Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) Burn

by | January 18, 2011, 3:01am 0

Pre-Series Record: 19-10 Series Record: 5-5 End of Season Standing: 9th at Atlantic Coast Regionals, eliminated in crossover play (12-14 to Kennesaw State)

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Recent History:

2010 Tournaments: Trouble in Vegas, 7th at Spring Ultimax, UOA March 13 Wilmington 8s, 5T at Easterns, 3rd Blue Ridge Sectionals, eliminated on day one of Atlantic Coast Regionals

Virginia Tech has been steadily progressing for the past few years. In 2010, the team turned in quality wins over Sectional rival Virginia, Notre Dame, and Middlebury while also giving tough games to Michigan and Kansas, results that give credence to what many in the Blue Ridge have known for some time: Virginia Tech is tall and fast, and when their deep shots are connecting, watch out. On the other hand, Burn’s inability to close out second place at Sectionals and its poor showing at Regionals are evidence of a team that is yet to reach its potential.

It is worth noting that Virginia Tech travelled to Regionals with a skeleton roster due to the distance and the tournament’s coincidence with final exams.

Roster Turnover and Offseason Club Experience:

Virginia Tech graduated handlers Tom Barry and Taylor Brown. Both Barry’s defensive work ethic and pulls and Brown’s combination of height and steady throws will be missed. Also gone is Michael Clapman, the mark that anchored Virginia Tech’s well-known four-man cup. The team also lost veterans Chris Bowling and Michael Peterson.

Burn returns a number of the athletes that make the team a threat in any given game. Team anchors Scott Forrester and Evan Klein both stand north of 6’3”, and many are curious to see how they developed over the summer. Also returning are sophomores Josh Smith and John Andrukonis. Smith has the ability to simply out-jump most of his match-ups, and Andrukonis is a potent deep threat that is developing skills as a handler.

Virginia Tech’s strategic approach has consistently been hurt by its lack of club experience. Burn typically plays the club season with the current and former players that are in Blacksburg for the summer, and while this has proven useful for team chemistry building, club veterans would surely help many of Virginia Tech’s young athletes come closer to reaching their potential as Ultimate players. One thing that helps to offset Virginia Tech’s lack of club play is its pipeline from Richmond, Virginia’s LC Byrd High School. Byrd is one of only three high school teams in the state that consistently travels to tournaments, and the team placed 11th at High School Easterns last year and 7th the year before. Many Byrd players look to enroll at Virginia Tech.

Past Strategy:

On offense, Virginia Tech likes to huck the disc, and they typically do so based on whether or not a consistent deep target is running toward the endzone rather than whether or not there is an open deep lane. Deep cutters often hang out and wait for long throws, which can either win games or lose them for Burn: if throwers can connect from the given distance, they are hard to stop, but if they cannot, the team lacks options close to the disc.

While the Virginia Tech of a few years ago was mainly a vertical stack team, more developed handlers have allowed Burn to run horizontal stack for the past two seasons. Defensively, Burn has a very strong zone that uses a four-man cup to force into the middle of the field and tempt teams into impatience and poor decisions. Similar to the transition to horizontal stack, Tech has taken strides to improve its man defense over the past few seasons.

Fall 2010:

This fall, Virginia Tech played Wolfpack, the UOA ACC Championships, and UOA Nationals. Burn defeated Pittsburgh in pool play at UOA Nationals on the strength of its zone play in the wind, but they fell to Pitt when they faced them in the Final. Burn played the fall at nearly full strength, and the Pitt win, along with a victory over Virginia, should boost the team’s confidence and motivation as they move into 2011.

2011 Schedule:

Virginia Tech has packed its Spring schedule with ACCs in Chapel Hill, Queen City Tune-Up, the Hellfish Bonanza, Easterns Qualifier, and UOA 8s all leading up to the Series.

2011 Outlook:

The re-draw of the Atlantic Coast Region was certainly good to Virginia Tech. Not only are Florida and Georgia gone, but the disappearance of teams like Georgia Tech and Tennessee make getting to Sunday a lot easier for Burn. From there, the team will need to defeat UNC-Wilmington, last year’s Regional runner-up, along with Virginia, a team that they have not defeated in the Series since 2007.

Like the rest of the region, Virginia Tech also faces a number of question marks. While they had poor fall showings, perennial regional contenders North Carolina and North Carolina State remain spring threats until proven otherwise while Clemson and South Carolina are reminiscent of the Virginia Tech teams of only two and three seasons ago.

Really, though, Burn’s biggest challenge comes from within. If last year’s results were disappointing, much of the reason is that they were a microcosm of Virginia Tech as a program: they have the ability to get up early in tournaments and for games against rival teams (for instance, they came back to beat Virginia 16-14 after trailing 11-14 at Wilmington 8s), but they have yet to take the next step and close out when it really matters. In a new region and with another season under its belt, Virginia Tech Burn is hoping to take that step in 2011.

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