January 28, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire with 6 comments
Long-time observer Adam Ford (who is incidentally my uncle) has some interesting thoughts on why Tulane’s 8-man crew managed to finish an improbable 3-1 on Saturday at the Santa Barbara Invite.
[quote]Having watched Northeast college Regionals for the past few years, I’ve noticed that some of the smaller schools do well against bigger powerhouse teams when they, basically, “play like a club team.” I think that with only 8 players, a college team has no choice but to rely on their team-ness and mental game instead of their legs, which is what a lot of college teams rely on. If you’re playing defense in such a way that you have to pick and choose your spots to clamp down, plus rely on switches and the other players on the field for a unified team defense, simply because you can’t afford to burn yourself out running with the other team, that makes you play smarter, more efficient D. On offense, you have to cherish the disc, because every turnover is more running.
So the common wisdom is that a small team plays well because they “know each other” and can “get into a groove” where they rely heavily on their teammates at every part of the game, but I think that a small team simply necessitates the creativity and flexibility that mark a good club-level team.
Watching smaller schools like Middlebury and Williams beat teams like Harvard, Tufts, UMass, etc., you can see that part of what gives them an edge is that they know when to not waste energy, they can see and exploit the gaps, and in short, they play like a club team.[/quote]