The Eighth Man

A Not-So-Quiyk Draft Recap: Round Four

The quidditch community demands instant reactions, and so despite winning a tournament all weekend and trying to watch the Super Bowl, it demands that I sit down and give America what it wants: more Evan Bell bashing. (Editor’s Note: yahhhh…I totally dropped the ball on this one.)

 

Round 4, Pick 25 (GM: Hank Dugie) – August Lührs, Keeper/Utility, University of Southern California:

Previous Picks: Chris Morris (K, LSQC); Simon Arends (C, LSQC); Daniel Daugherty (C/K, BGSU)

August is a fantastic player. As a seeker – and I mention that first, because it feels like this is the position he still has the biggest impact as – he is a terrifying force, charging at snitches like a rampaging unicorn – with the hair horn to match.  As a keeper or chaser, he is a physical force who can still drive as hard as the best players in the sport.  Though, with both Morris and Daugherty in line to be able to play August’s natural position, it could be a bit of an overlap.

Unfortunately, there are many question marks here. First, and foremost, is August’s ability to even play in marquee tournaments.  August was unable to compete at Western Cup this year, and given his occasional conflicts with other engagements, counting on him as a pick this high seems very risky.  In addition, August’s effect as a quaffle player has fallen off drastically. While a very strong driver, August’s distribution game has never developed nearly to the degree that many other elite players have, and, because of this, he is consequently no longer the most important quaffle player for the Trojans – I’d give David Demarest or Ryan Parsons that honor, at this point.  August is a supremely talented player, but I really question the value of this pick this high up.

 

Round 4, Pick 26 (GM: Zach D’Amico) – Michael Powell, Chaser, Boston University:

Previous Picks: Vanessa Goh (C, Lost Boys); Peter Lee (B, Lost Boys); Zach Luce (K, UCLA)

Now, this pick, on the other hand, I greatly approve of.  While Powell is not the best-known quaffle player in his region – you’d have to say David Fox or Brendan Stack is – many have been arguing that Powell has been just as, if not more important, to the Terriers’ success as his better known keeping counterpart.  In the context of this draft, I like this pick more because I think it beautifully fills holes on the team.  Like Luce and Goh, Powell plays in a system that emphasizes passing to generate easy finishes.  Plus, he gives the team a heavily-needed elite point defender.  This pick kicks off a run of picks that I really like.

 

Round 4, Pick 27 (GM: Andrew Canto) – Harry Greenhouse, Chaser/Seeker, University of Maryland:

Previous Picks: Augie Monroe (K, UT), Kody Marshall (C, LSQC), Adam Richardson (C, UCLA)

With this pick, the first Mid-Atlantic player goes off the board, and Canto cements his status as the team with the best chaser core in the tournament.  In Greenhouse, Canto gets yet another man for his chaser lines in a similar mold: every single player on his team is an elite-level point defender.  Whomever Canto eventually finds for beaters – since he seems to be buying my argument that chasers are a scarcer position than beaters, relatively speaking – his team is still looking to be absolutely terrifying to score upon, and it seems like it will have enough depth to always have multiple elite defenders on the pitch, making it extremely difficult to tire this team out and find a weak link.  Offensively, all of these players are frequent ball handlers in pass-happy systems, which should give their offense several dimensions, so that if any of them happen to be having off days, he’ll be able to mix things up until he finds someone who isn’t.
As a seeker, Greenhouse will give Canto’s team a great chance in any close game, though I doubt many teams will even be able to keep it close. While his seeker star may have fallen off somewhat, he still remains an elite seeker, being an absolutely unstoppable force for most snitches, and most notably pulling the snitch to secure Maryland’s recent Mid-Atlantic regional championship.  Greenhouse’s value here primarily comes from his chasing, but snagging an elite seeker as a free bonus is not a bad value.

