Monday, May 23, 2005

The Mixed South

I'm working up to a post on Mixed strategy. First, I wanted to look at Mixed in the South specifically though. Some of what follows is based on speculation and rumor, so take it as such.

The South region this year is looking to be incredibly competitive. Hangtime is back after a year trying the the open thing. They were pretty solidly the second best team in the nation for the previous couple of years, and with Donner gone, would have certainly been the favorite to take it all last year.

Holes and Poles has been been a solid quarters/semis team for many years. Even after losing Harriford and replacing him with Ricky, they hardly seemed to have missed a beat. Ricky will have had another year to recruit Atlanta players and get the team playing how he wants. Whether it'll improve on what Holes has done historically, I don't know. Seems risky messing with a good thing, but maybe I'm wrong and the changes will be minimal. Either way I don't see how you can say they aren't one of the top teams in the country.

Soul Patrol beat us (Rival) and made Nationals last year. They come back basically unchanged. They finished 12th in the nation last year and though they're all a year older, I figure they should be just as strong.

Rival was back and forth with Soul Patrol all season, but lost in the most important game of the year. This year's Rival has been drastically re-worked. Only time will tell if they can return to being a Nationals contender.

Show-n-Tail is supposedly changing their name, thank god. They've got atheletes, there's no questioning that. Their atheletes only got them so far last year though. They're all a year older and that will make them better, and they've added some veterans which should make a big difference.

Next we've got two open teams who got tired of losing to Chain and Doublewide. Vicious and Tanasi are both supposedly going mixed. I expect Vicious to definitely be a contender, the threesome of Dan, Palmer, and Deanna is scary. Too soon to tell how deep either they or Tanasi will be, and what their women will be like.

Will Hangtime still have the magic, can anyone knock them or Holes off to take one of the 2(!) spots to Nationals this year? I think there are 7 teams with a legitimate shot to make Nationals out of the South Region. Is this going on in other parts of the country as well?


Marshall said...

Interesting. Sounds like it might be very competitive indeed.

Typically, the NE has absolutely no idea what's going on at this point in the year. This year, I think there's at least a little more momentum than usual for some teams. 6TM is still here, trying to fight the NE's history of Mixed teams lasting a year and no more. I imagine Puppet will be back trying to build on a pretty good finish last year. The VT team (Uncivil Union) that made the show last year will likely not exist, at least in that form. Halibut, a two-time Nationals participant, will likely see some significant changes. Chinstrap is trying to rebuild a little to return to their Nationals-qualifying form of a couple years ago. Slow White was a young team last year but might be a very good team this year.

In other words, it's the NE and there's no way to tell anything, but yeah, it'll likely be pretty competitive to get out of the region. Then again, what the hell do I know...

parinella said...

I'm curious why you think the name Show-n-Tail is bad but Holes and Poles is acceptable. Personally, I think both are an insult to the sport of ultimate, and as long as Mixed teams continue to give themselves sexually suggestive names, people like me are going to denigrate the division.

gcooke said...

At the Board Meeting this past January, we put the following into the College Guidelines:

"Name/Logo Guidelines

The UPA reserves the right to alter, or require a team to alter, a team name, player nickname, team logo, or jersey graphic and/or suggest alternatives at or in conjunction with a UPA program or event should UPA personnel determine that the existing name, logo, or graphic might hinder the mission of the organization or the goals of a specific UPA program or event. Alterations must meet with the approval of UPA personnel."

This is pretty specific to the CSTV coverage, but I am pretty sure that something similar will coming down the road for Club. I agree with Jim about Mixed names. It is wonderful that he has set out definitive parameters for the cessation of his denigration.

Well, we get a look at Hot and Sweaty (the Vicious/Ozone combo) in 12 days at Mixed Easterns. I am going to seed them quite high.

I think some of this extra intrest in Mixed probably has something to do with qualifying for Worlds, but I could be wrong. I am still very interested in seeing how that whole thing is going to play out with Worlds two weeks after the UPA's.

gcooke said...

btw, Marshall has a Mixed Strategy discussion here:


Marshall said...

To be fair, Jim, I'm not sure that Mixed teams having more respectable names will necessarily result in you not denigrating the division, so that on its own may not be enough motivation to upgrade naming. George's rules, on the other hand...

parinella said...

It's a necessary but not sufficient condition. Masters has a similar problem with names that don't suggest athleticism, but their names tend to be more self-deprecating (Grey Expectations, Old and In the Way).

Yeah, Boston, way to take over Atlanta's blog. Just like the Sox taking it to the Braves.

Martin said...

Yes, this has been a very enlightening discussion on how mixed teams have suggestive names.

But there have been two good points made. It would seem likely that the interest in mixed from traditionally open/womens players is related to worlds. When I first started playing mixed it was because it was the first time nationals was with open/womens, so the opportunity to get in was much easier. I can see that being a motivating force for people who want to get to worlds.

In response to things being up in the air in NE; even though the south has a lot of returning teams this year, the presence of a new Florida or a new Tennessee team could change the landscape greatly. Mixed (and masters??) is so transient. It is hard to know who will be the best team from one year to another. Players come and go so much that you can't know what you are up against (or working with) until well into summer.

