For the third-consecutive year, the Wisconsin mens soccer team will have at least two of its regular-season matches televised by Big Ten Network . The networks soccer play-by-play man, Kenn Tomasch, offered up his opinions on the Badgers and the Big Ten as a whole heading into the 2009 season for UWBadgers.com:
Q: How do you see the Big Ten Conference stacking up this year
A: I think it will remain, top to bottom, one of the nations best. Though some outstanding players have moved on, there are still terrific players on all of the teams and every game is hard-fought. National recognition will come from continued and increased success at the NCAA tournament level, however.
Q: There was a lot of parity within the Big Ten last year, do you expect the same in 2009
A: Its so hard in a short season for any one team to just dominate. There arent any easy places to go play in the league, and you cant just expect to chalk up three points when you go to East Lansing or to Evanston late in the season, or to Bloomington anytime.
Q: Who do you see as the favorites to take the Big Ten title
A: Most years, you could say Indiana has the most talent and should be favored, and you probably wouldnt miss by much. I really like Northwesterns team, though. They were so good last year with a group that included only a few seniors, and theyre bringing back a tremendous team that has that extra years experience. And Michigan has a very well-coached outfit that was just-this-close to winning the league last year.
Q: How do you see the conference shaking out, from top to bottom
A: Very tough to call. When all but one team in the league had an overall winning record, and when four finished in the top 25 at years end, you know that any preseason prognostications you come up with could be wiped out three weeks into the season. I like Northwestern and Michigan to battle for the top two spots, with Indiana and Wisconsin in the middle. Ohio State will be trying to get back to its recent great form, and Michigan State lost a lot at both ends of the field. The Spartans will have to scratch and claw to finish high. Unfortunately, you have to pick someone to finish last and Penn States kids may be a year away.
Q: Is there a surprise team to watch out for in the league this year
A: I think Wisconsin may surprise people who arent aware that their record of a year ago was a bit deceiving. If the Badgers do well in 2009, those who havent paid close attention may say, `How did that happen but not all of us will be that surprised. I also like Barry Gormans young players at Penn State.
Q: Where do you see Wisconsin fitting into the league mix Why
A: I thought Wisconsin was a lot better team than its results indicated last year. They were one of the unluckiest teams I think Ive ever seen. Theyve assembled a talented team and now it will be up to Todd Yeagley to mold that group into one that gets results consistently. If the breaks even out for them, they could be right up there at the end.
Q: Will the Badgers strong non-conference schedule be of benefit to them
A: How can it not Playing Akron, Cal-Santa Barbara and UIC should give the Badgers the chance to get NCAA tournament-like experience during the regular season. Win or lose, those matches will be valuable learning tools for the Badgers.
Q: What games do you have circled as the most important for Wisconsin
A: You dont need to look too deep on the schedule the Big Ten opener Sept. 25 against Indiana. That could set the tone for the whole season, if they can make a statement in that game. That and the Oct. 11 home game against defending conference champion Michigan State are two huge games. If you want a third, it's Oct. 17 at Northwestern, where the Wildcats are tough to beat when the wind comes off the lake.
Q: What does Todd Yeagley bring to the table as the Badgers new head coach
A: If you know the kind of player Todd Yeagley was and you believe that teams eventually resemble their coachs attributes, you can expect the Badgers to be fundamentally sound, well-disciplined, make the smart play and be fiery competitors. All of those things defined Yeagley as a player and an assistant coach.
Q: Who do you expect to be the Badgers top players on the field this year
A: Scott Lorenz, for one. I like Brandon Millers feel for the game, and I think Aaron Nichols is a valuable player. And Alex Horwath, who is already a fine player, can benefit from the coaching of Ernie Yarborough, who was deceptively good as a professional goalkeeper.
Q: Whats your favorite thing about coming to Madison to cover a game
A: Cheese curds!
Q: Wheres your favorite place to grab a meal in Madison
A: I cant remember the name of it we went there on the Saturday night before the (2008 Big Ten Tournament) final. Some place downtown near the Capitol Might have been an Italian place Im looking forward to exploring more of Madison when Im there in October.
2009 Preseason Coverage
- Aug. 25 - sportid=122&storyid=18776"> --> Talkin' With Tiemeyer: Taylor Waspi
- Aug. 25 - sportid=122&storyid=18774"> --> Previewing the Opponents: Non-conference Part 1
- Aug. 24 - sportid=122&storyid=18759"> --> Badgers use extra time to score 1-0 exhibition win
- Aug. 24 - sportid=122&storyid=18747"> --> Know a Newcomer: Derek Pitts
- Aug. 21 - sportid=122&storyid=18734"> --> Practice Report #3: Badgers hit field for scrimmage
- Aug. 21 - sportid=122&storyid=18727"> --> Practice Report #2: Rain doesn't deter Badgers
- Aug. 21 - sportid=122&storyid=18724"> --> Know a Newcomer: Ata Ozbay
- Aug. 20 - sportid=122&storyid=18710"> --> McCrudden named to '100 Freshmen to Watch' list
- Aug. 20 - sportid=122&storyid=18707"> --> Talkin' With Tiemeyer: Alex Horwath
- Aug. 20 - sportid=122&storyid=18706"> --> What to Watch 4: Key Games
- Aug. 19 - sportid=122&storyid=18679"> --> Practice Report #1
- Aug. 19 - sportid=122&storyid=18676"> --> Q&A with Big Ten Network's Richard Broad
- Aug. 18 - sportid=122&storyid=18668"> --> What to Watch 4: Key Players
- Aug. 17 - sportid=122&storyid=18661"> --> Know a Newcomer: Kyle McCrudden
- Aug. 17 - sportid=122&storyid=18656"> --> Coach Yeagley's Blog: Looking forward to fall
- Aug. 12 - sportid=122&storyid=18611"> --> Yeagley Previews the Season: Part 1