This week in Seven On, it’s time for a mailbag! I’ve been receiving questions for a good while now, and instead of summing up the weekend that was and providing other thoughts, I’m going to answer some questions from you, the readers. Have a question for a future mailbag? Email (email@example.com) or Twitter (Skyd_JLeppert) are best for that.
1. It may be a little early, but how do you see the MLU vs AUDL vs USAU thing shaking out? I would love to see a collaboration, taking the best teams from club and creating a pro league out of that. Sort of like the Nexgen League, but with the spectator friendly playing style of the pro leagues we have right now. Further, collaborating on resources and talent would make a big difference in putting together a great product for ESPN and their audience. – Chad from Columbus
I agree that the leagues all working together for one unified product would probably be the best bet for the sport as a whole – spectators and potential investors included. The biggest issue I see with your suggestion is season length. If adopting the professional model into the club season, where is the capital for investing in the players costs (even if you’re just reducing it) going to come from? The MLU and the AUDL’s Toronto Rush have shown that national corporate sponsors can be attracted to the sport – but that is also for a season that spans just a few months. If that’s changed to a season that goes from late May to late October, I think some big investors may be scared off.
As for how the whole thing is going to shake out, I like the chances of USAU with ESPN on their side co-existing with one of the pro-leagues. We’ve already seen that ESPN isn’t afraid to include any amazing plays from the sport in their programs and highlights. But with their talent and cameras now shooting the action, I think they’ll try and integrate it a bit more. Between the two pro-leagues, I think the MLU will come out on top. As mentioned, the Rush were able to attract top investors to their team. But what will happen in cities that house two teams in separate leagues – as will happen in the AUDL’s increasing expansion. Where the talent goes is also a strong indicator of which league will come out on top I think. The fact that the MLU has already secured some of the top West and East Coast talent instantly makes their success much more likely in my opinion.
2. Let’s talk scores for College Natties! What are your predictions for: Total points scored (for all teams); point diff. of the Champion; largest margin of victory; and score of the Championship game? – Charlie from Minneapolis, Minnesota
Total points scored, including the consolation games, let’s go with 1382 points – I very roughly added up the past two tournaments, and added some points to the average I got. The point diff. of the Pittsburgh last year was +32, while 2nd place Wisconsin was +18 – and I think this year the champion will come out with a number more around Wisconsin than Pittsburgh. Pitt had a big win in pool play, and in their quarterfinal game against Minnesota, but I don’t think that’ll happen this year; the champion will have a point diff. of +21. Last year, nothing exceeded Michigan State’s 15-4 victory over Cornell in the consolation games, but getting close were the two big wins Pitt had (15-5, 15-6). Two years ago, there were 15-2 and 15-3 games, but I don’t think we’ll get that low; nothing lower than a 10 point victory, 15-5. This last one is the most exciting one, the score of the championship game – I’m going to assume you want to hear this in order to make some friendly wagers with friends. Aside from the 11-5 victory CUT had over the Hodags in 2011, the recent championship games have been very close. I’d set the over/under at 27, or a spread at 2.5 – take that for what you will.
Following a lot of hockey writers, they’ve been coming around to what they call ‘fancy stats’ (Corsi, PDO, and others). These are stats that can, for the most part, show and predict the top performers of a game and a team over a season. And even if a team has a player (or players) who perform at the top of these stats, having too many towards the bottom will severely affect their chances of making the playoffs, or even winning tomorrow’s game. It would be very interesting to see stats similar to these make their way over to our sport. Stats which allow us to predict the outcomes of games by melding individual stats with team stats, to see the positive or negative impact a player could have on their teams finish, and so on.
3. How do you think this year’s NexGen team would do against last year’s Club Champions (Doublewide)? – Kevin from Westchester, New York
When are the two team’s facing? How this lines up with the AUDL season ending (for Brodie), and where the BUS is in the tour (later, in theory, means more chemistry between the players) could severely affect the result.
But if the two teams met at neutral grounds somewhere warm, in December, after practice time and anything else was worked out, we’d have an even ground match. This would eliminate the out of gameplay conditions that could affect the result, and give the NexGen team enough time to piece together some promotions. It would definitely be a close game, that’s for sure. This is a Doublewide team that took down both Ironside and Revolver in route to winning in Sarasota last fall. And the NexGen rosters thus far have proved that the stars are able to come together to beat the best club teams during their quick-stop road-trips across North America. Ultimately, I think the NexGen roster wins. Even now without one player being unknown, the team has proven in the past that it is made for quick games. And even against the defending champions, I think that would be too much for them to handle.
4. James, who would you choose for a theoretical MLU All-Star team? Make one for each conference. – Dwayne from Austin, Texas
I think it’d be really easy to pick out a list of players whose names speak for themselves that are in this league. But that would not be truly considering what each player brings to the table, and how that could make a great All-Star line for each of the two conferences of the MLU. Now forgive me if I get anyone’s stats wrong, or placement especially – you can only sort by total number of points on the MLU page, you can’t sort by ‘completions’ or anything else.
East: Christopher Mazur (Rumble), Ben Faust (Rumble), Jeff Graham (Whitecaps), Markhak Shofner (Current), Trey Katzenbach (Spinners), Alan Kolick (Current), Peter Prial (Whitecaps).
