Stanford Invite Preview

by | March 4, 2011, 11:45pm 0

One of the biggest and most anticipated tournaments of the season…here we go!

Pool A

Carleton CUT

Despite the major off-season losses, CUT has shown that they are still able to be a dominant force. Carleton was able to pull of a tournament win at Warm-Up two months ago with only two losses (Florida and Wisconsin). These guys are elite and they are stacked with talent from top to bottom, with players like Grant Lindsley, Julian C-W, Alex Evangelides and freshman star Jonah Hershu. While some may think that Carleton may be rusty because of the large gap between tournaments, I would have been more concerned if they had a tougher pool.

Because of CUT’s experience, depth and skill, they should go unbeaten on Saturday, giving them a quarters birth in the Championship Bracket.

Texas TUFF

The boys from Austin look like they are ready to head back to the big show in May. After missing Nationals last year on a universe point loss to Kansas, Texas has put up some good results this year, losing in the semifinals of CCC and the Pres Day Invite. Replacing players like Stephen “Franchise” Presley and Jeff Loskorn is no easy task, but TUFF is fueled by the talent of young Doublewide stud Will Driscoll who was the 2nd team FOTY in the South Region last year (Note: Texas also has the 1st team FOTY in Chris Brooks, but I’m more familiar with Will’s name).

I was not able to watch TUFF last year but when from watching them at 2009 Nationals, they ran a vertical stack where the handlers played a lot of “small ball”, using Franchise as a point guard. Now in the year 2 A.P. (After Presley), Texas runs an offense that likes to work the around break allowing for large up-field gains. Thanks to some clips from Aguilar, you can see Texas utilizing the skills of Driscoll to move the disc upfield( Though you may not see as many lefty backhands or hammer throws for dumps, Texas should be able to hold their own in this pool.

Texas’ skill should allow them to advance to Sunday, but I would expect their inexperience to provide them with a loss against UC-Santa Cruz, earning them #3 in their pool.

California-Santa Barbara Black Tide

The Black Tide is one of those teams that plays with their emotions on their sleeves. Despite the loss of Jeff Silverman (two years ago) and Tim Beatty (transferred to Colorado), UCSB has been able to put up some decent results. Though they might be younger this year, Santa Barbara has been able to piece together some wins against Cal, UC-Davis, UCSD as well as out of region opponents Washington and Minnesota. After an okay SB Invite, the Tide were able to come together to grab 5th at Pres Day, edging out a Sundoger squad that has been turning heads this season. Santa Barbara typically runs a horizontal stack that tends to be very huck happy and a very tough and physical style of defense.

In a pool that contains CUT and two other teams that the Tide have already dropped games to, Saturday could prove to be a difficult endeavor as UCSB will try to steal the 2nd or 3rd place in their pool, giving them entry into Sunday. However, my guess is that this effort will be in vain, as they will not have the ability to beat any of the top three teams.

California-Santa Cruz Slugs

In my opinion, the Slugs are under-ranked. Looking at their results (, Santa Cruz was able to play well at the SB Invite, with only 2 losses on the weekend to out of region opponents (Northwest). However, since they have not played since January, I understand their placement. The Slugs are led by Revolver players Russel Wynne and Cassidy Rasmussen, who will probably be their difference makers all weekend long. On top of this, Santa Cruz comes into this season with a roster that has about 17 returning players. Hopefully UCSC will be able to bring their speed and experience this weekend and earn the Southwest Region some much needed out of region wins, as SDSU seems to be pulling the weight. Word on the street is that the Slugs like to play a force middle defense.

With an experienced roster ran by Club and World Champion players, its my guess that Santa Cruz will hold their own and snatch a win over Texas.

Tufts E-Men

The E-Men ended last season with a disappointing loss against Middlebury in the back-door final of Regionals. In a region who is showing more depth than in the past few years, due to the re-emergence of Dartmouth, Tufts will be looking to stay competitive and earn themselves a spot in Colorado come May. In order to do this, Tufts will have to be one of the teams to have a successful season in order to get New England two or three bids to Nationals. They’ll have to do this without Andrew Hollingworth, who had been their rock of a handler up until this point. Also, according to Neeley of Inside Breaks, captain Jay Clark will not be playing this spring due to an unfortunate knee injury.

