The AUDL is a great product. The owners, the players, the refs, everyone involved has really done a great job putting together a polished product that hits on many of the weaknesses of the more prominent version of the game and despite my bias, I am happy very with what they have delivered. (Full Disclosure: I’m currently serving as the broadcast color commentator for the Connecticut Constitution.)
Unfortunately, it is faced with a challenge we all recognize. Like many similar ventures, success has nothing to do what happens on the field, but rather in the books. Considering that there isn’t a competing alternative week-to-week and each team actually has the talent to entertain, I think Ultimate players/fans enthusiasts should save the obvious criticisms and take it upon themselves to support such a brave endeavor with comparatively modest financial contributions. I offered up my $10 this weekend and I think most flatballers out there should do the same.
Apart from my ranting, here are some thoughts on each team (which will be given as comparisons to the NBA).
Rhode Island Rampage (lost to CTC 23-29) – This team seems to be indicative of the San Antonio Spurs. Much like the Spurs, RI is not exactly an Ultimate powerhouse, but that does not mean they are not an exceptional team. At the moment they are lacking in chemistry, but considering the fact that they have some of the most successful individual players in the league, they can and should be very good come August. Teddy is a very composed player ala Tim Duncan and his leadership should be valuable in getting RI past their unfamiliarity with one another. Support in an area that isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with Ultimate enthusiasts will likely be the bigger challenge.
Connecticut Constitution (beat RIR 29-23) – John Korber and Chris Mazur have put together a team that reminds me a lot of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Korber, like Kevin Durant, is an explosive highlight reel of talent that plays with a swagger and a consistency that all can admire. Mazur on the other had is a lot like Westbrook. He is similarly talented, but packaged in a different body. More importantly, his complimentary skills are just what is needed to get W’s. I am not sure if CTC has what it takes to win it all, but like OKC, they may be the most cohesive group in the league.
Philadelphia Spinners (beat BH 26-14) – The expectations for Philly seem akin to the Miami Heat. This is likely the case because the squad is basically Southpaw, which will definitely play dividends for them. Trey has a fantastic mind for the game and after watching CTC’s chemistry take it to RI’s talent, I suspect the Spinners to be suited up in the Silver Dome. It is weird to see games in an official capacity be played with teams unfamiliar with one another, but that is just the nature of the AUDL’s inaugural year. Considering that practice opportunities will be at a premium, Southpaw should dominate for the sole reason that they have an identity no other team can match.
Buffalo Hunters (lost to PS 14-26) – The Hunters are in for a long season and an opener against Philly was an early reality check. In the tougher Eastern Division, Buffalo will have their hands full. From an NBA perspective they make me think of the Nets. Like New Jersey, Buffalo is in a division packed with teams fighting to win it all, while they are just trying to keep their heads above water.
Indianapolis AlleyCats (lost to CC 21-22 2OT) – Brodie Smith’s move to Indy seems to be indicative of Chris Paul’s move to LA and his body type is as close to Blake Griffin as we have in Ultimate. Like the Clippers, Indy went from obscurity to headliner overnight and will be entertaining regardless of their record. Their double OT thriller out of the gate is a good start (despite the final result) and hopefully Brodie is up to the challenge of carrying his team’s hype and hope.
Columbus Cranes (beat IAC 22-21 2OT) – Like the Celtics, the most successful days for these players was a few years ago. Similar to the Spinners, Columbus is largely composed of a single club team (Madcow) and should have success in the weaker Western Division. Their opening win over Indy is a good sign that a solid team can beat a single phenomenal player. However, once they go up against the more talented teams of the East, they will likely be humbled. Prove me wrong.
Detroit Mechanix (lost to BGR 17-19) – Detroit is a lot like the 76ers in that they seem to be a scrappy team of under achievers that may be able to accomplish great things as a collective. Many players are from Michigan State and Overhaul, which both have had success in the past, but not comparable to the likes of players from Indy, CT, RI, and Philly. Their loss to Kentucky isn’t encouraging, but like many teams with common roots, they should be able to step up against more talented teams.
Blue Grass Revolution (beat DM 19-17) – Considering a lack of Ultimate success out of Kentucky, I can’t say much about this team yet. Their win over Detroit was impressive and makes me think the team is ‘country strong’. With this in mind, they remind me of the Denver Nuggets. No one thought Denver would win after losing their star to New York, but they are actually better. I am not sure how either team does it, but that really doesn’t matter.
Feature photo of Match Diesel interviewing Christopher Mazur of the Connecticut Constitutions