West: Timmy Perston (Stags), Oscar Pottiner (Nighthawks), Adam Simon (Rainmakers), Joseph Sefton (Rainmakers), Cody Bjorklund (Stags), Benjamin McGinn (Stags), Andy Collins (Nighthawks).
5. What do you think about college players going pro while still in school? My alma mater missed out on a Regionals bid for the first time in 5 years this past weekend after a few of their players had pro games to participate in on Saturday (and then saw a story of too little, too late on Sunday). I’m just curious how college teams near pro cities are dealing with the top players presumably splitting their focus between making a pro team and playing the college season in the spring. – Skyd Fan
I played for SUNY-Buffalo this past season, and we had several players who from January on were juggling Rochester Dragons tryouts (and later practices) with our own conditioning work, throwing workouts, practices and tournaments. While they would occasionally miss a conditioning for Dragons practice, the tone the team took and those players took was that our season (college) came first. They missed Dragons games for tournaments, and Dragons practices for ours. And I think for any college team that is hoping to qualify for Regionals or Nationals should make sure all of their players subscribe to the same line of thinking. The commitment for a college team is not only far greater (over a full season, with your classmates versus players that may be on opposing teams, etc.), but your chances of success are much more limited than in the professional team. Most college players have four maybe five years to strike gold, and reach their goal – either it be qualifying for Regionals or Nationals. To throw those opportunities away for a professional team is frankly quite dumb in my opinion.
6. If you were to start a Major League Women’s Ultimate, which cities would you start in? – Julie from Bangor, Maine
Without a doubt, before even looking up anything, I can tell you that San Francisco and Seattle are locks on the West Coast immediately. One of those cities houses the team that has won 7 championships in club (along with charity work in the sport), the other a team that is known worldwide for the outreach and support they’re involved in (along with their on-field success). Now I’m going to assume two conferences of four (West/East), making eight teams total in the league. That would instantly, in my mind, put in both Boston and New York City – those are two major markets in both the ultimate communities and media/entertainment that cannot be left out. Now that we’ve got four teams, I feel like it gets tricky. I start to feel like we’re copying the same cities that are in the MLU currently. But in a way it also makes sense; cities that have an extremely active open club scene will have one in the women’s and mixed divisions as well. So you add Vancouver on the West, and DC on the East. Both of those cities (and all of those mentioned thus far) have a successful club team, and are active in the youth scene. Considering those factors though, I want to add a team on the East in the ‘Triangle’ area – most likely Raleigh. Phoenix has been a strong club team for a while, and could draw talent, and on the youth side they’re constantly sending teams to YCC and other competitions. This then has me wondering if a trip to Denver/Boulder would be too far for this league to handle. It isn’t too bad, but considering how much easier it is to skate up and down the East Coast, and get between the three Western teams named so far, it may be best to leave them off in favor of a Portland. Portland may not have the youth success and notoriety that the other cities have across all levels of their youth scene, but they are certainly working hard to bring in and develop talent in ultimate there. I would also love to add Ottawa, but I’m unsure of their youth scene, and how travel to and from would work out with the Raleigh team being in the mix.
So in case you didn’t want to read all of that, the Western Conference is San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland; while the Eastern Conference is Boston, New York City, DC, and Raleigh.
7. Two part question: Who do you have winning the Stanley Cup?
I legitimately got a lot of this question, and all for mentioning that I was a Rangers fan a couple back. As much as I would like to see the Rangers win it all, I think the Chicago Blackhawks are on fire, and won’t be put out until they’re partying with the Stanley Cup yet again. Toews and Kane are playing at another level right now, and they’re getting very solid goaltending from Corey Crawford. Marian Hossa still has a few snipes left in him, as seen in their first game against Detroit, and Duncan Keith anchors a very strong blue-line. The winner of the San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings series will be too tired to take down Chicago. Meanwhile, over in the East, I think the New York Islanders exposed the weakness that is defense and goaltending for the Penguins. That may not come to haunt them until the Stanley Cup Finals, but count on Kane running Tomas Vokoun for the shaky Fluery in net. Sidney Crosby may be the best player in the world, but his GM shopping at the Trade Deadline for top stars won’t net them a Cup victory this year.
To relate this to ultimate a bit, how long before we get teams shopping for players from around the country? We’ve already seen Brodie get brought in by the Alleycats, then jump over to the Wildfire. When will we see the Whitecaps make a move to bring Simon Montague over to play? In theory, some really amazing teams could be built if a team had the resources – money or even better, a job offer. The fact that in hockey, the Penguins have Sidney Crosby (in my opinion, the best player in the game right now), Evgeni Malkin (also ridiculously good), Kris Letang (one of the best defenseman out there), and then picked up Jarome Iginla (first ballot HOF) is almost not fair. I’d pay good money to see the same out of one of the ultimate professional teams.
And … You’re taking a penalty shot. Triple deke and then… glove or stick side? – Gunnar from Reykjavik, Iceland http://youtu.be/pxSp5J7s5G8?t=1m20s
Thanks everyone who wrote in! Regular Seven On should hopefully resume next week.
Photo by Scobel Wiggins – Ultiphotos.com