All posts by blair

X-Wing Blog Part 2: Worlds Prep

Hi everyone thank you again for reading.  As I write this there’s about 2.5 weeks to go to Worlds.  I was extremely confident at the time I made my last post in which I discussed potential builds I would run in Season 2 of the TC Aces league.  I honestly haven’t even bothered proof reading that post, I know it wasn’t even finished so I almost deleted it but then I thought it would be a good lesson in humility to just post it.  Humility? You might ask, motherfucker you cocky as shit in that post.  Yes, true I was, but looking back now I am able to realize how over the top arrogant I was and decided that in leaving it up it would always be there as another reminder to try to keep myself grounded and humble.

That said, I had some good reason to have arrogance at that time.  I went 4-1 last season in the Aces league, and to be perfectly honest my overall record throughout the second half of wave 5 and all of wave 6 was probably something like 115-25.  A lot of those lists I mentioned I honestly made up only after playing like one game with them and felt good playing them against most anything, I had a pretty good handle on the meta.  That has now changed.  It’s crazy how suddenly it’s shifted in that b-wings, once the work horse of the Rebellion, have taken a huge step backward.  They’re still solid against most but I just feel like they have a very tough time keeping up with tlt Y-Wings.  The Y-Wings can just run and run and the b-wings have no shot to try and dodge or close the distance.  I’m not going to get into the whole discussion of TLT and are they broken/take no skill to fly/etc. but I’ll just say I have been struggling against them.  A lot of games I’ve played against them in which I’ve felt like I’ve out flown my opponent, games that I feel like would’ve been wins in wave 5/6 have ended up going south for me.  Going 0-2 in the Galactic Cup were probably the worst two losses out of them all.  Apart from one mistake I made in the first game I really felt like I played well and just wasn’t able to overcome what seemed like an uphill battle the entire game.  Now, both games were pretty close, I feel like there were situations in which had I had a theoretical 1-time palpatine ability each game most likely would’ve gone in my favor, but that’s completely hypothetical and there’s just no sense in dwelling on all that.

So that brings me to the present day.  Admittedly, I am completely all over the place in what to bring.  How could it come to this that with 2 and a half weeks to go to Worlds my confidence is lower than it’s been in over a year.  I have a lot of builds that I feel like I could bring and go something like 4-3 with but 4-3 is not the goal.  I’m committed to not bringing any sort of 360 anything myself.  I feel like Autothrusters or Sensor Jammer is an absolute must, and am leaning towards Autothrusters since they’re naturally great against the plethora of 360 ships I’ll see.  Sensor Jammer is fun because it’s something players don’t see often and I tend to lean more towards things that are a little less popular.  Call me insane but Whisper is probably in the lead for me right now, I won’t say exactly what with her since I’m still experimenting with that but she is calling to me.

I consider myself so very fortunate to be able to collaborate with so many other brilliant minds who allow me to take a peak into theirs.  Making the cut will be quite the longshot but if I do, as is the goal, I will have many people to thank.

Thank you for reading, I’m hoping to have some more content in before or potentially even during Worlds but we shall see.

Blair’s X-Wing Blog

What up yall, I’m breaking out my whacky alter ego to talk to you about some X-Wing stuff, namely the squads I’m bringing to the Team Covenant Aces league and why.

Not sure what exactly everyone else has planned, I know Doug Kinney is planning on bringing mostly bombs into his lists.  I have a few ideas but mainly I think I’m gonna center my lists around a couple mainstays of the Rebellion Fleet.  Two quotes from two time World Champ Paul Heaver will help explain why.

This https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2015/2/19/it-is-the-future-you-see-wave-6/ was an article Paul wrote for FFG talking about the meta heading into wave 6 and how S&V may affect it.  He says, “As each new wave is released, I try to figure out how the new cards will fit into the current meta game. I currently classify most ships into three “pillars”, as I call them: Turrets…., Jousters….., and Arc-dodgers.”

