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Ironside

October 20, 2010

 

Here’s what I’ve seen from Ironside…

They’re for real.

Duh. But seriously. After a 2009 where they lost in the finals of Boston Invite (13-14 to GOAT) and Emerald City Classic (14-15) to Revolver, the semifinals of Chesapeake (8-13 to Chain Lightning) and Nationals (11-15 to Chain), Ironside has proven that it can take and hold the number one spot throughout a season. They’ve won Boston Invite (15-12 over GOAT), Emerald City (15-12 over Revolver), Chesapeake (13-11 over Chain), and NE Regionals (15-7 over Bodhi) en route to an undefeated stateside season and their first ever #1 seed at Nationals.

Prague =/= Sarasota

The Ironside that lost to Sockeye in the quarters of Worlds was a much different team than the one that will be in Sarasota. Will Neff, Seth Crockford, and Colin Mahoney were not in Prague, Ryan Todd, Ryan Purcell, Trey Katzenbach, and Adam Sigelman were still playing, and Josh Markette was still with Chain. Also, they had just added Brandon Malacek and Nas Mbae Vogel, two players that have now had an entire season to acclimate to their new team. Clearly, the new look Ironside hasn’t had too much trouble finding an identity.

They’re patient

Speaking of identity, turns out that Boston is still a pretty relevant prelude to Ironside. Offensively, they run a lot of vert stack with the standard cuts from the back and reliable dump/swings between their handlers. Of the top teams, Boston’s is the only offense that doesn’t keep you on the edge of your seat in expectation of a deep shot that is surely coming at any moment. Instead, they work the disc patiently, hitting whoever is open and taking what the defense gives them. Sound familiar? This isn’t to say that Ironside doesn’t huck– when I saw them at Chesapeake, I saw them put it deep a number of times, typically coming in the form of a Will Neff backhand to a cutter who had quite a few steps on his man. It’s just that hucks aren’t what drives their offense in the way that it does Revolver’s, Chain’s, and Doublewide’s (and, more than last year, Truck’s).

Defense

In my opinion, Ironside is built on defense. They are extremely well-coordinated, and whether they’re running zone, man, or junk, they move as a team to cut off angles and put pressure on their opponents. Against a standard ho stack, they’re stiffling, running poaches in the lanes and rarely letting downfield cutters get loose by more than an arm’s length. Against vert stacks, they know where to poach and what cuts to expect. Their handler defenders mark very well, and once they force the disc to the sideline, it’s hard to get it off. Also, Ironside isn’t afraid to let you throw it deep and test your bigs against Colin Mahoney.

Nationals outlook

I wish I could have seen the Ironside-Chain finals at Chesapeake. In both that game and the finals of ECC, they beat somewhat watered down versions of last year’s semifinalists: Chain was without Sam Chatterton-Kirchmeier and Asa Wilson, and from what I heard, their offense suffered quite a bit because of it. Likewise, Revolver was missing Robbie Cahill at ECC, and their offense runs so much through him.

Still, it’s hard to argue with an undefeated season, and outside of Chain, Revolver, and Sockeye, nobody has put up more than 10 on Ironside since June. It also helps that their pool looks to be the least challenging of the four: they have PoNY, Machine, and Tanasi, and given how this could have turned out differently had Ring of Fire taken the 2nd spot out of the Mid-Atlantic, nobody owes Southpaw a bigger “thank you” than Ironside. Look for Ironside to cruise on Thursday, saving legs for power pools and then later on in the weekend.

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