Which brings me to Wood's original point. Strategy in mixed is tough. Aside from trying to figure out how to make the women on the field deadly, you also don't know what the competition is going to be like. Each year presents radically different challenges, so I feel that the strategy that captains end up employing (and Wood and I tried to employ in the past) is one of improving upon your team's weaknesses in a general sense rather than speciically to combat one team.

That was too long. What I am saying is, that in mixed strategy (perhaps more than other divisions) it is hard to say what it is going to take to get to nationals. One year you may be good enough to make quarters, and the next you may not even make it to regionals. You can't train to beat a certain team because that team may no longer be even close to the top of the pack. Instead you just have to try to get better and hope for the best.

gcooke said...

Martin's points are interesting, and I think true. My point of view on this is that the transient nature of the division makes seeding Nationals very dicey. My only out is that seeding, for me, is reactive and not predictive. I am hoping that the data available via the UPA's SRT will help make seeding the Mixed Division a bit easier. I think I have relied too heavily on past results over the past two years.


Bill said...

Status of SouthWest Mixed: Having only been here for a few months, this isn't the most well informed update, but here goes.

Colorado sent three teams to Nationals last year. Of these teams; Bad Larry will definitely be around with a similar roster to last year's; Duff does not look like they will be around at all; and I'm not sure about Drive thru Liquor. The rumor I've heard about DTL is they're going through some changes at the top that will either end up in their not being around, or at least being a very changed team. But that's just hearsay. And I don't know anything at all about the California teams.

As to the point of year to year strategy; I agree with Martin that looking beyond your own team can be tough and counter-productive. The teams that you faced last year probably won't be the same as the ones you face this year, even if they have the same name. So building your team around getting by Team X isn't a good strategy, since Team X may have had 50% turnover on their roster. And that strategy completely ignores Team Y and Team Z that will come out of nowhere in the middle of the summer.

Of course all this is really just a long way of saying, "I agree with Martin, build your team to play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, not to combat other teams' strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses."

martinvanburen said...

AJ, your rundown of southern mixed teams was interesting, but incomplete. where is the review of "ah, fudge" ?

2-1 at terminus on saturday. beat show'n'tail, or pylon or whatever they are calling themselves. pretty handily i might add.

beat a nationals team (hot action) last year.

ah fudge is clearly on the way up, definitely a factor in the southern mixed division. we might even GO to sectionals this year.

aj said...

That would be Wood's rundown.


gcooke said...

Hot and Sweaty (Vicious/Ozone folks) came up and won Mixed Easterns this weekend. I was not surprised as I had them pegged to go very far over the tournament.

They were not really challenged until semis and finals, and from what I saw (not a lot) they seemed to play very solid person defense when they needed to.

H&S did play to their strengths, but I felt there were a few women on the team that were not trusted with the disc (meaning the woman catches the disc and someone is immediately yelling at her to throw the 1 yard dump pass). They might need to come to terms with this come regionals.

I overheard a couple of their line calls during the final, and they are very organized and focused on a few tasks at hand.

wood said...

Good info George, thanks. Hopefully we'll get to see Hot & Sweaty ourselves soon.

heacox said...

I was busy going 0-6 at Easterns myself this weekend, so I never got a chance to see Hot & Sweaty or any of the Sunday games.

Looking over the Score Reporter results, however, the only team to score double-digits on them all weekend was Puppet Regime in the semis, who managed 10 points.

I imagine it will be a tough year to qualify for Mixed Nationals From the South. Hang Time will not have lost a step, Holes & Poles is always tough, there is this new Florida team, and the Arkansas team that made a good run at Regionals last year could return. Yikes.

In related news, I have no idea what's going on in the Northeast, seeing as people aren't used to broadcasting tryout information or, like Marshall said, being particularly organized yet. I should probably get to the bottom of this, seeing as I have to run Sectionals in a few months.


llimllib said...

I played for Mixed Masters this weekend, which is one half of the beginnings of a (hopefully) competitive New Haven team. We nearly beat Philly KRU on Saturday, then won our next 4 games (including over a tired Reservoir Penguins/MIT alum team). In the quarters, we lost 13-6 to Hot & Sweaty.

They had, at least on us, quite a deep game. A big boost for them was that they had a couple of women with excellent hucks; I didn't see any untrusted women play as reported above, but we might just have not been playing good enough D.

I think it also helped them a lot that the temperatures were very florida-like; 97% humidity on both days.

Finally, props to the guy who threw a sick greatest right on his goal line, then got up and cut back to the other side of the field to score on his stunned defender.

mark said...

Regarding Hang Time:

I don't really know anything, but from what I can tell some of their main studs from 2002-2003 won't be around this year. I played in a scrimmage against Dallas United this past weekend and they definitely had some of the old hang time guys playing with them. it's possible that those guys are just waiting to go play with Rex and company again, but that didn't seem to be the case. On the other hand, big Tom wasn't there, and any team with him is pretty dangerous, especially so in coed.