Friday, January 23, 2015

West Coaches Poll Week of Jan. 19

The West voters were asked to pick their top 10 teams following the LA Open. Twelve voters participated in the poll. Points were allocated in the following manner: Ten points for a first place vote, nine points for a second place vote, eight points for a third place vote, etc. The votes have been tabulated and listed below in order of total votes. The number in parentheses indicates how many first place votes a team received. A “+” or “-” indicates a change from the last poll, with a plus indicating if a team is more highly ranked and a minus indicating is a team is lower ranked. An “x” indicates a team’s standing from the last poll is unchanged. unchanged there will be an “x”

W Coaches Poll Results
1. The Lost Boys – (12) 120 (X)
2. Los Angeles Gambits –  105 (X)
3. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) – 96 (+4)
4. Santa Barbara Blacktips – 79 (X)
5. Arizona Quidditch Club (AZQC) –  67 (+1)
6. Silicon Valley Skrewts – 65 (-3)
7. Crimson Elite – 34 (+1)
8. Tie: NAU Narwhals (-3); Arizona State University (+2) – 3
10. University of Southern California (USC) 21 (+1)

Also receiving votes: San Jose State University (SJSU) Spartans 9 (-2), Utah State Quidditch Club (USQC) 2, Long Beach Funky Quaffles – 1, California Dobbys – 1

Voters Explain Their Decisions
“The Lost Boys' ability to play a variety of offenses and adapt to teams mid-game puts them at the top. AZQC does a good job at matching the intensity of their opponents, but this can also be a detriment... if they are playing a lesser team, they tend to play less intensely and bench their stars. If they can manage to play at their top potential without getting 10 cards a game, they are a top four West team and potentially one of the top three West teams that may have success against some Southwest teams at the Cup. The loss of Nate Olson is probably going to cripple NAU; it has lost the majority of the physical players who made the team a threat in the past and is now down its top ballcarrier and driver.

While the Gambits have a more complete chaser game than the Lost Boys, the Lost Boys dominate the beating game against the teams they play, utilizing their beaters the most effectively on offense. Alex Browne has to do too much work for them, but he is so good, it's not a criticism within the West. UCLA is back in the game and a clear third, above the rest but not yet competitive with the first two. The Santa Barbara Blacktips are a clear fourth to round out the first tier.

The second tier starts with AZQC, who bring a high level of athleticism and physicality, giving it an edge against many other teams. The Skrewts are next, with a strong starting line but serious depth drop-off despite several new recruits. However, stars like Chris Lock and Alex Makk rescue them. USC is back with a bang too, and this team may end up higher in the rankings, but we need to see it play more for it to earn that.

Arizona State University is significantly weaker than in past seasons, but still above USQC, who is better than the bottom half of the West, but not competitive with the above teams. Below it, there is a large murky pool of weaker teams, but I'll pick the Dobbys to round it out based on their LA Open games.”

1. Lost Boys LA Open champions.
2. Gambits – Higher than UCLA because of an uneven bracket: had to face the Lost Boys in the semis.
3. UCLA – Second place at LA Open.
4. Skrewts – Did not make it to the semis like the Blacktips but beat Blacktips at previous tournament.
5. Blacktips – Made it to the semis and beat Lost Boys in previous tournament.
6. AZQC – Lost to Blacktips on Day One but made it to quarterfinals.
7. ASU – Made it to quarterfinals.
8. SJSU – Did not play in LA Open but have done well at previous tournaments.
9. USC  
10. NAU – Based on last season's team because I have not seen NAU play this year.”

The LA Open provided clarity to our West voters. Last week, voters were nearly evenly split between the Lost Boys and the Gambits, with the Lost Boys taking 6 first place votes to the Gambits’ 5; however, after the Lost Boys took home the tournament title vanquishing their rivals outside of snitch range, our voters unanimously placed them top. The Gambits earned 10 second place votes and were comfortably second. UCLA jumped four spots from seventh to third. UCLA’s ranking was perhaps artificially low in the first poll as a punishment for not having played; however, our voters restored the former National runners-up to third with 10 third place votes. Outside the top three, Santa Barbara held steady, taking 6 fourth place votes while no other team received more than two. Voters ranked Arizona Quidditch Club and the Skrewts neck and neck with both teams being named on all 12 ballots in the fourth-eighth slots. The Skrewts received 1 eighth place vote, whereas no voter ranked AZQC lower than seventh. The Skrewts fell by three spots from third to sixth, the largest drop of the poll. The Crimson Elite, one of the few inactive teams this weekend, took 7 seventh place votes. Although some voters lowered their placement of Utah, other teams falling out of favor with the voters allowed the Crimson Elite to rise. NAU was unable to benefit from a similar phenomena as it fell three spots. One voter ranked NAU as high as second, while three voters omitted the team entirely. Arizona State and USC each impressed voters enough at the LA Open to climb one spot. Arizona State was named on all 12 ballots but never higher than sixth. USC was named on 11 of 12 ballots, with 9 of those votes for either ninth or tenth.

San Jose State saw its vote total fall as it dropped from 33 votes and a place on 9 ballots to just 9 votes and a place on 3 ballots. Its failure to travel to the LA Open seems to have cost it votes. Those that cast ballots for SJSU hailed from teams that were more familiar with the squad, suggesting that a lack of knowledge of the team might be more responsible than a lack of talent by the team.

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