Monday, April 8, 2013

Quidditch World Cup from A to Z

Abramson. Asher King Abramson is the best beater I've ever seen. His field presence makes you want to watch him more than the seeker or the chasers. (And that's something on UCLA- a team full of exciting seekers/chasers) He is intimidating and I will be watching when he faces off against BGSU's Daniel Daugherty in pool play.

Bludger Control. While in some teams can win without bludger control, certain big games could be influenced based on who has two armed beaters. Baylor could run into trouble against great beater play and UCLA with dominate bludger control, is a death knell to any team.

Cards. It will be interesting to see how lenient the refs are in giving yellow and red cards, especially in bracket play. No ref wants to give a card that might ruin a team's chances, even if it is deserved. I'm smelling a lot of cards out of the A&M, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, NYU and Fleming pool. We all know that Fleming is ruthless.

Dr. Dre. The Florida player that electrified World Cup V, leading his team to the finals and grasping the lead against Middlebury right before the snitch was caught. I'm curious to see if Dre can do it again. I don't think he has been mentioned enough recently and has almost been forgotten by some. Get ready for the Gators and Dr. Dre to win their pool and go to the Sweet Sixteen.

Emerson. One of the oldest teams left now with Vassar and Middlebury failing to qualify. David Fox and Victor Viega two bulldozer-like keepers with great passing ability could lead one of the smallest schools at WCVI deep into bracket play.

Forgetting. We are all forgetting about Division Two! D2 is loaded with teams that are rapidly improving like Stanford and NY Badassilisks. For many teams, D2 will be their first World Cup experience. My pick for winning D2, is Ringling.

Goliaths.  Bracket play will certainly produce many David vs. Goliath matchups and who knows whether David can win. Right now, I consider Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, UCLA, Marquette, Maryland and Miami Goliaths. Emerson, BU and Villanova get honorable mention.

Hicks. James Hicks, Maryland and Team USA keeper, will be hard to stop. Hicks is an outstanding player and Maryland's success really comes down to the supporting cast of Hicks.

IQA. Led by Benepe and Alicia Radford, the IQA has come a *really* long way since the first World Cup. WCVI is the first to not be in New York or at Middlebury. The IQA seemed to address the problems at WCV in planning for WCVI. WCVI will have war at every field, enough food vendors and (hopefully) good, trained referees. And thank God there's no Middlebury because I can't stand the conspiracy rumors.

Jackson. Willie Jackson of Arizona State is a brick wall. Known in the past for dirty play, as well as dominant defense, Willie Jackson has apparently cleaned up his game as of Western Cup IV. The more time Willie spends on the field (not in the penalty box) the more ASU wins. A Jackson red card is really bad for ASU in the pool of death.

Keeper. Normally, a team's most important offensive player plays at the keeper position. I'll be watching the keepers specifically in Emerson vs. USC, Lost Boys vs. Maryland and Boston vs. Villanova in pool play.

Lurhs. Coming back from an injury that prevented him from playing at the Western Cup, August Danger Lurhs is the key to a USC team that was ranked #1 in the fall. As I said in another post, I think Lurhs will lead USC to the top spot in their difficult pool and all the way to the Elitte Eight.

Maryland, Marquette, Miami. I have these three teams practically tied in terms of skills. Seekers Harry Greenhouse, Alex Busbee and David Moyer are all really good and each team is backed up with World Cup experience, super-athletic chasing cores and world-class beaters. I would love to see semifinal or quarterfinal matchups between these teams.

Northeast. The Northeast has the most to prove at World Cup VI. Although I don't believe this is true, many quidditch fans think the Northeast is inferior to all of the other regions. This spring, Hofstra especially, has had encouraging results. Look for Tufts, Emerson and BU to play well too.

Overtime. Overtime games at World Cups are intense. With the Snitch on the field and the crowd cheering at full strength from "Brooms Up" to snatch, an overtime game also puts a lot of pressure on the players. The favored team has a sense of urgency to put 30 points up on the board, which I have seen teams do, but in an even game, the players might as well sit down and watch the snitch. Anyways, OT is chaos!!

Pools. The Pools are pretty fair, I think. There are no outrageously difficult pools and I think at least two teams have a shot at the pool championship in every pool. Last year, the three Florida teams burst onto the scene by winning their pools. Will any specific region make statement in pool play?

Quidditch!! The sport we are flying across the country and spending time and money on. We wouldn't have it any other way though. Yay Quidditch!

Roth. Marquette's key chaser is physical and smart and was been a huge part of Marquette's championship at the Midwest Cup and the finals appearance at the Collegiate Cup. Bobby Roth has an amazing powerful arm which he uses for long distance shooting and passing, which stretches the field vertically.

Southwest. All I hear going into the World Cup, is how good the Southwest is. UT, LSU and A&M proved how good they were at WCV, but the rest of the crew coming from the Southwest has little or no World Cup experience. For teams like Texas State or UTSA, I've heard arguments that since they play the best teams in the country (see "T") on a regular basis, that they must be really good. The problem is, none of these teams have ever beaten the Big 3/4. The bottom of Southwest has something to prove and the top has a reputation to uphold...

Texas/Texas A&M. There's a reason these two teams are one, two in both the IQA Standings and the Eighth Man Rankings. While both teams are physical, they play completely different styles of quidditch. Texas plays a fast break, almost frantic and out of control type game through Augie Monroe and Kody Marshall. And A&M runs the best half-court offense in quidditch. The Aggies' precise passing and truck-like drives are impossible to stop. If neither of these two teams make it to the final, it is a travesty for quidditch.

Unstoppable. Will there be any team that is far and away the best? Will it be Ucla?

Victory. One team will claim victory and hoist the Cup. And, for the first time, it won't be Middlebury.

Weather. Writing this article exactly one week before the games begin, the forecast for World Cup isn't the best. The weather will be hot. Highs in the low 80s- which will be hard for the Northern team. There is currently a chance of a thunderstorm on Sunday afternoon, which could really put a damper on the WCVI finals. Partly cloudy all weekend.

Xs and Os. Whoever is drawing up the Xs and Os, aka the team coach, is going to have a big role at WCVI. A team's strategy needs to be able to shift and change according to the opposition and the coach, on field or off field, needs to guide his/her through the change.

Yada. Michael Parada, Penn State chaser, has the ability to lead his team on a run in bracket play. Penn State is another one of my upset picks to make the Elite Eight, and its because of Yada. This Spring, at the Shell-Shocking Spectacular, Parada's team, the Dallas Yadas, beat Maryland. Parada's leadership and on-field skill, combined with fellow PSU chaser Jason Rosenberg, is dangerous for any team.

Zero. Will any team have zero losses? It hasn't been done at a World Cup since Middlebury did it in 2010.

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