over UWRF, UWEC and UWL

UW Eau Claire
Best Case Scenario: 4-3, only unable to get past the top teams in the conference
Worst Case Scenario: 1-6, Unable to control time of possession take several tough losses
Prediction: 3-4 wins over UWRF, UWO and UWL

Group 4: UW La Crosse and UW River Falls (Once proud programs that have fallen on hard times)

UW La Crosse
Best Case Scenario: 4-3, Coach D works some magic and gets the Eagles up with the big boys
Worst Case Scenario: 0-7, lack of continuity leads to disaster
Prediction:  1-6, this program is too proud to go 0-7 they beat UWRF

UW River Falls
Best Case Scenario: 3-4, Coach Walker uses the ground game to get his team some wins
Worst Case Scenario: 0-7, No late season magic this time for the Falcons, they are overmatched
Prediction: See Worst Case Scenario

Big Question:

Can anyone beat Whitewater?

Probably not but if someone can my money is on Stout.  They have a very good defense and have the more proven QB between them and fellow contender Stevens Point. (I still like Point head to head against Stout but only because of home field advantage).  If you’re going to beat UWW it will have to be through the air and if there is a team that can do that and slow down Levell Coppage, Stout is that team.

Player to Watch:

Levell Coppage

Coppage is a sick talent.  He has rushed for over 2,100 yards the past 2 years and that was with Antwan Anderson with him in the backfield.  Coppage is good enough to make up for UWW’s losses on the O-line and has a legit shot to earn the 2,400 yards he needs to become the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher regardless of division.  That means Coppage can end up with more rushing yards than this man.  If you only watch one player this year watch Coppage.

Bottom Line:

This is Whitewater’s title to lose.  The conference is stronger this year than last year so games against the Warhawks will be closer but likely not close enough.  Stout and Point should battle for the 2 spot while UWO, UWP and UWEC will fail to break through losing to the top teams and playing a proverbial game of rock, paper, scissors against each other due to match-ups.  While there is some optimism at UWL I just don’t see a team with that few starters coming back off an already bad team and it will take more than 1 season for Matt Walker to get River Falls off the deck.

Extra Point:

Thank you so much for reading and for more information on the WIAC Football scene including my interview with Doug Wagen, voice of the UW-Platteville Pioneers, you can listen to the WRST WIAC preview show at 12pm on Saturday September 3rd at wrst.org.  Just click on the listen now button.  That show will be followed by the broadcast of the UW-Oshkosh v. Central College game, yours truly will be on the broadcast and it should be a good one.  Thanks again for reading.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

WIAC preview two-a-days Part 8: UW-Platteville


Fast Facts:

Head Coach: Mike Emendorfer; 13th season at UWP; 42-77
Starters Returning/Lost on Offense: 9/2
Starters Returning/Lost on Defense: 8/3
Starters Returning/Lost at Kicker: 2/0
Returning All-WIAC: Zak Brinkman (Sr., Punter, 2010-Second); Corey Marks (Jr., DL, 2010-First); Nick Snyder (Jr., LB, 2010-Honorable); Lee Vlasak (Jr., All-Purpose, 2010-Second)

2010 Recap:

Platteville was a young team in 2010 and their youth showed in the outcomes of their games. After opening with wins over Buena Vista and rival Dubuque the Pioneers dropped a 51-20 decision.  They then lost to UWW before rattling of wins against Eau Claire and La Crosse but then laid an egg in Oshkosh losing 14-41.  UWP bounced back with a win against River Falls but finished the season with back to back losses to Stout and Stevens Point.  Lee Vlasak emerged as a real threat as he had over 1,000 all-purpose yards for the Pioneers. At quarterback Nick Anderson had a pretty good year but went through some growing pains throwing for over 2,000 yards and 11 TDs but also threw 9 picks.  The defense was pretty good against the run allowing just over 150 yards per game but the pass defense was last in the WIAC in pass defense allowing over 230 yards per game.  The Pioneer rush offense also ranked last in the league.

2011 Schedule

2011 Outlook:

The Pioneers will probably be a better team in 2011 but will it make any difference in their final record/conference standings.  I don’t think it will.  The problem for the pioneers is that everyone should be as good as or better than they were last year with the possible exception of La Crosse.  Platteville does get both teams that are at a similar level as them, Oshkosh and Eau Claire, at home and get Stevens Point at home in the last week of the season as well.  The schedule couldn’t get much better for UWP and they might just have a breakthrough season, unfortunately I’ve said that about 3 other teams so far as well.

Big Question:

Can Platteville win at River Falls and beat Point in one of their two games against the Pointers?

In the words of Doug Wagen, voice of the Pioneers, it has been a long time since either of those things has happened.  If the Pioneers manage to knock off the Pointers and take care of business against Falls then they should achieve their goal of a winning record in conference.  If not, the pioneers can expect another mediocre record.

Player to Watch:

Lee Vlasak

While Coach Emendorfer’s philosophy regarding the run game has always been “we’ll run it after we catch it” when your best player is a running back you should probably adjust your game plan a little bit.  That being said I think Coach E will always be more concerned with Vlasak’s all-purpose yardage more than just straight rushing yardage.  Vlasak scored 13 touchdowns last year, including 5 in one game, and will look to reach pay dirt even more often this season.

Bottom Line:

Platteville will probably end up near the middle of the pack this year.  While they look to be improved there is very little room for upward movement in the WIAC this season.  The Pioneers are looking really good for the 2012 season with the number of juniors on this roster but for 2011 I expect more of the same from Mike Emendorfer’s team

Extra Point:

If you want to hear my interview with Doug Wagen, voice of the Pioneers, you can listen to the WRST WIAC preview show at 12pm on Saturday September 3rd at wrst.org.  That show will be followed by the broadcast of the UW-Oshkosh v. Central College game.

Tomorrow I’ll give some quick hits on each team (in case you missed any of the 2-a-days), give you key games to watch this season and make my full conference predictions in my 2011 WIAC preview.