Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Grab Bag: So... Punting? *balances hands*

Sit tight, but the revolution's years away
I'm losing faith and I'm running low on things to say
So, I guess I have no choice but to regurgitate
The tired anthem of a loser and a hypocrite

- Streetlight Monifesto, A Moment of Silence

Ugh, that turned ugly quickly.  All the hope and optimism developed over the offseason dissolved into outright panic somewhere in the middle of Friday night's third quarter at Sports Authority Field.  All that's left is a long, hard look in a mirror that shows nothing but reflections of every lost season spent since 2010.

Honestly, what else is there to say?  If CU couldn't put up a fight in the season opener, how do they have a hope in hell of improving against quality Pac-12 competition?  November seems a whole lot farther away then it did Friday morning. *sigh*

Of course, I can't hold any of that against @Phyltopia and @LovelyCorrin, who shared the gameday experience with me on Friday.  Thanks to the incomparable @JennBerg (and a 'deal' struck with @SkyeSnowBuff), the three of us had the best seats in the house Friday night.  A perfect view to an imperfect performance.  While I can't say that I 'enjoyed' the game, Phil and Corrin at least made it palatable. Thanks all!

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Today in the bag, I'm talking Friday night, CU's upcoming opponents, and some soccer and volleyball.

Click below for the bag...


Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Beer Post: 2014 Gameday Beer-o-the-week - RMS Edition

Each week throughout the football season I'm going to suggest a good beer for the ubiquitous pre-game tailgate. Let's be honest, with tailgates it's not always top quality that you're looking for. To steal a phrase from the heinous beer terrorists at Budweiser, you want "drinkability." (or what a real beer connoisseur calls "a session beer") So, be warned, these may not be "the best" beers around. But, in the words of Dave Chappelle as Samuel L. Jackson "IT'LL GET YOU DRUNK!"

Welcome back, football season!  More importantly, WELCOME BACK, TAILGAITING SEASON! Knock the dust off the beer pong table, buy some replacement bags for the old cornhole set, and get your ass to the liquor store, because there's some serious partying that needs doing!

It's the RMS, so the honorary beer-o-the-week is Buff Gold.  So noble in packaging, so lacking in quality... wait, what's this?  New packaging?  Where's the Flatirons?  This is an outrage!

Anyways, the official intoxicant for this evening is named after a great American, who, for years, dedicated his life to making things miserable for pitchers in the American League Central.  Frank Thomas, newly of the gawddam Hall of Fame, is dabbling in the brewing game these days, and his flagship product, the apply named Big Hurt Beer, is my gameday beer-o-the-week.
Still looks like he could crush a ball or two.
OK, so technically it's a malt liquor, but who are you to argue with 7% ABV in a 24 oz can?  So it doesn't exactly 'taste good.'  Do you really want to know that horrifying truth, or just watch the big man sock a few dingers? If you're looking to get sloshed in quick fashion, Frank's brew will do ya just as fast as hist blasts used to leave the stadium.

Thomas swears he getting more serious about the industry; accordingly the brand is even opening up a brewhouse in the Chicago suburbs.  Still, I'm hard pressed to see this as anything but a marketing gimmick. It sure worked on me, though, which I guess is the point.  Last time I was home in Illinois, I ran right to the liquor store for one.  Enjoy my money, big man!

You can't get this in Colorado, yet, but for you Buffs in the distribution area (*ahem* @ChicagoBuffs *ahem*), why not give Frank's beer a try while watching our Buffs put a Big Hurt on the competition.


Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, get that 'W!'

Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014 Rocky Mountain Showdown Preview

I will inflict upon the genophage the greatest insult an enemy can suffer: to be ignored. - Warlord Okeer

There's been a lot of hot air blowing around this week, even more than usual.  A lot of it has been weird, beyond-the-pale ramblings from the delusional up north (as well as some from the delusional down south). Like batshit insane stuff along the lines of 'we're actually happier being second rate.'

