Monday, March 30, 2015

Swiss Format and #MatchupMonday

I was skeptical. Too set in my ways. Not ready for change. I liked pools. Pools could have served World Cup 8 well. Why fix an unbroken system? Indeed, I was ready to ruin all the fun of #MatchupMonday with a scathing anti-Swiss format article.

However, like gingerbread and candy canes evoke anticipation of Christmas, Martin Pyne’s colorful mosaic of teams signals the coming of World Cup, the highlight of my year. As each matchup was announced, my rusty quidditch analysis brain delved into details and raced to conclusions. I dreamed up intriguing late round matchups, zeroed in on potential Cinderellas and imagined the intensity of fighting for a spot in bracket play. Almost immediately, I abandoned my reluctance to accept the new Swiss system. Why waste time lamenting the old when you could be enjoying the new? Live in the moment. Find the good in everything. Enter each new experience with an open mind. 

Unexpectedly, I’m excited for the Swiss system. I’m excited for World Cup 8. However, if the Swiss system clearly endangers players or damages the overall quality of gameplay, I will definitely notice and make my opinion heard. But right now? With 12 days until World Cup 8? I can’t wait for my fifth year of surprising twists and turns of quidditch!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Join the Quidditch Media Coalition

Does the quidditch community seem relatively quiet to you? Isn’t there something really huge going on?


World Cup 8 is approaching quickly, with the promise of an innovative format, thrilling competition, riveting underdogs and a new champion. From the final practices and preparations of contending squads to the scouting reports and schemes of the championship favorites, the last month before World Cup can make or break a team. Once the quidditch community descends on Rock Hill, a season of dramatic storylines will conclude. Underrated players will step into the spotlight and x-factor performers will suffer untimely injuries. Regions will exceed expectations and regions will choke. The current rankings will implode as triumphant wins and stunning losses alter perceptions. Strategies will be unveiled, perfected and screwed-up. Intense emotion will be on full display. Lifelong memories will be made.


And the Quidditch Media Coalition wants you to capture the magic of World Cup 8!


On Monday, March 9th, a historic agreement between The Eighth Man, the Quidditch Post and US Quidditch was announced, forming the Quidditch Media Coalition. Inviting all unaffiliated quidditch journalists, the Quidditch Media Coalition proclaimed a unified journalistic approach to World Cup 8, aiming to produce the best and most extensive coverage ever.


I was selected to lead to the Quidditch Media Coalition and promised to recruit an unrivaled staff of quidditch journalists. Because of my background, I'm heading the effort to recruit writers!


FAQs
Why should I join the Quidditch Media Coalition?
  1. determine how the quidditch community remembers World Cup 8
  2. give back to the sport of quidditch by spreading its reach on the sport's most important weekend
  3. participate in a fun community of writers
  4. legitimize quidditch by mimicking the coverage of ESPN
  5. get your writing retweeted to thousands and thousands of followers by universities and news outlets
What will I be writing?
Short game recaps that can include summarizing game trends, commenting on standout players, detailing strategy, capturing emotion, listing basic statistics and gathering quotes. Each writer is encouraged to implement his or her own stylistic preferences and journalistic interests.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Surprise Shootaround

Storytime
It was Saturday, September 27th and a new season of quidditch was upon us. Immersed in Keystone Cup planning and fretting about logistics, I had convinced my dad to drive me to College Park, MD for Turtle Cup IV. As the first scores popped up on my Twitter feed around the Delaware-Maryland border, storylines and questions began to abound. Villanova had survived a snitch range scare from VCU, UNC had defeated Rutgers 160*-70 and NYU had needed overtime to dispose of a perceivedly weak Capital Madness team, 140^-130*.

Naturally, I bumped into Ethan Sturm, Managing Editor of the Eighth Man, almost immediately after walking through the gates of Maryland's renowned turf fields. I brought up the NYU-Capital Madness result.

"NYU was playing Kyle Jeon at chaser," Ethan remarked.

"It's that bad?" I responded. "Wow. That shows a huge lack of confidence in their chaser game."

We nodded. An hour later, I watched UNC dismantle NYU 160-30* and seemingly confirm my doubts about 2014-15 NYU. I had written NYU off my list. 

Could I have been any more wrong? 

Shifting Balance of Power
Turns out you don't have to be in a European History class to discuss balance of power. Let's examine  our current season. Today's balance of power, region by region, bears little resemblance to what we have been accustomed to in the past. Storied programs have faded, community teams have gained actual relevance and historically strong geographic areas have disappeared. Although a strong argument could be made that today's balance of power was predictable, simply comparing today's upper tier to the elite of yesteryear is dumbfounding. Let's look at the developments in each region.