Arc-dodgers have seen a lot of success but for me, currently anyway, I tend to shy away from Fel as I feel there’s just too much hate against him.  If you play in a large tournament you may go 5-2 in Swiss running a Fel/Chiraneau list but eventually you’re gonna run into something like Patrol Leader w/ gunner and Vader + 4 Obsidians and there’s basically no way to win that.  There were tons of hard Fel counters at my regionals and there were 2 match ups for sure I know I would’ve lost had I brought him.  Now, that is subject to change with the Raider and Wave 7 hitting, Vader is a bit beefier and will hold up better against lists like the aforementioned but there are other things that will always present problems for those PS 9 aces.  The YV-666 for example is gonna be a nice ace-hunter I think.  Something like Gunner, Bossk, Tactician can go with any of the pilots other than Bossk and present a tough challenge for an ace with 180 degrees of arc to dodge.

Turrets are always good if flown wisely.  Most of my ELO wins came from running Corran/Dash but I’ve felt like with the amount of turrets seen in competitive play I’ve been more inclined lately to run some jousters to counter them.  I’ve also shied away from turrets a bit ever since auto-thrusters were released.

The next quote from Paul isn’t verbatim but I remember reading in his 2013 Worlds report about how he felt like B-Wings were a pretty good value compared to the other ships in the game at the time.  This has held true even up till now, the blue squadron remains the most popular ship for tournament goes according to MajorJuggler.  They were one of the first ships I ran competitively and they’ve just had a soft spot in my heart ever since.  Like I said much of my success in competitive play has been from running the same Corran/Dash list but if I’m not rolling with that I’m usually going with some combination of b-wings and or bandits with maybe something else to fit in.  Below is a list of builds I’ve come up with/had some success with that I’m thinking about flying in the league.

http://xwing-builder.co.uk/view/207907/ace-filler-part-3

This was a fun little list I ran in the last store championship tournament I played in.  Lots of jousting strength with the bandits and blues and like PS so I can move in whichever order I please.  Jake’s sort of a mini-ace, particularly without the prockets.  I went 6-1 at this tournament and beat Dallas in Season 1, albeit he was running a list I know he’d never take to a competitive event, but I shy away from this now as I feel that any list with a 9 you need to punt at least a point to give you a chance for initiative.

http://xwing-builder.co.uk/view/296148/blounts-bs

I actually ran this list at the previous store championship I attended and did pretty well going 4-0 before dropping.  Basically just the same thing but instead of Jake I have Blount who isn’t an Ace but is terrifying to them and then I just throw in another Tala.

http://xwing-builder.co.uk/view/296148/let-the-boys-be-boys

$10 if you get the reference.  This is just something that I thought up haven’t

 

This is the End, Beautiful Friend.

So the season wrapped up this weekend.  We finished 1-10 overall, not our best campaign but I can truly say two things about the season.  First of all, I think this was probably the best job I did in my 4 years.  I’m not trying to brag and say I did a great job, but I think I had more of a positive impact in terms of pushing and getting the most out of my players than I had in years past, and push them I did.  This has been said before in not so many words but a coach is not a friend, you’re there to show your players what they do well and encourage them to continue it and what they do wrong and teach them how to correct it.  I got on my guys, but I think I was fair with them.  I remember when I was a junior in high school playing tennis and the varsity team had been pretty talented the two years before and had had successful seasons.  That third year we were not nearly as talented and didn’t have nearly as good a season.  After about the 5th match we were sitting at 1-4 and the coach, who had typically used a more laid back approach, let into us that day at practice.  I don’t think it’s fair to do that, you have to monitor success by improvement as opposed to results, no change in style was gonna make us a winning team that season, we just weren’t that good.  I pushed my guys, but I made it clear from day one what I was gonna expect out of them, I didn’t increase the workload as the losses mounted, or take it easy on them after our only win, it was a steady diet the whole way.  The takeaway from pushing them like that, and my second point, is I really feel like overall the players on my team improved a lot more than in years past.  In previous seasons there were definitely guys who just didn’t really make any kind of a leap.  I can honestly say everyone improved in more than one aspect this season.  We got a lot of shooting and finishing reps in, but we also worked on pick and roll defense individually and wholly, zone defense, pressing and press breaking, and rebounding.  Do they still have a lot of work to do in those areas, absolutely, but I feel like we really set the groundwork and they now have an understanding of the basic to intermediate principals of those aspects.

