Practice this week was mostly focused on reviewing zone. There are two important things I want to note about this.
First, we’ve started running scrimmages that pit Varsity against JV plus coaches. This works great for teams that have a significant talent gap between teams and/or not enough players on each team to run separate practices, and both of those situations apply to us. The advantages are that Varsity gets much needed reps together, and JV can fall back on the coaches so things don’t fall apart outright. With zone, this meant a coach could be on the field helping to steer things while also being able to prevent the JV defense from being shredded too quickly. The goal is to give Varsity more of a challenge and to get JV longer possessions on both offense and defense, and I think it worked well.
Second, Master Chief did the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag after smacking down some poor soul’s attempt to break the cup. He’s quickly becoming our star player in reactions. I can only hope he pulls out the J.R. Smith after his next assist.
Thursday was a game against our Rival (yes, a capital R. This is serious business). It was our fourth time playing them in the last 12 months and we lost the first three. Everyone was ready for a win, and the energy was showing even in warm ups.
It was a perfect night for it, too. Clear and warm, with a slight breeze. The athletic director let us use the scoreboard (complete with horn, which was sounded after every score, thank you), and we even had a scattering of fans in the stands. It’s obviously nothing significant compared to other sports, but just moving in that direction is exciting.
We opened the game 3-1, going up a break. I was a little concerned about how hard we had to work to score some points, though. I mean, most teams at this level will have incidental turnovers on offense, it’s just a fact. But our spacing between the disc, the stack, and handlers is still pretty poor, and the handlers don’t look enough for break side swings. Like in previous games, this led to a lot of jamming it up the open sideline.
On the plus side, we’re very good at this. In particular, the handlers all have it ingrained in them to move after the throw. It’s most common to see a handler hit an in cut, sprint upline and receive the dish, and then look for the the out cut. Last week, that out cut wasn’t there. This week, they always were, and we scored a lot of points that way.
There were a lot of excellent interactions between cutters as well, including some bold attempts at a three man weave involving only cutters. It always ended in a turnover off a rushed throw, but it always got at least 30-40 yards of field position, and I’m thrilled to see the kids looking for this stuff. It’s very difficult to teach reading and reacting to the field, so any development here is a good thing.
We held onto the lead, but never were able to really pull away and it remained a slow, turnover laden game. There weren’t as many heroics this week – although Master Chief literally roared after getting a point block, and The Cog had a goal saving chase down block on someone at least 6 inches taller. The game was won with legs and determination.
Final Score: 9 – 6
Take Two – He has zero regard for the feelings of his matchups. He plays hyper-aggressive defense that leads to all manners of blocks, but I’m a little concerned he’s going to destroy some poor kid (both physically and emotionally). This could happen in a couple of ways. One, Take Two may (accidentally?) tackle someone, and they will fall apart like Mr. Potato Head being hit by RC. If not, they may be swallowed up by the crater that appears every time Take Two slams a disc into the ground on defense, never to be seen again.
I think he learned what a foul is this past week, so maybe we’ll avoid any criminal charges/natural disasters.
The Trash Collector – He earns his spot here for basically solo cutting for The Tornado and The Surgeon during one point of Thursday’s game. We eventually scored, but it required an effort worthy of one of Hercule’s Twelve Labors. His name comes from the fact that nobody catches more swill than he does. He’s a solid cutter and gets open for what should be simple throws, and yet something always goes awry. Standard practice requires a layout or awkward twist, but the result is often the same – he’s on the ground and the disc is in his hands.
Mia Hamm – My goodness. She torched every one of her matchups on Thursday. No one could even manage to stay close. Equally exciting is watching her decision making and confidence continue to rocket up. During this week’s game, she made dishy upline throws to handlers, navigated give and gos with other cutters (she was part of that three cutter weave), and even took a 30-yard shot downfield (something I’ve never seen her try before).
The Bear – He’s been steadily transforming from Pooh to Grizzly as the season progresses. He used to get beat on D and struggle making throws in game that were well within his capability. Not anymore. Thursday had him playing well on both sides of the disc and looking increasingly comfortable being the primary handler for spurts of time. He showed exceptional control on his throws, too. The Bear used to lose control of throws after upline cuts, popping them up in the air for easy turnovers. Last week, he nailed every one, throwing at least three assists in the process.
Quotes of the Week
“How about a bowtie with the jersey? It’s a compromise” – The Tornado, on what the team should wear to school on game day. (The debate was jerseys versus button downs.)
Play of the Week
Mia Hamm wins, unequivocally.
She casually tossed a disc to Black Odysseus after practice. On it was written “PROM?” in giant letters. When BO looked up, she was down on one knee, offering him a bag of candy. He said yes.
My greatest regret of the season is not seeing this in person.