The 2nd day of Paideia Cup is over and was filled with ups and downs. Due to potential downpour later that day the first round of the day was played yesterday. That meant that we went straight to semis today which has us play Columbia HS (Anthony Nunez). Columbia had a tough game against Grady High School (Susie Mercer) the previous day so we knew they were ready to play and prove themselves today. The game was a great game, ending with us on top after double game point (9-8).
A few thoughts on Columbia. Kyle had mentioned their resets being particular good, and that was evident. At first I through it was another instance of our marks being too flat, but the Columbia players knew how to clear the reset and then fill in from the front of the stack. The thrower would almost always throw quickly around our mark hitting the reset and then swinging the disc. Their constant resets made our downfield defense difficult. They also threw what I call the "soft" (inside) break very well. In particular #6 did a good job moving the disc back to the breakmark side with soft breaks. Last compliment (although there could be plenty) is the level of athleticism that some of their players brought to the game. Number 3 (Jordan?) and #13 were just few of a number of defenders that really worked our cutters making it difficult to advance the disc at times. Fortunately we advanced, getting a few Ds after making some adjustments.
The next game against Hopkins (Jake Raisanen) wasn't so lucky. Word on the street was that this team was big and fast, and they lived up to the hype. With a number of players over 6' our short line-up was really going to be tested. In addition to their height they had a number of seniors on that squad, which became evident in the first few points. Our offense struggled to get open against older athleticism, and they forced us into poor decisions by taking away the easy ones. When they had the disc it was clear that they had been playing together for years. They threw deep often, typically to players that had only a step or two, and frequently with risky passes (through lanes and around marks). Almost all of these hucks connected, and what impressed me was the confidence with which they released the disc. During the game I commented that they were throwing the way that I would throw to my oldest friends, where you just know they are about to cut to an area so you throw it early giving the defender almost no chance.
We lost the game to Hopkins 13-5, despite playing very well. Our boys fought hard and did what they could, but we were out matched physically and experientially. I don't think they are attending Easterns, but I wish that they would. I'll question whoever wins the "Eastern" title if they didn't beak Hopkins at some point during the year. I guess that is just part of the wacky Junior Nationals scene.
Lastly, from a coaching standpoint: Both of the teams we played today ran an (at times) isolation based sideline stack offense. Creating the one large lane out in front of the thrower. Our original defensive adjustments were pulling people off of the players in the middle of the stack to potentially help with the isolated cutter. This worked well, but they still would get some devastating deep hucks off. I wondered if we wouldn't have had success with forcing back towards the sideline stack and using the dump defender to frustrate the open side and have them swing the disc to the side of the field with the stack on it. Hopkins probably would have just switched their stack-side, but in the transition we may have gotten them to throw something they weren't comfortable with. Maybe we should have just forced middle.