If I had to change one thing, I would’ve been more firm in our offensive system and taken away some freedom from the players.  I know some pundits would disagree with that, but too many of my players just didn’t have the skills or knowledge to consistently get good shots and the result of that was poor spacing and too many long, contested jumpers.  In the first tournament game I finally told my big guys that we were gonna run 1 high 1 low and if they started drifting out to the 3 point line I was gonna pull ’em.  The result was pretty good, they came out in a 2-3, we got it into the middle to Brady and got us a lot of good looks off of good passes from him.  Unfortunately, we did not make very many of them so we still suffered a pretty hardy defeat but from an execution standpoint we were a much better team that game than we were the first game of the season.

So that’s it for that run of players.  I’ll still be involved with them throughout their high school careers and I hope a few of them can make varsity and play some meaningful minutes, they’ve got the potential if they put in the work.

Thanks for reading.

 

Halfway Mark

So you may have noticed I haven’t been updating nearly as much this season, part of it is because we’ve been a much worse team and it’s not as fun to talk about losing over and over again as it is when you actually win some games.  And this last game was probably the most brutal loss I’ve experienced as a coach I’ll get to it in a bit.

As far as player development goes.  Erann has really been coming along he’s probably the frontrunner for most improved thus far.  His rebounding is getting better every game and his effort overall has really improved.  His shot selection continues to get better, he’s prone to chucking up garbage but it is getting better.

Kindred’s been doing alright, he needs to continue to work on his strength, he has good shooting fundamentals but he struggles in games and I think part of it is because he has trouble getting his balance and legs when he’s been running a lot.

Ethan started out the season slow but he’s had a nice last two games, his shot is finally starting to show a little improvement but still got a ways to go.

Brady’s been pretty solid, he hasn’t quite provided the scoring punch that I’ve wanted as he’s been more keen to just stand out at the three point line as opposed to getting into the key and mixing it up but he’s still probably our leading scorer at this point.  He played through a sprained ankle last game which was good.

Isaac has been slowly developing as well.  It’s pretty clear no one has bothered to teach him anything up to this point so he’s still got a long ways to go but he had about 4/5 rebounds in only 10 or so minutes last game.

Logan is pretty much a lost cause.  Jason and I have been doing what we can but he just struggles so mightily in even the simplest of things such as catching a ball or making a layup.  He’s basically been a total non-factor in every game we’ve played he maybe has 3 rebounds through the season and has yet to score or register a steal or block.  He’s a great kid but I think it might be time for him to look to something else for exercise after this season.

Alex was doing alright but he fractured his foot so he’s out for the rest of the season.  Came to the game Saturday, though so that was good on him.

Anthony’s been doing well.  Still trying to coax him off that three point line and into the paint but he’s been rebounding well and giving good effort.  Along with the long range shot selection he needs to cut back a bit on his aggressiveness defensively and play a little smarter he’s leading our team in fouls up to this point.

Luke has also been coming along decently.  His shot is way too damn flat and really needs some work but he’s starting to figure out he can get to the rim fairly consistently and be a pretty disruptive defender due to his athleticism.  Like Anthony, needs to work on not being so prone to fouling and improve his discipline overall, as evidenced by our last game.

 

So we’re 0-6 going into last game.  Alex was out because of his foot and Anthony’s parents didn’t let him play cause he got in a fight so we only have 7 counting Brady and his sprained ankle.  La Conner has 3 little gyms all in the same relative area but only 2 of them have signs and there is construction everywhere.  So 4 players and I are scrambling around trying to find it and we didn’t get there till 2 minutes to tip off.  So only 3 of our guys got any significant warmup time and the rest were completely cold which I really think affected us because no one hit a jumper all game except Luke who banked in 1 three.

It’s a close game the whole way, no team led by more than 4 till the end.  We were trying to press but we hadn’t practiced it much so it didn’t really do a whole lot for us.  Our zone defenses were pretty good and we did a good job of cutting down on turnovers.  Only real thing that we could’ve done better was shoot the damn ball we were about 1-12 on jump shots and only made like 40% of our free throws.  So 45 seconds to go in the game we’re down 1 they have the ball and call time.  I say we need a steal or a foul.  So of course Luke decides to straight body check their ball handler, draws an intentional foul, they get 2 points and the ball, then make both free throws after we have to foul again and win by 5.  So we’ll have to discuss what it means to keep your composure at this next practice to ensure something like that doesn’t happen again, but at least they learned a valuable lesson that all it takes is 1 boneheaded play and all your hard work can be thrown away.

