Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mock Draft [Part One]

Here is the first part--picks 1-32--of my mock draft of Quiyk's Fantasy Extravanganza. Players are listed in order of their overall pick, with round number, position and fantasy team listed below. Enjoy!

1. Asher King Abramson
R1 Position: mB Fantasy Team: A

Picking a retired beater at number one is sure to be controversial, but after thinking about this for a while, I believe that Asher King Abramson is the single most dominant player to ever play quidditch. Let me explain. Abramson doesn't have perfect fundamentals, but he commands the field and creates offense. At World Cup VI, Abramson's offensive beating turned Zach Luce from an average keeper to the best keeper in Kissimmee. Without Abramson gunning bludgers and eliminating point defenders, Luce and UCLA couldn't have ripped through two stout Southwest defenses to score 280 combined points on Baylor and Texas. I'll even argue that Abramson outplayed UT's beaters in the final, but his beating partners couldn't play at his level. So when you have a beater that boosts an offense to a whole new level while also bringing  tough defense to the table, I believe he is an almost obvious choice for the first overall pick in a fantasy draft.

2. Augustine Monroe
R1 Position: K Fantasy Team: B

3. Chris Morris
R1 Position: K/mC Fantasy Team: C
Photo by Lauren Carter
The second and third overall picks should belong to the captains of the reigning champions. Monroe and Morris built a dominant team with amazing leadership on and off the field. In addition to leadership, versatility and distributing talents make these two former teammates first round locks.

4. Stephen Bell
R1 Position: K Fantasy Team: D

5. Tony Rodriguez
R1 Position: K Fantasy Team: E
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
If I was going to a "Sportsman of the Year" like the Eighth Man did last year, my award would go to Rodriguez.

6. Peter Lee
R1 Position: mB Fantasy Team: F

7. Drew Wasikowski
R1 Position: mC/K Fantasy Team: G

8. Colin Capello
R1 Position: mB Fantasy Team: H

9. Vanessa Goh
R2 Position: fC Fantasy Team: H

With back-to-back picks at the end of the first round and the beginning of the second round, I started Team H a little differently than the other teams, taking a beater and a female chaser. While taking Vanessa Goh before chasers like Simon Arends and Kody Marshall might raise eyebrows, I believe she is by far the best female chaser available, especially in a fantasy team-like setting.

10. Chris Seto
R2 Position: mB Fantasy Team: G

11. Simon Arends
R2 Position: mC Fantasy Team: F

12. Brittany Ripperger
R2 Position: fB Fantasy Team: E

13. Mollie Lensing
R2 Position: fB Fantasy Team: D
Photo by Jonah Wagoner
The majority of round two should be GMs picking players of the opposite position of the player they drafted in the first round. In my mock draft, Lost Boys beater Chris Seto is paired with his THE Fantasy teammate Drew Wasikowski on team G, Simon Arends is paired with Peter Lee on team F, Brittany Ripperger is paired with Tony Rodriguez on team E, and Lone Star QC teammates Mollie Lensing and Stephen Bell join forces on team D.

14. Kody Marshall
R2 Position: mC/S Fantasy Team: C

However, some teams will pass on the security of having an elite player at each position and splurge on big names still hanging around. In addition to pairing Marshall with his Texas and LSQC teammate Chris Morris, this GM would prevent Marshall from being paired with Augie Monroe. A duo like the Golden Boy and Slipstream could put away this popular vote draft after only two rounds.

15. Andy Abayan
R2 Position: mB Fantasy Team: B

16. Zach Luce
R2 Position: K Fantasy Team: A
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
It'll be interesting to see where Andy Abayan and Zach Luce go. A teammate of Asher King Abramson, Abayan is also retired, but hasn't had the national exposure Abramson has had. If you go back and watch the finals of Western Cup IV it's clear that Abayan belongs in the top 20, but GMs could be tentative to take him early because of lack of name recognition compared to beaters like Jacob Adlis or Colin Capello. As I've already mentioned, Zach Luce probably belongs in the fourth or fifth round, but any GM who already has Luce's former teammate Asher King Abramson, should jump to take Luce as high as possible.

17. Remy Conatser
R3 Position: K/mC/S Fantasy Team: A

Remy Conatser is somewhat of a quidditch legend. In 10 years, when people are talking about the best athletes of the early years, everyone will be talking about the usual names [see picks 1-16] and
then someone will bring up the name Remy Conatser. In a dual point guard system with Zach Luce aided by Asher King Abramson's beating, Conatser lands on Team A at pick 17. Conatser could go anywhere in this draft. I wouldn't rule out the first round, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he lands in the seventh or eighth round.

18. Paul Williard
R3 Position: mC Fantasy Team: B

Former Baylor captain Paul Williard becomes a teammate of Texas captain Augie Monroe. The duo of Williard and Monore creates firepower as well as a lot of experience and leadership. Williard may not be thought of as a classic off-ball chaser, but he is, and paired with Monroe, Williard would be scoring at will.

19. Jacob Adlis
R3 Position: mB Fantasy Team: C

Photo by Jonah Wagoner
20. Sean Pagoada
R3 Position: U Fantasy Team: D

My first non-Southwest/West player rolls in at number 20 in the third round. Utilities like Sean Pagoada are extremely valuable and could go higher. The Florida's Finest founder is the best four-position utility available.

21. Aryan Ghoddossy
R3 Position: mC/S Fantasy Team: E

The sophomore Texas chaser stole the show at THE Fantasy Tournament winning the MPV award for his heroics with the champion Red Team. I'm building Team E around an Emerson-style 1-2-2-1 zone. Defensively, I love the combination of Ghoddossy at the point and beater Brittany Ripperger, and on offense, Ghoddossy paired with first round pick Tony Rodriguez would create a dynamic attack. Whether such a young player goes before established regional superstars from the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast waits to be seen.

22. David Demarest
R3 Position: mC/S Fantasy Team: F

23. Hope Machala
R3 Position: fB Fantasy Team: G

Hope Machala is taken in the third round to go with Chris Seto on Team G. Both beaters are known for their unbreakable focus and disciplined beating. After drafting Drew Wasikowski in round one, Team G quickly made beating a priority, drafting beaters in their next two spots. Will the mantra "beating wins fantasy tournaments" carry over to the Quiyk Fantasy Extravanganza, or will voters be too enthralled with high-powered offenses?

24. Daniel Daugherty
R3 Position: mC/K Fantasy Team: H

25. Jake Tieman
R4 Position: mC Fantasy Team: H
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
Entering back-to-back picks, Team H is the only team that still doesn't have a male chaser or keeper. They cover that with a big-name in Dan Daugherty and underrated Lost Boys power chaser Jake Tieman.

26. Sarah Holub
R4 Position: fC Fantasy Team: G

27. Harry Greenhouse
R4 Position: mC/S Fantasy Team: F

Harry Greenhouse is the first seeker to come off the board for Team F, but he is at 27 due to his strength, hustle and speed in the chaser game. Greenhouse forms a chaser line with similarly versatile and high-energy chasers Simon Arends (#11) and David Demarest (#22).

