The Eighth Man

Holiday Roundtable

Credit: EAB Designs/Flickr Creative Commons

Credit: EAB Designs/Flickr Creative Commons

The holidays are upon us, but before we all run off to open holiday gifts and gorge ourselves at holiday parties, we gathered our staff one more time to discuss some of the most pressing issues and topics facing the quidditch world today. So light the fireplace, curl up under a warm blanket, and open our holiday gift to the incredible community that has sustained us for two incredible months.

 

Holiday Roundtable

 

 

What do you believe to be the ideal roster composition?

 

Alan Black (Utah Crimson Fliers): Three keepers, three male beaters, three female beaters, two seekers, six male chasers, four female chasers.

 

Kevin Oelze (Silicon Valley Skrewts): Take your 21 best players, with some constraints on position and gender. You should take at least four but no more than six beaters, with at least two of each gender and no more than 2 dedicated seekers. Fill out the rest of your roster with keeper/chasers. You can violate these rules if you have a completely elite player at one position, but you’d better know what you’re doing.

 

Devin Sandon (University of Rochester): Three full chaser lines – six male, three female is probable but some teams may differ – two beater lines – two male, two female – three male keepers, two seekers –  preferably with substantially different seeking styles – and three utility players who can cover multiple positions and fill the lines in if injuries occur or the like. This doesn’t even bring in the idea of running a pair of male beaters, with a male keeper and one male chaser, along with two female chasers, if you have ladies like Erin Mallory and Becca Dupont available.

 

Benny Nadeau (Emerson College): Don’t pick people that are only good at one position. Emerson swayed away from selecting another player than can only play keeper because there just isn’t tons of time behind David Fox. You waste a roster spot when you have one-dimensional players. If you have a star seeker, don’t have the back-up be someone that can only seek – 80% of the time he’ll just be sitting on the bench.

 

Mollie Lensing (Texas A&M): Utility players are extremely important because you never know who is going to get hurt or what position might be more demanding for a specific game or tournament.

 

Luke Changet (Ohio State University): The “ideal” roster composition doesn’t exist. Roster compositions are never black or white. It depends on the team you have and the strategies you are trying to employ.

 

 

Give us a dark horse to win the World Cup that isn’t getting nearly enough attention.

 

DS: Baylor, who, as a fairly new team, is constantly going head-to-head against the best of the Southwest. They haven’t taken any tournaments, and consequently don’t have the same hype as other teams who are breaking into the top level of competitiveness. But their wins over LSU and the University of Texas – Austin and close losses to Marquette and Texas A&M, definitely make them a team to be watched.

 

KO: LSU. I was going to put Baylor here, but it feels like even they’re getting more attention. All you hear out of the Southwest these days is Texas and Texas A&M, and for good reason, but LSU is definitely not a team anyone should be sleeping on. People seem to have the impression that this team is still just Brad Armentor and some beaters, which was never the case, but it’s even further from the truth now.

 

ML: Texas State. This team is a true dark horse that hasn’t been listed on anyone’s top 20 yet. Unfortunately for them, being in one of the toughest regions, they are constantly overshadowed by Baylor, UT, A&M, and LSU, so no one outside of the Southwest knows much about them. They have a huge potential to be a fantastic team though because they have a huge intramural league from which to draw players for the traveling team, and they have a great coach in Jordan Parisher. Both Baylor and UT took about a year to get their bearings on the game and then came out as well-recognized powerhouses on the national front, so I imagine we will see their true potential come to light at just the right time.

 

Sarah Woolsey (University of Maryland): Penn State hasn’t been getting much attention lately. They have a solid team and have proven to be dominant against all opponents this season except for Villanova and Maryland. With hard work and improvement in key areas in the next four months, they stand a chance to win.

 

Curtis Taylor (Univeristy of Marquette): There, in my opinion, is not really a dark horse, as I feel that there are eight teams that could win the title and that’s really the extent of the highest caliber teams this year.

