Pick My Post - Next Year


Robert
Jun 27, 2019
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3 Comments

OK so I give myself 45 minutes to write these. And I start the clock on Twitter. But this time I started the clock, and then ran to the restroom, and then let the dog out, and then turned on my laptop, so now I'm down to 39 minutes and I have a lot to talk about. Which means that writing this intro is wasting time.

Here's the Pick My Post tweet I picked:

Non FB/BB team or story you are most looking forward to in 19-20

-- Justin Barton (@justinbarton_) June 28, 2019

My answer is... nearly every team? I know that most people only follow football and basketball, but if we throw those two out, there really should be some We Will Win happening next season.

(Disclaimer to stop the comments even though they'll come anyway: I know that nothing matters unless football and basketball win. I understand the way college athletic departments make money. I know you'll be triggered by the words "We Will Win" and "tennis" and will want to WHO CARES for hours. I get that, and I acknowledge you, but this is answering a "non FB/BB" question.)

I'll just make a quick list off the top of my head:

  1. Soccer should be NCAA Tournament good. They had a big rebound season last year, led by several freshmen and sophomores. They return a lot, they had some momentum at the end of the season, so if they stay on a roll, they should find themselves in the NCAA Tournament.
  2. Volleyball won't be "better" - it's hard to top a Final Four appearance - but they should be really solid. They lose Jordyn Poulter and Ali Bastianelli, and those two are more or less irreplaceable. But they also add Auburn transfer Mica Allison (a top ten national recruit in the 2018 class), they have highly-ranked setter Diana Brown coming off her redshirt year, and Croatian sensation Bruna Vrankovic has been cleared by the NCAA. Add to that the returnees - Jackie Quade might be the top outside hitter in the country - plus the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year (Ellie Holzman from New Orleans) and Chris Tamas might be on the verge of building a monster program.
  3. The men's golf team should be on its way back to match play. "Match play" meaning "the final eight teams in the NCAA Tournament". This year was a step-back year, but the future looks very bright. Mike Small has the equivalent of Dee Brown (national top-20 recruits) in the next two classes. Arriving this fall is Jerry Ji from The Netherlands, a top-75 amateur in the world (and that list includes every single college golfer on every team). Consider him a top-10 recruit. And then prized 2020 recruit Piercen Hunt just won a national junior tournament and is firmly in the top-20 player in the 2020 class (perhaps close to #1?). So next season should have a Big Three (senior Michael Feagles, sophomore Adrien Dumont de Chassart, and Ji), and then the future gets brighter from there.
  4. But don't sleep on the women's golf team. They just finished 9th (missed match play by two strokes) at the NCAA golf championships. And they did this with only one senior (one senior, one junior, and three freshmen to be exact). So next year should be another push for the top eight and match play.
  5. Men's tennis had a disappointing end to the season (losing at home as a seeded team in the Round of 32, missing out on another Sweet 16), but they did that without any seniors. And after the team championships, junior Alecks Kovacevic made it all the way to the semifinals of the singles tournament (losing to the eventual champion in three sets), so this team should have a bona fide top five player next season. The NCAA's are now the Elite Eight, not just a Final Four (they switched to a "super regional" format this year), so the goal for the tennis team absolutely should be "make the NCAA Championships".
  6. Women's tennis should maybe expect the same thing? Junior-to-be Asuka Kawai broke all the records last season, advancing further than an Illini women's player ever had (quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament). Like the women's golf team, only one senior graduated, so this team that lost to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament final should be ready to challenge for a Big Ten title (and maybe the NCAA Championships?)

It's probably not going to be every program that has a great year. Baseball probably takes a step back (lots of seniors gone + juniors drafted), as does softball (they lose six of their top 12 players, so it's probably not going to be another NCAA Tournament season). This is not going to be the year of We Will Win across the board.

I was asked to pick one here, so I'm going to go with...

The men's golf team. I can't believe that after I cheered for Jerry Gee that I now get to cheer for Jerry Ji. If Mike Small can get something from the other two seniors (Gio Tadiotto and Bryan Baumgarten), and if he gets "top-50 player in college golf" play out of Ji, Feagles, and ADDC, then Illini golf should come roaring back. There's depth - I could easily see Varun Chopra and Tommy Kuhl beating out the other two seniors - so this should be a big step forward (well, back) to where Illini golf belongs.

What are we?

Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.
Don't say it.

Golf school.

Comments

ATOillini on June 27 @ 09:58 PM CDT

“I can't believe that after I cheered for Jerry Gee that I now get to cheer for Jerry Ji.”

One of your best.......ever.

thumpasaurus on June 28 @ 01:00 PM CDT

Wrestling has fallen off big time and I don’t see any hope in sight :(

iluvrt on June 28 @ 08:24 PM CDT

Men's swimming is going swimmingly well

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