Sunday, March 30, 2008

Southerns, Easterns and Roll Call

Outside of Centex there were 3 big tournaments that happened over the last two weekends and the results are very interesting, especially for some regions that don't get enough press, ie the Metro East, the Northeast and the Great Lakes.

First, hats off to Dartmouth. They are really doing their job to get back to nationals, something they have not done since 2003. Sam Haynor is a weird but great guy and he is THE prototypical model of a Northeast ultimate player and I think his experience and leadership has really facilitated the formation of a truly phenomenal NE program. I also think that it is interesting that the other NE school that is getting some big wins outside the Centex bubble, Tufts, was right there with the Pain Train in the finals. I am guessing a capping situation resulted in a 12-10 win for Dartmouth but I think that Hollingworth's E-Men are a great program as well. Had the game gone to 15 like regionals will be, who knows who will come out on top. Another team that has done well despite ZERO attention is Notre Dame. Another in a slew of Great Lakes programs, the Papal Rage not only made the semis at one of the biggest tournaments of the spring, but they also won Ultimax by beating a red hot Pennsylvania team in the finals 15-12.

I think it is interesting that Notre Dame, Tufts, and Dartmouth are all doing well while their competition, Michigan, Illinois, Harvard, and Brown were all at Centex. I definitely think the Centex crowd was facing stiffer opposition, but a win is a win and confidence and composure (the two most important things in college ultimate) are still developed in this manner. As far as the Great Lakes goes, I think that Michigan is still on top. Illinois is right there and I think with Ohio State's success at Southerns as well as Roll Call, in addition to Notre Dame, I think the Great Lakes region will have one of the better regional tournaments with not only a bunch of teams close to one another but also teams that are talented and successful at the national level.

More of the same for the Northeast. Dartmouth and Tufts both look good but so does Harvard. I wonder if over confidence will play a role in regionals with Harvard feeling like they are the best in the region because of their Centex performance. If George Stubbs is back, they will play better than they already are but a peaking Dartmouth and/or Tufts team will challenge Red Line for the regional title. With Brown up and down all year, I think there are 3 teams that could come out on top (Tufts, Dartmouth or Harvard) with 2 of these 3 plus Brown taking the second bid. I have been to NE regionals a few times now and Brown always seems to do well despite their record. It's too bad Williams has dropped below radar but I think the NE is as wide open as it has been since I have been here and I hope to see some fireworks in May.

The take home message from this tournament is that North Carolina teams do well at North Carolina tournaments. Congrats Gerics. All 4 teams in the semis were from NC (UNC, NC State, UNC-W, and Duke) and the finals was a good old fashion 15-11 barn burner between the Wolfpack and the Seamen. UNC-Wilmington is really beginning to assert themselves as an AC contender this year. Of all the AC powerhouses (Florida, Georgia, UNC, NC State, UNC-W), they have been the most consistent outside the Gators. However, they didn't go to Centex and the other 4 did. I was really disappointed that they passed up Austin after a great showing in Palo Alto, but I am sure it is tough to travel so much for ultimate. I only know of 1 kid on the team, Rusty Ingold-Smith, who not only went to the same high school as Jacob Goldstein, the Mahoney's, and Jasper Hoitsma, but he has also suited up with Slow White for the lat two years and his experience is top shelf. I think he is staying in NC to play for Ring this summer and will be missed by the Boston crowd. Either way, his speed on offense is really frustrating for defenders and his acceleration and bids really make him invaluable on D. I would bet he plays a large role in Wilmington's relatively shallow roster and would like to see them make it back to Nationals. However, I wonder if their lack of series experience will hurt them against teams that have been to the show routinely over the last few years, namely UNC, Georgia and, of course, Florida.

NC State is a real question mark for me. I think they are a team with the talent to take out everyone save Florida in their region, they just need to bring their best to every game. They seem to like the hammers and the deep ball as well as athletic D, which is a bad combination against polished teams like Florida. I also imagine them having trouble against good shallow teams because in a single game where endurance and legs aren't an issue, a few careless turnovers can really change the tides. I think they need to focus on their composure more than anything else and if they can play their best game more often than not, I think they have a shot at UNC-W. Both teams have history on their side, but I think given the chance, NC State needs to use their depth against UNC-W. This gets tough however, especially in poor weather. If regionals is perfect weather wise, I think NC State should throw out line after line of fresh cutters to exhaust UNC-W and despite not taking half, I think the Wolfpack can win in the long run, especially if they bring their A game.

I think UNC suffered a setback with their loss to UNC-W, but I think they were probably still beat from Centex. They are in an interesting situation because they have done well when NC State has not and vice versa. Like UNC-W and Florida, I think poor weather favors them because they are a patient and composed team. However, I think talent and firepower could be issues. They don't have a whole lot to contest teams at their level and rely on top to bottom good ultimate to win games. With all-stars like Ulty Arnie and Rusty, teams like NC State and Wilmington have the ability to put up points and breaks that UNC cannot make up. I think in poor weather they have got a shot but only against NC State. I would imagine a small nucleus like Wilmington would be spectacular in the wind and UNC's only hope is that their depth can overcome. However, Darkside does play well in the series. I had Georgia pegged for 2nd seed out of the AC last year and UNC came and snatched it away. This maybe that JoJah had yet to play their best disc (they made quarters at nationals and lost to Finals bound Colorado), or UNC was peaking at just the right time. Either way, I think Carolina sectionals will be one of the better sectional tournaments along with the Bay Area section with teams like Stanford, Santa Cruz, Cal and LPC all looking good with no clear front runner.

I was glad to see another big tourney spring up because it means good teams are playing each other and the playoff picture gets clearer and clearer. Pitt obviously had a spectacular showing by taking out Ohio State in the Finals 15-12. I have gotten some criticism for not talking up En Sabah Nur, and now I will try and shut them up. First I think their win against Wisconsin was a huge step in changing a great Metro East team to just, a great team. Going into a big but small school heavy tournament with a win like that under your belt really lets a team know that they can do it all. However, I wonder if a little over confidence hurt them in round one because they lost to one of their biggest regional challenges, Penn, on double game point. They did battle back and despite this loss took out Ohio State 13-7 and took the pool. Sunday would be a continuation of a great tourney and they managed to secure 4 wins in a row to take the tournament. I think it is interesting that the two teams in the Finals were also in the same pool, Ohio State and Pitt, and it goes to show you that seedings are irrelevant if you are good enough. I think Pitt needs to stay focused because the Metro East isn't theirs, yet. They didn't get another chance against Penn this past weekend and have yet to play Cornell, who had a great weekend at Huck of the Irish. I like Pitt to take the region but they are going to have to earn it like everybody else. They didn't take it last year and despite going to Nationals routinely, they have also routinely been #2 in their region. This year they are #1 but either Cornell or Penn could play spoiler for them. I don't see them missing out on Boulder, but they will need to play their best to come out #1 in the ME.

Ohio State is really playing great disc this year despite not playing in an NCUS or Cultimate tournament. They are another in a series of Great Lakes teams that really want to make the show this May. They took advantage of Michigan and Michigan State's drop off in ability last year and earned the chance to play at home on Memorial Day. That experience will really help them against Illinois and Magnum. I think Michigan's play at Centex really puts them at #1 in the region despite Illinois' superb showing, especially against Stanford and Florida. However, Ohio State really hasn't had the chance to face the best in their region recently and could still challenge either team for one of the spots to natties. I think the Great Lakes region will be one of the best series tournaments this year because all three teams will be peaking at the right time and each could make it to the A bracket come Saturday at Nationals.

I am really curious about Harvard. They are arguably the front runner from the Northeast but they are not as far ahead from the rest of region as they would like. They are definitely good, but they are going to need to stay focused every game to make it to Boulder. Their quarters loss to Penn tells me two things, 1) Penn is the Davidson of the 2008 College Ultimate Season. They are playing GREAT spoiler ultimate with wins against Michigan, Pitt, Harvard, and Cornell. They are definitely #2 in the ME and I hope Pitt is ready for them. 2) Harvard can be beaten if they look past their opponent. This is what I see potentially happening at NE regionals. Harvard comes out strong Saturday and draws the lowest seed Sunday. This could potentially be a team like Boston College or Wesleyan, two teams that are scrappy, good and would LOVE to catch an over confident team sleeping. I am not saying that they lose but they could end up going to 15s or 16s just like Wesleyan did to Williams last year. This could frustrate Red Line and put them against a red hot Tufts or Dartmouth team who could take advantage and send Harvard to the back door bracket. This would suck for the Cambridge boys because they would then have to go through a confident Brown team and the loser of Tufts/Dartmouth. This situation would favor Tufts and Dartmouth because I think the two would prefer to face each other in the finals over either Brown or Harvard because they are in similar boats. Neither has been to nationals in recent years and Dartmouth has issues with winning games to go. A Tufts/Dartmouth finals would be awesome and I hope Dartmouth would win because I think Tufts could take out Harvard or Brown but Dartmouth has a tendency to slip once they lose their first chance to nationals. Long story short, if every one of these 4 teams' play their game, there are 6 equal probabilities for 2 teams going to Nationals.

Closing Thoughts
I think the series this year is going to be the best since I have been following ultimate. Almost every region is wide open and I am really excited to see how April and May pan out. The Bay Area and Carolina sections are going to be great because we will get to see where some of the best in the country line up one another. The Great Lakes, Northeast, and Northwest Regions are all COMPLETELY wide open and have more parity than the NBA western conference.

