Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Turtle Cup III: Team-by-Team Reports

Finally! The beginning of my Turtle Cup coverage! Here is a detailed report of all of the teams I watched at Turtle Cup. I loved being able to take in depth notes on so many skilled teams. It feels great to finally be putting out my thoughts and not an organized review of what I've heard through facebook posts, interviews and other articles. More coverage, including a videotaped roundtable and post game interviews coming soon. Thanks for reading!
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
The story of the day, Emerson bounced back from the early overtime loss to the NYDC Capitalists and strung together four straight quality wins in bracket play. Emerson was very reliant on the play of David Foxx and specifically, his fast break ability. With Pablo Calderon-Santiago and Jackson Maher, Emerson's chasing in the half court was considerably less strategic and more Foxx. This is not to say that Emerson's remaining chasers are weak. They have some up and coming talent in new chasers Kevin Estavanik and Eli Page, and former Boston Riot player Leeanne Dillman. Estavanik is long and agile, with great natural athleticism. Emerson has switched to a zone defense (one point defender, two beaters, two hoop defenders and one behind hoop defender) and Estavanik played well with Foxx and Tyler Trudeau defending the hoops. Page is a quick, small chaser who will not hesitate to throw himself into tackles and with Emerson's lack of female chasers this weekend, Dillman stepped up with good positioning and solid defense behind the hoops. Beating wise, Aaron Wohl had a spectacular day and put in great games against NYDC, Maryland and Villanova. Despite some recent attention given to Emerson's new seekers, NYDC and Tufts had better rotations and Maryland's rotation was about even. For a Top 15 team, Emerson's seeking was just average. I think the newer seekers definitely can improve, and could possibly reach their potential by Northeast Regionals next month. What matters most though, is that faced with a lot of challenges, Emerson managed to win the tournament. Often times, the Lions were just tougher, grittier and playing with more passion.

The hosts Maryland, given an easy pool, were presented with their first challenge and last challenge of the day against Emerson in the quarterfinals. Maryland is loaded with a deep team of athletes, but lacks a star player who can take over games. Without a bulldozing game changer, Maryland relies on good, technically sound, patient possessions that maximize every quaffle player and move the quaffle all around the pitch. Maryland was arguably the most impressive team at Turtle Cup, with great performances from Harry Greenhouse, Matt Angelico, Steven Gambino and Kelly Fernandez. The Terrapins looked as if they were at mid-season form in only their second tournament. Up 20 on Emerson at the time of the Tyler Trudeau snatch, if given a few more minutes, Maryland would have been out of snitch range. Beating, which ended up failing the Terrapins by fractions of a second on the Trudeau snatch, seems to be the main concern. Led by Ricky Nelson, the Maryland beaters started the the game strong, but faded, allowing Emerson to stay in the game and get the snitch. With a wealth of athletic chasers, finding good seekers to round out a Harry Greenhouse-led seeking corps shouldn't be hard. Able to lock down on defense due to good communication between chasers and beaters, the Maryland captains have really whipped together a contender this year. Maryland should be the clear favorite going into Mid Atlantic Regionals next month.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
The NYDC Capitalists made their big time tournament debut, after finishing at the top in Canada and the Big Apple. Weaknesses were exposed by Emerson and Tufts, but NYDC played both of the Boston teams evenly. The best part of NYDC's game is their seeking. The Capitalists' seeking rotation is truly elite. Don't let the marathon game against Tufts fool you into thinking otherwise. At Turtle Cup III, it was Mo Haggag, Freddy Varone and Steve Minnich who wrestled, grappled, chased and flipped their way to pushing snitches to their limits. Then, the Capitalists also have Billy Greco, who specializes in seeking, and a whole group of guys with seeking experience and success (Michael Parada, Steve Hysick, Alex Linde, etc.). If not the most talented, the NYDC seeking corps is the deepest that I've ever seen. NYDC's beating corps didn't turn in the best performance this weekend against the Boston teams, allowing too many points and too much penetration of the defense. The Capitalists' beaters have been criticized as just being average, but they do elevate their level of play when the snitch is on the pitch. With a bunch of physical guys who can tackle and dish out hits like Tony Greco, Donnie Lynch and James Hicks, the Capitalists are very comfortable on defense. They guard the fast break pretty well, even stopping a charging David Foxx from scoring with a last ditch tackle a few times. Offense is where things change. With Parada in at keeper, NYDC's offense is a lot more dynamic, as more offensive options come with a player of Parada's caliber. Hicks and Gaffigan are good, but the Parada-run offense has so many more ways it can hurt you. NYDC will most likely be in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Finals, and like Villanova last year, could snatch a regional championship if they keep the score low.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
A new era of quidditch at Tufts has arrived, and it's going to be successful one. Tufts has at least three very cohesive, evenly matched chaser lines that all do different things well. In awe of the transformation Tufts has taken since World Cup VI, I didn't get too many notes about their chasers. There were really too many people to talk about, from David Stack, to Hannah DeBaets, to Noah Schwartz everyone played their role and together, they produced a winner. With height on each line, 2013-14 Tufts reminds me of BU without a great transition offense. Beaters Mike Sanders and Nora Mueller put in a ton of minutes, playing smart and accurate, especially with the snitch on the pitch. The finals result against Emerson should be ignored as Tufts was physically and emotionally drained after the 35+ minute marathon with NYDC. If a potent fast break attack is added to Tufts' arsenal, which shouldn't be a problem considering their athleticism, I think they can play within snitch range of any team in the Northeast and be an elite eight team at World Cup VII.

Villanova, starting their first season without star players Zach D'Amico and Billy Greco, surprised many by going 3-0 in pool play and advancing to the semifinals. While Villanova could not contend with Emerson, they proved that they were the best of the second tier of teams at Turtle Cup III with wins over Hofstra, Richmond and Penn State. The chaser trio of Greg Habeeb, Khalil Taylor and Andrew Garber have great chemistry and scored most of Villanova's goals. The three chasers, fast and agile, can also break tackles and play surprisingly gritty, physical defense. Villanova doesn't really have any star players and has okay depth, meaning that it is extra important that they gel as a team and play unselfishly in order to find success. If the Wildcats' beating improves, they have Dan Takaki to close games as a seeker and could possibly contend for the Mid-Atlantic Championship next month. Right now though, even after a solid performance at Turtle Cup III, Villanova is still looking up at Maryland and NYDC.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Richmond is interesting. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from the Spiders. I thought they would place third in the pool. During their game against Villanova, both teams played poor offensively, dropping passes and throwing up inaccurate shots. Richmond's defense was good, as they held Villanova to 30 points in 14 minutes. The Spiders' beating corps seems to have handled the loss of Julia Baer this semester and the chaser defense was tight with keeper Jeremy Day in the back. Able to muscle their way to 30 points also, Richmond ended up losing to Villanova on a snitch catch. Against Hofstra, Richmond looked fantastic. Suddenly, chasers were getting open, making catches below and above their heads, turning, and making smart decisions with the quaffle. Richmond handled the physicality of Hofstra players Jaime Colon and Alex Leitch as well as any of Hofstra's opponents. The Spiders half court offense was playing like a different team, and Day pushed them into the transition a couple of times. The end of one of these fast breaks was capped memorably with a Richmond chaser diving through the small hoop. A lock to qualify for World Cup VII, Richmond could surprise with a semifinal appearance at Mid Atlantic Regionals.

