1. Whips midfielders dodging decisively
The Whipsnakes – excuse me, “Clinchsnakes” – midfielders are all carbon copies of each other. They can unleash shots on the run with either hand. Because of their two-handedness, they have a tendency to rollback repeatedly. Those staircase dodges work well against slow-to-go defenses like the Chrome. Against a defense that helps early like the Redwoods, those midfielders need to drive one side decisively and move the ball after drawing a slide.
Mike Chanenchuk (1G, 1T, 3A), Joe LoCascio (1G, 1A) and Drew Snider (3G, 1A) were dealing on Sunday night. After driving hard in one direction and pulling the Redwoods defense to one side of the field, they quickly moved the ball so that a teammate could make a play. The Whips don’t look for the home run pass. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Whips offense is looking to hit singles. This pass from LoCascio to Chanenchuk is a single – and Ryan Drenner’s seal on Chanenchuk’s defender helps turn this into an extra base hit. (And that was “Talking Baseball.”)
2. Redwoods defense missing Eddy Glazener
Glazener is widely regarded as one of the best off-ball defenders in PLL. He’s a communicator on and off the field. Every week, his teammates huddle around him and a whiteboard at halftime in the locker room. Without him, this help-heavy defense was lost.
Here’s a vanilla out-of-timeout look: The mumbo. Rambo referred to it as an “old school” motion while mic’d up. Out of a 1-4-1, the wings will pick for the crease players to pop. As Rambo comes off this screen, his defender (#52 Garrett Epple) seems to think that his teammate (#13 Nick Ossello) is switching onto Rambo. Ossello looks for his man as Rambo catches and crow hops into a midrange missile.
You can hear the defense calling out, “MUMBO! MUMBO!” on the broadcast. They know it’s coming, but without Glazener to direct traffic, they misplay it.
There were worse breakdowns than this. Mumbos are designed to cause confusion. Changing (or staying on) the matchups while preparing to slide requires the defense to multitask. There were scenarios where the Redwoods only had one task, and they still let shooters get free based on off-ball movement – not something you see often at this level, especially from this defense.
3. Jarrod Neumann’s game-saving Glick
The Chaos defense makes badass plays every week. Tied up late in the fourth quarter and on the penalty kill, Jarrod Neumann launched himself into a shot from Will Manny and swatted it down with his glove. He almost out-Glicked Glick, until…
4. Mark Glicini’s game-saving Glick
There’s a reason we call these plays “Glicks.” Mark Glicini makes himself big and soaks this stepdown shot from Ben McIntosh.
(Shoutout to Brodie Merrill for staying with the play and altering the next shot.)
5. Tom Schreiber and Ben McIntosh’s chemistry
Schreiber and McIntosh have been the league’s best pick-and-roll pairing, and they are only getting better together. As they run more pick-and-rolls, they’re developing a sixth sense for each other’s whereabouts. McIntosh is one of the best off-ball scorers in the indoor game. With an average passer, he’s a threat; with Schreiber, he’s automatic.
When the Chaos were forced to switch, they tried to slide to get a longpole back on Schreiber. If that pole peeked in Schreiber’s direction for half a second, then McIntosh rolled to the rim.
Here, the Chaos look to play sides. McIntosh’s man is ready to switch – perhaps too ready, because McIntosh slips to the inside for an easy goal.
In the Archers’ twins offense, those two defenders are often on an island against Schreiber and McIntosh. It’s tough to send a third defender without being exposed.
6. Kevin Unterstein’s wrap checks
Every week Unterstein embarrasses a dodger with a wrap check that either separates the ball from the stick or the stick from the dodger. He and Kyle McClancy (Chaos LC) are the best wrap-checking short-sticks in the league. When Unterstein is on a one-handed player, it’s over. He’ll deny topside with his body and sit on the roll back. As Jordan MacIntosh looks to create a right-handed shot, he leaves himself vulnerable for just long enough for Unterstein to pounce.
7. Atlas’ slides: Good!
The Atlas is aggressive on-ball and brutally physical with their slides. Austin Pifani turns MacIntosh back into the on-ball defender here, giving the Atlas a chance to squeeze a double-team. Late in the shot clock, this help is low risk. There are no easy outlets for MacIntosh, and there’s no time for the Chrome offense to move the ball twice.
8. Atlas’ recoveries: Not good!
The Atlas’ slides are strong, but their recoveries are too slow. Check the shot clock here. Pifani slides to Jordan Wolf with 25 seconds on the clock. The Atlas cannot trap Wolf like they did with MacIntosh, so a scramble ensues.
Watch Callum Robinson – the original on-ball defender – as he peels off Wolf. The quickest recovery would send Robinson to the crease and bump out a crease defender to the weakside shooters. Instead, Robinson is asked to recover from Wolf to MacIntosh. That’s an unrealistic distance to travel – nobody is doing a hash mark to hash mark shuttle run before this ball moves from Wolf to Justin Guterding to MacIntosh. These recoveries – and their unsettled defense – are the areas in which the Atlas can improve as they prepare for a potential run at the Crown.
9. Connor Kelly: Attackman or midfielder?
Since moving to attack full-time, Connor Kelly has scored four goals and five assists in two games. From the midfield, he had five goals and two assists in five games.
Is he an attackman or a midfielder? Does it matter? He’s on the field more than ever as an attackman, which is really the only difference between the positions. Playing more has helped Kelly find a rhythm, and he’s making the most of his extra touches. This is a nasty lever pass with John Sexton draped all over his gloves.
10. Joel Tinney’s shovel pass
You didn’t think I’d omit the most Canadian goal of the weekend, did you? We’ve highlighted Joel Tinney’s shovel pump fakes in this space before. His shovel pass is one of the slickest moves in the game. Reunited with Chris Cloutier north of the border, Tinney works the two-man game with his teammate to perfection.