At Worlds, while USA Open was winning close games over Australia and Canada, a couple of us debated about who we would subtract and add from Revolver to improve the squad. Lou Burruss then wrote a piece on creating a selection committee and creating a Team USA that represented the best of the best. In the first conversation, chemistry was held to be an important piece of the puzzle. However, it was clear to us that the out of sync Revolver in Sakai was not the same as the firing on all cylinders squad that we’ve see in Sarasota. With Worlds being in early July, and seeing how other top club teams are doing at this time vs. NexGen, makes us believe that a Dream Team would be a better option for competing against the world.
That being said, chemistry is still an important part of how the Dream Team would work. During our week long debate, the thought that this many egos wouldn’t be able to play together was touched upon many a time. “That we would have to book the extra seats and pay for the extra baggage for all the ego on the plane”. Our model in this case was the 1992 Dream Team for basketball that carried 11 Hall of Famers. It’s no doubt a challenge for the coach of this team, but it’s a challenge that’s well worth it. If the ’92 squad made it work, and took gold, we can make it work.
After a day or two, the starting line up became solidified relatively quickly. We had active club playing panelists from across the nation to make sure we performed an exhaustive search, not only on the current Open all stars, but anyone who would be on sabbatical or currently playing in Mixed. There were 4 candidates that were considered that are not currently playing club open. Two are retired, while the other two are off playing mixed. Extra points if you have already guessed their names at this point.
Then there were the endless debates on role players. If Kurt Gibson was any indication, he was willing to take a defensive role on Revolver. We know there are star players that are playing big time offensive positions that would be willing to take a “back seat” and do the job on defense. Back seat is used tongue in cheek here, because on this Team USA, more likely that not, the defense is going to get more playing time. We also addressed roles in our back-ups, which become incredibly tough because it was difficult to reach a point of consensus on just about anyone. By the end of it, the question was: are we missing guys that are just good at one thing, specifically, handler defense?
Roles are a funny thing, because we can point to the defensive line of Revolver. The success of Sam Kanner, Russell Wynne, Jonathan Levy, and Ryo Kawoaka is obvious on the club level. We can look to other players across the country and see players who are not good all around, but perform a specific function well on a squad. If we just isolate that one role, in this case handler defense, we have to ask the question who would be the best, not just who is currently the best in that role. This is the important distinction. If that role player isn’t on that team’s universe point line, then they are not going to have a chance at making this team. They are in that role due to other strategic reasons, depth, or the usefulness of someone else. If we are picking a guy who is going to have a singular role, he better be the best, bar none at that position. This is a situation that arises because of the lack of concrete positions in Ultimate. With roles so easily interchangeable, it’s tough to tell what you’re getting.
How exhaustive were we? The brainstorming really hasn’t ended yet. There are still guys out there that we may have missed, but we went through as many names as we could throw out, debating for hours over one guy vs. another. The funny thing was the difference in opinion amongst current players about how good other players were. From a spectators seat, the line between great and good is blurred. It would be an extremely difficult task to even figure out who should try out for this squad. While we’ll name you our selections for backups up to the 27th team member, it is clear that these would be tryout time decisions, that seeing these top players play in a role and their chemistry with others would be factored into their selection. This can only be done through a USA tryout.
Without much further ado, here are our 14 starters. The offensive line is in no particular order, but the defensive line is ordered to delineate match-ups for a theoretical scrimmage. I would pay money to see these squads scrimmage.
[spreadsheet 0AjOIo67M_kCNdGpmejFwOTJkS3FQMnZPSWJYTHVXWUE 250 160]
How we envision the offense working out
Using Revolver’s patented side stack offense, Cahill (Revolver) and Smith (Doublewide) would behind the disc. It’s a funny thought seeing one of these guys down to catch the pull. Watson (Revolver), Stubbs (Ironside) or Tunnell (Chain Lightning) would fill in with zone situations easily while Kittredge (Revolver) and Graham (Ghosts) would be down field or coming in for free resets whenever needed. With a standard man defense, Cahill would look for Watson, Stubbs or Tunnell as first cut who would then look to Graham or Kittredge for the initial deep strike or continuation. This line has speed, height, strength, and the throws necessary to beat other teams. We knew Smith would be a controversial choice in this matter, and those chemistry proponents are cringing right now, but he has the ability to hit targets from a large portion of the field. He’s also incredibly quick, will get open on the dump without issue, and should have no problem hitting the underneath or Graham and Kittredge for the deep score. We preserve a core with Cahill, Kittredge and Watson on the line, and that’s been a proven winner so far.