Despite all this hype however, Nationals in Boulder is basically going to be Nationals 2006. It is Florida's to lose and Wisconsin's to win. The Gators are going to be #1 in the NUMP this week and will stay that way until Nationals. Wisconsin will probably be relegated to #2 and as long as they keep a lid on Minnesota and CUT they can get comfortable there. Gibson is unreal and I think he can lead a great campaign in Colorado. However, he couldn't make the finals without TG last year and in good weather the Hodag depth is going to be UNREAL. I would love to see Colorado, Michigan, Arizona, or god knows who else, make a run in 6 weeks but I think the Blue Caller rivalry will make another appearance in the finals.

just my thoughts

match diesel

Monday, March 24, 2008

Texas, Texas...YEE-HA!!!

A cheer for the Lone Star State, but uttered by the scaley boys from Florida after winning their first Centex, a goal that I am sure Gibson and the rest have had for quite some time.

I tried to catch as much action as possible during quarters but I found myself spending most of my time watching Florida/Wisconsin and Michigan/Arizona. The weather was awesome on Saturday with slight winds and temperatures in the low 70s. However, Sunday was WINDY. More or less up wind/down wind and it was a little chilly. Lastly, because of Colorado's and Michigan's success, Stanford's struggles and Wisconsin's loss, the championship bracket was ridiculous. One half was Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin and Pitt (3 teams in semis last year) and the other was UNC, Michigan, Minnesota and Arizona (only 1 nationals team, UNC, that lost in pre-quarters to Carleton). Also, no Northwest representation. HOLY CRAP!!

Florida (14) vs Wisconsin (13)
Reid, who is a FANTASTIC TD by the way, had a great line during this game about Florida. He said playing ultimate at Florida is like High School cross country. If you are not in the top 7 you don't compete and the same is true for the Gators. I don't know how they do it, but for more or less the entire game, their 7 on the line is always the same. Kurt Gibson, Brodie Smith, Cyle Van Auken, Chris Gibson, and Cole Sullivan probably played 97% of the points on Sunday which translates into roughly 75 points after a Saturday of 5 games. My god!

This game was as expected. TONS of calls, really poor spirit and for the most part, frustrating to watch. Muffin and Kurt are such similar entities on their respective teams. They both yell A LOT, they are both rarely happy, they both have spectacular flicks in the wind, and their spirit is so depressing. I think Wisconsin was extremely surprised at their record and were definitely rattled. They were very spiteful towards one another which isn't surprising given the fact that they are an intense team and intensity can turn on you at times. Florida started out on top going up 3-1 and given their recent success against the 'dags, many thought Florida had the game locked up. Wisconsin would rally however and take the lead in the second half. James Foster, who I don't talk about enough, is a great player for Wisconsin. He is tall and experienced and is really good at getting the disc deep after Kurt and Brodie were preoccupied with Shane and Will Lokke. Rebholz is also extremely patient and composed and his handling is a polar opposite from Muffin. The two work well together however and compliment one another well. Will Lokke also had a great game. I really hope he gets the callahan nomination for Wisconsin because he is having a great season. He gets epic layout scores like they were nothing and his defense is impervious top to bottom. His composure is almost scary at times. Wisconsin yells a lot, they are really amped but Will is silent. He comes out of nowhere to make great plays and his playing style is as cold as a Wisconsin winter. Shane also had a great defensive game which I expected, despite some goofy bobbled huck scores caught by a lucky as hell Brodie Smith. I asked him how he pulled in two D'd hucks and he just shrugged, "No idea. I looked down and it was in my hands".

As for Florida, wow, this team will be soo different in 2 years. Gibson's throws in the wind are unreal. His flick is so good, it is scary. He launches hammers full field, he has a 3/4 field up wind flick huck, and his back hand breaks are perfect at ~18 inches off the ground. As for defense, Florida basically stuck with their zone which is probably the best in the country. Like I said before, they really hang out at the double-team threshold and because their team is SO tall, their cup is basically a fortress. Cyle has a great mark and with Cole, Chris, and Brodie in the cup, it is a steel trap. Brodie is 6'4" and looks like an Andean Condor on the field. This forces handlers to go over the top and who better to pick off hammers than the best deep in the country, #20. Kurt's deep D is unreal. I don't know how he doesn't get tired or doesn't get hurt. He throws his body in the air with complete disregard and lands so hard on his hips and his sides that I wonder how he doesn't have internal bleeding.

With so much wind there were a fair amount of turns instead of D's and Wisconsin in this game was not as successful against a great Florida offense, as they were against Colorado in a windy final last May. They had the lead 13-11 (pulling), game to 14. Florida managed to get the down winder and would come back with an upwind break because of a poorly placed Wisconsin throw. On Sunday, an upwind break usually meant another down wind break was coming your way and that basically happened. They tied it at 13's with the upwind break and that was all they needed. They forced Wisconsin to work it up conservatively which is something they don't do well and Florida capitalized. Their game in the wind is really amazing because their offense is so comfortable. Cyle gets open for dump cuts, Kurt is a great handler with superb breaks, Brodie can get wayy up and everyone else just tries not to screw up.

Michigan (15) vs Arizona (10)
I didn't see as much of this game as I wanted, mainly because Michigan was well in control. It was really exciting to see Purcell and Kershner line up on one another. They are both work horses and are both smaller players. At one point Purcell had an awesome layout D only to be outdone by a follow up D by Kershner. Kellen Geselbracht is also a fantastic defender for Sunburn. On the offensive side, Erik Gafni had a great game. He might be the teams' best player. He is so valuable at every stage in the Arizona offense. He had a great hammer to Kershner who may have some of the best hands in the country. Erik also exhibited great leadership calling lines along with Benjamin Gray and did his best to keep Arizona focused. I also think that Arizona may have one of the best handler cores in the country. Chris Shepard is phenomenal. He is tall, he is confident, he has every throw in the book. He and Henry Scharf really do a great job of making Kershner and Gafni look good. I think they sometimes take a few too many chances but I think they have what it takes to make nationals this year.

As for Michigan, Will Neff is a class act. Tiina Booth told me that he made ARHS Varsity as a freshman and was a sophmore captain, unheard of. He also was a major part of the 2003 and 2004 world championship juniors team. I really like watching him play for Michigan. As an elite level player, he could have walked into Michigan and been a big leaguer, but he isn't. Apparently Mo-Hawks are in and he sported one along with every other Michigan player. He is also at the core of their cheering and really exemplifies a truly great leader both on and off the field. Ryan also played a great game. Because he is a lefty, his breaks are really powerful and it keeps teams on their toes. His defense is also top notch and he really is good at getting the disc back when the offense turns it. Another thing that was really awesome about this game is that as far as spirit goes, it was 180 degrees from Wisconsin/Florida. I know that SOTG kind of gets a bad wrap from some people because it appears to be a pansy element to the game. However, the reason spirit is so important is that it takes the place of refs (at least for now). Call after call after call is BORING to watch and it really affects the game in an adverse way. Good spirit allows great D's to NOT be called back, it prevents bogus travel calls from derailing great offensive flow, and it keeps competitors focused on their game instead of how much they hate their opponent. With refs, spirit is out the window for a variety of reasons, both good and bad. But for right now, seeing Will, Ryan and the rest of Michigan as well as Gafni, Kershner, and Arizona play good and clean ultimate is really a beautiful thing.

Florida (15) vs Colorado (13)
This game had fewer calls than Florida/Wisconsin which was nice. Florida jumped out to an early lead and took half 8-4 which would be all they needed. This game was more or less an up wind/down wind contest and an early up wind break by Florida would lead to a downwind break and Colorado struggled to get those back all game. Colorado's O-line looks good however. Jolian has been much quieter than I thought he would be but he does a good job of setting up Mac Taylor deep and vice versa. Once again, Wicus and Pebbles did a great job of handling the grunt work, especially in such high wind. Catt Wilson also impressed me at one point calling a play off a Florida turn in the endzone. Jolian picked up and instead of walking it up to the line, he just jacked it from inside his own endzone down wind to a streaking Mac Taylor who reeled in a 85 yard back hand bomb. Florida was not happy.

Florida played razor sharp though. Their ability to keep their same 7 on the field is something you don't see much, but if your players can do it, you're in good shape. I wonder what Florida will have once Gibson graduates though, yikes. I also talked to Brodie after the game and he had some interesting things to say. First off, I really like this guy. He is chill, funny, and friendly. He might make some calls or intentional fouls, but I like him off the field a lot. Apparently he had mono after Vegas and has not played since mid-February, which is one of the reasons Florida didn't go to Stanford. He was really stoked for high wind because he said he had no legs what so ever and would be able to rely on his height, jumping ability and throws, rather than speed. Martin Cochran, who is also a really great guy to talk to, covered him for most of this game, but like-wise, his broken foot has kept him from being in top shape. Towards the end of the game, Martin was getting tired and switched to covering Gibson because Kurt had handled mostly in this game. Brodie told me this was a golden opportunity for the gators and twice they switched the Kurt to Brodie flick bomb to Brodie to Kurt flick bomb and without stellar speed, you aren't going to catch Kurt going deep. This sealed the deal for Florida and put them in the Finals.

