Zack Smith (The dude in the banner) is a 5th year player and captain at the University at Buffalo. We have both spectated at the last two nationals and have been involved in running Buffalo for the last three years. He recently played for Seduction out in San Diego and will be submitting some write ups from time to time.
Warm Up is taking place in Tampa Bay, Florida, hosted by University of South Florida. 7 2010 Nationals qualifiers are meeting to duke it out in an early season affair.
University of Florida – Gators
With the loss of Brodie Smith and Chris Gibson, most people wrote Florida off as a Nationals qualifier, let alone an actual elite contender. However, Cole Sullivan and Nathan Sage have shown that this is definitely not the case. Despite their key offseason losses, Florida comes back with a squad heavily filled by returners, who now have experience at the highest level of college competition. On top of that fact, a few members of the current Florida squad played for the Gainesville club open team Vicious Cycle, who lost in the game to go to Nationals against Tanasi at South Regionals.
Florida is back with their athletic offense where they rely heavily on the backhand and
forehand hucks of Cole Sullivan and Alex Hill, respectively. Cole uses his basketball style of cutting to get open on virtually anyone while Hill uses persistent shoulder fakes in order to get off his forehand making the breakside seem more like the open side. Finally, the presence of Alan Baird is about to become more known in the college scene. Baird, who has a build and a cutting style similar to the recent Callahan runner up, is looking to make a large impact this Spring. All of that coupled with their patented poachy switch defense, Florida has the young role players and conditioning to hang with teams during long points and force turnovers.
Coming off tournament wins at Classic City Classic and T-Town Throwdown, this is Florida’s first real test where they go up against the best in the nation to kick off the new season.
Carleton College – CUT
Carleton is coming off consecutive National Championship appearances, with a win in 2009. CUT’s handling core suffered an immense offseaon blow with the losses of Adam Fagin, Adrian Chow, Luke Powers and Callahan runner up Sam Kanner. However, one should never count out a program like CUT, who has been in the heavy contention for the National title ever since they missed nationals back in 2006 (yes the Central region used to only get one bid). With one of the most explosive cutting lines in the country, Carleton has players like the unguardable Julian Childs-Walker (2010 Central Freshman of the Year) and Grant Lindsley (2010 1st Team All Region). Add freshman and two time Junior Worlds player Jonah Hershu to the mix and all paths point to Carleton sticking around as a powerhouse without a hiccup.
As Neeley points out in Inside Breaks (http://insidebreaks.skydmagazine.com/2011/01/carleton-college-cut/) Carleton uses their patience and fundamentals to wear teams down until they find wide open looks. Their pre-college experiece and depth gives them the intelligence to play strong man D while employing poaches and switches. These defenders aren’t just smart though, as they tend to get physical with downfield cutters. (That’s Grant Lindsley in the photo to the right)
Carleton had a solid fall, racking up a win against regional rival Wisconsin and only two losses (one to eventual MLC champion Colorado). With a bunch of the best teams in the nation descending on Tampa, this weekend should be a solid litmus test for the Knights. Don’t be surprised if they aren’t dominant, as it is typical to see Carleton sacrificing early season success in order to give their depth more experience.
Out of the four semifinalists of the 2010 College Nationals, no other team has suffered a greater offseason loss than the Cornell Buds. Losing 10 out of their 14 starters, the current squad is left with remnants of their incredible run as they try to fill in some big shoes. On offense, Cornell loses handler Dan Brager and big men Art Shull and Jon Hirshberger. More key losses include Andrew Ji, Ethan Pollack and Damien Lazar. (Pictured Right:If the Buds keep recruting giants, like that 6’8” monster in the picture, they’ll be just fine) Currently lead by defensive star Neil Butler, Cornell looks to push through the tattered and Pitt-less Metro East in the hopes of returning to College Nationals during a rebuilding year. It will be interesting to see if Cornell reinvents their offense because of their loss of height, since Hirshberger and Shull were the focal points of the offensive cutting line. With warm temperatures and low wind speeds in the forecast, look for Cornell to mainly stick with man to man defense.
Despite their team renovation, Cornell was to put up a decent fall, beating Dartmouth who appears to be the sleeping giant that was just awakened in the New England region.
North Carolina-Wilmington – Seamen
After one of their best runs in recent memory, UNCW finds themselves trying to stay on the short list of teams that get to play at the end of May. Despite losses of great players like Rusty Ingold Smith and Todd Doroski, the Seamen were able to keep the pieces together and come up with a semifinals appearance in CCC, which they lost in close fashion to regional rival UVA. One of the most competitive minded teams in the country, Wilmington preaches throwing caution to the wind as they sacrifice their body any chance they get. This do or die attitude has given UNCW the determination they need to stick with teams that simply have more experience than they do.
