This is part of 3 different posts, but it's the first one so all the prep work is done here.
Unfortunately my team (Rival-Atl mixed) will not be attending the big show this year. We lost 14-15 in the backdoor game to go. I'll come back to that later. What I want to talk about now is some of the situations we were faced with as captains, especially on the Sunday of Regionals.
We had a huge amount of turnover from last year. Over 60% of the team wasn't on the rosters last year, and we went from having the oldest average age to probably the youngest in the country (we had a number of freshmen/sophomores in college as well as 4 high school players). The big question all season was whether or not we were going to be able to come together and play up to our potential. This was a particularly big question for our offense since none of our offensive players played those positions last year.
We struggled with offense all year, some times giving up 7 (!!) breaks in bracket play. I run the offense, so it was a tough puzzle for me to figure out. We tried line-up changes, but nothing seemed to work consistently. Towards sectionals we started to get things working, and we limited our breaks. Same with the Saturday at Regionals, up until we (pool 2 seed) played Jukebox Hero (pool 1 seed) and folded like a house of cards. Our offense looked inept, and we got rolled 11-4. This was still pool play, but we were out of the front door game to nationals and had to try to find a way to take the backdoor, which always seems to involve playing every team that has a chance.
Regionals was at home, so I got a chance to watch some tape from Above and Beyond, and read Jim's Mixing it up on offense. I decided that part of our problem offensively was that I was frequently using our "best cutter" as the first person out of the H-stack, and in general the sequences were too similar. My goal was to change that on Sunday, so we went in with a new offensive mentality. Almost every point we changed up the type of stack (vert, H, split, sideline) and we frequently put one of our handlers out in the string, with our "best cutter" back to handle.
On Sunday I believe we gave up a total of 6 breaks in 4 games. Never did we have sequential breaks and we went from being a team for whom pressure was put on the defense to stay on the field to a team that could bide our time until D could get us one. It was a satisfying experience, and it bodes well for the future since much of that line-up is young.
I can't directly explain what part of mixing things up strategy-wise tipped us over the edge. I think part of the problem previously was that as our main cutters got tired they would settle for bad away cuts, attempting to finish the point too early. I don't have a lineup of Zip and Fortch out there that can run full-tilt for a whole weekend and will be open no matter what. By shifting who our cutters were we gave up some options (no one fears me deep at 5'8" and 31 years old), but it also allowed our go to people to rest, or initiate from a different space. I should try to remember to do more of that in the future.
Future of Ultimate
2 months ago