Stand-ler – A handler who moves the offense by standing, or a standing handler. (See Bryan Jones of No Look Scoober)
For those who don’t get the entire reference, it stems from a popular term called Monday Morning Quarterbacking. Hindsight being 20-20, ESPN and other NFL analysts would go over Sunday’s football games on Monday morning talking about what went wrong. Gregg Easterbrook then launched a weekly article called Tuesday Morning Quarterback, including the Monday Night game in his analysis.
Out of this idea, Tuesday Morning Standler is born. You can expect to see more pure recaps coming out on Monday, while we will have this for you every other Tuesday.
In this week’s issue we’ll look at Emerald City Classic, wildcard bid chances, and coaches in club.
Mr. Universe – Rhino
The biggest story coming out of the weekend at ECC was Rhino’s performance and their trip to the finals. Six straight times, the ending to their games was punctuated by Portland coming through in the clutch, six times a winner on universe point. In tight situations, they relied on Mario O’Brien and Adrian King to keep the offense moving, especially on the final point against Ironside on Saturday. After finishing off Machine with a break backhand on double game point, O’Brien fell to the ground in exhaustion. “I had nothing left after that throw,” he said. He would sit out the ensuing game against Truck Stop to rest up. After being joined by Seth Wiggins on Sunday, Rhino continued their march to the championship game with two more late game heroic efforts.
However, Rhino’s streak would end in a massacre in the final. Ironside’s defense was simply too suffocating, clamping down on a Rhino cutting unit that looked tired from the start. With nothing available upfield, the pressure defense forced throwaways and miscommunications with the handlers. While Rhino’s run through the weekend was magical, it ended with a big shock to the system. “It’s a wake up call,” said O’Brien. “We want to be the best, and we just got beat by the best.”
Chase Sparling-Beckley has been practicing with Rhino so far this season. The countdown is on to see if he shows up at Labor Day. In addition, they were missing five others guys, including the likes of Dylan Freechild and Jeremey Norden who was coaching Colombia’s Open and Women’s teams at Junior Worlds.
Stat of the Week 1: Rhino won 6 universe point games, 2 while starting on defense.
Stubbs-less Ironside carries on
While Ironside was easily the most impressive squad this weekend, they did not begin on the right foot. The offensive line was having issues getting the job done against Portland, getting broken five times in their first pool play game. However, Boston would only be broken five times the rest of the weekend, and in the words of coach Josh McCarthy, “That’s acceptable”. With the offense settling into a rhythm, the defense went to work. Colin Mahoney was a big presence (at 6’8” it’s hard not to be), shutting down top cutters all weekend. While he returned for Nationals last year, he had not played the regular season. 2009 Callahan winner Will Neff is back, his presence immediately felt as pull after pull landed in the back half of the endzone. This is a deep defensive roster: Seth Reinhardt, Jon Hirschberger, Miles Montgomery-Butler, Russell Wallack, Jack Hatchett, and Brendan Nichols all were part of the play making.
Ironside had to give up a late 3 point lead to aid a Rhino comeback early in the tournament, but none of their other games were close. At ECC last year, Sockeye built a 5-1 lead against Ironside on the play of their zone, but this year was a different story. Alex Cooper made the difference against Sockeye’s zone, taking the reins of the offense into his hands. Cooper is certainly not known for his athleticism, but the slippery handler has the over the tops, the inside breaks, and the presence of mind to navigate a formidable Seattle zone. There’s been a lot of debate of Alex Cooper vs. Alex Simmons at the handler spot, but why choose when you can have both? While Cooper brings a special subset, Simmons is an all around player that can certainly help guide the offense off of a turn.