28. David Fox
R4 Position: K/mC Fantasy Team: E
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Who better to fit into an Emerson style defensive zone than David Fox? While there may be concerns that a big keeper like David Fox would clash with a higher round keeper like Team E's Tony Rodriguez, I believe that Fox could fit in nicely to this team. In a two-keeper system, Fox adds physicality in the keeper zone and is certainly a weapon on offense.

29. Brandon Scapa
R4 Position: U Fantasy Team: D

Here's your other big four-position utility player.

30. Melissa White
R4 Position: fC Fantasy Team: C
Photo by Monica Wheeler

31. Kedzie Teller
R4 Position: mC Fantasy Team: B

32. Kody LaBauve
R4 Position: mB Fantasy Team: A

How many teams will primarily use two male beater sets? Team A took Asher King Abramson, a player used to playing in two male beater sets, with the first pick. This reach at the end of the fourth round for retired LSU beater Kody LaBauve might not seem so much like a reach if you can imagine LaBauve and Abramson on a field together.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Quidditch Bowl Championship Series

With the start of the college football bowl season today, I began to daydream about bowls in quidditch. This is going to require some imagination!

Imagine a quidditch world without a World Cup or any kind of IQA-sponsored, end of year tournament. At the same time, imagine that even though there has never been a World Cup, quidditch gameplay has progressed similarly to how it progressed with World Cups

It's the 2012 season, and the quidditch community has begun to look for postseason solutions and ways to crown a victor. Regions began holding regional championships but that was not enough to please the community. A massive championship tournament is ruled out because many doubt that teams would make the effort to travel. However, there are a select few teams that keep telling the quidditch governing body that they will travel anywhere for great competition. And thus, the quidditch bowl championship series (QBCS) was born.

Inspired by successful interregional tournaments in 2012-13 such as the Hollywood Bowl and West by Southwest, the QBCS was created to sponsor eight small tournaments across the country every spring. These eight small tournaments, referred to as bowls, pitted top twenty teams from all seven North American regions against each other, in order to find the best team in the country. It certainly wasn't a fool proof plan, but the quidditch community rejoiced at the announcement.

1. Every region hosts a "bowl" consisting of eight teams. Two teams in the tournament are labeled as the "marquee teams" and the six remaining teams are called the "secondary teams." 
2. The bowls' tournament format includes a round robin between all eight teams and then a single finals game between the top two teams in the round robin. This way, a game between the two marquee teams is guaranteed, with a rematch in the finals being a possibility.
3. The regional champion is locked into their region's bowl as marquee team number one. 
4. The second team on the marquee is chosen by the bowl's organizing committee. The bowl organizing committee picks from a list of top 25ish teams that are not regional champions. The team that is chosen by the bowl organizing committee can accept or reject the invitation. In the case that a team receives more than one invitation to a bowl, the team can decide which bowl to attend.
5. Secondary teams are chosen for bowls after every bowl fills their two marquee spots. The bowl organizing committee can send an invitation to any team left and like the selection process for the second marquee team, the team can accept or reject the invitation. In the case that a team receives more than one invitation to become a secondary team at a bowl, the team can decide which bowl to attend. Secondary teams are often in the same region or relatively close to the location of the bowl.
6. As you may have realized, there are eight bowls and seven North American regions, which means that one region will get to host two bowls. The eighth bowl will go to the region that is the defending champions of the QBCS title tournament.
7. The QBCS title tournament is one of the eight bowls. The QBCS title tournament matches the number one and number two teams in the country. It is hosted in the region of the number one team in the country. The number two team in the country is locked into that game and is excused from playing in their region's bowl tournament.

2013-14 Hypothetical Matchups
Enough with the explanations of this wacky system. Hopefully it'll make more sense when you see the bowls I have created and some hypothetical matchups of 2013-14. 

Hosted in Canada, the Maple Bowl showcases the champions of Eastern Canada. The secondary teams in the Maple Bowl are often from Eastern Canada or Upstate New York's Snow Belt Conference. 2013-14 teams: Gee-Gees, RIT, Carleton, McGill, Rochester, Maple Rush, SUNY Geneseo, Syracuse

Hosted in New York City and sponsored by the BAQC, the Big Apple Classic features the champions of the Northeast. The Big Apple Classic existed before the official formation of the QBCS, but will be making the move from November to April to accommodate the new season structure. Regarded as the sport's best tournament in 2010 and 2011, the creation of the QBCS is probably a step back for the Big Apple Classic. However, a strong Northeast and big airports might convince some of the best at-large teams in the country to fly into the city that never sleeps for some fantastic quidditch. Secondary teams are often from the BAQC, as well as the Boston area. Great, scenic venues are also a staple at the Big Apple Classic. 2013-14 teams: BU, Texas, Tufts, QC Boston, Hofstra, Macaulay, NYU, Austin Quidditch

Just outside of Washington DC, the Capital Bowl is where the Mid-Atlantic's champions play. The Capital Bowl, a brand new tournament created for the QBCS, might have trouble attracting great at-large teams to come and play. While the top of the Mid-Atlantic remains strong, it's depth (and therefore options for secondary teams) is questionable. 2013-14 teams: Maryland, Florida's Finest, Richmond, UNC, Villanova, Appalachian State, Virginia, Tennessee Tech

An obvious tournament name for the Midwest region's champions, the Corn Bowl was created for the QBCS. Taking place towards the eastern end of the Midwest region, the Corn Bowl aims to attract Mid-Atlantic and Northeast teams. The perception of the Midwest being weak this year would hurt what at-large team the Corn Bowl gets, but the depth of the Midwest region creates the possibility for a very cool tournament year in and year out. 2013-14 teams: BGSU, NYDC Capitalists, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Ball State

Hosted in the warm, sunny Southern region, the Sunshine Bowl pits the best of the South against an out of region at-large team. The Sunshine Bowl kicks off the bowl season in early March before the Floridian temperatures climb into the nineties. The prospect for good weather can draw in Northern teams, and Florida's proximity to the Southwest region gives the Sunshine Bowl Texas-sized options. 2013-14 teams: Miami, Baylor, UF, USF, EFSC, UCF, FGCU, Osos de Muerte.

Hosted in the city of New Orleans, the Crawfish Bowl is the bowl where the best of the Southwest usually go. With Texas A&M in the QBCS title tournament, the second best team in the Southwest is locked into the Crawfish Bowl. Simply the prospect of playing against Southwest-level competition is enough to attract teams who are looking to improve from across the country. 2013-14 teams: Lone Star QC, Emerson, LSU, Arkansas, Kansas, Loyola, Southern Miss, Florida State

A 2012 "bowl" that inspired the creation of the QBCS, the Hollywood Bowl is hosted by the Western region. Because the Lost Boys are locked into the QBCS title tournament, the second best team in the West plays the role of the host in the Hollywood Bowl. Warm weather and the desire to play against Western beaters make an invitation to the Hollywood Bowl very valuable. 2013-14 teams: Arizona State, UTSA, NAU, UCLA, USC, Skrewts, Funky Quaffles, Blacktips

