Friday, May 8, 2009

TUF 2009 Preview


First major outdoor tournament in the east coast takes place this weekend in Toronto- The Toronto Ultimate Festival. You'll be seeing the final tryouts for many teams, or the first tournaments for newly selected summer teams.

Here are some division previews. (Photo courtesy Dave Sheffield)


2008 Champ: RIP

Approximately 35 teams in the main co-ed division. Based on past year's, here are the notable teams to watch for in the results column:

RIP- Montreal was 4th at CUC 2008. Kirsten Niles is a fan favorite who has found a fit.
Tundra- Toronto coed team, 12th at CUC 2008.. probably better than that.
Liquid- Waterloo's #1 team always seems like they are on the cusp of greatness every year.
Mayhem- Hamilton team, 8th at CUC 2008
Bytown Flatball Club- 13th of CUC 2008, from Ottawa

Many other established touring teams that will challenge these teams (Big Fish, The Company, Zen, Mars Meets Venus, etc) but the teams listed above should be in the quarters on Sunday.

The BFC and Big Fish rosters were recently released and BFC looks like an improvement over the 2008 roster. On BFC, Josh Tai and Thomas Ferguson were very promising open prospects that have switched divisions. Heather McCabe is a highly regarded junior grad who could flourish this summer. Big Fish will be trying to overcome the loss of Julie Thompson, Jeremy Gaudet and the legendary Gavin Thompson to semi-retirement.
Prediction: RIP


2008 Champ: GOAT

Sadly, there will be no representation of Ottawa at this tourney. I hope this is a one time thing.

9 teams in the division:

Magma- Montreal's 3rd team had a very tough rebuild year, but committed to building on it.
Too Bad- A very strong 2008 for the throwback team that consists of pickups for every tourney
Grand Trunk 1-Tryout team of the suprise of CUC 2008
Grand Trunk 2-Tryout team of the suprise of CUC 2008
Goat 1- Tryout Team of Toronto's best squad
Goat 2- Tryout Team of Toronto's best squad
ROY- Toronto's third team test out hopefuls and waits for the trickle down from Grand Trunk
MANSTER- Probably a collection of men from the MONSTER coed team. Will make it interesting

Prediction: GOAT ( 1 or 2)


2008 Champ: Stella

Last year's champs from Ottawa are not back to defend their title. However, the seven remaing teams will be interesting.

Lotus 1- Tryout team will feature stalwarts and hopefuls of the 4th place finishers at CUC 2008
Lotus 2- Make or break for Toronto female players
PPF- Talented south western ontario team (#6 at CUC 2008) enters year two with promise
Lily- Toronto B team will be looking at Lotus team performance as well as their own
Feisty- Toronto's C team just another sign of good toronto organization and development.
Scarlett- Ottawa's B team looking to build on 2008 development/prospects
TBD- Unknown team with an unknown name.

Prediction: PPF

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why I wouldn't buy season tickets in Southern Ontario just yet...


If you're in Canada or in one of the many great hockey markets of the US (Boston, New York, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, etc) you've already heard that a Canadian billionaire is trying to buy the financially distressed Phoenix Coyotes on the condition that he can move them to Southern Ontario, Canada. This is a major 'powerplay' by the owner of Blackberry to buy an NHL team and move it to Canada.

The NHL is very much an old boys club, run by politics and odd rules. You can read Money Players by Bruce Dowbiggin to get a sense of just how many wacky characters owned teams and the many incidents in ownership-player relations since the 1950's. Reading about the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning getting expansion teams without either the expansion fee money or the facilities shows that the rules of this group can be easily broken/bent.

After trying to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and play by the NHL rules, only to get the deal pulled on him, Balsillie is now playing by his own rules for the second time. He's already created a website about the potential purchase and it is as big a slap in the NHL face as the season ticket sales he conducted in Hamilton before his purchase of Nashville Predators was final (it fell through).

A lot of people think his billions, his large offers and his clever negotiation will give the NHL no choice but to let have a team and put it into the Southern Ontario Market. I don't think it will. Here are my reasons:
  1. The NHL has the right to reject any owner or team from league play. As long as they have a majority of owners onside, they could 'freeze' any team out.
  2. The NHL wants to save that Southern Ontario area for an expansion team. Much higher price for an expansion team, and the money gets spread out evenly to all teams (instead of the money going all to an outgoing owner in a sale process)
  3. These group of owners, who pay the commissioner's bills and call the shots, are a remarkable bunch of oddballs sometimes. Consider that the deceased Bill Wirtz of Chicago never showed home games on TV because he didn't want people in Chicago watching the games for free. He watched the team's season ticket base fall below 5000... and only after his death (meaning the return of televised games) has the city become hockey mad once again.
Finally, an excellent book that I'm reading shares some sport economic theory on the whole issue. As per Ross and Symanski's book every major league needs a prime unused market to give all other owners more leverage in their own cities with governments and local groups. That's why there is no NFL team in Los Angeles and why there is no Southern Ontario team.

