You’re going to begin to notice a theme among our previews for former AC Regional teams, that theme is a reloading of talent. Most of the top teams at CCC are going to be missing faces that have become staples around the college scene. UNCW is definitely one of those teams. The Seamen lost Rusty Ingold-Smith and Todd Doroski to graduation. While Doroski might not be as familiar of a name to some readers, no one can deny the Seamen are going to miss this.
“Rusty is irreplaceable,” UNCW coach Greg Vassar wrote to us. “He was a really special player and there’s no way we can ask anyone to fill his shoes. Todd Doroski was such an experienced player and an incredible athlete. We may have players with that kind of athleticism but only a few players have the experience he had.”
Ingold-Smith has been the driving force behind UNCW’s recent success but Vassar and the rest of the team are taking a different approach to rebuilding than Florida. Instead of trying to find people to fill the gaps that graduating players left, the Seamen plan on creating a system that fits the players they have now.
“We don’t really want people to try and replace other people,” Vassar wrote. “Instead, we look for players to bring their skills to those positions and put them on the field to gain experience and develop into their own.”
However, one thing that you can guarantee will be the same is the fiery passion that Wilmington brings to the field every game. While Vassar is trying to help the team form to its players, the players are getting indoctrinated with the competitive spirit that keeps UNCW in every game and often flusters opponents.
“As far as intensity goes, I think that comes from being competitive and that’s also something we try and teach in practice,” Vassar wrote. “We usually have at least one competition type drill per practice, if not more. That’s a great way to see who has the intensity you need to have success come tournament time.”
Aside from intensity, Vassar knows that the strength of his team is going to be based on the play of his veteran handler crew. Seniors Dave Macurak, James Hill, Steve Taylor and graduate student Russ Causley represent an experienced and cohesive unit that keep the disc consistently moving upfield. Other than those players though, Vassar knows that the Seamen have a long way to go before they’re ready to make another run at Nationals.
“I think we can put out a line that will compete with anyone for a game but how good we are will depend how we develop the new and second year players we have,” Vassar wrote. “We’ve also got a long ways to go to develop balance and not rely on 50/50 deep throws and athleticism.”
This weekend will be a good measurement for UNCW to see how far they’ve come in preparing those second year players for success. Ingold-Smith and Vassar and many others put in a lot of time into rebuilding UNCW into the elite level team that it once was. It’s hard to believe that just the departure of a few players could tear down that work. If we were facing the Seamen at any point this year, we would be prepared for a battle.
Update: We’d like to add a note to this preview. Greg Vassar wanted us to mention Tully Beatty, who has also been coaching UNCW for the last couple of years. According to Vassar, Beatty is just as responsible for the team’s recent success as anyone else. Vassar tried to take the blame for letting that slip his mind, however, having met Beatty and knowing that he was the Coach of the Year in the AC last year, we certainly should have had the wherewithal to mention him.