Tuesday, November 15, 2005

If memory serves me...

Well, that's the problem these days, it doesn't. At least related to frisbee. As I age not quite so gracefully, I find that it is becoming more and more difficult to remember things. Let me digress...
I remember when I was a young pup in college, and the Earth Atomizer years post college. Throw in a bunch of summer leagues, including Westchester summer league, Boston Corporate League. Hell, even the first few years of DoG. So we're talking 1984-roughly 1995-6. I used to remember every pass I threw, caught, most passes other people threw, what happened on defense, what we played on defense, my stats in general. We took statistics on Earth Atomizer for a few years (that's a whole other discussion), which also helped refine my memories at the time, and gave me additional incentive to make sure I didn't get screwed.

But you could wax rhapsodic after a weekend was over about the minutia of every single game, your best throws, what you were wearing. In particular, you could remember every single detail of your turnovers, who to blame, why this guy didn't cut right, how if the receiver didn't suck or slow down they wouldn't have gotten d'ed, why couldn't they read the disc.

Now I'm lucky if I remember what happened during the day that very same night. For instance, this year at Nationals, I played 7 games in 4 days. I had 3 turnovers for the entire weekend. At this point (and last week when I was reminiscing with Jim), I can only remember 2 of them. The laughable long forehand attempt to Forch (and I don't even remember which game that was in), and a backhand upwind up the line to the Englishman that apparently he wasn't open on. This was against Sockeye, and I think it was the semis, although I'm not even certain of that anymore. Scary, eh?

This isn't really trolling for comments/hits, but I'm curious to see if any of the other old-timers out there, and perhaps the not quite so old, but not quite so young timers are also experiencing the same thing?

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Nationals, Day 4

Didn't watch it. However, it doesn't sound like I missed much, just another turnover-fest, only that it would have aggravated me that we could have been in that game and won it also. I'm not sure how many other teams out there feel that way. Obviously, Sub-Zero feels that they could/should have beaten Furious in the quarters, but they would have had the difficult games of JAM followed by Sockeye. And Sub-Zero still plays a game that is more similar to the west coast than the east coast.
What's funny in all this is that with most teams moving to the spread stack, it positions DoG favorably in the future if DoG keeps the vertical stack (with a little side stack thrown in to keep teams honest). And if spread continues to trickle down to college, there will be few teams out there who practice against the vertical stack on a regular basis.

Now both Jim and I have already mentioned this elsewhere, but for much of this season, DoG was rarely throwing the long pass, much less completing them. For whatever reasons, whether people weren't cutting, or we would turn over a few early ones to take us out of that game, I had real concerns going into Nationals about our long game, and whether people were going to be able to just front us wildly and shut us down as a result. Fortunately, my concerns were baseless, as we went up top quite a bit, both on the offensive and defensive teams.

When DoG throws long, they are throwing to a cutter who is already open and leading him into the space, but the lane is there, the thrower has the throw, and it is usually a vertical throw of 30-50 yards hitting the cutter in stride. It is NOT the 70 yard huck that the guy has to run down deep in the endzone, or run 40 yards downfield AND another 30 yards cross field. Watching other teams put up a 70 yard bomb to a cut(ter) who was just starting to make his move, wasn't necessarily open yet, and sometimes was already stopping his cut, was comical. The end of the JAM/Bravo game was a perfect example. End of an important game, and yet both teams are turning it over MULTIPLE times a point. It literally seems like a gift to a more possession-oriented team like DoG provided we can take advantage.

I also thought we mixed up the vertical (the default) and the side stack pretty well when people gave us problems, or switched to a force that made us work a little harder than usual. Do the other teams really HAVE multiple sets anymore? Or is really just different play calls off the spread. OK, this time you cut from the far side to the near side while I cut deep to clear out space, then I'll cut back underneath to catch it from you.

Finally, the GRANT defense worked SHOCKINGLY well. Considering it was something we only experimented with the weekend before nationals, it was worth MORE than it's weight in gold. However, I'm not going to explain what the D is, since it is still a useful tool...

