How YAKA’s Power Pick-Ups Make Them a Threat

Can YAKA make a splash?

Paula Baas gives YAKA some dangerous new elements.
Paula Baas gives YAKA some dangerous new elements. Photo: Ken Forman —

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2018 WFDF World Ultimate Club Championships is presented by VC Ultimate; all opinions are those of the authors. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and shop at VC Ultimate!

In the lead up to the WFDF 2018 World Ultimate Club Championships, a few teams had clear, early additions to their rosters. Players joined the team for overseas competition, essentially playing an entire season with their new clubs in preparation for WUCC. One such team was France’s YAKA, a team based out of the suburbs of Paris with a solid background of success on the European scene. The team finished 23rd at WUCC 2014 and 22nd in 2010. But with their new additions, some of whom are established stars, suddenly launched expectations for the team well above their previous standards.

YAKA will be arriving in Cincinnati with Robyn Wiseman, Paula Baas, Rose Glinka, and Anna Williams all cohesively and organically prepared to take on the world. Wiseman and Baas, in particular, are players with great resumes and big enough names to excite fans. And the reality backs up their towering reputations. Let’s take a look at how some of these additions benefit the French team and make them a threat to upset the global ultimate powerhouses of the United States, Japan, and Colombia.

Dynamic Throws

Wiseman and Baas are both powerful throwers that are comfortable taking on lots of touches. The team will move them around in order to set them up. Including Aline Mondiot, a fixture in the French backfield, the trio will provide the majority of the key throws for the YAKA offense.

Here, Mondiot sets up Wiseman in power position and the Madison native rockets a flick to the end zone for a quick score.

[Mondiot to Wiseman Huck]

And while hucks open up the length of field, stretching the defense, the French offense have Mondiot, Daniela Rodriguez, and Anne Le Borgne already able to provide them. More threats is better than fewer, but Wiseman and Baas’s impact as throwers extends well beyond simply their power.

Watch as Baas pinches the defense with a give-and-go and follows it up with a slicing forehand into the middle of the field.

[Baas Upline and Break]

This isn’t a throw that shows up in the YAKA offense that frequently, but the handler still recognized the opportunity to make a seven cut for Baas. The time that has been dedicated to integrating these new players has built that chemistry.

[Wiseman to Glinka Blade]

Speaking of chemistry, getting two familiar cutters to pair with Wiseman offers dividends as well. Wiseman demonstrates impressive vision to not only size up the initial potential deep throw but also to see the developing cut from her Heist teammate, Glinka. She drops in the blade where only Glinka can get it and, what’s more, where it seemed like only Glinka even expected it.

These throws were less effective and less frequent in their offense prior to the arrival of this duo.

[YAKA Throwaway]

Help Defense

Wiseman brings great size and timing in the air and a wealth of experience patrolling the deep space in zones. The same IQ that let her recognize Glinka’s cut also helps her see opposing offenses developing. YAKA’s other six players can be more aggressive defending their assignments knowing they have Wiseman’s support behind them; in the same way her deep throws expand the field, her deep defense shrinks it.

[Wiseman Help Block 1]

Wiseman manages to watch the play develop without losing track of her assignment and move into a position where she could credibly threaten another part of the field. By the time the offense figures out she is there, it’s too late.

[Wiseman Help Block 2]

There’s less development to track here, but Wiseman sizes up the play and shows the physical tools to win the battle.

Baas also gets in on the action, tracking down a block in the back of the end zone with the same tactics: seeing the play and timing the defensive attack.

[Baas Help Block]

Once the offense knows that they aren’t simply just trying to find a cutter who has beaten their own defender but also the help defenders, it creates hesitation and disorganization.

[Wiseman Help Poach]

As Wiseman’s assignment clears, she sits in the lane, daring the thrower to try to beat her. You can’t draw up a better opportunity to huck it: the thrower is completely unmarked and the cutter is open by ten yards. But the throw doesn’t go up. Wiseman’s influence is a dark cloud cast over the opposing offense.

Generating Turnovers

Each of YAKA’s pickups are capable defenders, but Baas and Wiseman both have the ability to make highlight reel blocks. This is vital for YAKA’s chances, as the team deals with bouts of poor positional defense. Strong teams have been able to expose the open side with disciplined cutting; Germany’s Mainzelmädchen and Finland’s Atletico found a lot of success against the French matchup defense when they faced off at Windmill earlier this year.

[Poor Defense 1]

[Poor Defense 2]

In neither example is there anything fancy offensively, but there is typically a generous amount of separation for cutters, even on simple open side cuts.

The reason to note this fact is that, when you’re unable to generate defensive pressure consistently, having a couple of players who can generate momentum swinging blocks goes a long way towards getting you the break chances necessary to win.

[Baas Layout Block]

The team’s new Eurostar can go and get the disc with force.

[Wiseman Layout Block]

And Wiseman has a reputation as a voracious defender who UltiPhotos knows to keep their lens pointed towards. At any time, she can get a huge block, even if it is on someone else’s blown open side cover.

[Wiseman Help Layout Block]

The Domino Effect

Whenever a team adds or subtracts a talented player, the domino effect comes into play: players see their workload rise and fall in line with the talent surrounding them. Simply put, Wiseman and Baas decrease the percentage of offensive touches Mondiot and Rodriguez are responsible for and draw some of the more difficult matchups that might have fallen to YAKA’s established O-line players previously. It means fewer points played and fresher legs. It means being able to stack lines in new ways or try new defensive tactics.

It’s worth noting that YAKA won’t have the services of young star cutter Alexia Chassigneux, who emerged as an emphatic cutter last season, taking the pressure off of Mondiot and Rodriguez to make the offense run. Glinka is a salve on that wound with her ability to initiate the offense.

[Offensive Flow 1]

Glinka is trusted to get open, give the offensive initiative, and deliver. This begins an open side attack that generates a great deep look. It may not be completed, but, structurally, this is good offense.

[Offensive Flow 2]

Mondiot and Wiseman go to work together before hitting Glinka in the red zone. They make quick work of the defense before triggering a transition to an end zone set. With an increased number of weapons, YAKA’s offense has become more efficient.

YAKA is probably not going to bring a World Club Championship back to Noisey-Le-Sec in the face of the stiff competition that tops the tournament’s seeding. And while there have been stumbles in the season, their time together has clearly allowed the new additions to synchronize with the team while operating in central roles. They give them the tools to trade blows with top teams and turn in a performance that could land them in the top eight rather than the bottom 10.

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