Well, according to the NCAA's 67-page report, we're not going to be allowed to solely discuss football here at Conquest Chronicles. Instead, Paul Dee and company are asking us to spread the love around and give some attention to the other sports on campus. Begrudgingly, we're going to be following orders for once, and take a peak at some of the other fall sports such as soccer, volleyball, and even water polo. For our first preview series, we'll preview the 2010 USC men's water polo team.
Why you should care: The Trojans are coming off two of their best seasons in recent history, including an undefeated campaign in 2008, and are looking to win their third consecutive national championship in 2010. In doing they would become the first school since Cal in 1992 to "three-peat" as NCAA champions. According to head coach Jovan Vavic, another title is still in fact a realistic goal for the program despite the loss of ten seniors, which includes J.W. Krumpholz who was the 2008 and 2009 recipient of the Cutino Award - awarded to the best overall player in the country.
How to follow along: Since collegiate water polo games are not televised locally on Fox Sports West like some other non-revenue sports (track/field and volleyball), the only way to watch the team is through a paid subscription to USC Trojans All-Access or attend the games in person at McDonald's Swim Stadium, which is situated on campus right next to Howard Jones Field. (see: schedule if interested). Additionally, USCTrojans.com will often feature game previews and recaps, while the Daily Trojan will also feature similar reports. (note: I'll also be serving as one of the team's beat writers this fall so you better read them!)
Some things you need to know: In case you plan on keeping tabs on the team this season, here are a few things of note you should keep in mind.
A.) There is no Pac-10. Much like gymnastics and volleyball, USC does not participate in the Pac-10. Instead teams such as 'SC, Stanford, and UCLA, all participate in a league known as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). Other members include Cal, Long Beach State, Pacific, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara.
B.) There might not be a better coach nationally than Jovan Vavic. It can be relatively challenging to evaluate polo coaches, but based on his track record, there is little questioning the success Vavic has had at USC. Since arriving at USC in the mid-1990s, Vavic, who also coaches the women's team during the spring, has won 5 titles on the men's circuit, and is often praised by recruits. Even more so to his credit, the native of Hungary, has won 3 out of the last 4 men's and women's national titles from 2008-2010.
C.) Joel Dennerley. Starting in goal this season for the men will be the junior Dennerley - a native of Australia who many consider to be one of the best players to ever play at USC. Vavic has even gone on to call him the best goalie he has ever coached. As a freshman he was named MPSF Newcomer of the Year, while recording over 200 saves. A year later, there wasn't much of a drop-off, as the 6'5" Dennerley recorded 194 saves (nearly 7 per contest).
D.) Will the offense still be there? Historically, USC has never had much difficulty on the offensive end, but in 2010, that might not be the case any longer. The team loses its top four scorers Justin Rappel, Shea Buckner, Kyle Sterling, and Krumpholz, from a year ago. Looking to replace their production will be junior driver Peter Kurzeka (29 goals/2009) and junior two-meter Matt Burton (17 goals/2009). Vavic will be counting upon both position players to use their experience to provide leadership for the rest of the group, particularly some of the sophomores such as two-meter Brian Boswell, and drivers Stephen Siri, Michael Rosenthal, and Forest Monroe.
Likelihood of Success: Vavic and the Trojans have made it rather clear that they expect to win another national championship in 2010. When you have a track record like theirs, it's completely understandable. Will it happen? It's tough to say. Cal, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara, return most of their starters, and Stanford figures to be just as dangerous. It'll be tough with Vavic, Dennerley, and with a roster full of high school All-Americans, it's tough to imagine this group not in the running for the NCAA title once again.