To start, I’m not a sports writer and if you want good commentary about Ultimate you should probably read some Burruss, Leonardo or Inside Breaks.
I won’t give more than two sentences to NexGen’s first two games with 2010 national teams Furious and Sockeye. The college boys had only been together three or four days before facing teams that combined have six national titles and two world titles over the past ten years. In both matches, NexGen played well and used their athleticism to keep close to the juggernauts. The match ups were great fun to watch.
However, the third stop for NexGen in Portland proved to be the defining moment of synergy for the bus. After being tempered by the might of Furious and Sockeye, NexGen came out being truly bonded as a team, not just a hand full of all-stars. The cohesion of the team was obvious.
NexGen, aside from throwing really far and jumping like a velociraptor at trampoline convention, stuck to their playbook: Dump and swing vehemently. Take deep shots to one-on-one matchups. Play to the wall defense and contest all long balls.
Hucks came on a hair trigger and the connections between thrower and receiver. I counted only two, maybe three times where miscues caused a NexGen turn.
Rhino at times had great handler motion to counter, moving the disc easily from sideline to sideline. But defensive speed and great marks kept the moving disc from really finding targets downfield. Desperation deep throws instead of smooth disc movement saw disaster strike Rhino.
Due to the fast breaks that NexGen threw at the home team, Rhino could never find their rhythm. The disc movers always seemed to be a throw ahead or behind their cutters.
Most visibly, the Portland offense suffered for this with almost complete stagnation in the second half. NexGen showed they could contain the deep yet pressure the under. Portland appeared stunned. No movement, no cuts and relying almost completely on tricky, breakmark throws to stationary receivers to get any sign of offense initiated.
At other points, the Rhino handlers were happy to play catch between two point guards, gaining little, ignoring downfield cutting and effectively shutting down their own offense. This, coupled with NexGen’s unified switchy defense contained the game completely.
Now don’t get me wrong, Rhino is a team that plays with passion and as such will always be a spectacular team to watch and a great team to match up against. They have the talent and potential. Yet, that passion swings them into greatness and down to team turmoil. Jensen, Perston, Melius, the Bruce (aka Meatbat) are all amazing players who did what they do best, but the core of Rhino seemed to get bogged down by the younger team.
Maybe it was the home crowd for Freechild and Bjorkland. Maybe it was the confidence of each NexGen player’s great college season bringing back some confidence and collected play. Or maybe Rhino just couldn’t run with the young guns.
This was a loss for Rhino. They took themselves out of the game early with off the mark hucks and an inability to create plays. Rhino will have a hard grind ahead to prove they deserve one of two bids to the big show in October. But moreover, this is a great win for NexGen. The first notch in their belt. I’m excited to see how many more cities will fall.
My prediction? If these college kids can stay healthy they’ll dominate the last five teams they face like Lebron in the Chinese basketball league.
Thanks to the NexGen crew and Ultivillage for hosting the videos. If you haven’t purchased the NexGen subscription from Ultivillage yet, you’re a fool. It’s worth every minute and they could use the gas money.