Photo by Kevin LeClaire –

Table Setting

Discussed herein: Spinners spin outs… Seattle’s second double… Player-presidents of the 100% Club… Quest to double Current win total… Dogfish demand disruption…


Short Sips of Hot Bitter Blackness. A hint of far-off stone fruit sweetness. A smoky thickness lingers from the roast.Every team has moments of disorganization. There can be unanticipated defense from the opponent, irrational improvisation, execution error and many other missteps. In most instances, this state quickly dissipates as a team recognizes and adjusts.Late in Philly’s win over N.Y., there were a few moments which stick out as representative of how the Spinners make their own lives difficult on offense:
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This is Philly’s offense at its worst/best. A standard starting position. Nothing there for a while while Nick Hirannet pivots around in a circle. Three cuts to the same place at the same time, finishing with a high-stall bail-out reset around. First reset up the line, no clear cut from second reset. Throw into a crowd of three offensive players and three defenders 12 yards upfield. Completion.[iframe src=”” frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” width=”628″ height=”360″ style=”-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;-webkit-transform: scale(1);”]It is upsetting to watch the Philly offense strangle itself. Bad initial cut series from Patrick Lindsey, (And good defense from Josue Alorro) bad awareness of other players by Gabe Colton. Terrible INTERRUPTING COW cut by Charlie McCutcheon to take away the one option that Lindsey presented, solid mark (Colton could have thrown the lefty inside break as he turned backfield), and Colton needed to get the disc out of his hands to simply create a scoring chance once the stall was high. An outside-in flick to McCutcheon was likely his best option late.
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The thrower (Billy Sickles) starts with two resets. One just upfield and tight, one about 25 yards away and behind. First reset does a good job of clearing upfield.The second reset, Ian McClellan, then begins an upline cut. Trey Katzenbach is relying on this clear to give Sickles an open throwing lane to Katzenbach. Instead McClellan starts, stops, jukes backward, turns upfield and jogs. His positioning tightens the lane that Sickles could potentially use to get the disc to his teammate in the center of the field. Katzenbach has now continued to the worst reset position in ultimate: directly behind the disc on the sideline. At least he takes his defender with him out of the play. No wonder Sickles just tosses it forward. He should have thrown it for maximum distance and float looking for an one-on-one matchup as far downfield as possible. Or possibly fired off a quick, hard backhand to McClellan at the center of the field.Philadelphia is not the only team which does these things, but my notes remind me that there are two stalls due to cutter error, and one restart which resulted in a fortunate completion all within the 13 minutes and 37 seconds of play during which the Spinners turned an 11-11 tie into a 20-15 advantage. This points to the Spinners winning in spite of their offense rather than because of it.Is it fool’s gold or growing pains?
Tastes good so far. Future health consequences are sticky.Nice double teams.The team I’ve seen use a situational double-team most frequently has been New York. They did it at the end of the game this past weekend against Philly, and they have fallen into it at various possessions based on on position and matchup over the season. The Whitecaps occasionally use a planned double team, and some D.C. Current players, when covering a trailing offensive player, will jump in to double the thrower when he turns his vision away.However, the single best double team I’ve seen was from the Rainmakers this past weekend:
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The double comes from the second reset defender (Danny Trytiak) and closes down quickly as Andrew Lynch slides to his left to split the difference between his man and the San Francisco reset. The reset cuts upfield, and is actually also double covered (I suspect if we had the wide camera view there would be an extremely open player somewhere onfield opposite the disc). As Chris McCarty turns to look at his reset, David Janinis, the original double-teamer (Trytiak) runs back with his hands high to dissuade the pass. While that happens, Lynch slides over to provide a last stall second double.Throughout this clip there is evidence of good defensive communication. If you rewind the tape to the beginning of that Dogfish possession you’ll see a very aggressive Seattle defense intent on getting the disc back after a second throw turnover by the Seattle offense. In the span of seven passes, there are three double teams, a couple of chances for blocks, and no sense of control for the Dogfish offense pinned in one small section of the field for the entirety of the possession. The teams which play defense best will make it to the title game. Seattle is developing the requisite characteristics.
