I return to my roots this weekend and kick off the Skyd College Tour presented by Spin Ultimate with coverage of the Joint Summit Classic. Big names have been added late, including Florida, Georgia, and UNCW. For the most part, this is going to be a battle of two regions, the Atlantic Coast and the Southeast. Lets get right into what to watch for:
Will Florida be the beast of the South East?
For the last few years there’s been the talk of “Can Florida sustain it’s success?”. With an early exit from 2011 Nationals, there are doubters all over the place. People still underestimate Florida as an Ultimate program. Yes, for them to be on top, they need a Brodie Smith type player. They still have had an ability to turn out playmakers year after year to complement their big stars. This year it will be on Travis Catron, Jason Silverman, and Alan Baird charged with the task to lead Florida back to Boulder.
The thing that’s always fun to watch about Florida is how they maximize their abilities at every position. Only a select few players are allowed the freedom to huck the disc to anyone of their choice. Past that, the remaining skilled players are given the opportunity to huck to the first group. Finally, there are only players who are allowed to catch and dump it. Florida trains it’s younger players to “be the best dumpers in the country.”, from Kurt Gibson in this old article from the huddle. In my talks with Cole Sullivan and Co. Florida’s system is much more specialized like a basketball team would be, compared to a system like Carleton’s that may be much more analogous to a soccer-style offense.
Will Georgia stay in development mode?
Georgia told me at Easterns “Don’t worry about us”, and they were partially right. Throughout the season they had stayed in development mode and looked to peak when it counted most. Despite their lackluster regular season results, Georgia played Florida incredibly tough in the regional final. It will be interesting to see if they take the same approach this year or take steps starting now to put together a string of good results in efforts to grab a strength bid. At Classic City Classic, Elliott Erickson was absent from the field, we’ll get our first chance to see how he works with the offense this weekend.
Can UNCW grab a second bid for the AC?
Similarly to Georgia, UNCW fell victim to a one bid region by losing in the finals to UVA. There’s no doubt that UNCW will be prepared to battle UNC for supremacy, but will they attempt to peak in the regular season to make life a little easier come May? Wins over Georgia and Florida would be a great start towards that goal. The Seamen always bring an edge to any game they play and can cement themselves as number 2 in the AC region by going deep into the tournament. Tommy Lamar is the player to watch, and will be a difficult match up for any defender he draws on the weekend. There will be more details to report in our recaps at the end of the weekend.
Can USC beat teams ahead of them?
South Carolina has proven that they can beat the mid level tiered teams in the AC region. They have not been able to take the next step despite having a talented squad. This team is led by play makers Chris Van Thiel, Robert Locke, Woody Paschal, and we finally are going to see a glimpse of Chuck Turner who is returning from Australia for the spring season. It’s clear that there is chemistry on this squad, but they will need to value possession to be successful against the top teams at Joint Summit. With them being the 4th seed, the most intriguing match up on Saturday is their game against Appalachian State, the 5 seed.
Where does Appalachain State stand in the AC?
We’ve seen great fall results from an up-and-coming squad, but we know how confusing that can be. Even though it’s the early spring, teams will start playing for keeps. With three Cash Crop players, Spencer Olmsted, Micah Hood, and Justin Allen, they are well on their way into developing into a formidable foe. Like I said earlier, I’ve got my eye on them for Saturday for their match-up versus USC, which will really show whether or not they deserve serious consideration for being in the top part of the region.
Breaking through the mold, W&M, FSU, Alabama and Clemson
These four teams have made noise at one point in time or another over the last several years. W&M has Andrew Fickley, a dynamic handler that will be tough to stop.
Alabama still has Zack Moore, but the absence of Tim Brady is sure to hurt. FSU has the ever consistent Nick Fletcher, and Elijah (Still not Skydjah) Grady wanting to be more than an afterthought in the South East region. Clemson is led by James Cox, an underrated junior that should be on the radar to push Clemson towards a regional berth.
The “Hey, we have sweet jerseys” Crew
The Charleston Bums of course always look fantastic in their sublimated jerseys depicting a South Carolina Sunset. They sound even better when they do their rendition of the National Anthem before the start of a tournament. But I digress, this squad is led by Adam Bailey and a large upper class that’s looking to make Regionals in 2012. I know this feeling all too well, as my time was spent getting teams to Regionals, not competing at them. That doesn’t change any level of the satisfaction that the team will feel if they achieve their goal.
Speaking of that team I was on… Buffalo
Led by Mitch Wheeler, Jon Bain, and Rob Smith, these guys are excited especially for one thing: warm weather. With a low of 50, this is weather that the boys won’t be seeing until May comes around in Princeton. Sam, Sam, Sam, I am.
What to expect for coverage…
- Tweeting all day Saturday follow No_Look_Scoober on twitter
- Video Recap of Saturday Play
- Audio Streaming Play by Play of the Semis and Finals
- Written Recap – Monday
- Game of the Week – Tuesday/Possibly with Video
- Jersey Jumble – Wednesday