Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: More basketball rules discussion

Memorial Day weekend, along with the dutiful remembrances for those lost in defense of this country, has long marked the first instance on the calendar that I allow myself a peek at Major League Baseball's standings.  Not that baseball in April and May is not important - each game counts the same, after all - just that the standings themselves are rarely informative without an adequate sample size.  With two months of play down and four to go, the colloquial opening day of summer figures to be as good a time as any to break that seal. So, lets put our eyes on the positioning of both My Sox and the home town Rockies. I have a feeling where this is going to head, but you never know...

*peruses standings*

Yep, My Sox are horseshit.  After a brief stint above the .500 mark a few weeks ago, they're back to four games under, and tied for last in the American League Central - a full eight games back of the Kansas City Royals.  Nothing too surprising here as the team can't hit, standing as the lone team in all of baseball to currently sport a negative WAR at the dish.  Right now, across this country, there are little league teams bringing a better overall approach to the box.  They bring shame to the very concept of professional hitters. *cough*

Certainly, given that disparaging outcome, the Rox have to be better... right?  Nope, in fact the Rox have managed to play even worse ball than my woeful Sox over the first two months.  At 18-25 overall, they're just as mired in obscurity at the bottom of the National League West, and just as doubtful a threat for an interesting summer.  One thing to note, however: without that infamous 11-game losing streak, things could be much different.  Let's say, instead of going 0-11 to start the month, Colorado went a still sub-par 5-6. Why, in that still-sour scenario, they'd be 23-20, and a surprise challenger to both the Giants and Dodgers. Wouldn't that be something?

As it is, it doesn't look like either My Sox or the damned Rockies will prove to be very entertaining over the final 2/3rds of the season.  I guess that just means we'll all have to savor the excitement of the NBA and NHL postseasons while they last.  After they're gone, it could prove to be a very dull summer.

--

Today in the bag, I'm re-hashing the new basketball rules proposals by considering Coach Boyle's opinions, before running through the playoff results.

Click below for the bag...


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: New Rules!

For those out of state, let me pass on a note of caution - Boulder is slowly turning into Seattle.  I'm not talking culturally, though, I'm talking climate.  It's been raining non-stop here for the last few weeks, inching towards record territory.  While not a true echo of the scene a few September's back, when the heavens opened up to dump 20 inches on top of my house in a matter of days, I'm starting to forget the last time I saw the sun, and am beginning to fret over the status of the softball season rumored to have started with the last flip of the calendar.

Of course, I shouldn't be complaining.  Any water is welcome in the West, and I do not dispute that we need as much as the clouds can spare.  But is it too much to ask for an occasional sunny day?  Or at least enough of a dry spell to allow me to mow the damn lawn again?

--

Today in the bag, I'm talking the new rules proposals in college basketball, priming the start of the conference finals in the NBA, and recapping the start of the same in the NHL.

Click below for the bag...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: #Ballghazi

I'm off on a quick work trip to Vegas... I don't even really know why, but the destination is all that matters, right?  The point is, the money is going where my mouth is tonight: I've already got investments on the Bulls and the Clippers.  Let's see how this plays out...

Of course, with travel comes complications.  For some reason, Google isn't working on my 'free' WiFi; the practical effect of which is that I can't look up any pictures for this damn article.  C'est la vie, we're going old school in this one.  No color, just text.  I hope you enjoy.

Today in the bag, I'm talking the continuing saga of the NBA and NHL playoffs before taking a look at whatever it is that Tom Brady got himself into up in Boston.

Click below for the bag...


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: A Wild Weekend

The cult of the Kentucky Derby continues to confuse the hell out of me.  I got wrapped up in it Saturday, heading over to a fancy party (replete with hats!) for some juleps and *cough* gambling, but stayed on the mental sidelines for much of the affair.  While I had a good time with my friends, the lifestyle of the rich and famous, as celebrated by NBC, had me gagging.  The overt deification of money, wealth, and opulence that is at the heart of horse racing and all things Churchill Downs, only a week after another round of riots highlighted the divisions in this country, struck hollow.  I don't care who was there, how much they paid for their whiskey, or how long the wait is at the private airport's coat check. NBC's wallow in that filth had me rolling my eyes. Just run the damn race, already.