The QBCS Title Tournament, which works out in 2013-14 to be a second edition of West by Southwest, always features the first and second ranked teams in the country as it's marquee teams. Although it is an eight team, round robin tournament like all the other bowls, the QBCS Title Tournament organizers try to restrain from inviting teams that they believe could disrupt their ideal one vs. two finals matchup in the round robin. Often there will be one other top 25 team and the rest will just be considered lucky to be invited to the sport's most anticipated event. The QBCS Title Tournament is heavily criticized because the secondary teams are pretty much selected to lose. There is only one matchup that the organizers want to occur in the finals, because if anything else were to happen, it would be massively unfair to the 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc ranked teams who are playing in other bowls. The QBCS Title Tournament is the last bowl of the season and it takes place in mid-April. 2013-14 teams: Texas A&M, Lost Boys, Texas State, SHSU, Cougar Quidditch, Silver Phoenixes, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State

Friday, December 20, 2013

Around the League

With the absence of competition this December, I'd thought I'd take a break from analyzing video and breaking down the fall season. Here's a wrap up of what's caught my eye around the league in the past few days. **Note: The opinions in this article are my own opinions and are separate from the opinions of the IQA.**

1. The biggest headline in the community over the past few days has been the announcement of Quiyk's Fantasy Draft. Eight captains, chosen by Quiyk Marketing director Ben Nadeau, will pick fantasy teams in a snake style draft from a pool of players past and present over the course of a couple months. Using the Quiyk tumblr blog to announce and explain their picks, there is sure to be heated debate. Ultimately, the winner of the giant fake fantasy tournament (fantasy squared??) tournament will be decided by a popular vote. While I really hope the most deserving team wins, there is sure to be controversy with a popular vote. I say let's just enjoy it! We've always talked about doing a huge draft like this! Expect fun-spirited analysis of the fantasy draft from my end. While I prepare my mock draft, here's three things to think about.
  • To what extent will non-active players be drafted? Former USC chaser/keeper and potential Olympian Remy Conatser is likely to be drafted, as well as several of last season's best beaters from teams like Texas, LSU and UCLA. Are these players more likely to occupy bench spots simply because they aren't still playing? 
  • Lesser known players on star teams vs. star players on lesser known teams. Will role players on a top five teams get drafted more than stars on teams that aren't ranked? This is sure to become a topic of debate towards the end when two or three bench spots are yet to be filled. 
  • With the announcement of the eight GMs, speculation will begin about who will shake up the draft with unpredictable picks. How will the other GMs react to a specific GM forming an ultra-physical team or a team with many players in one region? Which GMs are going to make predictable picks? Does a GM need a few risky picks to make their team more appealing to the voters?
2. The IQA released the results of a recent league-wide poll about whether to hold North American regionals in the fall or in the spring. Eastern Canada, the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and the Northeast all voted convincingly to keep their regionals in the fall, while the South and the Southwest voted to continuing playing their regionals in the spring. The West, whose regional championship has been held in the spring and the fall, voted 55%-45%. Because the results were not decisive enough, the West will receive regionals bids for both the fall and spring. 

As we've seen the past two years, changing the West's regional championship from season to season can have huge implications on the dynamic of the rest of the season. In the fall of 2012, when the Western regional was slated to take place in the spring, the Western region hosted and traveled to two of the biggest interregional tournaments of the season. This fall, the fall of 2013, when the Western regional occurred during November, there were no big interregional tournaments during the fall. The West is a region that is very willing to travel so when we move the regional championship, we have to consider that we are also probably moving the most interesting interregional tournament of the year. For instance last year, both the Hollywood Bowl and West by Southwest produced fascinating results. 2014's Diamond Cup, the Southwest tournament that the Lost Boys will be attending, is sure to have greater implications in February than it would have had in October, with World Cup VII staring down the teams. 

3. The IQA Events Bid Manual was unfurled this past week and there's a lot to talk about. First of all, it looks fantastic. This is exactly what I want recreation departments and tourism boards across the country looking at when they are deciding whether to bid for a World Cup or any other major event. I love that the IQA has clearly set aside five major events, World Cup, Regional Championships, IQA Open, Global Games and QuidCon, to be the trademark events of our sport. Let's go through new and/or interesting information for each event.

World Cup--The facility requirements for future World Cups seem to be very similar to what Kissimmee provided at Austin-Tindall Park. With the smashing success that was the World Cup's sixth installment, this a great place to start. The other thing I was surprised about was just how much money in financial support is required for a bid. $30,000 is a number that says to me, "wow we are really doing something special!" 

Regional Championships--Regionals are basically desribed as a smaller World Cup. The most interesting new information about regionals pertains to the seasons they are to take place in (which I covered in #2).

IQA Open--Excitement has been growing about an official announcement of the IQA Open ever since Alex Benepe made a surprise appearance in an #IQAForums thread discussing the event. The IQA Open will be, well, open to all teams, regardless of their competitiveness. A tournament like this has been needed for a while and with the launch slated for spring of 2015, you have to wonder if it's too little, too late. I want this tournament to succeed, but certain things are going to have to happen for the IQA to become "a large-scale, interregional tournament that is a keystone even for teams each year." 

Geographic placing of the first few IQA Opens is essential. It has to be in the middle of the country, in a place where there is (at least) some hope that it will attract teams from every single region. Secondly, I have argued before that this tournament should be geared towards the whimsical teams. But with the title of the event unveiled, the IQA Open can't succeed with only whimsical teams. I beleive that the IQA Open will do best if it truly does welcome every team from Texas to the Badassilisks. Whether competitive teams attend the IQA Open at first will determine it's long term success. While this may ambitious, I also think that there shouldn't be traditional pools. Maybe give teams the chance to choose their competition? That way we can avoid boring, pointless blowouts and have games that both players and spectators will enjoy.

The IQA will be taking bids for March or April excluding the regular World Cup weekend and the weekend before. To attract competitive World Cup teams, (and then attract other teams by adding legitimacy to the event), I think there has to be at least three weeks between the Open and the World Cup. If the Open was in early March, World Cup teams could use it to get extra practice under their belts, but would also be at risk of injuries that devastate World Cup hopes. If the Open was in late April, the competitive teams could play their future stars and underclassmen, as captains would get a preview of what their team would look like the following season. The downside of a late April Open is fast-approaching finals for college students and the fact that with World Cup over, teams might not be as motivated to travel. All in all, we didn't get too much information on the Open, but it's satisfying. I can't wait for more official information. Don't know what to the think about the requirement that facilities must have the "ability for up to 600 players to camp out on site."

Global Games--It's official. The Summer Games in Oxford have morphed into a biennial competition between national teams. While it was nice to have the correlation between the Oxford Exhibition and the London Olympics, it would've been difficult to commit to holding a quidditch tournament in Brazil in only three years and another tournament in Japan in seven years. With the tournament occurring twice as frequently, we will soon enter discussions about Team USA (including whether to keep deserving 2012 USA members on the team vs. giving the chance to new people), be fundraising to get as many European nations as possible overseas, and see those wonderful Quiyk jerseys. Also, from what I understand, the 2014 Global Games will not be selected using the new bidding process, but from 2016 on, they will.

