Thursday, May 10, 2007

Next Year versus Right Now

I think it is harder to win a college title that it is to win the UPA championships. It feels like the open and womens divisions of club are inertial. It takes some time for a team to build up some inertia, but after that they can just keep rolling until they run out of steam and get replaced. In the college game you only have 5 years, and you are stuck with the players you have (much harder to transfer than just move cities).

With that in mind I feel that as a college coach I am always thinking about next year. Who is going to be picking up the disc? Who is going to be our defensive stopper? etc. So to what extent should a coach let that affect how they play their players at nationals?

We need to develop our talent for next year, but at the same time we have a good team and could potentially make a run and go deep . . . but probably not win.

My current mindset comes from something that I think Jim wrote about DoG at Nationals. On day 1 you just want to make it to your power pool. Day 2 you want to win one game. That will put you in the semis while avoiding a play-in, and at that point you have given yourselves a chance and it is time to start playing your best. I think at college nationals, if you have a shot of winning the pool you take it, but really you are playing to finish 2/3 and be in a preQuarter game. All the preQs are 2 v 3 games so the talent level shouldn't be that different if you come in at 3 versus coming in a 2. After winning your preQuarter game then you've given yourself a chance to win some big games.

So is the mindset to make sure you win your 1/2 games on Friday to advance then focus on talent development with the other 2/1 games for next year? Does having a large freshman class make the subbing lean more towards development for a future chance at the title? Does having a big senior class mean putting it all on the line with those players to give them their one big chance? How much of an affect does worrying about a strength bid have on the decisions? I know these are all subjective to the team, but I would like to hear other people's thoughts/experiences on the subject. Thanks.


Tarr said...

A few semi-connected thoughts:

- Personally, it's really depressing to see both the Purdue men's and women's teams fail to qualify for regionals two years after I left. I don't feel too bad about it from the women's team perspective because I was only involved in the program for one season. The depth just wasn't there, and I couldn't do any recruiting at that stage. Then again, I really should have started coaching them in fall 2003 in stead of spring 2005. For the men's team, though, I should have worked harder to get a B team established when the team was doing well.

- As I just alluded to above, the only way to really have consistent success at the college level is to have a B team that plays more tournaments than just spring break and sectionals. Look at the teams that are consistently at the tops of their regions - 100% of them have established B teams. Teams that lack established B teams are vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles, no matter how good the A team is.

- Beyond the establishment of a B team (which, again, is crucial), I don't think you should worry too much about how substitution patterns will affect next year's squad. Unless you are constantly playing very close games, you should have chances to open up the rotation and use younger players. (And if you are always in close games, you better have a pretty big rotation anyway.)

Gambler said...

At least in the women's division, there is usually a distinct difference between the 2 and 3 seeds in a pool (not always, but usually). As a result, I would definitely try to finish in the top 2 of your pool to increase your chances of making it past pre-quarters.

As far as how to develop players for next year, in my experience, Nationals is a great time to show your younger players that you have faith in them and that they can play at a high level. Part of that is necessity--Nationals is a grueling tournament and you will need to use as wide a rotation as possible for as long as possible to keep up the team's strength.

Beyond that, I might single out a couple of your younger players that you plan on being go-to players the next year and try to put them in more big points here and there.

One of my favorite parts of a college season is watching rookies and younger players step up at Nationals.

AJ said...


If your team two more ACL's I'd say ride the horses and try to win this thing.

As it is, you've already satisfied the Emory fans/alumni, so I'd definitely be thinking about opening up the roster.

That being said, giving the young kids PT in meaningful games is much more valuable than PT in the consolation bracket.

So, in short, win all your games while playing everyone.


smoman72 said...

Being a youth coach, there are some glaring differences between my athletes and college athletes, but the fundamental problem is still the same... The canvas and paint are chosen for us. It's up to us as the coach to set up the masterpiece.

I believe a legs line (a line that trys to play conservative offensive points, and extend the length of the point)is a great way to develop younger players at the national tournament. It is extremely important to give them at least some experience playing against better opponents in high pressure situations.

However, that is not the best way to develop new players. It's important to remember that there is all next year to develop these players, and you will play great teams next season. Getting rocked as a "B" team member is a much better way of developing younger players.

-Will Smolinski
YHB Ultimate