2021 NCAA Tournament

Mens College Water Polo
jeff
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2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby jeff » Sun Nov 28, 2021 12:27 pm

A non-"Big 4" school hasn't won the NCAA tournament since Pepperdine in 1997 and it won't happen this year. Because USC won't have to play UCLA or Cal until the finals, an oddsmaker would make USC the favorites (If USC and LBSU played 20 times, LBSU would probably win once or twice). Nevertheless, I'm picking UCLA to win because of Adam Wright's track record (four NCAA championships in his 12 years as UCLA's head coach and four in the last seven years). Wright's teams tend to peak at the right time and no college program plays better defense. If UCLA wins this year, Wright will have won more NCAA men's championships than any coach, except for Pete Cutino, Dante Dettamanti, and Jovan Vavic, and he's only 44. USC will finish second. If Cal beats UCLA in the semifinals, I predict that Cal will beat USC in the finals.

SwimCoach
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby SwimCoach » Sun Nov 28, 2021 1:07 pm

I will go with USC. Their talented field players will put it together and Porter will be the difference maker in the cage.

Zepfel
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby Zepfel » Sun Nov 28, 2021 1:17 pm

USC will win. Pinta will get the women’s men’s championship sweep notching the 10th championship for the Men’s side in the last 20 years.

Getting that #1 seed is huge for prep going into the tournament.

cwright1992
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby cwright1992 » Sun Nov 28, 2021 1:17 pm

No question a champion will emerge next weekend from UCLA, USC or Cal.

I think that Cal may have the most talent and will put it together next weekend. Last season, they seemed like the best team during an abridged schedule and got knocked off in a tight semifinal by USC.

These three teams are so evenly matched that any of of the three could win it all and the differences of margin between them appear razor thin. It doesn't seem to be that the best team always wins; just the team that plays the best in the tournament over two games.

Unless UCLA can get Papa into early foul trouble, I'll go with Cal by the slimmest of margins over UCLA and then USC.

On the coaching front, I have read a lot on this board that suggests coach Wright of UCLA is the coach with the greatest abilities amongst the top four. While I don't disagree with that assessment, and I recognize it is likely not a consensus view, I'm curious as to what folks here think about his coaching and what makes him the better coach over his peers? His tactics? Recruiting? In game adjustments? Training? I'm simply not in a position to make such a determine of one coach over the other, especially when the margins of winning and losing are so fractional most of time. Appreciate your thoughts in advance and look forward to a compelling finals tourney next weekend!

Cheers

polo12345
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby polo12345 » Sun Nov 28, 2021 1:24 pm

One of the most important and valuable components for a successful Head Coach, among many things, is to have good help. Coach Wright has the best assistant coach in the country

Horse585
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby Horse585 » Sun Nov 28, 2021 2:10 pm

Boring!

jeff
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby jeff » Mon Nov 29, 2021 7:54 pm

cwright1992 wrote:On the coaching front, I have read a lot on this board that suggests coach Wright of UCLA is the coach with the greatest abilities amongst the top four. While I don't disagree with that assessment, and I recognize it is likely not a consensus view, I'm curious as to what folks here think about his coaching and what makes him the better coach over his peers? His tactics? Recruiting? In game adjustments? Training? I'm simply not in a position to make such a determine of one coach over the other, especially when the margins of winning and losing are so fractional most of time. Appreciate your thoughts in advance and look forward to a compelling finals tourney next weekend!

Cheers


I posed your question to one of America's greatest college players (from any era) and here is what he said:

"Adam is by far the most prepared coach in college Water Polo. The scouting and preparation that he does, which takes an insane amount of hours, is obvious when you watch his teams play. He also demands that his players are fully bought in to the program and he doesn’t cater to prima donnas or kids who think they should be treated special. That is why some kids who are very talented don’t last there because they believe they are bigger than the team and you can’t have that attitude if you play there."

As this quote suggests, Wright's coaching style is not for everyone.

It helps that Wright played for, and learned from, a number of great coaches, including Ricardo Azevedo, Guy Baker, Adam Krikorian, and Ratko Rudic. I had the good fortune to interview Rudic and he told me that Wright was like a coach in the water when he played for Rudic during the 2004 Olympic cycle.

