This preview and the 2012 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate
In 2011, the South Central Region saw Colorado, Colorado College, and Texas advance to College Nationals. 2012 saw those three teams deal with key personnel losses while a new power emerged in the region, Texas A&M. Will they be booking a trip to Boulder?
Location: Austin, TX
Date: May 5 – May 6
# of Bids: 2
Key Wins: Iowa, Michigan State, Whitman, Florida
Mamabird is one of the premier college teams, having made it to the Big Show every year since 1999. Colorado began 2012 perhaps still reeling from the losses of All-Region players Matty Zemel, Hylke Snieder, Jack McShane and seven other “very important and irreplaceable players,” according to Captain Tim Morrisey. After a disappointing 5th place finish at Pres Day, due to a quarters loss to Washington, Mamabird rebounded with solid finishes at Stanford Invite (6th) and Centex (T-7th). However, it is apparent that this is not the same team that finished T-3rd at Nationals last year, as they have just a 2-7 record against Top-20 teams in 2012. This can be partly attributed to a concerted effort by Mamabird to grow throughout the season. After graduating so many important pieces, Mamabird was left with a young core and used the regular season to give their large freshman class a lot of playing time to improve throughout the season.
This year, Mamabird is Captained by Tim Morrisey, Jackson Kloor and Jimmy Mickle. The offense primarily flows through main distributor Chris Bubernak and the long hucks that Jimmy Mickle puts to Hidde Snieder (guess who’s brother he is?) and Kloor. James Mitchell is their defensive playmaker, matching up on the opponent’s best player each game. NexGen stud Jimmy Mickle is without a doubt the team’s MVP. The unofficial “Best Puller in Ultimate,” Mickle is a beast on both sides of the disc and can completely take over games. Whether or not Mamabird makes it to Nationals is very dependent on his play.
Colorado did not face much of a challenge at Rocky Mountain Conferences; the 13-9 win over Colorado State was apparently the result of several players being benched for showing up late to the game. However, after giving up just two total points at Conferences last year and winning the Region with relative ease, a 15-13 final win over Colorado College notwithstanding, this Colorado team is simply not dominating like they did last year and that could be exploited this weekend at Regionals. Jimmy Mickle and Co. have a much tougher task ahead of them this year if they want to assure a 14th straight Nationals appearance. One thing to look forward to for Mamabird is the return of Morrisey who has missed a chunk of the season due to groin surgery.
Texas A&M Dozen
Key Wins: Texas, UNC-W, Notre Dame
After an unfortunate ending to their 2011 season after being ranked 34th (they couldn’t attend Regionals due to a variety of issues), Texas A&M improved again this year and finished the regular season ranked 25th in the country. Though last time Dozen won a game against TUFF at Conferences/Sectionals was 2004, that all changed a couple weeks ago when Dozen met TUFF for the second time and triumphed. After a tight 11-12 loss in pool play, Dozen broke the TUFF offense twice to start the game and never looked back, taking half 8-7 and getting another break later for a 12-9 lead, eventually finishing TUFF off 15-11.
The main knock against Texas A&M this year was the lack of quality wins due to the tournaments they attended, though that wasn’t from lack of trying. A clerical error in their school office kept them from attending Mardi Gras and their bid was rejected for Centex, forcing them to settle for “lesser” tournaments.
Captains Patrick Marco and Cameron Williams have emphasized nothing but defense and conditioning from the beginning of the Fall. Marco told me, “We’ve got something to prove. No one respects us, and they aren’t going to respect us until we prove them wrong.” Well, winning the Conference this year should be more than enough to get A&M on the radar of teams and tournament directors across the country. Since then, the A&M Captains have changed their tune a bit, adopting a more aggressive style at practices and emphasizing that they still need to push to get to the next level. “I want there to be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we’re a team that deserves to go to nationals,” Marco said.
Sophomore Matt Bennett is the primary distributor on Dozen and possibly the most valuable player on the team. Incredibly dangerous with the disc, he has been known to throw things no one, not even his own teammates, expects to see coming. South Texas finals unexpectedly ended when Bennett put a flick blade to the opposite corner endzone for the final score.
All-Region Nominee Matt “Yetti” Costello is another player to watch on this exciting young team. He is the team’s best cutter and an intimidating player to match up against. FOTY Nominee Dalton Smith played with Bennett in high school and has become his favorite target on the field.
