An action-packed first weekend.
April 4, 2017 by Ultiworld in Analysis, Opinion with 0 comments
Throughout this AUDL season, Ultiworld will be publishing a weekly Throwaround, a chance for you to catch up on the amazing, funny, and interesting moments that you might have missed from the weekend’s games. We kick it off today.
Moments Under the Lights
The Dallas Roughnecks handled Austin in their opening week of the season, despite a closer than ideal first half for the Roughnecks. So for the team that was perfect in 2016, I’m going to highlight two wonderful miscues in their game.
Imagine you’re Matt Bennett. You play on one of the most athletic defenses in the entire league, and you’rstre trying to put the game away in the third quarter against your in-state foes. You’re going to put a pull in the end zone, and one of your defenders is going to chase it down for a quick stuff and score. You judge the wind, and let fly.
Now imagine you’re the cameraman. You’ve watched one of the Roughnecks best throwers for over a season now. It’s late in the game, and your arm is getting tired. He judges the wind, and lets fly.
These two scenarios combine for this masterpiece.
To add insult to injury, this happened in the fourth quarter minutes later.
Fast forward to the fourth quarter. Dylan Freechild has been all over the place, scoring goal after goal. He’s been relatively unguardable for most of the night, and he catches the disc just outside the end zone. He decides not to set his feet, but Freeechild isn’t like us. He doesn’t need to obey general good throwing practices when he tries out some weird off-balance scoobers. He’s got a wide-open receiver in the end zone, and he knows he can pretty much end it with a score here. So he goes for the throw he makes nine out of ten times. But this was the tenth time.
Occasionally it can be nice to see these two highlight machines play like I do in spring league.
– Preston Thompson
Jesse Shofner Makes History
Offense Wins Third Place Finishes?
The San Jose Spiders lost to the San Francisco FlameThrowers 34-29. San Jose has lost a lot of talent the last couple years, but their offense is no joke. Chuck Cao, Steven Chang, Justin Norden, and Jackson Stearns carried the load for San Jose. Those four combined for 21 assists, completing 200 passes. Even playing against the San Francisco, the class of the west, the Spiders still converted 77% of their offensive points into scores. San Jose may not have scored in 2-4 throws regularly like San Francisco, but it was still plenty efficient. The Spiders offense was a good match for the San Francisco defense. The Spiders defense, though….
The Spiders only managed two breaks against the FlameThrowers. One of those was scored by the Spiders offense after San Jose called a timeout. Despite that, the Spiders only lost by five to one of the best teams in the league. It leads one to wonder, just how few breaks would San Jose need to win a game? What’s the minimum number they would need to make the playoffs? Not in theory, but in actuality. What’s a reasonable number?
I’m glad you asked. The Spiders already have two, so those are in the bank. Seven wins should be enough to get the final playoff spot in a balanced division like the West. The Spiders play three more games against the FlameThrowers, let’s assume those all go down as losses without any breaks. No sense in wasting any in a losing effort.
The Spiders play the Vancouver Riptide twice, and the Riptide have a similar reputation for being an offense-heavy, defense-light team. They just lost 18-29 to Seattle. In their game against San Francisco the Spiders proved they were adept in scoring and leaving little to no time on the clock. It’s not out of the question that the Spiders could beat the Riptide twice without scoring a single break.
Playing three games against Los Angeles would be tougher. The Aviators just opened the season with a 31-26 victory in San Diego. San Jose beat LA once last year by two points, with seven breaks. Shave that down to a one-point victory with one fewer break, and say San Jose beats them once, with zero breaks in the two losses.
Last year the Spiders beat Seattle by one point scoring seven breaks. These aren’t the same Seattle Cascades though, so they could eke out a win with three fewer breaks, and let’s they say they win both games against Seattle. And finally, last year the Spiders had a 24-21 win over San Diego, with seven breaks. Make that a one-point victory with five breaks, with San Jose taking two out of three.
That gets you a 7-7 record, with the Aviators finishing second in the division and the Spiders third. All with just 26 breaks. And hey, with two breaks after one just game the Spiders are already ahead of that pace! Start printing the playoff tickets now.
– Nathan Jesson
Antoine Davis has Arrived in San Francisco
The Emperor’s New Clothes
In 2016, the Dallas Roughnecks averaged 29 goals per game over the season and playoffs, never scoring fewer than 24 in any game. They did that while wearing some of the ugliest jerseys in ultimate. On Saturday night the Roughnecks won, but only scored 21 goals. They were sporting sleeker, much less hideous uniforms. This got me thinking, could the new jerseys have had a negative impact on the vaunted Dallas offense? Looking back at some of the other most hideous jerseys in the history of professional sports and how teams performed after moving on from them could provide a valuable indicator.
