Check out Michael Aguilar’s video of the Open final from this past weekend’s Division III Nationals in Buffalo, New York:
The closer I got to boarding my flight to Buffalo, the more I regretted not devoting more time to covering DIII Nationals here on Inside Breaks. Now, after being at the event all weekend, I really regret it.DIII Nationals was awesome! Enthusiasm and intensity were high and it was clear from their play on the field that teams had prepared diligently for this weekend. I think that a lot of people consider DIII to be an afterthought for the teams that attend, but that just isn’t true.
DIII Nationals gave me a lot to think about. When you watch teams that have a small talent pool and fewer coaching resources but a possess a big drive to succeed, you notice a lot about the demands of ultimate’s highest level. Here’s some of what I saw on both the Open and Women’s side…
- Teams this year looked a lot more polished than last year. The threshold for throwing and catching was a lot higher and there were fewer unforced errors. It’s a good sign that fundamentals are on the rise.
- On that note, most teams struggled with more abstract concepts like field spacing and timing, so it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that very few teams had coaches. Just another reminder of what some solid instruction, repetition, and positive reinforcement can do for a group of players.
- The biggest difference between these teams and their DI counterparts was defense. As exemplified in the Open final, offenses often ran smoothly, but as this post on RSD notes, it was defensive pressure that was lacking. Most teams only had three or four guys capable of shutting down cuts and playing physically on D, and there weren’t many zone looks aside from standard three and four-person cups.
- I’d say that on the Open side, the top five or so teams had guys that would make top 10 DI rosters without needing any more development. On the Women’s side, I think that number actually goes deeper.
I think that the number of DIII-eligible teams that strive to win DIII Nationals is only going to continue to grow. The success of this past weekend ought to be a big help.