In my recent travels through the blogosphere, I’ve noticed a trend to argue for possession based offenses and the threat they pose to top teams. In a sense, I definitely agree and I think you can perhaps point to Jam’s recent loss to Kaos and the Condors’ Labor Day loss to Rhino as possible examples of this. However, I think that newer players reading our blogs could be getting a bad impression of the huck. I also think we do a disservice to both our opponents and ourselves when we assume that the west coast teams are beating up on us simply because they have more Big Dumb Athletes (BDA) than we do.
When a team chooses the path of the huck they’ve chosen to be the aggressor. They’re taking it to the opponent saying, “we’re crazy and you better keep an eye on your end zone because the disc could be going there at any moment.”
It should be noted that the preachers of possession are not opposed to the huck. They have argued many times that the best pass is not necessarily the one with the least risk, but rather the pass that gives your team the highest percentage chance of scoring (I thought that might be too difficult of a calculation for most players to make - here). I think Parinella wrote that a huck with 60% completion rate is good enough in most scenarios (although I can’t seem to find it at the moment, so perhaps I’m making that up). I assume this number was based purely on “the numbers.” In other words, type .90 * .90 into your calculator and start hitting = it doesn’t take long for that number to be lower than .60. I’m arguing that the advantageous implications of the huck extend beyond the calculation of giving your team the highest percentage chance of scoring (this goal).
When a team completes a huck it has a psychological effect on the opponent. I try to make it a point to catch a huck in the first few points of the game because it really puts The Fear into a defender. No one likes to be scored on and there is something especially intimidating about getting taken to the rack. A confident defender won’t let it affect the way he plays defense, but often times a defender becomes so afraid of the deep game that he concedes the underneath. It also the case, that an incomplete huck is sometimes just as effective as opening up the underneath as a completed one. “this team is crazy – they’ll throw ANYTHING deep, I was beat on that last one, good thing the throw sucked. I’m not gonna give him a chance to beat me again.” In a sense, this is similar to Mooney’s discussion of using the 1-3-3, the defense that never works. The early no conscience huck trades short term efficiency for greater long term efficiency. In other words, this goal may be more difficult to score, but later goals will be easier to score if the opponent is afraid of the deep shot.
None of this even takes into account the “oops, we scored” factor of the huck. The fact is that terrible throws often times work out on the big away cut. The most compelling reason I’ve heard for this is Parinella’s discussion of temporal vs. spatial margins. A huck thrown at the correct moment has a huge spatial margin for error. When your BDA says, “just throw me ANYTHING in bounds,” he’s actually stumbled onto something.
Most games favor the side that is willing to be aggressive and ultimate is not really much different.
That’s about all I got on that, but here’s a digression into an alternate theory as to why the top aggressive teams may be susceptible to the possession based strategy. I actually think it’s the defensive strategy of the aggressive teams that is more vulnerable than the offensive strategy. I think you can fairly classify 6 of 8 of last year’s quarterfinalists as aggressive (no conscience hucking) teams. It’s not too surprising then that the defenses on these teams have evolved to stop the huck. The strategies that are most effective at stopping the huck (flat marking, backing downfield cutters) also happen to be particularly ineffective against a traditional dump-swing straight stack approach. If the aggressive teams do not make the necessary defensive adjustments, I think they are vulnerable to an efficient possession based team.