Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kaimana Klassik and the 23 person paradox

I got back the other day from my second Kaimana tournament, the first being in 1998. Both teams had "Southern" in their name and were basically the same team, except only one other guy from the first team was here again.

The tournament was a blast. There was no need to leave the area for the whole tournament. Breakfast, dinner, and beer were at the site, camping across the street. Pseudo-Nationals format with 4 pools then power pools then elimination play. We stumbled undefeated through Day 1, winning but not covering the spread appropriate for the #2 overall seed. We had one last pool play game at 8:30 on Day 2, but were missing several players from too much partying the night before. This is the 23 person paradox for a casual tournament. If you have small numbers, say, 12, then the only valid excuse for missing a game or practice is if there is something legendary happening. When you have a few more, then the realm of excuses expands a bit, but it still has to be for a good reason. But when you get to 23, then pretty much anything goes, and you can even convince yourself that the team is better off if you took off that game (or day, Luke) because it's more PT for everyone else and you'll be fresher when the games REALLY matter.

So this presented an opportunity for me to test myself. I came into the tournament wanting to play hard, not efficient, and expected that with our pool of talent (the email list of talent was even greater, as the Kid didn't seem to remove anyone from it), we'd win 15-6 and I'd try to play 6-8 points a game. Instead, we'd win 13-11 (and have those 24 points be more like 35 with all the turnovers) and 23 felt more like 16 with a few part-timers. And we had to win this game (or lose it by one or two) in order to avoid getting sent to the B pool. So I laced them up, did what passed for an active warmup, and went out to play. I can't actually say that I remember much other than I played a lot and we staged a late rally to avoid relegation (and also won).

But then I was cooked. I played a couple points early and could hardly move, and then took off the next ten points while I chatted with Dugan, who had a bye but was at our field for some reason. I started to get my legs back and was rarin' to go when they turned it over at 7-7, half at 8, cap approaching. One of our players had the disc about 10 yards outside the goal and I saw him flip the disc over to a thumber grip. I said to him sternly, "No, Karl." He swung it to me on the open side, I got no cuts from anyone, so I went to swing it back to him, but got point blocked (it was probably going into the ground anyway). Score, 8-7, halftime, cap comes on, they score again to win. After a bye, we head over to the other fields (10 minute walk away, second time we had to head over there) and go down 5-1 to Voltron. Our offensive flow stands out as being terrible by this time, as a disproportionate amount of the time, whoever has the disc is looking at the endzone. Sure, with players coming from all over, there wasn't much familiarity prior to the tournament, but it never really meshed, as we never really discussed an offensive philosophy. (Perhaps there were too many potential cooks and all were afraid to tout their own recipe.) We stage a late rally but it is impossible to score quickly enough to overcome the hard cap. (Hard cap in effect for all games, including the elimination rounds, although apparently the women played with a +1 soft cap in their games, but whether due to different rules or different knowledge of the rules, I don't know). We're still in the quarters, though (one of the teams fell down to the pre-quarters, lost, and had to play a fifth game of the day in the B bracket quarters).

Quarters were against Philthy, who were looking much the worse for wear after a hard partying night. And with only somewhere between 10 and 13 functioning players, they needed everyone. Nevertheless, their offense at times featured an unbelievable amount of running. We were no longer a favorite to win or even contend for the tournament by this time, but we still had enough good players and experience that a run of wins wouldn't be out of line. But it didn't happen, and despite yet another late rally, we couldn't overcome a big deficit and lost at the cap, 14-12.

I was particularly irritated late in this game when we played a zone defense and no one on the sideline ventured more than 2 yards from where they started the point. Earlier in the weekend, I noticed players doing the same (and pointed out that the guy 30 yards away probably could not hear what was being said). I myself am generally not all that active on the sideline, unless not enough people are helping out already. There is much to be gained from having one sideline person talking to exactly one player on the field (and only that sideline person is talking to him, excepting perhaps if it's a deep and there is one guy on each sideline). Instead, it's "Tom, look at 34, now Fred, a guy is coming up behind you, ok, ok, force middle, 34 again, Tom, ooh, is that a travel, up, up" while Tom and Fred have to listen (or not, more likely) to several voices and figure out which words are for them. This isn't to pick on the Southern Dandies, as it is the exception that teams talk efficiently. But it's big.

Overall, I had a great time at the tournament. Lots of time to hang out, good opportunity to play. I was happy with my ability to move around, less happy with my throwing skill at times (although in fairness, I've only thrown goaltimate passes since October). Good group of guys who were genuinely happy to be there (one fellow even flew out there with wife and infant, rented a pop-up trailer, and left late on Day 2 to head back) and that rubs off. So thanks, guys.

Trip to the Big Island after the tournament was a lot of fun, too, but I won't bore you with too many of the details. One day exploring the wet Hilo side, including a trip to Waipio Valley, one day at the volcano (lava flow was outside the park, could only get a mile from the flow but watched it from there), 4 days on the Kona side. One 2-tank dive, several great snorkels, and a manta ray night snorkel adventure.


Anonymous said...

So who won at the end?? ( open and women?)

The Pulse said...

Ono (UCSB/Condors alums) for men

Shaolin Coyotes (Bay Area) for women

luke said...

OK, first of all. My taking the day off was for strategic reasons. Strategically, my head hurt.

It turned out we weren't a world champ team. While we got great plays out of unsung heroes, the reality was that there were probably no more than 8 or 9 guys on the team with 2nd round nationals experience.

props to you and al. solid meaningful play. The filthy game was a debacle. And personally, I kept thinking they'd cough one or two up, but to their credit, over and over again the guy who'd run 400m back and forth would catch a 2 yard tough catch (with no strike call from the sidelines)...

my thought would be: since we were never on the same page (unless humor, food, and drink are the page we were looking at)... we should have spent some energy working something out. play zone early, not late, find a 4 man play that worked, come up with a couple of endzone plays other than cut to the cone...

still a blast.
i'm not ruling out going again, if only that it was a wonderful escape from cold, to hang out with good friends.

and frankly, if i have to watch 2 games on the last day, there was no better bunch to sit and drink with and belittle the success of the teams playing....

Anonymous said...

Shaolin Coyotes (Bay Area) for women
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