Photo by Scobel Wiggins –

17 – 21 

The biggest moment in this game happened in the opening quarter as Jibran Mieser went out with an injury. The loss of a top-three defender from any lineup in the league would make a difference as all matchups then shift from the expected game plan. With time to prepare, a coach can come up with an ideal way to cope, but when a player goes out with an injury during play, the scramble is on.

While the Rumble kept pace with the Current through the 9-9 first half, the first four points of the second half saw the Current extend the first two-, three- and four-point leads of the game. D.C. scored on offense to start (34 seconds), then converted a reset error (54 seconds), a dropped reset (23 seconds) and then a huck into double coverage (1:19) into goals. Thus, in the opening three minutes and 10 seconds of the second half, the Current ran off four points. NY scored next, and D.C. answered to make it a four-point D.C. lead.

This is when the Rumble made their run. They scored on O, and then converted two break points. The three-point run took three min, five seconds.

Then an interesting thing occurred: NY called a timeout to slow their own run. Well, more accurately, NY called a timeout so that they would be able to pull from midfield. However, one use of timeouts in ultimate (and basketball), has always been to slow down the opposition’s defense before they burst into flames and consume your offense. In order to pull from midfield, a timeout must be called, which affords the opponent a respite from playing and a chance for their lineup (usually offensive players) to collect themselves before playing against a planned short-pull defense.

On some level this raises the stakes for that particular point. If the defense breaks against the strongest line the offense can muster, it can be psychologically devastating to the offense. If the defense cannot prevent the opponent from scoring even with the advantage of a midfield pull, more doubt will creep into the collective headspace of the defense.

In part, this is an argument for calling a timeout to use the midfield rule sooner rather than later when your team attempts to make a defensive run. Then again, calling that timeout early may prevent your team from making a run at all.

Finally, ICYMI: Backing up a teammate is how you get on SportsCenter, according to Delrico Johnson’s pregame interview. There is no better baseline understanding of what it means to be a great teammate.


 16 – 19 

Nice opening Portland pull against Vancouver. This is a good way to start off against a team with the premier distance-puller in the league, Morgan Hibbert. Speaking of whom:

Hibbert gets a block on the mark while 10 yards away. I wonder if the stall had started? Is this a point block? Is this a downfield D? He’s warping spacetime with off-mark blocks and a two-backhand (plus assorted parts) near-travel throwing form. I suggest you all take note.

Typing of things I’ve typed before, here is continuing support for Dan Suppnick’s no-pivot backhand for “most powerful single throw of 2015” (2014’s unofficial winner was Alan Kolick’s OI flick):

We all know what it coming, and Samson Hoy is powerless to stop it.

Hoy and Kirk Savage are powerless to stop it.

Brendan Wong is powerless to stop it.

Setting up the counter. See how far Wong jumps to his right? That’s the power of a strong no-pivot fake.

Savage figured out how to take it away–he puts his torso in the release point for Suppnick’s no-pivot backhand. Soooo… instead of throwing the no-pivot, Suppnick caroms off Savage’s chest and tosses the step-out backhand. Great move, and great no-call by Team Black.

This was a fun game. As the score was knotted at 11-11 and the clock expiring on the third quarter, Cody Bjorklund sent a flick blade to Raphy Hayes to take a 12-11 lead into the fourth. Portland then scored the first goal in the fourth to go up 13-11. While the gap would get within one point again later in the game, this particular comeback victory (after being down 0-2 and 1-3) was a chance for Portland to show that everyone else is climbing Stag mountain in 2015.


22 – 21 

This game is continuing proof that when Philly plays a competent offensive game, they can beat anyone:

Cmp %PlayThr% ThrA% AInc% Inc
> 93%97.9614918.7729.5216.67
< 93%87.611211343.30942.861493.33


Cmp %PlayThr% ThrA% AInc% Inc
> 93%95.41310936.581150.00529.41
< 93%76.9295217.45313.641270.59

The distribution here is interesting.  The Whitecaps got more production from the players who completed passes at under 93 percent, but they were also overused as this group led the team in throws and incompletions but not in assists.

In Philadelphia’s case, the 100 percent group led the team in completions, while the 93-100 percent group led the team in assists. Notably, the Spinners kept the disc away from their throwing liabilities and allowed the bottom group a mere 17.45 percent of the team’s passes. Despite this caution, this group was still responsible for over 70 percent of the team’s turnovers.

More interesting still is that for Boston, over 93.33 percent of turnovers came from players with under 93 percent completion rates.

Perhaps Boston would be better served by concentrating the throwing duties among more consistent throwers or perhaps this is reflective of something done on the defensive side of Philadelphia to force the less-consistent throwers to have the disc more often. Then again, there could simply be throwing errors on the part of the Whitecaps. The fact remains that the Spinners are leaning on the top of their roster more heavily than are the Whitecaps.

Most interesting is that Boston completed nearly over 94 percent of their passes… and lost. Boston threw two-fewer turnovers… and lost.

While Philadelphia owns the tiebreak against Boston by starting off 2-0 against them, it remains to be seen if Philadelphia can play this way against the D.C. Current.


 20 – 14 

Structure vs. Vision

If the two backward-running resets are intentional, the thrower’s vision is lacking as the defender who gets a block is directly in his line of sight. If the two backward-running resets are unintentional, the offensive structure needs work. Either way, the Dogfish offense requires clarity.

