We’re trying something new here at The Press Box. It’s a roundtable blog discussion. In addition to my two cents, Jeff Dooley, Matt Poms and Chris Weidman have tossed their hats in the ring this week.
Let’s get started.
What’s your take on the men’s basketball schedule?
Jeff Dooley: Very excited to be talking Tribe basketball again. The opener at Penn State should be a winnable game, especially since the College hung with Georgetown for awhile last year. Dec. 6 home game against VCU is what I’m looking forward to.
Andrew Pike: 15 home games are nice, but six of the 15 are with students home for winter break, so we’ll see the Tribe nine times at most (a Thanksgiving week game won’t help either). The non-conference schedule isn’t too difficult, so the College should get off to a good. The New Year’s Eve match-up with Harvard should be a fun one.
Matt Poms: This non-conference schedule is very winnable for the Tribe. A good Navy team will be its toughest test. Unfortunately for the student body, student fans will miss three of the College’s biggest home games against ODU, JMU, and George Mason due to winter break.
Chris Weidman: Meeting of the oldest colleges in America Dec. 31 is an enticing match-up, which should get some SportsCenter air time. The tone of the season, however, will be set when the Tribe hosts VCU Dec. 6. If the College can grab some early CAA victories, it’ll be in good position for the CAA stretch-run.
What’s up with all the turnovers for Tribe football?
Jeff: No question about it, turnovers will kill the Tribe in CAA play if it commits too many, but I’m not really worried. Most of Jake Phillips’ interceptions have been fluke situations anyway.
Andrew: I trust Jake Phillips to settle down come crunch time. He’s got too much experience to keep throwing picks. The Tribe needs to focus on forcing turnovers instead of making mistakes.
Matt: The bottom line is that the easy games are over for the Tribe and with that goes its margin for error. The College’s next three are against ranked teams. If the Tribe doesn’t win the turnover battle in those contests, it will have little success.
Chris: Apparently the emphasis has been on creating plays, not securing the ball. Hasn’t cost the College yet, but don’t look for the Tribe to get away with those mistakes when CAA teams like no. 19 Villanova come to town.
How long can the men’s soccer team stay unbeaten?
Jeff: Not sure when the streak’s going to end, but Tribe soccer is looking damn good right now. The three road games in a row starting with the Oct. 1 matchup against JMU will be a tough test. Andrew Hoxie’s injury won’t help, either.
Andrew: The unbeaten streak should continue into October (easy prediction since one game remains in September). The Tribe’s match with ODU – the dominant CAA soccer program in recent years – in Norfolk will be a big test.
Matt: After a strong showing in its toughest test this season at no. 17 Loyola, the Tribe is in great shape entering CAA play. A grudge match at ODU – the team which kept them out of the CAA playoffs last year – in two weeks will be a match to watch.
Chris: The team needs to stay humble to keep the streak alive. The College will beat Towson this Saturday at home, but the squad then departs on a three-game road trip against its toughest competition in the CAA. If the Tribe can make it through the next four games 3-1, consider it a big-time accomplishment and get excited. This team is the real deal.
How will Tribe volleyball fare in the CAA?
Jeff: I’m not going to pretend to be a volleyball expert, but I certainly do admire what the team has been doing this year under first-year coach Melissa Shelton. They look to be in good shape going into conference play.
Andrew: Seven consecutive wins and three tournament titles won’t mean much if the Tribe drops its CAA opener at VCU. The Rams swept the College last year. I think that should be enough motivation.
Chris: Winning some early season tournaments boosts confidence, but playing against conference rivals is totally different. The College has settled into an aggressive game plan under new head coach Melissa Shelton ’91. Look for this strategy to produce positive results throughout the fall.
Why’s fall the Tribe’s time?
Jeff: Fall is certainly the best sports season overall, and I’d say it’s true for the Tribe as well. The quality of play we’re seeing this year is particularly good. And while basketball is a very close second, there’s no sport more fun to watch than football.
Andrew: So far so good for the Tribe. With an unbeaten men’s soccer team, a CAA championship contender in women’s soccer, a hot volleyball team, and an under-the-radar football squad, this fall is shaping up to be pretty special. A top-25 men’s cross country team helps too.
Chris: Everyone gets a chance at a new year, whether it be in the classroom or on the field. The fall is the Tribe’s time. I’m ready for some championships.