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 Carleton 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?


Bill Mill said...

1) Cut often played a nearly 90ยบ mark, that is, parallel to the sideline. This seemed to me an awful idea, and led directly to the upline cuts you're talking about. Why didn't they flatten the mark?

2) Cut's dump defenders did a poor job of staying in the way of the up-line cut, which Florida ran constantly for 10-yard gainers. Poor footwork.

3) Cut marked too close to Brodie. Did you see the windup he had on that big backhand? Take a step (or two!) off, let him have the dump or the break, but for all that's holy stop that big, slow, backhand huck!

4) Cut poached off the dumps, allowing Florida free resets! I know why you do that against a team like Cut, but it's a terrible idea against Florida.

5) Cut did a much better job defending the deep threat in the second half, but it was too late. They should have been ready for it in the first half, so they could tire Florida out more by the end of the game.

6) I also wondered why Cut never tried a flick mark, or anybody else on Brodie. You gotta change it up when it's not working.

I guess I'm being too harsh on Cut, due to the fact that they nearly came back and won, but I was very surprised that they weren't making some simple changes on their D line.

Mike said...

I couldn't watch the game (traveling back from a club tournament) but Bill's third point sounds like a good thing to keep in mind against a devastating handler like Brodie. I know that as a handler I LIKE to be marked close--I can often step around the mark easily or force them to foul me. Plus it makes it easier to get a step on the defender after getting the throw off.

Martin said...

So we've added to the list of confusing coaching moves by CUT. I am surprised that there were not visible changes in those strategies (aside from #5). It seemed like CUT set their gameplan and never looked to adjust it, despite being in their biggest hole all weekend. I just don't understand it, especially from a coached team.

Jonathan said...

I heard one of you say in the broadcast that Smith had the most powerful flick in the college game. I'm just a casual observer, so I haven't seen much beyond some Ultivillage media, but who do you think currently playing ultimate (at any level) has a more powerful backhand or hammer?

Torre said...

Maybe the CUT player Broadie took out would have done a better job on him? (saw someone suggest this on RSD).

Backhand force limited the Broadie's hammer(which was highlighted/hyped in his Callahan nominee video).

I realize FL has good throws, but not even one attempt at a junk/zone by CUT?

alansmith175 said...

I am, apparently, the only person who thinks Cut had a good defensive strategy. They got plenty of turns, but their problem was jitters on offense. I haven't seen Cut play in person, so this is all based on what I know about Florida.

@Bill: re 1 & 6: Backhand forces do allow Florida to huck deep, but Cut was forcing turns. How many shots did Florida take that Cut either put a hand on or should have? 7? Maybe 10? Even though a lot got called back on fouls, at some point you have to score on the other teams turnovers.

Watching Florida, backhand allows the bombs, but so does forehand, and given Brodie's length he can put well against straight up too. The bigger problem with non-backhand forces is the hammer- Brodie can hammer for 60 yards easily, and there's much less play on it defensively. That's also probably why there was never a zone from Cut.

Re 4: The difficulty with marking close is that Florida's big three don't handle in the traditional sense- they just run all over the field to where they see openings. A close mark means a throw and go and then Brodie/Chris/Cole have yards on the D deep.

I think most of this is on Cut's offense- the only things I really remember from that side of the disc were drops and two spectacular ds from Brodie. I didn't feel like Florida was dictating to Cut like I've seen them do to other teams.

Adam said...

1. I thought CUT did a good job containing Florida's deep game. There's no adjustment in the world that can stop a team from throwing jump balls into double or triple coverage. It seemed like Florida completed well under 50% of their hucks.

2. I may be making this up, but I thought CUT did play one point of zone. Brodie threw a big crossfield hammer right away, and Florida scored in about 10 seconds.

3. According to the halftime stats, CUT scored 5 goals in 17 possessions. I don't think their second half was much better. Given the conditions, I'd say their D gave them enough chances, but their O couldn't get it done.

Adam said...

Rather than talking about Florida's O and CUT's D, I'd be interested in hearing about what makes Florida's D so good. 15-8 wins in the quarters and semis, followed by a dominant performance in the final against what may have been the most skilled college team ever.

Bill Mill said...


