Friday, March 31, 2006

Centex

Centex 06

Tournaments like Centex should prompt us to step back and evaluate whether we want our sport to be an all day endurance competition or a contest of strength, speed and skill. Obviously there is a benefit to playing games against a large number of opponents, both in terms of experience gained as a team and familiarizing yourself with many future opponents. However at some point the factors of fatigue injury (both potential and normal attrition) reduce these benefits to a negligible level.

At Nationals the level of emotion and competition is very high and each game takes a large toll on a team. The UPA organizes Nationals so that teams play at most 3 games in a single day. Even so I have found Nationals to be the most exhausting tournament I've ever played in, and I used to go to (low level) college tourneys with a team of 9. I would suggest that tournament that wish to be as competitive as national need to take the quality of the ultimate being played and the health of the players into account. If you want a player to be playing hard and giving it his all during all the games on the schedule then I would suggest that it’s not reasonable to have a team play 8 games to 15 within 31 hours. I think fatigue played a serious factor in determining the outcome of the tournament. Not for us though.

We flew out to Austin on Thursday so that we could get a practice in on Friday afternoon before the tourney on Saturday. That is some of us flew out on Thursday, some got in mid-afternoon and some got in on Friday night. As it was I had about 12 guys practicing on Friday afternoon. This should be absolutely mandatory or we shouldn’t do it at all. As it was the guys who did practice got some good work in and looked sharper during the tourney than did some of the other guys.

We had a first round bye on Saturday because we were going to be playing in the showcase game that night against UCSD. So we arrived at the fields with an 1:15 to warm up before our game against Wisconsin. Apparently this was not enough as we came out extremely tentative on offense and just kept giving them the disc until it was 4-0. We called a timeout, and did a bit of yelling. After that we started trading and the Hodags took half at 8-4. We got a couple of breaks right out of half time (Levy had a huge Callahan) and managed to get within 1 on several occasions, but were unable to get the break we need to tie it up. Wisconsin won by 2, 15-13. I firmly believe that if we had not started that game playing like crap we would have won the game. We will have no fear of Wisconsin next time we play them.

We played well at times during the next three games but we were overconfident and pissed away a few leads to teams that were still playing hard despite being behind. Michigan and WWU made runs after we had taken the lead but we were able to survive our own loss of focus and win. Brown never made a run, they have obviously lost a ton of firepower from last year. I don’t remember those scores off the top of my head.

That led us to the showcase game against UCSD and the winner would move into the championship bracket on Sunday and the loser would be in the middle consolation bracket. It was a bit of a hassle to get the game started on time, but once it got rolling it was pretty uneventful. We managed to take charge from the beginning and we were up a couple of breaks at halftime. Big plays were made by both teams in the second half and we scored the last couple to win 15-11 or something. Doug was hurt pretty bad in the first half when one of the Squids laid out into him as he was catching a pass.

So on to quarter finals with a rematch against… Florida! Woo hoo. Well it was a prime chance for revenge and we were ready to go. Florida went up 3-1 and it was looking bad and then we started playing. The offense and defense both picked up and we went on a run taking half up 8-5. We came out of half gunning but couldn’t convert on the turns we got. Florida got back a couple breaks here and there and then it was 11-10 us. And all of a sudden we fell apart Florida ran off 4 in a row and all we could do was punch in one last score to close to 14-12 before the scored on offense for the win. Why did we fall apart? I don’t know. Maybe we tightened up again. I’m sure that giving up two Callahan’s and a dropped pull (by our best player) didn’t help. Oh yeah, and the wind picked up during the game. That may have led to some difficulties too. Fortunately, this tourney has convinced the guys that that they can play with anyone in the country. And it’s good that they know that, because it’s true. And who knows, maybe by the time we get to Regionals and Nationals we’ll be able to beat teams in the wind too. We’re workin’ on it, that’s for sure.

Oh yeah there was a consolation game too, but aside from getting lots of playing time for the rookies I couldn’t give a flying fig. I think we lost 13-12, who cares. I hate consolation games, as a coach and a player.

Stanford (Stockton) Invite

Okay. It’s time for a recap of Invite.

Disaster.

And now to move on…

Well, alright. It wasn’t a disaster, but it was close. Here’s how it went down.

