Jolian Dahl of Chain Lightning had this to say: “I was impressed with the poise of Clapham’s offense; they made it far more difficult for our defense to get turnovers than in years past. The times Chain was able to get turns came from situations where Clapham’s offense was prevented from swinging the disc. My take on the effectiveness of Clapham’s deep game: all of the uncontested hucks were mid-range and were thrown off movement after the offense had moved the disc 1/3 to 1/2 the way down the field.”
- Clapham show that they are the athletic equals of the US teams that they are striving to beat, play some tight handler defence and get more than enough blocks to win games against even the best. Clapham also pull off a number of highlight reel plays to rescue poor throws, more so than most of the other teams at Chesapeake; this is a positive, but reaching out for players to make plays is a dangerous strategy. US teams seem to use athleticism as the safety margin, not an offensive tactic.
- In the Ring game, and the start of the Ironside game, there are very few picks (unlike their opponents). This means that Clapham are not stifling their own flow. The number of picks increased dramatically as the Ironside game wore on, showing that as Clapham tire, they lose focus & structure.
- Clapham struggle to create and maintain flow, resulting in lots of players sat on the disc aiming to create something downfield. There also seemed to be a reluctance to reset early; Sub Zero and Ironside tended to reset after 2-3 seconds of looking downfield.
- Clapham play their dumps noticably closer to the disc than any of the other teams there, which means they did not use the width as well as the other teams, and it also makes it more likely that the throwing lanes are clogged by an offensive player. Even if the lanes are open, they are very narrow & therefore throws are more difficult to execute. Clapham players need to trust in their team rather than crowding the disc.
- Clapham’s D line offence is vastly improved from 2011, and is probably the reason that they have won games comfortably this year. Now the O line need to catch up.
- 1-2-1 cutter defence is poor; teams like Ironside that rely on repeated isolations downfield had little trouble getting open for big yards. Clapham defenders have a tendency to turn their attention away from their mark, and smart cutters use this opportunity to get open. It seemed like Clapham were not communicating very well on defence. I saw very few switches, and only occasional useful poaching, despite playing against Ironside who stick all of their players out to one side and play with one guy in isolation. They need to be more adaptable than this if they want to challenge at WUCC. Ironside, in contrast, were able to stall Clapham out on their own goal line with some intelligent switching and poaching. Clapham’s poaching more often looks like lazy defence than intelligence. Clapham need to be able to play better shutdown on the unders and rely on team mates peeling off the back to cover, especially when they play with a force-upfield mark that gives no protection downfield.
- Compared to Ring, Ironside and Sub Zero; Clapham don’t move the disc aggressively enough off the pull, nor do they generate any big gains before the defence is set. They could use a pull play that will allow them to utilise the free space that comes with pulls that come in low and hard.
- Clapham’s successful deep throws mostly came directly from flow, thrown on stalls 1-2. When they threw deep from static, they had a lower completion rate.
- Ironside were without 3 of their starting 7 offensive players and fell to their worst defeat in 3 years at Chesapeake; Chain were missing a World Games player and offensive stalwart Dylan Tunnell. Likewise, Clapham sent only a small number of their players, with some missing out because of U23 Worlds. But where were the others? Clapham will never succeed without total commitment from all of their team, so to see so many players missing in a non-GB year was a little surprising. Perhaps Clapham need to select players who can commit more if they want to make the breakthrough?
|Clapham Ultimate at Chesapeake 2013. Photo courtesy of Kevin Leclaire Photography.|
So the question is: are Clapham closing the gap? It is hard to answer; after all, this is not the first time that Clapham have made semi finals at a US tournament. The fact that everyone was treating semi finals as an amazing result – and not just an expected one – indicates that people believe the gap has increased since 2007. If this is true, then perhaps Clapham are closing the gap. The strength of their D line firmly suggests that they are. But the disparity between Clapham’s O line performances and that of their opponents shows that any gap is real, and vast.
Comments welcome! DP @ tSG.