In 2003 Steve Francis and the Houston Rockets were wearing some truly horrendous jerseys. That year the Rockets went 43-39, scoring 93.8 points per game with an offensive rating of 104.3. The next year they switched their jerseys, went 45-37 scoring 89.8 points per game with an offensive rating of 100.9.
In 1986 the Houston Astros were still sporting their legendarily ugly jerseys from the 1970s. They went 96-66, scoring 4.04 runs per game with a .703 OPS. In 1987 wearing new jerseys they went 76-86 scoring 4 runs per game with a .691 OPS.
From 1995-1997, the most impactful and worst contribution the New York Islanders made to the NHL was their jerseys. They went 29-41, scoring 2.93 goals per game and an 11% shooting percentage. After they changed jerseys the Islanders went 30-41 scoring 2.59 goals per game with a 10% shooting percentage.
The evidence based on these three points of data is overwhelming. Regardless of changing jerseys impact on the win loss total it looks like getting out of ugly jerseys has an inverse impact on a team’s offense.
I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t it possible that I’m reading too much into one Dallas game? Might the less than stellar weather conditions on Saturday night have had something to do with it? Isn’t losing players like Beau Kittredge and Cassidy Rasmussen more likely to have had an impact on the Dallas offense than a new uniform?
The answer to those questions is no, no, and no. History shows us the Roughnecks offense won’t be anywhere near the same in their new, no longer atrocious jerseys.
Or maybe it was just one game.
– Nathan Jesson
Jakeem Polk Makes SportsCenter Top 10
The Radical X-Factor
The Madison Radicals kept their all-time record against the Indianapolis AlleyCats a perfect 13-0 on Sunday with their 24-19 win on the road, and they did so in the most traditionally Radicals fashion. Andrew Brown completed every one of his 49 passes, the Radicals’ offense converted 76 percent of their drives on the game, and the defense came up with six second half breaks to pull away down the stretch after the teams were locked at 10 at the half.
A handful of the usual suspects had solid performances, but the true difference for the Radicals in this game was provided by Kevin “KPS” Pettit-Scantling, who seems to have taken his all-around game to the next level. A longtime playmaker for the defensive unit–he helped seal the franchise’s first victory back in 2013 with a last-minute lane poach interception against Brodie Smith as a teenager–Pettit-Scantling has quietly built a reputation for himself within the franchise as one of its most reliable and hard working players. He’s built his career on making the right plays at the right time, even though the individual stats haven’t been there in the past. KPS is beloved by Madison coaches and teammates and is continually cited as one of their universe line stalwarts even if he’s never been “The Guy” in any given lineup.
On Sunday, though, KPS was definitely The Guy.
Coming out of halftime tied at 10, the Radicals needed some momentum. After the offense held on their opening drive to take a one point lead, Pettit-Scantling reeled in a big, leaping two-handed goal for the break and the 12-10 lead. On the very next possession, KPS sagged off his coverage of AlleyCats’ star Keenan Plew, sensing an opportunity, and made a break for the lane. Moving completely against the rhythm of the play, KPS took two lightning quick steps towards the Indy throw and launched himself for a poach layout, swatting the disc into the ground with force.
Shortly after, he would complete the defensive drive with a goal for the bookends and a three score lead Madison would not relinquish. He finished the game with two assists, three goals, two blocks, and no turnovers while spending all but one of his 20 points on defense.
– Adam Ruffner
You often hear it said that “size doesn’t matter.” Clearly that’s not something AUDL teams in the Southern Division have bought into this year.
The home opener for the Raleigh Flyers was a highlight reel of big goons coming up with huge plays. Size is in no short supply on the Flyers’ D-line this year and against the Hustle, it was the plays of Hunter Taylor, Nathan Goff, and Jacob Fairfax that stole the show. On the Raleigh offense, the impact of having effective big and crafty hybrids like Jonathan Helton and Matt Bode showed.
Saturday evening demonstrated the kind of firepower Raleigh acquired in the offseason arms race. It also demonstrated the kind of firepower Atlanta did not acquire. While of course the Hustle are a different team with 2016 AUDL MVP Dylan Tunnell on the field (who was not active Saturday night), Atlanta has a long road ahead if they hope to challenge the size and athleticism of Raleigh, Dallas, and Jacksonville. The Hustle struggled to challenge the Flyers defensively at times and never really found a consistent rhythm in their vertical sets.
The Flyers have clearly benefited from the impact of their eleven former Charlotte Express players. In the deep space, Fairfax had the biggest impact, registering several huge blocks and goals. Nathan Goff came up big for the Flyers as well.
Next weekend will be the first real test for Raleigh on the road as they head to Dallas and Austin. As for Atlanta, they will have a perfect opportunity to score a road win in Nashville before taking on the Cannons at home on April 22nd.
– Hugo Sowder