Tuesday, October 30

Nationals, Day 1

Woke up late.

About 30min late. Slept straight through the alarm. That sucked.

No real matter, it just means I won't be able to take an early AM drive to get groceries so that I can cook breakfast. Instead, we'll just hop by one of the Dunkin' Donuts on the way. Yes, this means that in the space of 2 meals over ~5 hours, we had both Waffle House and Dunkin Donuts, but hey, we're just livin' the 'Merican Dream down these parts.

I remembered all of the drive from the previous trips I had made. No need for directions, I've been here before. I even visualized this drive when I visualized this day. Of course, the car I pictured had no top. And the weather was perfect, but you can't get hung up on the little stuff. We were at The Show.

Rolled up to the fields and made sure to park right next to our fields. Gotta know stuff like which field you're on before you arrive. Key in effective first-day parking. We then moseyed over to the fields while drinking in the morning. The Calm before The Storm.

Got ready and tossed a little before getting our jog on. Dynamic warmups into drills into live play. More throwing. I can feel the excitement rushing up my spine.... Game Time.

vs Boston Ultimate, 8-15
Well... We started off with them. Our D team definitely had a dumb turnover or something after generating a turn early in the first half. Not sure if I ever got the disc in my hands in the first half. Dunno. This game had little of note for me, personally. The first half was close enough (5-8, 6-8?) and then Boston turned on our O team. Or, our O Team turned on Pike. Or something. All I know is that instead of the D team feeling like we were right in it, suddenly it felt like we hadn't played at all yet. You know, D Team players need short memories because you've got to shrug off the first 6 times you get scored on so that you can fight NOT to get scored on the 7th time. The problem is, having short memories means we also forget how were playing defense after being off of the field for more than 2 points or so. We can't remember what worked and we can't quite get that focus back. Too many shiny objects. Soon we become spectators instead of players. When the D team forgets they're playing ultimate and starts watching ultimate, the game is over.

Unless you can somehow fire that engine back up. This is what veterans are for. Those guys who never lose hope and never stop fighting. Not only do they force themselves to fight, but they force their teammates to fight. Sadly, Pike doesn't have quite enough veterans in terms of The Show. I mean... of the 7 guys who were at Nationals with Pike, only 3 actually played similar on-field roles then to now, 3 played smaller (and different) roles and 1 (me) had never played a meaningful point at Nationals. Yow. Welcome to it. Good luck going forward Boston. Especially you ex-Pike boys. Glad we could give Danny a rest this round.

vs Sockeye, 4-15
Well, I thought the previous game was bad. I also thought that we got a lot of the "deer in headlights" looks out in the previous game. This was a different story. our young players were stone-cold intimidated and you could see it. This is the video effect. That, and the younger guys on our team were in High School, playing and watching ultimate when Sockeye started their rise. That didn't stop the Sockeye O team from giving us the disc the first two times they were on the field. The Pike D did not convert. the worst example of this was the first turn that we got 10-15 yards out of the endzone we were attacking and proceeded to throw away on a dump pass that, even if completed, would likely not have helped our cause. Then I don't think we got on the field again until late in the first half or early in the second half. I did like their aggressive handler motion from Gehret and O'Brien. It was pretty clear that these guys had a gameplan that they executed consistently. Generally, within the first couple of points watching a team you can tell if they are all on the same page or not. Sockeye most certainly was. Good luck for the rest of the tourney, Jaeger.

vs Rhino, 9-15
This game was much more fun. In part because Rhino plays a game where they give the other D team the disc. This meant I got to go to work throwin goals in this one. As I told the team, once we get the turn, put the disc in my hands, I'm just throwing goals. We got our first break in this game on, I threw the goal. We got our next break right afterward, and I threw another goal. We got a turn on the next point, and, dumb as I am, tried to catch a goal instead of throwing for one, and the throw was turfed. Damn. Rhino then scored. Then they broke our O back (somewhere in here) and our D got scored on. Then I don't recall exactly what happened, but they fought back to take half. In the second half, our O team got broken here and there while our D team may have gotten one break back. The fact remains that Rhino fought through *both halves* whereas Pike only fought through the first half. The second half was.... All Rhino. I finally met one of the Other Dusty's in this one. It was very odd that at some point we were both on the field, near the disc (stupid handlers) and both sidelines were shouting "Dusty this" and "dusty that" while neither of us could tell which people to listen to. We conferred later and determined that it made both of us play harder, though not necessarily smarter.

There were some big plays on the day (Big Art!!) and I thought that even though I had a couple of dumb turnovers, I played well overall. No Ds, but I threw some goals. My pulls were pretty solid, and I seem to remember ripping a good one or two against Rhino specifically. My attitude stayed positive for the whole day, in spite of our lackluster effort because I just attributed it to not being ready for the enhanced speed at Nationals vs, say Chesapeake or even Regionals. And being a little starstruck in the face of players that they had heard about for so long. Endurox up, get back home, cook up some food and get ready to see Truck Stop and Furious tomorrow morning!

