The Eighth Man

A Safe Beto: Natera, Brown Team Sweep Snow Cup

Last weekend, Utah Crimson Fliers Utah held the fourth rendition of the team’s fantasy tournament, Snow Cup. The event was extremely well run, and both Sequoia Thomas and Andy Hopkins deserve praise for their tireless work. A full day of quidditch ended with the Brown Team taking down the Grey Team to win the tournament. The championship game was thoroughly dominated by two truly amazing beating performances from Brown’s Alyssa Burton and Brandon Rylee. The pair completely disabled the Grey offense in the championship game, while Nebraska Huggins, Beto Natera and Tye Rush did a great job providing Brown with the offense needed. Meanwhile, Keir Rudolph of the Grey Team had an amazing day of seeking, going 3-for-3 in SWIM situations, to win the tournament MVP. So, without further ado, I’d like to take a look at each team in reverse order of their bracket play finish.

 

Pink (Santiago Gonzalez)

Purple 170* – Pink 70
Black 80 – Pink 50*
Brown 100* – Pink 40

Blue 110* – Pink 70

 

Pink didn’t win a game at Snow Cup IV, and that lack of success lies squarely on the shoulders of Santiago Gonzalez. Nicknamed Santi’s Angels before the tournament, it was clear from his first two picks that the general manager was thinking with a smaller head than his opponents. To be clear, Clare Hutchinson, April Gonzalez and Mitch Cavender are not bad players. All three, on the right team, could bring a lot to the table. But, as the adage goes, you can’t win a tournament in the first few picks, but you can sure as hell lose it, and Gonzalez did just that.

As a general manager, your job is to decide the style of play, the types of players to draft, and most effective rotations to make your team succeed. These high picks are supposed to be the players your team relies on, and Gonzalez didn’t manage this by any stretch of the imagination. Some will say that a fantasy tournament is about having fun and making friends. They’ll say winning isn’t the important part. Those people would be right. However, it’s not fun to suck.

Despite their general manager’s clear disregard for success, Pink team did rally in their game against Blue. They came together, and did a good job both offensively and defensively. In the effort, no one player stood out – it truly was an occasion of the sum being better than its parts.

 

Red (Colby Soden)

Orange 130* – Red 40
Blue 180* – Red 80
Grey 100* – Red 60

Purple 130* – Red 110

 

Red Team started off slowly, but came together nicely by the end of the day, giving both the finalist Grey Team and semi-finalist Purple Team trouble. Sadly, this team will have to look back at what could have been, after Soden, who was off to a good start to the day, popped a blood vessel in his eye during contact on a play and was forced to the emergency room.

This left most of the offensive duties to keeper/chaser Kelby Brooks, who kept games close, but didn’t have enough support to pull away. Still, this left the team right where it wanted to be: in snitch range with first round pick Porter Marsh ready to seek against the likes of Keir Rudolph and Steve DiCarlo. Exciting as these matchups might seem, Marsh’s beaters rarely gave him much of a chance at the snitch. Ultimately, Snow Cup was a disappointment for Red Team because of how close they were to being a solid team. Without the injury to Soden, and better beating during snitch play, the easily could have made a deep run. Instead, they walked away with a 0-4 record.

 

Orange (Dakota Briggs)

Orange 130* – Red 40
Grey 140* – Orange 50
Orange 110* – Blue 50

Black 120* – Orange 60

 

I’m sorry Orange Team. I’m sorry Dakota. I didn’t see enough of you playing to really have anything intelligent to say. This team was good enough to trounce the tournament’s weakest teams, but not strong enough to compete with the elites. The result: a predictable middle of the pack finish.

 

A pair of first round picks, Tony Rodriguez and Craig Garrison, go body-to-body in a pool play matchup. Despite illness, Garrison still contributed for his team. Credit: Paxton Casey

A pair of first round picks, Tony Rodriguez and Craig Garrison, go body-to-body in a pool play matchup, which white won, 90*-50. Despite illness, Garrison still contributed for his team, while Rodriguez was as valuable as ever. Credit: Paxton Casey

White (Doug Whiston)

White 90* – Black 50
Brown 140^ – White 100*
White 110* – Green 80

Grey 90* – White 60

 

White’s combination of Tony Rodriguez and Devon McCoy ended up working out well for general manager Doug Whiston. The two meshed very nicely, utilizing pick and rolls and changing up ball carriers to give their offense multiple strong options on each possession. Rodriguez did what he does, driving when possible, threatening from mid-range, and finding McCoy when he could.