Penn State is a completely different team without power chaser Jason Rosenberg, who will likely miss regionals with a broken foot. Without the explosive presence of Rosenberg, the Nittany Lions went 3-2, losing to Tufts and Villanova. Lucky to have keeper Tommy Reinhart taking the reins to the offense, Penn State should still make the semifinals at Mid Atlantic, but will likely not contend for the regional championship. Penn State mostly stayed organized and kept passes and beats accurate, but once they were playing more physical teams, they just couldn't punch it through the hoops. Decent passing showed by Penn State was ruined by several fumbles and "strip and scores." (An opposing chaser would rip the quaffle out of the arms of a Penn State chaser and then breakaway for an easy goal at the other end). Beater Scott Axel's great defensive leadership and organization was a strength, but he seemed to have an off day in the accuracy department, with too many errant throws for a beater of his level. A capable backup or partner for Axel, Folahan Akinyemi showed promise covering lots of ground and beating smartly.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Turtle Cup III, marked as the first test for a confident UNC team, did not go well if you look at the results. Blowout losses to Emerson, Tufts and Penn State were caused by a terrible lack of depth. It was clear that UNC's top players were very skilled and athletic, but below that, their players really didn't have any kind of an effect on the game. It was easy to say, "UNC! That team was way overhyped!" However, I am still very much on board the UNC hype train. A late addition to the tournament, UNC could only bring a roster of twelve active players. Out of the twelve, only three had played quidditch before this year. Keeper Ed Bartels, who at Minerva Cup, pushed UNC's fast break to the limit while impressively staying controlled, was not there, putting the Tar Heels at a serious height disadvantage (especially against Tufts). Support chasers were a problem all day. Chasers Max Miceli and Amit Katyayan were often best just driving or trying to get off a shot than passing. This type of hero offense, while it worked to get some points on the board, was unimpressive compared to the sophisticated, complex strategies run by the top tier at Turtle Cup. Chasers Ally and Courtney Reynolds, two Turtle Cup-absentees, displayed great positioning at Minerva Cup and would have added another dimension to UNC's offense. The Reynolds sisters would have allowed the Tar Heels' super aggressive two male beater set work better for the team. With the Reynolds', Bartels, beaters Clay Ballard and Luke Miller, and chaser JJ Foster, UNC would have beaten Penn State and given a greater challenge to Tufts and Emerson. Jumping off the UNC hype train right now would be foolish.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

Hofstra came out third in their pool, losing to Villanova and Richmond before notching one notable win over Rochester. The big star of Hofstra's depleted chasing corps is Jaime Colon. On defense, he would rush out to meet a driving chaser and deliver monstrous hits. Colon couldn't do much about an unmarked or poorly guarded chaser behind the hoops, though and Hofstra conceded many goals this way. Colon brings the quaffle up on offense, but after making a pass, starts to retreat into his defensive half. When he sees an opening, he drives, but if Hofstra is going to beat teams like Villanova and Richmond in the future, they have to figure out a way to get Colon more involved in the offense. To do this, Hofstra has to use the three amazing weapons that they have at beater. Assuming they can get bludger control, I would suggest the "one and a half" strategy that is becoming pretty popular. With a bludger-less Alex Leitch going up with the offense to wreak havoc and tackle opposing beaters, either Theresa Buchta or Mike Iadevaia would stay back with two bludgers to use if necessary. Buchta and Iadevaia would be perfect, as they are both patient, accurate and good decision makers. If executed well, this strategy could free up Jaime Colon to score more, while not leaving the Flying Dutchmen vulnerable to fast breaks.

Rochester, thought to maybe be a contender at Northeast Regionals, had a difficult day, going 2-2, with a bad loss to Hofstra in the Round of 16. Star player Devin Sandon was limited with a knee injury, but the rest of the team wasn't able to make up for the loss of his dynamic, play-making ability. Besides the unveiling of their awesome new jerseys, a 90*-10 win over Geneseo was the highlight of the day for the Thestrals.

Clad in maroon, matching jerseys and eye black, Lock Haven has a good bit of athleticism but doesn't really know what to do with this. They can play ok defense, but offensively, they are just "hero-ing." With ten teams qualifying from the Mid-Atlantic, a rotation of several athletic "heroes" can get the job done if they start playing more disciplined at least. So many forced long shots can't happen if Lock Haven is going to go to North Myrtle Beach. Keeper AJ Radle is probably Lock Haven's best player, as he is an imposing presence with great shot blocking ability. Ultimately, Lock Haven should look to move away from the hero offense, and use the pieces they have to create a winning team. If they can both qualify for World Cup VII and implement an offense with any sort of complexity, Lock Haven is not going to be one of those pot five teams that will be steamrolled in four straight games.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quidditch Coaches Poll 10/29

World Coaches Poll
1. Lone Star QC (351)
2. Texas A&M University (350)
3. Lost Boys QC (341)
4. University of Texas-Austin (310)
5. Baylor University (199)
6. Emerson College (179)
7. Bowling Green State University (177)
8. Boston University (170)
9. University of California-Los Angeles (154)
10. University of Miami (120)
11. University of Texas-San Antonio (118)
11. University of Southern California (115)
13. NYDC Capitalists (103)
14. Florida's Finest QC (93)
15. University of Kansas (88)

Top Three Others Receiving Votes: University of Maryland (61), Tufts University (41), University of Arkansas (40)

Regional Coaches Polls
Mid Atlantic
1. NYDC Capitalists
1. University of Maryland
3. Villanova University
4. Pennsylvania State University
5. University of Richmond

1. Bowling Green State University
2. Ball State University
2. University of Kansas
4. Michigan State University 
5. Ohio State University

1. Boston University 
2. Emerson College
3. Tufts University
4. QC Boston: The Massacre
5. Macaulay Honors College

1. Florida's Finest
1. University of Miami
3. University of Florida
4. Eastern Florida State College
4. Florida State University

1. Texas A&M University
2. Lone Star QC
3. University of Texas-Austin
4. Baylor University
5. University of Texas-San Antonio

1. Lost Boys QC
2. University of California-Los Angeles
3. University of Southern California
4. Northern Arizona University
5. Arizona State University 