Season 4

So I know I kind of left you all with a cliffhanger at the end of last season but that’s because we came up short in the playoffs and I just didn’t want to write about it.  All the shots we had made when we needed to during the regular season just weren’t dropping, Isaiah and Carter, our two leading scorers all year had maybe 5 points between them in the last game.  I don’t mean to call them out as they had carried us all year but it was just a tough end to an otherwise real good season.  We still went 7-5 overall which is pretty damn good for a Woolley team but it would’ve been nice to have gone all the way.

 

But enough about last year time to move onto this season.  I actually knew everyone on my team other than two guys as I had either coached them last year or the year before.   So going in I was really hoping two of the unknowns would be guards as I knew only 2 of the other 7 were.  As fate would have it though, they’re both big guys.  That’s the thing that really sucks about coaching SWISH, not necessarily that you coach the lower level players but that the AAU coaches get their pick of the litter and then you get stuck with these randomass rosters that consist of 2 guards and 7 front court players and have to try to make do with it.  Ethan will be fine running point for us in all aspects but I don’t think Kindred can handle it athletically so I have to try to figure out something for when Ethan’s on the bench.  One guy, Luke, is athletic enough to be able to play wing but he’s not much of an outside shooter, the other 6 guys are really all just post players.  One of them, Brady, is actually a pretty good shooter and pretty skilled all around, 3 of them aren’t terrible shooters but the other 2 are complete non threats.  So I know it seems like I say this every year but outside shooting is really gonna be an issue, having at least one real good shooter would be a godsend but we’ll make do.  It’s still a fairly solid group outside of 2 of the guys.  One of them I coached my first year and it was a struggle for him.  I was  honestly amazed he was still playing as he really didn’t seem to enjoy it at all and he would get hurt almost every practice.  Every kid should be afforded an opportunity but it’s just hard when he’s so far behind everyone else in so many aspects.  It’s gonna be hard to make big runs with the two of them on the floor.  I know I’ve always said you shouldn’t be worried about winning as a first priority until you’re coaching at the high school varsity level but at the same time your best players are the ones that put in the most work during the off season and if a game is close I believe you should give them a chance to try and win it.

Two years ago we completely sucked and didn’t win a game, a lot of stuff factored into that but a big thing was that we were absolutely horrid in transition.  Offensively because we had few athletic players who could finish well and defensively because we were lazy as crap.  Jason and I set the tone from this first practice that we’re not gonna tolerate lack of hustling.  We still probably won’t be a big transition offensive team as Ethan is really the only guy that can take advantage of those situations but there’s no way we’re gonna allow teams to just run over us like they did in the past.  So after doing some lines and some shooting and finishing drills we broke into a 3 on 3 rebounding and shooting drill.  Rebounding was likewise something we didn’t practice much in the past and was therefore something we weren’t great at.  We were good enough last year since we had Alex who was just a naturally relentless rebounder but this year we’re gonna make sure everyone understands the need to box out and finish every defensive possession.  We might not be the most talented team but I’ll be god damned if we’re gonna let anyone outwork us this season.

Elongated Update

So I know it’s been a couple weeks since I last blogged the two of you reading this must’ve been absolutely dying for an update. Our 6th game we played Oak Harbor and had a rough time. They took it to us they got into the paint a lot and posted up a lot of different players, kept us off balance and just no one could ever get themselves going offensively.

Next game we played Anacortes and it was an extremely close game no team led by more than 4 the entire time. They kept killing us over and over again on backdoor cuts which was driving Jason and I absolutely crazy so we worked on that the next week at practice. We couldn’t make any free throws worth a damn but the team was fouling us so much we got into the bonus 2/3 the way into the 3rd quarter and were able to at least convert some of them. The game was very physical a lot of our guys were getting knocked down and Jason was actually about to say something to one of their players but I pulled him down. They were down like 4 with 3 minutes to go and began trapping with their press and gave us a lot of problems with it we couldn’t score and turned it over twice. They had the ball side out with like 15 seconds to go, got a shot off missed it, one of their guys got the rebound right above the free throw line and threw up a 2-handed puke of a shot that literally hit the rim 5-6 times before bouncing in as the buzzer sounded. So we went into OT and got to a 3 point lead with like 5 seconds to go in the game their ball on our end. I said for the love of god no one foul if you foul you got suicides all week and they got a shot off at half court but they missed it.

