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8/30/2021 5:10 pm  #591


Re: National Dashball League

Well, it finally happened. For only the second time in the history of the National Dashball League, a team other than Philadelphia, Texas, or California has earned the #1 seed. Led by an award-sweeping campaign from W/ZB Frank St. Peter and an outstanding supporting cast, the Orlando Orbits grabbed 54 wins and finished as the league’s best regular-season team. The Orbits moved St. Peter back to the wing after playing B/ZB for the previous few years, and he responded with perhaps the most dominant offensive season the league had ever seen, breaking several records in scoring and contributing despite often being double- or sometimes even triple-teamed. St. Peter often seemed like he was the team’s entire offense, but the team as a whole really shined on defense. St. Peter, fellow B/ZBs Khamzat Yusufi and Dhakiy Akbar, F/Cs Mike Mill and Erik Magana, and W/ZB Kanoa Pacheco put together the league’s best defensive performance, allowing just 103.7 points per game. As a result, they nearly lapped the rest of the field; they finished seven games ahead of the second seed, which doesn’t seem like all that much, but only ten games separated #2 from missing the playoffs entirely.

All of that is not to say that Texas and Philly are done. In fact, the Redbacks didn’t really go anywhere, as they held onto the second seed. W/ZB Larry Whitt was most people’s second choice for MVP and OPOTY, and the team saw a new young star emerge in 25-year-old W/K Alex Lampert. That said, their 19 losses was the most they’d had in a season since 2018 (with the obvious caveat that seasons were shorter back then). The Row were a similar story, not really having a bad year, but just seeing the rest of the league catch up and falling all the way to fourth. In particular, they got a serious challenge for the division from the New York Chargers and B/ZB Brandon Walter, the only man to seriously challenge St. Peter for an award, coming up just short in DPOTY voting. Similarly, his team came up just short of the division title, finishing two games behind Philly despite winning the season series 4-2. Incidentally, they also matched records with the Fugitives for the second straight year and won the tiebreaker this time, leaving Nashville with the sixth seed.

As for who Nashville would play in round 1, that might be the biggest story of the year, even bigger than Orlando or Philly. The team that really had people talking was the Minnesota Lights, who exploded onto the scene this year, finishing just a single game behind Texas. W/K Richard Singh in particular had an enormous year, finishing with 57 more saves than any other keeper, but it kind of felt like their whole team broke out in 2032. F/ZB Kevin Simmons had been the team’s only real star, but this year, he was joined by Singh, W/ZB Isiah DeJesus, B/C Juan Ramos, B/ZB Alec Shaul, and even 35-year-old F/ZB Jerry Miller, who had been on the decline but impressed in a contract year. Just making the playoffs on its own is impressive for this team, and doing it as the #3 seed even more so, but this team looks like it could make some noise in the playoffs. Of course, in all likelihood, they’ll play Texas in the semifinals, which is a tough matchup for anybody.

The rest of the young teams didn’t fare so well. Boston improved yet again, to 16 wins, but DC seems to have stalled out and Montréal finished with the worst record in the league at 10-56. Joining them near the bottom were Seattle, whose big overhaul in the offseason led them to the exact same record they had the previous year, and Atlanta, who continues to have trouble building around a decent core. Both teams struggled with injuries, including both of the Sawyers’ starting F/Cs, Michel Blanchard and Ben Bowman, and two of the Records B/Ks, Seth Shelton and backup Juan Caraveo, leaving both teams scrambling midseason to even field two squads.