4. Diamond Cup has garnered a lot of attention as being the best non-World Cup/regional tournament scheduled for the spring. It's going to be awesome, don't get me wrong, but it's really just going to be the Southwest and the Lost Boys. I'd like to point your attention to the Beantown Brawl 2014. By the time it's teams list is complete, I expect every relevant, bracket play-contending team in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Eastern Canada to be attending the Brawl plus hopefully some Midwest teams too! A competitive indoor tournament right smack in the middle of February is perfect for the regions struggling to improve with snow on the ground and freezing temperatures. With approximately a month and a half until World Cup, teams shouldn't have to be extra cautious about injuries at the tournament, with promise for intense gameplay.

I'm going to do everything I can to be there. I think there's a very good chance I can make it, but it might require an Indiegogo campaign. What would be some perks you, my readers, be interested in? Private scouting reports? Team pictures with me that become my Facebook and twitter profile pics?

5. I'd like to congratulate the Horn-Tailed Horcruxes and Oklahoma Baptist for donating over 500 books during the IQA's fourth annual book drive. I don't normally write about things like books but hear me out. The Horcruxes, a community team based in New Jersey, reached 500 books collected as of mid-November and had their success covered in an IQA article. The article encouraged OBU to make a late charge at first place, as the Southwest team finished only 10 books behind the Horcruxes. 

When explaining quidditch to my friends, arguing with random people in comments sections, or even among the quidditch community, we are often trying to fight negative perceptions about our sport. The first negative perception that always comes up is that players are just a bunch of Harry Potter nerds running around with brooms. I strongly believe we should continue to fight that perception, but the book drive is hurting because of our crusade against the "nerd" perception. The first annual book drive, which occurred during a time when we were quicker to embrace the quidditch's nerdy side, collected close to 9000 books. More teams should be doing what the Horcruxes and OBU did. While more and more teams put their time and energy into on-field improvement, strength and conditioning, and fundraising for travel now, we need to have more donations to the book drive next year.

I think I am in a unique position to argue why the book drive and literacy are so important. Many of my readers are in college or graduates, and rarely, in the college or professional world (unless you're a teacher), do you come across someone who really struggles to read. I go to the public high school in my town and yes, there are kids who really struggle to read. Most of these kids are not illiterate, but have an extremely low reading level. It is so sad for these kids--I can't help but think how are they going to get good enough SAT scores to attend college? Or will they ever be able to get a stable job?--but more books can help increase their reading level. So next year, before you dismiss holding a team book drive because it may increase negative perceptions of your team on campus, think of these kids. The kids who I see in the hallway, in the cafeteria and in my classes everyday. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Analyzing the Lost Boys: Defense

For so many reasons--they are first community team to win an American regional, they have multiple vocal members of the online quidditch community, they have many former collegiate players--the Lost Boys are a really interesting team to analyze. In the second of a two part series, I'm going to study the Lost Boys' defense.
(Screenshot) Video by Amanda Nagy
Above is your basic Lost Boys defense. The point defender matches up with the ball carrier around midfield, and the second greatest threat to score is also marked tightly like a post-up in basketball
The third Lost Boys chaser tends to hang around halfway in between the offense's third and fourth most dangerous options. In the center of all the action are the terrific Lost Boys beaters. Clearly without bludger control in the screenshot above, if she had a bludger, Amanda Nagy would be hanging back in the center as Chris Seto charged up to meet the ball carrier (who was able to slip past point defender Jeff Lin). It's a basic defensive scheme that works really well with the personnel the Lost Boys have.

However, there definitely are holes. The Lost Boys gave up 70 quaffle points each to Arizona State (finals) and NAU (pool play), and also allowed UCLA to tack on 50 quaffle points in pool play. For a team that has championship aspirations and very talented beaters, this simply does not fit together. I went back and reviewed every single goal the Lost Boys allowed during those three games that were recorded. Here are the diagnoses from Dr. JackthePhan, M.D..

Variables in the Beating Game
I think it is sometimes believed that a great beater or beating pair is invincible. The mountain of scoring on the Lost Boys must seem as tall as Everest when opposing teams look down the field and see two bludger-wielding beaters. But there are things teams can do to distract the Lost Boys beaters from executing their gameplan, and slowly but surely, the opposing team starts to chip away at that mountain. Seizing bludger control and then staying conservative works to some degree. In the screenshot, Amanda Nagy was completely taken out of the play by the Sun Devils' conservative bludger control. However, the offense is still faced with a focused Chris Seto. NAU often sent up 
both beaters to wreak havoc among the Lost Boys beaters. Getting to the root of the problem, the focus of the Lost Boys' beaters was shaken at times and the Narwals seemed to have the most success at putting together successful possessions. The downside to this strategy is that it leaves the door open for the Lost Boys to get into the transition game easily. While I don't see either of these beating strategies propelling a team to a win over the Lost Boys, it certainly creates scoring chances and accounts for some of the goals.

Diagnosis: Play through the pain. Yes, the Lost Boys are giving up goals, but the strategic moves opposing teams are using to get some of those goals are also hurting themselves defensively. Out of the nineteen goals I examined, only seven were caused by or partly caused by beating issues in my opinion. Compared to many other teams, that number is pretty low. 

Point Defense
Good point defense wins championships. Let's compare and contrast Mitch Cavender and Jeff Lin. To clarify something I couldn't put very eloquently in words, it just seems like Cavender has a stronger defensive presence than Lin, but each are equally effective as point defenders. Presence, whether it's due to aggression, positioning, or even an intimidating stance, is only one of the factors I consider when evaluating a point defender (another is speed and ability to move well laterally--where the clear advantage goes to Lin). Hope you guys like this video. I thought this was a good chance to mix highlights and words! Credit mostly goes to Amanda Nagy plus like seven seconds to the IQA!

Diagnosis: Nothing major. While the Lost Boys point defending wasn't terrific point defense, but it wasn't hurting them too much. Out of the nineteen total goals, I counted four that were conceded due or partly due to point defending errors. As the UT WCVI champion team showed, having many great
point defenders is vital to a team's success. If the rotation expands from two to five or six, I think the Lost Boys will be in much better shape.

Keeper Zone Woes
Explaining the Lost Boys' biggest defensive problem is going to require me to go off on a little tangent first. 

The competitive quidditch career of Tony Rodriguez has barely been a year. With a historic transfer to the Lost Boys last winter, Rodriguez drastically changed the future of quidditch. Without the transfer of Rodriguez, it is extremely unlikely that the Lost Boys would have turned into a regional runner-up and Elite Eight team. Without that success, who knows if the Lost Boys would have picked up players like Jake Tieman, Missy Sponagle and Peter Lee. Without Tony Rodriguez, there would be no reason for me to be analyzing the Lost Boys.

Now I'm going to get tough. Tony Rodriguez is not playing championship-caliber defense. Long shots are no problem for the long, athletic shot-blocker, but near the hoops, the quidditch version of football's trenches, Rodriguez is not getting the job done. Missing tackles, falling for pump fakes, and being hesitant to initiate contact, Rodriguez's defensive mistakes are costing the Lost Boys. I counted ten goals out of the nineteen goals could've been stopped by a more physical keeper and a partly Rodriguez's fault. Opposing chasers are running through his arm tackles and feasting on the chance to run right up to the hoops and not receive a hit. Rodriguez can't be afraid to deliver a hit to a driving player and when he comes out, he has to make a solid tackle.

