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Team USA Stuff

July 21, 2009

For anyone keeping up with what’s going on in Kaohsiung, I figured I’d write a bit of what I gleaned while watching them/playing against them at Potlatch. Two things: better late than never, and bullet point form is easy.

  • As you might expect, Team USA is pretty good. Most of the dudes are tall, fast and athletic, and most of the girls are tall, fast, and athletic. 
  • On offense, they run both horizontal and vertical stack. The name of the game in both cases, though, is to open up cutting lanes and isolate deep cuts. In the ho stack, cutters often all wind up clearing to the break side and forming somewhat of a side stack, giving throwers lots of space to give the disc to someone streaking across the field.
  • They huck to their women well, often setting the stack with all men in the front or running a zipper play where the two in cutters are men and the deep cutter is a woman. This works pretty well, since most of the women are fast and have good deep games. Particular standouts, as per what was seen on Ultivillage, were Chelsea Putnam and Cate Foster. Also, Cree Howard made up a lot of ground and skied her girl COLDLY during the final.
  • The huck to Beau a lot. Beau in particular, anyway. Guys like Dylan and Gabe were also among the favorite targets, but Beau got more discs thrown his way than anyone else. One step on his guy (or one terrible match-up blunder by the opposition) and the disc is going to Beaufort. 
  • They huck a lot.
  • Their formations certainly include handlers and cutters, but because the players are so well-rounded in their abilities, they usually don’t stay where they start. Also, their handler sets are constantly in motion, with the dump often either initiating or finishing a cut and then coming into the dump lane in motion. 
  • Surprisingly, though, the offense still sputters at time. If deep options aren’t there, it’s usually because too many people are coming underneath and the cancel out each other’s viability. I remember a number of instances early in the semis when Downtown Brown defenders were able to take advantage of the lack of available cutting space in front of the disc.
  • Also, their endzone offense was hit or miss. They sometimes punched it in easily, but there were a few drops that were results of handlers getting impatient on the goal line. 
  • On defense, they do a good job of making the field small for the opposition, giving smart enough deep help that Team Canada’s deep throws often had to be lateral, pinpoint shots rather than leading throws to space. (On the point of team Canada, this was pretty cool, but that’s for another topic).
  • They also run a decent amount of zone, with different objectives to each that are able to mold to the goals of the opposition. One thing I saw in particular was a really loose cup that allowed short, lateral throws, but nothing else. Throwing lanes were gone, and the handlers couldn’t progress up the field with dish throws because the cup was still able to challenge them due to the skill of the mid players. They were, of course, able to be aggressive because Beau’s speed lets him push in absurdly far. If you know of anyone who was at College Nationals, ask them about the ground he covered to make a deep play against one of the Alumni girls.
  • Seth Wiggins is probably one of the most fun players to watch in the game. He’s constantly poaching and looking to help, but he’s also always got a handle on his guy, cutting off the lane before they can move into it and playing physical enough to shake good cutters off of their timing.
  • On the women’s side of things, Chelsea Putnam is absurdly good. Her layout catch on Ultivillage was filthy, but she had a goal line layout D on a Kira Frew up the line cut that, to me, was even more impressive: Kira beat her up the line on a nice move, and Chelsea bid into the lane to get the catch block almost immediately after Oscar Pottinger had thrown it.
  • A few people I talked to who were familiar with the players and coaching of Team USA made the remark that their success would boil down to chemistry. Given that the mistakes that I did see (clogged lanes, goal line mistakes) are often worked out as familiarity increases, my guess is that the shorter rotation has allowed players to get into more of a rhythm and has been helpful at Worlds.

Canada

  • While I’m on a Worlds/Potlatch note, I might as well talk about what I saw from Canada. 
  • As I mentioned earlier, Canada’s deep looks did not develop in the way that a US player might expect. Instead of cutting vertically and looking for a leading disc out in front, Canada’s cutters often cut deep, come in toward the middle for 10 or 15 yards, and then cut laterally for a blade. While I think that some of this was the US defense, what I’ve seen of teams like Furious and Team Fisher Price tells me that it’s also a deliberate style choice.
  • Oscar Pottinger definitely joins Seth on my All-Entertaining team. Both on Furious and Canada, he plays like he has the green light for any throw, and the windows he sees are sometimes breathtaking. Blades, hammers, break throws, whatever; like Seth, the guy has a knack for seeing cuts develop where others most likely would no and getting the disc to the right spot.
  • Oscar is not the only absolute stud on Canada. While their names aren’t as prominent as US players for obvious reasons, most of Canada’s players would be club all-stars in the US. Alex Snyder (ok, she actually is a club all-star in the US), John Hassell (pretty well-known), Derek Alexander, Alex Hughes, Kira Frew (also well-known), and the super tall #88 dude were all really sick.

Japan/Australia

  • I’m guessing that Japan is very good.
  • Australia is probably pretty good too.

 

That’ll do it for now. I just realized that there’s a live broadcast of tomorrow’s final at 7am Eastern, so I think I’m gonna go to sleep so I can get up and watch it.

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