Voters: Brad Armentor (Lousiana State University), Nick Beacher (Stony Brook University), Evan Bell (Santa Barbara Blacktips), Sean Beloff (University of Miami), Patrick Callanan (University of 
Rochester), Mitch Cavender (Lost Boys QC), Cooper Davis (Northern Arizona University), Jeremy Day (University of Richmond), Clay Dockery (New York Badassilisks), Devin Dutt (Carleton University), Chisa Tko-Br Egbelu (Rutgers University), Blain Falone (University of South Florida), David Fox (Emerson College), Craig Garrison (University of Texas-San Antonio), David Gilbert (Baylor University), Kyle Jeon (New York University), Allick Jorgensen (University of Central Florida), Nicolas Kubicki (University of Southern Mississppi), Erin Mallory (University of Maryland), Brain Nackasha (Eastern Florida State University), Ben Nadeau (QC Boston: The Massacre), Cody Narveson (University of Minnesota), Stephen Nettles (Rollins College), Sean Pagoada (Florida's Finest QC), Michael Parada (NYDC Capitalists), Jordon Parisher (Texas State University), David Prueter (Central Michigan University), Tye Rush (Riverside Quidditch), Brandon Scapa (Universtiy of California-Los Angeles), Sarah Sherman (University of Southern California), Ben Shipman (Pennsylvania State University), Colby Soden (University of Kansas), Ethan Sturm (Tufts University), Shenuque Tissera (Macaulay Honors College at CUNY), Tyler Walker (Ball State University), Tad Walters (Loyola University), Drew Wasikowski (Texas A&M University), Alex Wilson (University of Arkansas); 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Quidditch GameDay

Introducing Quidditch GameDay! Brought to you by The QuidKids.
You heard it right, Quidditch GameDay. GameDay's going to be at College Park, MD next weekend for Turtle Cup. Here's how I am hoping it's going to work:

1) During the break in between pool play and bracket play, there will be a roundtable recorded on video. I am currently recruiting people to be on the panel with me, but we will discuss pool play results, player performances, and predict bracket play for about 25 minutes.

2) Throughout the tournament, I'm going to let my friends Sam and Liam do sideline reports after the games. I'll get them people to interview and we'll talk about questions to ask. When I go back and edit the roundtable, I'll put in the approximately one minute clips of reports and interviews.

Hopefully it'll be posted by midweek next week and I know it's going to be great! Here's the link in case you're viewing this on mobile.

Friday, October 18, 2013

SoCal to Nawlins to the Big Apple: Preview 10/18

The season is in full swing and boy does it feel fantastic! The first regional championship is only a week away and I've been counting down the days until Turtle Cup. I have one more weekend where most of the information on here is second hand knowledge, observations from World Cup VI and opinions. A loaded schedule this weekend has teams from every United States region in action and will provide the first looks at major programs USC and UCLA, as well as the official season debuts of Texas, A&M and Lone Star. Hyped beater Peter Lee debuts for the Lost Boys as they look to reclaim their #2 spot in the Coaches Poll. Teams from the South are traveling out of region to test themselves, hoping for results that boost them out of the cellar in the quidditch community's regional rankings. With four of the Midwest's top teams competing at Phoenix Cup, teams will be looking to gain confidence, but avoid costly injuries. A very interesting interregional matchup looms between Kansas and Arkansas at Kansas Cup. Smaller tournaments, taking place up the Eastern coast, are mainly wide open and without a top 20 team. Could a new team breakout with a dominant tournament victory like UNC did at Minerva Cup about a month ago? We even get to see Middlebury. It's a great weekend everyone. Have an awesome time playing and a surprise is coming your way from me on Monday.

SCQC Fall Tournament
The preseason SCQC favorite, the Lost Boys QC (#3), should head into their first real test confident. Over the past week, I've been thinking a lot about the Lost Boys and whether they are built for a title. Previously, I thought no. It's not quite been an epiphany, but I now think that the Lost Boys could definitely be the best team in quidditch when the dust clears in Myrtle Beach. All of the Lost Boys' stars are great at multiple positions. Utility players are what makes the Lost Boys great. With the addition of Peter Lee, their beating corps is very elite. Amanda Nagy and Vanessa Goh, two of quidditch's best female chasers also double as top notch beaters. DiCarlo and Lin are experienced and respected seekers and chasers and I think we'll see Rodriguez develop as a good seeker this season too. Chris Seto, while a game changing beater, showed at THE Fantasy that can be a great chaser if he has to be too. The only weaknesses I see currently are male chaser depth and the lack of a great backup for Rodriguez. Jake Tieman or Vanessa Goh could become that great second option at keeper, but that would hurt their chasing depth even more. To focus on this weekend, the Lost Boys play crosstown competition UCLA in pool play and will surely get another top team (USC/Skrewts) in bracket play.

Best Case: Vanessa Goh repeats her Lumberjack Invitational MVP performance scoring like 30 PPG. Tony Rodriguez and Peter Lee play outstanding defense and the Lost Boys go undefeated, not even needing a DiCarlo/Lin snatch to beat the other top teams.

Worst Case: The Lost Boys struggle to find answers for Zach Luce and August Lührs. Upset in the finals, questions emerge about the SoCal community team and my epiphany looks stupid.

USC (#11) has a major plus this weekend and a major minus. Beater Spencer Gold will be playing with the team. Gold has always been a standout in the West, arguably the best Western beater that doesn't wear blue and yellow. Assisted by Nicky Guangorena and Nick Metzler, Gold will be crucial in leading the Trojans against the Lost Boys beaters if they meet in the finals. The major minus is that Harrison James, USC's best offensive player in my opinion, will not be playing. I tend to believe August Lührs and Ryan Parsons are better as offensive weapons than as the point player because Lührs lacks control and great ball handling and Parsons lacks freakish strength. Admittedly, I haven't seen David Demarest play in a long time. With what I am constantly hearing about him, Demarest could easily make up for the loss of James plus 10. If USC can win this tournament, they are going to really scary this season.

Best Case: USC wins the SCQC Fall Tournament. Gold is voted MVP and Demarest and Lührs each get a game-winning snatch against an elite team.

Worst Case: Showing no change from the end of last year, USC performs well but loses by a decent margin in the semifinals. Always without a key player, it's the loss of James this weekend that dooms the Trojans.

Losing all of their veterans and many of their first string players to graduation, UCLA (#11) will look to start anew this weekend. Zach Luce and Adam Richardson can carry this team into the top ten alone if they have to. Overwhelming ok teams on both ends of the pitch, Luce is basically the quidditch reincarnation of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Hopefully Dan Hanson keeps stats again this year, because Luce is poised to have an amazing scoring season. I'm talking like an average of 55 points per game. I know I've said this a thousand times, but he dropped 70 points on Baylor! Richardson delivers physicality at the front, forcing turnovers and disrupting the opposition's rhythm. With good support chasers like Corey Osto, Michael Binger and Katelynn Kazane, UCLA really needs to hope that their new players can develop if they want to have a shot at taking another trip to the finals. Also, Sarah Simko, who was thrown into the spotlight at World Cup due to injuries to other Bruin beaters, and Ryan Donohue need to become a feared beating duo. I don't expect them to be able to compete with the Lost Boys' beaters now, but they need to show improvement and maturation over the course of the season.

