No disrespect to any players/alumni from the Ozark and Texas sections, but ever since the regional redistribution that moved the Colorado teams from the Southwest to the South-central, much of the chatter and banter has been, for the most part, originating from the east side of the Colorado/Kansas border.
I’ve coached the Colorado State men’s team for the past five years (playing five years on the team previous to that), and given my unique (maybe rare is a better word) perspective from the Rocky Mountain conference and our team’s regionals experience this year, I’m going to throw out some semblance of a write-up for Saturday of South-Central regionals.
First off, I’m going to steer clear of any real mention of CU here. They’re a strong team every year. Insert XXXXX player here who currently plays nex-gen, bravo etc. They’re fantastic at churning out great players; much respect in that regards to Catt (years past), Jim and Brent (years current) and their core of veterans that continue to churn out an elite-level team from year to year for the past decade plus.
We (Colorado State) went into the tournament as an 11 seed, which from our perspective was a (very) slight under-seed. Our spring tournament schedule was plagued with weather cancellations and delays. Free State Classic was completely shut down. Huck finn was delayed and then played out in pretty ridiculous conditions (thank you Wash U for getting us games we needed) making the results hardly indicative of the relative strengths of many of the teams involved. With the crazy weather all over the midwest this year, I felt like the bid allocations and USAU rankings were particularly inaccurate given that so many teams were scrambling just to get their 10 sanctioned games played.
With the double-elimination bracket at regionals, there was no room for a slow start for any team and with that knowledge our team arrived at the (drenched) fields at 7:30 for a good, lengthy warmup. The fields seemed to have good drainage but even so, the men’s division ended up being delayed, with games getting pushed back to noon and the final round of the day finishing right as the sun went down at 8:00pm (extra props have to go out to Calvin Lin and the rest of the staff of the tournament, rotating teams through fields, keeping people informed, and dealing with the whole crappy weather situation).
Our first game was against Kansas, the “home,” team who had finished 2nd out of the Ozark conference. They started the game strong, breaking the mark at will, with 5th year (? I think) senior Brett Hidaka wrecking our marks with quick release backhands and a dominating throw and go. A defensive adjustment on our part all but eliminated their break-mark game and after starting the game giving up three breaks to their aggressive defense and quick-strike offense we ended up taking the game 14-11. Hidaka deserves an all-region nod no question, the heart and soul of a very quality team.
For our second game, we took a hike through a grove of trees to meet up with a Texas A&M squad who had beaten Baylor in their first round 15-11. Both team’s offensive lines dominated the game with the defensive breaks for either team being few and far between. For A&M, Matt Bennett (? fairly sure) absolutely ran their offense with every other throw going through him. We threw 4+ different defensive looks at them and he was able to break every single one with a combination of low breaks, scoobers and blades. Their downfield seemed to run mostly through Dalton Smith who did a very good job of taking the under when given and streaking deep when the occasion arose. Both players seem well deserving of all-region nods. Additionally, it was a pleasure to play against a team who kept a good, positive attitude throughout the the entire game with compliments going both ways on big bids and plays. A&M ended up taking the game 15-13.
That loss dropped us down into the backdoor bracket where we were matched up against a Texas State team who had just eliminated Texas-B from contention with a 15-13 victory. We went up two breaks early, then protected that lead, getting three more breaks in the second half and taking the game 15-10. Texas State seemed to be a very athletic (young?) team, but were plagued by a lack of intensity and a tendency to huck regardless of whether the look was good or not.
With that win, we gathered up our gear and took another long hike to the far side of the complex for a game against Mizzou, who has just beaten Wash-U on universe point. We started 15 minutes late (it was a long walk for both teams), and the first half was back and forth with their offense scoring easily with good disc movement and bump-huck looks. Our offense all but matched them in the first half but had to work for every point against effective poach defense and hard-man intensity. In the second half the fatigue of the day caught up with us and a slew of throwaways and drops combined with Mizzou’s strong D-line offense let them run away with the game for a 15-8 victory. I know next to nothing about Mizzou’s notable players, but their biggest impact guy against us was a lefty handler with a very quick release forehand huck, who got around our force-middle 3+ times for around-break scores.
In a shameless own-team plug, props have to go out for Stephen “Stacey” Gross, and freshmen Luke “Fitz” Doyle. Stacey tore his ACL back in November, busted his ass on rehab and got cleared to play the Monday before regionals. Despite being at about 70%, Stacey consistently drew the other team’s best defender and completely opened up our offense with his hucks and over the top throws. Fitz was a force on offense, bringing in the majority of our offensive goals and spent significant time covering the other teams top downfield threats on D (Dalton, Hidaka etc).
Good luck to all the teams still in contention as of Sunday morning and thanks again to the hard work of the tournament organizers overcoming the crappy weather.
Colorado State Coach