1. Open Champs
Required reading before going three the next two points: Lou Burruss on the Championships and a Q&A. Having watched all of the available games from the Men’s/Open side, that format change is going to take a while to get used to (RIP power pools), and I couldn’t agree more with his point that Bravo will look back at this as a wasted opportunity. That game against Revolver seemed more than winnable in the early stages. Where at first both teams were making mistakes in the semi-final matchup, Revolver was able to get past them and keep going. Things only seemed to multiply for Bravo.
That is taking nothing away from the run that Revolver had this year, and I also agree with Lou on his point of depth – and how that will come to drive the new format. It was first speculated that depth wouldn’t matter as much in the new format, but in the finals especially, the Revolver boys certainly put that theory out the window. Like Lou, I noticed Beau a lot more in the finals and thought that was a big difference maker. Beau had quite the tournament, yet again.
GOAT was very perplexing the entire tournament. I did win a bet with a friend that they wouldn’t make it past quarterfinals (they didn’t make it past pre-quarters) because of it though. Lou suggests that unlike Revolver and Fury, teams in Pool B were gunning for GOAT atop the pool. Watching the game against Sockeye with Zack Smith, we both noticed that Sockeye wasn’t resting people for this game as much as in other games, going heavy on their top players often. GOAT was very heavy on the hucks at the Pro Flight Finale, but not at Nationals. The fact that they got Doublewide later in the bracket was a very bad draw, and to see them not meet expectations here isn’t a huge surprise. Early pick for a strong showing next season though? Young players now have experience. Mistakes can be forgotten. And another season of the AUDL riding high, and building more chemistry one presumes.
Two more points off of Lou, the first being on Ironside. It will be very interesting if they do indeed make a big change as he speculates. To imagine a ‘different’ squad coming out of Boston next year is already a completely foreign thought. In that loss to Sockeye, I noticed the play of George Stubbs and Jack Hatchett a lot. Hatchett on defense especially, but with Stubbs – mostly in the second half – his presence on the field was felt, and led to a bunch of extremely quick offensive points for the Boston squads.
The other point was that the ESPN camera angle needs to go wider, as Ultiworld’s was. But the ESPN commentary was awesome. They do a great job in relating the game back to the mainstream sports, which is important if they’re going to attract people who stumble upon the channel. Adding on to that, Lepler was also dropping great pop-culture references, like the Rodney Dangerfield from Caddyshack reference at 12-9 in the finals.
Also worth pointing out is the awesome article from Mario O’Brien on this year’s Sockeye team. A lot of helpful information in there for club, and college, teams about how to best run a team. Also a lot of information we don’t normally get from the top club teams on inside decisions – some of those also come out in the comment section as well. If you haven’t read it yet, you should take the time to do it. And if you’ve already read it, go read it again. In the comments, much is made on team culture, and Mario comments on how his best practices were all part of the Sockeye team culture. In an interview with Rohre Titcomb of Riot, she touched on the culture of her team as well, and while I was talking with her it just made a lot of sense why Riot has done so well recently.
2. Women’s Champs
Admittedly, I haven’t see every game that was available for watching just yet. Still, what Scandal did was something special. Hell, even the D.C. Mayor recognized them with an official proclamation. What Lou says about the Scandal defense, especially in the Riot semifinal, is kind of funny – but also true. Fury definitely wasn’t playing their best game, as he points out in their semifinal as well. Just go watch the first and second half from the 2012 finals of Fury. The defense and offense wasn’t at the same level in finals that we’re used to seeing – and credit that to the Scandal defense. Again, talking with Rohre Titcomb, she couldn’t stress enough how well Scandal played at the Championships.
Reading through what Lou was saying about the impact professional teams had on the Open division, I couldn’t help but think what he, we, us would be saying if there was a professional league catering to this division (or mixed too!). I couldn’t help wondering if results would change based on teams having more time together, or if we’d still be putting out the same ideas and thoughts because of these hypothetical leagues. With AUDL franchises selling for $15k (more on that later), wouldn’t it make sense for a league to develop sooner or later? My degree is history though, not business – I could be way off on this one.
Also this piece from USAU, ‘Sacrificing for the Team’ by Greg Gipson was a nice read as well and flew a bit under the radar. It’s a situation in the women’s division, but applies to all divisions and staff that were in Frisco as well.
