Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bronze - Meaningless?

I went to Middelfart last night to see the bronze medal match between Middelfart and Gentofte. I've got a few random thoughts from watching.

1. Thanks to Middelfart for letting us come in for free. I don't know if it is a rule (It was at some point), but we really should let other elite volleyball players into our matches without paying.

2. There should absolutely be a rule about referee stands and their closeness to the court. Middelfart's referee stand is by far the worst, there are two legs that sit probably 50cm from the sidelines. They are right where a player trying to hit a set that travels slightly too far outside of the court would land. I saw three different situations last night where players were centimeters from ruining their legs/ankles/knees. I didn't think it was a big deal until three other people noticed the exact same thing.

3. There is little question in my mind that the semi-final matchups worked out perfectly for us in Marienlyst. Middelfart gave us problems all year and the physical nature of their play definitely didn't give them as much of an advantage against HIK as it would have against us or Gentofte. Time and time again, when they needed an important side out or to score an important point, they would just set a high ball to the opposite and let his height do the work. Gentofte didn't really have an answer for it and that was the biggest difference in the match.

4. It took me awhile but I've finally decided what I think about Gentofte. My take is that they are the team that is the most able to score points and put pressure on other teams by actually "playing volleyball". I know that sounds ridiculous, but let me explain. What I mean is that they can play defense and turn that defense into points. They don't rely on powerful serving, and while they are a capable blocking team, they usually don't dominate at the net. What sets them apart, as far as I've seen, is that they have a knack for making plays. The ball that you think is down is almost never down. They cover extremely well and they are usually in the correct spot. While a lot of mens teams rely on their serving or their blocking to create point opportunities, Gentofte is good at creating those point opportunities even when the other team is passing well and running an in-system offense. And it makes for exciting volleyball........usually.

5. I have to give credit to Middelfart for playing at a high level to end the season. A lot of teams would have just packed it up and not really cared about the bronze medals, but Middelfart was concentrated and solid. So, congratulations, that third place is actually very important looking ahead to next year.

And that brings me to my last point. This is difficult for me to discuss because I'm coming from a place of biased ignorance. But, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about the end of the season and how to kind of spruce things up. I've got a few ideas that I want to use this space to unpack a little bit.

First, I think that the playoffs need to expand. If it is only going to be the top four teams that make the playoffs (which is correct in my mind) then the series should be turned into best of five format. Take a little bit more time to play them and pack a few more "quality" matches into the schedule. It's best for everyone.

Second, and I've talked about doing this a million times before, it could be really cool to set something up with Sweden. The format could work in many different ways:

The two champions could meet a few days after each country's finals are finished. Say, the weekend after both are done. It would be one match and it could alternate between Malmo and Copenhagen. An Oresund series if you will. Make it an arrangement with women's and men's teams playing like the pokal final. Minimal work to get it set up and I think that people would enjoy watching it. Am I totally overestimating the rivalry between Sweden and Denmark? Do people care at all? I think it would be fun.

Thinking about it last night, something that would be even more fun would be to setup a kind of tournament that would culminate in the best teams playing each other right after season's end. Take the top three teams from each league and let them play a one day tournament in two pools separated by country. The winner of each pool gets to play the next day in the "finals". This would be interesting because the teams that get second and third in their league would have a kind of second chance to win a championship. It would also add interest in the bronze medal match as the fourth place team would be out of the running. A great example is Middelfart this year, they would have a second chance to prove how good of a team they are...

A third format could be an all-star competition. We tried to do this four years ago, an all-star team from the Danish Elite against the Danish national team. It was kind of fun, but it lacked any real excitement. What if we took an all-star team from the Danish elite and put them up against an all-star team from Sweden? Put a limit on the amount of foreigners that could be on the court and play.

I realize there are a lot of logistical problems with the scenarios presented here, but I think they could be overcome. If everyone was interested in the concept and made an honest effort to win this could be a great way to add some more quality volleyball matches to the schedule. It would also add some excitement to the end of the year and create an interesting showcase for fans if done correctly.

4 comments:

Maria said...

It would be cool with an all-star tournament. It really would.

I know it is a good thing playing with other countries. I am trying to arrange a match between a german team and my own, just for fun. For myself i have friends playing volleyball all over the world.

But I am a little sad. There should also be some connections between elite volleyball and junior (and the younger players like kids). I have been a kids trainer and i know how much the younger players look up to the adults. They can keep talking for days about a match they saw. And i know from myself how much it means. I've been connected to Marienlyst since I was 7 (and I am almost 16 now) and I have always been at the matches. But sadly, girls aren't recognized that much.

And just a little side note to you Jordan. I have almost learned everything about setting by watching the games you have played in marienlyst. And i have just joined the brutto-trup for the national team, and I have never had much training at setting. So i can only say thanks for being a great and inspiring player.

Jordan said...

Hey Maria,

Congratulations! That's a great accomplishment and you should be proud to get that kind of recognition.

I totally agree with you about the youth players. I've said a few times before that there should be more space for the younger players at arrangements like the Pokal finals and DM finals. They could easily organize a match before the Senior finals on the same court or have an exhibition between the second and third set of the Pokal final. Lots of possibilities. Actually, last night during pre game introductions we were all given a kids player to run out on to the court with like before football matches. It was fun.

Good luck with the setting, everyone knows that the most talented players are setters...

Maria said...

Thanks.

I wanted to ask you for some time if you one day could train me. Just for 30 minutes or something? I really need training. I don't get any. My club promised me they would give me a speciel trainer but i never got one. And nobody knows how to train a setter. And i'm almost at the state where i don't want to play volleyball because nobody wants to tell me if my settings are right or wrong. My team mates always complain about they are to high and when i make them lower then that is wrong too. I'm so confussed.

Please, if you could just put some minutes away for me, i could die happily. I want to be the best and i know i can get far.

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