Best Case: UCLA upsets the Lost Boys in the final (after losing to them in pool play) on the back of 70 points from Zach Luce and a Michael Mahben snitch catch.

Worst Case: UCLA walks away looking like the third best California team. Questions float around the Bruin beating corps and the new recruits clearly aren't championship caliber recruits.

While at their full potential, the Silicon Valley Skrewts can compete with any of the teams above. However, they will be missing Kevin Oelze and Greg Weber this weekend. Offensive production has to be a huge question mark. While Willis Miles and Kyrie Timbrook will duel with the other beating corps, they don't have any offense to support. Expect low scoring, defensive struggles from the Skrewts this weekend.

Best Case: Realizing that a really tough defense and a snitch grab is their best formula for a winning record this weekend, the Skrewts beat the teams they should beat, but don't defeat the LA 3. 

Worst Case: Dropping a game to Riverside or Santa Barbara, the Skrewts lose in the quarterfinals.

Semifinals Lost Boys QC def. Silicon Valley Skrewts, UCLA def. USC
Finals Lost Boys QC def. UCLA

Wolf Pack Classic
Coming off a quiet exit at Breakfast Taco, Texas (#1) will begin their official defense of their title this weekend at the Wolf Pack Classic. UT will be tested early in the day against a full strength--or at least much closer to full strength--LSU. For Texas to be successful, Freddy Salinas can't be bothered by physical, opposing beaters like LSQC's Reed Duncan. Salinas has size and arm strength and when another beater is coming at him, he needs to shake the opposing player off and stay focused. If Texas is going to win this weekend, Chilton, Ghoddossy and Wright need to be putting up at least 20 PPG each, maybe higher. Also, watch to see how teams deal with young chaser Hector Peralez, who drew attention at Breakfast Taco.

Best Case: Two weeks of practice since Breakfast Taco and UT has already improved insanely. The Longhorns win Wolf Pack, beating both Lone Star and A&M along the way.

Worst Case: Texas is just not as good as their opponents in the finals (either A&M or Lone Star) and the Longhorns lose in the finals 130*-70.

Texas A&M (#4) really didn't play badly at Breakfast Taco. Their seekers just didn't come through. The Aggies will be without Dirk Hryekewicz and Luke Wigley this weekend, in addition to a couple of freshman. Look for who steps up to take the yellow headband this weekend. If new faces are going after the snitch and doing well, that's a good sign, because with the loss of Colin Tseng, Texas A&M needs a third head to their seeking hydra anyways. 

Best Case: Texas A&M wins Wolf Pack convincingly and takes the top spot in the Coaches Poll and Eighth Man Rankings afterwards.

Worst Case: Falling victim to inconsistent seeking, Texas A&M is eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals despite being up 20 points at the time.

I think the Lone Star QC (#2) hypetrain's going to crash this weekend. The community all-stars kind of got lucky last weekend. Their chasing corps looked like a fantasy team. I get that the players haven't played together much, but these are really terrific players and they should look better than a fantasy team. I hold them to a higher standard. A bright spot was the beating of Lensing, Duncan and Machala. If I am wrong and the Lone Star hypetrain chugs right through Louisiana, it will be because of those three.

Best Case: Lone Star eeks out another tournament victory, but still can't grab the number one spot in my Coaches Poll. They win on a snitch catch and don't convince voters.

Worst Case: AQ and the Mercenaries both give Lone Star close games in pool play and they lose badly in the semifinals to UT or A&M.

The South is weak. Or is it? We will likely receive some clues about that this weekend as 4 South teams and a bunch of Southern mercenaries take the trip to New Orleans to play the best of the Southwest. Florida is not just Dre Clements anymore, although he is as good as ever. Clements and chaser Jimmy Singer create a good one-two punch and as long as they don't make sloppy mistakes, UF should be kept in games against all except UT, A&M and Lone Star. Florida State lost many of their top players to Florida's Finest, but at Titan's Fury three weeks ago, held Florida's Finest to a 90-50 lead at the time of the snatch. At the same tournament, the Seminoles were also leading USF by 20 at the time of the snatch. If they can have better seeking results, Florida State could pull a big upset this weekend. The Noels are geauxing Tiger Hunting. The Mercs are lead by Sean Pagoada, the star of the season so far in the South. Depending on who else is there with him, the Mercs could be both a danger to upset teams and able to prove that the South isn't weak. 

Best Case: Southern teams or teams composed of mostly Southern players (Mercenaries) defeat LSU, AQ, Loyola and Tulane, going for the full sweep of non-elite Texas Wolf Pack teams. UF stays within 50 of Texas A&M in pool play. Southwestern players marvel at the performacnes of Clements/Singer and Pagoada.

Worst Case: Southern teams cannot beat LSU or AQ, and do not stand a chance against UT, A&M or Lone Star. The Florida teams manage wins over Tulane and Loyola.

Finals Texas A&M def. Texas
Semifinals Texas A&M def. Lone Star QC, Texas def. UF 

Phoenix Cup
Visiting from the South, Tennessee Tech will look to crash the oh-my-god-regionals-are-in-a-week party by winning Phoenix Cup. If you look at their newly updated Facebook page cover photo, you'll see a giant team that looks full of athletes in great uniforms. An early win over Central Michigan, a team that has players that will match TTU's physicality, would be a good step towards making up for the 60*-50 loss to Southern Illinois a few weeks ago.

Best Case: Tennessee Tech wins Phoenix Cup with key wins over Ball State and Ohio State. With lots of new, athletic players, I will scrambling tomorrow to find the names of these players as I watch on Rogue Sports TV (gonna buy my subscription tomorrow!).

Worst Case: A loss to Central Michigan in pool play and an exit of bracket play before the finals have people wondering about the South's runner up last season.

Central Michigan is ready to make the step into the top class in the Midwest, and maybe while a BGSU-esque run to the finals at Midwest Regionals would be more fun to hear about, I expect them to give a good shot this weekend too. David Prueter and David Wilbur, two powerful quaffle players with increasingly good control and ball handling, combine with top-tier beater Ashley Calhoun to create a steller trio. CMU's a contender!

Best Case: Central Michigan gives an established Midwest power an incredibly close match, but the other team ends up winning in the finals

Worst Case: Losing to TTU in pool play, Central Michigan gets a tough road to the finals that includes playing a team like Ohio State in the quarterfinals.