However, Tufts has a good growth system which allows the E-Men to grab solid and experienced talent from a B team that is consistently able to challenge many A teams in the New England region. On top of this, they gain Sam Kitross-Schnell, a deep cutter and transfer from Oberlin, who happened to play for the 2008 Junior Worlds and 2010 Sockeye teams. Add Bodhi player Adrian Banjerji and a few other experienced college studs and Tufts should be able to play some opponents tough this weekend.

The experience from this roster will be solid experience for the Tufts roster, and they should be able to do some damage on Sunday in the lower brackets. However, I don’t think Tufts will be able to grab a win on Saturday.

Pool B – Pool of Death

Colorado Mamabird

Coming off finals losses at New Years Fest (San Diego Streetgang) and Warm-Up (Carleton), Mamabird is probably ready to prove that they have what it takes to go the distance. With studs like Martin Freeman, Evan Padget, Jack McShane and Matty Zemmel, Colorado is stacked from top to bottom and could possibly be the deepest team at Stanford. Running a fast paced offense, where their handlers like to play “small ball” and actively cut up-line until a deep shot develops, Mamabird has the experience to be patient and the explosiveness to blow you away.

If Colorado plays their game and stays consistent, I fully expect them to be able to hold seed, getting a quarters birth and a later Sunday start.

Harvard Red Line

Neeley of Skyd’s Inside Breaks said it absolutely right, as the success of Harvard at Stanford is directly dependent on the health of their roster. Sounds obvious enough, but the fact that they were able to beat some of the top teams in the nation without studs like Adam Fagin and Andrew Vogt, speaks to how well they could have done if they were 100%. Harvard is run by the Ironside duo Vogt and George Stubbs. If these guys are ready to go tomorrow, I expect them to be one of the few teams that can give Colorado a run for their money.

If Red Line comes to California healthy, I expect their game against Mamabird to be very exciting. However, if they are not able to come away with a win, I think they’ll be strong enough to hold seed against tough Sundoger and Dog squads.

Washington Sundogers

Coming from a region that has been dominated by Cal, UCSC, Stanford and Oregon for the past few years, most fans may not have had the Sundogers on their radar. With the regional redraw, the Northwest has lost Cal, UCSC and Stanford, opening the door for UW and British Columbia to try and break into the Nationals tournament. Led by Sockeye player Phil Murray, Washington has turned heads this season, losing in the finals of the SB Invite to UBC and the 5th place game at Pres Day to the Black Tide. Like UBC, the Sundogers have done work for the Northwest, beating out of region (mostly the Southwest) opponents San Diego State, UCSD, UCSC, Kansas, and Carleton-GOP. According to a player at Pres Day who played UW, Murray was money with his backhand huck all weekend long. However, upon being forced flick, the Sundogers’ deep game disappeared.

Washington will try to take down Colorado and Harvard while not being upset by Davis. I expect them to hold seed going into Sunday morning.

California-Davis Dogs

When I first saw the teams in the new Southwest, I thought that it would be the region that received more that 2 bids for Nationals. Loaded with Stanford, California, UCSD, UCSB, San Diego State, UCSC, Cal State Long Beach and Davis, I figured that this region would be a giant blood bath come May. Though some teams have not lived up to the reputation that they have built for themselves over the past few years, Davis has been able to get the job done for the Southwest, with 5 losses in 15 games and only 2 coming from out of region opponents. While not getting many out of region wins, the Dogs have shown everyone that they will be in the hunt at Regionals. Davis is commanded by Taylor Lehey, a former junior worlds player who can put the disc anywhere on the field. Even though the Dogs are on the younger side, they are not short in experience with Eli Kearns, another junior worlds player, on the squad.

Davis has been seeded into the pool of death, since there are 4 teams that have the potential to fight for 3 spots in Sunday’s Championship Bracket. While they may not be able to take down Colorado or Harvard, their game against Washington could be the difference maker by the end of the day. Regardless, I expect the Dogs to be able to play tight with every team in this tournament and the experience they gain this weekend will pay off later in the season.

