Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stanford Invite Recap

We lost. I have to hand it to Santa Barbara for playing a strong and efficient game that set them up for victory. The difference was simply legs - sort of. There is no question we ran out of energy and oomph and that killed us. SB was equally tired, but their offense can run with minimal effort - ours (if we even have one) cannot. They didn't always score, but when they did it was easy. When we scored (which we did some) it was ugly. With our starters either hurt (Bai and Butters) or exhausted (everyone else), we played an open rotation throughout most of the final. No excuses though - they beat us.

I came away from the tournament feeling like there are 7 teams out here on the west coast that are all pretty much even. Who wins is a question of who is playing well that particular game. It'll be interesting to see all these teams running out at Centex and where they will fall relative to the east coast powers. My suspicion (after seeing UNC at Prez Day) is that there are likely 10-12 teams all bunched at the top right now. Very few of these teams are fully formed yet and given how many teams are relying on new players to fulfill important roles, I see nothing but upside for most of them. Who comes out on top depends on who grows the most week to week. This week it was SB and so they won.

Here are my thoughts on all the teams there:
SB: They are quickly developing their rookies and second year players and getting them to play within their system. Finney has stepped into Kayla's QB role from last year, but with her own spin on it. Finney is much less of a big thrower than a take what is there thrower. She doesn't run much, but when she does, it's effective. Alina has stepped up to serve as a very good second handler: solid and efficient. This team is not deep, but they are very good at getting the most out of what they have.

UBC: Really the flat-out opposite of what UCSB is. They and Stanford might be the two deepest teams; both of whom are playing 16 or 17 deep. I'm not sure that the TBirds know quite who they are yet and it is scary to watch them figuring it out. They run a pick-your-poison offense that runs up the lines on the edges and comebacks down the middle. Their depth and constant churn challenge their opponents to keep up. If you can - you have a shot at winning. If you can't...

This team is more than just Kodiak and Hawkins. Kodiak went out with a foot injury and BLU still beat UBC Sunday morning in a must-win. They went on to get pounded by UCSB, but winning the pool (losing only to Cal) is impressive. They (as always) run a classic dump-swing and are doing an excellent job challenging the mark in the 2-4 second range of the stall count. They are fundamental sound , although a little less clean in their spacing than usual. Their zone is quite good.

The Stanford O is the same that it has been for the last few years: catch, look at the cutters for 5 seconds, recycle to the handlers, look at the cutters for 5 seconds, recycle to the handlers...This weekend, I didn't see them scoring easy goals. Lots and lots of 8,10,12 pass possessions some ending in goals and some in execution errors. Very few decision errors. Ruggs will stretch the field for them with her forehand, but she is the only one. They are playing so so deep right now. As all those rookies and second years get better, their possession O will begin to solidify.

The Pie Queens are a good defensive team that will go as far as An-Chi and Claire will carry them. I watched them in the showcase against Stanford, the finals of Prez Day and bits and pieces here and there. As a team, they are solid. They have a good core of handlers led by Palak. An-Chi is a ceaseless cutter and her forehand huck is about ten yards stronger than defenders seem to think it is. She and Claire (neon hat) have figured out how to work together and that has been the difference for them.

This team is so young and so talented. They have every piece you'd want: throwers, speed, size, depth. They are still figuring out what they want to be and who goes where and who is going to do what. All they know so far is that it should be different from last year.

They looked much better this weekend than at Prez Day. They are integrating their young talent and got a nice victory against Cal (that knocked Cal out of semis.)

So thin. Maggie was out all weekend and it showed.

Western Washington
I talked for a long time to WW coach and Syzygy alum Jinny Eun. We both agreed that they should have gone to Midwest Throwdown and contended for a spot in semis rather than getting pounded at the Invite. They did have disc to win against UCLA, but they also got blown out in a number of games.

The Hellions are still solid, but they don't have the weapons they did last year. It was nice to see Frankie is still at it.

Santa Cruz
This team has returned it's core from last year and is definitely a step above where it was. They played great, particularly considering they only had a weeks notice (or less that they'd be playing.)

Same old disaster.

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