We'll all be watching to see how it enfolds, but I don't think that the Coyotes will be moving to Southern Ontario. Sadly, the team will continue to collect dust like the many foreclosed homes and abandoned luxury items in Arizona.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Comparison of RRI, UPA Top 25 and Actual OpenFinals Participants


After doing a comparison of women's UPA college finalists with the current RRI and UPA Top 25 rankings, 70% of the actual finalists were in the top 20 of RRI and UPA Top 25.

To my understanding (as per

UPA TOP 25 RANKINGS- is an algorithm-based ranking system that ranks all teams with at least five games reported on the UPA Score Reporter Tool (SRT). The algorithm assigns a rating to each game based on the score, the strength of the opponent, and how long ago the game was and then averages each team's ratings.

RRI RANKINGS- The RRI rankings is another algorith-based ranking system that is based on the NCAA Hockey's KRACH ranking system. A Win Confidence Score is assigned to each game and represents how likely a team is to win a re-match of that game, based on the score. This allows the system to generate score predictions for teams in addition to the rankings.

Based on my last post, it seems clear:
  • These rankings are limited by geographic, season, and head to head limitations
  • These rankings don't affect seeding for UPA college finals, and people don't think they should due to their imperfect nature
  • These rankings are merely references for fun/trends during a given season

So, purely for fun. Here are the top 20 Open teams in terms of RRI, UPA Top 25 and Actual Finals Participants (Ranked by RRI, as seedings are not yet posted):

# RRI UPA Top 25 Actual Finals
1) Pittsburgh Carleton College Pittsburgh
2) Carleton College Colorado Carleton College
3) Cornell Oregon * Cornell
4) Colorado Florida Colorado
5) Florida Virginia Tufts
6) Oregon * Cornell Virginia
7) Tufts Wisconsin Wisconsin
8) Virginia Washington California
9) Middlebury Western Washington Stanford
10) Wisconsin Notre Dame Luther
11) California Pittsburgh Williams
12) Stanford California Michigan
13) Washington Middlebury North Carolina State
14) Notre Dame North Carolina State Minnesota
15) Harvard Michigan Kansas
16) Luther North Carolina-Wilmington Texas
17) Western Washington Kansas Georgia
18) Williams Stanford California-San Diego
19) Michigan California-San Diego California Santa Barbara
20) North Carolina State Texas Illinois

63% of RRI top 20 teams are in the actual finals 68% of the top 20 UPA Top 25 teams are in the actual finals The Fact that Oregan has been suspended from play has been taken into account.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

UPA College Finals-Teams Determined.


After the remaining UPA college regional championships took place on the weekend, Canada has only one remaining school in the running for the UPA championship. The Ottawa Lady Gee Gees will be attempting to win their first UPA title. More information on the finals and the teams in open and womens can be found here.

UBC men finished 4th in the ultra competitive Northwest region. Only two bids were available.

UBC women, last year's UPA champions, also finished 4th in the same region. Only three bids were available.

Also note that Ottawa's Kate Crump has been named to the UPA College Alumni All Star team, and her group will play a game against the 2009 USA World Games Team. Congrats Kate!

Would RRI Have Agreed with the teams in the Finals?

As most college fans know, different college sports have different ways of deciding their champions. I'm a big fan of the current upa system of sectionals/regionals/and finals.

I've never been a huge user/follower of the RRI ranking system on the UPA site. However, I wonder if the RRI rankings would agree with the teams in the UPA college Finals this year.

Here's a breakdown of the women's team's listed in the RRI. UPA Top 25 and the Actual Finals. Finals seeding has yet to be done, so I ranked them based on current RRI rankings:

RRI UPA Top 25 UPA Finals
1 Wisconsin California-Santa Barbara Wisconsin
2 Oregon Oregon Oregon
3 California-Santa Barbara Washington California-Santa Barbara
4 Washington Wisconsin Washington
5 Stanford Stanford Stanford
6 Michigan Michigan Michigan
7 Ottawa Ottawa Ottawa
8 North Carolina North Carolina-Wilmington North Carolina
9 North Carolina-Wilmington Wake Forest North Carolina-Wilmington
10 British Columbia North Carolina UCLA
11 UCLA UCLA Southern California
12 Southern California Maryland Carleton College
13 Maryland British Columbia Colorado
14 Carleton College Southern California St Louis
15 Wake Forest California Washington University
16 Western Washington Western Washington Iowa State
17 California Iowa State Dartmouth
18 Pacific Lutheran Penn State Illinois
19 Colorado Washington University Pennsylvania
20 St Louis Carleton College Northeastern

What we can see is both UPA Top 25 and RRI predicted 70% of the teams in the finals. This seems like a reasonable figure given the nature of the current process, and how little RRI has to do with it.

However, it really sucks that a team like UBC could be the 10th best performing team in the nation, and have the unpleasant task of needing to beat one of three teams in your region, all in the top 5 in the nation, in order to simply get the finals. It's brutal.

It is at this time that you think "Maybe the number of bids to each region should be based on performance during the current season".

Readers, do you have a solution to revamp/improve the qualification process? Or is the process okay in your opinion?