The big deal leading up to the tourney was whether or not it would actually happen at all. The Stanford fields were going to be closed from some substantial rain in the week leading up the games, and no replacement fields had been found. The tournament organizers were working around the clock to find fields whose owners/supervisors would allow a tournament to be run there. By Wednesday night 8 fields had been located in Stockton but only for Saturday. With this much and hope for more that organizers decided to go ahead and tell the teams that the tourney was not canceled and that they should plan to travel to the tourney as scheduled, despite the fact that there would still be a chance of having only on day of games.

On Thursday afternoon I got a call from Skip saying that they had reserved the Central Valley Polo Club for the weekend and would be able to host the whole tourney in the planned format. This turned out to be the major factor that determined the outcome Stanford’s weekend. The Central Valley (which includes Stockton for those of you not in a California frame of mind) means wind, and wind means zone. Palo Alto and Stanford are not generally very windy to start with and Roble field is dead calm even when the trees outside Mudd Chemistry Building are whipping around. So we don’t often get a chance to practice zone effectively. And our guys don’t get many chances to get good at throwing in the wind.

We started off against Oregon. They played a disciplined vertical stack offense and ran a tight man D. They were only able to effectively move the disc on the break side, however that was extremely effective. They were breaking us like bitches. They would look for the IO constantly until we tried to take that away and then the would go for an around high release. We started out slowly and had to come from behind in order to eek out a victory at 10-7. They didn’t play much zone and it wasn’t very effective when they did.

Up next was Davis. We failed to take this game seriously until it was too late. Frankly our zone offense was weak. Most of the poppers looked lost out there and the handlers didn’t know what to do when their options were limited. Davis zoned up all game. Up wind, down wind, off pulls and off turns. It was the correct strategy to beat us. They would take shots up wind when ever our O team turned it, and once and a while they would pull down some of the garbage, they managed to punch it in up wind a few times as did we, but they ended up with the down wind on double game point and they were able to score for the win at 13-12. Unfortunately for them they went on to lose to Oregon and still ended up taking fourth in the pool. Davis is pretty bad this year and this loss doesn’t say anything good about us.

After that debacle we play Georgia. They played man D and we were a bit more competitive, but we had tightened up collectively after the shocking loss to Davis. Actually the wind had made us tentative and timid all day and the loss to Davis made things worse. Josh sprained his ankle badly during the Georgia game and if the wind wasn’t already gone from our sails that sealed it (it looked really bad). We were never really in the game and I don’t even remember what the score was.

Amazingly point differential placed us 2nd in the pool and that led to a prequarters match up with Cal. Two straight defeats was not good for morale and we ended up falling behind Cal too. The score got to about 7-5 Cal before I told the boys to throw a zone and we reeled of 4 in a row to take a two point lead at that point it was 9-7 game to ten. I think Cal then scored downwind and then we scored downwind for the win. But it may have gone to double game point. I can’t really remember. In any case it was much closer than it should have been. And so despite our overall suckage on the day, we were still moving on in to quarters, and our quarterfinal round opponent was Florida.

Florida has been dominating the college ranks so far this season going undefeated until the finals of Centex. Oops, I guess I spoiled the outcome of the game against us. Well. It wasn’t pretty. We managed to trade with them until fours, and then they got a couple of upwind breaks in a row. Kurt Gibson has a huge flick that he can throw a long was up wind and he put up several of those shots that were pulled down by his teammates and they managed to convert the goal. My guys did what a told them to. They played zone upwind and downwind and the jacked the disc as far as they could when they got into trouble. It was ugly. Florida was taking their shots too and there were a lot of turnovers. However, we didn’t have the correct mental attitude on defense and we allowed a lot of breaks and throws though the cup that shouldn’t have gone up. In addition the intensity and focus was lacking in coverage and we were unable to defend well enough to keep the game close. In the end we were capped and Florida won 11-7. Not a pathetic showing, but certainly not what we had been hoping for going into the tourney.

