Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Lack of Stats in Ultimate- Is it Hindering Your Team?

Nation, (stealing Colbert's bit)

In terms of player evaluation (which was a large part of my masters studies), Ultimate is very much in its infant stages. As the game develops, I am sure that this will improve. However, as it stands, the selection process of players for teams or countries is quite simplistic. Have some tryouts. Watch the match-ups. Trust your minds eye.

The problem with the mind's eye is that it lies. We all love the teammate who can lay out and make d's. When we win, he/she gets a lot of credit. But over the course of a game, a tournament, a season, that d means a lot less in determining the outcome of our team's finish than our mind believes. Inefficient players who make lots of d's but also make too many drops and throwaways might be overrated by the time tested scouting system. Sadly, they sometimes get the edge in team selection over a more efficient, less flashy player.

Hey, if you can choose between almost equally efficient players, take the game breaking athlete! I just think we're currently unaware of how efficient our players are.

Teams are restricted by resources. It costs money and time to have games taped and analyzed. Player stats are not tracked even during tourney games for most competitive teams. Even worse, we sometimes hear the "stats are for nerds" line from the same people who say they'll seek any legal competitive edge to win. If you're too lazy to learn or stupid to fathom, just admit it and step aside. Insult gun back into its holster.

Improving player evaluation will take time. Someone will lead the charge and get an edge, and then others will try to copy the success. Look at baseball and Sabermetrics. Other pro leagues are trying to emulate baseball's "moneyball" ideas (Facing tougher challenges due to the organic nature of their sports).

How do we improve evaluation? Find someone/some way to track your teams stats. Develop working groups of ultimate players with the educational background to use the data.

I am more than willing to participate.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Discrepancy in Canadian Ultimate- Some VERY Simple Numbers

The east suffered a crushing blow at Nationals 2007.

How bad?

They didn't just take the division titles and the worlds berths. It was worse than that my friends. Western teams came into Toronto and consistently finished better than east teams in almost all Divisons:

AT= Atlantic Teams
QC= Quebec Teams
ON= Ontario
PR= Prarie teams from Manitoba or Saskatchewan
AB= Alberta Teams
BC= British Columbia teams

20 Teams (2 AT, 4 QC, 8 ON, 2 PR, 1 AB, 2 BC)
Top 8 Breakdown: (O AT, 1 QC. 2 ON, 2 PR, 1 AB, 2 BC)
Note: 100% of Western teams made the top 8.

16 teams (1 AT, 3 QC, 9 ON, 1 AB, 2 BC)
Top 8 Breakdown (1 AT, 1 QC, 3 ON, 1 AB, 2 BC)
Note: 100% of Western teams made the top 8.

20 Teams ( 3 AT, 6 QC, 6 ON, 1 PR, 2 AB, 2 BC)
Top 8 Breakdown (O AT, 2 QC, 4 ON, 0 PR, 0 AB, 2 BC)
Note: 40% of West teams made it to top 8

11 teams (0 AT, 2 QC, 6 ON, 1 PR, 0 AB, 2 BC)
Top 8 Breakdown (0 AT, 1 QC, 4 ON, 1 PR, 0 AB, 2 BC)
Note: 100% of West teams made it to top 8

12 Teams (1 AT, 1 QC, 6 ON, 1 PR, 2 AB, 1 BC)
Top 8 Breakdown (0 AT, 1 QC, 4 ON, 1 PR, 1 AB, 1 BC)
Note: 75% of West teams made top 8
Total West Teams: 20
West Teams in Top 8: 16
Percentage of West teams in the Top 8: 80%

Total Ontario Teams: 35
Teams in Top 8: 17
Percentage of teams in the Top 8: 48.6 %

Total Quebec Teams: 16
Teams in Top 8: 5
Percentage of teams in the Top 8: 31.2%

Total Atlantic Teams: 7
Teams in Top 8: 2
Percentage of teams in the Top 8: 29%

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Discussion- Who gets picked up for Worlds?


Now that the World berths have been secured in Canada, the names of who will be picked up for Worlds in 2008 are being discussed.
  • What does each Worlds team need?
  • Who do they want?
Another question for discussion:
  • Should World teams keep the same roster that won the berth, or should they have full tryouts?