UNC (13) vs Michigan (12)
This game was a heart breaker to watch. Magnum was up the whole game but UNC was right there with them. An early break allowed Michigan to lead 9-7, but UNC kept going score for score for Michigan in the second half. In watching Michigan both in this game and the Arizona game, it appears their one weakness is weather. They have a huge indoor facility that they practice in so their offense is really good. I think this is why they had success against Wisconsin on Saturday consider the wind wasn't so bad. However, Sunday was not good for the boys in blue and yellow. They seemed to have poor throws in the wind and even Ryan and Will were floating passes. Many passes were caught at full arms length in the air and some would sail over heads and out of bounds. Early in the game, UNC couldn't capitalize on these turns, but later, they played better windy offense and punched in the 2 breaks they needed. Having the ability to practice outdoors seems to be good for Darkside and I think once Michigan is able to get outside, they will be able to improve this part of their game. In addition, I really think that Michigan's depth will be an issue. Like Florida they rely on a small core group of players and in poor weather a lot of their star offensive players have to play D because of turnovers. I think they can beat almost anyone in good weather but if the wind is bad come the series, they might get stuck being #2 behind Illinois out of the Great Lakes. I also wonder how the weather will be in Boulder if/when they make nationals.

As far as UNC goes, they really are not what I was expecting. They play chilly offensive and have athlete after athlete recording D's. I think they were a bit out matched by Stephen Presley (Texas) on Saturday which is why they lost in pool play, but their composed offense was better in the wind than Michigan down to the wire in semis. UNC definitely had a clutch offensive possession late in the game after they had taken the lead. At 12-11, Michigan gained a crucial upwind break and was now pulling on universe point with the wind at their back. They came zone and with Will Neff deep it was almost guaranteed that a turn would come. However, UNC sent a deep cutter to challenge Will and then came back in. Will took a few steps to follow him back in and as he was distracted a second cutter took off for the endzone and a perfectly placed backhand bomb was farther than Will could recover from and UNC reeled in the game winner. Great play on their part.

Finals - Florida (15) vs UNC (7)
The finals was probably the weakest game of the day that I saw and considering the difference in competition from each side of the bracket, a blow out final was eminent even before quarters were played. Florida's upwind offense and zone defense were much more than UNC could handle and despite miscues by Florida in the wind, their defense was suffocating. UNC challenged Kurt many times and every time he would reel in the hammer. I thought a lot about how Beau used to play deep in zone and I think Kurt is far superior. When Beau would play zone he would rely on his legs to get to the right spot. This worked a lot because he is incredibly fast, but sometimes, it just isn't possible with a well placed hammer. The disc is just moving too fast and you can't catch up. Kurt on the other hand plays excellent head as well as body deep D. He loves putting up the hammer when a cup comes his way and therefore is very good at knowing when and where a handler wants to place a hammer when he is playing D. His positioning down field is excellent and he always knows exactly where to be to make a play. He is also very good at knowing his limits and would routinely just barely sky a guy for a disc after a full out sprint to the spot.

This game also had a fair amount of calls and I spent most of it hanging out with my UCSD buddies. I am really jealous of their crowd, the team is so much fun and they have so much potential. I know they beat a burned out Oregon and didn't exactly dominate in their pool, but they look good for the future. Their young talent has yet to gain the experience they need to handle the best in the country but they have several coaches and good youngsters. They also took out Tide pulling upwind on universe and have yet to play Arizona this year. They have as good a chance as any in the shit show that is the Southwest, and I will look forward to seeing how regionals goes.

Closing Thoughts
Skippy runs a great tournament. A line that I heard that really rang true was that at Centex, the B-Bracket is better than most A-brackets out there and I really think Cultimate is the future of college ultimate. Not to say that Nationals isn't up to par, but for teams that want to work out kinks and get the most out of a tournament, there is nothing like Centex. Reid was all over the place with his iPhone and he really knew what he was doing both in tournament organization and getting information from the field to the score reporter. I also got the chance to hang out with Rob some and his contribution to the sport really translates to him in real life. He is really a great guy as is his co-camera man and good friend, Dale. Skizip and the rest of the Texas crowd really made this trip for me again, just like Kaimana. I got my Lone Star jersey which I am wearing as I write this, and I can not thank them enough for taking care of me and showing me a good time.

I also want to thank Ryan Purcell, Martin Cochran, and Brodie Smith for taking the time to talk to me. I really love to talk shop and I have no agenda what so ever. All three were very friendly and made my life easier, thank you so much. Hopefully I can get some more interviews at Nationals. Also, thanks to all the people that came up to me just to tell me they read this stuff. It really means a lot to me and if you ever recognize me at a tournament, don't hesitate to introduce yourself. I love making new friends and I really want to hear input on how to make this sort of ultimate information delivery better.

Lastly, I am really tempted to get some callahan talk out there but I will save that for a future post. I have a ton of thoughts on the subject and hopefully I can get the voters some credible and objective material this year before they vote. Good luck to all teams out there in the series. Stay tuned.

match diesel

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And that they say....

is where the plot thickens.

For anyone out there that goes to major ultimate tournaments just to watch, like Nationals for example, go to Centex instead. This tournament has been so much fun to be at. Austin is a great city, the weather is unreal. These teams that are invincible in a 16 team Nationals tournament, are actually human believe it or not. I have always thought that 5 pool play games was a marathon but seeing it in real life makes the point so easy to make.

So friday night I get into Austin at around 5pm. I was really nervous because I have never been to to Centex, I have never been to Texas and I was going to be putting my life into the hands of people I don't know very well. In any event, the Lone Star boys did NOT disappoint and they took great care of me. I wish I had more to say but the 27 yager bombs I got stuck buying because I lost at credit card roulette kind of erased most of the night. I will say I got to sleep in Matty C's bed and he slept on someone else's couch, I rule.

First Round: Colorado (13) vs Arizona (9) and Carleton (12) vs Georgia (13)
I should first say that I got to the Arizona/Colorado game a little late. The score was 4-0 when I showed up and Colorado took it to 5-0.

Martin Cochran is definitely back. I asked him how he felt after playing a game where he covered Kershner a little bit and he told me that he "felt like this was the first tournament he had every played in". I figured having been out for a few months would hurt your conditioning but his experience is something that Colorado needs and now has.

I would love to say that the story of this game was Jolian and Mac Taylor dominating but the two Mamabird players that blew my mind were Chris Wicus and Kevin "Pebbles" Schipper. Neither one of them recorded major fantasy points, but my god did they do a good job of resetting the offense. Wicus played at Club Nationals with Bashing Pinatas and after seeing him at NE Regionals and now at Centex, he looks like he has gotten is serious shape. I suppose having to command such a historic offense is a major motivational force. His breaks, his composure, the ability to get the dump and continue the offense played a big role in the how/why's of Colorado's win. Pebbles was also a stud. He is so quick and his disc skills are awesome. Him teaming up with Wicus was great to watch because they are such different players, Wicus is 6'4" and Pebbles is 5'8" but their team work was really cool to see. Pebbles can get open on anyone and Wicus really uses his body size to generate breaks and they did a great job handling the grunt work why Jolian and Mac Taylor were hucking scores to one another.

As far as Arizona goes, I really think they live and die with high risk throws. They are addicted to their upside down throws and I really think that it becomes a liability. I mean, ok say you have a great hammer, even the best handlers don't put up 20-30 hammers because the throw is going to get dropped/D'd 20% of the time. If you are throwing one hammer after another you are going to turn it over. I don't want to say this but, I am beginning to think Arizona got lucky in Vegas. I mean that scoober?!? I don't care who you are, find me a Club Nationals player that puts up something like that. Hammers, scoobers, and break hucks in college are like 3-point shooting in college, streaky. Sometimes everything looks good, especially if the weather is good, but sometimes you get drops or adverse weather conditions. I don't mean to say that they are careless but I think when things are tough, a consistent and veteran team like Colorado will take advantage of those turnovers. The one thing that frustrated me was that Colorado's 0-line would give up the disc and Arizona would put up some backhand break huck with Jolian as a deep defender or an upfield scoober, or something that basically showed that valuing the disc was not a priority. In any event, I think high risk moves really hurt Arizona's chances of collecting the breaks they needed to beat Colorado. They definitely have superb talent though. Kershner was in but he was out shined in this game by his supporting cast. Erik Gafni is such a dominant offensive threat. His ability to get open, his throws and his vertical presence is unreal. Chris Shepard is a phenomenal handler and his defensive ability is really an asset. Henry Scharf is also a great handler and Arizona's second half was definitely better than their first.

Georgia vs Carleton was the first great game of the day. Georgia took half 7-6, which is when I started watching and the second half was really well played. Carleton hucks a lot more than I thought they would considering they are such a squirrely collection of Junior players. Lindsley is a stud, his deep cutting ability really opens up CUT's offense. Adam Fagin handles very well and has really matured as a disc player in the last year. Playing for Mischief has definitely improved his game. Christian Foster has really fit in nicely into CUT's offense and his disc skills and athleticism are phenomenal as well as common on Carleton. Despite giving him shit, I think his transfer to Carleton was a great move and I think he is really happy there.

Georgia actually played a much different game then I imagined. I think Dylan's departure is good for their team. With a such a phenomenal player, I would imagine that JoJah players would take pressure of themselves and put it on Dylan. The motivation to make THE play is not as strong as the security that Dylan would always be there to provide what the team needs. Today, it seemed that every Georgia player really wanted to get D's or scores or whatever, and it really helped the team succeed. Greg Swanson played great on both sides of the disc and his health is definitely something Georgia needs to protect. Will McDonough is a great cutter and defender and his experience really makes him a great on the field. His ability to let Swanson play his game by playing his own really helps get red and white in the endzone. Georgia was up late in the game but let Carleton come back. I think that these World's kids are great disc players but they are still young and composure is still a concern. I also think their abilities definitely compensate for their small size but I wonder if Carleton will be able to get back on top of the Central Region. It seems that Ultimate used to be the sport where the nerdy kid who played was good and the real jocks were preoccupied with better sports. However, now that more and more people are playing our sport, better athletes are saddling up and teams like Wisconsin really benefit from a 30,000 student population. With that in mind I wonder if Juniors talent is going to be enough.