Whitman Sweets

If you are a reader of RSD or Skyd Magazine, you are aware of the recent drama that is associated with Whitman. Coming off a strong tournament win at the Stanford Open, where the Sweets went relatively unchallenged until the finals, Whitman was given the nod by Skyd Magazine to be contained in their mid season Top 20. With talent like Jeremy Norden and Jacob Janin, Whitman is currently undefeated, beating notable out of region opponents, CSU Long Beach, Air Force and Brown. It should be interesting to see if the Sweets can live up to the status that has been given to them as I’m sure a lot of Northwest small schools are rooting for them.

In my opinion, I expect this pool to go according to seed, with the exception being if Harvard can take the one seed from Colorado. However, I would love to see the Sweets give all of these teams a game and then do well in the bottom half of the bracket play.

Pool C

British Columbia Thunderbirds

Lovingly dubbed Furious (George) Lite, UBC contains four plays from last year’s angry monkey squad. Handlers John Norris and Aaron Liu are joined by Aaron Loach and Andre Gailits, forming a Thunderbirds squad that looks to be the force to be reckoned with in the West. In a weakened Northwest Region (with the losses of UCSC, Stanford and Cal), UBC is looking to improve on their loss in the game to go to Nationals from last season. If the success of their region continues, with Washington and Oregon both playing well, it is possible that the Northwest walks away with three bids to Nationals come May. With an experienced roster that according to a source plays some stellar goal line defense, the Thunderbirds are poised for their first test against some of the best teams in the nation.

In a pool containing four teams and three bids to Sunday, UBC should have absolutely no trouble advancing. Whether or not they get a guarranteed quarters birth is most likely going to depend on if they can beat a young and fiery Wisconsin squad. Saturday at 2:00pm PST should be able to give us a lot of information on just how good the Thunderbirds are.

Wisconsin Hodags

The Hodags step into the ring with an impressive Warm-Up performance under their belt. With a split season series against CUT, Wisconsin has shown that their depth, intense defense and explosive offense are nothing to be trifled with. Since they have been indoors for two months, it is possible that Wisconsin could have some rust to shake off. However, similar to my thoughts about Carleton, Pool C should not have enough firepower to disrupt Wisco’s plans of making it deep into Sunday. Led by all-stars Ben Feldman, John Bergen and Cullen Geppert, Wisconsin has the guns to score at any moment with strong disc skills, and a level of conditioning that has become legendary amongst the ultimate community.

Since Wisconsin will have 2 games against weaker opponents to get their stuff together, I expect them to play UBC to their fullest of their ability. I have heard that both of these can get chippy at times, which may slow this game down, giving the advantage to the in shape boys in baby blue. Will Hodag Love prevail in this match-up? I’ll give them the nod.

California UGMO

Towards the end of the fall when Skyd was asking teams for their opinion of who could win Nationals this year, I dropped UGMO as one of the possibilities. With talent like Andrew Hagen, who could be seen skying Eli Friedman twice in their surprise win over Oregon at the pre-quarters of Nationals last year, and ex-CUT captain and Callahan nominee Sam Kanner, who wouldn’t think they’d have a shot. In the off-season, Cal lost their Kris “Mateo” Thomson, who was their rock at Nationals last year, and Will DeLoache, whose pulls you can see in the introduction of their highlight videos from last season. Despite this fact, UGMO has played well, losing only 4 of 14 games, and only losing to one out of region opponent. However, the dominance that I expected from them makes me think that UGMO is young and plays inconsistent, since on one hand they can beat a team like Washington, while on the other hand they can lose to UCSB twice.

Cal runs a vertical stack on offense, with their first look often going towards the break-side. Look for them to take some deep shots, but only when they are relatively good decisions. If they still as disciplined as they were last May in Madison, look for a consistent and patient offense. Hopefully Kanner’s injuries have healed and with his return, UGMO can pack that extra punch that would give them the edge.

