Saturday, September 02, 2006

glory days

For those of you who missed it in the comments, a loyal reader watched a tape of the 1994 Nationals semifinals between DoG and Cojones, a terrific, dramatic game. In the Ultimate History Book, Tony Leonardo wrote, “This was the greatest game we had ever seen.”

Anyway, the reader wrote:
So a couple of questions are:
1.) why were you guys playing on what looked to be a brown hayfield with green grass all around you.
2.) Where was it, and was it windy?

3.) besides the very intense celebrations and field rushing, i have heard that these years ultimate was very intense, gritty, and physical, but it didn't come off as that on camera. rather, there looked to be a lack of hard marks, a lot of zone, and not a whole lot of bodying up the downfield cutters or fouls. i dont' mean to insult anyone by saying the D wasn't good, just saying that it seemed less physical and more cushiony/poachy.
4.) all things being equal, if you had a time machine and put '94 dog in the 05 nationals, how would they stack up, athletically, skill-wise, etc.
5.) there seemed to be a general lack of dump-swinging and a lack of flow (like it seemed the thrower would have the disc for 6 or 7 seconds before throwing to the force side). was this due to each teams D or was that just how the O was played?
6.)hammers. holy crap there was a lot of hammers, but i don't really recall any other break throws (except al with a couple low backhands), and there seemed to be not a whole lot of pivoting and/or trying to get the disc to the breakside.
7.) the huck-n-hope seemed to be alive and kicking in '94. thoughts?
8.) were those observers in the orange suits? what role did they serve?
9.) would you say the avearge club national player in those years had better or worse throws than the current average club national player?
10.) do you think the clam was more effective then when teams didn't have a dump (thus making the 0-1-2's jobs a bit more dynamic) than now when a lot of teams have a 2 dump system kind of taking out the 1-2 from taking the first in cutters?
11.) is DoG ever going to wear "throwback" jerseys with the cotton T's and the umbro short shorts? please.

My answers:

1 and 2) 1994 nationals was at a horse farm in Lexington, KY, cold (50s?) and windy. Semis (and finals) were on a strong upwind/downwind field. Only a few people could huck upwind, and putting it deep to just an ok cut wasn't a bad strategy. It wasn’t quite windy enough that you would just punt it to avoid the easy upwinder, though. On the final point, Cojones worked the disc to within about 25 yards of our endzone, then dumped it back to their own 20 before turning it over.

3) Downfield bodying is a recent tactic. "Hard marking" is much more common now, although it existed then, too. In general, what I typically call bs tactics or pussy calls weren't nearly as widespread. The finals against Double Happiness was criticized as being a hackorama, but there was a foul call on 5% of the throws, and a total of 47 calls on 554 passes. I think this is less than we see today typically. (I know this because someone called us out on being too aggressive on the mark, so I watched the tape and found out that Double committed more fouls per pass than we did (or rather that we called more fouls per pass).

4) You know I’m a curmudgeon, right? These kids today think they gotz skillz, but they ain’t nothin’. Anyway, at about 11-9 in one of the games we lost last year at Nationals, I said that any of the vintage DoG teams would have already won that game 15-7. Whether that’s true or not (see “curmudgeon”), it’s hard to say as the game has changed. DoG had a higher concentration of the game’s top talent (several probable Hall of Famers playing at close to their peak levels plus several more members of the Hall of Very Good), we were technologically ahead of the curve, and we were smart and experienced players. The overall level today is probably higher (it’s certainly more athletic), but I’d still take vintage DoG, if for no other reason than we didn’t lose a game at Nationals during our run, while every champion since then has lost at least once when they one.

5, 7) DoG's offense was much more north-south back then. We had two modes of operation. One was to jam it up the line all the way, and the other was to set up an iso and huck it. But we had only 5 hucks that game, 2 complete, probably all of them downwind. Our “normal” hucking game at that point probably had 75% completions without requiring many good catches.

6) I'd guess that most of the 16 hammers were upwind against the zone. DoG's zone O was still in conceptual development, but even then we eschewed the dump/swing in favor of an attack through and over the middle.

A lack of break throws could be explained by a greater distance between the marker and thrower and a deeper stack (an article I wrote way back states "The prototypical stack begins with a handler 15 to 20 yards away from the disc and spaces the remaining players at five yard intervals"). Breaks would have had to have been “around” instead of “through”, and those passes aren’t as sure in the wind.

8) Observers were there, same basic setup as today, to make a ruling if the involved parties wanted one.

9) Not sure about the average guy, since my team back then was clearly on top. The game is more specialized today, I guess.

10) The Clam was more effective when teams had a long stack and cut from in front of the disc. But one purpose of the Clam is to disrupt the offense, so if teams are moving to a different setup simply to avoid a junk D, then the D has served its purpose.

11) Let me tell you, the chicks would love it.