10 Man Ride: Quarterfinals Recap
CLEAR! The ride is on. The semifinals are set: Atlas LC, Chaos LC, Waterdogs LC, and Whipsnakes LC are headed to Philadelphia.
Let's recap the quarterfinals with 10 bullets:
1. CrowdStrike Defender of the Week: Jack Rowlett
Jack Rowlett (Chaos LC) dominated his matchup with MVP finalist Grant Ament for 48 minutes. Ament’s points came off powerplays, transition, a switch and a hangup. With Rowlett in his gloves, he wasn’t able to throw his patented underhand skip passes.
Rowlett’s motor never stops. A lot of Chaos’ best “two slides” are simply Rowlett being in multiple places at once. Chaos is faceguarding the weak side mumbo between Marcus Holman and Ryan Ambler. Zero intention to collapse on Connor Fields from 10 yards. So Rowlett rotates up from the pipe for his fifth block of the season.
2. Slips and seals > switches
Chaos LC’s box-on-a-field offense is humming. They shot 7-for-14 (50.0%) off the catch in settled sets, squeezing passes into tight areas and pinging the ball east-to-west and back again.
The Archers LC defense switches every pick. Chaos’ counter? Slips and seals.
Slipping picks before setting them puts your new defender in a trail position. Ryan Smith bailed on this pick for Mac O’Keefe, won inside position on Latrell Harris, and rolled to the rim for a finish. (Notice Dhane Smith creeping up to pick for Smith, too -- this is a Spain pick-n-roll concept, but more on that in a minute.)
Another answer against switches: Seals, a.k.a. picking your own defender.
By picking your original defender (who would be your teammate’s new defender), you’re being covered by two players at once. That’s exactly what Tanner Cook does here to free up Dhane Smith from 2-point range.
Archers had allowed 28.6% shooting off two-man games entering the playoffs; Chaos shot 4-for-7 against them. With Max Adler winning 70% at the stripe, this offense is unstoppable. We’ll go more in-depth later this week on Chaos’ trips set and picking patterns.
3. Chaos' Spain PNR wrinkle
Remember Chaos’ Spain pick-n-roll from Albany against the Redwoods?
They ran Josh Byrne off a Mac O’Keefe pick, then Chris Cloutier picked for O’Keefe as he rolled to the cage to receive a feed from Dhane Smith.
Here’s the wrinkle: Kyle Jackson (in Cloutier’s place) rolling off the pick for the picker.
Spain pick-n-rolls are so hot right now. Speaking of that...
4. Cannons' Spain PNR
Here’s the Cannons’ version of the Spain pick-n-roll: Shayne Jackson picking for Stephen Rehfuss, and Paul Rabil picking for Shayne Jackson.
Ryan Drenner throws this feed to a full-speed Jackson.
5. Lyle-Rabil pick-n-rolls
The Cannons have carved up defenses every time Lyle Thompson and Paul Rabil have had the opportunity to play big-littles. It was more of the same in the playoffs.
Some of the Cannons’ best looks came off Lyle-Rabil actions. This pick on GLE in the sub game led to beautiful ball movement and a Jackson finish.
The Cannons shot a season-low 5-for-30 (16.7%) in settled sets. Atlas pressed out and forced them into uncomfortable, unassisted shots. They won one-on-ones across the board. It was the Cannons’ pick-n-roll offense -- best in the league throughout the season -- that generated high percentage shots.
They just didn’t cash enough of them -- whether it was Lyle sweeping off a pick and sailing one barely above the crossbar or this tic-tac-toe sequence in which JD Colarusso stuffed Ryan Drenner.
Even the most efficient offenses cannot overcome a steep possession disadvantage, and especially not on a tough shooting day.
6. Romar's gravity
Romar Dennis is SHOOTING the ball this season. Prior to 2021, Romar was a career 15.1% shooter off the dodge. He’s shooting 8-for-31 (25.8%) unassisted so far in his second season with the Bulls.
His right-to-right split creates so much separation. Possibly too much separation. If Romar saved some angle, he’d hit more shots. This shake is insane; Eric Law knows this is good as soon as Romar jumps.
The threat of that shot is even more dangerous than the shot itself. Romar draws early slides, and the ball never dies in his stick. He’s second in the league with five second assists. More on his gravity and his role on one of the few alley dodging offenses in the league later this week.
7. John Haus: A coach on the field
Trailing 9-5 at halftime, Whipsnakes LC head coach Jim Stagnitta demanded more from his team in the locker room.
John Haus responded two minutes into the second half.
Assist-to-turnover ratio, AO-to-TO ratio -- however you slice it, Haus is one of the most efficient players in the league. His staircase dodging down the alley gives defenses headaches. Rather than settle for this wrong-sided lefty shot, Haus brings his stick back toward the middle -- forcing the defense to slide. Then he bounces away from trouble and delivers a cross-crease pass to Jay Carlson.
The Whipsnakes lost a lot of leadership in the offseason when veterans Tyler Warner, Jeremy Sieverts, Brett Schmidt, and Joe LoCascio retired. When Haus was out of the lineup earlier this summer, the rookie mistakes compounded. He’s back -- and the Whipsnakes are better for it.
8. Crease Collapse of the Week: Nick Manis
When Jules Heningburg has a short-stick, you should be ready to slide. And following that slide should be the collapse. Nick Manis picks up Bryce Young’s assignment (Matt Kavanagh) on the interior here to prevent a goal.
9. Jules dodging downhill
After missing the 2020 Championship Series, Jules has come back with a new mindset at a new position -- and dominated.
Jules shot 10-for-19 (53%) off the dodge this summer. He was a matchup nightmare for short-sticks and poles. His speed is as difficult to contain from above the arc as it was at X. He’s attacking every matchup confidently -- even Michael Ehrhardt.
Jules is beating defenders with physicality, too. He isn’t settling for alley shots. He’s rolling back, fighting for topside, and creating high percentage shots.
His move from attack to midfield -- something he and head coach Nat St. Laurent had discussed even before the Rob Pannell trade -- isn’t an easy one. But great players adapt, and Jules has evolved his game over the years. From a lefty finisher as a freshman to an alpha attackman at X to a downhill midfielder, Jules keeps adding to his repertoire. I’m excited to see what’s next for him in 2022 and beyond.
10. Inver -- psych!
Justin Guterding, acquired at the trade deadline from Chrome LC, gives the Whips a lefty sniper out of the box. And when he has a short-stick, he gives the Whips another invert option.
Single inverts are a must-have change-of-pace set in the playoffs. They slow the game down when nerves try to speed it up. They prevent transition going the other way, test the opponent’s weakest defender, and lead to rapid ball movement. Haus and Brad Smith can invert; Guterding gives them a guaranteed invert option every time two of those three trots out of the box.
Notice Guterding’s body language as he carries to X for an invert. The nonchalance. Upright posture. Ho-hum, here I go to X. PSYCH!
You can hear Eddy Glazener on the broadcast: “NO ROLLBACK, KU!”
Welp, Guterding rolled back to his dominant left and buried before even setting up the invert. Hat tip to Coach Pugh for calling this out.