If UGMO continues this weekend with their results from SB Invite and Pres Day, I expect them to hold seed. If they can get a few things together, I can see Cal beating either UBC or Wisconsin in this pool that can be wide open for the taking.

Stanford Bloodthirsty

From 2003-2007 and 2009, Stanford had made the semi-finals of Nationals, losing to the eventual champion every time. Bloodthirsty has produced talent like Robbie Cahill, Tom James, Nicolai Schlag and Mark Sherwood, all of whom were on either or both of the Revolver squads from the past two years (James was not on the team this year). For the first time since ’03 (or before, since Score Reporter does not show results from back then), Stanford did not qualify for Nationals last year. Also losing big play-maker Chris McCarty has left Stanford gasping for air in their attempts to rebuild. From their performance at the SB Invite, it looks like Stanford is slated for another disappointing season. However, teams tend to come out of nowhere and surprise us, so I would be delighted to see Bloodthristy give some teams a pain this weekend. Still possessing players like Ryan Thompson and Jacob Speidel, both of whom made the semi-finals run in 2009, gives Stanford the experience they need. On a side note, I find it interesting that they have had such a hard time finding newer talent as their recruitment video was ridiculous ( and their program’s success speaks for itself.

Personally, I do not think that Stanford will be able to break in Sunday’s bracket play. Also, while I think the Cal-Stanford showcase idea is awesome, I do not think this match-up will be as close as in years past. Check out this video, courtesy of Stanford, of this match-up at the 2009 Invite:

Pool D

Initially I thought that this pool was definitely the pool of death. However, since three out of four teams advance, I have recently changed my mind.

Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur

As with last year, many people believe that this is Pitt’s year. However, at the Queen City Tune Up last year, En Sabah Nur found themselves losing to teams that many believe shouldn’t have given them a challenge. This fact, coupled with their weak showing at Centex gave Pitt a poor early season reputation. Obviously they were able to play past this fact, earning their first semi-finals appearance to Nationals, beating Colorado Mamabird in the process. After losing to CUT in the semis in possibly one of the most anticipated games of the tournament, I’m sure Pitt is absolutely drooling over the prospect of getting another shot at CUT. However, this time Pitt is the older and more experience squad.

Returning virtually their entire roster including studs Chris Brenenborg (Junior Worlds ’08), Eddie Peters (Junior Worlds Alternate, Southpaw Player), Alex Throne (Junior Worlds ’08) and absolute beast Tyler Degirolamo, Pitt looks like they can take it all this season on paper. However, they are not given an easy road in Stanford, having to play an Oregon team that surprised many with their performance at Pres Day and a San Diego State team that is stacked and is ready to take the huge leap into Nationals. If Pitt was in the same situation as Carleton, I would say that the road to the quarters would be handed on a silver platter to them. However, I would not be surprised if either Ego or SDSU pulled out a win. The coaching of David Vatz (apologies if that is misspelled) and the leadership of Colin Conner should be the rocks that keep Pitt from dropping any unexpected games.

Look for Pitt to spread the field out a lot, with hucks coming from Thorne, Peters and Brenenborg. Pitt’s cutters are workhorses and often grab uncontested unders until a deep shot to a player like Degirolamo is open. On defense, expect physical and tight man defense. Basically, expect the east coast’s rendition of Carleton.

Oregon Ego

Ego’s performance in the 2010 College Nationals tournament was equivalent to the faltering of Florida in the qualification process of 2009 Nationals. Both of the teams were stacked with talent, won some big regular season tournaments, but when push came to shove, they were unable to put the pieces together. Ego graduates a monsters Eli Janin and Eli Friedman, along with some lesser known players Kevin Minderhout, Jackson Kelsay, Miles Raymer, Andy Bryn and Joe Condon. Despite these losses, Oregon was able to come out and go undefeated at Pres Day, beating Texas and Minnesota before leaving early due to travel issues. With Ego getting its first real test this weekend in an incredibly difficult pool, look for them to rely on the talents of future Callahan nominee Cody Bjorkland, freshman sensation Dylan Freechild and the explosive play of Josh Wardle. Check out this highlight of last year’s Stanford Invite where Wardle makes a monster grab on a broken play (

Ego runs a horizontal stack that relies on the disc skills of their handlers for quick movement until a deep look develops. Oregon likes to put up everything, since they are comprised of cutters that are incredibly athletic. Look for Oregon to attempt to huck and score quickly off of turns. With the most inexperienced roster of the top 3 teams in pool D, look for Ego to rely on their athleticism and raw talent to propel them to quarters on Sunday.