*sighs*

You know what, that's it.  I've had enough.  This isn't even fun in the awkward ways it used to be.  I no longer have enough give-a-shit in my body to care about the state's little farm college.  This year they pushed me over the edge.  I'm just flat done with them, their fans, and their Napoleonic fetish of being the little guy.  They want to be a minor league organization, then so be it, but I'm not being dragged down to Single-A.

Below the fold, you will find NO MENTION of tomorrow night's opponent.  I'm taking this opportunity to preview our Buffs, and no one else.

I ain't even kidding anymore, they ain't worth my time.

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The 86th edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown kicks off from Sports Authority Field at Mile High at 7pm MT on Friday. Coverage can be found on FOX Sports 1 (yep, even for you Dish folk), with Mark Johnson and the radio broadcast on 850 KOA.

For reference, you can find my previews from previous iterations of this series here, here, here, and here.

Click below for the preview...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wish List for the 2014 Football Season

Football season is back, and with it a palpable sense of optimism to Boulder.  The general impression is that the football program is on the upswing after an extended dalliance in the depths of the college football world. Certainly they were better in 2013.  In fact, the program hit all of my expectations for the campaign, winning four games, competing in many others, showing a sense of pride on both sides of the ball, and generally moving the sticks forward throughout a successful season.  BuffNation even stepped up to the point that the Folsom upgrades are a reality.  By comparison, despondent efforts like 2011 and 2012 seem like they were in the distant past.

But all the positive vibes engendered by a strong 2013 could vanish if 2014 goes to pot.  With that in mind, I've put together a five-pack of wishes for this season.  Nothing on this list is a gimme, but I would considering everything 'reasonable.'  Should the team achieve at least four of these, CU Athletics could rightfully claim another step forward.  Any less than four, however, and I'd consider 2014 a season stuck in neutral.


1) A perfect run through non-conference play

Echoing last season, it'd be nice for the Buffs to make their par-saves out of the gate.  Games against CSU, Massachusetts, and Hawai'i are all solidly 'winnable' on paper, and need to be converted into wins to maintain the status quo.

It won't be as easy as many Black and Gold faithful are making it out to be, however.  The RMS is always a 'thing,' and road games east of the Mississippi have never been kind to this program (even though UMass is particularly awful...).  As unpalatable as it may seem, and as improved as the team is over previous seasons, I can easily envision a scenario where the team starts out 0-2.
Charleston Southern ain't walkin' through that door.  From: the BDC
That's not to say I think it likely.  CU will be favored in each game, and has the talent to overwhelm either opponent, given uneventful efforts from each side.  Plus, if the Buffs can swing those two, the Hawai'i game, after a brief hiccup against ASU, should be a cake walk.  They're talking of dropping the sport, after all.

Honestly, there's really no excuse for the team to not jump out to a 3-1 start in 2014.


2) More than one conference win

Speaking of par saves, slapping around Cal, as CU did last season, is nice and all, but the football program is not going to get back to where BuffNation wants to see it by playing at the Golden Bears' level.  The Buffs need to start beating multiple conference foes on a regular basis.
Get out our way, Cal!
To that end, the Buffs have to get more than one conference win this year.  Yep, a feat not conjured since Jon Embree, of all people, managed it in 2011 (with the help of a historically large senior class).

Finding a winnable pair is not easy.  The Cal game is on the road, and they'll be looking at that date for a win as much as the Buffs will.  Even given a win on 9/27, the Pac-12 is one of the best conferences in the country - some even say it will be better than the vaunted SEC.  The other eight games will be difficult tests, regardless of opponents and location.  Probably the best bet is November 29th against Utah, as CU has usually played their Mountain Time Zone rival well, but that program continues to improve as the power conference money trickles in.  Beyond the Utes, you could maybe sell me on upsets against Washington (new coach), @ Arizona, and @ USC (new coach), but I just don't see it.  It's Bears and Utes or bust.


3) Stay competitive throughout

In the three-year history of the Pac-12, the Buffs have routinely been trounced on the gridiron.  Over the 27 conference games played since 2011, they've lost an ugly total of 19 by at least 22 points.  That's right, CU has been blown out in just over 70% of their Pac-12 tilts.
It's been painful to watch.  From the BDC
Inexcusable.  That has to change.  Immediately.

