The Top Open Division Storylines Of Friday

Texas pulls to Arizona at the 2013 D-I College Championships.
Photo by Nick Lindeke — UltiPhotos.com

One of the biggest things that an online spectator can miss while following a tournament online are the emotions, trials, and tribulations that go on over the course of a tournament. This article will do its best to shed some light on the storylines that are going on among some of the teams present.

Here are a few storylines from some of the top eight teams at the tournament that I find compelling.

Wisconsin Hodags

Wisconsin is not scared to take chances.

I could leave it at that but I won’t. Wisconsin played sloppy against Cornell and coach Hector Valdivia was dismissive of the idea that sloppiness was necessarily indicative of a problem. What I have to give him is, when aggressiveness turned into several wide-open deep scores for senior Jordan O’Neill, it’s hard to argue with. However, when it turns into huge blocks for Simon Montague, Nick Stuart and an assortment of Carleton players, it might be time to change gears.

Also, on a side note, Wisconsin may be missing senior Brian Hart, who went down with a hamstring injury against Carleton, more than anyone knows or they are willing to admit. Wisconsin’s defensive line offense looked lackluster at best unless Valdivia was pulling the likes of junior Collin Camp from the offensive side of the disc in order to boost performance. Hart certainly can move the disc when he’s healthy. We can only hope his body allows him to compete at some point this weekend; the Hodags will just be hoping that point won’t be too late.

North Carolina Darkside

Where is that UNC team that we saw all season? North Carolina’s margin of defeat in those few games that they did lose during the regular season was so miniscule that it was laughable. There were decent arguments for saying this team had the best regular season of the field.

When it came to game time though, that quality was nowhere to be found. UNC Coach Mike Denardis attributes that almost entirely to an offensive unit that has, somewhat inexplicably, disappeared.

“I think our O isn’t in the right place mentally and we need to get them there,” he said. “All the last couple of weeks I thought the ship was sailing pretty straight. Today our O did not play awesome. I think it’s just a mental thing and we have to think about what went wrong and what went right tonight.”

Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur

I’ve had a sneaking suspicion all season long that this ‘code red’ that many wanted to place on what was supposed to be Pitt’s magical season might have been unmerited. Carleton and Wisconsin have clearly laid out a formula for building a program and it involves losing some games in early season tournaments. Pitt did that this year and I suspected to see a high quality team come College Championships. I was interested in coach Nick Kaczmarek’s take on the idea.

“I told the team that I think that sports and almost everything in life is about timing,” Kaczmarek said. “I think we’re on time as team right now. We’re clicking at the right time and peaking at the right time and we always expected to do that.”

Central Florida Dogs of War

The Dogs of War should have walked away from today thrilled. They upset the No. 1 seed in their pool and put themselves in great position for the remainder of pool play and the first round of bracket play. However, UCF coach Andrew Roca was insistent that his team played poor Ultimate today.

During the broadcast Charlie and I talked about how Roca was riding his players for more even when it seemed like the game was well in hand. That’s an attribute of potentially dominant teams, teams that don’t settle and continue to push usually end up achieving whatever it is that they are pushing for. I have a sneaking suspicion that we haven’t seen the peak of UCF’s talent yet.

Carleton College CUT

Carleton earned a big confidence boost by taking down Wisconsin in pool play. Though Wisconsin still owns the season series by a count of 2-1, you better believe that Wisconsin would trade those two wins for the one that Carleton stole today.

It seems that every year the same storyline plays out for this team. It goes something like this:

August – April: Carleton is losing games/having close games with teams that it really shouldn’t be, does this mean that this is no longer the Carleton we’ve come to expect?

May: Carleton shows up to Nationals and is still the Carleton that we’ve come to expect. Rest assured, dear reader, there is nothing wrong with CUT.

They are a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by Phil Bowen’s mantra on the sideline of “5 seconds! 5 seconds!” meaning, get rid of the disc before stall five. The regularity with which Carleton is able to do so is stunning.

This is a very dangerous team and one we are likely to see late on Sunday.

Colorado Mamabird

Colorado rounds out the top 8 teams in the tournament. Today was a difficult one for Colorado as it fought and scratched its way back into its first game against Oregon only to have victory snatched away by a powerful Ego team. Then, Mamabird found itself in a… pardon the pun… Dawgfight with Georgia that CU squeaked out of just barely. Too many close games could eventually put Colorado in a bad position.

“We’ve played a lot of close games,” Zionic said. “For the whole season we’ve struggled with the issue of: how do you get up early in a game, how do you psych everybody up?”

Though it doesn’t seem that Colorado found the answer to that question today, I imagine that surviving these scares might be enough to push the team to mentally wake up early in games. We very well may see a different Colorado team come tomorrow.

Check out photos of all of the action at the 2013 USA Ultimate D-I College Championships on UltiPhotos.

  1. Michael Aguilar
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    Michael Aguilar is a reporter for Ultiworld. He began playing ultimate in the summer of 2008 at the urging of a few University of South Carolina players. He played for USC in the spring of 2009 and for LSU in the spring of 2011. In his spare time during those years, he ran one of the first ever ultimate news blogs, Movin' On Up. He was the head coach of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, LA, from 2011-2016 and the assistant coach in 2017. He owes all his success to his loving wife Kendall.

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