Photo by Brian Canniff – Ultiphotos.com
Tick Tick Tick … When the Fight Goes Wrong … The 100% Club … A Look at Basic Team Data … Throws of the Weak … End of the Picking Season Approaches … Change Horses at the End of the Stream? … D.C Losing Closely is Still Losing … Working Three Games in One Weekend … Boston Area Women’s All-Star Game!
Short Sips of Hot Bitter Blackness. A hint of far-off stone-fruit sweetness. A smoky thickness lingers from the roast.
Clock management can drive a spectator insane. As each quarter winds down there are opportunities for each team to manipulate the flow of the game to result in an advantage in overall scoring opportunities. As a function of the clock’s existence, it is not enough to merely possess the disc, it is necessary to possess the disc with time in mind.
As each quarter winds down below one minute remaining, both teams should be counting the time in their heads and aloud. for example, if you are pulling the disc with exactly one minute left, is it better to play 59 seconds of great defense only to get scored on or is it better to get scored on quickly and then use the rest of the time to go to work on offense for the final score of the quarter?
It is a complicated risk-reward calculation as the former could result in preventing a goal for your opponent, but it could also result in giving up a goal without a chance to counter. In particular if you begin the next quarter on defense, it can be of utmost import to score the final goal of the quarter.
In watching games, be sure to take note of which teams best use the clock’s expiration to break up the rhythm of the game. Teams which score the last point of one quarter and the first point of the next on offense have, in effect, earned a break. Teams which concede control of the clock by playing ultimate with time out of mind lose important points around the margin of the game.
Tastes good so far. Future health consequences are sticky.
Every team needs a release valve because everything goes right for exactly no one. For some teams this is a reset who can get open in a phone booth. For some teams it is a downfield cutter with an uncanny ability to get open one or two seconds before the stall count runs out. For other teams it is a thrower who can reach areas of the field which other throwers cannot. For yet other teams it is a matter of having a receiver who calls into question the very existence of defenders, teammates and bystanders in his pursuit of the disc:
Go ahead, try to stop Halkyard on a 50/50 shot. See if he’s all up in your face holding the disc after your “challenge.”
Funny thing is that Boston is the least likely team to put up 50/50 shots…Which only makes it more effective when they do.
Which leads to: Much of the fun of playing to timed quarters (versus untimed halves like in club) is forcing teams out of their comfort zones. Teams try things they wouldn’t try otherwise which leads to displays of skill and athleticism and play-design which we would not otherwise see.
Much like line and rhyme limits in sonnets, time limits in sports force creativity within constraints.
Ah, the core of the non-vegan breakfast. Boiled. Scrambled. Poached. Fried. Loco Moco’d.
Checking in on The Club
We’ve been remiss in one of our duties here at the frisbee typ-o-matic office, and that’s tracking which players are members of the most exclusive club in MLU: The 100% Club! This is the group of players who have not yet thrown a turnover or dropped a disc. In 2016, with two weeks left, only twelve members remain:
|Colby Chuck||San Francisco||11/11||1||2|
|Casey Startzell||New York||10/10||2||1|
|Liam Rosen||San Francisco||3/3||1||0|
While there can be many members of this club, there can only be one president in any given year:
2015: Sam Kittross-Schnell – 40/40, 16 Goals, 4 Assists
2014: Marshall Ward – 37/37, 1 Goal, 0 Assists
2013: Francisco Hazera – 18/18, 2 Goals, 0 Assists
These last couple of weeks will see our nominees tested as the race for President of the 100% Club comes to a close. They have been nominated, but the tenor of the super-delegates is questionable.
Sometimes, it is as easy as completing passes at a higher rate than your opponents. That is, if we look at the playoff-bound teams, they all complete passes at over 90 percent while all teams on the outside looking in complete passes at under 89 percent:
|Team||Comp %||GF/Gm||GA/Gm||G Diff|
|Team||Comp %||GF/Gm||GA/Gm||G Diff|
Similarly, every team in the playoffs scores 20 or more points per game and gives up fewer than 19 points per game. Every team which will miss the playoffs scores 17 of fewer points per game and gives up 18 or more points per game. The numbers which stand out the most here are Boston, having a +2.1 goal differential, the smallest of any team with a winning record, and D.C. having a -1.7 goal differential, the smallest of any team with a losing record.
And here is the secret stat (okay not so secret) which reminds us that breaks are the most important stat in the game: Every team scores between 10 and 14 holds per game:
But if we look at how efficient those offensive lines are (second column), it does not correlate with how many holds they score per game. However, and efficiency above 50 percent is a sign of offensive health. In this case, all playoff teams have an OSE of over 64 percent.
If we then consider the number of breaks and how efficiently teams score those breaks, then we can better understand the holds:
|Team||Breaks / Gm||DSE|
|Team||Breaks / Gm||DSE|
The weird thing about ultimate is that it isn’t how many goals your offense scores, it is more about how efficiently your offense scores those goals. The more chances you give your opponent’s defense to score, not only are they more likely to score, but you waste offensive energy playing defense. If it gets sufficiently bad, the defense may even have to step in and play offense which not only saps some of their energy, but every hold goal not scored represents the loss of an opportunity for the defense to crack the code of the opponent’s offense. Then the flipside is that if your defense can score frequently enough, then your offense needn’t even take the field.