Dozen is fired up right now and ready to keep proving their doubters wrong at Regionals. The question is, will they keep it going?
Key Wins: Colorado, Pittsburgh, Stanford, California
Texas is also a premier college team, having made Nationals in 8 of the past 10 years. TUFF stumbled a bit at the mudfest that was Mardi Gras this year, though rebounded with impressive results at Stanford Invite and Centex. The TUFF offense runs through All-Region Nominee Will Driscoll, a giant on the field who is a lock to make more than a few spectacular plays every game. Junior Chris Brooks, Grad Student Andrew Klotz (former Captain), Seniors Will Campbell, Aditya Yerrapragada, and Captains Trey LeMastres and Ryan Piersall all bring poise and experience to a veteran TUFF team.
Coach Calvin Lin is also an outstanding coach who helps TUFF adjust to any team’s strength. He has been coaching Texas for over a dozen years now and has an incredible knowledge of the sport. Lin’s coaching prowess can be seen in the team’s near flawless utilization of the vert-stack offense, which rivals any in the sport today.
TUFF has shown that they can play with any team in the country. Looking past Mardi Gas Sunday, their only losses were to Minnesota, Stanford, Wisconsin, and Tufts by a combined six points. A few passes here or there and we could have been talking about this team as the potential #1 seed at Nationals. Instead, TUFF finished the season ranked 10th in the country and has seen their stock slip a bit from there with close games against A&M and Texas State in pool play at Conferences and the finals loss to A&M. That could drop them down to the 3rd seed at Regionals. Texas’ results clearly show that they have the personnel, depth, and experience to play with any team in the country, but they’ll have to make it out of their own Region first to prove it on the big stage.
– Several of the captains and key players of TUFF and Dozen played together on a club team called H.I.P this past summer, including both team’s captains
Key Wins: Illinois, Luther, Missouri
Having qualified for Nationals in 5 of the past 8 years, the Kansas Horrorzontals are always a threat to end a season or two at Regionals. Kansas only attended two tournaments this year, upsetting Illinois and Luther at Free State Classic back in February on their way to an 8th place finish, and placing 5th at Huck Finn one month ago. Both tournaments saw the HorrorZontals come out of the gate strongly on Saturday, going a combined 9-0, before faltering in Quarters of bracket play on Sunday, with losses to Oklahoma at Free State and St Louis at Huck Finn. Kansas can’t afford to falter early on Sunday at Regionals, as it will likely knock them out of contention for a bid to Nationals. One key player to watch out for is All-Region Nominee Brett Hidaka.
The HorrorZontals are led by 4th year senior captains Vinny Ciaramitaro (handler), Joe Young (handler), and Bruce Tuschoff (cutter) and coached by former Zontal, Joe Nickels.
Zontals have significant depth in skill, athleticism, and experience. A large core of the team has been playing together for the past 4 years. Key pickups in the off season include Simon Gottlieb (Handle-Minnesota) and Jack Colicchio (Cutter- Dickinson).
The team’s freshman have made significant improvement over the season. We expect hard work from them this weekend, but most of the play-making will come from the upperclassmen. The Zontals pride themselves in their defensive intensity and aggressiveness.
One matchup to watch out for include D1 vs D3 at 9AM, Kansas vs. Texas State, as Texas State came out firing early at Conferences and took Texas to 13-11 on the first game of Saturday. The 1 seeds should all advance to semis, though Texas A&M will face challenges from Missouri (who were hot earlier in the Regular Season) and Colorado College (who despite a poor W-L record have a lot of experience playing against top competition this year). Texas will also have to fight off a strong Arkansas squad that was the 1 seed at Ozark Conferences before faltering against Kansas and Kansas State and dropping to 3rd.
Did I miss out on anyone from the Region who deserves a mention? Feel free to give a shout-out to your favorite South Central player in the comments section!
Fun Facts about the South Central Region:
- Jimmy Mickle has a twin sister who plays for the University of Colorado Women’s Team.
- Baylor made Regionals this year for the first time ever, in just their third year of existence.
- Colorado has won their Regional tournament for seven consecutive years (note that they used to be part of the old Southwest Region).
- Texas-B has qualified for Regionals six out of the past nine years.
- Kansas has not lost a game on Saturday all season, going a combined 13-0 at Free State, Huck Finn, and Ozark Conferences.