By the way, did we mention that Ironside didn’t have George Stubbs this weekend? The Callahan winner was in Ireland coaching the Boys Junior Worlds team, leaving his teammates to celebrate without him. Boston is looking good, folks, but now for that other team. The one that just won Worlds…
Worlds Hangover – Revolver
After going several weeks without much team activity, Revolver doesn’t look like the powerhouse they were at ECC 2011. While injuries were a contributing factor, Saturday was full of close moments where the team came out flat. You know it’s bad when Alexander Ghesquire throws his clipboard. The typically steady and level-headed coach was clearly frustrated by his team’s performance during the second half of the Ironside game, which was indicative of Revolver’s weekend. Low intensity led to sloppy play, leaving opportunities on the table. After moving on from an Ironside loss, Revolver survived universe point after pulling to PoNY. San Fransisco returned to their classic selves with a 15-13 win over Sockeye to close out day one.
Sunday matched expectations as Revolver cruised to a 3-0 record with wins over Truck Stop, Doublewide and GOAT. But the bitter taste of Saturday, which yielded a loss to Ironside and no shot at the finals, is something that Revolver doesn’t often experience. As usual, the head of the Law Firm Robbie Cahill told me that they needed to keep putting in work. It is too easy to point the finger to the loss of Bart Watson for the cause of their issues. Revolver wasn’t firing on all cylinders at Worlds with him there, and those chemistry issues have to be solved. Nonetheless, the loss of Watson will affect how the offense operates. In the past, Cahill has been robot-like, making good decision after good decision while Kittredge acts like a reset to make the offense look easy. Watson was the risk taker on that line, the player never afraid to to take the 50-50 shot. In order for San Fransisco to be successful this year, we’re going to keep seeing a lot more of Cahill to Kittredge when games are tight. For those of you with an ETP subscription from UltiVillage, check out Revolver’s 2011 Northwest Regionals semifinal vs. Sockeye. You’ll see what happens when the chips are down: the disc is going deep to Beau. There’s just not another offensive talent in this game like him.
Stat of the Week 2: Revolver has lost 6 regular season games since 2009.
Bunting and Stealing, Sockeye Small Ball
Last year, Sockeye featured Erik “The Kraken” Doesburg and Alex Nord in a vicious four man cup, but this year the line up is about a head shorter on average. Returners Danny Karlinsky and Chris Kosednar are playing major offensive roles , and new comers Matty Zemel and Duncan Linn are adding to that small ball philosophy. On the offensive side, it’s clear that the Fish benefit from weekday practices that result in a lot of early chemistry. Lots of throws in tight spaces initiated by quick handler movement and capitalizing on break side opportunities. Matt Rehder continues to be a force, skying defenders in a routine manner. It is amazing to see what a 21-year old can do to the other elite players in the game.
The important thing to me is that Sockeye
has an identity. Last year was about experimentation all the way through Regionals. While I’m not convinced that Sockeye is a semis team, let alone the frontrunner to take the region, we saw them come up on the right side of a of a close game. After losing a lot of universe point games last season, Sockeye notched a universe win over Doublewide. At 13-13 and with no breaks yet in the game, Cole Sullivan put up a backhand huck to Kiran Thomas. Thomas went up early, attempting to get the disc before Nate Castine could make a play on it, but it sailed over his head. Simon Montague took advantage later in the point with a flick huck to BJ Sefton for the win.
Stat of the Week 3: Doublewide had 3 total turnovers against Sockeye and still lost the game.
Speaking of Cole Sullivan – Doublewide
The surprise of the weekend was the play of Cole Sullivan. When we heard of the pick up in the spring, I thought it was a move based purely on past Florida chemistry. While that is a great attribute for a team filled with Florida and Texas players, I did not think the 2010 Sullivan from college would transition this well to the club level. Regardless, Sullivan’s size and quickness have quickly become a positive attribute that allowed a squad without Brodie Smith, Kurt Gibson, Kevin Richardson, Stephen Presley and Jake Anderson to continue rolling.