Round 2: NC State (9) vs Michigan (13), Texas (13) vs UNC (12), and Wisconsin (12) vs Oregon (10)
Michigan is good and this is Centex. You can't fluke and win 5 pool play games. This tournament is the most brutal physical challenge I have ever seen in an ultimate sense and winning game after game is really amazing especially with the level of competition they are up against. When the game started Michigan only had 10 players but Will Neff and Ryan Purcell got it done. I really think that Ryan's commitment to ultimate paired up with Will Neff's talent/experience is really similar to Randy Moss and Tom Brady pairing up. Will is so experienced that his contribution goes so far beyond his 6'5" size. His throws, confidence, man/poach D, basically his whole game is such a deep asset which has really elevated Michigan's game to a level they have never been. In this game, Magnum's offense ran very smoothly, very club team-esk and in addition to Will and Ryan, Alex Fegert and Patrick Collins really had knew what they were doing. Fegert is great in the air and Collins is a razor sharp cutter.

As far as NC State goes, sorry Ultie Arnie, I caught you and your guys in a poor game. His handling ability is really spectacular though and I am glad I have had the chance to talk to him a little bit. I asked him what the ultimate scene in Australia (where he is from) is like relative to the US. The first thing he told me was that "the game is much more spirited because the community is much smaller and people all know and make everyone accountable for poor calls and what not". John Norris seems to run their offense and has confidence in the handler position. NC State really took wayy too many chances though, and put up a lot of hucks that sailed out of bounds. Thomas Ward is also a great cutter for NC State and I think he really facilitates things NC State's offense.

Considering that I had been partying with the Texas guys I thought I would watch some TUFF ultimate and I wanted to catch Stephen Presley in action. I wish I had seen the Pitt game (and man did Pitt play, I didn't need dinner because i ate some serious words tonight) but Texas looked good against UNC. They had some issues with UNC's zone but their handling ability was much better than I was expecting. The one critique I had of them was that Presley wasn't in the main handler position in their zone O. His break throws are unreal, he is soo fast, and his field presence is so polished and Sarasota-esk. This guy is definitely callahan worthy, but talent is only part of what it takes to win the award.

North Carolina definitely had a great day despite this loss, hell they made quarters and Texas did not. It is still unclear whether they are above or behind NC State but I think they need more consistency before they will earn that bid to natties. Their offense ran very well though. they didn't rely on bombs or hammers, just good cutting and throwing. Ryan Coffield is a great player and his offensive presence is as consistent as UNC will need to be to make Boulder. They had a lot to think about going into the showcase game with the possibility (which happened) of 3 teams going 4-1 only 2 of which make quarters. The TD's were really scratching their heads on this one, but they all settled on Pitt and North Carolina for reasons I don't fully understand but trust.

I caught very little of the Wisconsin vs Oregon game but I would have to say that Oregon has got to be hurting tonight. They, like Stanford, were probably thinking Quarters and ended up 0-5?!?! Yikes, that hurts. Despite going 0-5, their game against Wisconsin was so painful to watch. They were up 10-7 when I walked over and I guess myself and the rest of the crowd was bad luck. Eli Janin went down with a bad ankle sprain and Wisconsin made 2 suspect calls and both really turned the tables on Oregon. It's too bad that calls can result in such a large degree of frustration which can really affect one's play but it's part of the game. The first call was a deep shot Oregon took and a Wisconsin defender made (what I thought to be) a poor foul call down field. He backed into the receiver who caught the disc and called a foul. Regardless, after A LOT of discussion the disc went back and Oregon turned it. Later on the same point Muffin called a foul on a floaty dump throw from Shane. I am not sure if it was good or bad, but I hear it was close. In the end Oregon sunk themselves. Irrespective of calls, giving up 5 unanswered points is inexcusable. I would like to think this could have been an isolated incident but they let Cal come back from being down 10-4 so I think their consistency is priority #1 on Oregon's agenda. Stout did play very well in this game though. He is a big strong deep cutter, and I think Dusty's handling ability is really facilitated by Kevin's presence. My only critique of Dusty was that he really gave it back a lot. Wisconsin coughed it up twice on one point that I saw and Dusty sent it back the other way on a back hand huck out the back. They also didn't have anything left come their UCSD game and despite wanting to play a game to 7, the Squids were ready for round 5 and we FINALLY beat Oregon. Non-ideal I know, but it's a stepping stone.

As for Wisconsin, they definitely are in world of their own. They have their team mentality, their game plan and they all buy into it. Regardless of what people think about them, they really live and breath Hodag ultimate and it is THE reason they do so well. Apparently Mahowald was out but Will Lokke was spectacular as usual. Muffin and Rebholz keep the offense going, Shane is incredible in the air and basically everywhere on D, but Will is just all over the field. Epic D's, great cutting, great in the air and he seems so impervious to pressure. Very similar to Heijman, he seems to be the guy everyone on the team likes, responds to, and loves being on the line with. I think he has a chance at the Callahan if he gets the Hodag nomination.

Round 3: Freebirds, Santa Cruz (8) vs Illinois (13) and Michigan (13) vs Wisconsin (9)
I did the burrito thing....awesome.

Both Illinois and Santa Cruz had beaten Stanford so I camped out at their field for the game. Illinois looks really good. I spoke with one of their players and he told me that their depth was their strong suit but they have a tendency to play down to teams that they think they are better than. Joel Koehneman is a great handler that is very confident with the disc in his hands. However, he had a poor game against Minnesota in the following round and he put up three lazy flicks while I was watching and I think he will need much more focused to beat Michigan to get out of Great Lakes Region. Regardless, they played great small ball in the wind, which picked up into a more or less of an up-wind/down-wind game. They had the ability to break Santa Cruz with quick tosses and boring disc while hucks didn't got UCSC's way.

I also got to meet DLK who seems like a great guy. His commitment to Santa Cruz seems like it is one thing that really helps the Slugs believe that they are a nationals caliber team. His hucks were great down wind. Russell Wynne is also an unreal down field cutter and I saw him make two consecutive sky scores and was really impressed with his game. However, I am curious to know what Santa Cruz can do in wind. Their deep game seems to be an option they would prefer but they need to have more options if they want to win. Good for them the Northwest (like the Southwest) is such a shit show and no one is definitely in or out. I will say that they were definitely the best NW team at the tournament though. They beat Stanford and Georgia Tech well and while Cal was also 2-3, they barely beat UCSD and got lucky Oregon choked.

When I was watching this game I heard Michigan was up 11-8 on Wisconsin and I trucked it to their game. I wonder if the Wisconsin/Oregon game had anything to do with this loss, but like the NC State game, Michigan just looks confident. Their win against Wisconsin was not like Arizona's or UBC's close games AT ALL. In a 5 game day, beating the deepest team in the country soundly is not a fluke. I really think Will's presence is unreal for Magnum. He takes so much pressure off the rest of the team and really lets everyone just play their game. I talked with Ryan Purcell after the game and he was telling me that "the game had only 6 turnovers" which really says that despite a GREAT offensive showing by Wisconsin, they just got out played. You can't say you played poorly when you commit so few turn overs, and I think Michigan's offense is just ice cold. Very similar to Arizona, UBC, and Oregon, the teams that can get close to Wisconsin are those that really beat teams with crisp offense. Wisconsin can't break you if you don't give them the disc and Magnum's flow seems so finely tuned. I also asked Ryan how he felt about his team this year. Apparently they are having some administrative issues with field space and they have had a tough time getting good weather and competition at tournaments. They didn't go to Vegas so they missed out on getting on some folks' radar which goes to show you that you really can't break into elite discussion unless you show up to one of Skippy's fine tournaments. Bottom line, I thought that Michigan was the real deal last month, and I really hope they can keep it up and play to their potential at regionals/nationals. Again, with a player like Neff this is really going to be fun to watch because this is all pressure Will can laugh at considering his days looking up at DoG while he was on Twisted Metal and his composure will keep Magnum in the spot light.

Round 4: Minnesota (13) vs Illinois (12) and Wisconsin (13) vs UCSD (8)
I am glad I got to see the Illinois/Minnesota game but I think the game got better after I left. At half I went to go support my undergrad buddies but from what I saw, Jeff Anderson and Jerod Johnson really kick ass for this team. Their man D is really good and they managed to grind out a win against Illinois. The game was close the entire time and they were fighting for their right to make quarters. Having never played at a level like this, one would they think they mihght crumble but they stuck it out. They also got a great win over Stanford (ahh, what the fuck happened to Bloodthirsty?) and despite losing to Georgia Tech, they are in the championship bracket tomorrow.

In this Illinois game I think they were a little over confident. Justin Manuel played phenomenal defense and had great in cut as well as deep cut offensive presence. Their offense was clean at times, but like I said, sometimes they don't play their best game.

Wisconsin vs UCSD was as expected. The Hodgas were well in control for the entire game but Eric "Biel" Abhold on UCSD has an Adam "Wormser" Bunn feel to his cuts. He is extremely fast, he can change direction on a dime and is just one of those little guys that cuts deep well. Sophmore Josh Nickerson also had a great sky and I think great plays against a team like Wisconsin is experience in the making that will help this team succeed in the future. Maclyn "Boont" Eick and Mark "Dibs" Johnston run a great team and it makes me wish I was a squid now rather than '03-'05. The team dynamic seems is so close and everyone is so happy. I think they are going to have to suck it up and go to things like the Stanford Qualified next year but the momentum from that 2005 Georgia 15-6 upset in Corvalis that got us into Semis is really running out and it is time for these guys to write their own history.

