Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sectionals 2007

Alex recounted the details of the tournament pretty well over on his blog, so I’ll just recap them here and give more impressions, which is really what all of you want to read.

We started out terribly, losing a grudge match against the Gunslingers, 13-9. There were numerous rookie mistakes that game on all parts, people just a little too anxious to impress and make plays, and not enough of the seamless efficiency we were famous for. As with the rest of the weekend, we played a basic offense with a four-person play and fills. We stayed with man-to-man defense for too long that game when it wasn’t working that well. I didn’t leave that game with a good feeling about things.

Game 2 was similarly unimpressive. We got broken twice (out of four points) against a college zone D in the first half, the lowest point of the weekend and possibly my career.

I missed the third game to attend the Bolton Fair with my wife, son, and parents for about 20 minutes. There was horrible traffic management there. Coming from the east, fairgoers were forced to wait for 30-45 minutes just to park. There were three huge parking lots, but all the cars from the east (which had 75% of the cars) were shunted to the first lot. However, the parking lot traffic directors were inefficient. They would frequently stop traffic to allow a few cars from the other direction to come through, and occasionally stopped traffic for no apparent reason. There were a few cones in the lot intended to direct foot traffic, but no one enforced it and so car access to the lot was frequently restricted as a result. Only once in the 20 or so minutes I stood watching did they do something proactive, waiving about 20 cars ahead to one of the other under-utilized lots. I am reasonably confident that I could have gotten cars parked twice as fast with no more than one accident. So, instead of spending an hour there, I had just enough time to pay admission, stand in line for tickets for my son to go on rides, and watch him ride one thing. The rides were a ripoff, too, generally $3 per person for a typical carnival ride. They did have a lot of other county-fair type activities (including a Frisbee-catching dog!).

Back to the fields for a brief warmup prior to the Red Tide game. In another low point of my career, I did the math incorrectly in evaluating the tiebreak possibilities, at least twice. (It was easy enough to do that as soon as the game ended, I thought about it for two seconds and said, “Hold on, that’s not right” without even running the numbers.) We started out with a gift turnover and break, expanded our lead, and won convincingly to take 1st place in the pool.

Semis on Saturday was another grudge match, this time for us. If you remember correctly, this was the team that sent me to the hospital when we played them at Boston Invite. The offender was pointed out and acknowledged me but never bothered to mutter even a simple “sorry about that”. I know it wasn’t intentional, and I am obviously ok now, but it was a bit reckless, and I did need stitches. I think I made a joke about being entitled to kick him in the groin at some point. Again, we had our chances this game, and it would have been nice to win to get a chance against my old mates and the new kids.

So, impressions. First off, it remains weird playing in a tournament I don’t think I have a chance to win (although some part of me thought it _could_ happen). This was especially so because it was Sectionals, where I hadn’t lost a game since 1991. That was also approximately the last time where I was actually looking forward to Sectionals. That was an interesting year, by the way. I had a foot injury that fall and so didn’t practice or play much. I sat out most of Sectionals except for the game against Titanic. Our team may have beaten Harvard by just 1 goal, in fact, but we made it to the finals. I was warming up by playing football with our opponents, and Gary Lippman felt it necessary to point out how bad we were that year, and that just really pissed me off. In a game to 13, I threw three goals and caught five more. On the bad side, though, I had a critical late turnover on their goal line and we lost by 1. Rats. There were two more scares for the #1 Boston team since then. In maybe 1995, we were close late in the game against Snapple, but they gakked it away as they were wont to do. And we beat Dos Manos by only 1 in 1998 as we were working on our split stack offense the entire game. (Late in the first half, I asked an opponent the score, was told we were losing, and didn’t believe him.) So, Boston #1 continues to have the longest streak of Sectional titles in the country.

It is also weird to take pride in finishing 3rd in the Section and in losing a close game to a team that will not make Nationals (but no pride in losing badly to a team not expected to make the second day of Regionals). But it’s action, isn’t it?

I think I had four blocks on the weekend, five if you count the one where I called a foul on myself, completely surprising the offensive player. The block itself was clean but I was pretty sure I went through his body to get there. He wouldn’t have called anything, either. All but one of these were on handler cuts, and I left my feet on two of them. I was only overmatched once all weekend, by a little squirrelly guy. I had been told he was squirrelly and volunteered to take him, but I thought he was a squirrelly handler. He was instead a squirrelly receiver, so he combined actual running with his squirreling and so had me spinning. Oh, I also took out a pivoter. The lanky opponent had caught a disc near the line and I thought he may have been out, so was thinking about that a little as I jogged downfield with my guy. I think I followed in my guy’s steps, a foot or two outside the pivot foot (but six feet from the thrower’s body), only to be surprised by a rapid pivot back to the forehand side, and I bowled him over. Whoops. I should have been more alert and known that was a possibility. I apologized to the guy on the other team who yelled at me about it, to the thrower, and again later to the thrower, and now to the unwashed masses.

As typical of the past couple years, I felt better later in the weekend than at first. I played basketball last Monday but then nothing again until Saturday, which explains it a bit. I would like to get in one speed workout per week the rest of the season, and will try to break a sweat the day before Regionals. (Goals must be achievable, you know.)

Overall I felt really good, though. I was able to move quickly, went up nicely the one time I had to, got open pretty easily both downfield and near the disc. With another tournament (Clambake) this weekend, I expect to be rarin’ to go at Regionals.

