Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Very brief Nationals recap, plus Nationals Q&A

A month ago, I wasn't sure we would make it out of Regionals.

A few days ago, I thought we might have a tough time even making it to quarters.

Now, I'm disappointed we didn't win the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, we didn't deserve to win it, but oh, was it winnable.

I really have no idea if the statement is correct or not, but at about 10-9 against Sockeye in our power pool game on Friday, I said, "DoG 199x would have won this game already, 15-7."

Me: Had a problem with first-point turnovers the first two days which I can not explain, resulting in Wicks sitting me out for more O points than I had sat out since 1994, combined. After several hours of internal debate occupying most of my Friday night, I decided that there was nothing I could consciously do to do any better, so I was just going to go play and do what I could. Played well on Saturday, another fun day of ultimate reminiscent of 2002 Nationals, albeit with a few more turnovers. All told for the tournament: 4 D's (no Callahans) I think, about a dozen turnovers, assuming that every turnover I was involved in was my fault.

Ok, let's open up the phone lines with your questions about Nationals. I already have one from a J. Gewirtz. We'll keep this thread open all week.

PS. George is now on my list, too.


Henry Thorne said...

After the Furious upwinder was scored to take the Championship I walked away... almost immediately. I didn't like the feeling I had there and wanted to get away from it. I don't know if it was the Canadian thing, I don't think so, I don't have anything against Canada, or seeing guys like Chase and Nord lose, which hurts, or most likely, that I somehow couldn't get myself into the shoes of Cruikshank. I was blown away by what he did out there, but the identification thing that brings that fulfillment where you feel the champion in the guy and are inspired just didn't happen. Maybe it was his near immediate turns to the observers, maybe his calls that seemed maybe wrong, or just the way the guy walks around, but I certainly would have enjoyed seeing Chase or Nord win a hell of a lot more. Anyone else feel this way or am I just not handling this well?

Anonymous said...

So what's the difference between the DoG that wasn't going to make it out of Regionals and the DoG that made Nationals winnable? Or was it just all in your own perception?

Sam TH said...

A couple questions:

- Do you think that DoG would have done better or worse than Sockeye in the heavier wind on Sunday?

- Is DoG hurt by not having a big reciever (Mike Grant, Jim Schoettler, Chase S-B) on the offensive line? Or would that make it harder to play posession offense?

Anonymous said...

For the last few years Furious has proven they play at a higher level than the rest of the competition. What are they doing to achieve this? Does their level of success at all reflect the state of ultimate in Vancouver?

Anonymous said...

I think I recall reading that DoG uses a lot of different looks on defense in the first half of a game, to feel a team out. Then, in the second half, they stick with what worked.

What worked against the teams you played? How did you counter Sockeye's "big play" offense? What about Bravo? Is it different when you play a team you've never played before (I assume PBR?) as opposed to a team you see often (I assume Metal)?


parinella said...

Re: Cruickshank. Anyone else have an opinion about it? He's not a whiny bitch like some guys out there, but perhaps he is like Henry says. I don't know, as I hardly played against him.

parinella said...

Partly just my perception of DoG, partly my belief in the NW hype, and partly an improvement in the team. I get this way almost every year, but there is a desperation that things couldn't possibly get any worse. Some practices are just horrible quality. And then there are the huck drills where we complete only 75% of the passes, throwing downwind without a defender.

parinella said...

A lot of teams could have done better than Sockeye did on Sunday. A lot of teams could have done better than Furious did on Sunday, for that matter. No one else earned the right to be there, though. It just wasn't a showcase for the sport, is what makes me say that it's winnable. In 2003 and 2004, I left Nationals thinking that there was no way we would have been able to win it even if everything fell our way. That's not how I feel about 2005.

Re: big receiver. I assume that you mean tall. MG and Chase are valued because not because of their height, but because of their ability to get open (and MG because of his throws; maybe Chase too without the hand injury, if that's still bothering him). If a guy is valued just because he's tall, then the defense can probably just put a tall guy on him and neutralize or reduce his effectiveness, but if he's fast and knows how to cut, then that same tall defender might be exploited.

And it's not like lacking a tall defender to match up against an MG, since the offense calls the shots. The Flying Dwarves (an April Fools team for players 5'6" and under, I think) were really hard to play defense against a few years ago because it was impossible to put 7 quick guys out there to cover them.

parinella said...

