Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thoughts from Southern Regionals

The drive to Adelaide
Jesus H. Christ that drive sucked. My car's air-con doesn't work, and it was 40° all the way. Plenty of water was drank as myself, Lewi and Jake tried to stay hydrated - my recycling bin at home is now filled with Mount Franklin 1.5 litre bottles. And for all the heckling Amanda gave us about her car having the luxury of air-con, I got a call from Greta - they had broken down at Kaniva. We were about 30 minutes ahead, and a vote was made to keep going instead of turning around. About an hour later, I got this text from Amanda...

We are back on the road. The fuel was evaporating between the fuel pump and the engine.

Which is further evidence small cars can't handle long trips with air-con at full tilt.

The team - Heads of State Youth
Being about 5 years older than the second oldest player on a youth team, there was no escaping the fact I was nothing more than a pickup player. The team was filled with some fantastic young talent:
  • Timill - a solid leader who will fulfill his assistant coach job for Thunder very well.
  • Tarrant - a freak. That's all that needs to be said.
  • Lochie Wise - I played with him at Mixed Nats, where inexperience creeped through on a couple of occassions, but now he plays like someone way beyond his years.
  • Lewi, Jake and Al - the tall timber of the team, and all Thunder aspirants.
  • Nick, Rohan and Lats - three very solid players who are shooting for the A team.
  • Nath - Ballarat lad there for some experience.
  • Dave - social leaguer who was there to spectate, but suddenly found himself in the team.
No Buttons, though, because he is a chump.

Day 1
The first game was against Heads of State. After some deliberation about 'tanking', we treated the game as a serious warm up. Despite being our first game together, HoSY played pretty good. Probably the only major problem being that our hucks weren't coming off. We lost.

Next game was against Ultimate Evolution. This was the game where we started to get our shit together. Much better flow on O, and getting plenty of blocks and forced turnovers on D. HoSY held out for a good win.

The third game before lunch (and about the point where I was grateful for 60min games) was against Karma Chameleon. This started out as a tough match-up, with their much larger and louder squad threatening to overrun us. However their zone D had several holes in it that turned out to be quite easy to exploit. As noted by one HoSY player - "they're just animals that run, but don't think about what they're doing." We won comfortably, but in 12 months time this team will be much more difficult to beat.

After lunch we had one more game for the day against Hot Chilly (aka Chilly B, Backhand Chilly, or Chilly Whealy). We surprised them by taking the first five points straight - we played like a real Nationals team, capitialising on every mistake they made. However after a time out, they went on to take the next 6 points, and eventually the game.

In a suprising move, I didn't go to the party that night. In fact, no one from HoS did. By the time we cooled down, ate, got back to the caravan park and showered, it was about 10pm and no one was really feeling it.

Day 2

This was always going to be a tough day. First game was against Karma. Due to lateness we were on the back foot early, starting 1-0 down and with only 5 players. By the time our full team was there, it was 7-0 and the next four points were conceeded quickly, wrapping up the game in about 35 minutes.

The second game was against Sweet Chilly (aka Chilly A, Forehand Chilly, or Chilly Baker). Determined to make up for such a piss-poor effort in the first game, we really stepped up in this game. As cliched as it sounds, the 11-5 scoreline didn't reflect the game at all. When it was 9-3, we were in the midst of a long-ish point, and the A team came over to our sideline to cheer us on. The difference the noise made (and I mean noise - lots of it) was incredible - we were constantly peppering the endzone with scoring opportunities. During that point there were four "questionable" fouls called by Chilly. One I agreed with, two could have gone either way, and the other was the worst foul call I have ever seen in ultimate. I'm not going into details here - ask me nicely next time you see me and I might tell you about it. We eventually got the score and the field was mobbed by the A team.

On the next point, our D stepped up and we shut down everything - Chilly just couldn't score. It was another long point helped by a loud sideline. I'd never been convinced a loud sideline could make such a difference, but I'm happy to stand corrected. Sweet Chilly ended up taking the game, which left us in 5th place.

The third game of the day was against Karma again, in the 4th vs 5th game. This game was essentially for the last South spot at Nationals. Given that Karma were playing for this spot, they came out firing. We put up a much better fight than the morning, but Karma's experience playing as a team was much better than ours. They then went on to beat Hot Chilly (aka Chilly B, Backhand Chilly, or Chilly Whealy), who had beaten them on Saturday, to take 3rd place.

The legs were tired and the enthusiasm was dying after that game and we were dreading coming up against the numbers and hard running of Karma Chameleon. But to our surprise, Ultimate Evolution had rolled them and were playing us for 5th place. We established our dominance early, getting two breaks up to be 6-2, and coasted the rest of the game, winning 12-8.

My personal performance
I suck at open ultimate - I have known for some time that my style of game is much more suited to mixed. Maybe that's because I have played mixed much more than open - but being my fourth attempt at becoming an open player, I struggle to keep up with the pace of the open game. Knowing this, I settled into a "back seat" role, avoiding being a key play maker or anything important. I was happy to play a role of "experienced handler".

That being said, I had a couple of personal goals for the weekend.
  1. 100% completions when dumping/swinging.
  2. Win my one-on-one contests on D.
  3. Only huck to clear options - no speculative shit.
  4. Improve my dump cuts.
So how did I go?
  1. I had 6 turnovers for the weekend - 2 of them on risky swing passes on high stall counts. One directly resulted in a score (vs Sweet Chilly) and the other we got the disc back three passes later (vs Ultimate Evolution). I had 3 upfield throwaways (one was an awesome hammer than my receiver turned his back on!) and 1 handblock. Not a bad return for the weekend.
  2. I got beaten long. A lot. However when on the mark, I did not let one huck off. A couple of break throws slipped by, but I forced a dump/swing/short open side pass about 75-80% of the time. And I even beat someone in the air for a D. Only happened once or twice ever. So proud.
  3. Didn't even get one huck off. Never had a real opportunity to.
  4. This is the one thing I really worked on. Previously I'd just run back and forth until I was open, but instead I thought about the cut I wanted well before I was engaged as a dump. I thought about where I was starting from, where my marker was starting from, how my marker was standing (back to me, back to thrower, or sideways?), where the stack was and where the space was on the field. Once I took all this into consideration, it actually became quite easy to predetermine what cut to use, and to execute it. I was quite surprised at how easy it was to beat my marker (who was, more often than not, faster than me) once I worked that all out.
It is still nice to be reminded every now and then that after playing for four years, I still have so much to learn.

1 comment:

matthilljnr said...

Nice write-up.

We would have struggled big time without you there as the reliable handler.