Speaking of which, Devon McCoy is one big dude. Not only that, he has good ball skills. On and off the ball, McCoy is a threat to score. A good driver with soft hands who can pass, he was a tough defensive assignment for anyone, all day. Unfortunately for White, the notable threats ended there. With a strong point defender and a committed off ball chaser for brief stretches of play, an opposing team could force McCoy and Rodriguez into long passes which were mishandled or dropped by their teammates. The exception was Dan Hanson, who provided good minutes at chaser for white while playing smart offensively and contributing solid off-ball defending.

Seeking for White was also a question mark. Duncan Ferguson didn’t have a good tournament. A good snatch by Alex Richardson won White the game against Green, but the team lost out to Beto Natera in pool play and Keir Rudolph in bracket play. All together, the White team rode solid chasing to a good pool play record, but couldn’t dominate the game enough to get them out of snitch range.

 

Blue (Daniel DePaula)

Blue 180* – Red 80
Green 140* – Blue 40
Orange 110* – Blue 50

Blue 110* – Pink 70
Brown* – Blue 90

 

Blue Team was led by strong performances from Hai Nguyen and Amanda Turtles. Nguyen’s reputation precedes itself. Strong, incredibly fast and with a knack for scoring, he kept the team afloat almost single-handedly. I say almost single-handedly as to not discredit the great performance of Amanda Turtles. She played both chaser and beater for Blue Team, and starred in both roles.

However, the rest of the team failed to provide support for their two studs. This made things hard for Nguyen, who looked to play distributor more than he probably should have, and also for DePaula, who struggled to juggle Turtles at chaser, beater and even briefly keeper. It must have felt like a lose-lose for him, with Turtles’ absence at beater significantly weakening the defense and her absence at chaser leaving Nguyen with no consistently reliable options to pass to. The win against Pink came as welcome relief to a day that was otherwise forgettable for Blue Team.

 

Green (Sarah Kneilling)

Green 130* – Grey 40
Green 140* – Blue 40
White 110* – Green 80

Purple 110* – Green 70

*Disclaimer the author of this article played on this team

Sarah Kneiling put together a pretty good team, if I do say so myself. She and Tad Walters played reliable minutes at beater, with the singular exception of Walters viciously and brutally attacking a poor seven-year old fan innocently watching the game with a bludger to the face. Andy Hopkins also really shined at Snow Cup, and was arguably Green’s best beater.

In the quaffle game, Drew Wasikowski brought the patented Southwest toughness to the chaser lines, and was a consistent scorer. Zach D’Amico, often thought of as a “soft defender,” played great off-ball defense and put in his usual solid work offensively. Some of the biggest surprises of the tournament also played on Green, specifically 7th-round pick Tylor McLaren and 10th-round pick Brandon Nhean. The two keepers showed a great ability to drive for scores and play solid defense at the position. Their presence on the team, along with Wasikowski and D’Amico, gave Green a ton of offensive firepower. The failing of the team was the vacancy at seeker. Without a true seeker, Green was forced to significantly outscore its opponents. As the day wore on and legs got tired, that ability deteriorated a bit, and the lack of a seeker was exposed. For such a quality team, it was a disappointing end to be bounced in the quarterfinals.

 

Purple (Chris Lock)

Purple 170* – Pink 70
Brown 100 – Purple 90*
Black 90* – Purple 50

Purple 130* – Red 110
Purple 110* – Green 70
Grey 100* – Purple 90

 

The first thing you noticed when you played this Purple Team was size. General manager Chris Lock, along with Vincent Berrios and Daniel Shapiro, made for a stout chaser line that liked to clog opposing chasers at the hoops. They also benefited greatly from the late addition of Ren Bettendorf, who was capable of putting in far better minutes than a 14th-round pick would be able to otherwise. The team emphasized bludger control, playing extremely conservatively with them and forcing their opponents to either make long passes or take contested shots. The team played strong team defense, clogging lanes and forcing opponents to go through two or three defenders near the hoops.

