Sunday, May 27

Hot Hot Boring Stadium Action (pt 5)

I love watching ultimate in stadiums.

The perspective is so much better. The spacing on the field and team strategies are so much easier to digest. We arrived in time to snag some sweet seats high up on the 50 yard line.

The Women's final started about 3 beers later. I think. It was pretty clear that Stanford was going to win based solely on the fact that they were willing to rip it to deep receivers while UCSB continually settled for turning the disc over while working it up. You've got to take deep shots in ultimate regardless of whether they are completed at a high rate. The fear needs to be put into the defense or you can just say goodnight. Stanford seemed to have a deeper roster of tall receivers who came up with the disc when the throw was errant, but even when the looks were not completed, they never shied away from launching the disc to a streaking receiver. Or even receivers who didn't know they were open until they caught the disc. This game was really fan unfriendly. Tactically uninteresting as well. Stanford was clearly the better team.

Then there was a 75 hour break until the men's final. Some people ran in a straight line on the field during that time, but I was nowhere near caring.

As the men's final got started, we were hoping to see a classic battle that remained close throughout, but it was not to be. So we drank more. At least those of us who would not be driving. Like the rest of the tournament, Wisconsin was straight up better than Colorado. More players, hungrier cutters, better throwers, better team support, more clearly defined strategy. They won on all counts. I don't know what, exactly, they do up there in Madison, but they seem to rip out the hearts of the hopeful and replace it with something stronger. Something full of fire. The other teams never really match that intensity and this feeds back into the Hodag belief that they want it waaaay more than you and that they will, as a result, get it. Color me impressed. The Hodag brainwashing technique seems to have supplanted the CUT brainwashing technique. Stanford, as discussed here, we won't talk about.

Both games were snooze-worthy, yet exciting in the sense of each being a coronation of a new champ.

So that was Nationals. I didn't take game-notes from this weekend, so my recaps are spotty at best. I did take notes on players who I figure I'll see in the future as well as on general ultimate tactics and strategies. Some of the latter may make it into the blog, the former will not.

Now we just have to get back to the greater New York metropolitan area...


Geoff Buhl said...

Were you still drunk when you wrote "You've got to take deep shots in ultimate regardless of whether they are completed at a high rate.", or was that sentence ghost written by Ian?

dusty.rhodes said...

Actually, not still drunk.

There is truth to the idea that even incomplete deep shots (particularly early in the game) will help open up the field. If you accept that your team will have turnovers, wouldn't you rather have 10 turnovers of +60 yards than 10 turnovers of +10 yards?

Aside from that, I stand by the comment with "high rate" providing all of the subjective wiggle room I could need and more.

Geoff Buhl said...

There may be truth to the statement, "even incomplete deep shots (particularly early in the game) will help open up the field", but not a high rate of truth.

The type or distance of a throw is significantly less important than the decision behind that throw. So I reject the question you pose as irrelevant. Longer turnovers do have the advantage of being harder to fast break off of, but long turnovers do not open up the under game.

Just this weekend, I noted that all of our opponent's turnovers had come off of hucks (even though they completed a number of them), so we ought to front more.

I am deeply suspicious of any offensive strategy that accepts a lesser completion rate than "high" for any passes.

Josh said...

Hey Dusty,

Does Geoff have a blog again? His blog was the best ultimate blog period. i mean, besides yours of course......

See you at the Boston Invite hopefully. Well Sunday only.... stupid weddings.


dusty.rhodes said...

I think that there are two key items to discuss here. The first is whether or not long turnovers open up the underneath game. What you're saying is that by throwing long turnovers, a team will cause the defense to take away the underneath cuts. That defensive change would make the deep looks more open. This seems a little strange to me. If you're playing against a team that obviously prefers the deep game, why would you play defense underneath? Wouldn't you try to force them away from their preference?

To put it another way, I would argue that incomplete hucks open up the underneath game. It seems that you would argue that incomplete hucks would open up the deep game.

Part of this disagreement could be related to what countermove you expect from the other team. If you expect them to stop hucking after a couple turnovers, you would want to play underneath. If you expect them to continue hucking despite a few turnovers, you would put defenders deep.

To look back to the original context of the statement, the Stanford-UCSB women's final was over because UCSB never threw the disc into the endzone. Their strategy of choosing to work it up was a poor choice because they rarely had opportunities to score. The disc was rarely in the endzone that they were attacking. If the disc is never in the endzone that you are attacking, you can never score points. Stanford's strategy of hucking regularly put the disc in the endzone that they were attacking and gave them far more opportunities to score than UCSB.