I don’t think I changed my opinion of Sectionals, though, as a result of being “one of those teams we have to play because the UPA says so.” While it would have been nice to play a game against “Boston #1” where they were trying hard, not playing them didn’t significantly alter my Sectionals experience (other than it meant we lost a game we wanted to win). Boston Ultimate blanked the first two teams they played, and even shut out New Noise in the first half on Saturday, I heard. In a Section that has a handful of teams, perhaps it is necessary to the UPA for a team like Boston Ultimate to play, but here, where there were 25 teams total, there were still plenty of opportunities to play good games even without them (and for lower level teams to play someone significantly better). I guess I still don’t see the point of playing a 15-2 game, for either team.

I’m a little disappointed that we don’t have an Open RRI, just a Masters RRI. Oh, heck, let me just figure out an estimate. I looked at all of our games, pro-rated it to a game to 15, and took the RRI of the team that expected to finish with that score against that opponent. For instance, first game was a 13-4 loss to Boston Ultimate. Translate that to 15-4.6. I went to the Score Predictor for BUY and saw that the middle team that would lose 15-4.6 had an RRI of 1974. Repeat for the entire schedule. Average the scores.

Result: Average 2331. Best game was 15-7 against Phoenix at Boston Invite (2656), then 13-12 over Bro White at WMO (2598) and 13-7 over Red Tide at Sectionals (also 2598). A typical low-level Nationals team has an RRI of about that, but I don’t buy that on our best day we would be on an equal footing with them. There is, of course, the problem that each of those games is just a sample and likely not indicative of our true “best” game. Our average is right around the teams that will probably go into Regionals in the 5-9 range. Our worst performances were against Gunslingers at Sectionals (1958) and Boston Ultimate Y at WMO (1974), which puts us at the “didn’t qualify for Regionals” level. It would be kind of interesting to repeat this best-and-worst for other teams, but nah.

Workout this week: did a sprint workout in front of my house tonight. 4x100, 6x50, 8x30, 6x(backpedal fast for 5 seconds and sprint back). Started each rep on the minute, 5 minutes between sets.


Corey said...

Boston #1 longest sectionals streak? Sorry, but time to let go of the DoG years, the glory is finally over and all that's left is death. There's a new team in Boston that's won a total of one straight sectionals.

According to your logic, why couldn't one say the 1st NY team has also won the NY Metro section in every time. Go see recent thread on RSD regarding the Condors and sectionals - looks like they now have the longest running streak as one team and Chain holds the record, going from 81-01.

parinella said...

Aha, I caught a fish!

Corey, you do realize that I read rsd still.

I am thinking of making a separate blog entry on name changes and team continuity, but NY is an interesting case. In 1995/1996, was there an obvious "NY #1" team? Going in, was it clear whether Blood or Randalls Island deserved the name?

For Boston, perhaps in the early '80s, it was up in the air, but not since.

Chain's record is in dispute because they have been "Chain", "Chain Lightning", "Chain Lightening" and the chain symbol at various times.

SethG said...

The worst sectionals had to be this. Not sure where they played, but Idaho Falls and Calgary are like 600 miles apart. And since the NW won't fill the open regionals, they each could have gone without playing some useless sectionals tournament.

Not saying this is original, and maybe it's exactly what you've been saying, but here's a system that could work with a few tweaks:

Set something like an August date for expressing a team's interest in the series, with no roster needed yet. Then, the number of rounds required in an area will depend on the number of interested teams. If every team in a section will qualify for regionals, sectionals doesn't need to happen. And if more than 16 (or 20, 24, whatever) teams are in a section, there need to be sub-sectionals. And so on.

Then, I'd give a team an optional free pass into the following year tournament one level below the highest for which they qualified that year. So if you make it to nationals, next year's regionals; to regionals, next year's sectionals.

Potential problems include seeding issues, though the same issues already exist for sectionals, and dealing with teams that split up, in which case you could do something like require 60% of last year's roster or let last year's UPA team representative assign the bid.

Potential advantages include letting Boston not play a bunch of 13-2 games if they don't want to, giving a team like Winnipeg's women, who decided not to play regionals rather than traveling 600 miles to play just Madison in sectionals, more chances to play, and having a structure in place to deal with some of the mega-sections in the NE.

Whatever, I'm a Master, so none of the affects me,

Alex de Frondeville said...

5 minutes between sets? What, were you reading the paper between sets?

Nathan said...

Count me amongst the people who are not going to lose any sleep over Canadian teams having to travel a long way for Sectionals and Regionals.

Anonymous said...

yeah Nathan, and while we're at it is there any way we can make nationals farther from canada? Puerto Rico maybe?

Sure they pay their dues too but probably with that bogus canadian dollar which we all know ain't worth the funny paper it's printed on.

parinella said...

sethg, something like that is on the table. The UPA has set up some groups to discuss options.

5 minutes: when you actually sprint at top speed, it's nice to have recovery. I too could jog 30 yards without needing much recovery time.

Canadians are now making fun of our dollar.

My feeling, expressed many times, is that Canadian teams should be welcome but that very little consideration be given to their needs, and Sectionals should never be held in Canada unless there is no US site available, etc.

luke said...

the nerdy answer is a true speed workout (vs endurance/ or intervals or whatever) is actually to be done at max effort, or at the very least, very snappy as doing it tired doesn't let you get the perfect snap and form you're looking for.

but alex is obviously yanking your chain to remind you of his gazelle like form.

i can say this, b/c they apparently have 'clydesdale' categories for triathlons. now if only they handicapped 5ks and ski races.