San Diego State Federalis

Possibly the strongest Southwest team at the moment, the Federalis bring an explosive offense anchored by an experienced bunch of athletes. Led by Dom Leggio and Streetgang player Tim Gilligan, SDSU looks to improve on their loss in the backdoor bracket of Regionals last year. Running the spread/split stack offense, the Feds rely on the cutting talents of Kevin Cocks, Jackson Stearns, Tyler Crothers and Justin “Bobble” Elliot. Jackson is one of the most dominant cutters in California with the height and speed to get the disc deep or the agility and skills to get the in and send it. While they are athletic, the boys from San Diego State are also confident, as they believe that this is their year.

Coached by Steven Prodan of Streetgang, Will Griffin and Cliff Smith, the Feds have the ability to stay cool in big game situations.  On defense, SDSU likes to mix it up, either running a tight man defense or their patented box zone. Relying on the impatience of other teams, this zone provides easier resets, but as the defenders near the cup only adjust slightly, they do not get as tired as with traditional defenses. When the offense gets impatient, look for the down-field defenders to make athletic plays on the disc.

With an experienced squad that has already two tournaments (with two semifinals appearances) under their belt, I think SDSU will turn some heads and take this pool. I’m also rooting for them, so you can call me biased.

California-San Diego Air Squids

Coming off an impressive 2010 College Nationals where they were able to get a universe point win over Oregon in pool play, the Air Squids are in the rebuilding phase. Losing talent like Justin “Bobble” Elliot (now on SDSU) and Stephen “Pumba” Hubbard, UCSD is focusing inward on training their youth and trying to stay competitive. In order to stay in the game, the Squids will rely on the skills of Josh “Forge” Nickerson who basically has plastic magnets for hands. Forge brings his big college game and club (San Diego Streetgang) experience to the table, which should allow UCSD to still be competitive in the college series. UCSD runs a horizontal stack that spreads the disc around. The main goal of the offense is to work the huck whenever possible, so watch for swings between the handlers and even a stagnant offense at times until the deep option options. Here is some footage courtesy of Jacob Baumer, current player of Cal State Long Beach, which exhibits the abilities of the San Diego system:

Don’t expect any wins in Pool D from the Squids, but they might be able to snag a win or two on Sunday.


Pool A
1. CUT
2. UC-Santa Cruz
3. Texas
4. UC-Santa Barbara
5. Tufts

Pool B
1. Colorado
2. Harvard
3. Washington
4. UC-Davis
5. Whitman

Pool C
1. Wisconsin
2. British Columbia
3. California
4. Stanford

Pool D
1. San Diego State
2. Oregon
3. Pitt
4. UC-San Diego


1. Harvard vs. California
2. British Columbia vs. Washington
3. UC-Santa Cruz vs. Pitt
4. Oregon vs. Texas

Quarters (Everything past here is completely guessing and is just for my fun)

1. CUT vs. Harvard
2. San Diego State vs. British Columbia
3. Colorado vs. Pitt
4. Wisconsin vs. Oregon


1. CUT vs. San Diego State
2. Colorado vs. Oregon


CUT vs. Colorado

Other Thoughts

In comparison to years past, this years Stanford Invite is going to be more heavily weighted. With Cultimate folding, Trouble in Vegas and Centex are two events that will not be showcasing as many elite teams as the Invite and College Easterns (not to take away from Centex which still has a solid and impressive line-up). With some of the elite teams only going to three sanctioned regular season tournaments, events that group different regions like Stanford and Easterns will help decide how bids are allocated for Nationals. With the Northwest and Central being dominant, the Stanford Invite will provide some interesting opportunities for proving dominance or allowing a shift in power. Some great discussion will result from this weekend.

Enjoy the action!

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