Ball State, BGSU (#13) and Ohio State will all cruise through pool play and end up the semifinals barring a matchup with either of two teams above. For Ball State, their newer players are starting to fit right in with the team style and returning players like Devon McCoy. Beaters John Lenderts and Trevor Campbell could easily be the best pair in the Midwest right now after what happened to BGSU's beaters. Speaking of the Falcons, it's a new year for BGSU and every week, the fact that they were a final four team at World Cup VI means less and less. Just ask the Coaches Poll. BGSU was leading a much less experienced Ball State team at Tournament of the Stars when the tournament was stopped, but now, Ball State is arguably a completely different team. Can Dan Daugherty keep putting up the points and distributing the quaffle so BGSU stays atop the Midwest? Anything short of a finals appearance wouldn't be good at all for last year's Cinderella. A team that has gradually improved over a long period of time, Ohio State now finds themselves in the very top tier in the Midwest. The Buckeyes, now even have a B team, the Mighty Bucks (fantastic name). For Ohio State, a team that has always seemed one step away from the best, a tournament victory would signal a new era of Ohio State quidditch in my opinion.
Semifinals Ball State def. BGSU, Central Michigan def. Ohio State
Finals Ball State def. Central Michigan

Kansas Cup
With tournaments going on around the country, the most interesting results come from the heartland this weekend at Kansas Cup. In addition to Kansas, Arkansas, and Northern Colorado could compete for the title this weekend. Arkansas, led by the high scoring tandem of Joey and Peter Reynebeau, are ready to break out this year.  Northern Colorado won the Rocky Mountain Championship a few weeks ago with outstanding play from keeper DeVaughn Gamlin. When you mix in Kansas' exciting chasing corps of Colby Soden, Grant Daigle, Wil Kenney and Jordan Callison, I see a very fun and unpredictable tournament to watch. 
Semifinals Arkansas def. Northern Colorado, Kansas def. Illinois State
Finals Arkansas def. Kansas

Poison Apple Invitational
The NYDC Capitalists (#15) will probably win this tournament but the order of BAQC teams after that is way up in the air. NYU, Hofstra and Macaulay each lost key players, (many to NYDC!) but also have received good recruiting classes full of excited underclassmen. While Hofstra's playing at home, I'll give the edge to Macaulay because of their outstanding seeking. Also watch out for Rutgers. Star player Chisa Egbelu turned heads at THE Fantasy and those Southwestern heads don't turn easily. When they, meaning the Southwest, are impressed by a player, I believe the hype.
Semifinals NYDC Capitalists def. Rutgers, Macaulay def. Hofstra
Finals NYDC def. Macaulay

Brotherly Love Cup IV
It'll be kind of weird not being at Brotherly Love Cup this year after attending the past two years, but the slate of teams was very disappointing. I can't blame teams for not attending though as the tournament didn't live up to expectations last year. The field size was too small. Penn State will run the table at this tournament winning every game by 100+. 
Finals Penn State def. Chestnut Hill

Gold Rush Cup 
I really don't know much about quidditch in the Carolinas besides watching UNC and the Tar Heels aren't even playing at Gold Rush Cup. I remember seeing a very phsycial Duke team playing in D2 of World Cup V, and after a bit of research I saw that they did ok last year in the CQC. I wonder if they have any of the same players I saw at WCV. Appalachian State, who had the same 5-1 CQC record last year as Duke, could also be a contender. My pick is Virginia Tech, though. The Hokies should've qualified for World Cup VI but didn't and kind of fell off the radar after that. Leading up to their big tournament, Kitty Cup, I think Virignia Tech can get the win this weekend.
Finals Virginia Tech def. Duke

Thursday, October 17, 2013

IQA 14

So this article is largely inspired by FIFA 14 and me imagining what it would be like to play a quidditch videogame.

Top Players
The current stars of the game. Game-changers. The players that your friends will not let you play with because they are too dominant. This focuses on quick match mode against a friend. Ratings on a scale of 0-100. Note: This is not JackthePhan's list of best players in the IQA. This is NOT (sorry, I left out that important word when I published) a list of players who would have the highest player ranking in a videogame. This is just a list of players who would be very good and fun to play with.

1. Stephen Bell. Expected to thrive as Lone Star's #1 keeper, Bell has outstanding agility and quickness that would make him a really fun player to play with. With a wide array of special moves and bursts of speed, your friends would hate trying to either get a legal tackle on him or hit him with a bludger. Bell is known to have tons of stamina, and unlike many players in Quidditch 14, would barely slow down after 5, 6, 7 games in a tournament. After blocking a shot or intercepting a pass aimed to a player behind the hoops, the videogame player could push the joystick straight ahead with Bell to lead Lone Star into a deadly transition offense. Overall: 86 

2. You know how when playing a sports videogame, you find yourself holding down sprint practically the whole game? Well, there is one quidditch player who actually plays at full speed all game and it is USC's August Lührs. Able to break, bounce or roll off tackles, Lührs would plow through defenses and score a lot of goals, creating a nightmare for your opponent. Then, with the game on the line, the snitch comes back to pitch and you pause the game to change Lührs to a seeker. Once he puts on the yellow headband, Lührs goes full throttle at the smaller snitch potentially ending the game before your opponent even gets to the snitch. Overall: 83

3. Are you hoping to completely shutout your opponent with execellent defense? Would a 100*-0 defeat be pure humiliation to your friend? Then play with Brittany Ripperger. A linchpin to the Baylor defense, Ripperger snuffs out any trouble and pounces on rebounds. Chances to score are going to be hard to come by for your opponent with Ripperger on the pitch, and they will need to play smart and precise to have a chance. Overall: 87

4. Sean Pagoada would be a player that you can play all positions with at an elite level. In need of scoring? Have Pagoada team with Austin Clooney and Sean Snipes to put some goals on the board as a chaser. Defense failing to stop the other team? Pagoada can put on the black headband to stop the bleeding. Snitch on the pitch, down by 20? Who do you put it as seeker? You guessed it. Pagoada. Possibly the best three-position utility player in quidditch, Pagoada can do whatever Florida's Finest needs to win. Your friend will struggle to find answers to his play over and over again over the course of the game. Overall: 84

Best Teams
The overall team ratings in Quidditch 14. (Here's a glimpse into how I would rank the teams in the IQA currently if all injuries were healed and teams were at full strength! Also, this negates team chemistry and other factors not having to do with the players' skill.)

Baylor 87
Lone Star 87
Texas 86
Texas A&M 86
Lost Boys 85
BU 84
Miami 83
Emerson 83
Maryland 83
NYDC Capitalists 83
UT-San Antonio 83
Florida's Finest 82
QC Boston: The Massacre 82
Ball State 82

Dynasty Mode Teams
These are the teams you want to be in Dynasty Mode. They create a challenge! These are teams that aren't elite currently, but would be fun to play with and could be elite if you take them in a videogame world and do some recruiting. 

1. Thundercats Quidditch. The Northern California community team has a great on-pitch leader in Nebraska Huggins, who displayed his great skill at Firemercs. With my sports videogame experience, I've had more fun playing with a great player on an ok team than a great player on a great team. You, as Huggins, would basically run a hero offense (at least for the first year in dynasty mode) and have a lot of fun doing it! A challenge for experienced players, Huggins would try to will his team to victories over the established California powers. 

