Santa Barbara Invite 2013: A Coach’s Perspective

by | February 1, 2013, 12:53pm 0

Peter van de Burgt is the head coach of Florida State’s Demented Ultimate Freaks. We’re excited that he’s been able to give us an inside look on FSU’s run through the tournament and their opponents. 

The tournament started on an inauspicious note, with rain causing the field site, format, and number of teams to be changed at the last moment (though the weather turned out beautiful for most of the weekend). Our long day and a half of travel to Santa Barbara was consumed by the fear that we were flying 2,500 miles to sit in a hotel on the opposite coast. Fortunately, the UCSB Black Tide captains dealt with the situation admirably and the tournament ran smoothly despite the last minute changes. However, due to field space restrictions, the Saturday games didn’t start until 2 p.m. and ran well into the night.

Pool A saw a number of upsets, with the bottom seed, Williams, going undefeated to take the pool. Williams looked good throughout the tournament, showcasing a strong handler-oriented offense that had little trouble slicing through both zone and man defenses. Additionally, their depth seemed to help them on the defensive end, allowing them to keep most of their O-line players fresh. At the end of pool play, three teams in Pool A were tied with a 1-2 record. UCSB won the tiebreak to take second, and from what I saw the Black Tide exhibited their traditional defensive intensity but seemed to lack cohesion on the offensive side of the disc. Despite coming in as the overall one seed, Washington finished third in the pool after dropping games to both UCSB and Williams. Though I only watched them briefly, the Sundodgers seemed to have a number of talented players and generally spread the field well in their horizontal offense, yet they clearly struggled on Saturday. I won’t speculate as to what caused these struggles as I am in no position to do so, but it is worth mentioning that Washington’s high profile freshman Khalif El-Salaam was not present due to U23 tryouts.

I didn’t get to watch any of UBC’s games, but from what I saw during warm-ups they brought a relatively small squad to the tournament. UBC would go on to earn wins over UCSB in pool play and Stanford in the ninth place bracket.

Our pool, Pool B, also saw a number of upsets—FSU won the pool and UCSD, the bottom seed, finished second. Our first game was against the UCSD Air Squids and all my concerns about jet lag quickly melted away as we came out firing on all cylinders on defense. The Squids seemed to have a rough game and were plagued by unforced turnovers, which we were able to convert into breaks on our way to a 13-5 win. UCSD was able to right the ship after this game by notching wins over the other two teams in the pool, Stanford and Cal. UCSD had several talented players and an offensive line that flowed well once it got the disc moving, with players seamlessly moving between the cutter and handler spots. FSU’s next game was against Stanford Bloodthirsty and our defense once again came out strong on the way to a 13-7 win. After the first few points, Stanford seemed to pull some of their better players so I doubt that this game was very indicative of Bloodthirsty’s overall strength. Additionally, Stanford had several players missing due to U23 tryouts and I didn’t see Ben Funk play all weekend. I suspect that Stanford will be a much stronger team down the road than their performance at this tournament may suggest. Our final pool play game was a 13-8 win against Cal UGMO, a team that gave us our most competitive game of the day. Cal has several talented handlers and we had trouble stopping their deep game, but the team seemed to lack overall depth. Cal would end up going winless on the weekend, including a tough loss to Stanford after the hard cap came on mere moments before Bloodthirsty scored to break a tie.

The top of Pool C was also shaken up, as Arizona—the two seed in the pool—won handily (except for a two point win over ASU) and UC-Davis dropped to second. Unfortunately, I did not get to watch much of the games in Pool C due to the fact that they were being played on separate fields, but from the little that I did see it was clear that Arizona was the team to beat.


With such a quick turnaround (in some cases less than 11 hours between games), Sunday tested the depth and fitness of each team. FSU’s first game of bracket play was a quarterfinals matchup against ASU Prime. Prime, an athletic team with some notable playmakers, relied on gritty defense and a cutter-oriented vert stack offense. Early in the game, ASU played a containment zone that slowed our defense down but failed to apply the pressure necessary to generate a turn. We were able to pull away in the game on the back big defensive plays and steady offense en route to a 13-5 win. The only other quarterfinals game I watched was the Williams-UCSD game. Williams played a lot of zone in this game, slowing down the UCSD offense and earning an easy 13-8 victory. UCSB and Arizona also notched relatively easy wins in their matchups with UC-Davis and Washington, respectively.


In a matchup of the only two East Coast teams at the tournament, FSU DUF faced off against Williams WUFO in one of the semifinals. As a team that exhibited both a high level of play and a high level of spirit, Williams was a pleasure to face off against. Both teams played primarily man defense throughout the game, as the wind at this point was still relatively mild. Williams played a disciplined vertical stack and the WUFO handlers did a good job of choosing when and where to take shots deep. However, DUF rolled to a 9-2 lead on the back of some big plays from rookies and stifling team-wide defense. Our offense was smooth all game, allowing no breaks as we cruised to a 13-6 win. The wind began to pick up right as our game ended and thus the tail end of the UCSB-Arizona semifinals was played in a strong crosswind. When I first started watching the game UCSB was down several points and both teams were playing zone defense, daring the other team to throw over the top in such a stiff wind. UCSB showed tremendous resolve, fighting through several long, windy points and making a small run (that included an impressive layout D on the end zone line) before losing on hard cap, 10-8.


The wind continued to pick up, making the finals matchup between us and Arizona Sunburn different from any of the previous five games we had played. The game started on a high note for DUF, as we started the game with two quick breaks. However, Arizona would return the favor by holding on offense and rattling off three breaks in a row to make the score 4-2, Sunburn. We would eventually get those breaks back and take half 7-6. The wind really slowed the game down after half, with both soft and hard cap going off during the first point out of half. After several goal line opportunities for DUF, Arizona forced double game point by scoring on a high release flick that dropped into the receiver’s hands just inside the back line of the end zone. Arizona scored the final point after two uncharacteristic and unforced turnovers by DUF handlers that ended up giving Sunburn a short field to work with. Though the wind made it frustrating at times, this was a highly competitive game that showcased the strength of the handlers and the defenses of both teams. Strategically, Arizona seemed to play more of a huck-and-play-D style in the wind, while we made the decision to try to work the disc up the field on O points. On several occasions throughout the game, our offense painstakingly worked the disc all the way to the goal line (sometimes taking up to ten minutes to do so) only to end up turning the disc over. Defensively, Arizona played a very effective 3-3-1 zone (or some variation thereof) that kept the disc in front of them and forced us to rely on small yardage throws between our handlers and poppers. DUF’s defense, on the other hand, switched between a trapping cup zone and man defense over the course of the game. Though it was a heartbreaking loss, my hat goes off to Arizona Sunburn, they made quite a few impressive plays throughout the game and can rightfully call themselves the 2013 Santa Barbara Invite champions. 

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