In the first half, Florida's turns were all due to overthrows to wide open receivers, as far as I can remember. In the second half, as I said, they finally forced Florida to throw into double/triple coverage, which they happily did. (that's point #5 in my rant :)

I still think a flatter mark a step farther off would have given them a chance to contain the throws more.

Re: Re: 4: Against a three man game, you've got to play team defense. Having your cutter defenders prepared to make the switch to the big guy cutting deep from the handler position means you can mark the dumps tighter. I really think CUT missed an opportunity by laying off the dumps; you've got to force FL away from the big 3 somehow.

And agreed that most of it's on CUT's offense; Florida played a really interesting defensive game as well. On top of several big layouts, they very effectively covered CUT's ho stack by poaching off the dump and not covering the far swing.

I think Florida's D is the difference in that game, and not enough people are talking about that.

(Also, I just tend to talk about D because I'm a D player who knows little about the O side :)

Kyle Weisbrod said...

Hey, this post is actually Martin Aguilera's not mine (Kyle's).

As for top throwers, from what I've seen, I'd put Brodie at the top of both forehands and hammers. Oregon's Eli Janin is up there as well. He had one flick in the loss to UCSD that was ridiculous. Unfortunately I didn't get to see much of Oregon. Jeremy Norden had a great forehand last time I saw him play, but it's been a while. Andrew Vogt from Harvard also has a strong forehand.

Backhand is tougher to say because there are fewer backhand forces, but I'd put George Stubbs' backhand up against anyone's in the division. There was also a Cornell handler who showed some serious throws.

I was surprised that UNCWs Rusty didn't finish in the top 5 of the Callahan. Definitely the most underrated player out there.

Martin said...

I'll agree that it was Florida's D that made the difference in the game. But to my original point: so Carelton went flick the whole game to prevent Brodie's hammer?

That seems like a strange strategy. I haven't seen his hammer, and I appreciate that it attacks a difficult area to defend (if thrown well), but keeping a backhand force the whole game is just confusing.

The reason I brought it up is because watching the finals I felt like I saw the same 5 cuts from Florida, and when I see a team get beaten by the same thing over and over again I expect to see some changes by the losing team. It wasn't the decision to go backhand to start that confused me as much as the decision to stay with it through the whole game.

jake said...

(From Martin)-But to my original point: so Carelton went flick the whole game to prevent Brodie's hammer?

I didn't see the game, but I did coach some college this year (Tennessee) and I was really surprised at how hard it was for teams to make adjustments. Most teams had one thing they were trying to do on offense and one thing they were trying to do on D. The question was whether or not they could make that work.

Not switching the force that seemed like it was getting turns may have been a non-issue. Not doing something to supplement the d could have been the problem. In watching Florida play, I would suggest playing something junky around the disc to prevent the big 3 from getting it every other throw or positioning to force the UF receivers under to lengthen the point, seems to be the bigger question. As UF proved the point is to efficiently win the game, it doesn't matter if it is unorthodox.

Martin, how about another post to address the effectiveness of Florida's D vs CUT's O? It would seem that there is something to the "see if they give us a chance to make a play" D that Florida played against the CUT team flow O.

Torre said...

For those hoping to rewatch(analyze?) the CUT/FL game, this was posted (by someone else) on RSD earlier tonight :

Martin said...

Torre, thanks for adding the video of the game. It was great to get a chance to watch the whole thing without lag.

In response to Jake: There are better people than me to analyze Florida's defense (Kyle?) but I'll give it a shot.

First, Florida was just faster than CUT. The only matchup that seemed close was Gibson v. Lindsley. Maybe people there would argue that there were matchups where CUT was faster, but if that was the case I never saw it in the video. Florida certainly played like the faster team. They sagged off of offenders and would allow people to get behind them.

Second (and perhaps most importantly), Florida was always paying attention to where the disc was, and where the next look was. Florida provided great blindside help, with players often leaving their own man to get the D. While CUT would do a good job rotating through their looks, Florida (with their eyes on the thrower) would anticipate them and offer help from other defenders.

I don't want to get into a long thing about what I think CUT could have done to prevent this, but I think those are the two main things that allowed Florida to look so dominant.