Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Girls State Championships

I got to coach at the Girls' Georgia State Championships today. The level of play in Georgia is still relatively low, and there aren't many teams. Groove (Paideia Girls) have dominated all of their high school opponents this season, and a good number of the college ones they have played. They are an excellent group of girls with incredible talent. That is why we were surprised to find ourselves down to a combo team from 2 high schools (told you there weren't many teams) 0-2 at the beginning of the game. Our squad was depleted, so we didn't have the handlers that we normally did, which presented a problem. We started on D with the wind blowing pretty strong cross-field. Our opponent ran zone and we fumbled the disc after a number of swing passes. This gave our opponent a short field and the scored. Same thing happened again next point. Our girls were starting to get frustrated. The only time they had been down 0-2 recently was when they were assessed 2 points, so we talked about it really quick between a points and settled down. We scored the next point and then we rattled off the next 12 doing basically the same thing (getting short field through zone and weak passing skills).

When coaching at Emory there came times where it was obvious that we needed to basically huck and play zone because of the wind. When completing passes becomes a variable the value of the field position gained by the huck increases. I'm glad the girls got their poise together and just completed passes the way then know how, but it made me realize that at the lower levels (perhaps with new players) offense is a burden that can really bury a team. It wasn't that our opponent's zone was so devastating that we couldn't beat it, we just weren't completing easy passes and giving them short yards (i.e. few passes) to a goal. Sometimes you just have to jack it to gain as many yards as possible and then hope that you can get a turn over down there so that you get the short field.

It is tough to get players with a bit of experience to buy into this at some point, perhaps because it doesn't feel like good ultimate. After all, how can hucking to no offender with 2 defenders poaching deep be a good thing? Don't we hope to not have to worry about completing the easy passes and playing keep away as long as it takes? Our opponent starting going to the same strategy (hucking) as the game got away from them, which was the right decision in my opinion. Again, I'm glad our girls ended up not having to switch to that strategy, but in the back of my head I kept wondering that if we didn't manage to pull it together and march it down the field to make the score 1-2 and get on defense ourselves would we have been willing to go with the huck & D strategy and would it have felt like defeat?

Lastly, I really can't say enough about these girls. Kyle has done an excellent job coaching them the past 2 (?) years. There are number of excellent seniors graduating this year which will be good for the college game, but the cupboard wont be bare when they leave since there is also a number of phenomenal sophomores and juniors behind them.


gapoole said...

Depends on how you define "good ultimate." Playing the percentages may not feel as logical as the possession-based O that often gets preached, but other sports incorporate the punt/clear for a reason.

That being said, I'd probably try to stick it out more in the early season, when the risk-reward equation is skewed by the potential future benefits you'd get from practicing the offense.

Kyle Weisbrod said...

I agree with Glenn. I'm guessing the team that had difficulty working the zone was the one that had very few handlers. Regardless, that was part of the purpose of the split - to give those players more touches in the backfield and get them comfortable with that. Jacking it and playing D wouldn't have accomplished that very well.

The other purpose of the split was to give my more regular handlers an opportunity to adjust to different junk D's that might take away our normal offensive options (which is what Tuesday's practice focused on). We'll keep the split today and work on both sides of this.

Anyway, I think your offense in any scrimmage or game is dictated by your goal. Our goal is to "win Easterns", not to "win states by as large a margin as possible", and so that dictated utilizing these games in order to develop our players and our strategy as much as possible.

If we got into a game like this in an elimination round at Easterns you can bet we would choose the most efficient offense as opposed to the one that feels like the "best" Ultimate.

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