The SB Invite is typically full of SW teams all trying to figure things out. Most teams recently returned from winter break meaning their few practices have been highly saturated with conditioning & overall ultimate content. So the teams loaded with veterans tend to have the best results at this tournament. For Example; UW, UBC, SDSU, and UC Santa Cruz were semi final teams last year and all came into the season with many returners who could handle the lack of practice.
As for the pools…
Chico has always been athletic but the past two years they seem to have been approaching the game with more purpose and focus. Less flannels & nalgenes of colored beverages and more hard defense, discipline, and big plays. They are known for running a horizontal stack offense and utilizing multiple zone D looks. They’ll look to put it often and will be competitive if they’re connecting on a high percentage of their hucks.
SDSU had a great run last year but fell short in the end at Regionals. They lost several stand out seniors and 5th years and will now be a younger team. With younger teams come typical younger team mistakes. However seniors Dominic Leggio and Steven Milardovich have grown into stand out players since playing for Streetgang this summer. They will be the ones to lead this team and build off last years successes. Look for SDSU to run possession based vertical through Leggio and remain a physical defensive team.
Stanford comes off a Nationals Quarter Finals appearance last season, but lost at least 9 players to graduation. They have a program that just keeps winning, so you cannot count them out in any year. At Sean Ryan they looked athletic and energized but were a bit too rusty. The mistakes were too much, as Stanford ended up losing to Cal. However, I expect they will be much more polished come Saturday. With Ben Funk out of Santa Barbara, look for Jordan Jeffery to carry a majority of the offensive load.
I believe this is SLO’s pool to lose. They are the perceived best team in that pool, I say “perceived” because with no results, I could be eating my words later on. Jake Juszak will be ruling the skies and Peter Raines will be touching the disc every other throw. The only thing that I would be concerned about if I was SLO would be depth, but time will tell if that’s an issue.
UCLA returns a lot of guys from last year which, as I stated before, may be helpful this weekend. They seem to have moved away from an handler centric offense that was typical UCLA for a long time, now putting the disc down the field and trusting their play makers. Experience and chemistry are helpful early in the season and will likely lead to a successful tournament this early in the season.
Santa Cruz is the opposite of UCLA in that there are no returners, or at least not anyone of note. However, they are well coached, so expect a prepared team.
Cal-Poly Pomona won the qualifier so they will have a lot of confidence working in their favor. We’ll see if they can turn that into W’s.
In the end, I think the SLO vs UCLA game will be the best game of this pool.
Cal is in the same league as Stanford in my opinion, as they looked good at Sean Ryan, and they have an army of guys who are athletic play makers. They have a system that they know and trust, filling in the gaps with studs like James Pollard and Andrew Hagen. They are definitely the favorite to win this pool.
USCB Black Tide is always tough at their home tourney. Especially so this year, since most of their guys played on Condors together. Playing throughout the summer breeds chemistry, which like I said before will be important in an early season tournament.. They will challenge Cal with physicality, and a well spaced, poised offense.
UCSD has a lot of good players and are well coached but they are young and who knows how they will respond to adversity. Playing long time rival UCSB in pool play should motivate the Squids. They continue to run their split stack offense, other teams will need to take away the center of the field to be successful against SD.
Cal-Poly Pomona has been trying to build a program for a few years now, playing in the SB Invite will be huge for these guys (and girls?).
This pool I have no idea what to expect from any team. UW went to Nationals last year and graduated studs Phil Murray and Bryson “Tatanka” Uhrig-Fox. They went to the finals of this tourney last year and I would assume that they expect to be there again. Davis is young but hungry and with Kevin Cissna coaching they should play close to their top potential. Long Beach will probably have a skeleton roster after lots of turnover the past two seasons. And who knows anything about Williams, quite the trip to make all the way from MA. I’m thinking no one wins this pool outright, two teams will finish 2-1 and someone takes it on point dif. This is absolutely the most interesting pool of the tourney.