Due to the lack of long poles and the short 2 point arc, the Atlas earned Golden State Warrior comparisons probably by the third quarter of their first game.
But, did any teams hunt star offensive players on defense the way NBA teams target Steph Curry and the less interested James Harden?
Even if teams choose not to consistently dodge on Romar Dennis and Bryan Costabile, did they put them in high leverage situations off ball that might have tired them out by the second half?
Did teams try to chip them off ball every possession? Did anyone take the body blow approach from boxing? Take the body and the head goes with it by the final rounds.
The title game was the fifth game in five days.
Just looking at the numbers, the Atlas cooled a bit but where certainly not as efficient or productive.
Romar Dennis – 1G, 2 2pt, 11 shots, 27% shooting
Bryan Costabile – 2 2pt, 10 shots, 20% shooting
For Dennis and Costabile, this was a significant drop off from their semifinal performance.
Costabile – 4G, 2 2pt, 2 assists, 9 shots, 66% shooting
Dennis – 3 2pt, 9 shots, 33% shooting
They also produced more in their final pool play game against the Archers.
Costabile – 1G, 1 2pt, 5 assists, 5 shots, 40% shooting
Dennis – 1G, 4 2pt, 9 shots, 55% shooting
On our Saturday Morning Live show, we mentioned having our doubts about Dennis.
We actually misspoke.
Dennis is listed at 230 pounds.
In the finals, Dennis scored his first goal with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter. He didn’t score again until the fourth quarter.
Were Dennis and Costabile understandably tired by Sunday or did the Chrome deploy the star hunting tactic early to further enhance their fatigue.
We watched the first quarter of Chrome possessions in the finals to find out.
1st Possession: Costabile covers dodge, Smith off ball covering Alex Smith
2nd Possession: Chrome score quickly in transition, neither involved in any significant way
Note: Costabile subs off, Dennis stayed on
3rd Possession: Dennis and Christian Mazzone two man game
Unsure of the intent or awareness here on the Chrome’s part but at this point Dennis has yet to sub off since the start of the game. Christian Mazzone although more familiar with his Atlas teammates by now only played in one PLL game last summer and it was with the Waterdogs. Mazzone, a former Rutgers midfielder, is probably not super familiar with making approaches from X and navigating a two man game at the part of the field. Wisnauskus rings the pipe.
Dennis subs off as the Atlas go on offense.
4th Possession: Costabile subs on, Chrome take a quick shot that hits another pipe
Costabile scores quickly and stays on, Dennis subs on
5th Possession: Dennis covering Alex Smith, a 2022 Maryland defensive middie who saw no PLL game action last summer, slides about halfway to a dodger down they alley, then switches and covers the man who throws a feed to the crease which is picked off. Costabile was off ball the entire possession under little duress.
Costabile subs off after a Bucaro goal in traffic, Dennis stays on
6th Possession: Chrome score immediately, Dennis had a chance to slide from the crease but stayed home
Atlas score right away, Dennis is not involved, he stays on
7th Possession: Chrome score as Dennis is again the slide but perhaps believing the Chrome will try to slow the pace is caught watching the subs
Costabile subs on, Dennis stays on for offense, both stay after a turnover
8th Possession: Dennis involved in an early two game, he could have given up the feed to the slip but the dodger went over the top, Costabile off ball, save by Concannon
Dennis subs off, Costabile stays on
Shot clock violation, Costabile subs off, Dennis subs on
9th Possession: Molloy briefly tests Dennis 1v1, Chrome score on feed to crease, Dennis off ball
Dennis stays on, splits a dodge and scores inside, stays on to play defense
10th Possession: Dennis off ball, communicating through seal by Heacock, Wisnauskus scores from deep
Dennis subs off, Costabile on for offense
Atlas challenge the Wisnaukus goal giving both a breather after Costabile misses the net.
11th Possession: Both are off.
Atlas score, both sub on
12th Possession: Quick turnover by Chrome
Defensive stop by Chrome, both stay on
13th Possession: Both are off ball as Chrome score
What did we learn?
Besides the Wisnauskus two man game, Dennis wasn’t “hunted”. No one tested Costabile one on one or off ball. Should the Chrome have considered going after one or both further?
Dennis blew a slide assignment but that was more in the run of play rather than a designed strategy.
At no point in this particular quarter did it appear that the Chrome were told, “if Dennis or Costabile is covering you, run around like a maniac to at least maybe tire them out for later.”
From the Atlas standpoint, maybe Dennis should have subbed more frequently.
The Chrome hit two pipes this quarter and had a two pointer over turned on a coach’s challenge.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.