Offensively, Alessandra Pissano starred for them. Playing extremely well off-ball, she caught just about every ball she could and finished almost every opportunity. Besides her constant threat, which provided about a third of the offense, the team was nothing special attacking the hoops. They ground, scrapped, and fought to stay in snitch range and put their faith in Steve DiCarlo to close out the game, and until he ran into tournament MVP Keir Rudoplh, he succeeded. At the beginning of the tournament, nobody expected much from Purple – they were a solid team that was supposed to be a tough out, but an out none the less. Still, their run to the semi-finals was a well-earned one.

 

Black (Vanessa Goh)

White 90* – Black 50
Black 80 – Pink 50*
Black 90* – Purple 50

Black 120* – Orange 60
Brown 160* – Black 90

 

The moment the draft ended, people were saying that general manager Vanessa Goh had done her homework. On the field, such praise definitely seemed to pan out.  Goh consistently found good players late in the draft, and they all came to play. The group of later round draft picks was highlighted by Brian Wong. Drafted in the 7th round, Wong supplied plenty of offense with Craig Garrison, hampered by illness, under-performing. He was also a top five seeker at a tournament with quite a few good players at the position.

Goh was put in somewhat of a tricky position when her female beaters became severe liabilities, but she solved the problem by filling in at beater herself. She did are respectable job, playing well at the position she’d only played in spurts throughout her career while allowing her teammates to take the reins offensively.

The team’s semifinal matchup with Brown will be remembered for the constant, unnecessary stoppages of play, which threw the game out-of-rhythm and turned it into a series of short, isolated moments rather than something which ebbs and flows. This kind of game ended up favoring the more athletic Brown chasers. The other side effect was that Wong was never given a chance to catch the snitch. Every time he got close play would stop and the snitch would move away from him. The snitch was also handicapped almost immediately after being released due to the stoppages. This lengthened game gave the advantage to Brown, who eventually pulled away. With such a good team, the semifinal loss to eventual champion Brown was by no means the end Black envisioned at the beginning of the day.

 

The semifinal matchup between Grey and Purple hinged on the grab of seeker and tournament MVP Keir Rudolph. Credit: Paxton Casey

The semifinal matchup between Grey and Purple hinged on the grab of seeker and tournament MVP Keir Rudolph. Credit: Paxton Casey

Grey (Anthony Hawkins)

Green 130* – Grey 40
Grey 140* – Orange 50
Grey 100* – Red 60

Grey 90* – White 60
Grey 100* – Purple 90
Brown 100 – Grey 60*

 

Grey Team wasn’t supposed to make the finals of Snow Cup. Like Purple, it was at best an average squad. Its chasers – led by Zach Holly, Grant Daigle and general manager Anthony Hawkins – were good, beater Duston Mazzella was good, but none of them were great. More importantly none of them played great. But with every player putting in decent work, the games were kept close. That’s when Keir Rudolph proved he’s the best seeker there is right now. The seekers he took down this like read like a who’s who of the position: Porter Marsh, Duncan Ferguson, Steve DiCarlo, Beto Natera. Each will have a reason or two as to why Rudolph beat them to the pull. Marsh will point to his lack of time, DiCarlo will say he subbed out to beat, Natera will tell us it was a suicide snatch. This will of course leave room for each person’s own interpretation of the results. But, at the end of the day, all four stood toe-to- toe with him, and it was Rudolph who had the quicker draw. Grey team rode Rudolph to the finals, and has to be proud of their finish.

 

Beto Natera put together a strong all-around team and even contributed himself to a perfect 6-0 record and a tournament title. Credit: Shelby Rose

Beto Natera put together a strong all-around team and even contributed himself to a perfect 6-0 record and a tournament title. Credit: Shelby Rose

Brown (Beto Natera)

Brown 100 Purple 90*
Brown 140^ White 100*
Brown 110* Pink 40

Brown 110* Blue 90
Brown 160* Black 90
Brown 100 Grey 60*

 

Brown Team had it all going for them during Snow Cup. Nebraska Huggins and Tye Rush really stood out offensively, consistently using their athletic advantage to get to the hoops and score. Natera also did well chasing, providing solid offensive output whenever he played. Meanwhile, Brandon Rylee, outside of two red cards, showed everyone how dominant he can be at beater. Anchoring the Brown defense, he not only showcased his amazing arm strength but also his accuracy. He picked people off all over the field and commanded the game. As mentioned before, Alyssa Burton had a phenomenal finals as Rylee’s beating partner and completely shut down any chance Grey had. A concern as the tournament developed for Brown was how their seeking would stack up compared to the rest of the field, as Natera didn’t draft a seeker, opting instead to take on the job himself. Needless to say, he did a well enough, going 2-for-3 in SWIM situations. Brown may have been a bit of a surprise early on, but, by the end of the day, there was no doubt they were the best team.