Despite the sub-par defense I've noticed by watching this film a little more carefully, I still stand by my nomination of Tony Rodriguez as the fall's the best keeper. Because, guess what? I also took some stats and Rodriguez's numbers were through-the-roof. And it wasn't just due to the less-than-perfect opposing defenses as I pointed out in Analyzing the Lost Boys: Offense. Rodriguez is the best offensive player in the game right now. For every goal Rodriguez conceded in those three games, he scored more than one goal and had more than one assist. Say Rodriguez was the sole reason ASU, NAU and UCLA scored ten of their nineteen goals, but in only those three games, he scored 17 goals and had 14 assists. That is insane.

Back to the bad tackling...

Diagnosis: Not good, but curable. Against a greater competition, there's going to be a time when Rodriguez can no longer keep his team ahead when so many goals are being allowed "in the trenches." The mistakes Rodriguez was making were bad and if the Lost Boys are going to win World Cup VII, he's going to have to use that incredible willpower to become a better defensive player.

Goal Breakdown
*There can be multiple "causes" of each goal conceded.
No Bludgers/Beaters Out of Position 7
Bad or Sloppy Tackling Near Hoops 12
Bad Point Defending 4
Open Player 6
No Fault/Stands Up and Claps 3

Offensive Statistics
Tony Rodriguez 17 goals, 14 assists
Alex Browne 8 goals, 7 assists
Vanessa Goh 7 goals, 1 assist
Andrew Waldschmidt 3 goals, 1 assist
Mitch Cavender 3 goals
Missy Sponagle 2 goals, 1 assist
Jeff Lin 1 goal, 2 assists

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Analyzing the Lost Boys: Offense

For so many reasons--they are first community team to win an American regional, they have multiple vocal members of the online quidditch community, they have many former collegiate players-the Lost Boys are a really interesting team to analyze. In the first of a two part series, I'm going to study the Lost Boys' offense.

The Lost Boys lead the IQA scoring an average of 181 points per game and are ranked number two in the country. However, they don't necessarily look like a physically dominating, perfect passing, offensive team with terrific stamina like WCVI Texas, so why are the doing so well? One possible explanation is that the Lost Boys are playing loosely and having fun (did you see that Tony Rodriguez behind-the-back pass?!) or that they are just the most experienced and have the best, most productive practices of their opponents (also likely), but I believe the West is pretty weak this year. The Lost Boys have really yet to face a good defense. I figured in the high-stakes Western Cup, opposing teams would step up and lock all windows and doors to prevent the Lost Boys from scoring so often. But the Lost Boys cruised through the pool of death and the later rounds of bracket play, scoring an average of 150 quaffle points against teams ranked in the top five of the Western regional coaches poll. Any tight man-to-man defense or disciplined zone could stop these Lost Boys goals.

Video by Amanda Turtles

Jeff Lin receives a pass from Tony
Rodriguez. Rodriguez pulled the
entire NAU defense over when he drove down the near sideline, leaving Lin open in the middle and Vanessa Goh more open on the far side. While Lin would end up swinging the pass to Goh for an easy ten points, he could've also scored or passed it to Alex Browne behind the hoops.

Video by Amanda Turtles

Alex Browne passes cross field to a cutting Missy Sponagle. Browne drew the attention of the entire ASU defense leaving Sponagle wide open on the far side. With nice, little pump fake, Sponagle is able to fake out the ASU keeper and score. The ASU keeper is the only player who is able to get to Sponagle in time.

Video by Amanda Turtles
Tony Rodriguez passes to Vanessa Goh as he is being tackled by UCLA point defender Corey Osto. Notice how I can fit all four UCLA chasers and beaters on defense in a little bubble. That shouldn't happen. Goh slips behinds the defense and Rodriguez's pass is the perfect through-ball that leads to a Goh goal. Alex Browne is also open on the near sideline.

Honestly, these were only one example from each game. I could pick out two other bad defensive breakdowns in transition from each game and add in a couple more minor defensive miscues. The Lost Boys aren't really thought of as a transition team the way BU is, but the SoCal community team dominates the transition game. As you can see in each of these screenshots, there are multiple Lost Boys sprinting down the field and anticipating a pass. Often, half of the other team's players are jogging back to the hoops after being beat by the Lost Boys beaters. The ones who weren't beat all cluster towards the ball carrier. When the players who were beat touch the hoops and return to gameplay, they turn around and see three open Lost Boys chasers. While credit should be given to the Lost Boys chasers for getting up the field so quickly, a little defensive hustle could stop many of the plays like the ones pictured. So the Lost Boys have been getting it easy out West and I will be really interested to see how they react to better defenses when they travel to Diamond Cup. A lot of the time, goals like the ones pictured above get the Lost Boys comfortably into their rhythm. 

Here's my theory. The Lost Boys chasing corps is relatively small, with only really three or four players who are the type of player that sends the defender flying onto their back after a fast collision. I think because of this, they depend on getting open. The Lost Boys play a style of offensive quidditch that I think is closer to basketball, with rotations, lots of screens, cutting to the hoop(s), with the big emphasis on finding the open player. It's a very smart style of quidditch, and the Lost Boys' experienced players execute it perfectly, but many of their players avoid contact when possible, instead opting for a pass. In the West, this has worked really well. The best Southwest teams like A&M, UT, Lone Star, UTSA and Baylor play a style of offensive quidditch that is more like football or rugby. The understanding among many Southwest players seems to be that you're going to have to get through somebody to score. It seems to be more about creating physical mismatches in certain places on the field similar to the classic football example of speedy running back versus a linebacker in the open field. Instead of getting a player wide open for a goal, teams in the Southwest work in their possessions for a third and one situation, where the player with the ball only has to go a short distance to score.

I think the jury is still out on the Lost Boys. They are capitalizing on every little defensive mistake their opponents make and are winning games out of snitch range. But, I think physical, disciplined Southwest chaser defense is going to cause the Lost Boys offense a lot of trouble. They are really going to have to work to score goals. They are terrific at playing the basketball style of quidditch, but, when the Lost Boys travel to Diamond Cup and World Cup VII, some teams are going to force them to play a more physical, football style offense. Because of the contact rules quidditch has, teams can stop the basketball style offense with a football style defense.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hey Now, You're a Fall Star

These 16 all stars of the fall season have gotten their game on and gone to play. Included on my list are two teams of one keeper, two male chasers, one female chaser, one male beater, one female beater and two utility players.

First Team
K Tony Rodriguez (Lost Boys)--Rodriguez has had stellar season so far as the main distributor of a thriving Lost Boys offense. While there are only complete statistics for one of Rodriguez's three tournaments this season, I would expect that his stats from SCQC are similar to his stats from Lumberjack and Western Cup. All the goals (18 at SCQC) are impressive, yes, but it's the assists (11 at SCQC for a quidditch double-double) that show that Rodriguez deserves the nod as the fall's top keeper.

C Drew Wasikowski (Texas A&M)--Amid a cluster of very good teams in the Southwest, Wasikowski's team at A&M has emerged as the clear best. Wasikowski gets my pick as a first team fall all star for more than just his on field abilities though. He and the other A&M veterans have trained Texas A&M's new recruits fantastically. Watching Wasikowski communicate with his newer players on the field, you can see that his leadership abilities might be the most valuable trait in quidditch right now.

