The Eighth Man

Will They or Won’t They: The Warriors, #18

In addition to our preseason rankings, The Eighth Man staff will be releasing a series of articles focusing on the top 20 teams, counting down from 20 to one. Each article will be written by two members of the staff, one who believes the team will live up to or exceed expectations and one who thinks they will come up short. 


CAPITALIST CURSE
By Ethan Sturm

The Warriors are the fragments of a broken team that failed to make it to Sunday of World Cup VII and finished the season outside of the top 20.

I’m pretty sure I could stop right there and win this argument. But in the interest of completeness, I’ll go a bit more in-depth. It’s true that the NYDC Capitalists schism was a necessary and productive split for both branches. By all accounts, the infighting within the squad was intra-city, so now that each city has its own team—and let’s be honest, that’s how it should have always been—a disastrous team chemistry shouldn’t tear these nubile squads apart.

But the tumultuous season might have been a valuable missed opportunity, with real-life claiming a number of their biggest contributors on top of one that now plays for Capital Madness. In John Gaffigan they lost one of their few ball handlers; in Donnie Lynch they lost one of their best athletes; in Freddy Varone they lost their best beater and seeker; and in Steve Minnich they lost a talented utility player capable of creating a spark in a wide variety of ways.

In place of all of those missing parts, as of now, The Warriors have most notably added ex-University of Miami captain Sean Beloff. This is no slight on Beloff, he’s an incredible player, has shown good chemistry with his future teammates all summer and provides the team with another vital ball handler. But making the argument that The Warriors are a top 20 team is making the argument that they are better than they were last year, and it’s difficult to say that Beloff, even with his elite talent, can make up for all of that loss.

Really, the biggest issue with Beloff being The Warriors’ best new player is that he’s not a beater. Because, even with all of those losses, The Warriors’ male quaffle player lines remained deep, and other potential additions like Beto Natera and Nick Tobey would have rounded out the team’s scoring output. But beater is the Warriors elephant in the room, and Beloff can’t help them there.

From preseason tryouts to their final game at World Cup last season, the NYDC beater lines reeked of desperation. In the middle of a vital World Cup game, the team resorted to playing Billy Greco at male beater in what basically amounted to his first minutes at the position in serious competition. What little remained of the NYDC’s beating game left with Kyle Savarese, who returned to Rochester Institute of Technology, and Varone, who left the sport to focus on his medical school studies.

In their place, we get nothing but question marks and speculation at male beater. There are rumors of a transformed former chaser being the answer, but we heard many of those last season as well, and we all know how that turned out. And while a poor male beating corps could be propped up by strong female beaters, both Amanda Dallas and Danielle White have long struggled to play at the level of their notoriety. Unless one of them takes a major step forward in the fall, they aren’t going to be ready to carry the team’s beating game.

Obviously, I’m stuck making a lot of inference and assumptions due to the lack of a large coherent roster at this point. But in a way, that’s kind of the point. After plummeting down the rankings at the end of last season as NYDC, The Warriors don’t have a ranking to lose, they have one to earn. Nothing about the seven or eight players we know will likely be on the team screams some massive jump in ability from the team they were in the past. Add in the move to a more difficult region and attendance at more competitive tournaments, and you quickly begin to realize it could be a long fall for the new team.

There is no arguing that this team has a high ceiling. They are deep in athleticism at male chaser, led by two-time Team USA member Michael “Yada” Parada and the star of a four-time regional champion in Beloff, and more options might keep trickling in. They might be able to develop more coherently with all of their practices in one city, and with less of a power struggle at the top the team, they might be more organized. They might improve at beater, and Greco might return to his prior form at seeker.

Unfortunately, that is a few too many might’s for me to put a team in the top 20. Maybe they’ll be a real competitor in the future, but I know they are a team with a lot to prove now. We were wrong to give NYDC a top 20 spot to start their first season last year, and we’re wrong to do it again here for The Warriors.


NEW SEASON, NEW TEAM
By Luke Changet

We will start with the obvious: this is a team which has never played a game. A team that is being formed from the ashes of the NYDC Capitalists which failed, all season, to live up to expectations. It is easy to see why there are a lot of naysayers, and it is easy to see reasons why this team may not live up to expectations.

But if you really look at it, the split of NYDC into two teams is only a positive thing. The Warriors will now be able to practice as a whole unit, instead of a disjointed half. They will no longer have to worry about how their playstyles will mesh or counteract their DC brethren. They will be able to recruit from a central location, practice in a central location and fundraise in a central location. There is really no downside.

Yes, there was some talent lost, but that talent could almost be said to be hurting the team more than helping. John Gaffigan was a talented ball-handler, no doubt about it. But in this day and age of quidditch, having more than a handful of primary ball handlers is almost a waste. The Warriors arguably have two of the best ball-handlers in the game right now in two-time Team USA member Michael “Yada” Parada and former University of Miami star Sean Beloff. Between these two, The Warriors ball-handlers will have no problems distributing to the likes of Alex Linde, who, at times, carried the struggling Capitalists in their poor WCVII showing, and Steve Hysick, who has played with Yada his entire career through Penn State University and NYDC and has built up quite a bit of chemistry with him.

The Warriors still have questions at beater which do prevent them from being an elite team right away. With practice and recruiting, there is potential for them to become a top level team. Chris Pavlovych has a ton of potential. Coming from a baseball background, he has a great arm and top-notch speed to go with it. After a rookie season plagued with inconsistency and growing pains, he should be ready to be a solid contributor. Amanda Dallas has always been a solid beater and has developed great chemistry with Pavlovych. This pairing could make waves. The addition of Danielle White, a Michigan State University alumna, adds some much-needed depth to The Warriors’ female beaters, something NYDC lacked.

But really, what separates a good team from a great team is the seeking game, and The Warriors are still stacked at seeker. Not only do The Warriors have former Villanova University legend Billy Greco, but they can also utilize a variety of athletes who have all been proven to be a threat at seeker, including Yada and Linde. If The Warriors are able to keep in snitch range, which seems likely given their talented chaser line, these three should be more than capable of finishing the job.

So, while The Warriors may not exactly be World Cup contenders, they will without a doubt live up to their pre-season ranking. Remember that being ranked 18th isn’t even within the Sweet 16, and this team has all the makings of a team that can go to the Sweet 16 and beyond. Do not look for The Warriors to win the Northeast or the World Cup, but also do not expect them to go down without a damn good fight, no matter how tough the opponent.

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