 

 

Best Pick By Team

 

Purple, Alessandra Pisano (4th round): On a team that wasn’t great offensively, she was.

Green, Tylor McLaren (7th round): This is a tossup between him and 10th-round pick Brandon Nheanl but McLaren provided enough offense to justify the earlier selection.

White, Devon McCoy (2nd round): Without McCoy as an outlet it would have been a long day for Tony Rodriguez.

Grey, Keir Rudolph (1st round): Did I mention he was Snow Cup MVP? Did I mention he’s the best seeker in the world? #Keirhypetrain #KeirforTeamUSA

Black, Brian Wong (7th round): “Because good general managers draft Brian Wong in the 7th round” -Kevin Oelze

Orange: N/A

Red, Kelby Brooks (3rd round): Carried the offense, simple as that.

Brown, Brandon Rylee (5th round): Rylee was good all day and owned the finals.

Pink, Mitch Cavender (3rd round): Someone had to run the team and it sure wasn’t going to be Santi. Cavendar did his best with what he had.

Blue, Amanda Turtles (2nd round): Stud. Played the same outlet role McCoy did but also anchored a defense.

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Danson

    January 7, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Great article, Noah. I just want to personally give a little more credit to White team’s Duncan Ferguson’s performance at both chaser and seeker. He caught the snitch in an intense close game with Black. Just because he was overshadowed by Alex Richardson’s excellent performance at seeker doesn’t mean his tournament was not good.

  2. Duncan Ferguson

    January 7, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I will agree and disagree with Dan, as well as you Noah. I definitely did not perform as well as I had hoped to at seeker. Alex definitely was the clutch-master. However, there’s only so much one can do when dealing with a sinus infection.

    I will say that my chasing game did redeem me, slightly. Overall, though, great article.

  3. Turtles

    January 7, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I loved reading this article! Just to clarify, I played keeper for 2 entire games in our last 2 games.

    • Danson

      January 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Wait really Amanda? I didn’t realize you played keeper! Did you tackle anyone?

  4. Mr. Peters

    January 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Having watched every red game and played against them I believe more credit needs to be given to the keeper\chaser Ian Strickland. Offensively he sliced through most players with his quick jukes despite his large stature scoring a majority of their points. The lights really clicked on for him agianst purple when their beaters had to continuously focus on him and kelby and still he did damage.
    For orange I believe the best pick would have to go out to Steven Grunwald. With his quick speed and agressive playstyle he stopped most chasers dead in their tracks while maintaining his bludger opening up easy fast breaks for his team to score. With the support of Julia Thomas the bludger control and defense was tough to crack. Beaters set up plays, its the chasers job to act upon it.

  5. Evan Bell

    January 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I mean to be fair, I wasn’t there at all, but the analysis I’ve been hearing from multiple sources seems to disagree quite a bit with your analysis of more than one team.

    I also think it’s a little odd that you’ll make the excuse for why Black was knocked out of the semis, but won’t mention the goal in the Purple/Gray game that shouldn’t have counted (as confirmed by the referees who watched the video replay) and had the game sent in overtime.

    • Lauren Blenn

      January 7, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Evan, there were actually two goals, from both sides, that shouldn’t have counted. There was only video evidence of one, though. We didn’t go into overtime. There was talk of it, but the head ref had already called it and we were running out of time, so we moved on.

  6. Bluebie

    January 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    It’s worth mentioning that DePaula actively didn’t play several of his Blue team players because he wanted more play time, and other players refused to sub, which led to fatigue.

  7. Bluebie2

    January 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Yeah! The first string barely subbed at all, and Brian never came out of the game against Brown. I’d be worried if I was on DePaula’s fantasy team again. And who knows what it’s like to play with him on a real team!

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