Death Track Dolls (0-1) vs. Smoke City Betties (0-1)
In 2011 there are no playoffs for the ToRD’s 4th place team, which means that starting the season 0-2 could potentially end the championship dreams of either the Smoke City Betties or the Death Track Dolls. But playoff hopes aside, there is a lot more at stake for these two teams at this early stage of the year; namely, pride. Both teams entered 2011 with high hopes. After a year of being the league’s doormat, the Betties drafted for experience and relied on the memories of all those painful 2010 learning experiences to drive them forward into a new era. The Dolls, who had recently gone through growing pains of their own, competed in 2010, going toe-to-toe with Battle for the Boot finalists the Chicks until the second half of last season’s semifinal; nonetheless, with the least amount of roster change this off season, hopes were high.
So it was met with great disappointment when both of these teams struggled out of the gate. The Dolls looked flat in their bout against a Gore-Gore Rollergirls squad loaded with rookies (though they managed some inspired pushes at various moments), while the Betties looked far from unified in their effort against the Chicks Ahoy! relying on the strong individual play of a few key players to keep them in it at all. Needless to say, both teams will be looking for a lot more in this one.
THE DOLLS WIN IF…
They play a smart (clean) and simple game. That worked for the Chicks against the Betties and there is no reason to think that it won’t again. A big part of the reason that the Dolls looked overmatched in their season opener was due to a tendency to continue to play an individual game. While this won’t be as big of an issue against the Betties as it was against the ultra-organized Gores, if the Dolls want to take that next step in the competitive ladder, they are going to have to step it up and buy into the types of systems that separate the top teams from the bottom. Following the leads of experienced pivots Panty Hoser, Monichrome and Dolly Parts’ Em will be key. They’ll also have to play a fairly clean bout as well, and their 32 minors against the Gores was only three less than the amount the Betties picked up against the Chicks.
Offense could be the most interesting story in this one. The Dolls jammers ate up the Betties last season, with Land Shark, Betty Bomber and Audrey Hellborn all putting up big numbers. Hellborn’s out for the season and they have yet to find a suitable replacement for her: combined, Sharky and Bomber had the star for an amazing 90% of their team’s jams against the Gores. Remarkably, they seemed to hold up well under the pressure. Land Shark had a comparatively inconsistent season in 2010, but was back to her old self against the Gores, leading the offense as her team’s top rated jammer, scoring 24 points (1.04 PPJ) and managing a 43% lead percentage against formidable opposition. But not having much depth at the position means that Bomber, who is also important in the pack, is stuck playing a one-role game.
THE BETTIES WIN IF…
Well…It’s not quite as simple for the Betties.
In a pre-season interview, when asked about the Betties, Dolls co-captain Betty Bomber said with confidence that “as long as [the Betties] can work together, they will be a team to look out for this season.” Portentous foreshadowing that didn’t play out in the season opener but could become a reality at any time. With an abundance of individual talent, the Betties need to put those pieces together in a unified effort; the Chicks dominated the pack against the Betties, and were unmatched in their walls and isolation strategies. But this Betties team was like a sponge last year, soaking up knowledge in the face of defeat, and that attitude seemed to persist after the opener this year: in post-bout interviews with ToRD.TV both Bruiseberry Pie and Sail Her Poon cited better pack strategies as a key for this team moving forward. It seems that the Betties need to define roles for themselves on the track and on the team, but determined play from veteran pivot Pretty Peeved and jammer Memphis Kitty is hopeful.
While defensively, they held the Chicks to significantly less than the 266 points they managed last year, they were unable to generate any offense. Only Memphis Kitty managed to hit double digits (11 points—she was also the only jammer to manage over 30 % lead percentage). But a little help from a more-together pack could help titmouse continue to build on the invaluable experience she has been gaining with CN Power in 2011 (including a spirited effort against the Skids at the QCC). Sail Her Poon (who had a strong bout but didn’t jam against the Chicks) also has been jamming with the All Stars and managed some measure of success jamming against the Dolls last season, scoring 13 points. Tropic Thunder was also effective against the Dolls in 2010, leading the Betties in scoring with 18 points. While both she and Poon each managed only a 17% lead percentage, upon closer inspection you can see that those two were consistently matched against the Dolls’ top three jammers (Bomber, Land Shark and the currently injured Audrey Hellborn), making leads a hard thing to come by for the rookie jammers.
***Tickets for the April 16 bout are available online or at a number of downtown vendors. Doors at the Hangar open at 6:30 p.m., opening whistle at 7:30.
ToRD.TV sets up the bout with Dolls veteran (and ToRD.TV personality) Monichrome: