A Video Analysis of the AUC2015 Open’s Final

one spreadsheet, so many feelings

(Note: for some reason beyond my limited coding capabilities, the embedded videos are skipping away from their designated start times. Use the hyperlinks in the descriptions instead.)

Part 1 — A Mammoth Struggle on Offense

Mammoth’s offense struggled throughout this game, converting on just 57% of their points. They set up in a 3 handler/4 cutter horizontal stack, with Abra Garfield as the central handler and John McNaughton downfield as the focal point of the central cutting pair. Conceptually, the horizontal offense is looking to utilise the deep space behind the stack to generate quick goals from hucks. In this game however, Mammoth struggled to get into an offensive rhythm.

Part of this was execution; up 2–1, Garfield overthrows a cutter with separation.

https://youtu.be/sCqt_yugEA8?t=10m35s

Tied at 2–2, Troy Booth drops a full field huck from Garfield in the endzone. https://youtu.be/sCqt_yugEA8?t=15m55s }�� �5��yy

https://youtu.be/sCqt_yugEA8?t=15m55s

My impression here is that Mammoth’s shot selection became more conservative as a result, moving away from long throws and trying to grind comeback cuts for metres underneath.

Additionally, HoS made smart defensive adjustments on the sideline handlers, sagging off into the throwing lanes to discourage damaging throws through the middle while happily conceding a flat swing to the sideline for no gain.

The result is that Mammoth have to fight for every metre and it surprised me they never adjusted their set-up.

Their handers are disciplined enough to avoid throwing into double coverage but their possessions lack flow with HoS stifling movement through the middle of the field. The goals they do score are drawn out affairs with a lot of pressure from the HoS defenders downfield.

https://youtu.be/sCqt_yugEA8?t=1h17m30s

Options I would have considered:

  • playing a vertical or side stack and at least forcing the defense into a different look.
  • initiating play from a handler cut. Having one (or both) of the sideline handlers vacate that space serves to clear a help defender out of the lane while also providing more space for downfield cutters to attack.
  • moving another handler (or McNaughton) to the central handler position and Garfield to the highside. If HoS continue to play loose on the sideline handlers, Mammoth can look to huck immediately on the swing to Garfield; if HoS play tight instead you have your preferred throwing lanes open again.

Part 2 — If at first you don’t succeed, try try try try try try try try again.

In contrast, the HoS offense scored several easy points on hucks to Brendan Ashcroft, a blisteringly fast sprinter. After a Mammoth offensive hold to bring the score to 6–11, Sebastian Barr sends a dagger of a crossfield backhand to Ashcroft for the one-pass goal.

https://youtu.be/sCqt_yugEA8?t=1h8m10s

The game winner is remarkably similar, except that it is Chris Kaliviotis with the assist.

https://youtu.be/sCqt_yugEA8?t=1h32m50s

HoS do an excellent job of simplifying Ashcroft’s task to “run faster than your defender over 50m”.

The quick holds they generate are crucial in maintaining HoS’s momentum and not allowing the Mammoth defense a chance to work their way back into the game.

Unfortunately for Mammoth, Timocles Copland doesn't have the foot speed necessary to keep up with Ashcroft…I'm not sure if anyone on their roster does. The alternative if they want to play the match-up one on one is for Copeland to sit very deep and concede metres through the middle of the field.

Options to consider:

  • transition zones which place an extra defender deep to discourage the immediate huck from the pull reception.
  • aggressively sending help defenders on the huck (although I’m not sure this even helps if they don’t have the foot speed).

Part 3 — Hustle and Flow

HoS’s offense (on both O and D) featured very quick movement between cutters, with the disc rarely staying in one player’s hands for more than three seconds. The Mammoth defense never really gets a chance to apply consistent pressure. Two illustrative examples: their O line up 5–10.

https://youtu.be/sCqt_yugEA8?t=1h2m0s

Lachlan McDonald going on a rampage up 3–5.

https://youtu.be/sCqt_yugEA8?t=33m50s

Epilogue - Max Wheeler

His release points were a delight to watch and very, very difficult to mark.

Thoughts, comments, questions, heckling, hit me up!

(Special thanks to Max for being the best sub-editor ever.)

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