Under the leadership of Tommy Lamar, Stephen Bender and Jarrett Bowen, the Seamen run a horizontal stack offense that is characterized by either patience or trigger happiness, depending who is holding the disc. Keep your cameras fixed as these guys are a highlight reel at any moment. UNCW is sure to throw a poachy 2-3-2, or 2-4-1 zone to confuse opponents on defense.
Colorado – Mamabirds
With one of their more disappointing finishes in recent memory, Colorado comes off a 13th place finish after losing to UNCW in one of the bigger upsets of 2010 Nationals. However, Mamabird returns almost their full roster, with as many as 8 players who were freshman that gained Nationals experience. Colorado plans to show that they do not need a Beau, Jolian or Mac to get the job done, even though they do have big men Hylke Snieder and Martin Freeman. With one of the best offensive handler lines, led by Evan Padget, Matty Zemmel and Jack McShane, look for Colorado to be one of the fastest and explosive teams in the nation.
Usually running a three handler system with upfield cutters setting up in either a horizontal or vertical stack, Colorado tends to use their middle handler as a point guard. After looking upfield, the central position looks to dump to the sideline and immediately burst upline. These handler lines are very dynamic in the sense that the three handlers are constantly dumping, cutting upline and changing their position. While in recent years Mamabird’s threat has been the huck, look for the handling core to do the brunt of the work this weekend. But then again, don’t get too distracted as Colorado does love the deep shots.
Colorado had a solid fall culminating with a tournament win at Missouri Loves Company. A weekend ago, they lost to San Diego’s PBR Streetgang at New Year’s Fest in Tempe, Arizona.
Harvard- Red Line
Coming out New England, who’s had a different region winner every year since at least 2004, Harvard looks to continue their success and dominance in 2011. And who’s to stop them, as they retain the great talents of George Stubbs (who Bryan has a man crush on ) and Andrew “The Book” Vogt. Harvard is another team that’s filled with returners with College Nationals. Helped by young talent like Whitt Virgin-Downey, Vogt likes to hit Stubbs anywhere and everywhere on the field. According to Neeley, (http://insidebreaks.skydmagazine.com/2011/01/harvard-university-redline/) Harvard likes to get the disc to the breakside and then send it deep. Coupled with the heavy experience possessed by the Harvard depth, they gain ex-CUT handler Adam Fagin. Add that to the fact that the team is virtually run by Ironside players, and it seems that Harvard is poised to make another run at nationals, and possibly being the first team in recent memory to win the New England region two years in a row.
Warm-Up is the first test of Red Line’s spring season, after a lackluster fall which probably did not include their heavy hitters.
University of Wisconsin- Hodags
Not qualifying for the championship bracket of nationals for the first time in recent memory must have really pissed off the Hodags, especially since they were hosting the event in their own backyard. Out for a vengeance is a squad run by Ben Feldman, who has been a name ever since he threw the game winning goal at the title game at 2007 nationals. Joined by other veterans John Bergen and Cullen Geppert, Wisconsin looks to establish themselves as a force early and grab their region a few strength bids. Typically the Hodags are fueled by their tenacity, which is reinforced by the heavy conditioning that they are famous for, and have no doubt been doing for the past few months. Expect the boys in baby blue to rely on their many players with heavy amounts of experience while basically willing themselves to get D’s.
Wisconsin had a solid fall season which ended in a finals loss at MLC. Warm-Up is their first chance to give the teams they saw last May some cold, hard revenge.
Virginia- Night Train
Despite being one of the only two teams to not qualify for Nationals last year, Virginia is definitely not out of their league. Led by dynamic players Matt King and Tom Licitra, Virginia is looking to make a splash this season, culminating in the eventual retaking of the regional crown come late spring. Night Train runs a horizontal stack that is defined by patience. With a well rounded team, Virginia feels safe holding onto the disc until open looks present themselves. Don’t blink, because these throwers use their offhand like it is nothing to them. On D, the Train is run by Roy Matthews, Jesse Macadangdang, Matt King and Andrew Wilkes. These four have the skills to cover anyone and the intelligence to force D’s. While running a variety of defensive looks, the mantra remains the same: Stop the primary and secondary cuts in order to force the offense to throw to their tertiary look. By playing tight on the opposing teams better cutters, Night Train likes to find themselves in a situation where an unsure hand is holding the disc.
Coming off of a fall capped by a finals loss to ex-regional rival Florida at CCC, Virginia plans on making Warm-Up a tournament where they broke back into the national scene.
South Florida – Scallywags
Unforunately, I have little to no information of USF. Coming off a 2010 season where they were unable to make it out of their section, it seems that the Scallywags are way out of their league here. However, with a fall tournament win under the belt, perhaps some unforeseen events will transpire this weekend leading to a changing of the guard in Florida.
Our predictions can be found here.