C Chris Morris (Lone Star)--Morris stepped into the spotlight this fall when keeper Stephen Bell was sidelined at Lone Star Cup. Taking over point duties, Morris kept LSQC in a tight game with the nation's number one team despite missing Bell and a couple of other key players. Morris' ball handling skills are especially impressive. While quidditch is often advertised as being played "one-armed," Morris takes full advantage of both arms. When driving, Morris likes to lodge the quaffle in between his body and broom arm, freeing up a hand to stiff arm. It is very effective and the ease and quickness which Morris can switch the quaffle from one hand to the other is amazing.  

C Vanessa Goh (Lost Boys)--Goh gets my vote for fall season MVP. Hauling in the MVP trophy at Lumberjack and then tallying the second highest point total at SCQC (15 goals), I don't think the Lost Boys would still be undefeated without Vanessa Goh. Between throwing players to the ground on defense and breaking ankles with her signature catch away from the body followed by a juke in the opposite direction and a goal, (If I was working for Sports Center, I would totally make a compilation highlight of these clips) Goh is revolutionizing the role of female chasers in quidditch.

B Chris Seto (Lost Boys)--While teammate Peter Lee gets more attention, Chris Seto has been the Lost Boys best beater this season. Seto's defining characteristic is his agility and reflexes. Anticipating cross field passes and bobbled catches, an opposing team has to have a perfect possession to score if Seto's on the field. Comfortable playing conservatively or aggressively, the Lost Boys can use lots of different strategies centering around Seto to target their opponents' weakness.

B Mollie Lensing (Lone Star)--Lensing has come back into the game even stronger than when she left. Retaining composure under pressure, Lensing has set the example on defense for not only the new LSQC beaters, but the chaser defense too. With unbreakable focus, LSQC's defense is formidable with Lensing in the center.

C/B/S Sean Pagoada (Florida's Finest)--Playing with his new community team, Pagoada was the talk of the early season as Florida's Finest rolled in their first tournament. Then taking his talents to New Orleans for the Wolf Pack Classic, Pagoada showed the Southwest his playmaking ability. Although the Flamingoes lost at their last tournament, Pagoada makes my list as a utility player. With a year of experience beating last year at Miami and seeking experience too, Pagoada can hurt an opposing team in so many ways.

C/S Harry Greenhouse (Maryland)--I recently wrote about Greenhouse in my Weekend that Was column on the IQA website. The reasons why I chose Greenhouse as the Player of the Weekend for his performance at MARC are the same reasons why he is on my fall all star team.

"Maryland is a pretty deep team with terrific players across the board. However, one player stands out. Harry Greenhouse is a household name in the quidditch world for both his chasing and seeking skills, and at MARC 2013, he turned in another fantastic performance. What stands out about Greenhouse is his hustle and agression. When playing point defense, the instant Greenhouse is beat, he's sprinting back to the hoops and picking up the open player. On offense, although many players avoid engaging the opposing point defender, Greenhouse tears through point defenders sending the defense into chaos. With the yellow headband, Greenhouse is tirelessly physical, catching experienced snitch runner Rob Snitch in both the semi-final and finals. Greenhouse's hustle should be a model to a young Maryland team that I believe has the athletes to compete with the best of the Southwest, but currently lacks the explosiveness to do so."

Second Team
K Stephen Bell (Lone Star)--If not for his absence in the Lone Star Cup finals, Bell might have been my pick as the best keeper of the fall. But missing such an important game bumps him down to honorable mention. Bell has been running the LSQC offense and doing a great job of getting LSQC's many talented chasers touches.

C David Fox (Emerson) and C Brendan Stack or C Michael Powell (BU)--The personal rivalry of Fox versus Stack/Powell in the Northeast has been captured in full glory by the photography of Michael E. Mason. While Stack and Powell are the leaders of a regional champion, Fox tore through the Mid-Atlantic at Turtle Cup with great strength and explosiveness. There might be a clash in styles between the physical Fox and the passing-minded Stack and Powell, but these are some of the best quaffle players outside of the Southwest right now. I can't wait for World Cup VII to see these guys tested against Southwest defenses.

C Becca DuPont (Texas A&M)--DuPont seems to be loving a more complete, smart Texas A&M chasing corps, as she's been getting more touches in more place on the field than before. A play from the Wolf Pack Classic finals versus LSQC stands out. DuPont retrieved a bad, in-the-dirt pass and as she was about to get beat, threw a perfect no-look pass to the far hoops for an important goal. Having the field awareness and quick-thinking ability to find the open chaser in that situation was big.

B Scott Axel (Penn State)--Axel is the name you'll hear from much of the Mid-Atlantic if you ask which player is most valuable to his or her team. Axel has a commanding field presence and really puts opposing point players under duress. If chaser Jason Rosenberg is healthy by the spring, Penn State could end up being a really scary team to draw into a World Cup pool.

B Amanda Nagy (Lost Boys)--The transition from chaser to beater has been seamless for Nagy, who has brought her signature physicality into the beater game. The result has been lopsided bludger control time in favor of the Lost Boys. Playing alongside the likes of Seto, Lee and Mohlman doesn't hurt either.

C/B/S Brandon Scapa (UCLA)--Seeing video of UCLA from Western Cup, it's clear how much they miss beater Asher King Abramson. Keeper Zach Luce doesn't have the ability to get by a good opposing point defender alone, but once he does he's dangerous. So what Scapa has done this year that is so important is take the role of Abramson to free up Luce, whether it's with Abramson-style offensive beating or screens as a chaser. In addition, Scapa is one of UCLA's best point defenders, a vocal defensive leader at beater, and the Bruins' best seeker. Not too shabby.

C/S Kenny Chilton (Texas)--A summer after catching the snitch to seal UT's World Cup championship, Chilton looks faster, stronger and better at both chaser and seeker. With all of the Longhorns' graduations Chilton has stepped up very nicely into a bigger role at chaser while becoming the primary seeker.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grades for the Top 15

1. Texas A&M University
For the second year in a row, Texas A&M ends the fall season at the top of all rankings. Texas A&M isn't at the level of Texas during their World Cup VI Championship run. No, A&M still has a lot of work to do, but unlike last season, it seems as if they know their work is incomplete. Overall, I've loved what the Aggies have done this fall season. Their game film is the most enjoyable film to watch and seeing so much potential in their new recruits is exciting for the future of quidditch everywhere. Texas A&M is very determined and should enter the spring season as deserving favorites. Grade: A

2. Lost Boys QC
Everything's just been too easy for the Lost Boys out west. After completing sweeps at the Lumberjack Invitational and SCQC, the Lost Boys returned to the state of Arizona for the fifth Western Cup. Becoming the first community team to win an American regional, the Lost Boys have used the fall season to establish regional dominance unlike any team this season. They average a league best 181 points per game and boast a record of 20-0. We really can't blame the absence of top-tier competition on the Lost Boys. The SoCal community team has overcome a lot of hype and done everything we could ask.  Grade: A-

3. Lone Star QC
Lone Star's been a little disappointing, I think. Great individual performances from Mollie Lensing, Steven Bell and Chris Morris have been the highlight for the Texan community team, rather than great team effort. Still, there are players like Beto Natera, Connor Drake and Keri Callegari who have stepped up and are embracing prominent roles in a star studded lineup. I was kind of expecting UT 2.0, and maybe I was stupid for thinking that some of their players lower on the depth chart could play the fast UT style, but two finals appearances at Wolf Pack and Lone Star Cup show that LSQC is still a very good team. Lone Star's on field gameplay has underwhelmed me because I had high expectations, but their scores and tournament placing support's their number three ranking.