The Mid-Atlantic has seen Pennsylvania fall off a cliff and North Carolina and Virginia emerge into the limelight. In an ironic twist, now it seems that Pennsylvania is hopelessly isolated, doomed to watch the success of its southern neighbors. 

The Northeast watched graduation gut its pride and joy, Boston University and Emerson College (respectively?). Simultaneously, the Big Apple Quidditch Conference has transformed from Boston's ugly stepsister to a real contender, producing two regional semifinalists that, I believe, still hold untapped potential. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the rise of New York has occurred within the framework of unexpected success from Tufts University and solid rebuilding efforts at BU and Emerson.

The West has witnessed the greatest and most dangerous change of all. College teams have been reduced to minimal relevance as community teams swap and poach key players from each other. The West lacks a super community team like Lone Star QC. A super team would be better! Instead, the West features 5-8 competitive community squads that nearly shut out all college representation in the West's quarterfinals. With greater recruiting capacity, better name recognition, more available funding and facilities for tournaments, college teams always need to compose the foundation of the sport. Having only three different Western universities represented at World Cup 8 should be unacceptable.

Leadership
Whether its due to the strategic advancement of quidditch or the growth of successful programs, quidditch has rarely seen such a dedicated, smart and experienced corps of captains and leaders. Kyle Jeon's accomplishments at NYU are unrivaled. Jeon disassembled NYU and rebuilt it stronger, embarking on a vigorous schedule of tournaments and seizing every opportunity to improve. Jeon's behind-the-scene work overshadows his fantastic play on the field. Jeon's new duel-threat role has showcased his increased speed and strength and highlighted his multi-faceted understanding of the game. Further down I-95, the University of Maryland's senior leadership of Erin Mallory, Bryan Barrows and Harry Greenhouse collectively delivered a regional title and held off a strong bid from UNC. In addition, Maryland's leadership has developed a highly advanced offense. For an in-depth explanation of the ingenuity of Maryland's offense, check out an excellent and thorough review of the Mid-Atlantic champions from Boston Quidditch Scene. Boston Quidditch Scene did a fascinating job of noticing and articulating the contrasts between "linear" Northeast offenses and Maryland's dynamic machine. I believe over-reliance on offensive beating and linear offenses can become a death trap come April and incessant snowstorms certainly aren't helping the Northeast's chances.

Off-Ball Giants
In basketball, big men dominate the list of all-time top scorers. Monstrous defenders in ice hockey and soccer inspire fear in the hearts of goalkeepers. However, in the early years of quidditch, height was often treated as a ticket to a green headband and tall players were locked in as ballhandlers. History is history, but limiting height to solely ballhandling roles is an antiquated and foolish approach for today's best offenses. In fact, several teams have begun using big men exclusively as effective off-ball weapons. 

Exhibit A can be found with Lone Star QC and chaser Josh Tates. The nation's top-ranked team recently reaffirmed Tates' place on the roster, proceeding with its terrifying plan to create an unstoppable force in the paint. With raw athleticism, Tates can perfect the art of high-flying alley-oops much more quickly than learning how to pick out smart passes and take care of the ball as a ballhandling keeper.

Exhibit B lies with Maryland's Eric King. Teaming with Harry Greenhouse on Maryland's starting line, King has harnessed Greenhouse's overlooked passing ability and point guard skills. With consistent positioning behind the hoops and a quick catch and release, King relieves the burden of scoring from Greenhouse and presents an opportunity for high-percentage shots. As a former fantasy GM/coach of Greenhouse, it is no coincidence that King plays alongside the 2014 Northeast Fantasy Champion.

More to Come
No promises for more blogging, but I'm hoping an exciting announcement is in the works! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Storylines to Make MARC Interesting

After an extended break from quidditch analysis and writing due to the Keystone Cup, I'm back to bring you five storylines from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship. While Maryland will win MARC easily, fascinating questions abound in the middle and lower tiers of the Mid-Atlantic.

1. Can Villanova's offense pick up steam? Despite having an athletic group of chasers, Villanova's offense has struggled mightily against organized defenses. Villanova seems hesitant to challenge opposing chaser defenses and content to pass the quaffle around midfield. I'm not expecting Greg Habeeb to turn into Eric Reyes or Brad Armentor, but Villanova's smaller ball handlers have to attack and penetrate more. Villanova's offense rarely forces defenses to collapse anywhere. If Villanova's offense can force defenses to collapse on its ball handler through penetration, its talented off-ball chasers like Julia Fillman will find more open space and score more goals. Penetration is Villanova's key to avoiding embarassing losses to Virginia and George Mason.