The rest of the skeleton squad featured Michael Natenberg, Max Cook, and newly acquired Kiran Thomas from Chain Lightning. Thomas was the featured receiver on the weekend, which is atypical to his former role in Atlanta where he was more of a complimentary receiver. Before the weekend, the question was “Could they get a strength bid without all of their stars?”, the answer is yes, easily yes. Their performance is indicative of a team, not just scaffolding around several studs. Speaking of which, Kurt Gibson was striking fear into the hearts of their opponents by warming up and staying in cleats all weekend. Gibson is still recovering from a torn PCL and will be hitting the end of his recovery time by Labor Day. Don’t expect to see Doublewide’s true colors until the series, when hopefully everyone is healthy.
The Rest of the Headlines
Machine quietly went 5-2 with losses to Rhino and Ironside. PoNY couldn’t get over the hump; they came close to winning several games but their offensive mistakes were costly. Furious George and GOAT had up and down weekends, but both are dealing with the issue of Worlds fatigue and GOAT is dealing with life after John Hassell. Sub Zero looked liked a clash of two different styles: Carleton and Wisconsin, and it hurt them on Saturday. Sunday gave way to some promise, but the timing wasn’t there on hucks early and the Carleton mechanical offense wasn’t something that the entire squad seemed devoted to. Voodoo didn’t come away with a win but were able to play some opponents tough to the end.
The only team at ECC that had already played sanctioned games was Truck Stop. With their appearance at U.S. Open and Terminus, they will serve as the link between the ranking of teams across the nation. D.C. was at the four spot in the most recent USAU rankings, which means most teams at Emerald City Classic should end up above or around that rating. Since Truck Stop already played 11 games, their ranking should hold relatively well. We saw mostly close games throughout this weekend, and even PoNY at 1-6 should be right inside the 16th spot for a bid so far. Voodoo might be the only team explicitly out after suffering some pretty big losses. We can also look to Doublewide being smack in the middle of the 16, after a game where they lost to Ironside 15-5 but beat Voodoo 15-2. If there’s any weirdness left over from the early season, and I doubt there will be that much, Chesapeake should help clear things up.
Predicted bid allocations this coming Wednesday…
Coaches in Club
After writing the Dream Team post, there was a little bit of a discussion brewing about whether or not Ben Wiggins would be good for Sockeye. Going across the nation, there are really only two prominent coaches in Open. Josh McCarthy and Alexander Ghesquire, who coach Ironside and Revolver respectively. Why don’t more teams have coaches? Well, I polled several of the major teams, asking a few what their coach brings to the table, and others why they don’t have someone at the helm. “There’s a handful of coaches, and a small handful that are worth bringing in”, said Seth Wiggins of Rhino, “We’d love to have someone, but there isn’t much availability.” Other teams without coaches simply said that they thought it would be weird given that their systems have been player-run for so long. Robert Runner of Chain Lightning stressed that meshing with the team is incredibly important, “All the players have to buy into the system of having a coach. If a team is going to switch to a coach it is good to talk it over with the team to see if people want to go that way and then discuss with the core leadership group to really pick who the coach will transition to be.” Captain Matt Rebholtz of Ironside admits to a little bit of unease, “It was a little odd at first coming from a player-run team at Wisconsin in college to a coach here, but it’s definitely worked out.”
What does a coach bring to the table? An outside perspective that allows the team to get better. Alexander Ghesquire and Josh McCarthy both have control over subbing players during the game, and help set the strategy. Robbie Cahill, captain of Revolver said, “What is a coach? Someone who asks you questions and tells you how to get better”. I continued to ask Robbie about what Ghesquire brings to the table, “He helps with our preparation, keeping players focused at practice… Coaches are more important than club than in college. In college you have all this time as team, but with club its limited.” It’s clear that at a celebratory dinner after ECC that McCarthy has a rapport with his players, jokes flying back and forth, excitement from the win. Is it any coincidence that the two best teams of the past two years both have coaches that came up through their system? Coaching seems to make a difference, but finding the right fit seems to be most important of all.
Check in next time as we explore how Sockeye’s zone is almost reminiscent of a zone blitz in American football, provide previews of the upcoming Chesapeake Invite, and more. Be sure to email us at NoLookScoober@skydmagazine.com as we’ll answer questions about the season and more.
Feature Photo by Ben Beehner