Saturday, December 11th, 2021 -- Jeremy Jones has been coach for the Mosconi Cup for a couple years now, but has captained losing USA teams in 2020, and now 2021. Mark Wilson captained teams that struggled, but had a good dynamic. Johan Ruijsink captained winning teams for both team Europe and Team USA in years past -- 2018 & 2019 specifically for team USA.
Coaching and strategy appears to be a big part of winning the Mosconi Cup, great play, and a little luck -- getting "the rolls," doesn't hurt either. But having a good captain appears to be tantamount to a winning combination. I believe team USA needs to consider having a new direction for their leadership. I believe that Charlie Williams, Johnny Archer, Tommy Kennedy, Nick Varner, Earl Strickland, and other great US champions like that should have a crack at it, with Mark Wilson on as assistant coach and rock-solid moral fiber to instill into the team's collective consciousness.
Shane Van Boening (SVB) has been the world number one player for well over a decade and a half in my opinion -- not always maintaining the #1 rank, but always being in the Top 5 it would appear, steadily grinding year after year since approximately 2007 -- one of the greatest runs in the history of the pocket billiards,
ending up tied with Earl Strickland at 5 US Open titles. Unprecedented. However, SVB has struggled in the Cup, having performed below his level of play this year, and in many others. Even with SVB's struggles in the Cup through the years, I still say he should be included in any team USA assembles unless his game begins to drop off, but it hasn't; SVB is playing as well as ever -- having bested Orcollo and others in recent times in heads up, one-on-one money matches, race to 120 and the like, highlighting the fact that SVB is in top form to take on any player worldwide. Also, Skyler Woodward has shown year after year that he gets key points and wins consistently under those conditions in the Mosconi Cup, an extraordinary, durable grinder for team USA. He should be included year after year for years to come, if he continues to improve and play top level pool as he has. Beyond that USA hasn't appeared to have a lot of options in recent years. Billy Thorpe did well on winning USA teams in recent times, so perhaps he could be considered as a possibility, but I believe it was Strickland that posted on Facebook that Thorpe was excluded from this year's Cup for allegedly smoking marijuana, which is ashame if so. Is marijuana a performance enhancing drug? I wouldn't think so. But I digress… Tyler Styer has both come through for team USA and has also, struggled and dropped matches he should have won. So, from this reporter's perspective, Styer may be included as a wild card pick next year if the other options are limited. Chris Reinhold is a top player, but was ranked 38th on the top US Fargo rated players -- that seems a little low on the level of play to be included in the Cup, but perhaps other players weren't available this year, and Reinhold obviously did the best he could. I believe Chris to be an ambassador to billiards, and all class, and hope he plays better, wins more individual tournaments, and qualifies to play with team USA again next year. However, if he doesn't make the cut, I don't believe we should select a US player below the top 20 Fargo rated players in the USA ever again. The level of play for team Europe far supercedes anything below that; this must be considered when team USA is selecting players. Actually, I believe pro players should have to compete in Mosconi Cup team USA qualifiers each year, a new captain put in place every two years, change it up to adapt with the times and players. At the end of the day, team Europe is just one win better than team USA -- the two rivalries standing locked at 12-11 overall at this juncture in space-time, with one tie -- in this billiards 'War Of The Roses.' So, to recap: 1.) Team USA needs a new Captain for 2022. 2.) SVB and Woodward need to remain as the core for team USA 2022. 3.) Reinhold, Styer, Thorpe, and other professional pool players should have to qualify to play on the cup next year. 4.) Team USA should have a non-playing captain and co-captain each year, one of which should be training to play, to fill in in case an issue happens with one of the players, such as what went down with Strickland being excluded this year. 5.) Include Strickland next year! ;) We do all that and we have a much better chance of leveling the Mosconi Cup at 12-12-1 come December 2022 P.S. -- ALSO DON'T FORGET JFLOWERS POOL CUES ROCK!