Joe Keegan's 10 Man Ride Week 8 San Jose

10 Man Ride: Week 6

1. Whipsnakes rollbacks

The Whipsnakes are loaded with two-handed midfielders who can get physical and roll to re-roll until they find their shot. Eventually, they will find their shot. It’s inevitable. Those unassisted shots down the alley or across the two-point arc are some of the least efficient on the field, though. The Atlas’ gambled on the Whipsnakes, well, whipping those shots wide.

In the long run that’s the right bet. But on Saturday night John Haus, Jeremy Sieverts and Connor Kelly made the Atlas defense pay.

“They’re not coming off the poles up top when you’re dodging back and forth,” Matt Rambo said while mic’d up in the huddle. “So we’re gonna sit low. We’re gonna have two on the pipe and maybe one behind, let that whole middle go.”

Three first quarter goals came from multiple changes of directions on short-stick matchups. Most defenses will slide to that initial rollback, either to squeeze a double or to get a pole on the ball. It’s not always easy. On Kelly’s goal, the Whips pulled Michael Ehrhardt and Joel Tinney off to the side to play five-on-five. That stretches the slides. It’s not easy to sneak up on ball carriers in this league, but the Bullies need to send more help to earn their nickname.

 2. McMahon “Glicks” back-to-back shots

Quick refresher: Blocked shots are now called Glicks after Mark Glicini sacrificed his body last week (and the week before and also the week before that).

McMahon is the latest lunatic to throw himself between the pipes like it’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It looks like McMahon stops the first shot with his stick and Drew Adams gets a piece of the second shot. Whether it’s two Glicks or one Glick and a Glick attempt, this is a hell of a sequence by the Archers’ team defense.

3. MacIntosh-Wolf two-man game

I’ve highlighted its inverse several times in this space. Jordan Wolf (4G, 2A) is a lethal pick-and-roll operator; his teammates have shot better throughout his career when he feeds them off picks than when he feeds them off one-on-one dodges. Flipping that pairing so that Wolf picks (or mirrors) for Jordan MacIntosh (5G, 2A) can be as dangerous.

There are two options for the defense to slide from here: Brodie Merrill in MacIntosh’s face or Johnny Surdick (Wolf’s defender) can stalk MacIntosh. The Chaos sends Surdick, but MacIntosh feels him breathing down his neck and hits an open Wolf. That second slide to Wolf is late, and the third slide to Simon Mathias (2G) is even later. Either tighten those up, or take your chances with a short-stick on MacIntosh for the final seven seconds of the shot clock.

4. Brent Adams’ Answer

Brent Adams belongs in the All-Star Game. The dude dropped a hat trick on Saturday while playing a ton of defense and transition. After two years of injuries, Adams is right back in any discussion about the PLL’s best two-way players. (The rest all wear Whipsnakes jerseys.)

He has an extra gear on fast breaks. He’ll clear the ball at what looks like full speed, only to step on the gas, accelerate even more, and blow by his defender. In six-on-six sets, he’s almost too fast. When he drives the righty alley, his angle is gone in an instant. One move he pulled this week might work better: The Answer.

As Adams drives down the lefty alley, he creates enough separation from his defender to flip his hips and shoot with his stick to the middle. This is a higher percentage shot than anything down the alley, if you have the speed to create it for yourself.

5. Joe Nardella: All-Star snub

Speaking of All-Star snubs, Whipsnakes faceoff specialist Joe Nardella proved voters wrong on Saturday night. Going head-to-head with the best faceoff athlete in the league (Trevor Baptiste), Nardella won 9-of-20 faceoffs – and he scored two goals! Nobody else on the Whipsnakes had multiple goals.

6. Redwoods switching against Archers picks

The Redwoods’ Notre Dame defenders have deservedly drawn much of the attention. But the league’s best defense relies heavily on its short-sticks: Pat Harbeson, Jack Near, Brent Adams, Nick Ossello, and Tyler Dunn.

Against the Archers’ pick-heavy offense, the Redwoods often switched short-sticks onto Kevin Rice or Tom Schreiber. The Archers weren’t able to exploit those matchups early in the game. It wasn’t until a late Tom Schreiber to Will Manny to Marcus Holman tic-tac-toe goal that they made the Redwoods pay for this strategy. Holding a team to eight goals in this league is unheard of – especially when you lose 85.7% at the faceoff X. This may not have been a dominant win overall, but it was certainly a dominant defensive performance by the Redwoods.

7. Atlas ATO set play

The Atlas had an entire lightning delay to talk through an offensive possession. This wasn’t an ATO (after timeout) play; it was an ALD (after lightning delay) play.

It starts with John Crawley setting a razor pick for Eric Law. As Crawley slips to the crease, Law flips the ball to Kieran McArdle, and Connor Buczek exchanges with Ryan Brown. Buczek and Crawley both seal their men – the two defenders who should be responsible for extending to Brown in the Whips’ invert defense. Jake Bernhardt fights through Crawley’s seal to block this shot and force an easy save for Kyle Bernlohr.

Down by two points in crunch time, the Atlas went right back to this look. This time, instead of flipping to McArdle, Law faked the flip and fed Paul Rabil for a stepdown two-point attempt.

It’s not the result that the Atlas wanted, but it’s a decent shot. Shots beyond the arc aren’t easy to generate six-on-six. They’re unnatural. Even though the 15-yard arc is a yard closer than most shooters are accustomed to, it’s one less yard that closeout defenders need to cover. There’s a reason why most two-point goals have been by trailing poles on fast breaks. If you desperately need a two-pointer in a settled set, you could do much worse than this action that the Atlas drew up.

8. Andy Towers using a timeout with 3.5 seconds and 40 yards to go

With only 3.5 seconds remaining in the half, Chaos head coach Andy Towers burned a timeout to set up a Jarrod Neumann 40-yard bomb. I don’t mind it. At all. Especially during a televised game that guarantees you breaks in the second half, I’m all for unconventional timeout usage. Save a possession or squeeze in an extra two-point attempt. Don’t save them until it’s too late; most plays drawn up in crunchtime huddles are scrapped for improvisation when the whistle blows anyways.

9. Crease Collapse of the Week

After a pick draws a switch at X, the Chaos send a slide to Jordan Wolf and scramble. Brodie Merrill extends to the two-point arc. Kyle McClancy peels off Wolf as Johnny Surdick peels off the original picker, and they meet in the middle to converge on Ned Crotty and separate him from his stick.

10. Wes Berg handles through what would have been the Crease Collapse of the Week

This is a beautiful display of team defense. The Archers are in the process of recovering as this clip begins. Matt McMahon is extending out to Jules Heningberg at X, Dominique Alexander is finding his new matchup on the crease, and Scott Ratliff is sinking in from his man to mark Wes Berg while Alexander recovers. When Heningberg throws this to the top of the arc, Ratliff approaches Sergio Salcido and denies the two-pointer. Alexander slides to Salcido even though they just slid and have no obvious two-slide ready; he trusts McMahon will be there in time. McMahon crashes down on Berg’s hands as the pass arrives.

Then Berg emerges with the ball and beats both the goalie and the shot clock.

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