3. Mixed Champs
Like Women’s, I haven’t gotten through all of the available games for watching yet. Drag’N Thrust was phenomenal though in the games I have watched. The man defense they played after making the switch from zone I thought was a good move, even if it didn’t always get the job done (see second half Polar Bear comeback in Finals). DNR’s offense continuously showing their ability to get the disc back after a turn, especially in the first half, was huge factor for them as well in the win. The division should have a very strong showing at WUCC, with the three teams that qualified all being strong representations of the division, and they also fall across East->Midwest->West division of the country.
4. AUDL Expansion & More
While we were all still thinking about what happened down in Frisco, TX, the AUDL decided to announce a whole bunch of new franchises – enough for a new division. Six new cities will enter the fold in 2014: San Jose, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Vancouver and Montreal. Also included in the announcement was the note that four other franchises are awaiting to join the league as well: Boston, Jacksonville, Charlotte and Austin. That’s big news, especially considering the fact that the Montreal franchise sold for a cool $15k. After the new leadership took over the league before this past season, there was some talk that the rapid expansion that was first laid out would perhaps be scaled back; not sure if they can turn expansion down though if $15k is sitting there for the taking. The expansion doesn’t seem as grandiose as first thought, but this expansion does show that the AUDL has its sights on the Western markets that the MLU has already developed. I wonder if teams and players in those three cities on the coast will come over to the AUDL? And if not, will that hurt the league’s image?
Also announced was the rough count of games in next season’s AUDL – 133 including playoffs. No idea how that math works out in the three divisions if they want to keep true to the setup from last season – especially the playoffs. If the schedule doesn’t have the equal number of games for each team, like last year, that could be very bad. I wrote a bit about how if a few games had turned out differently, than the playoff picture would’ve gotten a lot more complicated. And lastly, they also quietly released all of the UxTV (the AUDL’s online video platform) games on YouTube for free, including the championship, go take a look. They also just redid their website! Looks a lot better, and with USAU gearing up to do the same, ’tis the season I suppose.
5. And the MLU?
What has the MLU been up to? They’ve been teasing non-stop that they have a deal with PUMA for jerseys and apparel – I’m waiting for the designs to come out so we can see what we’re dealing with. Aside from that, they’re continuing the impressive appearances on major sporting channels, with a Fox Sports 1 appearance on November 17th. One signing has crossed the airwaves so far, that’s Jake Rainwater coming back to the Philadelphia Spinners – more are certainly to come though now that the club season is over. If the Whitecaps can retain most of their roster, and same with the Dogfish and Rainmakers, they’ll be very hard to stop once again. And lastly, these 60 second interviews, one with Jeff Snader and the other with Nic Darling, are great to watch. Perhaps mostly for the facial expressions they make (not that I’m one to talk).
6. College Open D1 Power Rankings
The Ultiworld power rankings for D1 are very informative on letting you know who is coming back from each of the top teams going into this spring. It’s just about that time of year when we’re getting the first look at the full rosters as teams play the one or two meaningful fall tournaments. I don’t really agree with no North Central teams in the top five, so here is my version of that:
1. Central Florida – Hard to argue with the returners they have, and the system they run. A lot of people are going to remember the final game of the season and define them with the weaknesses they showed.
2. Colorado – Seriously, did you all see Jimmy Mickle with Bravo this season? Damn, he was good and smiling a lot too. Don’t think much will change this season with Mamabird. The Ultiworld rankings mention that the offense has been handed over to “the team’s younger players” while the Bravo guys go defense. That could be a cause for concern if they have problems 2-3 tournaments into the season, but with some bumps in the road expected at the start, I think they’ll get it under control.
3. North Carolina – Losing Tristan Green is big, he was always steady on defense especially when a break was needed. But they still have Christian Johnson, and they still have a system that rewards the hard work on defense that they value so much.
4. Wisconsin 5. Texas – Wisco lost Brian Hart, but they still have Camp and one of the best systems in the country, and Texas lost almost no one. In the end, that’ll put both of these teams back amongst the top in the nation this year.
Snubs – Oregon I think will miss Honn more than we think when it really matters, Minnesota is probably #6 for me as well, Pittsburgh needs a massive year from Trent Dillon if they want to three-peat, and CUT and Harvard round out the top ten in one way or another.
7. College Open D3
Some good information in the D3 rankings on Ultiworld as well, about certain returners and non-returners both in the article and comment section of the article. I think North Park and John Brown will finish the season higher than they are ranked in the article though. And out on the West coast you have to be on the lookout for Pacific Lutheran and Lewis & Clark. All in all though, it’s already shaping up to be a much tougher season in the D3 ranks.
Photo by Jolie J Lang of Ultiphotos.com