The Mixed gender showcase game highlighted a quiet weekend in the AUDL.
April 17, 2017 by Nathan Jesson and Charlie Eisenhood in Analysis, Opinion with 3 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.
Kawai & Williams Make Some Big Plays For Seattle
On Friday night in Seattle, a different kind of Cascades team took the field to take on a familiar foe in the San Francisco FlameThrowers, but with some new players that they weren’t used to seeing in this type of venue. The inaugural Cascades Cup, a mixed gender showcase game, took place this weekend and broke new ground for the AUDL.
There were times where the teams were still trying to get on the same page as one another, but there were also plenty of highlight plays. The Cascades may have lost the game 17-16, but a few players were integral to their offense: no one more so than Hana Kawai1.
With Seattle starting the game on offense, Kawai set the tone right away, getting the disc on a quick under cut and ripping a backhand huck to Mark Burton, who read it perfectly for the score.
Kawai was often the one initiating things for Seattle, usually moving the disc quickly after receiving an early break look from a Cascades handler. Even when she didn’t register a goal or assist, she was putting other teammates in a position to succeed. With Seattle trailing by two late in the fourth quarter, Kawai once again opened things up for the Cascades, getting open under and finding Brad Houser with a huck. After getting pushed back to the force side, Kawai again got the disc, throwing a short hammer to Mark Burton who was able to quickly find Kelly Johnson for the score.
Of course Kawai wasn’t the only player on Seattle to have a good game. Mark Burton was all over the place for the Cascades and Lucy Williams had what may have been the throw of the game to Ari Lozano for the score late in the third quarter:
Unfortunately for the Cascades, they started the second, third, and fourth quarters too slowly and ended up digging themselves into a hole they couldn’t quite climb out of. But they certainly displayed an entertaining brand of ultimate.
Antoine Davis: Happy Warrior
In case you didn’t know, Antoine Davis plays for the San Francisco FlameThrowers. And if the name Antoine Davis doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s ok, but you should consider adding him to your favorite players list. Davis already made some big plays and earth-shattering spikes the first couple weeks of the AUDL season, and he stepped it up on Friday night against Seattle. It’s tough to think of another ultimate player that plays the way he does.
Coming up with an ultimate player to compare Davis with is difficult. But what about a cross sport comparison? After watching him register a clutch block against a great player in El-Salaam like that on Friday, it’s almost reminiscent of the way Dikembe Mutombo used to patrol the paint in the NBA.
Much like Davis, Mutombo was a defensive presence that could cover a lot of territory. Mutombo was never an excellent player on offense, while Davis excels on that side of the disc too. He completed some nice throws and was probably Mac Taylor’s favorite deep target in this game. The goals are nice. He looks good scoring them. But the blocks…they’re just something else.
Davis effectively ended the game with this block on the huck look to El-Salaam. And was that a subtle finger wag after the play? It’s becoming harder to tell these two guys apart. But Antoine, the finger wag signature is taken. There can be only one Mutombo. You need your own signature. And luckily you don’t even to look for one, you’ve already got it.
This kind of spike and attitude defies description. The closest I can come up with is “lighthearted brute force.” At first, this spike comes across as intimidating. Davis throws the disc at the ground with such strength and attitude, he seems like a ferocious competitor that you would not want to get in the way of. Then he turns around and he’s laughing, looking like he’s having the time of his life. He’s smiling, clapping, emoting the polar opposite vibe that he was giving off just a moment earlier.
Antoine Davis is the AUDL’s happy warrior. He may not be a household name in ultimate circles, but he’s making some of the biggest plays in the game this season and clearly enjoying himself all the while.
– Nathan Jesson
What Exactly Is The Call?
I was down in Jacksonville this weekend for Ultiworld’s first presentation of AUDL Extra, a slate of eight live games we are producing this season. Raleigh and Jacksonville played an entertaining game highlighted, particularly, by some phenomenal throwing by Raleigh, like this huck from Johnathan “Goose” Helton to Shane Sisco:
One thing that I talked about on the air with local Jacksonville broadcaster Scott Manze (in the booth for his first AUDL game) was the almost total inability to know what calls are being made by the referees. For a league that wants to create a spectator-friendly product, the AUDL does not do nearly enough to standardize refereeing around the league or to help make it clear to the viewing audience what is happening when the whistle blows.
There’s a lot going on in an ultimate game: infractions can happen almost anywhere on the field at any time. This is not soccer, where fouls are typically obvious and not explained by the officials. But it’s also not football, where penalties are often imperceptible in real time and require the referees to stop the game and explain the foul, the offending player, and the outcome.
Clear hand signals could really help (USAU observers have a good system that could easily be mimicked). Mic’ing up the head referee would also be a great option (though more cumbersome, of course). But, as it stands, calls that are made on plays that don’t happen around the disc are extremely difficult to interpret. If broadcasters are scratching their heads, how are casual fans in the stands supposed to know what’s going on?
Kawai’s been in the news after she recently spoke at the USA Ultimate Vision Tour in Seattle. ↩