Ah, the core of the non-veganoid breakfast. Boiled. Scrambled. Poached. Fried. Loco Moco’d.The 100% Club consists of players who have neither thrown an incompletion nor dropped a disc. Currently, there are 51 players in the 100% Club, ranging from no goals or assists with one completion to Timmy Perston’s nine goals, four assists, 22/22 performance thus far. David Abram (2 assists, 6 blocks) is the leader in throws completed without an error at 27. If we set a minimum of 10 passes, the list is whittled to 12 players down from 51. Every season, I enjoy watching this list shrink until the very end of the season when only a handful of players maintain membership. Last season’s president of the club? Marshall Ward of the Spinners at 37 passes. Jake Herman of the Rumble served as the club’s inaugural president in 2013, tossing 31 passes with nary an incompletion.Oh, the best completion percentage outside of the 100% Club is Tyler Cable (1 goal, 6 assists, 1 block) who has completed 87/89 passes, good for 97.75 percent.Stake with your eggs?New York gets their first crack at D.C., but it is D.C. which has the truly tough test this weekend. If they go 2-0, their record will pop up to 4-0 leaving the Spinners in second at 2-1, the Whitecaps in third at 1-3 and the Rumble in last at 0-3. If the Current go winless, they will drop to 2-2 while the idle Spinners take over first place, the Whitecaps pull to 2-2, and the Rumble earn their first win of the season to hit 1-2. This is the biggest weekend in the East thus far.In the West, we’ll see the first rematch of the season as the Stags take on the Dogfish. While all expectations side with Portland for this one, a victory here for the Dogfish would make them the second team in the West at .500 or above at this early juncture. If the Stags perform as expected, it is mounting evidence that the West may well be won.The top team in each conference could be 4-0 by the end of the weekend. Or both lossless teams could fall for the first time in 2015.
Waffles or Pancakes?
Choose… but choose wisely.D.C. 23 at Boston 21 Boston will be going into this game with all the reasons in the world to place this game at a higher priority than D.C. However, just wanting to win a game more doesn’t mean that the desired result will be obtained. While the Whitecaps have been rounding into shape, the Current have been winning and collecting valuable victories for their grass menagerie.D.C. 24 at New York 18 This is actually the bigger of the two games in the East this weekend. While the Boston vs. D.C. rivalry consistently produces fun games, the battle between the Rumble and the Current has been no less contentious. More than that, this particular matchup will close the first cycle through the conference for all teams in the East. D.C. could be as high as 4-0, and New York could be as low as 0-3. New York has not looked good so far, and they’ll be facing the most forceful defensive rotation in the conference. Smells like blowout.Portland 22 at San Francisco 16 The consistency of the Stags, if it was their only positive characteristic, would be too much for the Dogfish’s highly-variable play. The thing is, the Stags have more to them than mere consistency. They have a robust offensive system which adapts in real-time and persistently pushes players like Perston into roles tailor-made for their skills. This has made them the pacesetters in the West, yet it remains to be seen if they can maintain their level of play over the full season.
Beverage of Choice
Players or matchups to watch.Tyler Chan versus?D.C. is known for having a deep defensive rotation and a rotation of players developed for each matchup. So, when they first play against a specific player, it is always interesting to see which matchups they work through. This is the first time they’ll play against Chan and they don’t know firsthand how fast he is. Certainly, the Current have a surfeit of speed on their roster, but each player has his own strengths and weaknesses. This should be fun with the throwers on Boston’s side trusting their receiver and the defenders on D.C.’s side having confidence in their own abilities.Dogfish DefendersThe Dogfish need to find a way to pressure the offense of the Stags, who seem content to toss the disc around a bit before going to work downfield. This style often uses field reversal to spring cutters open, but it also provides predictable moments when the team is running through simple sets. The Dogfish need to anticipate and disrupt the casual confidence of the Stags. They’ll need a big play or two to take the Stags out of the comfort zone they’ve been occupying all season. This points to a dominant strategy of high-risk high-reward defense. Perhaps some strong double teams, perhaps shooting through some throwing lanes from defenders free from immediate responsibility. This, in the parlance of our times, is the proverbial “kitchen-sink game” for San Francisco. Their season, after opening with a win, has looked like a slow descent. The Dogfish need to get their adult swim on.

The Place to Be

Boston…and then New York. Should be fun doubly duty. Filling a weekend with travel and watching ultimate seems familiar somehow. Comforting. Normal. Even going back to sports before ultimate. Word Hard, Play Hard, Disc Don’t Lie.

About The Author

Dusty played college ultimate for New York University from 1998-2002, captaining for his final three years. From 2003-2009 he filled various roles for New Jersey's Pike from deepest bench to O-line cutter, D-line handler, O-line handler, and captain before concluding his club career with an opportunity in 2010 to represent New York City on PoNY's D-line. While never qualifying for college regionals, Rhodes played at six Club Nationals in the Open Division (finishing from dead last to tied for third) and coached Drew University to a fifth place college regional finish in 2005. Dusty earned a degree in English and American Literature from NYU and spent all of his remaining energy playing pickup basketball and writing for NYU's Washington Square News.

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