2013 South Central College Regionals Preview (Open)
Posted: April 26, 2013 11:40 AM
Event preview by Missouri's Aaron Swaney, as a part of our 2013 Regionals coverage.
The field of 16 open teams heads into Kansas City for South Central Regionals this weekend, each of them bring their own storylines. Central Arkansas making Regionals for the first time, Oklahoma coming off their first Ozarks championship in years, and Colorado gunning for their 16th straight Nationals appearance are all great, but undoubtedly the one with the largest impact will be Texas A&M just missing out on a third bid to Nationals. With only two teams moving on to Madison, the tension between the top three teams—A&M and perennial powerhouses Texas and Colorado—battling for those spots and the scrapping between the next tier of teams is only going to be amplified.
Undoubtedly the favorite coming into the weekend is Texas TUFF. Despite struggling at Stanford Invite, they only lost to Wisconsin at Warm Up, ran the table at Centex and beat A&M 15-12 at the Conference Championships, putting them in the driver’s seat. What makes them so dangerous is the mix of disciplined offense programmed by longtime coach Calvin Lin and playmaking from top to bottom on each line. While NexGen member Will Driscoll is the big name on the team, they are at their best when using him as a cog rather than relying on him to carry them through. Mitchell Bennett may be the most important cog as a tireless cutter. Trey LeMasters and Chris Brooks anchor their handling lines, and their bevvy of cutters over six feet that efficiently run coach Lin’s offense and take away big plays on defense makes them very hard to stop. With a relatively easier road than their major competition, they will be aiming to be efficient on Saturday, so they can come out hard and fast on Sunday morning.
Coming in just behind Texas is Colorado Mamabird. Colorado has attended Nationals every year since 1998 and do not expect to break that streak anytime soon. With a 15-12 win over A&M at Stanford Invite and a semifinals appearance at Easterns, they certainly look to be peaking at the right time. Athletic playmakers, the ability to put the disc deep and the physical man defense they have become known for will be what fends off challengers and what may allow them to take the top spot from Texas this weekend. Jimmy Mickle, one of the four current Callahan finalists, is one of the few people in the Region with the ability to singlehandedly take over a game. With big pulls, the tendency to get discs over pretty much anyone and the ability to put the disc into the end zone from all over the field, he is certainly the player to watch on Saturday and Sunday. Tim Morrissy also looks to dominate the disc as both a deep and under cutter, and Jackson Kloor keys their intense downfield man defense with his speed, ups and knack for helping stop opponents’ deep shots. The rest of their lines all use their athleticism and tutelage in physical man defense to make plays and generate turns with a level of aggression other teams at Regionals—though not so much at Nationals—will not be accustomed to. Look for them to be gunning for Texas this weekend to solidify their bid to Madison and go to Nationals with some swagger.
The team with the best shot to knock off either of the perennial powerhouses is the up and comer in the region, Texas A & M. After a regular season that included rolling through teams at Big D in Little D, close games against top teams UNC and Pittsburgh on Saturday of Stanford Invite, and a decent showing without standout Dalton Smith at Centex, they ended up two PR points shy of having a third bid for the region. Even though they come in as the third seed, they certainly have the ability to challenge Texas and Colorado for the top two spots. Matt Bennett keys their offense with his quick, creative and deadly throws, and Dalton, last year’s FOTY, has made a name for himself with big layouts and skies on both sides of the disc. The rest of their roster doesn’t have the name recognition of their big two, but similar to Texas, they run their schemes—both offensive and defensive—effectively and have the ability to make plays from top to bottom on their line.
The next tier of teams, North Texas to Missouri, are defined by their parity. All of the teams have already seen each other at Big D in Little D, Huck Finn, Centex, Chicago Invite and Conference Championships with mixed results across the board. All of them will be hoping to pull off an upset against the big three, but they’ll have to get through each other first.
North Texas, seeded fourth, comes in with wins over Missouri and Oklahoma during the regular season. North Texas looks to utilize a throw-and-go strategy between their two quick handlers, Andrew Eubanks and Alex Welcing, and then take shots to their big cutters when they can.
Oklahoma is fresh off their first Conference title in a few years and is firing on all cylinders right now. Lefty handler and a First Team All-Region selection last year, Kevin Christian is deadly with the disc, and his main targets Chris Larberg and Kai Marshall consistently come up with plays downfield. Their potential matchup with North Texas in quarters should be a dogfight.
Kansas is known for their vocal playmaker Daka, but in a similar vein as Texas, their key is the ability to run a consistent and efficient vertical stack. Quick handler movement opens up their deep shots to monster Bruce Tuschoff, speedy Owen Martin or any of their other athletic cutters. If they make a couple plays and get their sidelines into the game, they could potentially steal a semis bid from Texas A&M.
Missouri has had results marked by feast or famine. When clicking, we can be hard to beat, but at other times we’ve lost the head game, and the wheels fall off. Our strength lies in our cutters who consistently win matchups in the air and give handlers the confidence to take lots of deep shots, especially Steve Stallis, freshman Jesse White, and U-23 member Jay Froude who is potentially the most dynamic cutter in the region. With a small amount of wind in the forecast, Alex McNamara and Aaron Swaney will be looking big all weekend.
Colorado College should be included in this category, but with very few regular season games against teams in attendance this weekend (and my lack of knowledge of their team make up), it is a little hard to tell. A 15-12 loss to Colorado in the Conference final is more than respectable, but they’ve potentially drawn Texas as their second round match up, who they fell to 15-7 at Centex. Barring a huge upset in quarters, they’ll most likely be aiming to make noise in the backdoor bracket.
The teams seeded 5-8 are going to have good games in the first round as Washington University, Kansas State, Colorado State and Texas State all have the ability to pull off an upset in the first round and make the weekend that much more difficult for Colorado College, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, respectively. Kansas State and Missouri should be an interesting match up since the last time they played was in a lake at Huck Finn where conditions dominated the play.
A huge congratulations to Central Arkansas for making regionals for the first time ever. Jarrod Hockett carried them here and has rightfully gotten some All-Region buzz.
With the bracket play format, one good or bad game at the right time can entirely swing a team’s chances this weekend. The amount of parity amongst the mid-tier teams should make for an exciting and scrappy backdoor bracket, and if just one of those teams can pull off an upset against the big boys, it will shake up results quite a bit. Still, in the end, I expect Texas and Colorado to show what being part of a true program means and take care of business. For everyone else, prove me wrong.
Good luck to every team in KC this weekend!
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