Since Invite we’ve been working on nailing down our zone offense and getting the guys comfortable running it. The zone d has gotten better too, but still could use a little work. The improvement was apparent at Centex. Cag set discipline has been a little lax and that needs to be addressed too (and soon.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I have to say that one of the worst experiences you can have is biting into a Boston Creme donut only to discover that inexplicably someone decided that lemon filling would work just as well as creme. Mere physical pain pales in comparison. Fontuately I have learned to spot the warning signs and I never rush into donut consumption without a thorough inspection.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

KK19

KK19
Ahhh. Kiamana. This was my fourth time out to Waimanalo on President’s Day weekend for a little beach, ultimate and partying. And I have to say that this time was not quite as good as the others. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself. You can’t fail to enjoy this tourney, but, for me, the novelty has worn off a bit and I am able to actually be disappointed by some of the drawbacks. The weather was not the best this year, mostly cloudy for most of the weekend, making the normally gorgeous Waimanalo beach slightly less attractive. Also on Sunday night there was some serious rain. I mean the fields were covered with up to 4 inches of water in some places. Lots of folks had their tents and gear drenched as the rain came pouring down for nearly an hour. So the two methods of getting your stuff wet were to a) have your tent collapse or b) have your tent site fill up with water in some localized flooding. Fortunately, Amanda and I have a nice tent and chose a decent spot and managed to avoid having to sleep a van or in wet bedding. We moved our gear into a van to keep it dry in case of further rain, but when we went to get it in the morning our stuff was soaked. Could be that it was wetter than we thought when we put it in the van, but I’m pretty sure somebody (Robbie) put soaking wet gear on top of ours and left the back window vents on the van open, thus rendering our attempt at protecting our stuff useless. Unbelievably, games were played on Monday. The ability of those fields to absorb water is off the charts, and I grew up in RI where we have sand instead of dirt so I know from absorbent.
There was some ultimate to be played too, so I guess I could sum that up quickly. I played on Skeletor, a Stanford alumni team. We had some sweet jerseys, and here the mostly cloudiness came in handy, b/c those sweet jerseys were black and if it had been sunny we might have died. We won all our games until we played Nada Mooger in the semis. They beat us by four, but it wasn’t that close. We spent the whole weekend building leads and then giving up on playing hard and letting teams come back. It was stupid. We almost managed to lose in the quarters to Deathstar, an Australian team from around (but not in) Sydney. They had some decent players and were taking the tourney way more seriously than any of us.
Oh, and we (the alumni) beat/lost to the current players. We traded for a while and let them take a lead and then the cap went on and they were up by one. We scored to tie it up and then during the next point the hard cap went on. The college boys punched it in for the win. But an extremely common misinterpretation of the rules lead to us playing one more point. Which the alumni scored to tie it up, and then we pulled and scored again to take the win. Fortunately this game will create lots of entertaining debate/chapping over next few months. The bottom line is, of course, that old and wily wins over young and stupid/drunk.
This year’s haircuts were special, and hopefully I can post some pictures here soon. The kids did pretty well, losing to us and the Doughboys (in quarters). I hear that there was lots of playing time to go around and the rookies were performing very well. Also the zone O still needs some work. We’ll need to find the middle layer over the next month.
Amanda’s (Dea to all you ultimate players) team, California Pride, took home their second straight tiki, beating Coyote Ugly in the finals by a few or maybe several, I’m not sure. The game never really seemed to be in doubt. CU didn’t have an answers for Amanda with their average height around 5’2”. Also, the other girls on CP are pretty good too. I just wasn’t paying much attention to them.

Amanda and I got to drive up to the North Shore and hang out for a few hours at the house that the Stanford men and women will be staying at for the rest of this week. It was awesome, like MTV Cribs worthy (that is before that show became a parody of itself). Then we had to head to the airport for the red eye home. We got to SFO and took the train back to our apartment; I took a shower and promptly fell asleep until 3! So much for going in to lab. It wasn’t all my fault, there was a baby in the row in front of me that didn’t stop screaming until about a half hour before the plan landed. If you add that to the fact that I can’t sleep on planes anyways and I was pretty much screwed.

So, here are some personal plans for the next Kaimana. I’m not a fan of the current attitude with the Stanford alums. I think I’ll try to play with some other team. We have been acting like we deserve to win without earning it (a la Nada Mooger except that we’re just not that good). I will not go back to this tourney without spending at least four extra days in Hawaii. The tourney is not enough for me anymore. I have got to go see some more of these beautiful islands. I will try to bring even less stuff next year. I was able to fit all my stuff in one carry-on this year, but I could see that there were some things that I didn’t need.

Kaimana is the best tournament I have ever been to. I have been told that there are others that are better (Paganello maybe, Potlatch doesn’t come close, and Clambake wins the food war, ties on Party and loses big time on Beach). I will certainly be back, although exactly when is up in the air. Coming up next: What is it like to line up across from Nada Mooger when they are trying to win?

Nada Mooger

What is it like to line up across from Nada Mooger when they are actually trying to win?