2. Is the Mid-Atlantic's balance of power shifting towards the south? Historically, Pennsylania's trio of Villanova, Penn State and Pittsburgh have been dominant, top-tier squads in the Mid-Atlantic. Last year saw the emergence of Richmond and North Carolina as regional contenders. This fall, I believe Richmond and North Carolina have vaulted over Pennsylvania's storied trio. However, the Mid-Atlantic's changing balance of power is most evident in the lower tiers. Look at Pool A. Appalachian, Johns Hopkins and Lock Haven. Hailing from the Tar Heel State and participating in the Carolinas Quidditch Conference, Appalachian has gained significant experience against higher-level and lower-level teams. The CQC has given Appalachian a place to develop young players, test new strategies and experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. In addition, Appalachian has improved alongside North Carolina.

Lock Haven, which is located in central Pennsylvania, has failed to improve thanks to relative isolation. Without many local tournaments geared towards developing teams, Lock Haven has traveled to Turtle Cups III and IV. Lock Haven's treks to College Park, MD have been rather pointless, featuring obliterations from Maryland, Emerson, the NYDC Capitalists and more. Furthermore, as Villanova, Penn State and Pittsburgh have declined, Lock Haven has lost valuable opportunities to compete and has stagnated. 

Johns Hopkins is in the middle. Hopkins has had the benefit of some local competition with George Mason and Capital Madness, but the Beltway quidditch scene is far from thriving. While Johns Hopkins will no longer be challenging top-tier teams, a 110*-20 defeat of George Mason shows me that Hopkins is still contending for a bid to Rock Hill, SC. 

Appalachian will qualify for World Cup VIII. Lock Haven will not. Johns Hopkins is on the fence. 

3. Richmond or North Carolina? After Turtle Cup IV and Keystone Cup, I am fairly certain that either Richmond or North Carolina will meet Maryland in the finals of MARC. I am big fan of Richmond's ball handling duo of Jeremy Day and Brendan "Bo" O'Connor. Day and O'Connor display similar confidence and strength, but offer fresh legs with each substitution. Often overlooked, chaser Ian Mitchell provides power and experience on- and off-ball for Richmond and often acts as the glue on both ends of the pitch. 

I expect North Carolina to give us more of the same. Aggressive beater play from Kyle Bullins, constant fast-breaking from Max Miceli and Andrew McGregor, improvement from role players like Emma Troxler,  Alex Crawford and Justin Cole and no defense. North Carolina will likely secure the number one seed going into bracket play on account of its propensity to play long, high-scoring games. 

If Day and O'Connor can conserve energy and stay healthy during a pedestrian pool play schedule, Richmond should be capable of slowing the pace and springing an upset on the Tar Heels. Watch for Richmond's seeking game, which attracted significant attention at the Oktoberfest Cup, to come up big again at MARC.

4. Can Capital Madness make the next step? DC's first true community team has proved vulnerable to dramatic highs and lows. Capital Madness has shown remarkable strategy, focus and determination under the leadership of James Hicks, but sometimes falls victim to the emotion of impact chaser Steve Minnich. If Madness can stay level-headed and keep its composure, Maryland's beaters should prepare to feel very uncomfortable and Penn State should fear a loss. In addition, I hope Capital Madness' hodgepodge of chasers has gotten James Hicks' creative juices flowing. I could see Sam Medney acting as the ball distributor like Missy Sponagle. I bet Minnich and utility Robby May could execute a plethora of handoffs like Texas State or premier Canadian squads. However, with limited chaser depth, I think Capital Madness is prone to lapses against lower level teams. While its pool lacks a legitimate upset threat, the first round of bracket play is dangerous for Capital Madness. I fully expect Capital Madness to qualify for World Cup VIII through the consolation bracket.

5. Can the Philadelphia Honey Badgers do the unthinkable? The City of Brotherly Love's historically notorious community team has been the feel good story of the fall in the Mid-Atlantic. The Honey Badgers made bracket play at Turtle Cup IV, upset Macaulay and the New York Badassilisks at their inaugural BAQC event and enter MARC with a respectable 4-5 record. The key to the Honey Badgers newfound success has been seeking. The Honey Badgers have only missed three snitches this year, with a 70% snitch catch percentage and a 60% SWIM. If the Philadelphia Honey Badgers qualify for World Cup VIII, I will find a way to mention my hometown Badgers in every article I write from now until April.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Keystone Cup Knows and Don't Knows

What I Know: The inaugural Keystone Cup was a definite success! Logan Anbinder, Megan Seidel, Clay Dockery, Michael Clark-Polner, Amanda Dallas and Walter Makarucha were instrumental to the success of the Keystone Cup. Teams made my life easier by reporting to games, referee and snitch assignments and exhibiting good sportsmanship. Despite PSATs at my high school and other events preventing an enormous spectator turnout, a number of new spectators, young and old, had their first experience with quidditch today and enjoyed watching. Congratulations to Ball State for taking home the Keystone Cup. Today was a great day and I look forward to next October for Keystone Cup II.

