We’re breaking down each and every NCAA D1 team one by one to get prepped for the rapidly approaching season. Welcome back to the Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Previews! We move another spot down the list and the Mercer Bears, located in Macon, GA, are up for Preview!
2012 was Mercer’s second as a varsity team, and they went 1-13, after going 1-12 in 2011. In 2011, their sole win was over Carthage, an NCAA D3 team, but in 2012, the program got their first NCAA D1 win in school history, 14-11, over Wagner at home. Jason Childs was the program’s coach for the first two years, and in 2013, Kyle Hannan takes over the reins.
Mercer’s 2013 schedule is filled with winnable games, and if Hannan wants to change the culture for the Bears, this is a good place to start. The Bears will be playing TWO Division 2 teams in Rollins (to open the season), and Lees-McRaee. I love interdivisional games, and for teams on the lower end of D1, I think it makes a lot of sense. Mercer will likely struggle with Duke, and could definitely encounter problems from Towson, Bellarmine, St. Joseph’s, Jacksonville, and Air Force, but they have good chances for wins against High Point,
Michigan, Wagner, Marquette, Manhattan, and VMI.
Like I said above, the Bears are still only a third year program, and the oldest players on their roster are juniors. The top ten scorers for the Bears last year all return, all are Juniors, and a couple have serious potential. Of all the offensive returners, Zack Ward, Cole Branch, Brett Eisenmann, and Eoin Collins stand out. All can score, or move the rock, and this group should emerge as more confident leaders this year. The fact is, Mercer needs them to. Sophomore Justin Evans shows some promise with face offs.
Defensively, I’m interested to see the direction Hannan takes this team. Justin Bateman is no longer on the roster, but Dillon Volk (another Junior) played and started a number of games in goal last year. There are also two freshman on the roster, one from Georgia, and one from Mississippi. Hey, Pierce Bassett is from Arizona. Maybe one of these guys will emerge as a great D1 keeper for the Bears?
Whatever the situation ends up being in goal, the longstick position is very similar to the shortsticks. Mercer has plenty of guys back with experience, some decent depth, and some new faces who will press for time. On average, the Mercer D has good size, although there are some exceptions. The Bears will need to take what worked, and mix in some new talent to improve, but with 15 poles on the team, they should be able to find some combo that works. Look for Colin Brown, Alex Goldsberry, Josh Davidson, Kevin Alexander, and Matt Campbell to lead the way early on.
Realistically, Mercer needed to get better from 2012 to 2013, and I think they did that with a new coach, and some new players. Coach Hannan is a step up in terms of Xs and Os, and the Bears should be more excited as a team to play in 2013.
The question is, did Mercer get better enough? Schools like High Point and Marquette may be “new” programs as well, but those won’t be easy wins, and if Mercer wants to make the jump from the bottom of the barrel, they need to win at least 3 of their D1 games this year.
Click HERE to see Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview posts for Air Force, Albany, Army, Bellarmine, Binghamton, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Canisius, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Denver, Detroit, Drexel, Duke, Fairfield, Hartford, Harvard, High Point, Hobart, Hofstra, Holy Cross, Jacksonville, Johns Hopkins, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola, Manhattan, Marist, Marquette, Maryland, and Massachusetts!