It isn’t just that you score, it is how you score.
Veggies? Fruits? Yogurts?
Something light and possibly a positive decision.
Throws of the Weak
These really are my favorite moments to see in ultimate from wholly quality players. The disc, while it has a handle (aka rim), is such a slippery thing. Such a capricious object to play a game with, it is affected by wind and water and fire and earth more than anything else we attempt to play sports with. At the same time, it contains multitudes of options for solving on-filed problems by bending space and time with arcs and straight lines and spin. The disc is a great toy. And, to go back for a moment, it can also give us sublime moments like this Throw of the Weakus Interruptus.
This throw is still my favorite moment from the season. It is incomprehensible in both its beauty and transcendence of skill. This is a throw that I know I can’t know. I still suspect that no one who has completed a pass like this knows it either.
Waffles or Pancakes?
Choose… but choose wisely.
Bit of a shift after last week’s one non-unanimous pick. Some folks picked New York over Boston, and to be fair I was totally concerned about this during the first half of the game, but then Boston started to Boston and New York realized they were in control of the game and didn’t know what to do next. Relevant quote from MLU retiree Jeff Graham (and approximately 1000 other Boston ultimate players from club to MLU): “We don’t lose to New York.” Oh. Very well then.
With two weeks left, here are the standings for the stable of game pickers:
W: Picked Winner Correctly
L: Picked Winner Incorrectly
EX: Exact values picked. Four per game (Winning Score, Losing Score, Margin of Victory, Total Score). Higher is better.
Tot Var: Total Variance. Total amount by which four values per game (Winning Score, Losing Score, Margin of Victory, Total Score) were inaccurate. Lower is better.
Now we shall see if Ruby knows how to pick from ahead and if Luke can manage to select his way back into the top spot. Luke managed to pick a 17-point Stags win last week, which really helped him in the Exact section as well as the Total Variance section. However, Mr. Geoff has been creeping back into the conversation of “least incorrect” predictor.
While, technically, no one has been eliminated from winning this excrement display, the likelihood of Tom coming back from the dead in terms of picking winnings is near-zero. He is definitely still in the race with Poster and Like for “least incorrect”. Which is something he could write home about but not hang his hat on.
Beverage of Choice
Players or matchups to watch.
Shake Up the Fish?
With two more games this weekend, the Dogfish will get their total games played up to nine and finally be at the same number as everyone else. While San Francisco can still swim to a 4-6 record, they may need to admit that what they’ve been up to has simply not gotten the job done thus far. That is to say, are the Dogfish certain that moving some players around and trying some new things is the wrong plan? They might achieve better results by putting players in new positions. Similarly, they might learn more about their players going into 2017 by challenging players with new roles and goals. It can be quite trying to keep trying as the end of the season approaches for non-playoff teams, but that is key at this point. Novelty for novelty’s sake is one thing, but novelty to engage, focus and learn more about the roster is another.
Close Season for the Current
While the Current have been eliminated from the playoffs, they are one of four teams who have yet to lose a game by more than five points (Boston, Philadelphia, Portland, D.C.). They’ve lost to Boston by one, Philly by three, New York by two, Boston by five and Philly by four. That they are so constantly close speaks positively to their ability as players and coaches, but speaks negatively of their ability to win. This seems a contradiction of sorts, but it is one thing to play well, and it is another to win. Just ask the Sacramento Kings of the Chris Webber, Jason Williams and Peja Stojakovich era or the Suns of the Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw (and Amar’e Stoudamire) era. There is playing sports well, and there is winning. The goal is to do both. To bring us back to Johann Cruyff: “Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.”
At this point the Current have played with reasonable quality and reasonable results. They have not achieved as well as they would like, and they have not fully played enchanting ultimate. But they have been on the precipice of each. Perhaps this weekend is the one during which they will make a positive statement about themselves, their quality and their results.
The Place to Be
Personally, I’ll be…
… covering so much frisbee. Oh my! I’ll be covering two games in Boston on Saturday (the Boston Area Women’s All-Star Game followed by the D.C. Current vs. Boston Whitecaps) followed by one game on Sunday (the D.C. Current visiting the Philadelphia Spinners). This is the most announcing work I’ve done on a weekend, and I’m a little concerned for both my vocal cords and my sanity. Fortunately, I speak rather softly and have always had a complex relationship with reality.
The BAWASG is an exciting opportunity for me. I’ve seen a lot of women’s club ultimate since 2012 as I was fortunate to follow D.C. Scandal around as a (rather quiet) fan through their recent past at and near the top of the division. During that time I got to see Brute Squad consistently be right on the verge of the elite, finally breaking through in 2015 for a National Championship. I cannot claim to know Brute Squad’s roster (or that of any other club team save for John Doe, the team I coach) as well as I know Scandal’s, but I am not uninformed. The women in this game will be pulled from a few teams outside of Brute Squad, namely Slow White, Wild Card and Siege. I’m familiar with Slow White’s work over the years, and have seen a couple of Wild Card games but, again, they pale in comparison to the amount of Men’s and Women’s ultimate I’ve seen over the years. Siege? I know nothing about other than they are from the Boston Area, they are women and they play ultimate.
Hopefully, this is enough to keep my color commentary relevant and on track, because, in the end, “We’re just playing frisbee out here, Dusty.”