Wright is a defensive-minded coach. Some have said that Wright chooses to sacrifice a little on the offensive end to help ensure that his teams are in a better position to play great team defense. Wright's teams typically have excellent depth and he uses more starting lineups during the course of a season than most coaches. The depth he develops during a season generally allows him to play more players in big games than his chief competitors and to compensate for injuries and players who get into foul trouble.

By all accounts, Dejan Udovicic will be the coach of the men's senior national team through the 2024 Olympics and possibly longer. That's unfortunate on many levels. I don't know if Wright would accept the job if it were offered to him, but he's one of a few coaches who might be able to turn the men's national team around.

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2plyBathingSuit
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby 2plyBathingSuit » Tue Nov 30, 2021 2:37 am

jeff wrote:By all accounts, Dejan Udovicic will be the coach of the men's senior national team through the 2024 Olympics and possibly longer. That's unfortunate on many levels. I don't know if Wright would accept the job if it were offered to him, but he's one of a few coaches who might be able to turn the men's national team around.


Jeff is "right"...again. I absolutely agree with this. Many of you already kmow I'm a great cheerleader of defensive minded coaches. "Wright" is our only hope of success on the international level.

Nohorsepolo
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby Nohorsepolo » Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:04 am

2plyBathingSuit wrote:
jeff wrote:By all accounts, Dejan Udovicic will be the coach of the men's senior national team through the 2024 Olympics and possibly longer. That's unfortunate on many levels. I don't know if Wright would accept the job if it were offered to him, but he's one of a few coaches who might be able to turn the men's national team around.


Jeff is "right"...again. I absolutely agree with this. Many of you already kmow I'm a great cheerleader of defensive minded coaches. "Wright" is our only hope of success on the international level.


Adam Wright and his coaching team are by far the best in the business. He demands of his players the same effort he puts in. He leads by example. Brian Flacks is the high school equivalent.

WPhan
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby WPhan » Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:58 am

I'll go with the Trojans having an "inside advantage" of #1 seed so Cal and UCLA can slug it out to get to the finals. USC's #1 seed comes from the overall season "body of work" with two close losses - both against the top 2 rivals. In both, Trojans didn't give up a lot of goals (thank you Nic Porter) but the offense had uncharacteristically poor shooting. The first 7-6 loss to Cal in October shooting was 6/37 (.163) and the second 6-5 loss to UCLA in November shooting was 5/19 (.172) and an abysmal 0 for 11 in 6-5 power play opportunities. I attribute the poor offense from the Trojans to stellar defense from the Bears and the Bruins shutting down USC's All Conference scorers Daube and Mercep.

USC can play sharp defense as shown by those loses where how often does giving up 7 and 6 points to elite opponents end up in a loss. In a defensive game (baseball analogy-- a "pitcher's duel") the team with the best goalie (again, Porter) will be the difference maker. Or the team that gets "the hot hand" (basketball analogy) will come out on top.

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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby ruin4life » Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:58 pm

Coach Wright has been experimenting with various lineups all season. He has figured out the right combinations. UCLA is peaking at the right moment. Freshmen Dodd and DeMartire will have prominent roles in defeating USC in the finals. 2 in a row for the Bruins. BTW, Dodd should have been selected as Newcomer of the Year.

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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby WPhan » Tue Nov 30, 2021 1:57 pm

Pintaric has also been experimenting with lineups and has been getting playing time for talented reserves and not over-playing All MPSF teamers and likely starters Daube, Mercep, Molthen, Kranz, and Ehrhardt. Bruins have a lot of depth as well. Cal the most vulnerable to depth issues and could have challenges if their impact players get into foul trouble.
True, Bruins won last year by 1 point when Trojans had Daube and Vavis on Team USA in Tokyo and Molthen was on the USA WP Senior team. Daube and Molten are back as is Porter. Should be a great Championship. I'm rooting for another USC vs UCLA crosss-town show down!

SwimCoach
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby SwimCoach » Tue Nov 30, 2021 1:59 pm

ruin4life wrote:Coach Wright has been experimenting with various lineups all season. He has figured out the right combinations. UCLA is peaking at the right moment. Freshmen Dodd and DeMartire will have prominent roles in defeating USC in the finals. 2 in a row for the Bruins. BTW, Dodd should have been selected as Newcomer of the Year.