I don't expect Mike MacIntyre to walk his troops into Autzen and pull out a win, but is it too much to ask them to stay within reach of at least five of their conference foes this season?  Let's say a max of four losses by more than three touchdowns, and only one by 40 points or more.  That'd certainly be a step in the right direction.

This effort would be greatly helped by continuing to stay, relatively, injury free.  Outside of unfortunate season-ending nicks to Jered Bell and Tyler Henington, the Buffs find themselves fortunate to head into the season with their two-deep mostly intact.  While depth is improving at the Foot of the Flatirons, it's not yet to the level that continued shuffling of the deck is a mountable challenge.  For the Buffs to stay in games this fall, they have to stay healthy, and keep their best talent on the field.


4) Get Sefo Liufau into the 2,000 club

This is obviously a individual benchmark, but it stands as a milestone for the entire offense.  In the history of Colorado Football, there's only been thirteen 2,000 yard passing efforts, with six of those owned by messrs Stewart and Klatt.  Getting the calm, composed sophomore into that club would make for a strong sign that the offense is starting to come together.
The Buffs need a big year from Sefo.  From: the Post
There's been too much upheval under center over the last decade.  Ever since Klatt left, it's been anyone's guess who will be leading the team in the huddle.  If anything, meeting this goal would at least point to some stability in the backfield.

The key will be the offensive line.  The only way 2,000 happens is if they're keeping Sefo's jersey clean. Luckily, the line returns three of the starters from last season, and boasts a pair of 5th-year senior guards in Dan Munyer and Kaiwi Crabb.  I like the way the group projects headed into the season, and have high hopes for them.


5) Make a damn bowl game

Bowl games.  The ultimate symbol of mediocrity dressed up as achievement.  In any other sport, earning a .500 record would not be worth celebrating, but college football continues to make it the end-all, be all of competition.  Sure, it's a reward for the kids and coaching staffs for working so hard, but making the BitPay St Petersberg Bowl (*hold for laughter*) has never struck me as anything but a trophy from an everyone-wins little league.

Still, this is the world we live in, and the fact remains that Colorado Football hasn't even been able to manage the pinnacle of average that is earning a bowl berth since 2007.  It's time to end the streak.  Somehow, someway, Mike MacIntyre and crew must turn a brutal Pac-12 slate into at least three wins and sneak into December at 6-6.
Remember when CU and Alabama met on equal footing?
This is probably a bridge to far for 2014, even if some local pundits are entertaining the possibility.  Granting CU manages to sweep non-conference play and beat Cal and Utah (no easy set of tasks, there), they'd still need one more win out of seven very difficult games to break even on the campaign. Given the schedule, given the fragile state of the depth chart, and given the continuing youth that still dominates the field, I just feel it's going to be impossible for this club to find six wins.  

More than likely, this is a achievable goal for 2015.  Still, it's nice to dream.  So, BuffNation, find a shooting star, drop a pocketful of change in the nearest fountain, and scour the ground for four-leaf clovers.  'Cause, if the Buffs can pull this one off, look out...


Go Buffs!  Live the dream!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: Game Week

Happy game week!

We've made it, the summer is over!  From here to April, there's actual CU sports to discuss, and I couldn't be more excited.

Just to make sure you're equally as pumped, here's this awesome video of Ralphie running for the freshman last week:

Ahhhhh, Ralphie is back in Folsom.  All is right with the world.

Oh, you need more hype?  How about the latest entry in @CU_Video's latest edition of Proving Grounds:

Yeah, that's the ticket.

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Today in the bag, I'm talking this weekend's women's soccer action, a 5-star visit to CU, and the Nuggets coming to Boulder.

Click below for the bag...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: Football is in the air

This is getting serious.  With two weeks to go before the start of the football season, it's hard not to ignore the excitement and focus in the air.  The regular students will hit campus this week, the football team is now going behind closed doors to continue their preparation, and suddenly the Rocky Mountain Showdown seems to be impending, rather than distant.