Well here is a snapshot.

“Okay so who’s got MG?”

“mumble.”

“Good. Okay, Somebody wanna take Idris?”

“mumble.”

“Alright. Who’s on Zip?”

“mumble.”

“Nice, that’s a good match up for you, just try to force him under.”

“Now, anybody want Beau?”

“mumble.”

“Yeah, just, uh, force him under too.”

“Excellent, who wants JD?”

“mumble.”

“Good, then I’ll take Kubalanza, and that leaves you with… looks like…yup, Damien.”

“mumbleF*CK THATmumble”

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

SB 2006

Well today has been somewhat unproductive in the lab and I figure I should throw down a blog entry. Also, I haven’t given any recap on the Santa Barbara tourney and I’m sure you’re all dying from the suspense. (No, I haven’t forgotten about the Kaos 2005 experience, but I’m struggling to work up the energy for that one.)

Santa Barbara. Somehow we managed to get booked into the same crappy hotel that we were in last year, even after I specifically instructed the travel guy to book any hotel but that one. Oh well, it’s fine for most of the weekend but team meetings become 20 minute body heat sauna of sweat and farting. Amanda and I left Palo Alto at about 5:50 and she dropped me off at the hotel at about 10:50. We made pretty good time and kept our one stop pretty short.

Amanda taking the car and leaving me to find a ride to the fields with the boys worked out in my favor right away as James volunteered to go to the captain’s meeting which was at 7:30. This wouldn’t have been an issue if it weren’t for our lovely first round bye. So the morning had a some what leisurely wake up call of 8:00am and we didn’t have to rush to get some food in the cooler.

Okay no one cares much about that crap so on to the games. We rolled up to the fields to find the B team getting stomped on by Arizona, this probably should have been my first hint that Arizona wasn’t f*cking around this year. We warmed up and did the usual “passing out of this year’s jerseys for the first time,” and got set to face our first opponent UC Santa Cruz. Now, UCSC isn’t terrible. They’ve got some real good players, but they weren’t able to do much on defense against our O team. It was just a matter of time until our D team figured some things out put on a run. We came out and score the first two points for a 2-0 lead and then traded up to 6-5 Sanford, when the D finally got a run together. The O team scored to take half 7-5 and then the D team went on a 5-1 run and then we traded out the game to finish up 13-7. It wasn’t that close. IF you are looking for someone to watch from UCSC for Callahan or All-Region it should be Danny Karlinsky he’s got all the tools and knows how to use them. Unfortunately Santa Cruz won’t do well enough for him to get much consideration for those honors.

Up next was UNLV, they’ve got a couple of good players too, but they weren’t good enough to make up for the rest of the team. We started 3-0 and the traded to 5-3 as they managed to score mostly on downwind hucks to leaping catches. We then ran off 6 straight to 11-3, whereupon we had a melt down and the O team got broken twice. We got our act together and scored the last two to finish it off 13-6.

At that point we had one for game of pool play and then a long break until the showcase game against UCSB under the lights. The one more game was against Colorado State. Now, none of us had heard anything about CSU and so we had no idea what to expect. Being homebodies I heard a few guys suggesting that UCSC would have been a better choice for the 2 seed in the pool. I tried to keep a more open mind. Well, we ended up struggling more against these guys that I had thought possible. We started the game on O and everything stayed on serve until 4-3 us when the D team ran off three straight breaks to take half 7-3. Everything looked good and similar to two games we had played previously. However, we came out after half and the D couldn’t get anything going. I guess we were going upwind on D and downwind on O but even so we should have gotten at least one break! The O team was solid, though, and we traded out the game until it was hard capped with the final score 12-9. CSU seemed to have the highly unoriginal strategy of hucking it to their best athletes, which, depending on how good your athletes are, works up to a point. Sometimes I wonder if we don’t do this enough, but I think this is a strategy that keeps games close at the start of the weekend and may even allow you to win a few games, but in the end you’ll wear out your athletes and you won’t beat the top teams because you’re never really as close as it may seem (Keep this in mind for UNT later)

So on to the showcase game. We took off after beating CSU and headed back to the hotel. Most of us got some food at some point before 5:30 and then we headed back to campus at around 6:15. The showcase game was not in the stadium as it had been in the past. It was held on a new astro-grass field that had light around it. Apparently some of the women’s teams had been playing there during the day. I had never been to this field before and I don’t think any of my guys had either, so it wasn’t simple to locate the field. When we got there the lights weren’t on yet, but the soon came on and we got good and warmed up.

