May 25, 2014 by Tad Wissel in Preview with 4 comments
People in serious relationships know: the best way to celebrate an anniversary is with a date. You know, just the two of you. What better way to celebrate the one year anniversary of this pleasant incident than with a quarterfinals date between Pittsburgh and UNC-Wilmington?
There are a lot of guys gone from each team in that clip. Pretty much all the guys involved, in fact. But there are a lot of guys still there though, too, and both teams remember last year’s pool play game. UNC Wilmington took a halftime lead after a chippy first half, but Pitt found their fire after the skrimish with Alan Gruntz. Pitt rolled into the second half with a dominant performance and never looked back en route to a National title.
This year, Pitt is the heavy favorite. They ripped through Pool B and slammed the door shut on a fierce Central Florida team who gave them their best game since Easterns. For the last two months, Pitt has been playing mandatory tournaments in a one bid region and they’ve needed no adjustment time.
The UCF game was a great example of Pitt’s depth. The guy who kills you varies from point to point. At 6-5, Tyler Kunsa played throw-and-go for 50 yards before Pitt punched it in. At 8-7 Marcus Ranii-Dropcho and Max Thorne sprinted through a zone. In this particular game, Pat Earles threw six hucks for goals, only one of which was to the force side.
There’s a division of labor. If you put your stars on their stars…you’ve got to have seven stars.
Wilmington absolutely deserves to be here. The Seamen took care of business in prequarters against a Harvard team that held seed in a tough pool.
If Pitt has one weakness, it’s their deep defense. UNCW likes to run side stack plays and send it deep to guys like Jack Williams, (#11) who had an unbelievable catch down the stretch en route to a pool play win against Florida.
Another thing UNCW has going for them is hard man defense. If you don’t have a great zone or there are not 25 mile per hour winds, there’s no sense running zone against Pitt. Central Florida proved teams can run with them. For how long, is the real question. Wilmington is prepared to find out.
If you’re a betting man, you’ve got to take Pitt, obviously. But few teams in the college game have kept a reputation – of any kind – the way UNCW has for tough, physical play. The first time I heard someone call Wilmington “scrappy” I was a college freshman watching I Bleed Black on an obtrusively large desktop computer. That was a thousand years ago and they still have that rep. They haven’t been a poor spirited team this season, but the physical defense hasn’t gone anywhere. Tomorrow’s game is going to be worth a look.