Michigan Reaches Quarters With Wire-To-Wire Win Over Tufts

Michigan at 2014 Great Lakes Regionals.
Photo by Nick Lindeke — UltiPhotos.com

A fired up Michigan team and feisty underdog Tufts met in the prequarters this evening with a chance to face Colorado in the quarterfinals. Showing consistency and determination, Michigan took the wire-to-wire 15-12 victory.

A Team Win For Magnum

“Two great halves.” Thats how Michigan head coach Richard Eikstadt described their game against Tufts.

Michigan started the game off with their diamond zone in an attempt to create opportunities for an athletic defensive line. Rather than send 6’9’’ Jesse Buchsbaum to the deep area of their zone, they put him in the front spot directly behind the center handler. The presence of Buchsbaum’s length in the middle of the field forced Tufts into risky over-the-top decisions. With Eric Shaw at the helm, Tufts eventually broke through the zone and forced Michigan into a man defense. That may have been a mistake.

Michigan’s man defense was staggering, creating extremely difficult windows for the Tufts handlers. And with a constant shift between types of defenses, Tufts was always left guessing as to what Magnum would come down in off the pull. Senior Jonathan Paruk spent his time calling matchups on every man defense line, constantly getting a better grasp of what the opponent wanted to do. His leadership, along with the offensive ability of Noah Backer, made Magnum a break machine. Their defensive offense spread the wealth, highlighting senior Ryan Schechtman. Magnum had three breaks in the first half and lead 8-6 at the break.

Michigan’s offense became unpredictable in the second half. Coach Eikstadt utilized both Eli Leonard and Sam Greenwood equally as the main handler in the Magnum vert stack. Likewise, Yonatan Rafael and Jesse Buchsbaum swapped isolation duties multiple times downfield. Their ability to adapt led to only three turns in the second half. One break out of those was converted by the EMen (to bring the game to 14-12), but the second half finished on serve (15-12, 7-6 in the second half).

Tufts Zone Can’t Slow Them Down

Like Michigan, Tufts tried to slow the Magnum offense with their zone. The EMen zone generated Ds not in the form of actual pressure, but in creating impatience. They forced Michigan to throw resets as often as possible, and hoped that they would eventually take an uncomfortable shot. In the first half, they were fairly successful, converting their first two breaks. After that Tufts would only convert one of their next three break opportunities.

Defensively, Tufts’ man to man was competitive because of the team’s depth. Before the game, assistant coach Dan Forester told Ultiworld, “Thats the way our team is set up, we don’t have celebrities, we have team.” And defensively thats how it was. Tufts was solid across all seven defenders, but for the second half, the trust throws of Magnum were impossible to cover. That along with the lack of an answer for Buchsbaum led to scarce break opportunities.

On offense, a Tufts team that had been all about team for the majority of the weekend began to look to Eric Shaw to make plays. By the end of the game he had six assists on Tufts’ 12 points. While at times impatient, Shaw showed a remarkable sense of leadership by helping defenders from the sideline and keeping a level head. The senior’s effort wasn’t enough in the end, however, as he was unable to make up the breaks to beat a talented Magnum team.

  1. Preston Thompson
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    Preston Thompson has been a staff writer for Ultiworld since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama where he played for four years. He started playing ultimate in the AFDC in Atlanta, GA in 2009. You can reach him by e-mail (preston.james.thompson@gmail.com) or follow him on Twitter (@pston3).

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