Round 5: Florida (13) vs Stanford (8)
Florida really is a great team. They are so confident and tall. They are the new Colorado. Despite the fact that they don't have many friends outside their team, they really are fantastic to watch. Their zone completely shut Stanford down. With guys like Brodie in the cup, it literally is a wall and floaty hammers were eaten up by Gibson like ham on Easter Sunday. Florida is also really good at hanging out at that threshold where a double team is or is not. That definitely put unwanted pressure on Stanford and it showed.

I also wanted to say that Kurt is a phenomenal player, there is no denying it. I think in a vacuum, he is the best player in the country and deserves the callahan. His ability to get D's at will, his throws, his jumping ability, unreal. He has comparable athletic ability to Beau but his fundamentals are so sharp and his club experience is spectacular. However, he does yell a lot and seems like a hot head. I think Tim Gehret's presence really kept Kurt in check, maybe even subconsciously, back in 2006 and that is why I think they were untouchable. I hope that he can keep a level head for his team mates sake but who knows? I also wanted to say that I really like Brodie, he had a great heckle in the Wisconsin/Oregon game. A Wisconsin guy made a call and Brodie yelled from the sideline "Thats a Brodie call!!". He, like Gibson, is an absolute hawk in the air.

I only watched 1 Stanford game so I only know so much. I heard from an Illinois guy that they went 6-1 on Stanford in the second half to win 13-7 and by the time the 1 vs 2 round came along, Stanford was already 0-4. They are really young. I wasn't at Stanford Invite but they just don't have depth anymore. Ezra, Schalg, and Sherwood played great games. Sherwood got a sky score on Gibson as did Ezra over Brodie. Scardato even got a great sky D on Brodie and he is 9 inches shorter. However, outside those few, Stanford really doesn't have a consistent play maker outside Sherwood. Ezra is a great deep threat, but he is beatable and his defense on Kurt and/or Brodie is ehh. He just can't elevate to that level on defense. Scardato will be a great player, I hope he sticks with disc, but he is so little. With his skill set, he is right on the cusp of being a great deep threat. Not just a deep threat but a great deep threat. However, with that title, comes unwanted attention. He is a good threat but if their offense relies on him and Ezra, they are each beatable with unfavorable matchups. Maybe they get some sweet skies but defensively, they are going to struggle. Stanford's performance also showed me how valuable Nan Gao and Will Chen were last year. As the two best defensive handlers in the country Stanford, could not only generate D's but once they did, Cahill and Sherwood had not pressure on them to reset the disc. Gao and Chen moved the offense and all they had to do was run. Now Sherwood is handling a lot and while his patented "no fake quick backhand break" gets resets fairly well, it looks like he is stuck playing a role he would rather not and isn't the best at. Stanford's handlers have a ton of pressure on them to get this offense on track and their streakiness just goes to show you how inexperienced this team is. I think Schlag can get it done but I wonder if all the pieces will be in place by May.

I missed a lot of the show case game because I was getting ripped with some undergrad buddies, sorry. I got to tell all my stories over again though, which I never get tired of.

Closing Thoughts
I really hate to say this but I Carleton is in trouble. If you look at their scores they beat teams that they easily have better fundamentals and experience than, (Harvard and Kansas) but their losses are to teams that have their experience and are just bigger. I mean no one on Carleton can challenge players like Erik Gafni (Arizona) or Jolian Dahl (Colorado). I think Georgia has some work to do to get their game a little cleaner but I think a 13-12 loss will just be a 15-12 one at Nationals. It seems like they should succeed but the teams that are at the top always seems to sqweak past them. Georgia in Columbus last year, Georgia today, Stanford in Columbus last year, Colorado today.

The bird is back. Martin told me that they were "just making fundamental mistakes" this year so far and I think they are beginning to realize that that 2004 national championship is just a paper weight to most of the players on the team. They need to do it year in and year out. Riding momentum is nice but it does run out. You guys are good, but I didn't see you play at all. I think the Colorado draw is a nice quarters match up because it will give a team looking for exposure a chance to play a team that is trying to hold onto it. I'll do what I can to catch you play tomorrow but I really want to see what Michigan can do and the Florida/Wisconsin game will be amazing.

I have said this a bunch but Centex is such a gruelling tourney. At nationals everyone is rested and fresh for their 3 games but Centex just sucks the life out of everyone, even the best teams. I saw a lot of hucks go over thrown in the later rounds which made it obvious to me that the legs were a lot more tired than the arms. I am not sure what is a better showing of the best in ultimate, but for outside the series, there is nothing like Centex. Its a tournament where flukes are just non-existent. Vegas has a lot of different teams so some games aren't as hard as others and its also early in the year so cold weather teams are at a disadvantage. But Centex, no way. This is to-the-limit ultimate.

match diesel

PS I didn't get this up until 3am so don't bother with correcting stupid mistakes if I made them. I didn't really get a chance to revise much.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Centex Preview: A Spectator's Guide

This weekend is the God Father 2 of ultimate tournaments, Centex. There was talk of power pools and what not but I am glad to see that the TD's have gone back to the original 4 pools of 6 format that we have all come to love and hate. There are a lot of ways I could potentially put together a preview and I thought I would go with what games I am actually going to watch and why.

Round 1: Arizona vs Colorado and Carleton vs Georgia
Hands down the most exciting game in the first round is Arizona vs Colorado. First off, it could be the Southwest Regional Finals and this year it could be Colorado that gets to veg out in late May. For Arizona, this is their chance to again show that they are the real deal this year. One would think Stanford would have been that chance for Sunburn but without Kershner, a lot of folks have jumped to explain their quarters loss to Texas. With Joey back, Arizona could be better than ever.

In addition Colorado could have Martin Cochran back. Martin has been a dominant defensive threat for Colorado for many years and his consistency and experience is something that Mamabird has been without all season due to a broken foot. However, his contribution will be along the same lines as Jolian's and Mac Taylor's, a great deep threat both on the offensive and defensive side of the disc. This is not where Colorado is weak. Colorado needs handlers and with Martin in the mix, it will be another option for Jolian to go to, but I think he would rather BE the option instead of throwing to one. I would like to think that as a 5th year Martin could play somewhat of a handler role, but I think Colorado's best option is to have a mixture of handler/cutter roles for their 3 main deep threats (Jolian, Mac, and Martin). More or a less a three man set where one is cutting, one is handling and one is streaking to the endzone. Lastly, I am not convinced Colorado is out of the picture. They have been so dominant for so long and their Saturday record at Centex is an unheard of 18-1, with the one loss almost being on purpose because Catt benched a few tartee starters. I think Martin will be a big addition, and considering that it's the first round, Colorado will be fresh. I don't know if they can last all 5 rounds but round 1 will be exciting.

I want to catch the first half of this game because it could very well be one sided. After 12-15 points, this game could be already decided. Regardless, I want to jump to another game, CUT vs JoJah.

This game is a rematch of Nationals where 5th seeded CUT was upset by a 9th seeded Georgia. Georgia has been good this year but they have only played in one NCUS tournament, Florida Warm Up and they made the Finals. They could have had their chance to prove their worth at Terminus but Mother Nature had other plans. A semis exit at QCTU and a split squad loss in the finals to Michigan at Mudbowl leaves me with more questions than answers.

CUT still has a lot to prove. They had a great weekend in Vegas but their Stanford results were poor. They edged out Stanford which I expected, but their roster was whittled down to 12 by Sunday afternoon. With Lindsley and the other Junior tryouts back they will have added depth, which they desperately need, but I wonder if it will be enough to last the marathon that is Saturday at Centex. I am also extremely curious to know what will happen between the big Southern Boys and the quick Junior World's talent.

Round 2: NC State vs Michigan, Santa Cruz vs Georgia Tech, and Texas vs UNC
Ambitious I know, but I want to see as many teams as possible and round 2 is a busy round.

First NC State and Michigan. I am interested in this game for a variety of reasons. NC State is still undefeated. They won A game at Terminus under suspect circumstances and while I am willing to believe that they can be a top 5 team, I am not yet convinced. Plus, I have never really seen NC State play and I want to see Ulty Arnie suit up for his actual team as opposed to Voltron.

I am also interested in Michigan. I have watched Ryan Purcell run himself ragged for Michigan for several years and I am really curious to know what sort of impact Will Neff is having on Magnum. Will has been noted for shutting down phenomenal players like Beau Kittredge, and I am curious to know what he can do on D and what Michigan has him doing on offense.

This will probably be a scramble like round 1. Catch the first half of this game and spend the second half of the round trying to catch 2 more games.

Santa Cruz vs Georgia Tech is a game I am interested in for a few reasons. For starters, it is one of the better 5/6 games because both Santa Cruz and Georgia Tech have similar standings in their respective regions, around 5th as I figure it. Santa Cruz is looking up at Stanford, UBC, Cal and maybe Oregon, while Georgia Tech is looking up at Florida, Georgia, NC State and UNC. A contest between these two teams will show people like myself, what they are capable of and this will be a game that could go down to the wire, always fun for us fans. Plus I have not seen much of either team over the years. The last time I saw anything of Georgia Tech was back in 2006 when they almost beat Florida in Vegas and considering that they were spectacular athletes then, I am curious to know how their program is coming along.

