Centex took a perceived hit in quality of teams even before it started. That is largely due to Easterns. But while Easterns had some solid teams, the top teams at Centex were still very strong, including some Ozark Conference teams.
Ozark Conference Teams
Arkansas – Ludicrous Speed looked good early in the season. A second place finish in the preseason at Harvest Moon and a second place finish at Big D in Little D gave the impression that Arkansas was going to be a good team, even with the loss of their senior talent. However, losses to Missouri and Missouri S&T at Free State Classic showed that Arkansas might not be as strong as they initially looked. The overtime win against Kansas partially redeemed them, but since then Arkansas has been struggling greatly.
At a shortened Mardi Gras Arkansas lost both of their games and freshmen speedster Joe Bell. At Centex, Arkansas got behind early to Illinios but did much better in the second half. In their second game, against Florida State, they dominated the first half and looked like they had turned a corner. However, they ended up squandering the lead and losing by one. Ludicrous Speed would have to wait until Sunday to win their first game, versus Texas State, but they eventually lost to Oklahoma, and Florida State again.
Arkansas has a lot of work to do. They have talented freshmen and Matt Jackson and Eric Kearney. But that might not be enough. Bell should be back in time for the Conference Tournament, but will Arkansas?
Kansas – The HorrorZontals have been the most consistent team in the Ozarks. They have made Nationals five of the last seven years, missing only 2005 and 2008.
At Centex, Kansas got sucker punched by Kansas State to lose their first game of the day. They ended up recovering by defeating the other lower seeds in their pool, but lost to top-seeded UBC, 8-11. On Sunday, the Zontals moved into the Chumpionship bracket and beat Northwestern, but lost to Illinois and Wisconsin Steven’s Point, both teams they had beat previously.
The Zontals have the talent to beat many teams in the nation. However, they seem to be a collection of ultimate players who go to the same school and not necessarily a team. Sniping, arguing, taunting, and one-upsmanship are not generally good for team chemistry and may be holding the boys in red and black back. They still have Fool’s Fest to work out the kinks before the series, but if they do not get them ironed out there is a good chance this just might be the third Zontal team since 2004 to miss Nationals.
Kansas State – The Huckstables are the surprise of the 2011 season. They were not expected to challenge for a top spot in the Ozark Conference. But now Kansas State is, according to the USAU rankings, the fourth best team in the South Central Region. The Huckstables seem to have conjured a full compliment of players from thin air, from solid handler Cameron Hunter, to all-around star Pat Shriwise, and big time deep Chris Youderian. That does not even begin to touch on the other players on the team, from starter to bench, that give other teams fits.
Kansas State came out fired up on the first day of Centex, beat Kansas and gave UBC a game that ended with a d that popped into UBC’s hands, making the final score 11-9. On Sunday, the Huckstables continued their upward climb by beating Washington and losing on ultimate point to Texas. It is true Colorado College easily handled Kansas State, but Colorado College could be one of the best teams in the nation. Even so, the guys from the Little Apple finished fourth at Centex.
Missouri – Missouri brought a small squad of nine to start Centex. They were bolstered by two more near the end of the Colorado College game and promptly scored six in a row against Wasabi. Other than that remarkable run and a win against UCLA, their showing at Centex was disappointing to say the least. Then again, it is hard to win with a small team.
The MUtants have some good players, including captain Matt Francis, but it is not translating into quality wins. Besides an early season win on Arkansas at Free State Classic and two on Harding at Midwest Throwdown, the MUtants have had trouble beating strong teams. Missouri is sure to be a better team once they show up with a full complement of players, but their lack of game time experience might hurt them.
Oklahoma – The Apes of Wrath got stuck in the pool of death at Centex. They also did not do themselves any favors by making every pool game a close game. After beating California Long Beach on ultimate point and losing by two to Washington, the Apes had to fight back to beat Northeastern, lost by two to Northwestern, and by three to Wisconsin Eau-Claire.
Oklahoma did better on Sunday by beating California San Diego, Air Force, and got revenge on Arkansas for Big D in Little D to take 17th place. It is not a surprise that in both games Oklahoma won on Saturday both Mike Rice and Matt Carney came up with big plays. That is why they are on the field. However, if the Apes want to continue to win the big games someone else is going to have to help these guys out and shoulder the load — and not just for a few points.