Sure, all that pomp isn't on display for me (hint: it's for the same people who care that the Royal Family had another baby), but it only highlighted how completely out of touch 'the sport of kings' is.  Why do we 'care' about this again?

--

Today in the bag, I'm talking the 'fight of the century' and some playoffs, both NBA and NHL.

Click below for the bag...


The Attrition Files: Jaron Hopkins

It's taken me a while to pump this out out.  More than a while, in fact, as Jaron Hopkins announced his decision to transfer nearly a month ago on April 8th.  It's not that I don't care or don't see the importance - quite the contrary - it's just that I've waged an internal struggle over the proper way to sum up Jaron's time in Boulder.

Hopkins started his CU career as the recruiting salve to soothe the post-RMS wounds of another football failure; the happy news to offset an otherwise dour weekend.  The promise - his potential - was clearly evident from the offset.  A uniquely talented, highly athletic combo guard out of Mesa, possessing of size, speed, and versatility, JHop seemed to be the perfect compliment to Coach Boyle's system.  That the Buffs had plucked him out from Arizona, home of two budding Pac-12 rivals, only made the recruiting coup all the more sweet.  Eventually, he became known as the top-100 center-piece of the 2013 recruiting class, the followup to one of the most heralded in program history.  Needless to say, expectations were high.
From: the BDC
Every once in a while, you'd see a flash of that potential.  Usually against a team from his home state, the Arizona product would seem to score at will.  You'd see the whole package - some shooting, a lot of slashing, good defense, pugnacious activity.  THAT's the Jaron Hopkins that helped CU be their best.  THAT's the Jaron that kept me high over the future of the program.

Unfortunately, that's not always the JHop the team got.  There'd be whole stretches where he'd disappear on the court.  Maybe indecision on his part, maybe miss-management on the coaches' part, but these stretches are what held the overly talented sophomore back.  When on his game, the sky was the limit.  When not...
I kept hoping for a definitive step forward from Hopkins, searching for the reality in the potential.
The lesson I take from the Jaron Hopkins era, then, is that promise does not always equal results. With Hopkins, it's easy to see the talent, but it became harder and harder to see how he fits into the mold the Buffs were trying to shove him into.  The prototye of what Coach Boyle looks for in a recruit - lanky, athletic, versatile - could never settle into a role, and found himself behind a number of his peers, as a result. With 6/3 averages last year, he seemed to have settled into a rut, posting a nearly identical 91 Ortg to the one he posted as a freshman.  His defensive leadership, which, BuffNation had hoped, would blossom in year two, only seemed to wilt. Headed into his junior season, he would've still been coming off the bench, with prospects not much better for his senior season. With that in mind, this move makes a lot of sense.

I still view him a a good basketball player, clearly capable of D-I performance, but JHop just couldn't figure out how to consistently make an impact in Black and Gold.  While he stood out as of the best - if not the best - athlete on the roster, it never seemed to translate, and it makes sense for both sides to part ways at this point. Believe me, he would've contributed in '15-'16 as the always vital 6th man, but a kid with his talent deserves the opportunity to seek out starter's minutes.  Hopkins should quickly find a school eager to offer him the playing time he wants, while CU has the Derrick White era to look forward to in a few winters. No hard feelings whatsoever, it's just business.
There's a lot of good basketball left in Jaron.  From: the Post
Much like with Dustin Thomas, I will remain a JHop fan, and look forward to seeing him kick as in another uniform over the coming years.

Thank you, Jaron! Good luck at your next stop, and keep grinding!

--

Best Remembered for - 

The #GameShooter meme. Let's be honest, Jaron is not a good shooter.  The stories of his exploits in practice are particularly worrisome.  His form makes me cringe each time he raises up, and opponents seem to dare him to take long jumpers.  But, that said, he shot an acceptable 33% from the floor this winter, and learned to know his spots.  He could burn the lazy with a well-timed look, but only when it really mattered. Not that CU would ever draw up a shot for him, but, when it went in, it was always worth a bemused smirk.
See?  Smirk.