I stand by what I said about Lone Star at the beginning of the season: Simon Arends is the make or break piece in the LSQC puzzle. With an injury cutting short Arends' day at Lone Star Cup, I think it's fair to say that we haven't seen LSQC at their full potential yet. Grade: A-

4. University of Texas-Austin
The reigning champs haven't really played a ton this year, competing in four games at Wolf Pack and five games at Lone Star Cup. In each tournament, UT has won their pool, and then been eliminated by LSQC in the semifinals. Texas narrowed their margin of defeat significantly in the second matchup with LSQC, showing how much a month's worth of Texas Quidditch practices/workouts can improve a team. Despite not facing Baylor or Texas A&M yet this season, Texas has defeated LSU twice and UTSA once, so the Longhorns do have respectable wins. At the rate this team is improving, Texas could very well be hoisting that World Cup VII trophy in four months. Grade: B+

5. Baylor University
The early pick to win World Cup VII, Baylor's fall season can be characterized by trying to overcome injuries and the loss of Paul Williard. Considering how much Williard meant to this Baylor team, the Bears have done a pretty good job staying dominant over second tier Southwest teams. A 150*-10 pounding of Oklahoma State in the finals of Cowboy Cup was bested a week later when Baylor pulled a 70*-40 pool play upset on Lone Star QC. However an out of snitch range loss to Texas A&M in the Lone Star Cup semifinals keeps Baylor at number 5. Grade: B+

6. Boston University
BU continues to look like the only East Coast team that could really give a challenge to and possibly beat a Southwest powerhouse. BU is two for two in big tournaments this fall including defending their regional championship title. Beater Max Havlin's summer success has translated well to the fall, and the reunion of chaser/keepers Brendan Stack and Michael Powell has produced 134 points per game. However, all of BU's big wins are over Emerson. Maybe they just matchup well with their crosstown rivals. It's a shame that we didn't get to see BU's highly regarded transition offense in College Park for Turtle Cup. Grade: B

7. Emerson College
Emerson is a difficult team to grade. The highlight of the fall has to be a shorthanded tournament victory at Turtle Cup. Playing relatively even with a future regional champion in Maryland, shellacking regional runners-up Villanova, and then blowing out Tufts to seal the deal, Emerson looked very good. But, along with an early Turtle Cup loss to NYDC, two tournament finals losses to BU remain blemishes on the Lions' résumé. Emerson's going to have to wait out the long, cold Boston winter until they get another good shot at BU. Until Emerson can beat BU on the big stage, their work is incomplete. Grade: B-

8. Bowling Green State University
The notion that the Midwest is weak this year is simply not true. The Midwest is just as strong (or weak if you would like to think of it that way) as the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, South and even the West if you take away the Lost Boys. So, I'm going to give BGSU some credit here before I take some of it away. They are 16-1 in a region that is just as difficult as any other region besides the Southwest. That is not to say that BGSU's season has been perfect either. All three times BGSU has played a team ranked in the top five of the Midwest Coaches Poll, they have been down in quaffle points when the snitch is caught. Two out of three of those times, including in the Midwest Regional semifinals and finals, their terrific snitch on pitch game has bailed them out with a snatch. In conclusion, as long as BGSU's quaffle game can keep pace with their opponents, their seeking game is very dangerous. Grade: B-

9. University of Maryland
Maryland's performance this fall season has been spotless. With a record of 17-1, the lone loss was to Emerson when the Terrapins were up 20 in quaffle points. Strength of schedule is questionable as Maryland is still yet to play strong regional foe the NYDC Capitalists, but two out of snitch range defeats of Penn State (Nittany Lion Cup finals, MARC semifinals) and the regional championship finals victory over Villanova are solid wins. Good team play and leadership point to success this spring if Maryland can only play with a little more energy. Grade: B

10. University of Texas-San Antonio
UTSA began their season with a memorable run to the finals of the unofficial Breakfast Taco Tournament. Despite a disappointing drop from the Wolf Pack Classic, the Roadrunners were back at the Lone Star Cup. UTSA still sits at number ten behind teams from the Northeast, Midwest and Mid Atlantic in part due to their inability to defeat one of the "big four" in the Southwest in an official game yet. A close loss to UT in pool play was followed by a 100 point loss to Texas A&M in bracket play the next day. Lone Star Cup was the Roadrunners' only official tournament of the fall season, but with more matches against the "big four" coming up in the spring, one big upset is very likely. With that upset, UTSA could vault into the top five. Grade: B+

11. Arizona State University
Arizona State has zero losses this year to teams not named the Lost Boys. With a surprise run to the Western Cup V finals, the Sun Devils pushed the eventual regional champion Lost Boys. Scoring 70 points on a great beater defense, Arizona State has bunch of offensive weapons that can cause teams serious problems. Not a lot was expected out of this Arizona State team heading into the season, but the Sun Devils have taken advantage of a down year for UCLA and USC. Grade: C+

12. University of Kansas
The first thirteen or so of Kansas' games do not look the best on paper. Ranging from a respectable loss to Arkansas in the Kansas Cup finals, to snitch range games against second tier Midwest teams Missouri and Marquette, to a loss to Wichita State. Then finally, in the semifinals and finals of the Midwest Regional Championship, we saw what I believe is the real Kansas. With a win over Michigan State and only a snitch range loss BGSU, Kansas made the case that they should still be considered for national rankings. Grade: C

13. University of Miami
After realizing Miami's early season loss to UF was a fluke and seeing them defeat Florida's Finest at the Dunk City Invitational, Miami will head into the spring season as favorites in the South. With chaser Sean Beloff healthy, Miami is in a good position to beat up on the Southern competition and set up a regional finals showdown with Florida's Finest. All in all, this team does not seem too different from the team that earned the number three seed (in the pool of death) at World Cup VI. And they might be better. Grade: B

14. NYDC Capitalists
Even as the Capitalists fall in the rankings due to a MARC semifinals loss to Villanova, they have had a very successful season. Beginning with a tournament victory at Trial by Fire in Canada, the Capitalists then marched past a stronger-than-we-thought BAQC and then defeated No. 7 Emerson and played even with Tufts at Turtle Cup. At MARC, NYDC continued to play well, earning the number one seed out of a tough pool before losing a tight game to Villanova in the semifinals. The fact that Mid Atlantic voters still have NYDC tied with Maryland for first place in the region should be noted. The 17-2 Capitalists are a well-oiled, disciplined machine with a scary seeking rotation. Grade: B