Monday, August 20, 2007

CUC 2007 - Juniors Analysis

Of all of the divisions, I am least educated on this years juniors division. However the very nature of annual change in the divisions leads to great interest for fans. New players each year lead to greater chances for upsets and surprises.

On a positive note, the number of teams and the equality within the juniors program seems to be improving. With regression analysis, I would hypothesize that improved coaching and larger levels of junior registration in local leagues are key factors. For example, I was happy to see Barrie with a strong and enthusiastic entry.

The semi finals featured the top four ranked teams from pool play. In one semi final, Backbone (Vancouver, and a great Juniors name BTW!) defeated OJ (Ottawa) 14-7. The other semi saw DIRT (Toronto) defeating perennial powerhouse MOFO (Winnipeg) 13-5. Ottawa managed to oust MOFO in the bronze medal game.

Setting up a great finish for BC teams in all CUC 2007 divisions, Backbone won a hotly contested final against hometown DIRT 16-15. Wow, that's a tough one. I just hope the leadership made the players realize the significance of the outcome (little) and the benefit of the experience (great).

After all results, it became apparent that west was indeed best at these Canadian nationals. Not only did Vancouver win in the Open, Womens, Mixed and Juniors categories, they took home a bronze in the Masters divisions. Can you think of a major league franchise that wins at virtually every level of minor and major league baseball? How often is it that a team wins the NHL's Stanley Cup and the AHL championship (Rare)? We're dealing with teams and not cities, but I hope you get my point.

I can sum up the Vancouver dominance in one word. Scary. Also of note in future postings will be the overall performance of other western provinces. Teams from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan flew under the radar, but placed very well across the divisions. I look forward to your feedback.

CUC 2007- Masters Analysis

Very happy to see the results of each division from CUC 2007 up on the tourney web page. I hope players of all teams will look them up and update the organizers about missing scores. Truthfully I might add. :)

CUC 2007 was a qualifying tournament for the World Championships in Vancouver next year. As expected, this lead all contending teams to make an appearance, with a full roster. Never was this more apparent than in the Masters division. Many great players who might normal play another division chose to play Masters and get a shot at Worlds. Thus, the division benefited.

Going into the tourney, many predicted that 3 teams would serve as the benchmark- Retro from Vancouver, GLUM from Ottawa, and Tombstone from Toronto. Pool play went accordingly. Of note, #3 GLUM handed #6 Relic a 15-0 pounding, and then beat #2 Retro. Tombstone held #1 seed and rolled through pool play, getting a closer match from Figjam than other opponents could give. Fossil from Toronto (Danny Jose and Devin Hanes are always playing with a smile on their face) surprised many by performing well above their seeding and came into Saturday re-ranked 5th. VQ and Relic dropped.

On judgement day, Tombstone wasted no time or effort in getting to the finals. They were met by GLUM, who survived close games with 2006 champions BDU and Retro. Toronto and Ottawa would once again face off.

I arrived at the fields with GLUM leading. Ottawa actually lead 8-6 at one point, but every fan, player and Sunnybrook pedestrian knew the final wasn't over. Toronto charged back and took a lead they would never relinquish. One break past Chris Keith and the game was over- Tombstone 15, GLUM 11.

From my point of view, the game was a great exhibition of Masters ultimate. I enjoy watching smart players make smart plays, and watching players from WAX, YES, and other dynasties is a great lesson for open players like myself. I'm not suggesting genuflection people, I'm just saying these guys have a lot of savvy.

I am sure readers will be thinking "Who gets added for worlds?". Totally down for that debate, but I wanted to finish off by talking about a well known player- Pete Knowles. After decades of dominating for WaX and Goat, Pete played for GLUM this year. I've heard countless stories of his excellence and seen glimpses. Like a prize fighter being saved, Pete watched his play time during the summer and was saved for the key final. While his team did not win, I was absolutely amazed by one play in the finals. A swing pass to Chris "Sully" Sullivan lead to a rocket hammer pass cross field. The crowd sighed as they expected a turnover.

Cue Pete Knowles.

Screaming across the field break side, Knowles rockets through the air in full layout and grabs the disc from the ground at the last second. I don't give the play justice, but it was pure athleticism and skill. Kudos to him.

I'm Back..

I'm back.. and posts are coming!!!