Two teams with playoff aspirations fell out of the hunt early, with Toronto and Miami both suffering from aging rosters and a few injuries that left them behind the pack (although I do want to give a shoutout to Palms F/ZB Bruce Pointe for being the exception, putting up big numbers at 35 in an unsuccessful attempt to will his team into contention). That left three teams, all of whom would finish with at least 37 wins, but only two of whom would make the playoffs. Los Angeles and Chicago found themselves on the bubble for the second straight year, but not many people expected the California Sea Lions to be in a playoff spot heading into game 66, especially with star B/C Adamo Zorrilla missing much of the season with a broken foot. The Lions weren’t expected to contend even if Zorrilla was healthy, but rookie head coach Austin Rosenow worked some magic. F/ZB Michael Basch rebounded better than expected from last year’s injury, B/K Angel Camacho stepped up into a big role at only 22 years old, and while the team lacked any sort of true superstar, they were deep enough and well-rounded enough to make a run. Their only real hole this year was probably at center, but with Zorrilla back for the final week of the season, they were set up well to make a playoff push - and that they did.

With a single game left in the regular season, California had a one game lead over Chicago and LA. With the Sea Lions and Sabertooths facing off, each team controlled its own destiny - win and you’re in - and while it wasn’t purely a must-win game for any team, all three came out hungry. Unfortunately for the Frost, Toronto was also hungry to play spoiler to their longtime rivals. The two teams battled back and forth all game, and 64 minutes would not be enough to decide a winner. In fact, overtime was more of the same, and the winner would not be decided until the final 10 seconds. Toronto was down by one point with one possession to try to take the win away, and they almost did, but Hogs F/ZB Walt Duncan couldn’t quite establish possession in the end zone before B/ZB Abe Gonzales knocked it out of his hands. With the Frost win, the West Coast game became winner-take-all, with the loser eliminated from the playoffs. While it was close for the first five innings, California pulled away late to earn a 128-114 victory at home, leaving the 37-29 Tooths out of the playoffs altogether.


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8/30/2021 5:33 pm  #592


Re: National Dashball League

Pretty refreshing to see a new team with the #1 seed. Hopefully they don't mess up in the playoffs.

 

8/30/2021 6:12 pm  #593


Re: National Dashball League

Lets go Lights!

 

8/30/2021 6:28 pm  #594


Re: National Dashball League

Variety? In my NDL? I don't think so! For real though, awesome to see some new teams at the top. I'll be pulling for the Lights in the postseason, but at the end of the day it's anyone but Texas!


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8/31/2021 2:09 am  #595


Re: National Dashball League

The Orbits are a fun story but that's OK, because we needed some fresh meat to destroy in the playoffs. AHTR


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8/31/2021 8:46 am  #596


Re: National Dashball League

I'm going to predict a Row vs Redbacks final, but both are going to face significant challenges to get there.


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9/24/2021 7:35 pm  #597


Re: National Dashball League

Nashville Fugitives vs Minnesota Lights
This was the popular upset pick in Round 1, even with a tight NY-Philly matchup going on at the same time. Minnesota was seen as more talented, but was obviously a very young team with not much playoff experience to speak of, while Nashville was making its ninth consecutive postseason appearance. Perhaps it wasn’t a surprise, then, that Game 1 was extremely tight. The two teams went at it all game, and no team pulled away by as much as 9 points until the Fugitives did late in the sixth. It seemed like a good thing for Nashville for about a half of a second, as on that very same play, Minnesota B/ZB Alec Shaul and W/K Rufo Torrez got tangled up awkwardly in the end zone. Torrez made the catch, but broke his wrist on the landing, and would be out for the playoffs. There was a bit of a scuffle, as a few Fugitives believed Shaul had acted intentionally, but cooler heads prevailed. Replacing Torrez would be 22-year-old W/K Josh Child, and with an easier target in net for over half of the remaining clock, the Lights would come back, tying the game up late and taking the lead on a three-point feed from B/C Juan Ramos to F/ZB Kevin Simmons. That would be the final score of the game, and Minnesota would win its first ever playoff game, 117-114.

