Somewhere around 12-12 in our Central Florida game, all my tension and anxiety and doubt dissipated – I was left with a clear and certain vision of our path – I wasn’t certain we’d win, but I could see what we needed to do. This feeling lasted all the way through the end of the Finals. Even through all the unforeseen craziness: Jesse getting hurt, Wah finding Dre for the go-ahead break, the double-turn game point, all our preparation for Ohio State, our slow, slow start in the first half, their late break to put them up 14-10…that feeling held. This is what we must do.
I keep bugging Deaver, Crawford and USAU about this great idea I have. They keep ignoring me, so hopefully together we can put some pressure on them to make it happen. It is simple: if you win a game at Nationals, you should get to keep the game disc. It doesn’t matter if it’s the finals or consolation; winning a game at Nationals is a special, special thing. You earned it, your team earned it. And it’s only $5 out of their pocket!
In the second half of the final, we had three chances for breaks and came up empty. Ohio State had two and got one of them. Our conversion rate in that half was 50%. Ohio State’s was 64%. Sounds pretty routine, right? Not for the college women’s division. That 50% that condemned us to silver? That was the second best number ever in a finals. Yes, Ohio State was a historically great offense. But more than that, it suggests a shift in the women’s division. There has been a slow and steady climb in offensive quality as more and more teams benefit from an influx of juniors talent.
Something has to be done about pre-quarters. There is such a competitive disadvantage for the teams that have to play them. UNCW was the first men’s team in a long time to survive quarters after coming up through pre-quarters; only Washington and Oregon have done it on the women’s side (both in 2012). The real issue here is the schedule change that squeezed the quarterfinals into the first round of Day 3. This year you had to play in the full bore of the afternoon heat, leaving the fields after seven o’clock only to return a mere twelve hours later to play an 8:30 quarterfinal. I’ve been watching the World Cup all week and the sucks-to-be-you brutality of World Cup pool play is awesome; it makes me want to just ditch pre-quarters entirely.
Maybe not, though. Avoiding pre-quarters is valuable and introduces an interesting wrinkle into teams game planning.
Ah, the Wilmington-Pitt game. I didn’t watch a single point and yet I did. We’d just wrapped up our quarterfinal against Virginia and I was chatting with the Skyd crew about game when the buzz came across the fields that UNCW and Pitt were on double-game point. We were fifty yards away with an unobstructed view of the field; we couldn’t actually see anything because of the crowd. The reactions told us everything: the roar on the Pitt huck, the exhale on the stoppage, the sigh on the dropped swing, the roar on the UNCW huck back the other way and the huge eruption after the goal. Above it all, Tully’s raggedy cardboard stat sheet flying through the air….
….that’s what ultimate should be. I really don’t like stadium finals. We play in a stadium so we can look more legit? We look like we are playing on a borrowed high school football field and that’s legit? It feels like I’m wearing my uncle’s brown polyester suit to my cousin’s wedding – hot, scratchy and uncomfortable. People pay thousands of dollars to sit court-side at NBA games and we’re giving that experience up? I say, squeeze it in and surround the game with people. It’d cost about the same to set up rented bleachers behind a couple rows of ground seating. Suddenly the game becomes intimate and loud and enclosed and exciting! You’re right there; the players are right there; the play is right there! That’s the way.
Fragmented fragments….I happened to watch the ‘worst’ team at Nationals and they were pretty good. The sport has come a long way….I love the pool play format. It is really nicely designed and the asymmetry makes it strategically interesting….it only sucks if your men’s/women’s team has the same seed….despite all the conversation in last week’s post, the observers did an excellent job, particularly since they were understaffed and worked four games a day….I just wish they enjoyed talking trash more….three Midwest Nationals in a row?….hopefully the Milwaukee fields are by the lake…do you think spiking it out into the lake would be a TMF?
Editor’s note: this post originally called UNC-W the first team ever to advance to semis from pre-quarters. William & Mary did it in 2002.