Best Aspect of his game - 

Extreme athleticism.  Jaron can flat jump out of the gym and has outstanding speed.  Essentially, he is a one-man fast break.  JHop runs the court like a gazelle, turning the table on a bunch of punk-ass lions.  The hunted becoming the hunter.  Lightning quick, and with a nose for the rim, Hopkins is always at his best when in the open floor.

Best game as a Buff -  

You want me to say the 20/7/5/4 he put up this January in Tempe.  Certainly, that was his best statistical output in Black and Gold, and would normally carry the day.  For my money, however, Jaron's best game was up in the Fort his freshman year, playing Robin to Spencer Dinwiddie's Batman in a crucial road win that was far more important than a random loss to ASU.  JHop hit both of his threes that day (#GameShooter), scoring 10 points in a very hostile environment.  Other than the Mayor, no other Buff was as good that day, and his performance proved vital.  Without that win, CU isn't in the Tournament in 2014.  Hopkins' effort helped secure that spot.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The 2015 CU Garage Sale

Ah, the garage sale.  A biennial smorgasbord of surplus CU gear for the cost-conscious shopper.  Want the swag without the hefty price tag? Well, then here's the event for you.  Honestly, one of my top three days on the athletics calendar (1: opening day for basketball, 2:  all other basketball games, 3: the garage sale).

New for this year: a long ass line!  I showed up a good 45 minutes early, but was still behind about 50-75 people.
Somewhere near the front: @RyanKoenignberg
What's not pictured are the hundreds still behind me.  By the time the gates opened at high noon, the line stretched around the ticket line stanchions at the entrance to the plaza, south down Colorado, and out of view by the Folsom Field ticket office.  I'm lucky I arrived when I did, as were friends of the blog @CUGoose and @BupsJones,who joined me in line a little later.  Even though I wasn't among the first group to get in, there was still plenty of stuff to peruse once inside the gates.  For those farther back in line... not so much.

The garage sale - a free-for-all of grabbing - is one of the few instances that it pays to be a *cough* larger gentleman.  As athletics staffers get early access, 'normal' sizes like medium and large are almost entirely picked over before the public even gets a shot.  Happily for my XXL frame, there's still plenty around in larger sizes if you're in the first few groups in the door.  Accordingly, I scooped up a nice haul.  Maybe not as much basketball-specific stuff as previous years, but still more than worth the extended lunch break I had to take in order to get in line when I did.

Without further adieu, what I was able to score:

That's right, a damn football helmet.  You had your choice between game/practice used and replica.  I went replica, 'cause I thought it looked better.  Either way, one of these would've set you back a cool $100.  This is going in the man cave.

First up on the clothes end is this sweet weather repellant track jacket.  This is the kind of stuff the garage sale is great at.  Outdated styles, but who really cares if you're wearing 2013's jacket in 2015?  Either way, you're staying dry and reppin' CU.  The current version sells for $65 on CU's website; this one was mine for $15.

 
Another stellar garage sale pickup: last year's team polo.  What are these, usually $50-60 bucks at the store?  Today only you could get them for $10.  I'll be wearing this for years!

Always got to grab up the t-shirts.  $5 each.  I'm especially excited about the one on the right, if you couldn't guess.

Here's a nice example of Burks-era basketball shorts. According to the tag on the inside, they may or may not have belonged at one point to Trent Beckley.  At the garage sale, sometimes you have to size-up, and this is certainly a case of that.  Fine at the waist, but +4 length.  Still though, they'll make for great loungin' wear.  I can't remember the cost, but I think it was $5.

Here's some workout wear.  Or, more precisely, softball wear.  Can never get enough of this stuff, and, at $5 each, you can't beat the price.

More than top wear, the garage sale is also a great opportunity to pick up some work pants.  I got these golf shorts and pants (no logos) for $10 each.  The pants are made for someone seven-feet tall, but that's why they invented hemming.

Turtle-neck thermal?  Absolutely, for $10.  This'll be great for those October/November football games I eventually decide to attend.