Oh yeah, Truck Stop/Furious/Chain were definitely the talk of the first day. Definitely.


Josh said...


I know that it is good for the O line to stay in when they get broken, but I am surprised sometimes at how long teams will keep the same 6-7 players in while consistently getting broken (I am not talking about a break.... more like 3 breaks in a row).

I mean, chances are, those players have been on for 3 straight points, and, guess what, the same D line that D'ed them up the first time is back on the field fresh after 1 point rest, and the O lines legs are tired. Things are now an even greater uphill battle.

I think i remember in your game against Boston, you guys finally put in a defensive O line and you guys scored maybe for the first time in the second half, but, really it was far too late and we already got 4 breaks in the second half.

Of course, this is strictly from my opinion as a life-long D player.

I really liked Idris's idea on his blog when he wrote that one year they decided that whenever a line got scored on, the other line would come in. If nothing else, the players are fresh, and it gives the line that got broken time to talk about what happened so things like that don't happen again.

I think this keep things fun and keeps the D line in the game. there is nothing more frustrating than watching a line get scored on again and again and there is nothing you can do to make the bleeding stop.

Of course, Jam does benefit from the fact that most of their players can play any role at any time, and they do (i.e. the guy who catches the pull, doesn't necessarily stay around as the dump, but rather, makes a deep cut, and then cuts underneath). When I saw them play for the first time, the O that Alex Eiteljorg tried to teach Philly every year that I played there finally made sense (like, oh, yeah, man that offense would have worked if more than 5 people could throw on the team)..... but that is another subject altogether.


p.s. In talking to Spanish, I think he learned a lot at nationals... so that is a good thing.

gapoole said...

It's hard to imagine matching up with guys who you've seen on Ultivillage's CotD and Nationals highlight vids, people whose name is spoken almost with reverence.

I agree that after maybe three breaks in a row, it's time for the D line to get back on the field. Theoretically, the O should also come out on defense if you're 4+ breaks ahead in a pre-series game. Come to think of it, of all the teams that were at Nationals, how many didn't use and O/D split?

dusty.rhodes said...

I will just say that I agree with Idris on this one. Pull the guys that aren't getting the job done, get the rest of the team in the game. Show some trust, get out of the rut, shake it up. Let the original crew get a breather and regroup.

Don't know who called strict O/D and who didn't but every team has guys who play more one way than the other. As for who should come in with a 4 point lead or so, it varies by team. The deeper your bench (in terms of talent-level) the more guys you can bring in. This is a huge advantage for teams like Sockeye (and others at the tippy-top) as the dropoff from the top to the "bottom" of their rosters is less than that of many other teams.

As for intimidation... Whatever:

"It is spiritless to think that you cannot attain what [they] attain. [They] are men. You are also a man. If you think that you will be inferior in doing something, you will be on that road very soon."

Attack when you see your strongest opponent, don't retreat. Prove you belong, don't prove that you don't. Look at them as benchmarks to pass. Signposts on your way to excellence. No more no less. I love battling the best. I wish that Sockeye game was longer and that I was on the field more. But I wish that about any game against any good team.

The Pulse said...

There were times when I definitely felt that a D-based O-line needed to take the field - our semifinal against Wisconsin, our game at Stanford Invite against Brown, for two examples.

I also feel like D-players have a different mentality when they play offense - at least at Stanford last year our O team looked for the huck much more often than our D-team, who were willing to work the disc up the field with handlers and higher % throws. It depends on how the other team's defense is playing.

And I love playing against the "superstars". Every chance I get is a chance to prove that I belong at the top level of ultimate. If I get beat, I know what I need to work on.

dusty.rhodes said...

Did you just type something about a D team working the disc up with higher percentage throws? Odd.......

My feeling is that the difference is more in the way that a D-Team responds to a turnover. D-Teams kinda enjoy playing defense. They like the challenge. They *start* most points playing defense. They work on defense constantly. When a turn happens, the get ready to play D instead of thinking about what happened on O. Being on D is a comfortable place for a D-Team. It is normal. For an O-Team... it means Something has gone Wrong.

The planning of a specific O-line (or group of D-guys playing O) or strategy based on what the other team's D is conceding is a good one. Different players have different strengths! Different groups work together differently! Embrace this and use it as an advantage instead of trying to normalize/systematize everyone!! Even with the same basic offensive rules, different players respond with different choices when presented with the exact same options. Use this vary the way that you attack the defense.

It's funny playing against "name" players... you find out so much more about how/why they are effective when matching up than you do when watching. Combine the two (scout scout scout!) and you can get in anyone's head if you prepare well enough. That's what defense is, after all... get in your opponent's crawlspace!