The Eighth Man

Countdown to Kissimmee: University of Texas-Austin

TexasUniversity of Texas started off this season as huge favorites to ultimately win the World Cup after shocking everyone at last year’s World Cup by receiving the No. 1 seed out of pool play. However, after a pair of unexpected losses in the fall and some notable injuries, they dropped down in the rankings. Texas started off the new year by traveling to Baton Rouge for the Mardi Gras Cup, where they dominated with many huge point spreads and came away as champions for the 2nd year in a row. This past weekend at the Southwest Regional, they once again showed off a very dominating performance before losing to Baylor for the second time this season in the finals.

Best Wins: vs. LSU (150-40* Feb. 2) vs. UCLA (180-100* Nov. 11)

Worst Losses: None

Key Players:  With such depth and talent, it is difficult to only name a few key players, but I obviously have to mention Team USA keeper and Texas co-captain Augustine Monroe and Team USA second-teamer Kody Marshall. These two set the pace for the offense and defense. Marshall is very tough and agile and never gives up on a play. He won’t back off on offense until the quaffle is in the keeper’s possession and on defense he will constantly land tackles on ball carriers that wait too long to make a pass. Monroe does a great job intercepting passes or shots and then uses he speed to initiate quick counter attacks. He is a triple threat on offense, where he has the ability to make pin point passes to his teammates, shoot mid to long range shots with great accuracy, or weave around a defense for a dunk.

Rounding out the key players, you have co-captain Chris Morris and Team USA chaser Sarah Holub. Morris is a great leader and a significant part of why Texas quidditch has become such a dominating force. He is a utility player that is fully capable of playing every position on the pitch, even though his primary position is chaser, and he has amazing field vision and awareness that helps facilitate the powerful Texas offense. Sarah is a beast of a chaser that I would never pigeonhole in the category of female chasing because this past weekend she further proved that she can compete with the best chasers in the game, period. She can drive to the goals by herself with a strong aptitude for blocking bludgers, and she is almost always open for a quick two handed catch and score by the hoops.

Players to watch: After being out for a majority of the season, Jacob Adlis is back on the pitch with his black headband on. Adlis is very fast and very smart, and he does a great job to maintain the cohesion of the Texas defense with his beating.

Simon Arends, Hank Dugie, and Kenny Chilton are three strong point chasers and scorers. They are all extremely scrappy with solid tackling form, and they are unselfish as you will see them commonly making runs to get open as passing options or drawing defenses to them which allows for an accurate pass to another teammate for the score.

Strategy: As I have stated before, Texas is a power team with highly impressive speed and athleticism. They prefer games moving at a fast pace where they can take full advantage of numerous counter attacks on opponents that cannot set up on defense quick enough. Many of their scores are off of a single player that has the ability to drive through a defense or off a quick parallel pass to a teammate on the far side of hoops who had been running alongside the ball carrier.

On defense, point chasers will pressure as soon as an opposing keeper is out of the box or as soon a chaser has the quaffle. Texas defenders allow very little room for an offense to get settled and make any sort of runs. With bludger control, their beaters play defensively and conservatively allowing their chasers to make a majority of their defensive stops, and the beaters will come in as the play finishers by beating an opponent after they have been wrapped up in a tackle or by beating the passing options. Texas subs frequently and rarely loses any sort of momentum because their entire bench holds many equally skilled players of the same strong muscular build.

Strengths: Their chaser defense is easily one of the best in the world. They are nearly impossible to get around without beater help or a very solid passing game. Texas also displays an insane amount of size, speed, and stamina among every player that is difficult for other teams to handle.

Weaknesses: Bludger control. Texas has struggled to maintain bludger control against the top teams they have faced this season. When they don’t have bludger control, they are forced to slow down their offense and make passes around two beaters, They are very capable of doing this as this, but this style of playing is not their preference as it involves more risks and leaves more room for mistakes.

Prediction: I easily see Texas in the Final Four with a very good opportunity of playing in the championship. They have the roster depth and endurance to keep up their high level of playing throughout both days, and there are very few teams that could slow them down.


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