Tuesday, November 15, 2005

PHUL Top-Billing

There has been tons of trash talk popping up on the PHUL B-Boards about which team is the best in PHUL right now after the two Fall Tourneys. Two teams are obviously leading the way (Hampton and Mt. Lebo), with each having a tournament win. While North Hills is outside of the discussion right now, they have made finals once and I like them a lot, so they are officially included. These three teams are the only teams that have appeared in the finals game of a PHUL tournament this year (Lebo - 2 appearances, 1 win; Hampton 1 appearance, 1 win; North Hills - 1 appearance, 0 wins), so I'm going to do a run-down of these teams and attempt to see who gets official top-billing at this point.

I am going to assess them in several categories: Record against one another, Best Defense, Best Deep Game, Best Short Game, Best Cutters, Best Handlers, and Most Potential for Spring Season (this category kind of is a swing category in case of ties).

Record against one another:
Lebo versus Hampton has been a battle all season with the teams 1-1 against one another (Lebo with a big win over Hampton at Club Sectionals 15-3, but Hampton with a win in the more important game - finals of PHUL Take 1 - 13-10).

Lebo versus North Hills has been totally one sided with NH losing both games 15-6 (PHUL Take 1 Semis) and 15-8 (PHUL Take 2 finals). Obviously Lebo gets the nod in this matchup.

Hampton versus North Hills has been an interesting matchup with the teams 1-1 against one another. Hampton's win came in the more important came (poll play of PHUL Take 1 11-9), but North Hills won a scrimmage 15-11. Hampton gets the edge here, but North Hills is obviously really close behind them.

Hampton took care of business at PHUL Take 1, but outside of that tournament, they are winless against Lebo and North Hills. Lebo's dominance of North Hills, close finals against Hampton, Take 2 championship, and overall better record (10-1 over Hampton's 6-4) give them the edge in this category, but record don't mean everything in this analysis.
Record Edge to Mt. Lebanon

Best Short Game
Of the three teams, North Hills is the only team with a great ability to have a short game as they have the most disc skills with Alex Thorne and Ben Funk being two of the most talented throwers in the league. Add in Colin Conner, Jack Gazdik, and Jeff Olko and the ability to play conservative, smart offense is definitely there to a degree that most high school teams never get close to. They are all experienced players despite their age and are teaching newer players to work in a great system. Whether or not their short game can be good enough to succeed in a high school league is another question, however, I think they can get there.
Short Game Edge to North Hills

Best Deep Game
Hampton rules this category with an iron fist as they feature two big flick hucks in Lukas Truckenbrod and Dan Gurwin and huge receivers Jay Huerbin and Perry Martin. While they rely on their deep shots a bit too much, it can definitely be an unstoppable force. It got them the win at PHUL Take 1 and will give them a shot against every team.
Deep Game Edge to Hampton

Best Defense
This category goes to Mt. Lebo as they possess the ability to play great zone and man defense. Youth Club players Julian Hausman, Pete Imler, and Zach Ehler have a very strong understanding of zone defense and it shows in their team play. Ehler and Imler are also impressive defenders and add in athletes like Andrew Koutsavlis, Zach Zmith, and Hao Su and you have quite a bunch. Julian is also a good athlete, but has some work to do before he fully realizes his potential as a defender. They are probably the only team in the league that can shut down Hampton's deep game as most teams don't have enough guys to matchup against the likes of all Hampton's cutters.
Defensive Edge to Mt. Lebanon

Best Cutters
Gotta give this one to Hampton with Truckenbrod, Perry Martin, and Jay Huerbin being an impressive combination of leaping ability, speed, and skill. Add in the youth movement on the team and the best girl to play in PHUL since the days of Emily Caffee (Christy Lawry) and you have a good assortment of cutters. They are good now, but need to reach some of their potential to be successful in the spring (especially in regard to being better in-cutters).
Cutter Edge to Hampton

