If Jeff Graham gets going, it’ll mean trouble for the Spinners.
The Whitecaps’ captain has 31 points on the year, and six of them came in the second half on Saturday.
The last time out, the Spinners were able to keep the Boston Whitecaps’ leader under wraps for the first 30 minutes of the contest, but after Leon Chou hurt his ankle during the third quarter, Graham broke lose, leading the Whitecaps on a 6-2 run to finish out the game.
Chou will play this weekend, but whether or not he will be at 100 percent is still to be determined. If he’s not, it will pose big problems for the Spinners.
“He was never quite the same the rest of the game and the other guys couldn’t guard Jeff the same way that Leon could guard him,” coach Billy Maroon said. “Hopefully he’ll be ready to go this weekend.”
For a Spinners’ team that is reeling after three straight losses that have knocked them down to third in the MLU East, they need to right the ship soon or otherwise face falling even further behind the New York Rumble for second place in the conference.
The good news for the Spinners is, if Chou is healthy, Philadelphia showed last weekend that Boston is definitely in the same league as the Spinners. The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 16.
Most of that was due to Chou’s defense on Graham however.
“Leon Chou did a great job on Jeff Graham in the first half and actually had 3 Ds on him in the first half alone,” Maroon said. “Once Leon got hurt Boston started to score quickly, very quickly.”
Once that happened, the Spinners’ O-line got tired very quickly, essentially having to work the disc up the field against Boston’s top-ranked D, then have Boston score right away, forcing the O-line back onto the field without any time to rest or adjust.
While some saw the Spinners’ turnovers late as a sign of Boston’s defense pushing a tired Philadelphia past the team’s limits physically, it was more of Philadelphia needing to press without having Chou on the field.
“I didn’t really get the impression that they clamped down on the handler movement. Handlers did a great job and I think were open all game,” Spinners captain Nick Hirannet said. “I think towards the end of the game we weren’t getting as many cuts down field which lead to some impatient decisions that ended up hurting us.”
To make matters even more dire for the Spinners is the fact that Hirannet and O-line cutter Art Shull will both miss Saturday’s contest. Hirannet has more touches than anyone else on the Spinners with 242, good for third in the league.
Regardless of whether or not Chou is healthy, and definitely considering the fact that Hirannet and Shull will be gone, the Spinners will need other big players to step up.
Look for Dave Baer to take more of the handling load with Hirannet gone, and for star Sean Murray to get time on both sides of the disc.
Murray couldn’t get going last week, but Hirannet is sure that’ll change.
“Regardless of last game, I think Sean is ready to have a big game this Saturday,” Hirannet said.
One of the things going for Philly, however, will be that the Spinners will be back in front of their home fans. But at a certain point, even home field advantage can only mean so much.
“We love to play in front of our fans. Philly has the best fans in every sport and ultimate is no different,” Hirannet said. “But at this point, we need to start winning games and it doesn’t matter where we are or who’s in the stands, we’re focused on winning, that’s it.”