As if Josh Child having to make his first-ever NDL start wasn’t enough, Nashville W/K Will Orleans was extremely ill the day of Game 2. With effectively no other options, Orleans played through, and clearly wasn’t himself. Facing one young, inexperienced W/K and one old, sick one, the Lights found some breathing room. Granted, it wasn’t much, but the 17-point margin of victory was pretty much locked in by the sixth inning, giving them a 2-0 series lead. They wouldn’t stay comfortable for long, though, as the series moved to the Garbage Can for Game 3, and with Orleans healthy again (or “at least 90%”, according to him), it would be another tight game. Minnesota would score the first points of the game, but Nashville would take the lead on their next possession. They would hold the lead for the next 63 minutes and change, but the Lights never let it get out of hand, and got it to within three late. Nashville drained as much clock as they could before F/ZB Eddie McDonald scored what he thought was a game-clinching three-point goal, but in the process of pivoting away from B/K Kein Cabanero, McDonald had just barely stepped on the line, making it a two-pointer and leaving it a five-point game. Not many people noticed, but referee Isaac LeMaster nailed the call, and with the Fugitives thinking they had the game locked down, none of them saw Kevin Simmons, who found a hole in the defense, received a pass from W/K Richard Singh, and got a clean look at a half-court shot. To his surprise as much as everyone else’s, it went in, sending the game to overtime. The teams were still deadlocked after 9, but a dagger jump shot from B/ZB Zach Clark in the tenth would ice a six-point Minnesota win.

Down 3-0, Nashville seemed to be folding like so many other teams had in their position. Down 21 with only a few seconds left in the first half, though, B/ZB Jack Odom sank a five-point basket to cut almost a quarter of the lead off. The team clearly got a huge morale boost, because they came out firing, and by midway through the seventh, had a one-point lead. Unfortunately, the Lights weren’t gonna let the Fugitives sneak by undetected. Minnesota regained their composure, and the teams were evenly matched for the remainder of the game. The Lights held a 3-point lead with 13 seconds to play, but Nashville had one more chance to extend their season. The ball made its way to B/ZB Taylor Quick, who took a shot on goal from between the arcs, but Richard Singh was able to get just enough of his hand on it to deflect it off the post and out. B/C Drew Roebke would fall on the ball, the remaining three seconds would elapse, and Minnesota would become just the third team in NDL history to sweep its first playoff series.

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New York Chargers vs Philadelphia Row
There was anything but a decisive opinion going into this series. Some pundits thought Philly was actually better than their record indicated; others thought New York, being the only team to beat the Row four times in the regular season, could just as easily do it again in the playoffs. The latter group surely felt pretty good about themselves after Game 1, as the Chargers defense dominated, holding Philly to just 83 points. Of course, one zone back does not a whole defense make, but B/ZB Brandon Walter was a big part of it, allowing just 5 points all game, partially due to the fact that Philly started to simply avoid him entirely. Ultimately, though, the one-man defense would become a bit of a weakness rather than a strength. Late in Game 1, head coach Tobias Bolton instructed his players to overload whichever side of the end zone Walter wasn’t on, which would usually result in at least one good matchup. It worked well enough that they employed it fully starting in Game 2, and while it didn’t work perfectly, it got them back into the game. New York would occasionally move one ZB, typically W/ZB Ha’Dori Robinson, behind the goal as a sort of spy, but if Philly then sent two or three guys towards Walter’s side, one of them would almost certainly be open. They would ultimately go up 15 through three quarters and hold off a Chargers comeback to win by 9.

New York was unfazed, and Game 3 saw a battle. The Chargers countered with much tighter perimeter defense, aiming to make getting the ball past the 5-point line as difficult as possible and eliminate all three scoring options. The tighter defensive strategy worked, and ironically, it actually led to more turnovers and therefore more offense, as the two defense-heavy teams got into a bit of a shootout at times. The boys in bronze were able to get out to a bit of a lead late, but Philly started chipping away, and B/ZB Kenton Snowberger found F/K Chris Gray in the end zone to cut the lead to 4 with 20 seconds to go. They wouldn’t get the ball back, though, as New York was able to move the ball around and then run out the 6-second pass clock. Game 4 was more of the same, but with the pace slowed back down a bit, and the Chargers couldn’t quite keep up their pressure at the end of the game, allowing the Row to pull away in the final quarter. The trend continued unbroken in Game 5, which was truly a defensive battle, and finished as just the fifth playoff game in NDL history where neither team scored 100 points. Once again, Philly would pull away slightly in the end, taking a 3-2 series lead.