2. Univeristy of Houston. Mainly to just recreate Phi Jamma Slamma.  After taking over UH, there would be no more regular goals. Every goal would be a dunk or alley oop. Pieces like Kelby Brooks and Hank and Justin Dugie are already in place and with the help of recruiting mode, Houston could be the Baylor/UTSA of 2014-15 and they would win with flair. Grueling Southwest tournaments week in and week out would be a great challenge for videogame player.

3. Paris Phénix. Who wouldn't want to be fan favorite, European Champion, Paris Phénix?! With players that can jump through hoops and a seeker with Tarzan on the back of his jersey, Paris has a good bit of athleticism. With you taking them over as the videogame player, you'll give them the strategy that they lack and using training mode to improve their fundamentals. Flying across the pond each year for the World Cup, Paris would improve as dynasty mode progressed. Maybe by the planned World Cup X, Paris would reach the finals as France's representative.

4. Middlebury College. As the gamer, you are trying desperately to recreate the first Middlebury dynasty. An ultimate recruiting challenge for the videogame player, you would be trying to prove that the little school that created this great sport could hang with the bigger current powerhouses. Could you win five World Cups in a row after practically starting a team from scratch? Big Challenge.

Goals to shoot for when you are bored with regular gameplay.

Score 10 goals in a game with a single player
Keep Bludger Control from brooms up to the snitch catch
Catch three snitches in one game
Complete 10 passes before scoring a goal
Hold the opposing team's star quaffle player to 0 points
Force 10 turnovers in one game 
Tackle 10 opposing players in a game with a single player
Win a game without making a single substitution

Things to Unlock
In Dynasty Mode, you can unlock several things during your career.

1. Invitation to a local conference. Your team is invited to regularly participate in meets of a group of teams. Your players show vast improvement as conference play progresses throughout the season, and you will likely find that by the end of the season, you'll be beating teams you lost to at the beginning of the season.

2. Fleet Brooms. Created by Eric Andres, your team instantly looks better than your opponents in Dynasty Mode. As your team gets used to them, you will start to see a significant gap in mobility between your team and opponents. Easier to use than regular PVC or wood brooms, your players will be slightly faster and more agile, giving your team the edge to go all the way.

3. Team Photographer. All of your teams best moments can be captured by an unlocked team photographer. Enabling an instant reply and screenshot feature, photos of your players leaping through hoops or catching a World Cup winning snitch can be saved and tweeted/instagrammed. 

4. The Tunnel. After a dramatic, long, high-stakes game, your teams' fans, and other spectators will form a tunnel for your players as they come off the pitch. Win or lose, this support is a great feeling and honor for a team even in a videogame!

5. JackthePhan. After 4 successful seasons, you, the videogame player, see that JackthePhan announced on his ESPN TV show, that he will coach for your team during the 2017-18 season. Your playbook is expanded, your players fix weaknesses due to long hours in the film room and you are given 3 keys to victory before every game.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quidditch Coaches Poll 10/15

World Coaches Poll
1. University of Texas
2. Lone Star QC
3. Lost Boys QC
4. Texas A&M University
5. Baylor University
6. Boston University
7. University of Texas-San Antonio
8. University of California-Los Angeles
9. Emerson College
10. University of Miami
11. University of Southern California
12. University of Maryland
13. Bowling Green State University
14. Florida's Finest QC
15. NYDC Capitalists

Top Five Others Receiving Votes: University of Kansas, Ohio State Univeristy, QC Boston: The Massacre, Ball State University, Lousiana State University

Regional Coaches Polls
Mid Atlantic
1. University of Maryland
2. Pennsylvania State University
3. NYDC Capitalists
4. Villanova University
5. QC Pittsburgh

1. Ball State University
2. Ohio State University
3. Bowling Green State University
4. University of Kansas
5. Central Michigan University

1. Boston University 
2. Emerson College
3. Tufts University
4. QC Boston: The Massacre
5. University of Rochester

1. University of Miami
2. Florida's Finest
3. University of Florida
4. Tennessee Tech
5. University of South Florida

1. University of Texas-Austin
2. Texas A&M University
3. Lone Star QC
4. Baylor University
5. University of Texas-San Antonio

1. Lost Boys QC
2. University of California-Los Angeles
2. University of Southern California
4. Arizona State University 
4. Northern Arizona University

Voters: Alex Amadol (Philadelphia Honey Badgers), Brad Armentor (Lousiana State University), Jacob Barrett (Florida Gulf Coast University), Evan Bell (Santa Barbara Blacktips), Sean Beloff (University of Miami), Patrick Callanan (University of Rochester), Mitch Cavender (Lost Boys QC), Jeremy Day (University of Richmond), Clay Dockery (New York Badassilisks), Chisa Tko-Br Egbelu (Rutgers University), Hank Dugie (Cougar Quidditch), Matt Dwyer (Miami University), Blain Falone (University of South Florida), David Fox (Emerson College), Craig Garrison (University of Texas-San Antonio), David Gilbert (Baylor University), David Hoops (Ohio State), Kyle Jeon (New York University), Allick Jorgensen (University of Central Florida), Nicolas Kubicki (University of Southern Mississppi), Erin Mallory (University of Maryland), Max Miceli (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), Katie Milligan (Bowling Green State University), Brain Nackasha (Eastern Florida State University), Ben Nadeau (QC Boston: The Massacre), Cody Narveson (University of Minnesota), Stephen Nettles (Rollins College), Sean Pagoada (Florida's Finest QC), Michael Parada (NYDC Capitalists), Tye Rush (Riverside Runners), Brandon Scapa (Universtiy of California-Los Angeles), Alex Scheer (University of Toledo), Dan Shapiro (University of Missouri), Landon Smith (Tennessee Technological University), Colby Soden (University of Kansas), Ethan Sturm (Tufts University), Shenuque Tissera (Macaulay Honors College at CUNY), Tyler Walker (Ball State University), Drew Wasikowski (Texas A&M University); 

Lone Star vs. UT Video Observations

Video of the unofficial Lone Star QC vs. University of Texas game at Breakfast Taco. Video credit to Brad Armentor! Here's what I saw!

Neither team was anywhere close to their potential top form. Both teams' passing was sloppy at times and the defenses had gaping holes. The bottom thirds of both teams (players 14-21 on the depth chart) are that big of a factor as the stars are carrying the team. While all of this is usual for a team that hasn't even started their official season, it shows that the two top teams in the country, according to the Coaches Poll, are vulnerable now.

Lone Star
Although they didn't have bludger control for a majority of the video, Lone Star's beaters completely and totally outplayed UT's beaters. Reed Duncan was constantly pestering the Longhorn beaters when his team was on offense. Duncan looked like he was really bothering them and forced them into making several errant throws, as well as taking their focus off playing defense. Lone Star's defense in the video was powered by Mollie Lensing. Although Texas looked like they had better passing accuracy and more chaser movement, Lensing was able to limit a lot of that. In the center of the defense, Lensing rushed all around her defensive half to beat Texas players left and right. She definitely lead the game in total beats. Hope Machala replaced her towards the end, and it was clear right away that there was no drop off in beating prowess.