The Defensive Line
If there is one man who’s been up to the task of marking up against Kittredge it’s been Colin Mahoney (Ironside). He was an easy selection for this defensive line, along with just about everyone else. Taylor (Revolver) has matched up against handlers and cutters alike, same for his Revolver teammate Sherwood (Revolver). Gibson (Doublewide) and Wiggins (Rhino) are two elite players that will be more than enough on defense, and able to handle off of a turn. Castine (Sockeye) and Ackley (Johnny Bravo) may be two of the more controversial choices for this line, but both have proven to be studs for their respective squad. Castine may be a hothead, but he’s dynamite on defense and brings enough offense with him to be on the line. Ackley, better known as Richter, is a main cog for Johnny Bravo at the moment, and will add to the handling depth.
Who else was considered for the starting lines?
Two of the bigger names still available in the ultimate world, but that are not currently playing are Josh Ziperstein (Chain Lightning) and Chase Sparling-Beckley (Sockeye). It’s hard to imagine that if these guys were all in, that they would be denied a position on the starting line, let alone the team. Peter Prial and Grant Lindsley got small consideration for the offensive starting line, while Will Neff almost made the defensive starters, but was replaced for another match-up.
During this part of the selection process, it became clear that this process cannot be completed in the right manner on paper. Don’t worry, we continued on! Eight players made the squad without too much question, but these will still not be without some controversy.
- Sammy C-K (Chain Lightning)
- Brian Stout (Ghosts)
- Grant Lindsley (Sub Zero)
- Will Neff (Ironside)
- Greg Swanson (Chain Lightning)
- Tim Gehret (Doublewide)
- Peter Prial (Ironside)
- Ashlin Joye (Revolver)
Peter Prial and Grant Lindsley are the two replacement in cutters that we decided on in case the offense goes into a funk, or injuries happen. Lindsley was incredibly reliable for the Chain offensive line last season, while Prial has repeatedly beat top defenders to the cone in the endzone. Rounding out the offensive line backups are Greg Swanson and Sammy C-K of Chain Lightning. Swanson is the main handler in Atlanta while C-K has been an all around force for years.
Will Neff (Ironside) headlines the defensive backups, because who wouldn’t want those pulls and that height? Brian Stout (Ghosts) is an athletic freak, who last played high level open with Truck Stop in 2010. Tim Gehret (Doublewide) gives another handler if need be and Ashlin Joye is prepared to break out with Revolver this year. Both are great throwers and add to depth of this line.
The difficult part, last five to make the team
There were not many arguments with the aforementioned backups, but the toughest test came with choosing the last five people on the squad. No one here could reach a consensus. Of five panelists, there were very few repeats.
Here were those considered.
- Russell Wallack (Ironside)
- Nick Lance (Chain Lightning)
- Rusty Ingold-Smith (Ironside)
- Jolian Dahl (Chain Lightning)
- Aaron Richards (Wolverines)
- Joel Wooten (Chain Lightning)
- Robert Runner (Chain Lightning)
- Stephen Presley (Doublewide)
- Tom James (Revolver)
- Matt Rehder (Sockeye)
- Jack McShane (Johnny Bravo)
Russell Wallack is already a top defender for Ironside and was sorely missed in the 2011 final vs. Revolver. Ingold-Smith was a top five Callahan nominee and is a hybrid defender of taking on in cutters and handlers. Jolian Dahl is another candidate with height and throws, Nick Lance is just coming off a Callahan win and can fill any role that’s needed. Aaron Richards may be one of the most underrated Northwest players but has been referred to as Beau with throws. Stephen Presley (Franchise) brings speed and power to any squad. Rehder and McShane are young power players that have already made their name in club. Tom James is a huge presence on the Revolver defensive line, and has the skills off the turn. Robert Runner brings height to any defensive line as well as patience, and a constant reset.
Without a consensus to be reached, I chose the following five players.
- Robert Runner
- Rusty Ingold-Smith
- Nick Lance
- Russell Wallack
- Jolian Dahl
We realize that you could fill in any other 5 players, or replace our 8 back ups and this Team USA would largely do what we intend it to do. Win, and win over the Canadians, Australians, and Japanese. Below is only a subset of a list of the players that were written down and considered. There are definitely other worthy tryout candidates.
[spreadsheet 0AjOIo67M_kCNdEZQWHk0N3VncVBUSV9UUzhIQ1JjZXc 500 160]
There is actually a shortage of coaches that we would consider at this point in time for this squad. Of the top club teams, Josh McCarthy and Alexander Ghesquire are the two prime candidates. As an assistant we would want to bring in the scheming ability of Ben Wiggins. The head coaching position in my mind comes down to Ghesquire in that he’s been the most recent winner. However, if he were up the task, Mike Payne, who helped build Revolver as a captain and a player coach would be a prime candidate to lead a staff of McCarthy, Ghesquire, and Wiggins.
Let the disagreements begin.
Comments Policy: At Skyd, we value all legitimate contributions to the discussion of ultimate. However, please ensure your input is respectful. Hateful, slanderous, or disrespectful comments will be deleted. For grammatical, factual, and typographic errors, instead of leaving a comment, please e-mail our editors directly at editors [at] skydmagazine.com.