As far as Santa Cruz goes, the last time I saw them was back in 2004 when we played them at the Stanford Qualifier. They have developed a lot and are getting back to their mid-90's days. Plus, I really want to meet DLK. We seem to agree on a variety of ultimate topics and I am curious to know what he is like in real life.

Lastly, Texas vs UNC. I am really curious about Texas. So far they have no blemishes on their season and have had strong performances at Pres Day and Stanford. Stephen Presley is also a player I would like to watch. I took a close look at some UVTV footage and was really impressed with his break throws and his give and go style behind the disc. He is in the callahan discussion but as a handler he has a long road to march down. This will be his round to stun me on Saturday.

Darkside is also a team that I have liked for a number of years, ever since their run at Stanford Invite back in 2004. Zack Washburn was a great UNC player and I am curious to know what they can do now. I also think that UNC and Texas will play similar athletic grip and rip ultimate and that should prove to be exciting to watch. In looking at the rest of the pool, I think the UCSB game could also be interesting because they were the only team that beat Texas at Pres Day. In addition, the UBC re-match will be spectacular but I have other plans for the 1 vs 2 round.

Round 3: Oregon vs Cal and Lunch
I wish the Texas/UNC game was in this round but it isn't and considering I am hypoglycemic it is probably good that there is only one game I am drawn to.

The UGMO vs EGO game will be epic. It could the 2/3 game at Regionals and despite the fact that some folks don't like going all the way to Texas to play a regional rival, this game will be good for both teams. I am curious to see Cal's offense in real life. I have talked about it some, but I still have yet to witness it. Seeing Dusty Becker in action will also be a treat. I have read a lot about the trio of Becker, Janin and Stout but the only game I saw of theirs at Nationals last year was against Wisconsin which was obviously not much fun for the boys in green. In any event, hopefully the first half of this game is exciting because I want the second half to be spent at Chipotle. Matty?

Round 4: Illinois vs Minnesota and UBC vs UCSB
The Illinois vs Minnesota game will be awesome for a variety of reasons. Illinois is quietly setting themselves up to take the Great Lakes region this year and I think they are the biggest challenge for Michigan. I don't know much about them but after watching Michigan I am going to want to size up Magnum's competition.

As for Minnesota, they have a rough spot. They are in the one region that has #1 and #2 pretty much locked up. I think they would prefer to be in the Great Lakes, at least that way they'd have a chance at Nationals this year. In any event, I think Illinois poses the closest match-up for them in this pool and will be a great game. I think Santa Cruz would also be a good match-up but the two teams will probably never see each other again and I am sure there is at least some history between these two upper mid-west teams.

The UBC vs UCSB game will be awesome because it will be a re-match of Stanford Invite. A lot of folks don't like Pool D because there is a lot of rematches and regional rivals in it, but I like it for parity. Tide is definitely better than they have been playing and UBC is riding momentum they have not seen since 2005. Tide also got the better of the Thunderbirds in Palo Alto and I am curious to know if a 1-3 Tide team is actually better than a 3-1 UBC team. In any event, I will get the chance to do some scouting and hopefully it's a good game.

Round 5: Stanford vs Florida
As if there was going to be any doubt. This game is probably the best game of the day and the only thing that can screw it up are injuries, so guys be careful. This game is a re-match of semis back in 2006 when Gehret tore Bloodthirsty a new one, 15-7. I don't think they have played since, but this game will be exciting for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, each team is in a similar performance spot. Florida had a great Warm Up and actually a great Vegas trip (8-1 with a DGP loss to a finals team), they just got unlucky. They then went on to make the Finals at Club Terminus and are now ready to show why they are better than a 7th seed. Likewise, Stanford had a forgettable Santa Barbara Invite, but got their shit together at Kaimana and were ready to ball come their home tournament. I think they are deserving of their 1 seed status, but I think they got an unlucky draw with Florida. I think Florida is the #2/3 team in the country, behind Wisconsin and February-Carleton. This 1/2 game could/should be a semis or at least quarters caliber game but because of the weirdness of 2008, we get to see them in pool play. I am really excited to see what Stanford's fundamentals will do against Florida's explosive offense. However, specific match-ups are uninteresting because few players on each team play the same kind of game. I think the handler match-ups will be the best (ie Schlag and Van Auken), but Sherwood vs Gibson or Ezra vs Brodie will definitely favor the Gators. Despite this, I think Stanford has a chance with their 3-7 against a relatively shallow Florida team. In any event, NO ONE GET HURT!!!

If possible, it would be nice to catch either Carleton vs Arizona or Texas vs UBC but I will have already seen all 4 teams by this round.

I have left out 6 teams. Sorry guys, no offense, but I think watching 18 different teams isn't bad. Plus I will get enough Wisconsin on Sunday anyway.

Quarters Predictions
Pool A: Wisconsin and yikes. This is a tough pool. For me, Oregon and NC State are real question marks. I like that we will FINALLY get to see what NC State is made of outside their region. Oregon has some tough games and I wonder if their depth will get them the 3/4 wins they will need to move on. I think Wisconsin goes 5-0 but you could see a lot of 3-2's in this pool. Based on differential it could be Ego, the Wolfpack, or, my hopeful, Magnum.

Pool B: Stanford and Florida. I think these two teams are definitely in a class above the rest in this pool. Florida sunk themselves by dodging Stanford Invite and deserve to be a 2 seed but they are better than it and could go 5-0. I dunno how Gibson and his buddies last 5 pool play games at Centex, but they do. Stanford is also ready and waiting. Florida is their one threat in this pool and I think their experience and "program" status gets them past out of region competition. The Santa Cruz game will be interesting but I think Bloodthirsty has more depth and considering they made Finals last year at Centex and Stanford Invite two weeks ago, they look good to make it out of the pool.

Pool C: UBC and Texas. This pool is the biggest question mark for the tournament. Texas has looked good but I am still not convinced. UBC, Tide, and UNC all could make runs at the 1 or 2 spot out of this pool and I think this will be a battle royal. I think UBC and Texas both go 4-1 with the Thunderbirds winning the 1 vs 2 game but I see them getting caught sleeping earlier in the day.

Pool D: Arizona/Carleton and Georia. I think between Arizona and Carleton, one is not going to hold seed. They each have played great but there is a ton of pressure on both to duplicate past results and make up for poor ones. I think one of them does well on Saturday but just one. I want to see Arizona go 5-0/4-1, but they could slip and end up going 3-2 or worse. More of the same with Carleton. They might come out hot early but injuries and their depth could be an issue come Rounds 4 and 5. I think Georgia has what it takes to beat one of these teams. Their biggest strength is depth and I think that helps them on Saturday. However, I am not sure they have ever made Quarters at Centex so I could be full of it. Regardless, this will be a tough pool to get out of and like Pool C, I don't see any team going 5-0.

Closing Thoughts
It goes without saying that I am extremely amped for this tournament. My one fear for the competitive field is injuries. I remember back in 2006 when UBC was looking good but Oscar got rocked in the first round and UBC sucked for the remainder of the tourney. I really hope we get 100% from every team but I get the feeling someone, somewhere is going to slip. Maybe it won't be an injury, maybe it will be something like the Mamabird benching situation where some late comers sat and watched Kansas beat Colorado. Regardless, I would like every team to be as good in real life as they are on paper and I hope that Saturday is the best day of college ultimate I have ever seen.

I will also try and pick up a good story or two during pool play and get another entry up Saturday night. We'll see. I would also like to do some interviews if some teams out there would be willing. I'll be the red head in the blue Voltron hat, HA! I rule.

just my thoughts

match diesel

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ending the Streak

So I am getting a little ancy because I haven't posted in a little while and my last post is more or less useless, thanks mother nature. In addition, I know I am going to be on posting overdrive in two days or so with Centex and all, but I am bored now.

After being a T-Wolves (Kevin Garnett) and Kentucky (Rajon Rondo) fan for a number of years (and moving to this god forsaken part of the country), I have become a Celtics fan and as such I watched them destroy the Rockets last night. Over the last few months I have come to realize that basketball and ultimate are very similar and in looking at one, you can make inferences on the other. When considering these things I thought I would share some thoughts.

Houston's/Ugmo's streak and it's end
First I thought I would talk about Houston's flare up and draw some parallels to ultimate. First off, they won 22 games in a row beginning back on January 29th and went from being 10th in the western conference to being 1st. They also have done this in large part without their center Yao Ming who broke his foot ending his season. In any event, Rafer Alston, Bobby Jackson, and Shane Battier have picked up the slack and their team as a whole has done well for the last month and a half. However, last night, they got torched by 20 points. Boston's defense was very effective in putting pressure on T-Mac to pass the ball instead of shoot and Alston was ice cold going 2-7 from 3pt landing, as opposed to 8-11 against the Lakers 2 days ago. In any event this streak had me thinking of 2 things 1) Cal's run back in 2004 and 2) Wisconsin's run this year.

Back in 2004, Cal was unstoppable. I could go into the whole Bart Watson acquisition, their run through Centex and the Series but you can just read my Cal write up if you want to know. The biggest event in that season however, was their finals performance where they got rocked 15-7 by Colorado. I took a look back at the Day 3 write up from nationals that year and it seems that the portion of the game where Colorado took advantage was the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. Colorado was up 6-5 and took advantage of Cal's over anxious deep attempts to take half 8-5. They then came out using Richter, Parker, and Beau to open the game up to 10-5. That was more or less all they needed. They traded points to 12-7, but Cal collapsed in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and lost 15-7.

