Northwest Regionals 2012: Final Thoughts
By Lou Burruss
I’m still irked about the schedule. Like most tournaments, it was set up with zero attention to spectators or promotion. Both finals and two of the game-to-gos were scheduled simultaneously. Yech. I also want to lament the departure of the California teams. The new NW is cute and cozy, but it isn’t as insane as it used to be. This is a bit of a relief to all the teams who are trying to qualify from this region, but it certainly is a diminishment.
Schwa coach Danny Quarrell summed the women’s tournament up best: “It’s really a three tiered tournament with Riot and Traffic at the top, us and Underground in the middle and Zephyr and Further on the bottom.” Sure enough, Riot and Traffic beat everyone else, Further and Zephyr lost to everyone else and Schwunderground split. Like the college womens Regionals, this situation is begging for something different and interesting. No one is really sure yet what restructure will bring, but hopefully it will find a way to showcase the talent that is up here.
Riot and Traffic are both contenders….if they can fix their offenses between now and Sarasota. They are both playing great defense but turning it over far more than any championship team does. The diagnosis is tricky, but the cure simple. Traffic is committing too many execution errors. Riot is out of rhythm and working too hard. The solution for both is to find some easy goals. How? A couple pull plays, a big receiver coming alive, a deadly fastbreak….there are lots of possibilities.
It will be interesting to see how Schwa and Underground fare in Sarasota. They are certainly under-talented compared to the big contenders, but so was Further 2011 and they finished in 9th at 4-3. Quarters would be a huge accomplishment for either of these teams and the play-in game a good target.
Sockeye and Rhino are both very, very good. Rhino plays excellent man-to-man defense and when they are composed, excellent offense. As I have said before, Sockeye’s offense is lovely and creative. Their defense doesn’t generate the consistent pressure that Rhino’s does, but it gets more blocks. No surprise there: Rhino’s main defense is classic, fundamental man-to-man and Sockeye’s is typical Fish gambling.
Don’t read too much into Furious’ dgp win over Rhino in the 2-3 game. At the time, it meant a lot more to Furious. After their debacle of a Saturday, they needed to play a respectable game before Sarasota. Rhino was coming off of a heartbreaker against the Fish and didn’t really care. The opening couple points of this game were ugly and had more bad hucks from Rhino than I had seen in their previous two games. For Furious to be successful in Sarasota, it needs to be windy. A calm Nationals is an offensive nationals and this team is like one giant D-line.
Sockeye and Rhino both have really good prospects at Natties. Neither team is talented enough to play poorly and win, but both are good enough to go a long, long way if they play well. Give Sockeye a small edge based on their experience and recent success. The scary thing for the rest of the country is that these teams will be better in 2013 than they are now. They are young, focused and moving under strong leadership.
Feature photo of Dylan Freechild of Rhino reaching for a disc as Seattle’s Spencer Wallis bids behind. (Photo by Jeff Bell- Ultiphotos.com)