January 29, 2015 by Charlie Enders in Preview with 2 comments
Editor’s Note: The author is a graduate of St. John’s.
St. John’s BAM* has been a perennial contender on the DIII scene. After another solid showing at Nationals in 2014, BAM* faces unfamiliar adversity heading into 2015. After losing a dozen seniors to graduation, will they be able to compete in the tough North Central region?
- North Central Regional Champion- defeated Carleton GOP in Final
- 2014 Nationals Seed: 11th
- Finished Tied for 13th
- Ultiworld Preseason Ranking: #11
- Strong freshman class, headlined by U19 Player Charlie Schuweiler
- Brings back head coach John “Crotchie” Groess
- Steady handling from captain Matt Berthiaume paces the offense
- Loses 12 seniors, including North Central Player of the Year (and U23-Tryout Invitee) Nihal Bhakta
- Peaked at Regionals and had a disappointing Nationals.
- Poor regular season results last year lost an important third bid for the North Central
2014 was certainly a tumultuous year for the Monks. Coming off a 2013 that saw them fail to qualify for nationals for the first time since DIII Nationals was founded, BAM* came into the new year with expectations of grandeur.
Initially, it seemed as if their expectations were actually delusions. After a poor performance at DIII Warmup and a mediocre showing at the Chicago Invite, St. John’s headed to Regionals without a strength bid and as the heavy underdog to the regular-season dominant Saint Olaf and GOP.
However, something clicked for them at regionals and the team played as they had expected they could for the entire spring. Through calm, patient disc movement in a furious upwind-downwind game, Saint John’s shocked the region and upset GOP in the regional final to nab a Nationals bid. The team couldn’t seem to carry this momentum into Nationals, and in their prequarter against Claremont they squandered an early lead to fall to the eventual semifinalists 11-8.
The big number that stands out for St. John’s in 2015 is “12″. 12 as in the number of seniors that the team graduated. SJU staples like Nihal Bhakta, Pat Kunkel, Dave Stemper, Ben Berthiaume, Michael Ruble, Dan Cahill, and Charlie Enders are all no longer with the team.
Three of the team’s four 2014 captains are gone, but that fourth man, senior Maxfield Rotert, is optimistic about his team’s chances this year.
“We are obviously going to miss the seniors from last year, they made up most of our experience and were the reason we qualified for Nationals last year,” he said. “But their departure allows other players to step up, and for our team to take more of a faceless, nameless approach, where no one person will dominate a game, but each person on the line will make significant contributions.”
As evidenced by their poor Nationals performance, depth was an issue for BAM* in 2014. The team simply ran out of steam, but Rotert believes that this is a problem they can remedy.
“The most important thing for our season will be to improve bottom up, so that anyone we put out there contributes, rather than relying on a few stars.”
As for their goals for the season, Rotert is keeping his expectations grounded in reality. “Our goal for the season is to again qualify for Nationals and continue to build a base of experience to keep BAM as a premier DIII program.”
Likely Ceiling: If Rotert can get the most out of last season’s underclassmen, St. John’s may be able to steal that coveted third bid for the North Central. Requalifying for Nationals without their 2014 graduating class would be a strong statement for the DIII program.
Likely Floor: Their 2014 roster had superior talent and still failed to show up in the regular season. Worst case scenario, BAM* is again pedestrian throughout the spring. However, without the experience of their seniors to fall back on during the series, St. Olaf and GOP assert their will over the distant third (or worse) team in the North Central.
St. John’s plans to attend the Chicago Invite along with either the Old Capital Open or Huck Finn this spring.