Stephen Bell and Chris Morris look outstanding and will likely be Lone Star's greatest offensive weapons. Bell and Morris played great in transition and each tacked on a goal during the 10 minutes shown in the video. Bell and Connor Drake held down the defense with solid play in the keeper zone, making key tackles and scooping up loose balls, to end UT possessions.

The Texas beaters managed to hold bludger control but were not too impressive. They certainly weren't terrible, as there were several instances where they made big, goal stopping beats. Very prepared for Lone Star's fastbreak, the UT beaters probably prevented Stephen Bell from scoring an extra 30 points. However, the pair wasn't able to shake off Duncan. He really affected their performance. Maybe better communication between the pair would've been the answer. I don't know. They'll need to figure something out though, because teams will start to repeat what Duncan did as a tactic to beat the champs.

Texas has a really strong core of quaffle players. The line of Kenny Chilton, Augie Monroe and Hector Peralez showed a lot of potential at the end of the video. On one possession in particular around the 9 minute mark, Peralez set a few screens for Monroe, then rolled off towards the middle of the pitch. After receiving an pin-point accurate pass from Monroe, Peralez drove through the middle and barely missed the shot. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review Preview 10/11

 Review: Weekend of 10/5-10/6
Although this is about five days late, last weekend was very interesting around the country. The season is here and in full swing! The QuidKid is here to break down the madness from Lumberjack to Trial by Fire. We now know more things about the top teams in the Southwest and have many more clues about who is gonna come and take it. #1 in the country lost, but to great competition and #2 won a tournament championship but against tier two teams. With no new coaches poll this week, I'll give some of my thoughts. Enjoy the recaps and opinions!

Lumberjack Invitational
As expected, the Lost Boys (#2) went into Northern Arizona and dominated, despite having an imcomplete roster. The California community team showed their offensive might, putting up at least 150 points in every game except their eleven minute semifinal against Arizona. New chasers Jeff Lin and Vanessa Goh shined, providing the terrific ball handling the Lost Boys have needed to become elite. I think that the these results confirm that the Lost Boys are a top ten team, but no more yet. I still do not have confidence in their ability to defend against giant keepers like Zach Luce or August Lührs, especially after they allowed 120 points to NAU. In two weeks, when they play UCLA (#6) and USC (#10), we'll know if they are worthy of their lofty number two ranking.
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
Although Arizona State defeated Northern Arizona twice, comments surrounding NAU's performance have generally been more positive than comments surrounding ASU's. From what I've heard, the Narwhals showed both a lot of improvement from last year and lots of potential for improvement going forward this year. However Arizona State seemed to run strange beating strategies and rotations, including limiting star beater Duston Mazzella's play time, that makes me doubtful of their ability to make a run at big tournaments. New recruit Aaron Hill is a bright spot for 
the Sun Devils, as he proved to a rock defensively and a sound replacement for someone nicknamed "Stonewall." Alex Makk was spectacular as always, playing both chaser and beater.
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
MQC Meet
Emerson (#9) took 2 out of 3 games from BU (#8) leveling their season head-to-head record against the Terriers to 2-2. While both sides were missing a few important chasers, the losses evened out creating a series of matchups that we can accurately judge. David Foxx starred for Emerson with 8 goals and BU's Brendan Stack one-upped Foxx for a series high 9 goals. Each game came down to a snitch pull with Emerson's Nate Charles and Sean Caldwell getting the snatches in the first and last games. While neither team was at their best, Emerson showed that they aren't going to let BU win any of these rivalry games easily. Seeking, which has turned into a real strength for Emerson, might be the edge that the Lions need to finally dethrone BU in a big tournament.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Trial by Fire/Nittany Lion Cup
The main thing Trial by Fire and the Nittany Lion Cup did for me, was make me super excited to see the NYDC Capitalists (#15), and the Maryland (#12) face off for the Mid Atlantic crown. While NYDC played against the best of Canada, Maryland made quick work of the middle tier in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Looking at the scores, NYDC's defensive performance wasn't too impressive to me. The Capitalists allowed 100 points each to Gee-Gees Quidditch and McGill. While those two are definitely the best Canada has to offer, I generally regard them as a tier below Maryland. I think of Gee-Gees and McGill as in the same category as Penn State and Ball State, two teams Maryland handily beat. I think NYDC has a more talented roster than the Terps, but the results this weekend bumped Maryland past them in my mind.
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
In Canada, I see a three horse race for the fast approaching Canadian Cup. McGill, Gee-Gees and Carleton were reviewed well after Trial by Fire each posseing potent offensive weapons and skilled beater lines. McGill impressed, with players like defensive, physical force Patrick Qi Wang and chaser Andrew Asejibutu. Gee-Gees, who had several players go to the Ottawa Maple Rush, are developing a new team reputation for physicality and gave NYDC a big scare 120^-100*. Carleton, who are likely under the radar after Trial by Fire, arguably played the best. Boosted by very experienced players at every position, Carleton went undefeated in their pool, thumped Queen's 140*-0, and then almost beat McGill. The fourth World Cup qualifying spot is going to be a fight between Queen's, led by Chris Radojewski and the Ottawa Maple Rush, led by Jamie Lafrance.
Photo by Michael E. Mason
Breakfast Taco
Lone Star QC (#4) defeated UTSA 120*-110 in their debut at Breakfast Taco, but the runners up clearly stole the show. Powered by explosive chasers Craig Garrison, Cullen Carter and Luke Langlinais, UTSA earned the number two seed going into bracket play and advanced to the finals. With a promising beating duo in Chris Scholz and Jacob Wilson and several good female players, could have a chance at actually defeating Lone Star or any of the other "Big Four" teams at an official tourament. Garrison is terrific leader of this promising UTSA team and if it weren't for a series of bad cramps he got in the finals, UTSA might be Breakfast Taco champions. 

