June 8, 2009 19:00
Welcome back to our second day of analysis on PBA Tour Trials qualifiers. As promised, today I’ll be assessing the games of two-hander Cassidy Schaub and Detroit-area player Thomas Smallwood.
Those of you who enjoy watching two-handed bowling are in for a treat, because Cassidy Schaub is a mirror-image of Jason Belmonte. The thing that impressed me most about Schaub’s game was how slow and smooth his approach is, in contrast to the hopping and skipping that Belmonte employs to help generate his massive ball speed and rev rate.
Schaub definitely falls into the Mark Baker “landing the airplane” school of the approach, because his head slowly descends from high to low in a uniform fashion as he walks to the line. This combination of smoothness and power was definitely a thing of beauty to watch, and Schaub did most of his damage playing on the gutter on the Cheetah and Chameleon patterns. He was pretty impressive on the Shark pattern as well, shooting just under par for the nine games despite some absolutely horrendous carry (one stone eight he left on a half-pocket hit actually made my groin hurt just watching).
One concern I had about Schaub was whether he would be able to play in the tight confines that the PBA Tour conditions tend to place on lefties, but from what I saw, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for this guy. He also seemed to have a very good attitude and even-tempered demeanor, something he no doubt learned as a member of Team USA, but he also seems to possess that underlying intensity that should make him fun to watch on TV when the stakes are at their highest. Overall, I have to say that out of all the first-time exemptees it’s a toss-up between Schaub and George Lambert IV over who impressed me most. I’d be very surprised if either player ends up back at Tour Trials next season.
31 year-old Thomas Smallwood decided to bowl Tour Trials after recently being laid off from a local GM plant. How’s that for destiny? Probably the most consistent of all the qualifiers throughout the competition, Smallwood started off hot and actually held the lead entering the final day of the competition. He probably would’ve won the whole thing if not for a 172-156 finish, but he certainly achieved his stated goal of earning an exemption.
As for his game, it’s kind of a mix between Brian Kretzer and Ted Hannahs. Tom likes to slow-hook the ball and he has a massive drift left (about 20 boards it looked like to me). This will make him really good in longer formats on drier patterns, but will probably lead to him being a non-factor on the patterns that require players to move to the gutter or to play a tighter line (although he did bomb the Cheetah on Day 1, which makes me wonder if his drift is more an adjustment to the line he’s playing that changes depending on his angle).
The question with Smallwood for me is, “Was this just a career performance inspired by a make-or-break situation (a la Buster Douglas versus Mike Tyson in Tokyo) or does this guy have what it takes to actually be a player out here on Tour?” The fact that the first eight events of the season are in his hometown and in centers in which he’s had so much success should help (or hurt…sometimes bowling in front of the hometown crowd adds extra pressure) but we’ll have to see what happens when he’s required to leave the nest and venture out on the road to live out of a suitcase for 10-plus grueling weeks. Time will tell, but I don’t see how you could not be rooting for this guy to pull it off after what he’s been through.
Well, that leaves us with just one more player to assess…Canadian-born and Wichita State bred Mr. George Lambert IV. I’ll have my assessment of his game tomorrow and I’m also working on getting the video versions of these reviews and the player interviews up on Xtra Frame later this week. And don’t forget to let me know what you think and/or if you’d like me to review any of the other three players (Mack, Beasley or Ciccone) as well by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you happened to miss yesterday's analysis of Stevie Weber and Stuart Williams, then click here for that.
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