Dodd had a great year, but it is hard to find fault with Valera winning the MPSF Newcomer of the Year. He was Newcomer of the Week five times, a record. I know that Cal played their starters an inordinate amount of time and that stats do not tell the whole story, but it is also hard to ignore that Valera led all MPSF freshmen in goals and assists.

Nohorsepolo
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby Nohorsepolo » Tue Nov 30, 2021 2:16 pm

SwimCoach wrote:
ruin4life wrote:Coach Wright has been experimenting with various lineups all season. He has figured out the right combinations. UCLA is peaking at the right moment. Freshmen Dodd and DeMartire will have prominent roles in defeating USC in the finals. 2 in a row for the Bruins. BTW, Dodd should have been selected as Newcomer of the Year.


Dodd had a great year, but it is hard to find fault with Valera winning the MPSF Newcomer of the Year. He was Newcomer of the Week five times, a record. I know that Cal played their starters an inordinate amount of time and that stats do not tell the whole story, but it is also hard to ignore that Valera led all MPSF freshmen in goals and assists.


I think you would find that Dodd had a better shooting percentage. It’s to bad they don’t keep that stat public. When you only get the ball less than 35-40 times a game every missed shot is a killer.

cwright1992
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Re: 2021 NCAA Tournament

Postby cwright1992 » Tue Nov 30, 2021 2:38 pm

jeff wrote:
cwright1992 wrote:On the coaching front, I have read a lot on this board that suggests coach Wright of UCLA is the coach with the greatest abilities amongst the top four. While I don't disagree with that assessment, and I recognize it is likely not a consensus view, I'm curious as to what folks here think about his coaching and what makes him the better coach over his peers? His tactics? Recruiting? In game adjustments? Training? I'm simply not in a position to make such a determine of one coach over the other, especially when the margins of winning and losing are so fractional most of time. Appreciate your thoughts in advance and look forward to a compelling finals tourney next weekend!

Cheers


I posed your question to one of America's greatest college players (from any era) and here is what he said:

"Adam is by far the most prepared coach in college Water Polo. The scouting and preparation that he does, which takes an insane amount of hours, is obvious when you watch his teams play. He also demands that his players are fully bought in to the program and he doesn’t cater to prima donnas or kids who think they should be treated special. That is why some kids who are very talented don’t last there because they believe they are bigger than the team and you can’t have that attitude if you play there."

As this quote suggests, Wright's coaching style is not for everyone.

It helps that Wright played for, and learned from, a number of great coaches, including Ricardo Azevedo, Guy Baker, Adam Krikorian, and Ratko Rudic. I had the good fortune to interview Rudic and he told me that Wright was like a coach in the water when he played for Rudic during the 2004 Olympic cycle.

Wright is a defensive-minded coach. Some have said that Wright chooses to sacrifice a little on the offensive end to help ensure that his teams are in a better position to play great team defense. Wright's teams typically have excellent depth and he uses more starting lineups during the course of a season than most coaches. The depth he develops during a season generally allows him to play more players in big games than his chief competitors and to compensate for injuries and players who get into foul trouble.

By all accounts, Dejan Udovicic will be the coach of the men's senior national team through the 2024 Olympics and possibly longer. That's unfortunate on many levels. I don't know if Wright would accept the job if it were offered to him, but he's one of a few coaches who might be able to turn the men's national team around.


Really appreciate this and all the other replies here; excellent feedback. Seems that Wright, like Krikorian before him, might make sense for a national team position in the future given his background and current success. As for his coaching style and demands, it seems, to my questionable eyes at least, that Wright de-emphasizes the star player system and demands unselfish play from this teams (although, his teams have had their fair share of stars.) Personally, I find this style of play really appealing: swim to open water, pass to open player, etc. I could be wrong but, on the margin, it seems that Cal, USC and Stanford, for a variety of reasons I'm sure, lean a bit more on their stars and individual performances for their victories. This is not meant as a slight, just an observation.

For this weekend, I will personally be rooting for either Cal or UCLA to win it all. But I fear that USC may benefit from an easier path to the final, will get big performances from Daube, Mercep and Molthen and will eke out a title victory. UCLA has won their last two titles in USC's pool. I imagine the Trojans would like to return the favor in Westwood this weekend. Should be one great semi on Sat between Cal and - likely - UCLA and a very close final on Sunday. Can't wait.

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