It's official, the calendar has flipped.  Baseball season has passed, football now takes the stage.  This can mean only one thing: November is just over the horizon!

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Today in the bag, I'm talking Saturday's football scrimmage, some unfortunate injury news, and the fight against ALS.

Click below for the bag...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Quick Post: On the 2014-15 Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

Last week, CU finalized the 2014-15 men's basketball non-conference schedule.  On the docket for the rest of 2014 is the following:
  • Drexel - 11/14 - Boulder
  • Auburn - 11/17 - Boulder - part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon
  • @Wyoming - 11/22 - Laramie, WY
  • Air Force - 11/25 - Boulder
  • Lipscomb - 11/30 - Boulder
  • San Francisco - 12/3 - Boulder
  • @Georgia - 12/7 - Athens, GA
  • CSU - 12/10 - Boulder
  • Northern Colorado - 12/13 - Boulder
  • Diamond Head Classic - 12/22, 23, 25 - Honolulu, HI
In addition, the bracket for the Diamond Head Classic was also announced.  CU will start off against perennial Big East also-ran DePaul before tackling the winner/loser of Ohio and George Washington.  The final round matchup would be against someone from the pool of Hawai'i, Loyola Marymount, Nebraska, and Wichita St, with either the Huskers or Shockers being the most likely.

Taking a step back, there's not much here to get immediately excited about. The Tip-Off Marathon game against Auburn should be fun (if you can manage to stay up that late), the CSU game is in Boulder, and the Hawai'i tournament will make for exciting holiday viewing.  After that, however, there are few names to entice the uninitiated.  It's not all that big of a surprise; after the last few years of seeing titans like Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor on the docket, a schedule devoid of 'big' name opponents is destined to underwhelm.

While the easy response is to say that Coach Boyle took a step backwards in his scheduling exploits, after some additional consideration, I don't necessarily see that as the case.  Certainly, there are fewer dream matchups on the slate, but we have to remember that the 2014-15 Buffs will still be trending young, and that playing the Jayhawks and Cowboys of the world in the opening weeks of the season isn't an optimal situation with an unsettled point guard spot.

Even further than that, though, Coach Boyle has put the team in a position of not only boosting his young team's confidence in November and December, but banking some decent RPI prizes, as well.  Only three teams on this schedule featured in the RPI 200+ last season (AF, Lipscomb, and UNC).  Two of those games are local-interest tilts, and the other is pure schedule filler to keep the team in rhythm - a necessary evil, and not uncommon. While names like Drexel, San Francisco, Georgia, and the GW/Ohio possibilities in Honolulu might not lift many skirts, they are solid teams who have decent shots of re-appearing in the RPI top-100.  If Auburn can manage to do anything in the first year under Bruce Pearl, the profile only gets better.

Compare that to other non-conference schedules of the recent past, and this schedule is not nearly as bad as the doom-and-gloom set (including myself) initially implied. Pay particular attention to the 2008-09 schedule - the last time the Buffs appeared in the Diamond Head Classic. That season, CU played @ Stanford before playing... no one else of any value.  All-mighty Kenpom figured that the Buffs had the 314th best non-con schedule that year, including nine teams who finished in the RPI 200+. That level of competition was typical for pre-Boyle Colorado basketball, and, while it brought the program a few extra wins, did little to prepare the team for conference play.

That will not be the case this year. While the 2014-15 non-con schedule is not the seductive set of the last few years, it is not a return to the scheduling failures of the 2000s.  The schedule will allow the freshmen and sophomores to grab some wins and develop against worthy opponents, while not crippling their shot at a fourth consecutive Tournament appearance.

Remember, CU is not stressing home ticket sales anymore, and this team is built more for development than headline grabbing rankings.  In fact, considering few want to play the Buffs in Boulder anymore, it's probably the best BuffNation could ask for.

Grain of salt: while the schedule isn't as bad as initially assumed, still can't afford a glut of mistakes before Winter Break.  While one loss wouldn't be crippling, depending on the opponent, multiple losses would be, starting the inevitable bubble conversations out on the wrong foot.  As always, it'll be up to the players to make good on the plan in place.