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1. AUDL Week 2
Last weekend was the first major week of AUDL action, giving fans a good look at every team in the league. It’s going to be a close season in the Midwestern Conference, that’s for sure. Every team in that division has at least one win and one loss, with very little goal differential. The Eastern division is evenly split between three undefeated teams, and three winless teams – though the Phoenix lost by one to a Toronto Rush squad that looks very strong, so I’m not so sure they’ll stay winless for too long. Probably the best thing to come out of the weekend though is this highlight video between the Windy City Wildfire and Madison Radicals. Looks and sounds awesome. Coming up this weekend, there are a few interesting matchups: DC Breeze vs. Rochester Dragons (because one of them has to win), Minnesota Wind Chill vs. Madison Radicals (a classic matchup in college and club happening once again), and Alleycats vs. Wildfire (Brodie’s first game against his former team).
2. MLU Week 1
As close as the Midwestern Conference in the AUDL looks, the MLU looks to be a lot closer. Each conference had a game won by three, and a game won by two – and it certainly doesn’t look like one team will be running away with the season anytime soon. It is nice to see game footage of all four games are up, right now, and while some reported slight lagging in the live-streams, others reported no problems. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to watch more than just the highlights and read the team-posted game recaps. For the highlights, like this Philadelphia Spinners @ DC Current one, it might be wise for the MLU to add some sort of commentary or music over top of it. They seem a little boring with just the crowd noises in the background, even if there is a big play, nor do I know who the people are that are making the plays. As for this weekend’s games, it just happens to work out that each team that won takes on the other team in their conference that lost which will give us a good look at parity between the games.
3. WFDF WUCC 2014 Bids
The World Flying Disc Federation announced the bid allocation for World Ultimate Club Championships 2014, to be held in Italy. That means it is time to speculate which three Open teams from the USA and Canada will get the bids! On the Canadian side, it’s an easy speculation for the top two bids – going to GOAT and Furious. From there though, the safe bet for the third spot would be Winnipeg’s General Strike. They played very well at least years Canadian Ultimate Championships, almost taking down Furious George (watch the game here). I bet they’re pretty excited by the news. On the American side, to look at this past years club championships for the top four teams – Doublewide, Revolver, Ring of Fire and Ironside – and think that at least two of the three bids will go to one of these teams is a good bet. Other teams that could pop into it (speculation before tryouts is the best) include Sockeye, Chain Lightning and Rhino. Chain has been one of the most elite teams for a while now and next year shouldn’t change much down in Atlanta, Sockeye rebounded this past season and could be back on top in no time, and Rhino had seemingly had it together for a large part of the season last year – imagine if they could put it together for the whole thing.
4. College Regionals: Week 1
Regionals are starting up again, and there are two different tournaments that are important to pay attention to; mostly because predicting what is going to happen is a little difficult. Starting on the Atlantic Coast, who’s going to take the second bid? North Carolina is the heavy favorite, but after them it comes down to if UNC-Wilmington can take the next bid. I remember seeing Maryland play UNC-W pretty tight at Easterns Qualifier, and other teams like James Madison, Virginia and Georgetown would like a shot at the second bid as well. And the second tournament is taking place in the Great Lakes region. For a while Eastern Michigan was one of the top teams in the nation, but dropped off in the latter half of the season. Michigan currently sits on top, but could a now-strong Illinois take their place? And as always, teams like Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Illinois State will be in the mix as well. After a bad Queen City Tune Up, it seemed like Michigan got on track after Easterns Qualifier and New England Open. If they can keep their strong play up, they’ll be hard to take down atop the region.
5. “A Cold Hypothesis”
Take a second to read Eric Meyer’s piece on the college level dominance of the North Central region for the past 10 years. He presents several interesting theories as to why the region is able to dominate year in, year out and one Harry Potter-themed theory that could possibly be true as well. With the evidence he presents, I see no reason why his three main theories aren’t incorrect, though. But as stated in the comments, shouldn’t the theory also apply to the Metro East, Northeast, and the Great Lakes regions? Two of those three regions have had recent success at Nationals and all three have had historical success, though nothing to the dominance of the North Central. I think commenter ‘Kyle’ nails it: how much does the local youth ultimate scene contribute to their success? I’m at SUNY-Buffalo, and local ultimate at the youth level is very scarce – and I know in other NY areas, it’s more of the same with very limited youth participation. That is due to change in a lot of areas; as we see every year in the USAU figures, youth participation is growing rapidly, but I don’t t think it has translated to the college levels across the board just yet. The youth initiatives of USAU make perfect sense, and in the long run will (in theory) produce more balanced regions. Only goes to show you that long-term success on any level, like most things in life, starts in youth.
6. Looking to Robinson Cano
A post on Reddit’s r/discgolf caught my eye, especially after reading and writing the last point. The post details New York Yankee’s Second Basemen Robinson Cano’s swing, and how it relates to disc golf. While not a perfect translation for ultimate, it did get me thinking of a way to attract youths that have played more traditional sports to the game. Videos and images exactly like this – showing people how the skills they already know can translate into this new, fun sport. In my head, I’m imagining a video of a generic baseball player laying out to catch a ball that quickly jumps to a highlights of layout grabs, or layout defensive plays; and continue that for different sports, in different genders. Actual instruction on how to transfer those skills, also known as breaking the habits of the past-sport, could also be very useful.
7. NBA vs. Ultimate All-Stars Debate
Also on Reddit, r/ultimate is having a debate on who would win in a game between current Ultimate All-Stars and NBA All-Stars. The caveat is that the NBA players get time to practice, and an elite coach to show them the ropes. I think this is what seals the deal for the NBA All-Stars or any other professional sport’s best players over the Ultimate All-Stars. As commented, these people are professional athletes, and not in the sense that MLU/AUDL athletes are professional (they are), but they don’t need to hold other jobs and currently professionals in our sport do. That means mentally and physically, sport is all they do. Immediately, even without the elite coach for help, this puts them in a good position to win. Imagine the defense that NBA players like Dwight Howard could play – due to their training in positioning, etc. – on any ultimate player.
It is suggested in the comments that strategy would have to be the card up the Ultimate All-Stars sleeve. Strategy decisions like throwing zone, or a junk d, in order to take the NBA All-Stars out of their element would be that trick. Of course, if the elite coach that is given to the NBA players gives them any strategy tricks, this would be one of the first lessons.
In the end, I think it would be a close match. Not a blowout to either side, but the strengths and weaknesses of both sides would really come through. The NBA All-Stars are better athletes, and could exploit that fact rather easily. But the Ultimate All-Stars have all played the sport longer, and if they’re able to find one strategic hole in the other teams game, that’s a few free points. Reading through the comments, there’s the typical “my sport is better than yours” arguments – either you’re undervaluing one of the sports athletes, or overvaluing the other. In the end, I think if NBA All-Stars got talked into playing a game of ultimate, no matter who was in it, it would be great for the game.