15. Ball State University
A classic "other receiving votes" team, Ball State snuck into the final Coaches Poll partly due to the perceived dropoffs of UCLA and USC after Western Cup. On paper, Ball State's performance this fall (18-5) has been pretty mediocre compared to the teams above, with the highlight being a snitch catch loss to BGSU in the Midwest Regional semifinals. A big plus is the fact that John Lenderts and Trevor Campbell are turning into the most dominant beater pair in the Midwest. Grade: C-  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Quidditch Coaches Poll 12/3

World Coaches Poll
1. Texas A&M University (358)
2. Lost Boys QC (333)
3. Lone Star QC (315)
4. University of Texas-Austin (283)
5. Baylor University (279)
6. Boston University (242)
7. Emerson College (176)
8. Bowling Green State University (155)
9University of Maryland (153)
10. University of Texas-San Antonio (120)
11. Arizona State University (112)
12. University of Kansas (74) 
13. University of Miami (63)
14. NYDC Capitalists (42)
15. Ball State University (34)

Top Five Others Receiving Votes: Villanova University (32), University of California-Los Angeles (30), Michigan State University (27), Northern Arizona University (22), Texas State University (22), 

Regional Coaches Polls
Eastern Canada
1. Gee-Gees Quidditch (30)
2. Carleton University (24)
3. McGill University (17)
4. Maple Rush Quidditch (13)
5. Queen's University (3)

Mid Atlantic
1. University of Maryland (22)
1. NYDC Capitalists (22)
3. Villanova University (15)
4. Pennsylvania State University (11)
5. University of Richmond (3)

1. Bowling Green State University (38)
2. University of Kansas (28)
3. Michigan State University (24)
4. Ball State University (22) 
5. Ohio State University (4)

1. Boston University (35)
2. Emerson College (27)
3. Rochester Institute of Technology (17)
4. Tufts University (9)
4. New York University (9)

1. University of Miami (35)
2. Florida's Finest (25)
3. University of Florida (24)
4. University of South Florida (13)
5. Eastern Florida State College (5)

1. Texas A&M University (40)
2. Lone Star QC (30)
3. Baylor University (21)
3. University of Texas-Austin (21) 
5. University of Texas-San Antonio (5)

1. Lost Boys QC (30)
2. Arizona State University (22)
3. Northern Arizona University (18)
4. University of California-Los Angeles (14)
5. Santa Barbara Blacktips (5)

Voters: Brad Armentor (Lousiana State University), Jacob Barrett (Florida Gulf Coast University), Nick Beacher (Stony Brook University), Sean Beloff (University of Miami), Patrick Callanan (University of Rochester), Jeremy Day (University of Richmond), Zach D'Amico (QC Boston: The Massacre), Clay Dockery (New York Badassilisks), Hank Dugie (Cougar Quidditch), Matt Dwyer (Miami University), David Fox (Emerson College), Ian Hoopingarner (Michigan State University), Kyle Jeon (New York University), Erin Mallory (University of Maryland), Katie Milligan (Bowling Green State University), Cody Narveson (University of Minnesota), Jordon Parisher (Texas State University), Brandon Scapa (Universtiy of California-Los Angeles), Colby Soden (University of Kansas), Tyler Walker (Ball State University), Drew Wasikowski (Texas A&M University), Alex Wilson (University of Arkansas); 

Only Regional Votes Cast: Rebecca Alley (Gee-Gees Quidditch), Evan Bell (Santa Barbara Blacktips), Mitch Cavender (Lost Boys QC), Cooper Davis (Northern Arizona University), Blain Falone (University of South Florida), Craig Garrison (University of Texas-San Antonio), David Gilbert (Baylor University), David Hoops (Ohio State University), Clare Hutchinson (Maple Rush Quidditch), Allick Jorgensen (University of Central Florida), Nicolas Kubicki (University of Southern Mississppi), Laura Lepine (McGill University), Max Miceli (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), Brain Nackasha (Eastern Florida State University), Michael Parada (NYDC Capitalists), Chris Radojewski (Queen's University), Nicholas Renzetti (Canada's Finest QC), Suraj Singh (Ryerson University), Landon Smith (Tennessee Technological University), Alex Scheer (University of Toledo), Sarah Sherman (University of Southern California), Shenuque Tissera (Macaulay Honors College at CUNY), Tad Walters (Loyola University), Tristan West (San Jose State University), Alexander Xavier (Philadelphia Honey Badgers);

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The 2013 Iron Bowl and Quidditch

I know I'm only echoing the rest of the sports world when I say, "that was the craziest end of a game I've ever seen." After screaming "oh my god" repeatedly, jumping up and down, and running over to my neighbor's house, I think I've finally calmed down. Amidst the joy of such a miraculous play and seeing that look on Nick Saban's face, I began to think about quidditch.

1. What is our equivalent of a last second field goal return? What is our equivalent of a buzzer beater or a walk off home run? Is it a snitch catch? No. Something about that is different. In quidditch, we can never have one second left on the clock. We can never have that anticipation of a certain final play. We can never have that fraction of a second where there's no action to consider how unlikely it is for one team to win. That doesn't mean there's never a sense of urgency. Picture a seeker alone with a snitch, grappling, in a World Cup elimination game, an opposing beater turns, sprints towards the seeker, and gets ready to release her bludger at the same instant that the seeker frees his hands to reach for the snitchsock. Now imagine if we could freeze time right there. But that's not possible. While I love the excitement of a snitch catch, it doesn't compare to the end of the Iron Bowl 2013. The closest thing we've had was the controversial last play of Firemercs 2.

2. Can somebody please get these SEC schools playing competitive quidditch? In almost every state in the country, the biggest universities have quidditch teams. Why has a competitive team still not sprouted up at Alabama or Auburn? With football bred into the culture there, quidditch teams from Alabama and Auburn would be really good after a few years. Considering the huge success of other big universities in Florida, Louisiana and Texas, it seems like something should be going on in the Heart of Dixie.

3. Remember how annoying it was when for the second year in a row, Texas and Texas A&M ended up in the same section of the World Cup bracket? Well, being in the SEC is like being in the same section of the bracket with teams from your region every year. Similar to Texas and Texas A&M, many believe that the top two teams in the SEC are the best in the country, but it's almost impossible for them to meet in the championship game.

4. Don't get caught with the wrong personnel on the field. Alabama had a kicker, a holder and nine lineman on the field for the final play. Not one of those players was prepared to chase down a speedy returner. One thing I don't see nearly enough in quidditch is teams substituting to find the right personnel. If I was coaching a team and an opposing player was causing trouble, I'd constantly be thinking 1) what is this player's weakness 2) which player in my lineup can best exploit this weakness. If a coach does not react to an opposing player getting hot with a good substitution, the team could find itself down by 30 points very quickly.

5. Can we have rivalry week in quidditch?! Would it even be that hard? Many rivals are in the same state or even the same city. All it would take is some organization over Facebook and a few teams to get the ball rolling. With regionals at the end of the season in the fall, rivalry week could be around mid March, as a last chance for teams to test themselves before heading off to World Cup. I can imagine obsessively following @IQAScores for scores coming from across the nation. UCLA vs. USC, NAU vs. ASU, Texas vs. Texas A&M, BGSU vs. OSU, Emerson vs. BU, Villanova vs. Maryland, Miami vs. Florida's Finest. It would be so great.