 

 

What area of quidditch strategy remains the most underdeveloped? What’s holding it back?

 

SW: Incorporating on-field snitch play is a weakness for many teams, including elite teams. Many struggle with having a multitude of different things to focus on and coordinating different positions in a flexible and fast-paced portion of the game.

 

DS: I honestly believe that seeker play is the most underdeveloped portion of quidditch strategy. Many teams continue to pick a fast individual or throw a chaser into the spot when the snitch returns. Teams also need to develop greater seeking options, depending on the snitch and score. A trained defensive seeker, who can also be a threat to pull the second the key goal is scored, could be incredibly useful.

 

LC: I think the reason it’s being held back is because most coaches just think that the seekers can go do their own thing and they’ll figure out what works best on their own. However, you really need to coach up your seekers, especially with the importance of the snitch in today’s game.

 

SK: Girl chasers. Yes, there are excellent ones out there obviously. But for the most part, the strategy for girl chasers seems to be “send her down to cherry pick.” Not that cherry picking is bad, but there are so many more possibilities that teams who do this aren’t taking advantage of.

 

CT: I fully believe that female chasers separate a good team from a great team. Having that team member that you aren’t afraid will slow down the play but will instead enhance your threats is so valuable.

 

AB: Many teams seem to be under the impression that their keeper is isolated from the rest of the team strategy and they just have to figure out how to make plays on their own. If instead teams included the keeper and their abilities when crafting overall team strategy, it would make teams much more cohesive and formidable as a whole.

 

BN: Making strategic adjustments in game. There’s tons of game-planning and strategy put into Quidditch before the game, but once it starts most of it all goes out the window. A lack of halftimes or timeouts is the only thing holding quidditch back from being an elite strategic game.

 

 

Should team strategy over the course of a two-day tournament differ from a single-game weekend? Why or why not?

 

KO: In a two-day tournament, making sure your team stays rested is vital. I’ve lost games with my team that we had no business losing because our top players had played too much and had no legs for the second day of a tournament.

 

Patrick Sheehy (Boston Riot): If there are frequent games on Day One with some mattering more, absolutely change the strategy. Sub in more, less, however you need to in order to keep players rested and healthy for the second day. No use overworking someone to have him fail when it matters most.

 

SK: In cases like this, it’s really important for each individual player to recognize their own limits and work them out to benefit the team.

 

ML: If it’s a larger scale tournament the team has to keep in mind that there is always another game to prepare for until the finals. This preparation means that sometimes it’s best to sit out star players in lower profile games, slow down offensive runs when you are ahead, and sub frequently to give everyone adequate rest.

 

BN: But it’s a very fine line to walk. Last year during Champions Series we adopted a mantra: One Game. You can’t look too far into the future or I guarantee you’re going to fall right on your face. Take it one game, one second at a time. Don’t assume that Quidditch will go your way, because it won’t.

 

AB: You need to plan on going further into your depth chart, so you need to make sure that you have numerous subbing situations and strategy adjustments for those subs worked out well ahead of time. When a team’s best players start to get tired, there already need to be plans in place on how to sub and use those subs in a way that there isn’t a large drop in on-pitch production.

 

SW: But, overall, team strategy should not differ greatly, because changing a team’s strategy away from what is familiar and successful can create confusion for the team on the pitch.

 

 

What are some of the best one or two person drills you can do over break to keep yourself in top quidditch form?

 

AB: Have two balls set up about thirty feet apart. Start next to one of those balls, with a third ball your hand. Sprint down to the other ball, drop the one you are holding, pick up the ball that had been previously been laying on the ground, and then sprint back to where you started. Do this ten times consecutively before taking a break. This drill works on your speed, endurance, ball-handling skills, and acceleration. Repeat the set of ten three to five times, depending on how much your body can handle.

 

SW: As a beater, working on arm strength and aim through weights and playing catch is helpful, as well as drills to work on speed and agility.

