Thursday, October 11, 2007

Canadian University Nationals 2007- Men's Preview


CUUC 2007 has quickly approached, and will be taking place in Vancouver this weekend. The main tournament site is right here.

Open Preview

First off, the seeds and schedule are listed on the upa site. It would be nice to see CUPA work towards having a similar tournament details capability in the coming year.

Here's my brief preview of the teams (in order of seed per pool) and their chances to the extent of my knowledge.
Pool A
Toronto- The defending national champions are looking to reclaim their title. Whether you like the eligibility rules at CUUC or not, the grad students and exceptions used by this team greatly complement a team with solid undergraduate talent. The positives are the depth of talent, experience playing and winning at this level, and the solid leadership. The negatives going into the tourney is the expected loss of players due to travel costs, and the expected absence of GOAT players who will be focusing on Florida after qualifying last weekend. The spiders have decided to spin a web in Vancouver, but they will face a much tougher UBC squad than the skeleton crews that travel east for other nationals.

Alberta - This team participated at CUUC 2006 in Ottawa, and failed to make a lot of noise. They finished no higher than 13th. One more year of experience, and one cheaper plane ticket this time around might lead to better results. Given the growth of Edmonton, the existance of a men's competitive team in the town (EMU), the athletic resume of the school in other sports, and the sheer size of the school, this is a program with much promise.

Saskatchewan- If you saw this team play last year at nationals, you can understand why they might be a little insulted by being ranked lower than Alberta. Last year, they were seeded low and destroyed weak teams en route to a crossover game with Western. The lost their chance to sneak into quarterfinals, but they gave the prairies a solid name with their huck game and their team athleticism. If the roster is similar, expect them to beat seed.

UBC C- Absolutely no pressure for UBC's third team. How deep is Vancouver's high school and university programs when UBC has three teams and SFU has a team? This team likely won't be world beaters, but they'll get some great experience, and look to upset one A team at least.
Pool B

UBC A- Expect this team to dominate their pool. One of the posters on this site brought up the fact that past squads attending recent nationals were missing some players- Let this tourney be a showcase for the school. One of the things I detest in ultimate is seeing young/talented teams not play their best at all times. I hope the Thunderbirds bring the intensity and help raise the training/development of other teams.

Queens- This is not your older brother's Mothership. They proved this with their 5th place finish at Easterns. The team is going through a lot of change after a dynasty in Kingston. After watching them lose to Western at CEUUC 2007, I saw plenty of players and pieces, but their was a leadership void and time is needed for it to come together. I have seen Miles Wilson and Ernie Lin for several years, and they are great college players. Lin will make every effort in his home city.

McMaster- Okay, I'll just say what many have told me- the response to their new jerseys is luke warm at best. It's a collar versus no collar debate. To me, it doesn't matter. They looked much better skill wise this year, and they gave 2nd place CEUUC 2007 finisher Guelph a super close game a month ago (9-8 loss). This is a wide open tourney, so do they have enough talent and handlers when we get to quarterfinals?

UBC B- I think this team will be a proverbial grenade which McMaster and Queens steps on.


Pool C

McGill/MUT- Listed in UPA under the B team name. However, I expect it to be composed with many of the same zone happy guys that finished 2nd last year at Nationals. McGill had a disappointing CEUUC 2007 this year, getting pounded by a Carleton and finishing out of the top 3. I think they have a nice seed, and its up to them to hold it. Victoria and SFU have every intention of upsetting them.

Victoria- Two of the top reasons for eastern teams to attend nationals this year, in my opinion, is to play for a national title, and to play UBC. The other reasons are to enjoy Vancouver and to get a rare glimpse at Victoria's new players that will hit the scene. There are a lot of "Eastern" people who spend time in Victoria. They tell tales of goaltimate, coed tourneys and players who are not the most athletic and training driven, but are just "good at ultimate". I have nothing to go on for this team, but I would not be surprised to see them in the semis. I also hope it's not the aggro/chippy type of squad Victoria has had in past CUC coed versions. Does anyone remeber the chick from Lucky who mooned the crowd and threw a disc into the stands? I forget what the disc had written on it....

Simon Fraser University- The SFU clam are making an appearance. I have SFU's excellent co-op program to thank for two reasons. One, they sent a huge number of students/players to Ottawa for co-op and these students ran the pick up ultimate games on Parliament Hill that lead to my introduction to the sport and the formation of the MAUFO Parliamentarians dynasty. Secondly, the coop program lead to the meeting of my fiance in Ottawa.. another huge bonus.

Burnaby's finest are not as advanced as their UBC opponents, but expect them to continue to use the Vancouver talent pool and near bye US/Canada competition to develop into a strong team nationally.

Ottawa- This serves as a "last ride" for several players who have played with the Ottawa team for many years now. The core of the team has its star players (Eric "The Show" Morrow is nearly unstoppable as a cutter), but a majority have battled injuries, lack of leadership, and simply personal skill limitations. However, a new core is developing on both the A and B team, and leaders have been in place since last year to flesh out talent and results. I really think Ottawa should strive to be a tough opponent in the quarters, and to finish in style.

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