What I Don't Know: How anyone, including myself, is going to analyze the Keystone Cup and make sense of its results. Good luck.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Keystone Cup Update

As many of my readers know, I am hosting a tournament called the Keystone Cup in Haverford, PA on October 18th, 2014. The tournament is scheduled to include Ball State, Bowling Green State, Michigan State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Richmond, The Warriors and Villanova. I have been immersed in planning the Keystone Cup for the past four weeks, leaving little time for me to blog. However, I'd like to assure my readers that the The QuidKid is only temporarily inactive and will back and better than ever after the Keystone Cup!

Keystone Cup updates, announcements and more can be found on the official Keystone Cup website, keystonecupquidditch.blogspot.com, or the official Keystone Cup Twitter account (@KeystoneCupQuid). Furthermore, the Keystone Cup launched an Indiegogo Campaign yesterday to raise funds for the inaugural tournament.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 Departing Players Database: August Revamp

IAs we are now closer the 2014-15 season, I think it's appropriate to revisit the 2014 Departing Players Database. Analysts want to provide the most accurate predictions and previews as possible, but without the help of the quidditch community, we cannot deliver. Comment below or message Jack ThePhan on Facebook with the names and positions of your team's departing players.

Mid-Atlantic
Christopher Newport University
Anthony Rieger - beater

Pennsylvania State University
Eliott Bryson - chaser
Alyson Brooks - chaser (graduating in Fall 2014)

Jason Rosenberg - chaser (graduating in Fall 2014)
Randy Slosburg  - chaser/seeker 

Nick Romano - chaser (graduating in Fall 2014) 
Clifford Moll - chaser

Philadelphia Honey Badgers
Alex Amodol - beater/chaser/seeker
Amanda Hamlin - beater
Lanie Duff - beater
Ryan Cease - chaser/seeker
Erin Heintzelman - chaser
Sarah McGowan - chaser

University of Maryland
Samantha Medney - chaser

University of Richmond
Paco Darcey - chaser

Virginia Tech University
Ian Walker - chaser
Jack Harver - chaser

Midwest

Ball State University
Sara Makey - chaser

Erin Kelly - chaser
Danielle Anderson - beater
Devon McCoy - chaser
Zach Rupp - chaser


Bowling Green State University
Katie Milligan - chaser
Ashley Seman - chaser
Cara Leach - beater
Evan Adkins - chaser
Joe Pavlik - beater
Sean Kelly - chaser

Central Michigan University

Andrew Derry - beate
Tom O'Neil - beater
Jeff Fisher - seeker

Amanda Shepard - chaser
Ashley Calhoun - beater

Eastern Michigan University
Kern Stanley - chaser
Nathaniel Gibson - chaser


Miami University
Kate Rapnicki - chaser
Brendan Kelly - keeper/seeker

Jeremy Ferlic - beater
Nathan Graber - chaser


University of Michigan
Evan Batzer - chaser/keeper
Dai Phuc Do - chaser
Michelle Busch - chaser
Danielle DuBois - chaser
Andrea Byl - chaser
Lucas Mitchell - beater
Natalie Friess - beater
Robert Morgan - seeker


Michigan State University
Jack Norgen - seeker
Ben Ackland - keeper

Danielle White - beater
Luke Changet - coach

Purdue University

Alex Chelminski - keeper
Ariana Filippini - beater


University of Minnesota

Leah Vogel - chaser
Zach Meier - chaser
Conor Johnson - beater
Cody Narveson - keepe

Jacob Drewa - seeker
Jared Sipe - chaser
Tyler Zastrow - beater
Matt Thostenson - chaser
Ryan Berg - chaser

University of Toledo
Graham Giles - chaser
Alex Scheer - chaser
Taylor Hahn - chaser
Jessica Torres - beater
Ryan Sparks - seeker
Abby Williams - beater

Northeast
Boston University
Max Havlin - beater
Katrina Bossotti - beater
Brendan Stack - keeper
Michael Powell - chaser
Brett Engwall - chaser/seeker
Nick O'Connor - chaser
Tom Ford - seeker