I have to say that it was pretty much ideal conditions for us that night. The surface is very fast and the air was dead calm, not to mention cool but not cold. We are a fast team and man D and O play to our strengths. We started off on O and scored easily. SB held serve and then broke our O team to put us behind for the first time that day. Our O convert on the second try and then the D broke back to get back on serve. We traded to 4-4 whereupon we went on a 9-0 run to take the game 13-4. Now that may seem impressive but it’s not. We played a good game and our team matches up extremely well against UCSB.

This year’s incarnation of UCSB has two great players, one amazing athlete who is still a little raw (the great players are very good athletes but not quite on this guy’s level), and four solid role players. If you’re keeping score at home that’s 7 players who can make things happen. Even when all 7 of those guys are out there we can match up well with either the O or D team; when any of them are sitting out we have a significant advantage. So basically the game plan is to make sure we get good match ups on the two great players (Rory and Asa) and the athlete (Abomb possibly aka Alex) and the let the rest of our guys take over. Their strategy is easy to figure out too since they have little flexibility with such a shallow roster, for example if only Rory and Alex are in on D and you turn the disc, Rory will try to get the disc and huck it to Alex. This is easy to prevent if you have the players to do it and know that it’s coming.

Sunday. UCSD managed to lose a close game to Arizona on Saturday and thus played themselves into a quarterfinal match up with us. San Diego was the second best team at the tourney and the only showed against us. They have a deep roster of athlete and a good group of handlers to get them the disc in fact those groups also overlap well making them even more dangerous. Possibly their best asset is that they have no fear of any team in the country after reaching the semifinals of nationals and nearly winning.

Of course, this is not why they were able to keep this game close. Nope, they played zone in a fairly decent breeze. We hadn’t really covered zone O for more than about 15 minutes in practice and we failed to handle it well. For the first time our O team coughed up breaks like it was their job, getting broken 6 times over the course of the game. UCSD played a wide open hucking offense and our D team was up to the challenge getting enough breaks to put us in the lead. However, we gave it all back and then some and found ourselves down 13-11 with the cap going on. I put a good line on O going downwind and they were able to score getting us to within one. I then put out the best line I could on D going up wind and they got a couple of turns before finally punching it in as the hard cap went on. So we were pulling down wind on double game point we got the turn and had a few injury subs to get some O players in there (UCSD got hurt and we got to change players), and we finally scored to win the game.

UCSD is very good and anyone, that points to the losses to Arizona and CSU (in consolation after losing that heartbreaker to us) to say that they are having a down year, is a fool. I wish I knew some of their names so I could give credit where credit is due. I guess the most I can say is that the dude with the long blond hair and the head band is real good and Kevin Smith is very effective as a handler and a cutter. Their handlers are unusually patient for college teams and we were generally unable to force them into bad decisions with some of our more gimmicky defenses. They just kept working it from handler to handler until the found the big gainer.

Semis were against UNT. They have some great athletes and the generally work it around until the can put the disc up to one of them. They must not have been watching our quarterfinal game since they only played zone D when we were going up wind. They got within 2 late in the game at 11-9 and again at 12-10, but from there we ran off three straight for the 15-10 win. The O team only gave up 2 breaks this time and the D team had already put us ahead by a few breaks before that so we were never behind. I’m afraid that it was not a very eventful game in the realm of ultimate. Opie of all people managed to make one of the UNT guy want to get into a fight with him. I guess that guy is a little fiery as his teammates didn’t seem too surprised. All in all I am glad that we were able to avoid a let down after the emotional win over UCSD.

Finals were basically a repeat of the previous night; we played UCSB, again, and beat them easily, again. I guess it didn’t feel that way at first as we found ourselves down 4-2 after the first 6 points, but then 7 points later the score was 9-4 Stanford. A bit of trading and a final 3 point run at the end and we were taking home the title with a 15-9 victory. We knew what to do against them and it showed, even if they failed to roll over quite as easily as they did the previous night.