 

Round 4, Pick 28 (GM: Beto Natera) – Sean Pagoada, Utility, Florida’s Finest

Previous Picks: Stephen Bell (K, LSQC), Mollie Lensing (B, LSQC), Hope Machala (B, LSQC)

And with this pick, every single American region has seen a player come off the board, as Natera adds the first player taken from the South to his team.  In Pagoada, Natera gets someone who can play all four positions as a high level.  He is probably best known as a beater and seeker for Miami this past season, but Pagoada first burst into the spotlight as a chaser on the University of South Florida’s quarterfinalist team in World Cup V, even being selected to team USA at that position.  Pagoada is a strong point defender and a good passer and shooter with excellent quickness.  While he may not have the name buzz or track record of the game’s elite seekers, Pagoada can more than provide a capable seeker for his team as well, although maybe not at the level of this tournament.  In addition, like Greenhouse before him, Pagoada will likely add popular vote to Natera’s team from the South region, as Pagoada has played in three of its four most storied programs – USF, Miami and Florida’s Finest – which should generate a good amount of popular buzz.

When this draft was initially announced, and team rosters were set at a limit of 12 people, I was really curious to see where Pagoada would be drafted, as arguably the highest-rated four-position player (no offense to Chris Morris, whom I’m sure can play all positions, but Pagoada has a long track record at every position). I thought that Pagoada’s value was going to place him, at the least, late in the second round.  Unfortunately for him, the rosters expanded, and it was easier to build a full roster without utility players, and Pagoada ended up down here.  It’s an interesting example of how the size of the roster could greatly change the outcome of the draft.

 

Round 4, Pick 29 (GM: Evan Bell) – Aryan Ghoddossy, University of Texas, Chaser/Seeker

Previous Picks: Brittany Ripperger, B, Baylor; Brendan Stack, K, BU; Chris Rhodes, B, Baylor

Ghoddossy is the best specimen of a type of chaser I like to call the “Tiny Tank”.  Not that Ghoddossy is tiny – the man is built like a freight train – but he has the force of a truck to go with a relatively slight 5-foot-5 build.  He combines that with speed that a man of his size should not be able to achieve.  Put it all together, and you have a tank whose low center of gravity makes him incredibly difficult to bring down.  For those who would use that height to underestimate him, well, I’d just point them to the second day of the 2013 The Fantasy Tournament, as a previously floundering red team was put on Ghoddossy’s back as he bounced around the pitch like a deranged pinball, scoring on anyone who dared tried to stop him, while inflicting pain on anyone who attempted to bring the ball down against his team.

In addition, having flourished in Texas’ system, Ghoddossy is proficient playing both on-and-off ball, and is an accomplished passer, which should flow well with this squad.  Like D’Amico’s pick of Powell, I feel like the pick of Ghoddossy compliments the rest of Bell’s team very well. D’Amico’s chaser core is a bit more developed, while Bell’s beater core is more fleshed out, but we’re seeing a very similar evolution in the drafts of these two teams.

 

Round 4, Pick 30 (GM: Dan Hanson) – Alex Browne, Keeper/Chaser, Lost Boys QC

Previous Picks: Drew Wasikowski, C/K, Texas A&M; Chris Seto, B, Lost Boys; Kifer Gregoire, C/S, Texas A&M

After helping to carry his team at Diamond Cup, Alex Browne likely solidified himself as the steal of the round. Credit: Paxton Casey

After helping to carry his team at Diamond Cup, Alex Browne likely solidified himself as the steal of the round. Credit: Paxton Casey

When I think about Alex Browne, I always go back to one conversation I had at the original Firemercs tournament with my team captain, and current Lost Boys captain, Michael Mohlman.  We were discussing how great certain players were, and calling the really elite players “11s”  At some point, I mentioned Browne, and Mohlman said, “Alex Browne is a 12.”  I found myself nodding in agreement.

In previous years, when I was writing about UCLA, the main criticism I found with the Bruins was that, as a whole, they were far too unselfish. Frequently, they would make an extra pass when they easily could drive for a goal, which would sometimes cost them.  At the heart of this “problem” would have been Browne, and if I were going to nitpick at negatives for Browne, it would start in this unselfish mindset, which is a much better problem to have than the opposite.  Still, occasionally a team is best served by having a player be the hero.

