Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Open Seeds

Experience has taught us that the single best indicator for success at nationals is the results of the previous year’s nationals. This isn’t a new idea; we’ve known this for as long as I’ve been playing. What’s interesting is that the previous year’s results have become and increasingly smaller factor in determining seeding. I think there are a few reasons for this: 1) the format gurus (ok, mostly just Tarr) have convinced us that seeds aren’t meant to be predictive 2) we now have access to a lot more regular season results 3) we have been influenced by the method for seeding college – where the amount of turnover makes the previous years results a lot less indicative of success.

Another factor which seems to be completely ignored is when teams bring less that full-strength squad to tournaments. From the standpoint of creating an algorithm, it’s not clear how you account for this. However, in ignoring the strength of the team that actually showed up to a tournament we are throwing away usual information.

I guess what I’m suggesting is that by not considering these two factors, our seeding is not as good as it could be—Chain has been in a pool with 2 semi-finalists the last 3 years. I will say the format at Club nationals is the best at minimizing the effects of initial seeding, but I think it’s naïve to claim that seeding doesn’t matter at nationals.

For these and other reasons, I’ve argued before that it might be time for the UPA to get rid of the prohibition on not seeding a team above a team it finished lower than at a series event.

That being said, here’s my shot at seeding:

The Top 3

Due to the above mentioned prohibition, there are 3 possible ways to seed the top 3. 1)Jam, Sockeye, Bravo. 2)Bravo, Jam, Sockeye, 3) Jam, Bravo, Sockeye. The third way makes the least sense to me. If you’re willing to say that Bravo’s season entitles them to a higher ranking than Sockeye, then certainly Bravo’s 3-1 record against Jam should entitle than to the 1 seed. That being said, I prefer the first seeding. I think you have to give credit to Jam for winning the hardest region.

Furious – the team has been in at least the semis for 8? years. Was strong at ECC before losing to Jam.

Sub Zero, If Goat wins NE regionals they are the obvious 5 seed, I think there loss pushes Zero up to 5. They’ve had a good season, only losing to teams above them with the exception of 1 loss to Goat.
6)Boston, 7)Goat, 8)Ring, 9)Condors. I honestly have no idea how to seed this group. Ring is 2-0 against Boston and 0-2 against Goat. Condors has no head-to-head games with this group. I’m gonna go with this seeding to avoid regional re-matches, but I think any shuffling within this group can be justified.

The three teams in this grouping are Rhino, Doublewide, and Truckstop. Rhino has a four point win over Doublewide, and Truckstop has a one point win over Rhino. I’m going to going to give credit to Rhino for making quarters last year and generally having a slightly better season than Truckstop, despite the 1 point Truckstop win. 10)Rhino, 11)Doublewide, 12)Truckstop.

It’s kind of strange for me to say that Chain should be the 13 seed. This is the sixth year in a row Chain has been to nationals, and this will be the lowest we’ve ever been seeded. This, despite the fact they we’re coming off our best year ever, and added several strong players.
14) Machine – featuring a bunch of guys who wish they still played for Chain, and some new guy from the west coast.
15) Pike – the comeback kids.
16) Van Buren Boys – we were all a little nervous about the poor spirit in the mixed division spilling over into open when these guys decided to make the switch. After regionals, it seems like our fears were justified.

That gives me the following (obviously correct) seeds:
1. Jam
2. Sockeye
3. Bravo
4. Furious
5. Sub Zero
6. Boston
7. Goat
8. Ring
9. Condors
10. Rhino
11. Doublewide
12. Truck Stop
13. Chain
14. Machine
15. Pike
16. Van Buren Boys

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.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

On game tape

I love watching game tape. Being a mostly defensive coach my goal is almost always to see what offenses a team runs, what they do with their dumps, who their main cutters are (and how they cut) and how they respond to a zone.

This weekend at regionals we will be watching tape on saturday night in preparation for sunday play. I was wondering what other things people have found useful to focus on while watching tape. I feel that game tape us under utilized in ultimate, not only because there isn't as much of it, but more because people either aren't looking for the right things, or aren't translating what they see into coaching points for their players well. Ideas?

On subbing

I wonder if other coaches think about the psychological aspect of their subbing players when they call subs. We currently have a situation that I am waffling on and the reason why is because it is a situation where I think we should not play one of our best players on offense (reference Idris' post from a while ago?).

I have a player that is very good on both sides of the disc. She is a fast cutter who doesn't tire easily and she plays intelligent D. She is easily amongst our top seven players, however I find myself wanting to take her off of the starting O line because she is somewhat prone to drops. At the same time she also makes great catches at key moments.

My raionale is that she will be much more effective as a defensive starter who is expected to jump start the offense and move the disc on a turn that she would be as an offensive cutter. The team has plenty of offensive cutters, so she would be a tertiary target at best, but aside from that I wonder if her dropping the disc would have a lesser impact if we had already gotten a D.

On offense her drops can seem catastrophic since there is so much more pressure to score without a turnover. This leads to a stressful situation which I think increases her likeliness to drop the disc. On defense, while her drops may be costly, they shouldn't have the enormous impact they do on the other side of the disc because of the idea that defense doesn't have to be perfect. This should reduce the stress she feels and probably improve her catching.

So I guess the discussion I'm trying to start is whether or not anyone pays attention to their players generic mental state when scheming for that player or if people focus on putting their best players in at the most important times? Hell, if any discussion starts on this blog it would be a miracle.