2011 Results: 6-4 Regular Season, 2-1 Playoffs, League Runner-Up
Key Losses: Cory Robertson
Key Additions: Dan Vignola, Bryan Friedrich, Joe Ammendola, Pat Dexter
Every sport has some teams that do things a little differently. College football has Georgia Tech and the triple option offense, the Suns famously ran their seven seconds or less offense in the NBA, and in major league baseball, the Astros are experimenting with using fans out of the stands in their line-up (I’m assuming that’s what they’re doing in looking at their roster). In Kronum, the Urban Legends stand apart, with a unique soccer-style attack that sticks to the roots of the sport.
In the original Kronum season, every team focused on scoring with their feet through a ground game attack. With many Legends roster members having a Drexel D-1 soccer background, the Urban Legends excelled in that environment, winning the first mid-season Captain’s Cup championship. However, as the league has evolved, teams have moved more to scoring through the air from the flex and cross zones. This approach possesses the benefits of increased accuracy on net and allowing less time for the defense to react to the shooter.
Due to the make-up of their roster, the Urban Legends still adhere to the ground attack. Their 121 made wedge zone shots were almost twice as many as the next highest team (63), converting those attempts at a 39.5% efficiency which ranked 2nd best in the league. Despite excelling in that area, the team only shoots around 37.2% overall, which is well below the top scoring teams in the league who range between 43-45%. Their roster may lack a sufficient amount of powerful throwers to take advantage of the direction the league is heading. By being stuck in the past, the Legends may be hurting their future.
One man who has no difficult scoring in any league environment is Legends’ All-Star and League MVP Kevin Clark. Clark was third in the league in scoring last season at 25.0 ppg, but given his team’s slower pace of play, actually scored the largest percentage of his team’s points at 23.6%. With a level of athleticism unsurpassed in Kronum, Clark can do it all, scoring with his feet like many of his Legends’ teammates, but also displaying a dominance from the cross zone. There’s a reason that area of the field is nicknamed the ‘Clark Zone’, as Kevin led the league with 176 cross zone points, almost double the next highest total, Luke Dougan with 100. He also hit some big ring shots as his 4 8-point Kronums tied for most in the league with the Work Horses’ Dave Slusser.
Another pivotal piece for the Legends is All-Star wedgeback Kevin Glover. Glover leads his team’s ground attack as he tied for 2nd in the league with 28 kick shots made with the Work Horses’ Matt Urglavitch. Glover is more than a one-trick pony, though, as his added prowess from the flex zone is what makes him so valuable to the Legends. He was third on the team in flex zone scoring behind teammates Mike Ragan and Brian Sperling, but his 7 ring shots made from the flex zone tied Joe Petrino for best in the league. Those big 4-point ring shots bring a necessary added dimension to the Legends’ offense.
The Urban Legends are the final of three teams returning a league-best 11 roster members. However, one departure sticks out like a sore thumb as Cory Robertson will not be re-joining the team in 2013. In addition to leading the team in saves, Robertson was 5th on the team in scoring and 4th in assists, while ranking as one of only three players in the league to average a double-double, along with the Night Owls’ Joe Tulskie and Greg Ashton. Robertson had also earned a reputation as the best shootout wedgeback in Kronum, having led the Legends to two shootout victories last season, including one in the semifinals. Robertson’s combination of clutch play, overall floor game, and team leadership represents a huge loss for the Legends in the upcoming season.
Rookie Dan Vignola will fill the vacated starting wedgeback position left by Robertson; another Drexel soccer alumnus, Vignola is another in a long line of Legends who will excel from the wedge zone. Another important rookie for the Urban Legends is Bryan Friedrich. Captain Scott Anderson will look to Friedrich to play all three positions as a super-utility man off the bench. Friedrich can use both hands and feet and should be a valuable contributor once he gains more experience.
Other players counted on by the Legends are third-leading scorer Mike Ragan, as well as Greg Ermold and Brian Sperling. Ermold and Sperling both averaged double digits last season while having the two best shooting percentages of returning players (min. 3 shot attempts per game) at 48.0% and 46.9%, respectively. Added contributions for these guys, in addition to one or two of the rookies stepping up, will be counted upon to fill the void left by Robertson’s departure.
The Urban Legends’ soccer background serves them well on the defensive end, as their speed and stamina enables one of the premier defensive teams in Kronum. As a result, they should remain close in every contest; the deciding factor will be whether they can improve upon their scoring efficiency. The Legends certainly have the talent and athleticism to be a force in the league. It will be up to Anderson to strike the right balance between playing to the team’s strengths and finding more help for Clark in scoring through the air.
Regular Season Prediction: 4-6 (T-5th Place)
As we’ve discussed and will expand upon in future previews, some other teams in the Kronum league have made some big acquisitions to try and make the leap into the upper half of the league. The Legends have not brought in any players with proven experience while losing on-field leadership and one of the unique talents in the league in Cory Robertson. With Kevin Clark sure to draw plenty of attention from opposing defense, if one or two rookies prove to be instant contributors, the Legends have the ability to make another deep playoff run. However, the Robertson loss and the continued evolution of the game through the air will prove to be huge factors as the Legends drop a bit off last season’s pace.