Boston did more or less the same thing last night. At the end of the first quarter Rafer Alston stole the ball from Cassell to take a 1 point lead at the end of the first. However, at the end of the second half, Alston got caught putting up a lazy pass and Boston scored 5 in a row to tie it at 40-40 going into the break. With the momentum shift, Boston put pressure on T-Mac and allowed Rondo to find his rhythm in running the offense in the third quarter. It was here that they outscored Houston 32-16, taking control of the game, and in the 4th they didn't need much, just sit back on D, and they cruised to a 20 point victory.

Wisconsin's first loss?
So where am I going with this? I suppose with all my writing and research one goal of mine is to find a way to beat Wisconsin. Nothing against them, they are spectacular but I don't want to see them make another murderous rampage through the competition at Nationals. If I were on a great team (which I never really have been) such as UBC, Carleton, Arizona, Florida (teams that have gotten close or beaten the Hodags) or a team TBD, this is what I would be thinking going into a game against Wisconsin:

1) Play your offense. Teams with great synergy and offense have done the best against Wisconsin. Colorado likes to play to their superstars and thats why I think they got rocked in the finals last year. They were predictable and just went Jolian to Beau a lot. Stanford was a patient team but they tried to rely on their handling resets to setup isolations (Sherwood and Cahill) which caught up with them. In order to succeed against Wisconsin, you need to have a good offense top to bottom. Going in, no one can be a clear front runner to record scores. With defenders like Lokke, Hohenstein and Mahowald, trying to go for your 1st or 2nd option consistently is going to get you in trouble. However, if you run your offense, whether it be a spread or Ho-stack or whatever, and get the disc to whomever is next in line/open, you can move the disc effectively and score. Trying to get an isolation with your main deep threat isn't going to work, going for a consistent bail out isn't going to work. Wisconsin is going to see it coming and take advantage of predictability. However, without a clear offensive threat, the Hodag defense is going to have to rely on their top to bottom defense and that is where the offense has the advantage. Covering everyone for 10 seconds is impossible, and if good decisions are made to open cutters as opposed to familiar faces, a team can score.

2) Remain composed. Ultimate is a game that relies on runs. It seems like teams are the most vulnerable to Wisconsin at the end of the first half. This is when a game is at 4s or 5s. It is when your offense has successfully relied on their primary or secondary option and the Hodags are trying to adjust. It is also when they are going to play their smartest. If they can shut you down and get a break or two going into half, lights out. If they take half 8-6 or 8-5, their second half intensity will do the rest. Teams have to remain patient but vigilant. Get the disc to open receivers but take opportunities when they come. Cutters cannot be timid or passive. Run your cuts the way you would against anyone else and let the handlers make the choices. If you run good cuts over and over, you will get open. Wisconsin may have legs for days, but the offense still has the advantage of knowing where the disc is going. Making good decision can make up for a drop off in athletic ability, and if decisions are good, and handlers are composed, scores will happen. Going into half close is vital as is keeping Wisconsin from being fired up.

3) Take advantage of Muffin's impatience, in fact take advantage of impatience in general. Wisconsin is an intense team and it shows on their defense, and offense. Muffin has a clear propensity to jack it, especially on the D-line. It's a relatively low risk situation. Wisconsin generates a turn, and Muffin picks it up as D-line handler and goes for the throat. However, a lot of these hucks do not connect. This is a teams' chance to NOT get broken. Take the CUT/Observer situation. On that point where the CUT guy threw it right into an observer for a turnover, Muffin threw a break throw away to Mahowald after the CUT turnover giving the disc back to Carleton. He also had a rushed goal line turnover previously on the same point. In these situations however, CUT made the same mistake and gave it back.

On the offensive side, it seems like Wisconsin's only weakness is themselves. Two huge turnovers that helped Arizona go from 8-5 to 11-10 in the Vegas finals were a poor backhand huck from Lokke to Gaynor and a rushed pass to Shane off a dead disc. Arizona was patient, played their offense, took opportunities that presented themselves and worked it in for the break. In addition Wisconsin put up a lazy pass that resulted in out of bounds turnover and they also had a poor dump throw turnover. In these cases however, Arizona went for hammers to un-open receivers which kept them from getting that last crucial break.

Long story short, when Wisconsin coughs it up, take a deep breath and play YOUR offense, not theirs. Easy in-cuts, breaks, scoobers, whatever your team does best. Retaliatory hucks just play into their hands as do rushed hammers. This game is about role players. Handlers handle and cutters cut. Catch the disc and don't do anything stupid.

4) Take away a single option. It seems easy to think that defense in ultimate is like defense in football. Try and get the layout D, much like an interception, and get a break and win. However, the trouble comes with transferring that D to a win. Defense in ultimate is not about a single play like an interception. A lot of layout D's result in turnovers by the D-line and for every layout D your team gets, your opponent is probably going to get one. The trick is pressure. Defense in ultimate is like defense in basketball. You are never going to shut out a team, but if you can get them to score 80 points instead of 95, you can win. All you need to do is put pressure on them to fail 1 in 3 or something like that. In ultimate you can do this by taking away 1 option. Trying to shut down Wisconsin or any teams entire offense is going to be pretty hard. However, look for 1 thing that they like (and you should spend the first half looking for it) and use their propensity to go for that option as a weakness. Maybe it's Foster's break side flick huck, maybe it's their cavalier dump throws, maybe it's breakside to openside cuts. Whatever it is, be mindful of what their offense is doing and attack 1 option.

Closing Thoughts
Nothing exciting, just some thoughts. I have nothing against Wisconsin, I am just trying to figure them out. Then again, having never played them, I could be full of shit and probably am.

As far as this week/end goes, I will put up a Centex preview post either tomorrow or Friday depending on when I find out what pools look like. Hopefully I can get another post up Saturday night after watching pool/power play competition and then I'll have a recap next week, maybe Monday. Stay tuned.

just my thoughts

match diesel

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Terminus Thoughts

So I know it isn't under the Cultimate umbrella, but Terminus this weekend is going to be an exciting tournament with a lot of good teams in attendance.

Tournament Teams and Format
This tournament has definitely fluctuated in team numbers as well as programs in attendance. This tournament used to be a stomping ground for the Hodags who won it last year against Pitt and the year before over Georgia. Now that Cultimate has further legitimized Stanford Invite, it looks like the 'dags are going to head West instead of South East, but no matter, the tournament field this year is still good.

What is really good about this tournament this year is that questions concerning a variety of teams will be answered. A few teams that have really had explosive Winters have been NC State (Won Queen City), Illinois (Colorado and Oregon), and Tufts (8-1 at TiV, only losing to Arizona on DGP). This weekend we will get to see if these results were flare ups or just the beginning.

The one thing that is the weirdest about Terminus this year is the format. I think the separation of the top 10 from the bottom 16 is interesting. I like how the TD wants to give the top 10 teams good games on Saturday and give the bottom 16 teams games they can win on the first day of competition. I will say that this format is risky however. For the most part, these teams are not from the same region so seeding them relative to one another is hard. When you prevent teams from bracket play early (ie no pool play) you really have to be confident in your rankings. Seeing that few of these teams have played eachother makes this tough. Tufts fell victim to this at Vegas. They went 8-1 and only lost to Arizona 11-12. Because of their seeding, this loss relegated them to 17th place preventing them from bracket play.

However, while the formats are similar, I think the TD planned this well. 6 teams get to make it out of the bottom bracket and if you don't earn a spot, odds are your probably don't deserve to be in bracket play. The one thing I will say is that I am afraid that one team from the top bracket will go 0-4 on Saturday pitting them against another top seed team. If/when they lose this game, they are out. Now is this fair? When you have separate brackets in tournaments like this, at some point you have a bottom bracket team play a top bracket team to see who gets to make Sunday. This is more or less a pre-quarters play in and it is a smart way to dodge the seeding bullet. If you got robbed by your seed and you win you'll get a chance against the better teams and if all the stars align, you will be vindicated. Opposite case for the top teams. If you get a lucky bid, you have to beat somebody to make bracket play. I make this point but with 6 teams moving up, I don't think it will be a problem. In a tournament of 26, this format is refreshing and fair. With 80 teams, some one is gonna get screwed.

Pool A - NC State, Illinois, Dartmouth, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin-WW
NC State 4-0: Both top pools are very exciting. Right now the UPA is a big fan of NC State and have them at #3 in their rankings. This is a really tough position to be in as is trying to defend an undefeated record. The only way NC State can come out on top is for them to sweep the tournament which is more or less what comes with a 1 seed. I see them potentially winning the tournament but going undefeated is going to be hard because they have a lot of different kinds of competition on Saturday. First round is against WWW who is more or less the LPC of the Midwest. They aren't the biggest high fliers but they have team chemistry and dedication (they won Div 3 natties last year). I see the Wolfpack winning but then they play Dartmouth which I think will be their first tough game. Pain Train is a scrappy team with smart handlers and great offensive flow. Sam Haynor is a great all around player and epitomizes Dartmouth's unique spirit. Drew Raines is another great player who is amazing in the air despite his smaller frame. Socks is also a great handler/defender and his offensive leadership is only eclipsed by his absolutely AMAZING blue eyes. I see NC State being faster top to bottom however and will able to play offense at a speed Dartmouth can't defend. They will generate scores however and keep NC State honest. The Georgia Tech game will probably be their 2nd most important contest behind the 1-2 game because it is against a regional rival. Recently GT has been closer (not by much) to making nationals than NC State and wins against teams like them are necessary if NC State wants to return to the show. If they can assert their dominance by remaining composed, I see them looking good for the series. The 1-2 game will be one of the better games of the Winter. Illinois had a great time in Vegas and I think a lot of people are curious to know what they can do a month later. The GL is wide open this year and if Illinois is for real, we'll see that in Atlanta. I think NC State is good but the 8-0 record was at QCTU, not exactly the most premier tournament, but I shouldn't say it isn't worth a lot. Illinois, however, did well at a premier tournament but it's not like they made semis. With that being said, it will be nice to know how these two fish from different ponds line up on one another. I think NC State is ready however and will earn the W.