I think that what I learned from this tournament will have to wait for another post as this one is already getting a little (very) long. I can say that I think I should have let the games against UCSC and UNLV get a little closer if that’s what it took to get the rookies more PT. At the time it never felt like we had those game totally in hand, but looking back it is obvious that we did and that it was the time to play the rookies a bit more.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Oh, Blog world! It's been a one way steet b/w you and I recently. Well, it happens. I am now pretty good at sudoku. Things were going well in the lab for about a week, followed by two weeks of frenzied activity trying to recapture the magic. As of yet the magic is eluding us. The boys finally got back to school and practice began anew. I've put a fair amount of work into the play book to get things ready for this weekend (Not that I made up any new plays, I don't think set plays are important so why waste time on developing new ones? I just used my favorites from other year and teams).

This weekend. Santa Barbara. The first cars leave in two hours. There'll be some good tests down there. I am looking forward to letting our rookies loose on some other teams. I think they must be anxious to play against someone who's not a three year veteran of a nationals level team. We'll be playing the showcase game on saturday night against SB. It should be a good match up as several of their players played with the Condors last club season. At the very least we'll get to experience some solid sideline noise from our opponents.

The best developement for the team thus far this winter has been the return of Jit in a coaching role. Jit, along with James, is another forceful voice on the sidelines at practice and that is something that I most need help with. I am good at managing practices and players (we'll see soon how it goes a tournaments), but I am often too low key, and Jit and James help to pick up the slack.



Amanda and I went on our annual snowshoeing trip two weeks ago and we went to Yosemite once again (it's hard to pull ourselves away). We had several novice snowshoers with us but everything went quite well. We made it into the valley through a storm and then woke up the next day to sunshine and lots of fresh snow (up to 20 inches in some places). It made for a gorgeous hike and many photo ops.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Back on the Horse.

I got thrown off the blogging horse by the trip home for the holidays and a brief attempt to get good at sudoku. Well the holidays were a success and sudoku was a failure so I'm back in cyberspace shouting into the wind. Or more accurately whispering into a breeze.

Actually what most motivates my to start typing again is that ultimate is starting back up. Today will be our first practice of the year/quarter. It also looks like it will be the first rain practice of the year. I have to say I'm not looking forward to the crapfest that goes down whenever our regular fields are closed for rain. Do we hold practice? Do we run hills? Do we go off campus? Does one of the other teams have the one field on campus that never gets closed? Do we want that sh*thole of a field? Where off campus can we go? It just sucks, and lucky me, as coach, I need to make a definitive decision without spending too much time hemming and hawing over it.

So I think at least 15 or so of the 26 guys on the team will return from break healthy enough to play today. Most of the guys who had surgery seem to be progressing well in their rehab. Bronx is a machine and I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back from his ACL/MCL surgery faster than he was before. (Speaking of ACL/MCL tears, I took Carson Palmer with a 13th round pick in fantasy football this year so I get to keep him for next year and it will only cost me a 11th round pick. I have to think I should still take him and hope for a full recovery. I mean he's a pocket passer anyways, he doesn't need full mobility to be effective, right?)

I'm working on putting together the play book for this year, and no I won't be discussing any details. But, I will say that my philosophy on plays is that set offensive plays are not important in their details. What is important is that you are able to get everyone on your team on the same page quickly. I also think that you should have a three to four plays that everyone on your team can run as the thrower. If your less talented throwers are calling the same one or two plays all the time they are going to get shut down quickly, so give them a couple more options. I took a look back the play book that we used in 2002 when we won the championship, and there are only six set plays (not including iso and individual calls), so obviously an extensive set of plays is not necessary for success. By contrast Kaos had 13 set plays this year, which I thought was too many. I think I always spent a little too much time think about what the plays were rather than setting myself up to execute them properly. Don't get me wrong, many of those plays were very nice clever plays designed to deal with certain situations, but the sheer number of them reduced their individual effectiveness.

We're down to three weeks before the first real tournament of the season, and we've only got one Saturday practice before then. So we've got to try to make these weekday practices as productive as we can with these short winter days. I guess I should cover zone d/o at least a little bit before we head down to SB.

Lastly and most importantly this month is the Matt Babin Memorial Facial Hair Contest. With the entire team starting from clean shaven on New Year's Eve, facial hair will be judged on volume and presentation on the Thursday before Santa Barbara which will be almost four full weeks of growth. I will try to post some pictures of the hilarity that is sure to ensue. I am participating, however from more than about five feet away I just look like I need to wash my face even after a couple weeks of growth. I'm not sure what four weeks will look like but I guessing that it won't be much better.

Up next, Kaos heads into the Fall series with high hopes.

Friday, December 16, 2005

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.