This divides throws in ultimate into throws that could result in a score and throws that could not result in a score. The goal of every point in ultimate is to score before your opponent does. In order to score, you need to catch the disc into the endzone. In order to catch the disc in the endzone, you need to throw it in the endzone. Looking at it from this perspective, it could be argued that given that your team will turn the disc over, any possession that does not end with a throw that could result in a score is, on some level, a failure.

I accept that the above is a slightly different point than "Deep shots open up the underneath game" but I feel that the two are related because as a defender, no matter what your coach/captain/teammate tells you, you worry about the deep shot because you don't want to be scored upon. Most (all?) defenders would rather let the player they are guarding catch an incut than a goal. As such, even if you are fronting the hell out of your player, when the deep throw goes up, you have to cover it because it is a potential goal. Even if a team is turning the disc over going deep, they are a threat to score. If a team is turning the disc over underneath, they are not a threat to score.

"I am deeply suspicious of any offensive strategy that accepts a lesser completion rate than "high" for any passes."

In the long view, I agree with you. A high rate of completion must be striven for. But the way to get that high rate of completion is not necessarily to fear the deep look (or other more difficult completions) but to cultivate the skills necessary to complete the deep look (or other more difficult looks) at a high rate of completion.

My current thought on this is that in order to succeed at nationals-level ultimate, a team needs the necessary skill-level (either in terms of receivers or throwers, though clearly you would prefer both) to complete deep passes at a high rate. If you don't have that skill level, you may need to accept a lower rate of completion on your hucks (*possibly* resulting in putting up more of them) in hopes that the numbers will work in your favor over a given game.

In a related tangent, it would be shocking to me if a team could win a game without even throwing a single deep shot. Just showing that you're willing to do it once makes the defense consider it as an option. That slight hesitation almost necessitates that the underneath game will be open.

To go further down the rabbit-hole, proving that you're willing and able to throw deep is different than proving you are willing and unable to throw deep. That is, if you throw deep 10 times in a game and complete 7-10, you've shown that you're willing and able to throw deep. The other team will absolutely respect your deep game and it will open up the underneath. If you throw deep 10 times in a game and complete 4-7, you've shown that you're willing and somewhat able to throw deep. The other team will likely not drastically alter their defense to either take away or encourage the huck. They have to consider that you can complete those passes, even if it isn't a foolproof strategy for you. Seven is included in both because I think the quality of completion/incompletion enter into the equation in that sort of gray area. Same with 4. If you throw deep 10 times and complete 0-4, you have proven that you are willing and unable to throw deep. The other team will probably consistently front you 2-3 meters and dare you to throw deep.

I forget what I was writing about because I was interrupted by actual work. I hope the above makes sense. Then again, it is still my blog and I'll write whatever the hell I want.

dusty.rhodes said...


I'll definitely see you Sunday of the Invite. Who knows, I might try to get in touch with you before then. Another stair workout? Something less ultimate related?

Also, perhaps you could ask the G-off himself if he has a blog.

Geoff Buhl said...

No blog; it takes me to much time to write well, and I loathe writing poorly.

By no means do I claim that long turnovers open up the deep game. Turnovers should not have the effect of the defense changing strategy. Offensive success should cause you to adjust defensively.

We agree that completed hucks, especially early in the game, affect how a team defends you. I argue that effect is mitigated if you add incomplete hucks.

"Most (all?) defenders would rather let the player they are guarding catch an incut than a goal."

I disagree, but if true means that most defenders suffer from an excess of pride.

dusty.rhodes said...

Math nerds always worry about writing well.

As usual, I agree with most of what you're saying, but it seems that we have a difference in the value we place on long turnovers.

Essentially, if a particular "easy" throw (say, a swing or a dump) reaches a certain level of difficulty (or is attempted enough times) the correct decision to make is to rip it to the endzone and create a scoring opportunity that has the same average rate of completion as the "easy" option.

Or, another way of looking at it:

If you are presented with two options as a thrower, one is throw to an incut with a 70% chance of completion and the other is a throw to the endzone with a 70% chance of completion, you should throw it to the endzone.

The Pulse said...

Long turnovers should definitely affect a defensive strategy, especially when you know that you can't work it 70 yards to the endzone and score. A punt into the endzone and then a subsequent turnover 20 yards out of the endzone is effectively a 50 yard completed huck - the defense should have been looking to prevent the huck as aggressively as if Stanford were completing them.

A strong UCSB straight-up no-huck mark would likely have made the game much closer, as throwing to in-cuts flaring to the sidelines is a risky proposition in a windy womens game.