Furious still has a great core that's been around since about 1998, with Grant, Cruickshank, Andrew, Al-Bob, and Savage. DoG this year had 3 players remaining from 1998. They also have two recruiting systems, one being the UBC team, the other being the rest of Canada. If you want to stay in Canada and play with a great team, you have to move to Vancouver, while you have a lot more options in the US.

I would like to know how many FG players came from the huge league system in Vancouver or at least have developed their games there.

parinella said...

I barely paid attention to what our defense did this year, and I tend to follow the disc when I'm watching the game, plus there might be some proprietary information I'm not supposed to divulge. But I'll say that our defensive strategy was to put pressure on the handlers, not to allow the easy deep pass, and to let them throw the less easy deep pass. If those guys were on with their deep throws, then I don't think we would have been able to match up nearly as well. But their deep games aren't guaranteed, since they seem to be willing to jack it at the slightest provocation. Back when DoG was at its offensive peak, we hucked it a lot, but they seemed to be wide-open throws that didn't require virtuosity from the throwers.

As with everything, this could just be the ramblings of senility.

parinella said...

A "Jon Gewirtz" commented in another of the Q&A threads:
Hi Jim, I would like to read your analysis of 2005 Open Championships. Particularly your assessment of the semis in which you participated, the finals you most likely watched, and analysis of why Seattle, who appeared to have FG's number during the regular season and even in the crossover round at nationals, could not get the job done when it counted. It is unfathomable to me that Sockeye, a team so deep, so rich in talent, quality height, and Callahan winners is not head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Be as detailed as you like and as time permits. Feel free to delve further into other competitive analysis regarding some of the other contenders (DoG, Bravo, Jam) and/or pretenders (Condors, ROF).

Sockeye and Bravo both play that same style of offense mentioned above, full of quick long hucks straight down the field that look really pretty when they're caught. I don't know if these teams have ever seen a huck they didn't like. Frequently, while on the sidelines chatting with the Count during a D point, an opponent will zip a 60 yarder 10 yards too far, and it will inevitably draw a response of, "Ooh, good try" from his teammate, whereas the Tea Party might be more likely to respond, "What the hell was he thinking?" to friend or foe alike.

Furious seems (to me, at least, but that might be a bias from knowing their big players a little better professionally) to have a little more discretion, although they too are pretty free with their throws. Maybe they just all take their cues from Shank, whose throws are just amazing and might actually be good choices for him but no one else.

I did not watch the finals with a critical eye, and was only there for half of it. In the semis, there were a few tipping points in the first 20 points that could have changed the course of the game. There was the spike, there was the great block by Nord on my throw at 7-7, and there were a few missed opportunities by our D to punch it in. There seemed to be an unreasonable number of pick calls, although how much of it was caused by our churning cuts and how much was caused by Seattle's switching I can't answer. I know it's loser talk to focus on calls as an excuse, so I'm just pointing this out for completeness.

I will probably make a separate entry about the semis, or maybe just comment on the Count's blog about his recollection.

I definitely plan to make an assessment on the state of ultimate, partly in response to the thread on rsd, but I will warn the reader now that it will be mostly an intellectual exercise in how you would go about making the assessement objectively. Then I will give my subjective judgment.

Jon said...

With club worlds occurring so close to champies next year, which event will suffer more in term of lost talent? Will any teams actually send real squads to both? Do you see this as a problem, and if so what solution would you propose?

Anonymous said...

What does it take for an individual to play at a national level? Aside from the organized team practice's what type of commitment is required in terms conditioning, throwing and mental preparation?

parinella said...

On another thread, Anonymous commented: Do you feel differently now that the NW teams have gone through Nationals with nary a loss to any teams outside the region? Three total losses: FG to Sockeye, Jam to FG, FG to Sockeye. Kinda like regionals. And most non-region games weren't close.

I'm not trying to nanny-nanny boo-boo you, I just don't see this dominance changing any time soon, as the NW will continue to be very good. Sure, Kaos or Rhino will get the 4th spot next year, probably not make quarters, finish 9th or 11th, and consequently lose the 4th bid. Then the big 3 will return, earn the bid back and repeat. Am I wrong? I suppose time will tell, but really?