 

LC: Get a partner and one bludger. Take turns trying to wrestle it away from one another. Also, just throwing at each other and working on your accuracy and catching is always good.

 

KO: For chasers, one person as a passer, one person near a hoop, practice catching it two-handed and scoring super quickly. Also, have one person with the ball and the other person on defense, needing to stop them and recover the quaffle.

 

ML: Another drill option is the reaction catching drill where you stand about 10 yards from your partner facing away from them and they will yell “Turn” and throw a ball at you. You react and spin around when they yell “Turn” and try to catch the ball. This will greatly improve your reaction time and instincts in catching.

You can also practice your defensive footwork by having your partner run down the field at about 75% game speed while changing their angle throughout their run, and you practice keeping them in front of you and keeping your body square to them. If they are okay with it, you can even work on your tackling form in these runs.

 

BN: Run with a broom. I played Ultimate Frisbee four days a week over the summer and I thought I was in pretty good shape. Then I grabbed a broom and it was like I sat around all summer. Run all you want, but it’s not going to be the same unless there’s a broom in there.

 

PS: Do isolations. Move each joint, one at a time – start with the fingers, go to the wrist, elbow, etc – and do it to get a good sense of your range of motion. This helps keep you loose, but also reminds you of your body’s capabilities in terms of stretching out a joint.

 

DS: Whatever you do, you need to keep your cardio going, so you should be running, cross country skiing, stationary biking, skating, whatever it takes to keep yourself going. In addition to this, if you can fit in fast twitch work like suicides or Carolinas, you might not enjoy it now, but your team will be happy you did in the spring.

 

 

Should gamesmanship – ignoring uncalled beats, exaggerating injuries, milking the ref – be a part of quidditch?

 

AB: Absolutely not. We know that there is so much going on out there at the pitch that it is nearly impossible for the refs to catch it all. So play with honor and don’t try to cheat the system. You don’t want to see opposing teams and players do it, so don’t do it yourself.

 

DS: Especially with regards to milking refs and exaggerating injuries, one has only to look at soccer to see the sheer devastation it causes for the game, both with regards to its culture and its reputation. Gamesmanship is bad for quidditch.

 

BN: Honestly, I’ve been punched in the face before and stayed down a little longer than it hurt just to make sure the referee knew that getting punched in the face was illegal and that it was painful. From there on out, the game was refereed a little tighter. Obviously, it has the potential to go wrong if people start blatantly going Manu Ginobili on the world, but I’d like to think the spirit of Quidditch would stop that from happening.

 

SW: There is often a lot of discussion about various teams and their reputations, so a team who is known for doing this will likely be looked down upon and judged more harshly by the referees.

 

LC: If I see you ignoring an obvious beat because it wasn’t called, I’m going to card you. Same goes for flopping or dragging out an injury. If you want to talk to me about calls, that’s fine. Just know that I’m probably not listening to you.

 

KO: Some degree of gamesmanship is always going to be there, but it’s a matter of degrees. I’d be really upset with my team members if I found out they were ignoring uncalled beats or intentionally exaggerating injuries, because those are explicitly illegal under the rulebook. But I’ll fully admit that I definitely will “milk” the refs, though usually that’s because my team’s getting hit by illegal tactics that are seemingly never called.

 

ML: I’m relatively neutral on this issue. I always try my best to play with a certain honor by respecting rules even when refs don’t always make the call, but I remember in soccer we were always told to never stop playing until we heard a whistle. I suppose I lean more towards respecting the honor system in quidditch though because there is so much going on and refs are going to miss things until we perfect our reffing structure for games.

 

SK: There is nothing more despicable than cheating to beat a team who’s played honorably, but I continue to see new players and teams pick it up and even promote it. It’s incredibly disappointing and no matter how many championships a cheating team wins, they’re always marked with the shame of having had to cheat to win. They make it much harder for refs and the people who write the rules to do their jobs effectively, and deserve absolutely no respect for their accomplishments.

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