Friday, November 16, 2007

Mixed vs Masters

Someone suggested jokingly that we should have played off against the Mixed champs to see who the real B Division champ was.

I'm fairly certain we would beat a mixed team. But we can ask what the strategies would be for such a game for both teams. And it doesn't even have to be mixed versus men, it just has to have three distinct classes of players. 4 studs on team A, 7 good but far worse players on team B, and 3 decent but far worse than good players on Team A. (This level of disparity can also happen in more recreational play, but one possible solution there would be to completely ignore the worst group of players.) This is what the case would be if you took an all-star team of players from Open and Women's Nationals and played off against an all-star team from Masters Nationals. To generalize, let's just say that the top Mixed and Masters players could play in Open and Women's but wouldn't be anywhere close to as dominant, and the benchwarmers at O/W Nats would be starters in mixed. I think that's a fair assessment of the talent level, although I'm not sure it's completely relevant.

Strategically, it seems fairly obvious. The "mixed" team would want to iso the big 4 as much as possible, just as any team wants to iso its best players, but has the added burden that there will be deep help. They'd probably need to run some kind of spread offense but would need to split its men. For defense against this, perhaps a version of the Clam, or maybe the old Tea Cup we used back in summer league 15 years ago. In that, we'd cover the other team's top 5 players and let the other two roam, nominally playing the equivalent of middle middle and deep deep. For this, maybe you'd cover just 4 and have one of the other three play something like 3 in the Clam or covering whichever of the women was closest to the disc.

When the "masters" team has the disc, I'd be tempted to run a homey with whoever is being covered by the women. Defensively, if this tactic wasn't being used, perhaps a clam with one woman as 4 (weakside downfield) and the others up front (or maybe move one of them to 5). Or maybe a zone. You would probably want to encourage the other team to huck it because you'd win most 50/50 shots. But the old team should be smart and really take a look at where all the defense is before hucking it.

All would mark extra aggressively against the less skilled players and sag off a little on the better ones.

I don't know whether you'd have any additional strategies for upwind/downwind or if you have large variations within each group. (Maybe you'd put your fastest woman up front in the clam.) Or whether you'd prefer to have women handlers or deeps, other things being equal.

Lastly, this will never happen because neither team could stand the embarrassment of losing to the other. Perhaps if someone were to make this the semi-pro league, they'd do it.


Anonymous said...

From years of experience playing mixed vs men, I can answer this:
Mixed on D: Usually, the Mixed team should play zone D, with 2 women and 1 man in the cup, and the other woman on one of the wings (probably the upwind wing, if there is a crosswind).

Mixed on O: Against man-on-man D, the mixed team should separate the men from the women on the field, e.g. with a "gender stack" (women in front/men in back or vice versa) although there are other options such as the famous "four corners." A play that tends to work again and again is to do a men-in-front gender stack, send one of the men deep down the side on a set play, and hit the woman whose guy poaches off to help.

Masters on D: Masters have the advantage either way. If beaten man-on-man, they should try zone, but they won't because they will be reluctant to admit that they can't man-up against a mixed team.

The top men's Masters team should expect to beat the top Mixed team, but a loss would not be a shocking upset.


Anonymous said...

Is it really true that the 3 women on team A (the mixed team) are far worse than the men, or are we talking about purely physical differences? (height, speed, throwing distance, etc).

Anonymous said...

Of COURSE you would beat a mixed team playing 4/3. I mean, come on.

The more interesting question is, you versus the men of a mixed team.

parinella said...

Steve Finn would provide an interesting data point. He has alternated between Masters and Mixed, so if you could compare how useful he was in each, that would be a starting point. I know of a couple others who made the jump as well but haven't queries them directly. It depends, of course, on what their specialty is and how rare it is in that division.

For us versus the men of mixed (sounds like a calendar title), a skeleton crew of us played a skeleton crew of Slow White this spring at White Mountain Open and we beat them 13-12. And some of us played in a Mixed tournament (Hingham) and won easily, beating the 9-12th Regional placer* (they forfeited consolation games and got a DNF) by about 6 in the finals. But that really doesn't provide anything useful for answering the question.

I think it'd be an interesting question also if you took players from the top of Open who would theoretically be unguardable one-on-one by old guys. As I said in the original, you will sometimes have gross disparities in abilities on a lower-level team (say, a college team with only three experienced players) who will have to play an opponent with no stars of that level but everyone else more experienced. But the solution there (focus exclusively on the three) might not work in this example because the others are good enough to do damage if completely ignored.

Rich said...

I can tell you that a lost in the game to go Masters team was beaten by our 3-and-out mixed team in a scrimmage with us playing some 4/3 and some 5/2. Admittedly, both teams were missing some of their top players. From what I hear (I wasn't there), our top guys were effectively uncoverable, and our women were able to hang defensively. I know this is a big step down in talent from what you're referring to, but it does provide at least one data point.

achew1000 said...

I played on a bad enough coed team several years ago that we didn't make it out of norcal sectionals and so then I played NW masters regionals. I was 33, had been playing ulti for about 3 years, not particularly well - I certainly didn't dominate in norcal mixed at all or maybe my team would've done better than 10th at sectionals. In masters, however - perhaps because I was younger and in shape from playing all season (but not really training) I could not be stopped as a deep cutter. I was the deep cutter on every string, caught tons of scores, and ran all sorts of guys in Sockeye jerseys into the ground. I had a much bigger impact on the game that I had all season in mixed. The experience gave me a ton of confidence and helped advance my playing in mixed after that.
Would the athleticsm of Mischief's men overcome the wiliness of Dog's veterans? I think it would, but that comparision is between the top 2 teams in our hypothetical divisions(masters and mixed men)I'm sure Dog could beat a lot of mixed men's teams, but I'm also sure Mischief men could beat a lot of Master's teams.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on keeping the championships coming. How many more will you have to win to tie that Bill Rodriguez (sp?) guy for life-time?
Here's a fun question for someone who has been playing the game for so long: Who are the top three teams all-time in each division (i.e., Mixed: YoMo 07, Shazam! 05, Slow White 02 Masters: Above and Beyond 05, etc...)? How would those teams fare against one another? How would the best mixed fare against average masters teams?
Also, I think the statement that the studs of mixed teams are far worse than the studs of open might be a weaker generalization. The twins from Slow White held their own against Boston Ultimate in the tryouts, and Jasper made the team. Also, I heard Colin Mahoney played mixed this year. In one good ultimate area, you have a few men on mixed teams who are at least comparable to the studs of elite open, maybe better. In Seattle, where the elite men's team are better than everywhere else and FAR better than most other places, I would expect that such area's mixed division men could hold their own with the men in most elite teams. I could be wrong in this though.

parinella said...

Thanks. Alex and I debated putting Billy on the Nationals roster on the off chance that he'd show, but decided that in the unlikely event we won, we'd want to catch up a little. He has five from NYNY, so we're still four behind.

I think the examples you cite are good examples for my point. Maybe it's a bit closer to AFC/NFC or AL/NL rather than MLB/AAA, but a player moving from Mixed to Open goes from being a star to a starter, or from a starter to just making the team, which is better than it used to be. I guess it all depends on what "far worse" is.

ben h. said...

bring back Q & A!