Best Handlers
This is a close matchup between Lebo and North Hills as North Hills has the more skilled handlers (A. Thorne and B. Funk), but Lebo has a larger assortment - all of whom are taller than NH's boys. Overall, I think Lebo gets the edge because Imler and Hausman compliment one another really well - with Imler being a great short, conservative throw handler and Julian having some bigger, pretty throws (although not as consistent as Imler's). Throw in Hao Su's ability to handle (good athlete and really nice looking short throws) and you have a great group ready to take over PHUL.
Handler Edge to Mt. Lebanon

Most Potential for Spring Season
North Hills dominates the category. They have an enormous number of young players (all 10th grade or lower) and have picked up some great athletes - although they are underdeveloped in many ways. They are practicing indoors all winter and have practiced throughout the fall to give themselves a great point to start from in the spring. Whether or not their potential will be reached cannot be answered, but they have the potential to change the way Ultimate is played in the Pittsburgh High School League - by showing the positives of a smart, conservative brand of Ultimate. I'll be watching all year to see if they can do this.
Potential Edge to North Hills

Final Summary
Final score is:
Lebo: 3
Hampton: 2
North Hills: 2

Lebo gets my nod as the best team right now. Hampton is the number two at this point even though they tie with North Hills in the score. They have the record, they have the players, they have the size. North Hills comes in third right now, but has the potential to make a big jump into the Spring. Goodluck to all PHUL's teams and I hope this clears up all that B-Board stuff, as I am the foremost authority and my word is always truth.


Egg said...

nice analysis, howabout something along the lines of this for PHUEL...

Brody said...

This is great stuff. I don't think North Hills will make PHUL finals in the spring year. I think they should be a shoe in for semis though.

I haven't seen them play this year, but I feel their size and athletic development are definitely holding them back. I've heard they have some incredibly talented players, but I feel they are also young. In my old high school, very few of the JV athletes could match the athleticism of the varsity athletes.

Once their athleticism catches up to their skills, their skills should allow them to dominate PHUL. I anticipate this happening in 2007. -Brody

Jay said...

Pretty good analysis, Nick. I just found this out now.

Anonymous said...

Breaking this down further(i am biased but trying to remain objective):

Lebo has the strongest Zone Offense in PHUL. Zone Handlers Julian Hausman, Pete Imler, Zach Ehler, and Jacob Brett have been playing together for 4 years and have frustrated each zone Lebo has been faced with. Seniors Zack Smith and Ben Smith (no relation)add a deep threat to this offense.

Man O is the strength of Hampton. This team will win their games when they force one on one matchups against players like Perry Martin, Jay Huerbin, and Luke Trukenbrod who can use their athleticism to beat the defender in to the disc, or sky a man on a huck. North Hills is not far behind in this category with strong handlers of Ben Funk and Alex Thorne, and athletic deep threats of Colin Conner and Ed Reith.

Man D goes to Hampton as well for the same reasons, however, Hampton consists of relatively new players to the sport, so their marks are not up to the level that the rest of their man defense is.

Zone D goes to Lebo. Their team roster has not lost one active player from last year so their zone has had time to develop team chemistry and communication more than other teams thus far. ZSmith size also makes many teams think twice about sending a huck with him playing deepdeep.

The PHUL championship will be a hardfought battle between Lebo and Hampton. North Hills will continue to grow as a team over the next few years, they will win Easterns 2008.

I am biased. I play for Lebo. But that is how i see it.

Julian Hausman

Anonymous said...

Nick was horribly wrong and once again North Hills proves we are awesome and Mt. Lebo was an ezpk (easy player kill - for all you noobs out there) and we will continue to dominate ALL teams and i mean ALL teams for years to come...

Best zone d: NH
Best zone o: NH
Best man d: NH
Best man o: NH
Best do what the hell they want with one man spread handler in zone while playing at states with a lacrosse ball and owning everyone: NH