I also scooped up a track jacket and polo emblazoned with '2001 Big 12 Champions.'  I assume these were for the players reunion in 2011.  I already have a version of the track jacket from the 2012 Pac-12 basketball championship, but that style of jacket is really nice, so what the hell?  The polo is just fine, and will be great on the golf course ('cause I apparently golf now?)  $10 each. (BTW, My camera was so impressed by the throwback style, that it decided on its own to use a filter. Whatever you want, dude.)

If you're keeping track, I got all those clothes for $100.  Are you kidding me?!  Bargains galore!  But even on top of that, there's more.  At the checkout line, they had the usual cavalcade of media guides for free (if you wanted it, you could get the '93-'94 women's hoops guide).  Going further, there were some other surprises in the freebie bin:

I ended up grabbing four 1990 football media guides for eventual gifts, a '94 football guide for me, and... is that what I think it is?  Yes, BOTH the 2001 Big XII champions video and the 62-36 commemorative film on VHS.  VHS!  HAHA, you just can't beat the hilarity that will ensue at the next white elephant party I'm invited to.

All told, I spent $200 today.  A lot, but if you take out the cost of the football helmet, I made out like a bandit.  I can't wait for 2017 when I get to go around again!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: Football? But it's April!

I was in the car Friday, stuck in traffic on US 36 (a shitshow of epic proportions, btw), when I decided to try out some local sports talk.  You know the station. It's not a frequent occurrence that I turn to Denver's view of sports, and I should've known what I was getting into, but I was aghast at the content.  A rehash of the NFL schedule release, an early (exhaustive) look at the NFL draft, and nary a non-football thought.  In April.  *sigh, throws things*

I understand that the NFL is a dominant piece of the sporting landcape, and the absence of local playoff entrants in either of the two tournaments currently being played hurts, but this continuing myopia, from a supposedly 'major' market, is criminal.  I hear a constant refrain that the NFL is a 24/7/365 league, which only makes me weep for this once proud, diverse sporting country.  It's only a topic of conversation 365 days a year because our sports media has grown tired and lazy, either unwilling or unable to stretch their legs and come up with unique segments.  We should be demanding more.

What else is there to talk about, you ask?  Why, how about baseball?  Denver even has a team in that sport, one that is currently competitive (go Rox).  Not a seamhead?  The NBA and the NHL playoffs are in full swing, and well worth your consideration.  Even without either of the Nuggets or Avalanche competing, they're full of drama and intrigue. Still wanting more? Well, the Kentucky Derby is this weekend - i.e. the only weekend a year we as a nation pretend to still care about horse racing.  Oh, btw, there's also the latest 'fight of the century,' golf is in full swing, college basketball's Hot Stove is boiling, and I heard a rumor that NASCAR and MMA are still things. If you can't find 3-4 hours of non-football content each day out of that pool, you're just not very good at your job.

'But they should be giving the people what they want,' you counter, 'and the people want to talk Broncos!' First, I don't believe that people really want to talk Broncos in April, I think they've just been conditioned to do so.  A pseudo Stockholm effect, if you will.  Secondly, has anyone even tried to provide an alternative, local voice in this market?  In drive time, when people are actually listening to radio?   I'm not saying you can't talk football - some discussion of the draft is warranted - but talking of nothing but the NFL for an entire show proves the shallow mind behind the wheel.

But, maybe that's the point.  In the age of the podcast and satellite radio, maybe sports talk in a market such as this is an anachronistic dog.  Feed some red meat to the morons in order to squeeze the last advertising drops out of the medium, and watch it wither and die in silence.  As someone who grew up listening to sports talk in the 'golden age,' I find that notion sad, but at least understandable.  But, in that case, don't pretend to be a 'sports' station; just bite the bullet, take the football-only mantle into the light, and end all doubt.

--

Today in the bag, I'm talking a bunch of playoffs.  First, some NBA talk, before jumping out onto the ice of the NHL.  I'll finish with women's lacrosse, because I'm a huge homer like that.

Click below for the bag...