After three games of the 2012 NexGen tour, the NexGen All-Stars have had time to come together as a team and we here at IB have had time to come up with some opinions (surprise?). Despite not returning some big name players from last year’s team such as Stubbs, Bjorklund, and Montague, the 2012 edition of The Bus has quite a few advantages over the 2011 team, three of which stand out immediately.
- There are at least 8 people on this tour that were there in 2011 (maybe more, but this is off the top of my head). There are 5 returning players, Colin Camp, Dylan Freechild, Eric Johnson, Nick Lance, and Jimmy Mickle, who all know what to expect from the bus and from the teams they’re up against. There are also 3 returning crew members, Brian Bedord, Josh Wardle, and Kevin Minderhout, all of whom know the ropes. These experienced tour members should help the 2012 crew have a much smoother journey than the 2011 team.
- There are 7 NexGen players (Freechild, Kocher, Janin, Li, Mickle, Rehder, and Thorne) that played for the USA junior worlds team and thus have experience both playing together and in the same system.
- The 2012 edition of the NexGen tour has a lot of height. Last year’s team had 5 players listed at 6’2’’ or taller, one of whom was injured throughout the tour. This year’s team has 6 players listed at 6’2’’ or taller, all of whom are healthy (as of now).
What these advantages spell out to me is a team that will find it’s offensive rhythm much sooner into the tour than the 2011 edition. With their full roster available against Chicago’s Machine, I expect to see NexGen run out an offense that takes advantage of both their pre-existing chemistry and their size.
As they’ve shown in their first two games, NexGen is comfortable operating out of a vertical stack. We’ll likely see Lance and Li around the disc, with Lance running the show and Li acting as the reset handler, Haas seems to fit well as the slot handler, then look for Mickle, Rehder, and DeGirolamo to use their height well with 1-1 match-ups in the lanes. I’d expect the last spot on the offensive line to be filled by a speedy cutter, most likely Janin, but possibly Thorne or Freechild. While many other NexGen All-Stars play offense for their respective college and club teams, it should be noted that they come from completely different systems and won’t necessarily fit in the vert stack system the Bus’ O is running.
On defense, NexGen has shown a willingness to play both man and zone/junk. The defense they run is not so important as they’re all good athletes, the potential issue for their D team is not knowing how to play offense together after a turn. To solve an potential system issues, I expect NexGen to strike quickly off of turnovers. Look for big throwers like Eric Johnson, Alex Thorne, and Dylan Freechild to release big speedy cutters Will Driscoll, Tommy Lamar, Camden Allison-Hall, and Colin Camp on the fast break.
This all adds up to a very dangerous team that has a good shot at finishing with a better record than the 2011 edition.
Looks like I got a few things right (Lance running the O show, EJ on D) and a few things wrong (more Mickle on D, Camp and Allison-Hall on O, many more). Those things aside I think NexGen made some big strides in their game against Machine.
- NexGen recognized Machine wasn’t using junk D or poaches to stop the NexGen O, and as such they utilized a side stack to create extra room for their cutters to operate 1 v 1.
- Their big men did a very good job seeing the motion of their opponent’s handlers and poaching deep off of up-line cuts.
- They kept the game exciting even with a lead by taking lots of shots to the endzone (important for an all-star tour)
Question for the reader: is starting the tour against 4 teams they beat last year a good thing for the All-Stars? Will it help them when they come up against semis caliber competition? What do you all think their record will be by the end of the tour?
Feature photo of Nick Lance with an incredible layout d by Don Rummelhart