New York would need a win at home in Game 6 to stay alive, and it couldn’t have started worse for them. They got behind early, and would be down 57-40 at halftime. Head coach Brandon Church would rally the troops during the break, though, and they started chipping back, bringing the score within 10 after three quarters and 6 heading into the final inning. Ultimately, the game would come down to one final possession. With the Chargers needing three points to keep their season alive, the ball found B/K Andy Lewis. Lewis faked the jumper, getting W/ZB Ellis Alcala to bite, dropped the ball to the floor, and delivered a kick into the upper right corner that Chris Gray simply couldn’t do anything about. The buzzer sounded, and MSG was still abuzz when the teams came back out for period number 9. Unfortunately, that would not last long. Gray, despite not actually having made a mistake, made up for it by catching a fiver from Snowy Snowberger on the first play of OT, giving Philly another lead. This time, they would hold onto it, and despite a close series, move onto the semifinals.

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Chicago Frost vs Orlando Orbits
Orlando looked like the most dominant team of 2032, while Chicago barely snuck into the playoffs as the 8th seed. While they were perhaps a tougher 8 seed than normal, it was still surprising - maybe even to them - when the Frost held a 6-point lead at halftime of Game 1. It certainly surprised the Orbits, who seemed a bit out-of-touch in the first half, but were able to pull it back together for the second half. They’d eventually go up by 7 to start the eighth inning, but Chicago wouldn’t go out without a fight. They fought back, tying the game with just 13 seconds left to go, and were able to force a turnover when B/ZB Tony Bennett picked off a B/ZB Skyler Carr pass. Bennett found F/C Greg Bauer, who pumpfaked a shot, let B/ZB Khamzat Yusufi fly past him so hard that he sprained his ankle, and then made the easy bucket to put Chicago ahead. Orlando couldn’t answer, and less than a year after becoming the first 8th seed to win a playoff game, the Frost had done it again, taking a 1-0 series lead.

The Orbits would have a much easier time in Game 2. W/ZB Frank St. Peter, as he was known to do, dominated when he was on offense, scoring 54 points, and leading to a relatively harmless win to tie up the series. I say “relatively harmless” because Yusufi further injured his ankle late in the game, and even with the extra day of rest while traveling, wouldn’t be ready for Game 3. With St. Peter now even more alone on offense, the Frost took to triple-teaming him even when he didn’t have the ball. This rather brazen strategy effectively allowed Orlando to play 5-on-3 on offense, but even though St. Peter still managed to put up a few points, the plan worked. With Chicago controlling the pace of play, the Orbits were held to just 86 points, and Chicago once again found themselves with the series lead.

Orlando got Yusufi back for Games 4 and 5, and took both of them handily, including a stellar defensive performance in the latter where they allowed just 83 points. Unfortunately, while Yusufi didn’t leave either game, he was visibly in a lot of pain by the end of Game 5. The team ultimately decided to shut him down for Game 6, let him stay in Orlando, and hopefully have him for the next game, whether that be a Game 7 or the start of the semifinals. Looking to avoid the same fate as Game 3, Orbs head coach Adrian Green shuffled his lineups hoping to give St. Peter some more help, but that left the other squad pretty barren on offense, and the effects canceled out, to the point where the scores for the two games were almost identical. Unbelievably, Chicago had fought all the way to Game 7, and were just one win away from the upset. In the end, though, they couldn’t quite pull it out. The game was within single digits for about five innings, but Orlando would pull further and further away. The Frost had given them quite the scare, but the Orbits hung on by the skin of their teeth to advance.

