Friday, June 4, 2010

Natties Part 2 of ?

Part 2: Texas, Pitt, Carleton

After the UNCW game, we sent everyone off on their own to ramble around for four hours. In retrospect, it probably would have been better if we'd sent everyone back to the hotel to lie in the AC, but it was nice to get to visit.

I had a long chat with Gambler about women's ultimate and then walked over to see watch Julia Weese-Young (of Syzygy and Riot) coach the Wash U women. When I get there, she's in the huddle coaching her team and momming Ayla, who needs a nap. But then Ayla consented to let me hold her for the whole second half, playing with my Clown Tent bracelet and walking around after dandelions. It made me miss Lucie and soothed the pain a little at the same time. I am impressed and amazed at the job Julia did while working as a mother at the same time. Both she and Tina McDowell (Colorado) balanced momming and coaching all season long with awesome success. I think about how distracted and stupid I am when I've coached with my kids around and I'm not sure how they manage it, but they do.

Then I scouted the Pitt-Texas game.

We met up at our tent (thanks Cheryl!) at 4 to warm up and I quickly decided we didn't need but 40 minutes of warm up on account of the heat, so we faffed around until 4:50 or so and then warmed up. Lindsey and Terry (Texas coaches) were miffed that we didn't want to flip, but seemed to get over it after Ryann and I apologized 90 times. Like most of our pool play games, we rolled Texas, but it was a lot of work. They are a huck-it-and-make-you-go-70 team and while we got the d, we weren't as efficient at going 70 as I would have liked. I guess that's the beauty of the huck-and-70 strategy. (Shoot, that's how Syzygy '00 won.) The biggest bummer here was two bad injuries. First, Morgan got a concussion from sitting on a woman's head (I'll add the photo later if it ever appears) and then Aubri popped her hamstring stepping in a hole. Morgan's was pretty scary as she flipped over the woman, smashing to the ground. I was right on top of the play and the first words out of her mouth were: "I can't see." She recovered fairly quickly, although we sent her back to the hotel with Gordy to lie down and rest. The whole thing discombobulated the coaching staff and we ended up eating a couple time outs to get it sorted out.

Somewhere in this sequence we switched to playing our junk with two deeps. Since Texas was going to huck anyway, we just set two players back and packed the rest in. The mid-range game was left wide open, but Texas never took advantage of it. Final score 15-3.

Then we won the fields. Cheryl and LT came through with a huge stack of pizza, the sun went down and we just hung out and chilled. We won the fields, finally sending two cars of Pranksters to a silver medal around 9:15. Take that, Middlebury! Since winning the fields is one of my three favorite things about ultimate, I was happy.

We got up the next morning and straggled to the fields. Fugue + AM = Ugly. Still, we did it. Early in the season we'd struggled Sunday morning (Hello, Eau Claire!) but we were so focused in Madison, our late arrival and sluggishness didn't matter. Our warm up is fast enough to get us physically ready to play in thirty minutes and our focus took care of the mental.

I knew from watching Pitt play that we wanted to stop Christie Lawry (#1) and Kayla Kleynen (#14.) I also had seen that they were a classic small team: less about offensive structure and more about knowing each other and your teammates. (Western Washington and UCSB are also great examples of this strategy.) Both Christie and Kayla have lovely forehands that'll shred you on the i-o break or on the shelfed-out 40 yarder, so we forced backhand. We played our junk as well and that also gave them fits. In the end, I don't think they were ready for our speed of play and the final was 15-4 or 15-5.

At some point during the Pitt game (although maybe it was the Texas game,) we banished the team to the tent. We took our whole sideline, all our players and said: "If you're not playing, you're in the tent." It took Gordy,Ryann and I a bit to remember to call forces and ups and all that old-school rookie stuff and it took the team a bit to find their focus without the sideline to support them, but it really made a difference physically.

In 2002, Sockeye went to Sarasota and handed everyone their asses for two days. Then, on Saturday we played Ring in the semifinals, Giora had heatstroke and was lying under a table and Pat Hard killed murdered us. Then, in 2004, we went back with tent, coolers, ice towels and won. That's a story for another day, but success at a four day tournament is so dependent on just surviving the first couple of days as healthy and freshly as possible.

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