Q&A with ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra
ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra is a former All-American midfielder at Syracuse who will be covering No. 1 Syracuse at No. 11 Notre Dame on Saturday night for ESPNU. In the second of a two-part question-and-answer session, Carcaterra discussed the crowded field for the Ivy League Tournament, a team flying under the radar for an at-large bid, and his thoughts on the leading candidates for the Tewaaraton Award.
Question: Of the seven teams in the Ivy League, six have a shot at qualifying for the four-team conference tournament. Which team do you think will emerge as the league champion?
Paul Carcaterra: "It’s tough. You’d think a few weeks ago that it was Princeton, but they’ve shown that they’re vulnerable. Cornell has a crack at them before the tournament even starts. I think a lot has to rest on the outcome of that game. There really is a ton of parity in that conference with all of those teams beating one another. There’s really no one clear-cut favorite. I don’t think there’s one team that is much more talented than the rest, too. If you look at Princeton, they’ve had spurts where they’re really good, but you also have to question how much production they get consistently out of their midfield. I think Syracuse exposed them when they took [junior attackman Jack] McBride completely out of the game. A team that is interesting is Brown. Even in their losses, they’ve played teams really tough. They lost to Duke by a goal down in Durham. They have the Harvard win, they have the Cornell win. I like Brown. I think [coach] Lars Tiffany gets a ton out of those kids. The one team that I seem to think is slightly overrated is Cornell, and I say that because they lost to Dartmouth, they lost to Brown, they got blown out by Virginia, and they lost that heartbreaker to Syracuse. Who are their credible wins? Stony Brook and Army are their best two wins, I think. I just think that team has kind of stuck around as a top-10 team all along, and I’m starting to question how good they are. They’re just not a team that I think has played up to that ranking consistently. So to answer your question, it’s really hard. There are five teams and three or four of them can win the Ivy League legitimately."
Q: Who do you like to win the Patriot League Tournament and claim the first berth in the NCAA Tournament?
PC: "Army. They’re really battle-tested. If you look over the years, they’ve played a ton of one-goal games, and I think that’s helped them mature. This season, they’re starting to win a lot more of those one-goal games as opposed to last year when they lost five one-goal games. They had a tough early start to the season, and now they’re really clicking. I think they know how to win those tight games. A lot changes when you start winning those games. You get a sense of maturity and you understand the difference in those tight games."
Q: What team is flying under the radar and worthy of an at-large bid?
PC: "Villanova. If they beat Georgetown in the last week of the season, it’d be tough to say not to that team. If they beat Drexel, Notre Dame and Georgetown, how do you leave them out? I’m not saying this team is poised to make a run at the Final Four, but if they beat Georgetown, you have to think they’re in."
Q: Is there an individual who has separated himself as the leading candidate to win the Tewaaraton Award?
PC: "No, I don’t. I think a lot of people tend to think that [North Carolina junior attackman] Billy Bitter is the favorite. He’s as good of a dodging attackman I’ve seen since [former Syracuse attackman and two-time Tewaaraton Trophy winner] Mike Powell in 2004, but I think so much of that award hinges on a couple of things. One, when you play the attack position, your point total matters, and so does your team’s success. North Carolina is a little nicked up with [senior midfielder Sean] DeLaney out, and [Bitter’s] been kind of held in check the last couple games with Maryland shutting him out [in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament semifinals last Friday]. If they make a run and he’s fantastic in the playoffs, I think he will separate himself. But from start to finish, the most consistent star in my eyes has been [Syracuse junior goalkeeper] John Galloway. I think so not because I’m a Syracuse guy, but because if you look at what he’s done and his whole body of work, he’s been incredible. Even in the team’s one loss, that might have been his best game of the year. If you look at the entire body of work and what he does for his team, Galloway is certainly right in the mix. There is one kid who I think doesn’t get the recognition but should definitely be a finalist, and that’s [Stony Brook junior midfielder] Kevin Crowley. I think he leads the country in points, he gets long-pole attention every single game, he’s the guy on the scouting report to stop, but no one’s been able to do it. He’s a guy where people need to start looking past the marquee programs and really take a good look at what he’s done. You can’t dismiss his success this year. If he’s not a finalist, something’s wrong."