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California Sea Lions vs Texas Redbacks
Texas was clearly the better team in this matchup, but these two teams knew each other extremely well, and it showed in Game 1. While Texas held the lead for basically the entire game, it was typically only 5 to 11 points throughout, and California was always lurking, always seeming a few good possessions away from the lead, though they never quite got there. With his team up four and just 12 seconds to go, Redbacks F/ZB Dakota Valdez dropped a pass that would have made it a two-possession game, but fortunately for him, the Redbacks’ D stifled the Sea Lions, preventing them from even attempting a full-court heave. Texas would escape Game 1 with a win, and would continue their winning ways in Game 2, holding the Lions to just 98 points and taking a 2-0 lead.

A 2-0 lead for the Redbacks almost seemed like a guarantee, as they almost always came out strong in Game 3 to bury any hope their opponents had. Unfortunately, two things happened at the start of this particular game that interrupted those plans. First, W/ZB Ricky Parron tore his Achilles and would be out for the remainder of the playoffs. While W/ZB Danny Noblitt didn’t perform particularly well in his stead, he also wasn’t particularly bad. No, the real reason for the momentum change was Sea Lions B/ZB Dave Sanderson. Sanderson really found his rhythm in Game 3, spreading the ball around to anyone and everyone, and often when he couldn’t find a man open, he would find twine, one way or another. Sanderson finished with 22 points and 39 points assisted, leading the Sea Lions to their first playoff win in six years. In Game 4, Sanderson continued his style of play, and the Cali defense, despite not being particularly notable during the regular season, stepped up as well. The 40-point victory was the highest California had achieved against Texas since 2024, and it tied the series up at 2 apiece.

Back at home for Game 5, the Redbacks defense finally got their act back together, leading to another low-scoring game. This time, Texas seemed a little bit more in control of things, and while the Sea Lions made a bit of a comeback effort late, Texas had put the game out of reach again by the time the clock hit zeroes, finishing with a 10-point victory. They would look to close out the series in Game 6, but ran into some resistance. California would take the early lead this time, and while they couldn’t hold onto it as cleanly as Texas had been, they spent far more time leading than not. It was certainly closer than the Sea Lions would have liked it to be for an elimination game, but ultimately, a three-point toss from Sanderson to F/ZB Michael Basch would serve as the dagger, meaning the teams would meet back in the Lone Star State for a Game 7. Needless to say, it could have started better for the Redbacks. The Lions scored on just six possessions in the first quarter, but their defense held Texas scoreless for the first 5:39 of the game, giving them a 12-0 lead. It would be a hard-fought defensive battle from there, with teams slowly exchanging points throughout the game, but ultimately, that 12-point lead the Sea Lions got to start out with was the same one they ended their day with.

It was a rather unceremonious defeat, but dynasties rarely fall gracefully. California was moving on, and for the first time in nearly a decade, Texas was home early.

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Last edited by ItDoesntMatter (9/28/2021 1:06 pm)

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9/24/2021 7:46 pm  #598


Re: National Dashball League

Congrats to Minny on their first series win, and what a way to do so. Philly is, of course, as dominant as ever, even if it took six games to knock out NY. Orlando showed why they finished 1st with a great series win even though Chicago pushed them to the limit. The surprise of the 1st round has to be Texas going home early, and congrats to the Sea Lions for upsetting such a great team.

Last edited by Kingsfan11 (9/24/2021 7:48 pm)


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9/24/2021 7:47 pm  #599


Re: National Dashball League

NHTR...none hail the Redbacks? Something smells fishy in Cali. I swear it. Screw it. Cali can drown in an ocean. AHTR til die.


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9/24/2021 7:50 pm  #600


Re: National Dashball League

Texas lost? Holy Crap! Seems like these playoffs feel like a changing of the guard- oh wait, Philly's in round 2. Oh well, hoping Orlando can pull it out this year. 


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