January 26, 2015

Week 3 Rankings and Notes

This weekend, we saw three more routines join the 10 club, with Ashley Lambert getting her second 10 on vault, and Brenna Dowell and Haley Scaman of Oklahoma getting their first 10s of the season on bars and vault respectively. We're on a pretty furious pace for 10s considering that it's only January 26th. Six 10s have been awarded so far, compared to two at this point last season. We've already seen more 10s in 2015 than in the whole 2012 season.

Dowell's 10 highlights why Oklahoma has included the DLO 1/1 in her routine. She doesn't get any SV benefit for it and could be doing the DLO instead, but since she's one of the rare gymnasts who can stick it while maintaining a pretty straight position throughout, it makes sense to put it in her routine so she can bank on the stuck DLO 1/1 WOW factor.

Now, to the rankings.

Week 3 Rankings - (Gym Info
1. Oklahoma - 197.325
Week 3: 197.850
Week 3 leaders: AA - None; VT - Scaman 10.000; UB - Dowell 10.000; BB - Capps 9.950; FX - Dowell 9.975

The Sooners regain their comfortable lead after a national-high 197.850 over the weekend, featuring the two 10s above. Two 10s in the same meet is perhaps not the accomplishment it used to be (both LSU and Florida also managed that last year), but it speaks to how far along this team is for January. They were looking solid for a 198 until floor, when having to count an OOB put them down to a paltry 49.275 and took them off the pace.

January 25, 2015

[11] Illinois @ [4] Michigan Live Blog

Let's get going!

The meet begins at 4:00 ET/1:00 PT.

If you're a BTN Plus subscriber, you can watch the meet here. Scores are here.

January 23, 2015

Friday Live Blog – UCLA @ Utah, Florida @ Alabama

Friday, January 23
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Western Michigan @ Kent State (Scores) (Stream)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Central Michigan @ Ball State (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Florida @ Alabama (Scores) (ESPN3
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – UCLA @ Utah (Scores) (Pac-12 Network)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – SEMO, TWU @ Oklahoma (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Arkansas @ Auburn (Scores) (ESPN3)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Lindenwood @ Northern Illinois (Scores) (CSL)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Missouri @ LSU (Scores) (ESPN3)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Southern Utah @ Boise State (Scores)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Utah State @ BYU (Scores) (BYUtv)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – UC Davis @ Sacramento State (Scores) (Stream)

UCLA, Utah, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Arkansas, and Auburn all going at the same time. What more could you want? Them all going separately so you could watch each of them? I know. Me too.

I'll be here to start blogging at 8:00 ET/5:00 PT. As I mentioned yesterday, I'll be doing a live blog for UCLA/Utah followed by a not-live blog for Florida/Alabama. It should be a good one.

January 22, 2015

The Weekend Ahead – January 23rd-26th

Get ready because Friday is a big one. All the top 4 teams, and 6 of the top 8 teams, will be in action at the exact same time. I'm already tired about it. I mean excited. But I really mean tired.

Oklahoma and Florida enter the weekend tied for the top spot in the nation after Florida recorded a national high of 197.200 last weekend while Oklahoma's first week lead dissipated during an uncharacteristically 9.4 beam rotation. Neither team seems more likely than the other to grab the #1 ranking after this weekend, and LSU, Michigan, and Utah are all within striking distance if things happen to go south for both of them.

Even though everything in the world is happening at once (not an exaggeration), the big grudge matches on Friday will be UCLA/Utah and Florida/Alabama, and for both of those meets, I'm just not pretending they could go either way to make it more interesting for myself. They really could. Here's my plan: Rather than having 18 panic attacks while trying to watch every routine from both of these meets at the same time like I'm a malfunctioning robot, I'm going to blog about UCLA/Utah as it's live, and record Florida/Alabama and then watch and write about it after UCLA/Utah. Deal? Deal. 

First, Utah/UCLA. As is always the case when UCLA and Utah square off at the beginning of the season like this, Utah comes in looking like the steadier team. The Utes have two hits meets in two weeks under their belt, while UCLA has those four falls from Monday under their belt. The key to a Utah victory will be exactly that. Stay steady, hit those routines, be the more consistent team, and let Dabritz do her thing. Utah, however, is still vulnerable to 9.825itis, so they're going to need stronger supporting scores than they've been getting so far to defeat a hit meet from UCLA.

The most important rotation for the Bruins will be beam. UCLA should be phenomenal on that event, which we saw flashes of on Monday, and if they hit beam to their capabilities, they can open up a major lead on Utah solely with that apparatus. Of course, hitting beam like beasts doesn't amount to much when you're counting a fall on floor and botching dismounts. Hint hint. There's no reason for that to be happening. Maybe they can use the inspiration of Katelyn Ohashi's commitment to get through the whole three passes this week.

As for Alabama, this is a pressure meet. It was always going to be a pressure meet because they have not lost in Tuscaloosa since that infamous February 2009 clash with LSU, but this new-look Alabama team is the underdog against the reigning co-champion. That pressure is only compounded after last weekend's shock loss and beam implosion against Arkansas. Is it bad that I kind of can't wait for Alabama's beam rotation tomorrow? All eyes will be on that. I know it's only January, but it's an important rotation. Hit, and they basically erase the Arkansas disaster. Miss, and their beam rotation is a thing. No one wants their beam to be a thing. The only step after thing is full-on balance beam situation. The horror.  

