July 5, 2014 by Alec Surmani in News, Preview with 0 comments
Looking at the U.S. Open semifinals match-up between Denver Johnny Bravo and Minneapolis Sub Zero, one might be tempted to assume an easy win for the men in red, maybe even a blowout.
This could be a big mistake.
Sure, a convincing victory for Bravo remains a very real likelihood. But glancing back at the few problems Denver encountered over the weekend leads one to believe that an upset is not out of the question, especially since one of those problems happened to be the dangerous Minneapolis team.
After their 15-8 annihilation of Seattle Sockeye earlier today, that problem looks even more troubling.
Just about all of the troubles Minneapolis suffered on Friday with their upwind game faded in their excellent performance against the veteran Seattle. Whether it was through repeated give-gos and quick disc movement or on-target hucks, Sub Zero managed time and again to find a way to hold O points and convert breaks, regardless of which way the wind was blowing.
Though the game remained close early and Sockeye were right there with them at 7-6, Sub Zero stayed cool. Suddenly it was 15-8, and Seattle were eliminated from bracket play.
It didn’t matter if Sockeye threw a shifting cup, stayed under their men, or went no-around, Sub Zero often found a way to get what they wanted anyway.
The handler core of Simon Montague, Grant Lindsley, Josh Klane, and Eric Johnson proved too versatile for the Seattle defense.
Captain Thomas Murray said that unlike on Friday, today his team decided to cut 100 percent to the spots they needed to be at and finally hit the swings they were looking off or making more difficult than necessary just a day before.
“We were falling out of our system. The first cut would be covered, and we’d stop cutting,” Murray said. “Today, we kept cutting.”
He also said that his squad matches up much better against Sockeye, as both teams like to run a small ball, quick disc movement kind of game, as opposed to Bravo’s two-man isolation system that relies on athleticism and spacing.
Curiously enough, that same small ball system is exactly how Sockeye handed Bravo their only meaningful defeat so far at the tournament, as their 13-14 loss to Furious in the final round of pool play counted for almost nothing on either side. Thus, Seattle’s victory over Denver may mean even more than initially believed.
The 15-10 final score may not reflect it, but Sub Zero gave Bravo a run for their money in pool play Friday.
A large part of the reason for this can be attributed to the fact that Minneapolis has shown some of the most intense defense of any open team this weekend. Patrick Jensen and Julian Childs-Walker in particular seemed to be all over the place, shutting their men down and making big plays. Sub Zero have just had one big problem this tournament: conversions.
“This whole weekend we’ve been doing well defensively,” Murray said. “It’s just what we’ve done with the disc when we’ve had it.”
Bravo have had essentially the opposite issue.
Their offensive firepower on O and D have been ridiculous all weekend. They just haven’t tightened up on defense as much as they could have given their athleticism.
So far, it hasn’t been too much of a concern.
Bravo’s game against San Francisco Revolver yielded few genuine Ds, even by way of pressure. Most of the latter’s turns came on poorly executed hucks to open cutters. Denver just happened to capitalize on them, which admittedly was no easy feat in the strengthening gusts at the end of Thursday.
If they can manage to be that chilly and efficient, it’s unlikely to matter how well Sub Zero plays.
Should the game become overly sloppy, however, and Minneapolis show the kind of crazy chemistry they maintained throughout the Seattle game, it could get real interesting real fast.
Fortunately for Sub Zero, they already have the right mindset for the work ahead of them.
“Our mindset is to focus on what we can,” Captain Jon Gaynor said, “and not who we’re playing.”