Our 8th game was against Marysville, who was tied with us for 3rd in the division. Hayden isn’t really a great shooter but he’s really found his niche on our team as being a big time defensive stopper. He’s still got some work to do but he’s quick and he’s physical and if he has the will to work at it he could be a real good one. Kindred started on their point but they kept running a bunch of ISO’s from the top of the key and were getting some penetration so I called a timeout and put Hayden on him and he did a real good job shutting him down. Isaiah hit two threes in the first half but then he had a bad collision with another kid and sat down with a bloody tooth. He came back though, and played the entire second half scoring another 6 or 8 points. It was a great team effort though, I think it was the first game where everyone scored and it was a great game it was close the whole way but we held on for a 29-24 victory.

Our last game and last of the regular season was against Friday Harbor. They hadn’t won all year and a part of me wanted to let them as I know how brutal that is but you can’t really tell your players to throw a game. They hit some nice shots and were well coached but they just didn’t have the size to control their defensive backboard Alex had about 8 offensive rebounds himself.

In practice we’ve just really been working on a lot of fundamental stuff. Like I said to work on back-cuts we did a scrimmage where only give and goes and back-doors were allowed. I’ve felt like we haven’t been as good as we can be in terms of perimeter defense so we’ve been doing a lot of quickness and agility drills. I was absent one practice, get off my ass it was the first one of the year, and Jason taught them a 1-2-2. We threw in a little wrinkle where we trap the corner every time and they ran it alright against Friday Harbor, good enough that I think we can maybe go to it in the tournament but we’ll work on it some more this week.

4th/5th games

Practice we haven’t really been working on too many new things. After La Conner killed us in rebounds our third game we worked on boxing out and talked about our rebounding philosophy and I think it worked. Our 4th game the other team was considerably smaller than us but the 5th game the team was about equal in size to us and we thoroughly out rebounded them. Cody and Alex, our two post players, in particular had great games they probably had 15-17 rebounds between the two of them.

We were still having trouble with defending baseline out of bounds plays too so we worked on that and I felt like we did a lot better job these last two games.

The 4th game our opponent was small and not very talented so we handled them pretty easily. 5th game the team was decent, we came out kinda slow to start and our defense was pretty atrocious, no talking and lots of losing our guys. They were up 18-9 at half, third quarter we made up some of the deficit but the defense was still bad. I asked the guys going into the fourth if they wanted to go 2-3 not only cause our man to man was crap but maybe to throw them a different look too but they wanted to stay with our man to man so we did. Thankfully they decided to turn it up in the 4th and we really put the clamps on their offense. Carter had like 7 points in the quarter including a huge 3 with about 90 seconds to go. I’ve been in some close games as a coach but never have one of my teams came back from being down like that to win a close one so it was pretty exhilarating.

I’m still concerned about the poor defense so we’ll have to work on that this week. Other than that though, we played pretty well our spacing is still not very good, corner guys aren’t getting low enough so I’ll have to think of a way to work on that too.

2nd and 3rd Game

Been awhile since I posted but things been going along well. I’m not a very observant person, I lived in my current house for almost a year before I noticed we had a flagpole, but I really feel like I’m reaching the kids. We did a shooting drill where we split into two teams and line up at a spot on the floor. First guy on each team shoots and then gets his own rebound, first team to ten makes wins. Cody, who’s not much of a shooter, was getting frustrated cause he wasn’t making much and he kinda started pouting and not giving his best effort. So next practice when he asked me if we’d do 2v2 king on the mountain I told him we were gonna do the shooting drill first and as long as he didn’t pout we could do 2v2 after and his energy and effort really improved.

So second game we played a Burlington team that wasn’t that talented. We put the press on right from the start and got a few turnovers but then their coach took a timeout and their pg was able to handle it pretty well for the rest of the game. Isaiah got in foul trouble early but Carter was able to carry a lot of the offense, Ethan and Cody had pretty solid games too, it was close till the 4th then we were finally able to put them away.

Third game we played a La Conner team that was absolutely huge. One of their guys was standing next to Jake and literally looked like he was twice as tall as him. We only had 6 guys and they were already kinda tired from just playing, we had a back to back that day, so they really hammered us inside. As many offensive rebounds as we gave up the first game we gave up even more against these guys. Isaiah actually hit five threes and we scored like 42 points but they had so many offensive put backs it didn’t even matter they scored like 60.