Oh, and thanks for beating Bravo. Best team ever, to never make semis? Funny, in a sardonic way.

Despite the undefeated record, which somehow had escaped my attention, I'm more convinced than ever that those teams are vulnerable. I really don't know what to make of Ring's and Pike's demises, to be honest, as I didn't see a point that either of them played. But an unheralded Sub-Zero had the disc to eliminate FG, and Bravo had the disc a couple times to beat Jam. And in our three losses to the finalists, each game was tight through most of it. Even the 15-11 semifinal, which I am guessing that Shelton did not watch based on his writeup, we had a lot of opportunities, and had the disc 20 yards out from making it 14-12 upwind, then we maybe score the downwinder to make it 14-13, and all those years of Sockeye losing suddenly loom very large and we score the next point, then we have the wind at our backs again, and so on. Again, they beat us, in a thousand parallel universes they probably win 70% or 80% of the games, but in this one we just experienced, I really felt it was within our grasp.

And I think Sub-Zero is also semis-less.

parinella said...

I think Worlds will suffer more, at least in Open and Women's. I can see Masters or Mixed teams preferring to go to Worlds.

The quality of teams will depend on how strict the roster rules are. Some drunken foreigners were telling me this weekend that their countries don't really pay attention to the rule "players must not play with any other club team in the three months prior to Worlds." I would recommend to the UPA that a different set of rules be implemented to reflect the difference in timing this time (that Worlds is not in between the qualifying and ensuing club seasons, but rather more than a year after the qualifier).

On the other hand, players have a full year to save up money and vacation time, and would only have to train for one season of intense play. I would presume they would try to peak at Nationals instead of Worlds.

Of additional concern is the toll that Nationals takes on players. I would guess that an average of a player a team got hurt badly enough at Nationals that he might not be able to play at Worlds, or at least not at 100%. And for those who aren't hurt, you need to recover from all those intense games. I would not have wanted to do a track workout tonight, for instance. I'll remind players in a couple weeks that Worlds would have started that day had it been this year.

sometallskinnykid said...

SZ semis in 99, although there are only 4 remaining from those days.

Foodbag said...

re: Shank. I didn't have the same reaction Henry did, though admittedly my exposure to him was only in our game and a few points I saw here and there. He seemed pretty quiet and composed (see the end of the sub-zero game). Great cutter, devastating thrower, and a guy who wanted the rock in crunch time.

parinella said...

Re: what it takes. Experience, ego, confidence, skill. You really can't properly prepare to be competitive in your first trip there, because it's so different from any other tournament you play in. I am still sore now, 4 days later, from playing about 20 points of ultimate on Saturday.

Mentally, you have to be ready for contingencies. What do you do if you're being hacked on the mark, or covered by someone faster than anyone on your team at practice, or someone working harder than anyone on your team at practice? What about that horizontal stack? How about playing three tough games in a row in 85 degree heat with high wind, then doing it again tomorrow, just to get out of pool play?

luke said...

have you changed your blog somehow? it shows up kind of googly in my browser...


good show at the show... while i certainly wasn't pulling for you to beat down the fish, i pretty much always got to pull for barrett.

i can see it now, dog disbands, reforms first time gary or titanic, but takes the bid to worlds for one... last... ride...

Anonymous said...

yeah, the blog is truncated. I had to go to the Feedburner, copy the full link, and only then did I see the full blog with the comments...

cash27 said...

Having played Pike, their demise is that they don't have any wind throwers. Secondly, force Clark in, duh.

Ring, that was a shocker to some extent, but they really didn't look good at ECC either...so was it really shocking?


Jon Gewirtz said...

Re: Cruckshank/Sockeye/Nord: I did not go to Nat's and therefore missed Shank's calls. Nor can I attest to the quickness with which he went to observers. If true, however, I do not fault him for the latter. I would prefer an outside party rule quickly as a player, but especially as a spectator. He probably saved a lot of boring downtime. Cruickshank can be somewhat guarded with his friendliness, and like many great players, he wears his confidence on his sleeve. Pat King of NY, NY used to call it justifiable arrogance. Do not misinterpret Cruickshank's natural stoicism to be overly condescending or aloofness. After playing with him for a couple of years, I still can't say I know him very well either, but he's very sincere (and funny). He might just be little shy or just not as outgoing as the other 2 guys from Sockeye that Henry Thorne mentioned.

