ECUE: 05: Part II: The Team
So, I ended up joining Kaos only a few weeks late in mid June. The Solstice tournament in Eugene was not well attended and for that matter neither was the Colorado Cup in August. At each of those two tournaments we had maybe 15-16 guys. So it wasn't until Labor Day in Santa Cruz that I got to compete with close to the full squad. However, through practices and those small squad tournaments I mentioned I was able to get to know the new guy pretty well and what follows is my impression of them and their influence on the team. I will try to be honest, and if any of these guys end up reading this they should know that a) it's, like, only my opinion, man and b) I am more critical of my own play.
In 2005 Kaos remained a similar team to last year (04), it retained most of the players from the previous year. The four guys who left the team during last year's season stayed gone: Robbie Cahill, Josh Wiseman, Kevin Beck, and Travis Finucane. (You'll note that the two best players I coach, abandoned Kaos at some point during the year we went to Nationals, it would have been nice to have them at nationals, but I'll take having them healthy and running the O team here at Stanford.) Beach was going to be abroad this fall or something and wouldn't have been around enough to commit, and Kenbrah was committed to playing in '05 until he destroyed his ankle and ended his career (He's healed now but no longer risking his body for ultimate). Cameron was hurt and planning to leave for an academic position wherever he could find a job so he was out. And Monberg also planned to play until the season started up and his knee needed surgery effectively ending his career too. So we ended up losing four players from the squad that went to Nationals, dropping us to 19. We added 6 more for 2005. In alphabetical order they are:
1)Louis Eisenberg: Louis has a wicked flick bomb and an unusual release. He, like me, is not fast enough to just out run people at the club level. He has astonishingly large pectoral muscles. At this point he mostly just out-works his opponents, cutting until they are to tired to cover him anymore. He needs more experience at the club level, but he is effective at times nonetheless. He was injured for a large part of the season and it seemed to be ambiguous as to whether he was a full player or just a practice player. It's hard to tell how good Louis can be, I do know that Louis will work hard enough to get there, wherever that is.
2)Francesco "Simba" Giorgetti: Simba is an Italian import. He can just run past people on the club level. He is tall, jumps high, and runs fast. He is also very raw. He needs a lot more experience playing the American game. His potential is just busting out all over the place, and sometimes there were too many helpful teammates trying to tell Simba how to use that potential. I look forward to seeing Simba play again because you need to take a break before you can judge how much a player has improved over a season. I think he has become much better but I haven't been able to tell yet. His ceiling is unknown.
3)Chris McManus: Chris is the first of the three ex-Condors who joined Kaos in 2005 (not chronologically just alphabetically). Chris is an excellent player. He is a hard cutter, a formidable defender and a solid handler. He occasionally makes huge (I mean HUGE) plays, after which he has a tendency to jack the disc away, but when he can restrain himself they are game changers. He quickly became the East Bay workout group leader and whipped those boys into great shape.
4)Jason Seidler: Jason (Another Condor) is a speed demon with big throws too. He can be a tenacious defender when provoked, but he has too much of a dependence on his speed and has failed to really hone his defensive skills and anticipation. His a great cutter, both around the disc and in the open field. He has good breaks and hucks. He also tend to be a bit chippy when being marked, often looking to draw fouls and free throws. That's not how I play but it is certainly within the rules.
5)Marc Weinberger: Marc is an old Stanford guy. He came out of a semi-retirement forced by his bad ankle(s) to bring some attitude back to Kaos. Marc has a super aggressive mark, if there is a line between an aggressive mark and a fouling mark, then Marc slipped up behind it in a dark alley and hacked it with a lead pipe. All I'm sayin' is, you don't forget that he's marking you. Marc is fast and has great game knowledge, he has the biggest pull on the team and is extremely useful as a handler, and defender of handlers.
6)Ryan Yarborough: Ryan (yet another Condor) took some time off and eventually decided to join the team in August. He was a bit rusty a first but he is a great player and it showed frequently throughout the rest of the season. It took him a bit to get used to the team but he fit in well in the end. He is quick, with great hand and throws, and adds good ups for his height. His most best attribute is the extensive game knowledge and experience that he puts to excellent use on the field and off.
The last four guys on the list brought a swagger and an expectation of winning to Kaos and it showed in our ability to stand up to teams that were historically better than us and some times that led to wins. Certainly we never played a game that I thought we were out of it the whole time. Those four guys expected to compete with anyone and that attitude rubbed off on everyone else. It didn't hurt that they all could and did make game changing plays throughout the season.
All 6 of these guys were positive additions to the team and despite not qualifying for nationals in 2005, I believe that Kaos was a stronger team than in 04.
Leadership: Kaos had three captains in 2005, Nick Handler, Dan Dewey, and Dan Schneider. I will discuss them here as captains not as players although I will touch on how being captain affected their play.
Dan Dewey: Dan was very quiet as captain, his contributions were rarely seen except at a few practices not attended by Schneider. Maybe Dewey did a lot more work behind the scenes than I realize, but I doubt it. Dewey is a calm force on the field, but his low key nature was so overshadowed by Schneider that it was easy to forget that Dewey was a captain. By the end of the season Dewey seemed to have lost some of his fire for the game. I hope he can regain it for next season, because he can still shred when he is motivated.
Nick Handler: Nick was probably the best player on Kaos this year. He took his game to a new level. I am not sure if being captain had any affect on that, but I'd make him captain every year if it meant he'd keep playing like he did this year. Nick was a strong captain, he kept the team focused in practice, and managed the O team substitutions as best as can be expected by someone playing in the game. Nick did a lot of work (as all captains do) and seemed to avoid burning out on it.
Dan Schneider: Dan is a great guy, very good player, a good teammate, and a mediocre to bad captain. He did a good job running a few of the practices near the beginning of the season, and he came up with some helpful drills. However, he has a personality that can border on abrasive when combined with power. He seemed to mean well in his attempts to motivate us and keep us focused (things we certainly need to improve on at times), however his methodologies were a mistake. He might have been able to succeed with those tactics while coaching middle schoolers , but with a bunch of veteran ultimate players who almost to a man equal or exceed him in knowledge and experience, it was generally a failure. His substitutions for the D team were a mess, and his strategic choices were often confusing or inappropriate. If there were only a few occasional problems in these area it would not be worth mentioning, but it was persistent over the course of the season. I like Dan and I know he did his best, and I appreciate the effort he put in and the work he did, but I think the team might have been better of with him as a regular player. I would go so far as to say that I feel like his being a captain had a negative affect on his play on the field. He was much more of a force for us in 2004, but in 2005 those big skys on defense and offense were lacking. I think the captaincy wore him down a bit and stole some of his on the field edge. Maybe he tried too hard to give his edge to the rest of us. I would not hesitate to have Dan as a teammate again, but I would not play for a team with him as captain.
So I think that with one good captain, one fair to poor , and one barely noticeable, our leadership was kind of a wash. Since they sort of cancelled each other out, Kaos' destiny in 2005 was primarily determined by the players.
Up next, I'll explore that 2005 season in Part III.