Otherwise, the reigning champions, Texas (#1), somehow made it through a pool with Texas A&M, Lone Star and Baylor. UT's chasing corps, despite all the losses, showed that they could stay with top teams, but all three games were in snitch range at the end. Returning chasers Aryan Ghoddossy, Audrey Wright and Ryan Davis stepped up into bigger roles and based on what I've heard, beater Freddy Salinas might be able to keep UT's beating corps as one of the best nationally. Then there's new recruit, chaser Hector Peralez. From the way people are talking about him, he sounds like a phenom. Only a freshman, Peralez might not only become a first string chaser this season, but could end up as the face of Texas Quidditch for the middle part of this decade. There is no player is the world that I want to see worse than Peralez. I want to say that he is going to be an All-American by the end of the year, but I haven't seen him, so I will have to wait. He looks like a natural athlete and with Augie Monroe as a mentor, all aboard the Hector Peralez hypetrain!! (Peralez is in the middle).
Photo by Becky Schmader
Let's not forget about the winners, Lone Star QC. I feel like Lone Star could only have done bad things this weekend. People expected them to win. Rebounding from a close loss to UT in pool play, Lone Star defeated the Aggies and Longhorns in bracket play before escaping defeat to UTSA. It' sclera to me that Lone Star is a very dangerous team to be in snitch range with. Their players are cool under pressure and put on a solid seeking performance in clutch situations this weekend. While chemistry between former teammates probably propelled Lone Star to the tournament championship, lack of chemistry between the team as a whole was a problem. As the season continues, strategic and athletic teams like UT and A&M will surely be able to exploit that problem
Photo by Becky Schmader
Texas A&M (#5) will continue to fly under the radar after Breakfast Taco. The Aggies just came out on the wrong end of the snatch against UT and Lone Star. While I could raise questions about A&M's normally reliable seeking game, I think that they'll figure it out and Breakfast Taco was just a bad weekend for the A&M seekers. What Texas A&M did prove, is that they can hang with the best teams in the Southwest. Scrolling through pictures from the tournament, Texas A&M has some new, big, athletic guys. According to captain Drew Wasikowski, old players who were not improving were cut in favor of newer, more athletic players with more potential. Also looking to take defensive dependence off veterans Drew Wasikowski and Kifer Gregorie, the Aggies are in it for the long haul this season.
Photo by Becky Schmader
By the looks of the scores, Baylor (#3) is going to have a rough fall season compared to what was expected. The Bears were out of snitch range of UT and UTSA and failed to catch the snitch in either game. Even worse, LSU was able to stay within snitch range of Baylor with a very depleted roster. None of this is the fault of bad strategy or poor performance. With a loaded disababled list, Baylor is just going to have to grind out games until they reach full strength. Even with their current situation, Baylor is still a top 15 team in my mind, but I don't think they are a threat to win any tournaments until injuries heal. Before we count them out, what team was plagued by injuries last fall? UT. What team won World Cup? UT.

Preview: Weekend of 10/12-10/13
Preview time. This weekend's pretty mellow, but there should be interesting developments in the Midwest and South. With the Midwest Regional only two weeks away, the Dumbeldore Memorial Tournament will be the first serious look at several contenders in their own region. Although the tournament has several big names team attending like Ball State, Marquette, Michigan and Michigan State, the rest of the field is very weak. With the right seeding and bracket play matchups, a middling team like Missouri could end up in the finals. In the South, FGCU is hosting the Dunk City Invitational. This tournament is awesome just because of the name. For those who don't know, the FGCU men's basketball team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen last year as a 15 seed. They beat Georgetown, San Diego State and were leading UF well into the first half in the Sweet 16. They were so fun to watch because of all of the high flying dunks and alleys (alleys!) and it all happened it Philadelphia! Good name and scheduled matchups between USF, Miami and Florida's Finest equals a tournament to watch. 

Dumbledore Memorial Tournament
The reigning Midwest Regional champions, Marquette, will be making their season debut. Coming off a bad World Cup VI performance, I'm eager to see how many of Marquette's players have returned. From the talented frontman, Bobby Roth to the vicious keeper Pat Doyle, Marquette hits as good as any other team. A serious lack of beater strategy doomed the Golden Eagels at World Cup. If players like Roth, Doyle, Cecilla Ware, Carolina Villa, and Joe Simonelli are still there, Marquette should plow through the teams at the Dumbeldore Tournament no matter how bad their beating is. 
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
Best Case: With a strong cast of returning players hungry to avenge their embarrassment, Marquette wins every game with pure physicality and wins the tournament. 

Worst Case: Not many of Marquette's hard hitting players are still there. Marquette looks about even with teams like Ball State and Michigan State. They are eliminated in the semifinals.

After a mediocre, 2-2 performance at Nittany Lion Cup, Ball State will return to their home region this weekend for regionals preparation. Ball State was carried by beaters John Lenderts and Trevor Campbell. Lenderts and Campbell will not be going against the likes of Scott Axel and Ricky Nelson this weekend, so expect an even more dominant performance. Ball State's offense never really caught fire in State College, but against familiar opponents, Ball State should be motivated and very flamable. 
Photo by Monica Wheeler
Best Case: Lenderts and Cambell provide great defense while Devon McCoy and Erin Kelly score points in transition. Ball State wins the final over a strong Marquette team.

Worst Case: Ball State tries to out hit a dominant Marquette team in the finals, but cannot match the Golden Eagels and end up playing very sloppily. Ball State places second. 

Michigan and Michigan State both did interesting things at World Cup VI. For Michigan, it was a close game with Texas A&M. For Michigan State, it was a Sweet 16 run and being a snitch grab away from the Elite 8. Both teams lost key players and will be working to train new players and develop new team identities. As everyone is the Midwest knows, regionals are only two weeks away and two very proud programs are not going to be embarassed at a regional championship. Although both teams should safely qualify for one of the 15 spots, Dumbledore is a warmup. 

Best Case: Great new recruits lead Michigan and Michigan State through a relatively weak field. On snitch grabs, they both advance to the finals.

Worst Case: Michigan and Michigan State look like very middling teams. They each take two or three losses including at least one blowout and one loss to a bad team.

My Prediction
Quarterfinals Marquette def. NIU, Michigan State def. Michigan, Ball State def. Toledo, Missouri def. Mercs
Semifinals Marquette def. Michigan State, Ball State def. Missouri
Finals Marquette def. Ball State

Dunk City Invitational
Florida's Finest (#11) played very well at their debut tournament, winning the championship and going undefeated. Sean Pagoada and Austin Clooney starred as offensive playmakers and clutch seekers. Beater Bobby Padan, who played great defense at the Titan's Fury Tournament, will be joined by Daniel Velazquez this weekend. Dunk City will be Velazquez's Florida's Finest debut. Florida's Finest will start off their day with two difficult games against Miami and USF and also has FGCU later, who will be looking to make an upset on their home field.
Photo by Kat Ignatova/IQA Staff
Best Case: Florida's Finest rolls over Miami and USF en route to another easy championship. The Florida's Finest hypetrain gains momentum and they assert themselves as the Sunshine State's top team.

Worst Case: Losing to either Miami or USF early, doubts are raised about the community team. The same team beats Florida's Finest again in the finals.

I believe that same team could very well be Miami. I think chaser Sean Beloff is one of the most underrated players in the game and maybe the best player is his region. I don't know why everyone's down on Miami. I have the feeling that they didn't play to their potential at the Titan's Fury Tournament and were happy to walk away quietly after being beat by UF. Miami has also apparently gotten lots of new recruits, and at a program like Miami, I bet a good bit are pretty athletic. 
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

Best Case: Miami breaks out at Dunk City, looking like the team that dominated the South last year. Lots of dunks are thrown down as the Hurricanes win the championship.

Worst Case: Miami is beaten badly by Florida's Finest to start the day and loses again later on. They look like the team that Southern Coaches ranked as fifth in the region.

My Prediction
Semifinals Florida's Finest def. FGCU, Miami def. USF
Finals Florida's Finest def. Miami