Commentary: What to watch for during the 2016-17 season
Written by Josh Luckenbaugh|
August 18, 2016
William and Mary may by no “sports school”, but the nation’s alma mater boasts several championship-caliber programs worth keeping an eye on this season.
The College’s most popular teams, football and men’s basketball, are both coming off of strong 2015-16 campaigns. Tribe football, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association champion, enters the season ranked in the top 10 of several national polls. Its roster is loaded with experience on both sides of the ball, returning 16 starters from last year. On offense, senior quarterback Steve Cluley is poised to lead a high-powered attack, featuring 2015 first team All-CAA senior running back Kendell Anderson, 2015 second team All-CAA junior wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon and redshirt-freshman receiver Jalen Christian, a transfer from South Carolina. Defense and special teams also boast talent across the board, with senior cornerback Trey Reed, senior defensive end Peyton Gryder and 2015 All-CAA junior kicker Nick Dorka each primed for big seasons.
Tribe football, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association champion, enters the season ranked in the top 10 of several national polls.
Men’s basketball continues to draw capacity crowds to Kaplan Arena, through their exciting play on the court as well as the Tribe’s unique position in history. The College remains one of a select few of original NCAA schools never to have made the famed NCAA Tournament, but there’s no reason to believe the 2016-17 team isn’t the one to get over the hump. Senior guards Daniel Dixon and Omar Prewitt headline a strong, balanced squad bursting with potential, primed to deliver students immense jubilation or, once again, utter heartbreak.
Several other programs are preparing to defend CAA championships won last season, including men’s cross country, which has taking home the conference hardware for 16 straight seasons.
Several other programs are preparing to defend CAA championships won last season, including men’s cross country, which has taken home the conference hardware for 16 straight seasons. Women’s cross country is also attempting to continue an impressive victory streak, seeking their fifth consecutive CAA crown, led by junior Regan Rome and her trio of All-American honors for 2015-16. Another dominant program is women’s tennis, which won its 24th CAA championship last spring, all the more impressive considering CAA women’s tennis has only been around for 32 years.
Women’s soccer looks ready to return to the NCAA College Cup after sharing the CAA regular season title last year and being announced as the preseason favorite for the title this fall.
In the pool, men’s swimming broke several school and conference records on its way to a second consecutive CAA title last year, while women’s swimming won the conference for the first time since 2007. Tribe baseball is coming off an unprecedented run to the conference title as well as an upset triumph over Virginia in the NCAA regional, and women’s soccer looks ready to return to the NCAA College Cup after sharing the CAA regular season title last year and being announced as the preseason favorite for the title this fall.
Other sports such as women’s basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, men’s soccer and field hockey may not boast the championship pedigree of some of their counterparts, but nevertheless have the potential to compete for those conference titles.
All in all, the 2016-17 season in Tribe sports should generate plenty of intrigue and excitement on campus, and maybe even a moment or two of history. You may have arrived thinking William and Mary is not a sports school, but there are several successful teams to grab your attention in the upcoming year.