Countdown to the End of the Quarter Version 1

Six seconds remain in the quarter. Sure, there is a strong argument for not picking up this disc right away since the clock doesn’t start until a player touches the disc. Waiting allows your receivers to push farther downfield. However, it appears here as though the Dogfish don’t really have a plan for who will start with the disc or where it will go. Lasseter picks this pull up and swings it wide to Saunkeah who turns to check the clock behind him before hucking a backhand. There are five Dogfish w/in a 10-yd circle of where the disc lands, quite short of the end zone. It also looks like they advanced a lone player down to the end zone they were attacking. Unlikely to result in a scoring opportunity.

Countdown to the End of the Quarter Version 2

Nine seconds remain in the half. Lasseter picks up the disc after a pause, and holds it for two seconds before completing a pass to Pollard who drops the disc over the top of the defense to Riggs who rips a flick to the back corner for two Dogfish to fight over. This was a much much better quarter-ending possession.


Seven On & On Anon…

1. How Wodatch and Perston (or Perston and Wodatch) are like Arjen Robben
No matter what it looks like they’re doing, they’re going deep.
Here as Tom Doi pops the disc out wide to Oung, Wodatch is just standing there a yard short of dead center on the field. Unbeknownst to his defender, 10 seconds and 60 yards later, #45 would be scoring a goal. Wodatch sees the flight of the disc, and then takes note of his defender. As Oung catches the disc, Wodatch sprints off screen. (Neeley clears the lane). The first glimpse we then get of Wodatch or his defender, is the defender at the far right of the screen hoping to accelerate to the disc. However, as the frame gains Wodatch, he pulls away from #23.

Compare this to Perston in Week 1 being thrown to despite his defender being deeper on the field.
H/T to this fantastic set of tips on Arjen Robben.

2. Oung. Katzenbach. Savage. Saunkeah.
Now is the time for veterans to make downfield plays. Oung repeatedly coming down with floating discs in crowds and under defensive pressure from individuals to keep the Current tied with the Rumble through the first half. Savage winning air battles when he struck downfield for goals against the Stags. Saunkeah making a play at the back of the endzone and breaking open deep only to have sorely mistargeted throws sent his way versus the Rainmakers. Katzenbach boxing out a defender in the endzone to corral a huck in a tight victory over the Whitecaps.

There is more to ultimate than simply having the speed and the hops to chase down the disc and elevate for the catch. There is an art to making space for yourself to make catches. Whether by through getting open deep in the first place, reading the disc and misinforming the defender, or creating space and maintaining leverage in contact with your defender, these guys have been playing at a high level for years and continue to confound less-experienced opponents to earn the trust of their teammates and fans.

3. Purifico vs. Hibbert
What is it with defenders and red hair? Wouldn’t you want to be camouflaged so that the offense can’t find you? Some of the most effective defenders make themselves seem smaller than they are by crouching down and hunching their shoulders. That’s the action of a predator. Vibrant colors and beautiful plumage are generally a sign of poisonous prey. Interesting that all radical hair-color adjustments seem to be defenders.

If the Spinners meet the Nighthawks in the finals, will they both have red hair? Will one have blue or black or white hair? Is switching blinking or is staying the same blinking? How do you win a game of chicken anyway?

4. Folks are Still Cranking Their Midfield Pulls OB
This seems ridiculous. I admit, I have never practiced my midfield pulls. I expect the players to be able to adapt to throwing this pass sooner rather than later. 18/40ths, or 9/20ths, or 45.00 percent through the season seems a long enough lifespan for this trend. By pulling OB from midfield you’re killing your coaches. Or at least giving them greay hairs.

5. A Moment in the Life of Robbie Gillies
Did you ever want to know what it looks like when some player controls the point for a moment and claims the whole of the field for his team?

Catch a wide-open in-cut on the near side of the field with no defender within 15yds. Reset to Mazur, direct Mazur to swing the disc to Kocher. Take off deep on the far side. Sky Fleming a yard outside of the end zone.

That’s Gillies at his uncoverable best.

6. Fun Sequence Brought to You Courtesy of the Clock
The second in our intermittently recurring series:
D.C. pulls from half field w/ :52 left in the first half. What should NY do? Well, first off, they catch the pull… which shorts out D.C.’s attempt to get down. They they work it up to 17 yards outside of the endzone they are defending, where Mazur gets handblocked by Castine. Now, getting blocked is one thing… it is a whole other thing to attempt to throw a goal which would have likely left over 20 seconds for D.C. to try to score on offense. While D.C. doesn’t create a picture perfect scoring chance after this turn, in part due tot the time it took them to put the disc into play, they did create a scoring chance which was erased by a heads-up NY defender. That’s a loss for NY, who started the point on O and a loss for D.C. who missed a chance to establish a lead entering the second half.

7. Handblock Transition Breaks
The handblock (and the reset turnover) is the best time to attack your opponent in transition. It can either be immediate as an offensive player streaks down the field, or it can be in motion as the play continues given that your team maintains spacing on the attack. Tempo is the key, but don’t rush.

Handblock from Dominique Gibson after running the upline-cut switch w/ Kolick. Blake tosses a righty backhand to Kolick, who goes lefty backhand to Blake for a 20-yd gain who then tosses a 45-yd in-stride lefty hammer to Wodatch. Goal.

Handblock from Glazer on a lazy flick reset. Glazer pushes downfield immediately to goal, Katzenbach make a crossfield cut to move the disc and completes an inside break to Sickles who in turn tosses an unmarked goal to Mehta. Goal.

Midfield Heave as Time Expires

Does Rob McKenna play for D.C.? The games in The District thus far have all been wins for the Current and have all had weather contribute to the result.