So next two practices we worked a lot on boxing out. I’d say that’s probably the toughest thing to teach cause it’s really not something that’s glamorous and you really have to be willing to get physical but they look a lot better at it then they did last week so that’s good. We worked a little on how we’re gonna play against a box and 1 and a 2-3, two things La Conner threw at us. In a 4-out offense usually you want your post just saying low block if he’s not very skilled, which neither of my guys really are, but I told them they can go high post against a 2-3. I mostly just told them to be careful with the ball as defenders can come from anywhere at that spot so we’ll see how they do with just that and make adjustments during the game and at next practice.

First Game and Adjustments

So we played Stanwood and they took it to us. We started out well it was 8-8 at one point but then we just lost momentum. They made a run and our guys got a little shell shocked and we just couldn’t recover. The pressure of both the game and of that they were applying to us led to a lot of bad turnovers which they converted into easy points. Isaiah also was over helping a lot and that led to his free man getting countless offensive rebounds and easy buckets. We went zone in the second half mainly just so I could see how well we would run it and it was a mess all over so we went back to man to man in the 4th. We did a good job of being aggressive and attacking but they also went zone in the second half and we didn’t do a good job of relocating when their secondary defenders would help. I’ve talked about how we’ll struggle against zone but we work almost every practice on driving, jump stopping and then turning and hitting your reloading teammate so hopefully we’ll be better. They finished with 45 points or so but at least 30 of them were just from bad turnovers and the numerous offensive rebound put backs they had. I’d say that’s good and bad. Good because it wasn’t like we just couldn’t guard them and they were killing us but bad because we can’t give up points that easily. I’ve talked about how everyone has to rebound this week and I feel like they’re understanding that more. The turnovers I’m not so sure about, basically they just need to settle down and make sure everyone’s in their spot in our offense so before trying to make something happen.

Despite the big loss we did some good things I think we can build on. We never went to our full on trapping press but Carter and Ethan did get up there and press them a little and we got some turnovers out of that so I think we will start out next game with a full on press and potentially stay with it for as long as the game is close. We also were able to break them down some and get penetration so I think if we run our offense better this game those drives will lead to a lot more scoring opportunities.

I got a new kid, Alex who’s actually got some game and he’s a bigger kid too so I think him and Cody will just split time at post and Isaiah will play on the perimeter. So that leaves six perimeter players with four spots. Isaiah, Hayden, Carter and Ethan are clearly on another level than Kindred and Jacob. So I can either play the four of them 3/4 of the game and the other two 1/2 or play them all 2/3. Difficult decision, on the one hand it’s obviously more fair to the two to play them for half as they’ve been coming to practice, but it’s probably more fair to the team to play the better kids more as it gives us a better chance to win. I think I’ll probably just end up taking it game by game. If we’re playing a team with a good record and it’s close then I’ll go with my stars but if we get up or down big then I’ll give the other guys some more run.

Final Preparations

So tomorrow’s the first game. It’s not a league game all it does is determine which division we’re going to be placed in but it’ll be a good barometer for where we’re at, I’ve been blown out the previous two seeding games so I’d really like to get a win here. I’m optimistic, I usually am at the start of the season, but I feel like we’ve got a pretty good team. Outside shooting remains our biggest weakness but our guards are pretty solid otherwise and our big man is good to go. Cody will struggle I think but hopefully the other more experienced guys will help him out.

We spent the last practice working on two simple, quick hitting plays, one for the tip-off and one a baseline out of bounds play. They executed them well enough so hopefully we can get something out of them.

Not sure how our zone defense will look as we haven’t scrimmaged 5 on 5 much given we only have 7 players but most guys on the team have played in it so if it sucks we can work on it next week at practice.

I’ve told the perimeter guys it’s ok for them to switch screens but I don’t want our big men doing it in pick and roll situations but when we’ve played 2 on 2 they’ve basically switched everything and anything other than that has resulted in pretty porous defense so I’m sure we’ll have to work on that.

We also got to finally work on our press breaker this week so if they throw one at us we should be ready. Carter, Hayden and Ethan should all be able to handle one on one pressure, not sure about Kindred and Jacob but we’ll see.