For those who haven’t read or heard, I will be stepping back from coverage this year to focus on coaching. Unfortunately the Standlers will be few and far between through the college season.
As I wrote in the preview for Queen City Tune Up, this is the time of the year that we begin to identify dark horses and potential surprises. Last year, 5 out of 8 quarter finalists qualified for nationals. Looking across this year’s group, it’s easy to see that each team will have a fighting chance come the series.
As an opposing coach, it was easy to see what made North Carolina so potent. A fast moving offense with an athletic group of cutters. It’s impressive to be in this state as a team this early in the season. They’re athletic across the board, and have experience at handlers. Throw in a few firecrackers in Christian Johnson and Tristan Green that are playing unselfishly and it’s easy to see why they cruised through the tournament.
Harvard has brought back a discipline to their style and it’s evident in the game that Ultiworld provided. Being able to stay patient with the disc is a virtue that most teams don’t achieve over the course of a season. Issues arose in the second half of the semis, where there was was not much movement against North Carolina. Cutters were only able to get a few yards per pass in that second half, while the athletic North Carolina defense was doing a good job of stopping the hucking opportunities.
After these two teams, we’re looking at the rest of the group. I don’t know that we can make too many assumptions on the state of Ohio by the size of score differential in the final. North Carolina looks like a top 8 team right now, in the same vein where Tufts was last season. Thus lets not close the book on Ohio. The consolation games are the easy path to show where the remaining teams are ranked. Harvard handled Penn State, while Tufts took down Georgia in the 5th place game. However, it seems like only North Carolina and Harvard can be declared winners in the strength bid argument so far. Lets look at the bid situation as a whole.
It’s a shifting landscape year, one that sees some North Central powers declining. Michigan and Michigan State did themselves no favors for getting a bid, while the Ohio Valley might crack through for multiple bids. Washington did not start out the season right, and last year they took Whitman’s strength bid to the big show. As I’m writing this, we can see even a few updates of Warm Up scores come in, with Florida having an upset over Pittsburgh. So where does this leave us?
North Central – Last year, five bids stole the show. However, this year seems to be a three horse race. Wisconsin, Carleton, and Minnesota seem like gimme picks for the strength bids. 3
North West – Two years ago it was four, a year ago two. With Oregon being the obvious, where is Washington? Can British Columbia or Victoria give us some Canadian blood? Not likely. 1
Ohio Valley – Last year Ohio stopped their regular season short of Chicago Invite preserving their strength bid and a trip to Nationals. This year, can Ohio and Pittsburgh claim two? There’s definitely a chance of 3, and an even outside shot at 4. Since these bid allocations have started, the Ohio Valley has held four bids at different points. Penn State and Cincinnati are still capable of giving Ohio a run, but would feel much safer with another. 2-3
Great Lakes – Illinois seems to be the strongest out of the bunch. Barring any surprises, this should be a one bid region. 1
North East – This is a tricky one, because last year Dartmouth looked like a team that was going to grab a spot for one tournament. This year, we have Tufts, Harvard, and have yet to see what Dartmouth can do on the field. It’s possible that we’d see three, but I think it’s more likely that we see two. 2
South Central – Texas and Colorado are almost always strong, so we can punch the ticket for at least two. Will Texas A&M do enough? They’ve got the hype train moving, but I think they can come in under 20 for that final third bid. 3
Atlantic Coast – North Carolina is real, but is North Carolina Wilmington? They had a young squad last year, and bring back NexGen’s Tommy Lamar for this year’s campaign. Should be enough for that second bid. 2
Southwest – My east coast bias is tingling, but it’s hard to tell where this shakes out. Year after year, we see the Southwest dominate 20 through 40 in the rankings but produce few tall bloomers. Stanford was missing U23 players at their last tournament, Eli Kerns is back for UC Davis, and Arizona wins Santa Barbara.This is the biggest wildcard region, but it also hurts they don’t travel too well. 1-2
Southeast – Central Florida should be a lock for a bid, and then the rest is up for grabs. Florida State has made noise early on, but the jury is still out. Where do Georgia Tech, Florida, and Georgia fall into the mix? Florida’s 13-7 over Pittsburgh today at Warm Up seems to give them an inside track. 2-3
Pre-Season All American
Yes we know major tournaments are starting to fire, but it’s still early enough that we can release who we think are the best fourteen players in the country to start the season. Our panel voted, and below are the people we came up with.
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There were plenty of worthy candidates out there, and many others receiving votes. The real test is the season.
I am currently coaching the University at Buffalo Men’s A team as well as assistant coaching the Rochester Dragons in the AUDL.