Saturday, March 15, 2014

Less Obvious Team USA Candidates

The Team USA application deadline is today. With players across the country trying to decide whether to throw their name in the pool and the selection committee beginning serious discussion soon, I wanted to list a couple of less-obvious Team USA candidates. First, you'll quickly notice that all of the players I listed are male chasers or keepers. That's because I believe there is a (somewhat) clear hierarchy at every other position in terms of Global Games selections. Second, while World Cup VII performances will undoubtedly influence the selection committee immensely, the following players deserve consideration regardless of their World Cup performance because of the specific skills they can bring to the table.

Dre Clements (UF)
Known best for leading a heroic comeback against Middlebury in the World Cup V final, Dre Clements' game has gone far past the hero-balling that got all of Icahn Stadium chanting his name this season. More than any team I've seen, UF has stressed passing, sometimes appearing as if they have been instructed to complete five passes before shooting like a elementary school basketball team. Other middle-tier teams that pass that frequently often fall apart, a victim of poor execution. However, UF makes it work, stringing together successful possession after successful possession due to the linchpin that is Dre Clements. 

If, as selection committee member Ethan Sturm alluded to in his podcast The Seeker Floor, the selection committee is looking for a chaser who can fit seamlessly into a fluid offense, with lots of passing, Clements is an amazing choice from the South. 

Beto Natera (Lone Star QC)
Through all of Lone Star QC's roster inconsistencies, Beto Natera has been a rock in the chaser game, providing support for LSQC's point players around midfield. I strongly believe that Natera's presence in the "backcourt" with Stephen Bell, Chris Morris and Connor Drake has enhanced their confidence and allowed them to achieve their full potential at the point. Like a star background singer (think of the Academy Award winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom) or a top advisor to the President, Natera doesn't get the credit for how he influences the final product--in this case, LSQC's on field performance--but the role he plays cannot be understated. 
Photo by Lauren Carter
While composed of many talented players, Team USA will not have perfect chemistry at first. I'd like to think that the international countries, specifically Canada, the UK and Australia, will be able to force more defensive pressure at the 2014 Global Games through better point defense or more aggressive beating, and in that case, the USA's keepers must have support in the backcourt. Natera provides backcourt support for some of the best keepers in the game and is an adequate driver too. 

If the "maximum two player per team" prevents Natera from directly earning a spot on Team USA, he should at least be considered for the reserve squad.

Eric Reyes (Texas State)
Although he has led one of the most active social media campaigns, Texas State tank Eric Reyes still doesn't feel like an obvious selection to me because of 1) the amount of good players on good teams in the Southwest and 2) the requirement to have at least two players from regions not called the Southwest. Reyes is also competing with LSU power chaser Brad Armentor, who seems more likely to earn his second selection to Team USA with each passing day. 

However, Reyes deserves to be on Team USA because his driving is unstoppable. Texas State might be moving towards a more complex offense with developing weapons like Richard Kemp, Justin Lopez and Tyrell Williams, but watching Reyes take over and drive is a thing of beauty. While passing must be stressed in the selection of a Team USA, the selection committee must not create a team that is  content to pass around the perimeter and chuck up alley oops. If the opposing defense gets into any rhythm, Reyes has the ability to completely blow it up with earthshaking tackle-breaking and expert bludger-blocking. 

Zach Luce (UCLA) 
Photo by Kat Ignatova
In a field of many talented keepers, UCLA's Zach Luce has almost been forgotten this season due to a quiet Western Regional Championship performance from his team. Luce is one quidditch's most prolific scorers, floating mid-range shots through the hoops past baffled keepers. Many of the favorites to receive keeper spots on Team USA (Tony Rodriguez, Stephen Bell, Augustine Monroe) are keepers who love to play on the fastbreak, dazzling their opponents with speed, vision and pinpoint accurate passing. With Luce at the helm, Team USA would play at a drastically different pace from the fastbreak attack perfected by the other keepers. There will probably be chasers and beaters on Team USA who are more comfortable and experienced with a slow-paced, half court game. Those players could be paired on a line with Luce.

If the Team USA selection committee wants to show the international teams that different strategies and styles have flourished in the United States, while ensuring that players who prefer a slow-paced game are happy, Luce should be included.

If you guys liked this article and would like me to write about more less obvious Team USA candidates (even for other positions), let me know! You never could be the next player featured!

No comments:

Post a Comment