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Nationals, Day 3

Took me awhile to recover from losing in the semis. As Jim said over in his blog, going into the tournament I thought there was a non-zero chance that we would fail to even qualify for the pre-quarters. However, despite feeling we could have won the tournament, this was one of the more satisfying nationals that I ever had. The team got consistently better throughout the weekend. While it took awhile for us to put together two solid halves, we finally hit our stride going into the Metal game, which gave us the right boost going into the Bravo quarterfinal.
After we finished our spanking of Metal, we had the opportunity to catch the end of the Jam/Bravo game next door, whose loser we would be playing in the quarterfinal. After awhile, I didn't really care who lost, as both teams were playing uglimate, or west coast big play turn it over as much as you want... I'm still disappointed that style won nationals again. Given recent experience against Bravo (excluding Colorado Cup), I was probably happy when Bravo lost. Since I didn't attend the Colorado Cup, on a personal level, I don't think I have EVER lost to them. Since I didn't go to the Chesapeake tournament, I can also still say that I have NEVER lost to Chain Lightning.

Going into the quarters on Saturday, I was feeling pretty good. My calf was feeling fully recovered from the Thursday game (thanks again to Russ Robar, team masseuse extraordinaire), and I was ready to go. The team then put on a pretty spectacular display, I thought. The O scored off the first point with no turns, then the D put the clamp on. We were quickly up 4-1, and never looked back. The O ended up having only 1 turnover the entire game, and we let them score it. Not a SINGLE other turnover. On a personal level, this was one of my better performances ever in a meaningful game. I was feeling it pretty earlier, and ended up throwing 5 goals and catching the game-winner out of a possible 11 points of offense, and I think I was out for at least one of those points. This included a long backhand to Parinella for a goal on the second pass (always a back-breaker), a knifing inside out forehand to Jim for another goal that at least 2 Bravo players layed out for in front of Jim, who made the focussed catch nonetheless, two long hammer goals at high stall counts, one to Forch to punish Beau, who was playing way off man, and another one to Josh McCarthy (yes, it was to him, not Jim) in another back breaker, and then an early curving forehand to a poached player. The most satisfying one was catching the game-winner on a 2 yard cut up the line after a dump fake.

So, back in the semis after a two-year hiatus. Two years ago, lost to the Condors after avoiding the pre-quarters. Last year, barely lost to Furious after almost being up 10-7 and beating Chain Lightning in the pre-quarters. You can see the trend here, which was why I had some concern going in. But, back on familiar ground. This was a rematch of our pool play game against Sockeye, who won 15-13 in a VERY close game, although our last lead was 11-10. But we had at least 5 chances to tie it upwind combined at 14-13 and 13-12 Sockeye. This game started out no differently. Sockeye received going upwind, and while we didn't score on a Callahan this time, we still scored. We maintained this precarious lead for much of the first half, until there was a hugely contested call when Josh McCarthy caught a downwinder, thought he was in (and spectators did also), while the observer was calling him out. Unfortunately, he began his celebration a little early, and ultimately pseudo-spike the disc to give Sockeye possession. We didn't recover defensively that point, and the momentum had shifted. Worse, Sockeye broke us to take half on a huge defensive play by Alex Nord on Doug Moore, with Nord coming around the outside to pluck the disc from Doug without any contact and actually catch the disc about 5 feet off the ground. The photos that I have seen do the play justice. Whether Doug was truly open enough in the first place to be thrown to is a separate question, but that was a back breaker. A few more plays like this, and all of a sudden, we were down 12-8 and traded out. Very frustrating, as this was also an eminently winnable game. I had another successful foray, with only 1 turnover on a second upwind possession when I threw a first pass backhand up the line to Matt Hims, who I thought was open but was apparently not. Other than that, I threw a few more goals, a few almost goals including two long forehands(!) to Jim Parinella, neither of which he could manage to catch in the endzone (grrrr). All in all, a personally successful day of ultimate, but it was overshadowed by the fact that this was a WINNABLE game, and a WINNABLE tournament. I didn't think so coming in, but we played mostly great as a team, definitely better than our recent tournaments/practices. It was nice to see us step up to the plate. On a personal level, I only had 3 turnovers in 6.5 games, and felt my juices flowing as I was in that zone where I wanted the disc ALL the time, and was usually able to do something with it, including having my way with a lot of Sockeye poaching.

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