Monday, May 31, 2010

CUT vs. Florida

First, congratulations to Florida. I went into watching this game the same way that I went into the 2006 Final against Wisconsin. I felt like there was no way that Kurt, Tim and company could stop an army of solid ultimate players. Again, I was wrong.

I feel like I should give a nod to Florida's strategy. Say what you will about their tactics, fouls and calls, they have reminded us all that a 3 man show can still win high level games (at least in college). They run very shallow and their big three are just hard to stop. They continually got the hucks they wanted to offenders that were (50% of the time) behind all of the defense.

Which leads me to the reason I wanted to post this here. From a coaching standpoint, I felt that I understood Florida's game plan, and was confused by CUTs. Florida slowed down the game with calls and TOs, relied on their athletic prowess to get Ds and avoided having long points. All smart with their team. Carelton moved the disc quickly, reversing the field well and forced backhand most of the game.

I was hoping someone could explain why Carelton continued to force backhand trough the end of the game. I think I understand it as an initial strategy: backhand hucks take longer to develop, Brodie has a monster flick, maybe the wind was a factor? But after watching the way that Cole and Brodie work with the disc it seemed like a losing battle.

Both Brodie and Cole would throw and try to get the disc back immediately. That's much easier to do off of backhand, where you are basically taking your first step, than off of a flick. That can easily be stopped by having your mark get the first step and stop the flow continuation, but Brodie and Cole made that difficult. Not only are they long pivots, but they continually squared their shoulders to the middle of the field. This forced the mark to shift over (more parallel to the sideline), or allow quick flick resets. Not to mention the added pressure this put on the CUT reset defenders who, despite getting some decent covers and a turn were often out of position to stop the down the line cut.

So, my question to all of you coaches out there. Is there something that I am missing behind CUT's strategy? I can understand starting backhand, but it seemed like CUT never adjusted to the way Florida was playing it. Someone please show me what I am missing?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The UPA Unofficial Ombudsman

I'm starting a new recurring "feature" where I talk about timely UPA issues and give my opinion and, where appropriate, offer suggestions. I know there will be some that say "Oh that Kyle Weisbrod, he IS the UPA." Yeah, I spent 4 1/2 years employed there and another 3 years on the Board. I still occasionally contribute to the magazine. But I work with the UPA because I care about the sport of Ultimate and felt the UPA was (and still believe it is) the best way for players to effect change in the sport. There are plenty of times when I've been frustrated by the UPA - both Board and Staff decisions and policies. There are also times when I've been proud of the UPA and what they are doing for the sport.

I also still have plenty of connections to the UPA - people on both board and staff, so hopefully I can actually get some of the inside reasoning behind some of the UPA's less popular decisions and give my subjective opinion on it.

So, here goes. The Ombudsman is open for business. What do you want me to opine on?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Summing up AC Regionals

I've been meaning to put some other thoughts up about team/coaching preparation for crucial tournaments, especially the series, but they're all still kind of half-baked. Hopefully, they'll be good fodder for later.

As for now, the fact that Jojah barely gritted out a qualifying spot at nationals seems more relevant.

A couple of observations:

-I think in Ultimate generally, but especially college, mental state has as much to do with a team's success as talent. I think it had something to do with Florida's failing to qualify last year, and we definitely had problems with it at Minnesota (as a team we were always terrified to play CUT and the Hodags when it mattered). This weekend, Florida was ready to play and play well, whupping us and everyone else they ran up against. Minnesota also seemed to get the monkey off its back with a couple of wins against Wisconsin and a close game with Carleton (this after losing to Carleton GOP at sectionals).

We brought the fire at weird times this weekend and in the end it came during our most critical points. Our game-to-go never got out of hand and the guys rallied admirably when we were down unexpectedly in an elimination game. While a couple of timeouts where Travis and I spoke (I usually yelled) about waking up generated a point or two of intensity, this usually fizzled pretty quickly. It was ultimately up to them to decide how bad they wanted it. This weekend, they wanted it just enough.

-My AC all-region based on what I've seen in the regular season and at regionals:

Rusty Ingold-Smith (UNCW)
Tyler Conger (UVA)
Nick Lance (GA Tech)
Brodie Smith (UF)
Chris Mullinix (UT)
Taylor "Tree" Goforth (Kennesaw)
Peter Dempsey (UGA)

FOTY: Fletcher Hartline (UGA). Clearly I'm biased by the fact that I coach him and by the fact that nobody from other teams has really mentioned their freshmen to me. Still, I'm confident that Fletcher played more crucial D points for us than any other frosh in the region. On the field, it's impossible to distinguish him from our best deeps.

-If I were to seed Nationals without much understanding of the rules beyond that you can't seed lower regionals finishers ahead at nationals:

1/ Oregon
2/ Carleton
3/ Colorado
4/ Florida
5/ Minnesota
6/ Wisconsin
7/ Cornell
8/ Cal
9/ Pitt
10/ Harvard
11/ UNCW
12/ Georgia
13/ Illinois
14/ Middlebury
15/ Michigan
16/ UCSB
17/ UCSD
18/ Tx State
19/ Iowa
20/ Kansas

I'm sure that some of the results I haven't looked over say different, but this is just where I would put them if I had to seed subjectively.

-Finally, damn it's exciting to get to coach for 3 more weeks.