Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wit of Wronski: Does Chemistry make a Difference?


The Polish Prince takes no prisoners. I'd go on about his abilities and accomplishments (many), but he'd think less of me.

As the Fantanna to my Burgandy for many years, I'm always eager to pass on his wisdom to other players.

Here is a recent post from the Phoenix Ultimate site. Chemistry is something to consider every year, and this post delves deep into the issue from an Ottawa perspective.



Check out this article on Page 2 by Bill Simmons. Interesting read.

To sum things up, Simmons is saying that top NBA teams - namely the Spurs, Celtics and Pistons - successfully combine talent with chemacterility. These teams refuse to pursue moody, problem veterans and to sign unselfish, character guys (who clearly have some skill).

Now that's not to say these teams don't have talent - clearly they do - and that's also not to say skill development isn't fundamental to success. However, since these teams are not stocked full of all-stars it suggests that there is a balance to be had.

In short, chemacterility stands for:
  • chemistry,
  • character, and
  • salary cap flexibility.
I’m confident that most ultimate teams have good salary cap flexibility, so we’ll just shorten it to “flexibility.”

Here are some quick thoughts on each.


"These guys eat dinner, hang out, work out and play video games together. They don't care about stats, acclaim, shots or minutes. It's a team in every sense." - Simmons

In short, the guys on your team are your brothers – family. They put the success of team - and in our case, the program - in front of their individual needs. Check your ego at the door.


1) Is the player willing to do what it takes to win?
Don't confuse this with players who say "I'm a winner" or "we win" or "we don't lose to this team." These players are, in actuality, losers.

Yes, generally speaking, teams with greater talent will beat the underdogs in ultimate. However, with two closely matched teams it comes down to the player/players that have an edge. Those that have a) worked hard in the offseason, b) worked hard at practice and c) are thus willing to lay everything out on the field every point (why wouldn't you, after working your ass off all year). You don't "just win," you earn it.

2) Is this player selfish? Will the player run the system or just jack a huck at stall 9? Will the player whine if he gets benched? If you play poorly, you’ll probably get benched. Honestly, it's not an elaborate conspiracy theory and it generally happens in every team sport.

3) Is the player willing to play a role? All players have roles, but is the person willing to play within that role and their abilities for the success of the team. Individual glory means nothing if your team loses.


This could mean a number of things:
  • What does the player bring to the table in terms of O and D?
  • Does the player play within himself?
  • Does the player do what's asked of him in different situation?
...and the list goes on.

This probably doesn't apply for most club teams, but, for Phoenix/Firebird, flexibility also means, "would this player be willing to be moved between teams depending on their play."

We run a two-team club system here in Ottawa and were pretty committed to ensuring that guys that train hard and play well get a shot to play on Phoenix – it keeps the intensity level up for everyone.

This year we had several players start on Firebird and play their way onto Phoenix. In fact, they played so hard and well all season (on both teams and in practice) that there was absolutely no way to justify moving them again. It goes back to the character thing.

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