January 19, 2015

[22] Arizona @ [8] UCLA Live Blog

Do this again, please.

The meet will begin at 4:00 ET/1:00 PT on the Pac-12 Network.


Week 2 Rankings and Notes

Another weekend done. Before getting to the rankings, a few new topics have emerged.

Keep it simple
Just go clean. As long as you're starting out of a 10, performing relatively simple skills while showing proper amplitude and form has been the way to go for big scores. For evidence of that, we need look no further than Arkansas's 49.600 on Saturday, which is the highest floor score in the country this season by over a tenth and featured zero passes more difficult than a double pike. Sure, the scoring was crazy high to the point of being silly at times in that meet, but those judges were all about those double pikes (and did not care so much about the chest position, amiright?) We also had Kara Lovan with her rudi mount and general wondrousness continuing to get 9.9s, and Alex McMurtry on bars. She was certainly not a bars worker before Florida but showed up with a bare bones routine until the dismount, and got 9.925 for it. Because she kept it simple. And because she was positioned well in the lineup. And because Florida.

We had two more 10s this weekend on vault, coming from Florida's Alex McMurtry and Nebraska's Ashley Lambert. McMurtry's vault was tremendous, and the more I watch it (four times now, which is normal, right?) the more I'm happy with it getting a 10. It's certainly the strongest vault we've seen this year. If I'm ranking the 10s so far, it's McMurtry, then Sloan, then Lambert. How about you?

The beam, you guys
Alabama had three falls. Oklahoma counted a 9.425. What is the world coming to? Plus, Michigan nailed it for 49.225. Up is down. Down is up.

We're still seeing a somewhat erratic standard, but there was a noticeable increase in the scores this weekend, which can be accounted for both by improvement in areas like floor landings as teams work their way into the season as much as an increased frequency of crazy, drunken judges. (What even was the Arkansas vault rotation?) But there were some tightly scored meets as well. I was pleased overall with the judging at Oklahoma/Minnesota. The scores were restrained enough to be realistic and accurate for those routines, yet the judges also showed a willingness to give it up for great performances like Dowell on bars. If all the meets were judged at about that standard, we would be in good shape.

Now, to the rankings.

Week 2 Rankings – (GymInfo)

1. Oklahoma – 197.063
Week 2: 196.500
Week 2 leaders: AA - None; VT - Scaman, Capps 9.900; UB - Dowell 9.950; BB - Capps 9.875; FX - Scaman, Lovan 9.900

The Sooners looked on their way to another comfortable low-mid 197 this week until beam, and it was pretty bizarre to see them struggle there. Haley Sorensen and her beautiful flexibility came into the lineup, but what looked like a break on her series dropped her SV, and Oklahoma ended up counting her 9.425 after Clark fell. Odd, but not a worry. Just that random time Oklahoma wasn't awesome on beam. We'll see if they settle on a lineup soon or keep running through all 45 options that they have. I love "exploring depth," so hopefully we see a few more people.

I was quite impressed by the other three events, though. In the majority of the floor routines, the performance was engaging and the tumbling was clean and comfortable especially for this point in the season (Kanewa still needs time to work back into her passes, but otherwise). They also incurred very few handstand deductions on bars while throwing in a good amount of sticks. Before that beam rotation, I was ready to call this the best performance of the year so far, regardless of score, and it still was for three events.

1. Florida – 197.063
Week 2: 197.200
Week 2 leaders: AA - Hunter 39.500; VT - McMurtry 10.000; UB - Dancose-Giambattisto 9.950; BB - Hunter 9.900; FX - Hunter 9.875

The Gators jump into a tie with Oklahoma this week by virtue of not counting a fall this time. Progress! They still had mistakes (including weird ones like Caquatto falling on floor), but it was a mostly comfortable meet. The floor and vault landings and beam dismounts are still pretty January, but it is January, so that makes sense.

197.200 is a perfectly fine score—the best of the weekend—but not one that reflects how good this team can be, nor one they will want to keep as a home score. Baker and McMurtry came into Sloan's spots on a few events, as expected, and posted solid scores that should improve as the year goes on, but that were still not at the same level as Sloan would have been (9.8s vs. 9.9s). Interestingly, Florida had just one score of 9.9+ on vault and beam and none on floor. Now, Hunter didn't get a 9.9 on vault or floor this time (which happens never), so the number of 9.9s will go up, but it's also going to be down to McMurtry and Baker to continue growing into their routines to act as sufficient replacement 9.9s until Sloan comes back. Then, Florida can expect to do much better than 197.200 for a hit meet.

January 16, 2015

Friday Live Blog – Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, and (possibly) more

Friday 1/16/15
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Auburn @ Florida (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – LSU, Arizona State @ Kentucky (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Washington @ NC State (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Lindenwood @ Western Michigan (Scores)
7:00 ET/4:30 PT – Missouri @ Georgia (Scores) (ESPN3)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Kent State @ Northern Illinois (CSL)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Alabama @ Arkansas (ESPN3)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Boise State, Southern Utah, UC Davis @ Utah (Scores) (Video)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Sacramento State, UIC, UW-Stout @ Arizona
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Cal, UW-La Crosse @ San Jose State (Video)

Another Friday, another ton of meets. Get excited. I'll be here starting at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT for the Florida/Auburn action and perhaps some of the other simultaneous meets, followed by Alabama and Arkansas.