With that all being said, Browne is an absolutely phenomenal player who never seems to get the recognition he deserves, partly because injuries knocked him out of the bracket play of both World Cup V and VI.  Browne is a pin-point passer, a strong driver, has phenomenally quick hands, reads passing lanes well, and does literally everything you could want out of your keeper.  This is an absolute steal at this point in the draft, especially given how it allows everyone else on Hanson’s team to switch to their natural positions.

 

Round 4, Pick 31 (GM: Amanda Dallas) – Becca DuPont, Chaser, Texas A&M

Previous Picks: Tony Rodriguez, K, Lost Boys; Max Havlin, B, BU; Katrina Bossoti, B, BU

When I look at DuPont, I see a single skill that differentiates her from all of the rest of the elite female chasers in the game: improvisation.  Like many other excellent female chasers, DuPont is a strong player with or without the ball, with the ability to fire accurate passes, shoot from mid-range well, and catch and shoot quickly.  She possess the ability to be at least a solid point defender, and is constantly in good position defensively when off-ball.

But, more than anything else, when I watch film of Texas A&M, the thing that catches my eye about DuPont is the sheer number of “dead plays” that DuPont is able to turn around.  Whether it’s wriggling out of a pile of players with the quaffle for an easy dunk or simply finding a way to sneak a reset of the quaffle back to her teammates, DuPont excels at making little plays that have helped Texas A&M stay undefeated all year.  I would not be surprised if by the end of the year, DuPont is considered as strong of a player as Sarah Holub and Vanessa Goh, which may call into question the wisdom of taking a player in this position so early.  Or, perhaps it just speaks to the phenomenal value that Dallas got here.

 

Round 4, Pick 32 (GM: Alex Wilson) – Joey Reynebeau, Chaser, University of Arkansas

Previous Picks: Sarah Holub, C, LSQC; David Gilbert, B, Baylor; David Foxx, K, Emerson

While Arkansas' Joey Reynebeau may be the least-known player drafted so far, his potential to become a dangerous sleeper is high. Credit: Jerry Wang

While Arkansas’ Joey Reynebeau may be the least-known player drafted so far, his potential to become a dangerous sleeper is high. Credit: Jerry Wang

I would have been shocked if this entire draft had gone by without Reynebeau being selected.  I’m also not the least bit surprised that Wilson ended up being the one to select Reynebeau.  If anyone were to know the true worth of Reynebeau, it’d be his captain.  Of course, there may also be a tendency to overvalue a player that you know well.  So which is the case here?  Well, I’d argue a little bit of both, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing for Wilson.

This is a convenient opportunity to talk about the concept of a sleeper in the draft.  A sleeper, essentially, is someone that one GM values significantly higher than anybody else.  If Wilson thinks that Reynebeau is as good of a chaser as one he would get in the third round, but he suspects that others don’t see him that way, then, ideally, Wilson would pick him exactly before another general manager would swoop in.  Unfortunately for Wilson, the other general managers don’t tell him exactly when they would pick players, and so he has to do his best to read them.  Ultimately, if he has to pick the person he wants slightly before he may have had to, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s done a bad job.  If Arkansas makes a deep World Cup run on the backs of the brothers Reynebeau – like they almost did last year –  nobody will be criticizing this pick in two months.

I don’t know if ultimately this will be a good or bad pick, but I do know this: this is not an illogical pick.  The biggest argument against this pick may be that there are other safer commodities left on the board, but as most of the big names start to fall off, picks like these will be more and more frequent.

 

Team Tiers

We’ve now seen enough that I’m going to attempt to start separating out teams as we hit the quarter mark.  I’m going to make tiers for now, as I don’t really feel like we’ve seen enough to give a definitive 1-to-8 ranking yet.  Obviously, this is just one person’s opinion, so take this with as large of a bowl of salt as you would like.

 

Tier One: Dallas, Hanson, Canto

Tier Two: Dugie, Bell, D’Amico, Natera

Tier Three: Wilson

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