Illinois 3-1/2-2: Illinois is a good team and they took advantage of some good teams while they were sleeping in Vegas. However, what really hurts them is that the teams they beat to make some noise, Colorado and Oregon, have not bounced back. If either team had done well in Palo Alto, maybe Illinois would look better, but now their best game looks like the 11-13 loss to Florida which came after Florida was eliminated. With that being said I think they are good but not as good as we thought a month ago. First game is against Georgia Tech and I like this match up. Georgia Tech is a fast AC team that is conditioned. I think Illinois is more experienced so it will make for an interesting game. I hope for Illinois' sake that they do well because to struggle this early will put their National's hopes in doubt. Next game is WWW and I think Illinois has the advantage. I am willing to bet that the two teams play similar games, Illinois is probably just better at it. Round 3 is against Dartmouth and this is the make or break game. Dartmouth has a similar 2-3ish stance in the NE that Illinois has had in the GL. They will play 2 different kinds of games but both have similar senses of entitlement and ability. They both lost close to Tide but Illinois beat Colorado. I see Illinois winning but this game either makes them 3-1 or 2-2 come days end.

Dartmouth 2-2/3-1: Their second game against Georgia Tech will be interesting and important. They will probably be coming off a loss to NC State and they will have to re-group. Nothing to really change but seeing a strong AC team will help them against another one. I think their mistakes in the NC State game will highlight chances they took and didn't take. This will be useful against a Georgia Tech team that will be close to as fast but not as well oiled. They will be able to take some deep shots and rely on young mistakes to avoid getting broken. I see their offense clicking well, they just need to avoid throwing to receivers that aren't open. Next game will be against Illinois which will be good, I just think they could use a bye before. This will be their chance to break seed and hopefully they have the legs to do it. Last round will be WWW and whatever kind of day WWW is having, Dartmouth will be ready. If WWW is suddenly turning heads Dartmouth will be ready and lucky it's the last game. If they are 0-3, Dartmouth will still be ready.

Georgia Tech 1-3: I want to see GT make a name for themselves out of the AC because they are an athletic team. They also come from the same section as Florida, Georgia, and UCF so they see a lot of competition. They did well at Warm Up and this will be their 5th tournament of the year so whatever game plan they have should be sorted out by now. I think they can edge past WWW but I would love to see them earn a win else where in pool play. Maybe Illinois if they are not as good as discussed, maybe Dartmouth if their lack of outdoor practice still presents a problem. Good luck.

Wisconsin Whitewater 0-4: I have them as 0-4 but they could do better. They will see 4 opponents from 3 different regions but I think, as opposed to Dartmouth and Georgia Tech, they will be ready for unfamiliar opponents. Their hopes will have to rely on their offense. Hopefully they can score on a team who will play great D and good offense once a turn is generated. I really want to see how they do because at some points during the year they have threatened to break into the NUMP and I want to know definitively whether or not they belong there.

Pool B - Georgia, Minnesota, Tufts, Davidson, and Williams
Georgia 4-0: I am a big Georgia fan and I think they do well this weekend. Their O and D teams both made semis at Mudbowl and I think each team will have things worked out well. First game will be against Williams and I am betting Georgia is a little concerned about Williams as a bottom seed. They met at nationals and now they are first up in pool play? The biggest problem is not that Georgia is/isn't ready, it's that no one knows what Williams will have. They beat Stanford at a soggy SB Invite, but for an encore? They could be top shelf, they could be average, we will know bright and early. I think Jojah handles them either way. They are large (in #s and size) and their depth will edge past WUFO. Next game is Tufts and this will be the toughest game of the day. Tufts is a great team thus far and has 1 loss to America's Cinderella team. Their cagey offensive threat will be 180 degrees from Jojah's brute force and it will be nice to see who wins. If Tufts were a deeper team I might give them the nod but I don't think their crafty ways can go against a sea of red and white. After a bye they play Davidson who I know nothing about. Davidson lost to UBC and Wisconsin at TiV (big surpirse) but they beat Dartmouth and regional rival Central Florida. I think Georgia's size will give them all the fire power they need however. Last game is against Minnesota and I am a little curious as to why they got the 4th seed. They did well at Mardi Gras but I think Tufts should have gotten the 2 seed in this pool. They haven't played in a tourney in over a month and I wonder if their winter legs will be ready for Georgia's endurance. Hopefully they have conditioned. I like Jojah's odds.

Minnesota 2-2: Minnesota is a good team but they aren't tested enough. They have insurmountable regional competition, so their out of region games are huge. They went 6-2 at Mardi Gras making the finals but their only win to a team at their level is Georgia Tech. I would not be surprised if they owned but I would also not be shocked if they didn't. Having Davidson as a 4th seed doesn't help me much because I don't know how this first game is going to go. Second game will be against Williams and if Minnesota is deserving they will handle WUFO. WUFO has a tendency to bring it at odd times. They didn't look that great last year until regionals so they might not be ready for Terminus. They then play Tufts and this will be another great game. If you look at their schedule Tufts beat Central Florida 11-10 and Minnesota beat Georgia Tech 11-10. Two AC teams at similar levels, I think UCF is better, and this makes this game a close one. I like the E-men. Last game will be Georgia and if Minnesota losses to Tufts, Georgia will eat them alive. If they are undefeated, the game will be close at first but I think Georgia takes them out 15-10ish.

Tufts 3-1: I am really excited to see what happens with these guys. They are a new contender in the NE (well new since 2004) and Andrew Hollingworth is a great captain who has been coached by the best. Tufts will be ready to role and their TiV results show that they can play well far from home. I wish they weren't playing Georgia first because I think they could probably use some sort of warm up before the dogs are let out. I think they put up a good second half game but still go down. I think they will handle Davidson alright because their offense will be finely tuned because Tufts is a good program with a good coach. Next they play Minnesota and, like I said, I think they win. Last game is Williams and I think they are looking forward to this one. The NE is definitely as open as it has ever been and the first step to making nationals is sizing up your regional competition. These are two teams that have duked it out in May before and hopefully Tufts' new game plan will be all they need to take out WUFO.

Davidson 1-3: I don't know much about this team but I will say traveling to Vegas is a big deal. It shows your team is committed and they did have some good wins against Claremont and Central Florida. They could be better than TiV, they could be worse. They play Minnesota first and I think each team will have something to prove. The results won't really matter because I think each will want to bring it against Tufts to either break or hold seed. I hope for their sake they can handle Williams and round 3 will be the biggest deal for Davidson. They went 6-3 at TiV, Tufts 8-1. The winner of this game will be stoked going into their final round and Davidson will need all the help they can get against the Dawgs.

Williams 0-4: Like I said, Williams brings it at weird times in the year. Last year they didn't look great at Yale Cup but they went on to make nationals a month later. I don't think they bring it now but that doesn't mean they are out of it for the year. Hopefully their young roster gets a win on Saturday so that they earn their top bracket status.

6 Pack
The teams I think will make it up to bracket play will be UCF, Cornell, Maryland, Virginia, William and Mary, and Colorado State.

I like UCF's 11th seed spot and I bet they do to. They did well for themselves in Palo Alto and I think they are in a good position to play some teams below them and to make it into bracket play on Sunday. I hope they play a 3 or 4 seed from the top pools as opposed to a 1 seed. I think they deserve at least quarters and should have gained a lot of experience from Stanford.

Cornell just had a tournament win and I think they have the confidence to play to their level. They also need composure however. They choked last year at regionals when they should have made nationals and I think this will be an exercise in pressure play.

Maryland is a good team that made the finals at Hellfish. I think they have what it takes to earn a spot on Sunday.

Virginia played well at Hellfish and Spring Tide. They aren't great but I do see them breaking away from a bottom 10 standing

William and Mary is nothing close to what they used to be but they are still a program. All of their losses at Ultimax were close (save tournament winner Notre Dame) and they also had big wins against Delaware and Central Florida at Hellfish.

I didn't want to take 11-16 so I went with Colorado State. They do well in the South, at least at High Tide, and I think they earn a leg up. Nothing great from TiV but I think they will be 5th or 6th out of the bottom bracket.

Closing Thoughts
I want to see an NC State vs Georgia final mainly because it will answer questions about the AC but I don't see it happening. One of these teams will faulter before the finals and it really could be either one. NC State has a lot of pressure on them and the last time they had pressure like this they sucked at nationals back in 2003. Georgia has also been guilty of under-performing, especially in the series, so they could slip to someone.

I would love to see Tufts make a run and if I had to chose between Georgia and NC State, I would go with Georgia mainly because they do really well here. They have played in the finals many times and this might be there chance to win it all now that that Wisconsin has bigger and better things to do.

Good luck to all teams. I wish I could still be down in the dirty south causing all sorts of Spring Break trouble. However, my SB days are over but I do have as many memories as anyone. Stay outta trouble and make sure you get all your rookies home safe.

just my thoughts

match diesel