Friday, October 9, 2015

Coaches' Poll: Midwest 10/9

One coach, captain, or designee from each USQ official team was asked to rank the top ten teams in their region. Points were allocated in the following manner: 10 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.

Voters were given fewer than three days to vote; some came in after the deadline and were thus not counted. Further, during the voting period, voters from each team were still being identified. Thus while this poll provides a good basis for how each region views its teams, the lack of information available to voters and flaws with the design these results should be taken with a grain of salt. We will continue to run coaches polls throughout the season to reflect how each region views its own teams.
Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega Photography
Kansas Quidditch (KU) (5)
Mizzou Quidditch (2)
Illinois State University Firebirds (ISU)
Minnesota Quidditch
Marquette University Quidditch
Minnesota Nice Quidditch Club
Crimson Warhawks
Webster University Quidditch
Iowa State Quidditch

Others Receiving Votes: Southern Illinois University Quidditch (SIU) (7), University of Northern Colorado (6), Loyola University Chicago (LUC) (5), Wichita State University (WSU) (1), Arkansas State RedWolf Quidditch (1)

Notes: Seven ballots were cast. Voters were instructed to write in Arkansas State RedWolf Quidditch if they desired.

Voters Explain Their Decisions:

Voter 1

1. KU: Until Mizzou or Minnesota beat Kansas, it is number one. Kansas’ quaffle game is arguably the best in the region, with Adam Heald and Austin Pitts capable of putting up points in bunches. Freshman star Rachel Heald is one of the best behind-the-hoops threats in the region, even so early in the year. And then, when its quaffle game isn’t able to push its opponents out of range, it has the greatest seeker in the region in Keir Rudolph, and it’s not even close.

2. Mizzou: While Kansas shines in the quaffle game, Mizzou’s greatest strength is in its beating. David Becker is one of the up-and-coming beaters in the game, and has had an excellent start to his sophomore season. Every other player who dons the black headband keeps up the pressure that he sets early. Taking advantage of all the opportunities Becker opens up are a steady stream of fast chasers who can all finish at the hoops. Mizzou will go as far as its seeking takes it.

3. Minnesota: The last of the top tier of the new Midwest, the biggest difference between Minnesota’s and other teams is its level of competition throughout the season. But it uses the isolation to its advantage, running a stout zone that is especially tricky to break down without seeing it often. Minnesota benefits from a strong intramural system, helping recruits get acclimated to the game quicker than most. Tim Ohlert anchors this zone, and his coaching will determine how Minnesota fairs this season.

4. Marquette: Marquette has been a frustrating team over the last couple of seasons. Despite having a strong foundation, it has failed to capitalize on it, missing the last two World Cups. This team is still very much a threat, despite a lackluster performance at the 2nd Annual Firebirds Opening Day Tournament. This largely stemmed from separating its corps featuring Nathan Digmann and Matthew Fiebig from the rest of the complementary pieces on the team. But make no mistake, this team’s passing and physical play can take it places, and it is the greatest threat to knock off one of the big three.

5. ISU Firebirds: Probably an unpopular pick after the Firebirds have had a very successful start to the season, defeating University of Arkansas Quidditch Club and Ohio State University Quidditch in snitch range in consecutive weekends. Last year, that would have pushed the Firebirds straight into the top tier. However, while it does speak to the improvement of this team, it also speaks to the fall of those two programs. Colin Richards does an excellent job in the beater game, and Jeffrey Siwek does a great job of capitalizing on those opportunities. What could be the Firebirds downfall is their lack of depth in the quaffle game, as their offense tends to stagnate whenever Siwek steps off the field.

6. Crimson Warhawks: Any of several teams could fall here, as the Warhawks have beaten ISU, but lost to TC Frost. Meanwhile, TC Frost lost to ISU, all in snitch range. This could lead to a very fun battle for that fourth slot. What brings the Warhawks higher is that while they get their top talent picked away from them at the start of the year, they get to spend the rest of the year practicing against a much more talented A Team. The addition of former KU chaser Grant Daigle, and the guidance of beater Alex Holmes, could lead to some very aggressive play, but this team's ceiling is capped by the nature of being a B Team.

7. TC Frost: This was supposed to be the year that Frost jumped up into the top tier and began to challenge for the top crown. Then the formation of Minnesota Nice happened, and that went down the drain. This team still has a solid foundation led by founder and former Team USA keeper Luke Zak. Zak has nice complementary pieces such as Alex Obanor, but the beater game is still weak, and that will limit this team’s success.

8. Minnesota Nice: This is a “Nice” starting point for the Minnesota community team. Josh Zemke will form a nice foundation for the beater core, but I’m not buying into anything until after it plays this weekend at TC Frost's Great Plains Invitational.

9. Iowa State: The return of Jacob Vogts bodes well for this team, which possesses a bevy of athletic male players, but if its Kansas Cup showing was any indication, its lack of female players will prevent it from reaching the ceiling that its male players could give it.

10. Northern Colorado: Another team who I’ve heard good things about, but I’m not sold on until I see it play competition I’m familiar with. But its reputation alone makes it stronger than the rest of a weak lower tier of Midwest teams.

Voter 2

Near the end, I’m a bit more unsure, but for the earlier rankings I’m more confident. Mizzou is still undefeated so its No. 1, but Kansas falls in a close second. Minnesota Nice is third because while I've not seen it play, it has a lot of Minnesota graduates who were crucial to Minnesota’s success last year. Point is it looks good on paper, which isn’t the best rationale but it's still a fact. Illinois State is fourth because it has already beaten Arkansas and Ohio State this year, both teams who were considered to be rather good last year. 

Voter 3

I gave Kansas No. 1 over Mizzou just because, historically, it has had a stronger and bigger program. Obviously that could be different this season (as well as all these other ranking choices). I do think Kansas and Mizzou are the top two right now. Minnesota trails slightly behind; it has not played any games yet (official or otherwise). The Great Plains tournament should be somewhat illuminating to its potential this season (same for Marquette, Frost, Nice, Iowa State). Marquette is the fourth team I expect to earn a bid at the regional championship, these four having had the most athleticism (and previous success). Below that, I’ve ranked Firebirds above the rest of the field despite losing to the Crimson Warhawks at Kansas Cup, they did pretty well against Arkansas and I believe they’ll improve. I gave Frost the edge over Nice, it has more experience as a team and most of its roster is returning players.

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