Chris Schretzenmayer - beater
Alice Crowe - beater

Emerson College

Jackson Maher - chaser
CJ Junior - beater
Aaron Wohl - beater
Wes Weiss - keeper/chaser
Cassie Samuels - beater
Maddy Smeaton - chaser


Gee-Gees Quidditch
Rebecca Alley - coach
Alex Bassa - beater

Harvard University
Gillian Manley - beater 
CJ Curtis - chaser/seeker 

Hofstra University
Alex Leitch - beater 
Brittany Bissonnette - beater

Emma Hauer - chaser 
Alyssa Michnevitz - beater (graduating Fall 2014)

New York University
Lucy Miller - chaser

Macaulay Honors College
Jenna Jankowski - beater
Catherine Dinh-Le - chaser

Cesar Andrade - chaser

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Erin McAllister - beater/captain
Tom Thayer - keeper

Rochester Institute of Technology

Jeff Sherman - keeper
Josh Kramer - beater

Kyle Leslie - beater

Sarah Smacher - beater

SUNY Geneseo
Kyle Hoyng - keeper

Christian Perfas - chaser
Rob Terreri - chaser/beater
Adam Zaczek - chaser

Stony Brook University

Konstantinos Plakas - chaser
Seamus Peterson - chaser

Hannah Gzemski - chaser
Thomas Potter - seeker
David Narain - chaser
Edward Li - chaser


Tufts University
BJ Mestnik - chaser/seeker
Michael Sanders - beater
Max Leonhardt - chaser (during 2014-15 season)

University of Massachusetts
Robert Vortherms - beater

University of Rochester
Patrick Callanan - keeper/chaser/beater
Chris Demme - chaser
Kyle Sanson - seeker
Sam Rovner - keeper/chaser

Northwest


South
Florida's Finest QC
Austin Clooney - keeper
Lili Le - beater
Sarah Carter - beater

Tennessee Technological University
Kellie Davis - chaser
Hilary Barker - chaser
Kaila Raulston - chaser 

Gabe Greene - chaser
Jonathan Bass - chaser
Michael Ferowich - chaser
Logan Hartman - chaser
Joe Stephenson - beater
Elisa Tanksley - beater
Landon Smith - keeper

University of Florida
Zachary Thorne - keeper

University of Miami
Stephen Ralph - keeper
Sean Beloff - chaser
David Moyer - seeker

Southwest
Baylor University
Drew McBrayer - keeper
Paul Williard - chaser
Chris Rhodes - beater
Stephen Ciccolela - keeper
Beissy Sandoval - chaser
Alicia Wallum - beater
Dylan Greenleaf - chaser

Lone Star Quidditch Club
Beto Natera - chaser
Nicole Galle - chaser

Louisiana State University
Brad Armentor - chaser
Jason Winn - beater/seeker

Daniel DePaula - beater
Melissa White - beater/chaser
Sarah Kneiling - beater
Panya Kroun - president/chaser (ACL tear)
Duncan Ferguson - seeker
Jake Smith - chaser
Dennis Arbour - chaser
Seth Segura - keeper

Sam Houston State University
Wayne Jones - chaser

Texas A&M University
Becca DuPont - chaser
Drew Wasikowski - chaser
Joe Wright - chaser
Casey Faulhaber - beater
Luke Wigley - keeper/chaser/seeker
Rachel Harrison - beater

Texas State University
Matt Zakrewski - keeper

Texas Tech University
Philip O'Brien - chaser


University of Arkansas
Jim Curry - keeper
Ethan McCormick - beater

Paul Shoemaker - chaser

Vincent Berrios - chaser
Peter Reynebeau - chaser


West
Arizona State University
Duston Mazella - beater/chaser 
Wes Rose - keeper/chaser/seeker
Ashley Bleicher - beater/chaser


Lost Boys Quidditch Club
Tony Rodriguez - keeper
Steve DiCarlo - seeker/chaser
Alyssa Burton - beater/chaser
Amanda Turtles - beater
Dan Hanson - chaser

Northern Arizona University

Cooper Davis - chaser 
Justin Regan - chaser/beater 
April Gonzales - beater 

Santa Barbara Blacktips
Evan Bell - captain/beater
Ren Bettendorf - chaser/keeper
Chris Lock - keeper/seeker
Lauren Mosley - beater
Lee Weinsoff - beater
Kayla Martyn - chaser
Tayler Lightle - chaser
Trace Martin - chaser/seeker

University of California-Los Angeles
Brandon Scapa - chaser/beater/seeker

University of Southern California
August Lührs - chaser/seeker
Harrison James - keeper

Nick Metzler - beater
Nicté Sobrino - chaser/beater
Tony Likovich - keeper/chaser