Nord does not exhibit cockiness whatsoever. I don't know Chase well enough to say one way or the other, but he comes off as pretty darn likeable most of the time. He might try a little to hard to look "hip", but he's outgoing and affable.

I think Henry is focusing too much on individuals and not enough on teams. FG as a team (and Canada as a country) are easier to deal with as winners than almost every USA team. Consider one of Sockeye's post-goal cheers: "In the eye! Sockeye!" or Jam's call and response, "Sorry...Bout it" or New York, New York's, "How does that feel?" DoG exhibited far more class, albeit less imagination, with "D-O-G". FG's call and response cheer of "Furious....George!" is equally unimaginative/classy, but exhibits far less spelling acumen than DoG's. My point being, that of all the semifinalists, DoG or FG are the easiest ones to root for.

I'm biased here, but I think Sockeye's punk quotient is significantly higher than FGs. No I won't name names and this is easily attributable to age and maturity, but also to nationality. Face it, we're not know as "Ugly Americans" for nothing.

Barrett said...

Re: Ring,
According to Robbye Brooks, of their ~10 off. players, 3 were out with injuries (Brooks himself, v. early in Game 1), 2 others in the weeks prior, plus Mickey was half-speed with a knee injury. Losing Brooks' steady demeanor was likely especially harmful once things started to go south.

A tough tournament, especially after last year, when I thought they looked like the best team there before Hinkle got hurt.

Henry Thorne said...

Thanks for the insight Jon. It's tough to figure out what makes a great champion for the fans. Pete Sampras wasn't terribly liked for a while but then was reverentially loved and still is. I agree with everything you said, especially the part about DoG. I left those finals feeling completely inspired by that group of people. I was hoping for the same from FG having heard nothing but good things about those guys but somehow didn't get it. Not entirely true, that Cruikshank covers Nord, cuts deep on him successfully, and is the most skillful thrower in the sport is pretty damn incredible. Maybe I just have to get over the fact that he's not DoG.


parinella said...

Our best cheer ever was "1, 2, 3, YEAH!"

Sideline cheer battles seem a little silly, as if being more clever with your group cheer will make the difference (but is it still clever when you repeat it 30 times a game?). I guess it's like anything else; if you let the other team get inside your head instead of playing your own game, you're cooked, even if you're talking about sideline cheers. If you need to say, "Yankees Suck!", that's just loser talk. Even if it's true.

Idris said...

did anybody else get a kick out of jonny chiming in on and defending players who are dicks on the field? :-)

I would hope my friends don't defend me to other's like... "yeah, he can be really annoying, he loves making people look dumb and getting under their skin during the game... but he's misunderstood, he's a riot to hang out with, and really a nice guy and good friend."

Fuck that, I can be annoying to other teams, period.

Please... please... don't ever defend somebody being a dick, a cheater, unspirited, whatever... because they'll get you a beer at the party.

A BS call is still a BS call, even if it is made by Gandhi.

sockeye punk quotient? yeah, higher than most... but if you get to know many of those guys.. guess what.. they're misunderstood, they're nice, they're loving... just so happens a lot of them like to follow the pack and they become dicks when they get together.

ever think "D-O-G" or "1-2-3 Yeah" might have been simplistic cheers that unified the team, all while mocking other team cheers and the teams that had them.

What dicks!

But go ahead, be inspired by the nicest cheaters in the game. After all, they seemed to be so nice and had such respecful cheers.

parinella said...

Don't worry, Idris, no one will defend you by saying, "he's a really nice guy off the field."

Big Brother 1993 definitely fell victim to the pack mentality, which itself was an attempt to match NYNY's attitude. That didn't work so well for us.

There is a very good chance that our cheers were/are mocking in some fashion, or perhaps just dry humor. It's hard to tell what's funny sometimes. I do chuckle whenever I'm watching A&B and see the "1-2-3" cheer. It's genius, I tell ya.

Travis Finucane said...

"Feel it! Feel it! How does it feel?"
<awkward silence.>
"It feels like it's not enough!!!"

Anonymous said...

How did the 17 year old, Darden Pitts, play?