Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015-16 CU vs Air Force Basketball Teaser

Playing the Air Force Academy is always an interesting proposition.  Of course, it's nice to see a local school pop up on the schedule, and anytime you face one of our nation's military academies it's a special occasion. But, more than that, it becomes a trial of patience and persistence.  Why?  Because the Falcons run the Princeton.

Basketball junkies throw the 'Princeton Offense' jargon around about as offhandedly as a football freak brings up the 'air raid' or the 'read-option spread.'  So, what exactly am I getting at when I talk about 'The Princeton?'  Well, I'm talking about a style that values each possession, that relies on versatility from each of the players on the court, and that lives and dies by structured off-ball motion.  Tonight there will be back cuts, there will a crap-ton of passes out on the wing (assists on nearly every made basket), and there will be extended possessions deep into the shot clock. The emphasis is on finding the highest quality shot available, and the Falcons will be willing to wait you out in the pursuit of just that.  More importantly, it will test the focus of the Buffs' defense, who have to know where man and ball are at all times, lest they get burned bad.
Head coach Dave Pilipovich has kept the Princeton offense alive and well in the Springs.  From: NBC Sports.
Colorado fans are old hats at this, having watched it for three years as the 'hyper-Princeton' ([insert laugh track here]) under former coach Jeff Bzdelik. Many people, good basketball minds, love this stuff.  Me? I'm just not convinced that it can work at a high level consistently (even Georgetown, the un-Princeton Princeton team, struggles mightily in the post-season).  Further, I wonder if running the formulaic construct caps your ability to snag and keep talent who would rather play anything but. Case-in-point, the Academy's outgoing transfer point guard Matt Mooney (who had 10 points and five steals against CU last November) took some pot-shots at the system on the way out the door this past spring:
“I didn't know exactly what I was getting myself into, especially the way the Air Force Academy runs a Princeton-style offense. I watched them play and they told me they run the Princeton, but I didn't actually really know what it was like until playing in it. And it's very restrictive. You kind of play like robots, pretty much. There's not really basketball instincts involved — like you don't read and react, you go from piece to piece to piece. And I didn't really like playing like that.”
Maybe as a reaction to that, the loss of nine seniors, and the middling success of the program in recent years, head coach Dave Pilipovich is making some conciliatory tweaks to his staid system -- "there will be more ball-screen action, more dribble drives and a quicker pace."  Dribble-drive?  In the Princeton? What in the name of Pete Carril is going on here?
Lyons and the Falcons are trying to speed things up - a little bit - this season.  From: USA Today
I will grant that they are playing a little faster in '15-'16.  That's not a very high bar to clear, having run near 20 seconds per possession last winter, but they're up to almost 69 possessions per night now (shortened clock caveat applies).  With this new found speed (the relative equivalent of a brisk walk) the Falcons are 3-1 on the year, but have yet to play anyone of substance; wins against Tennessee Tech, Mississippi Valley State, and Robert Morris.  One interesting trend through those opening games, though, is their poor shooting numbers.  This is supposed to be a system of efficiency and high shooting rates. Instead, they're laying bricks from deep (20% from three point range as a team, worst in the country), and are struggling with efficiency (an adjusted .986 ppp) against these lesser teams, as a result.  The word from the Springs is that it's the result of opponents throwing some zone against them, something CU rarely attempts. Consume that excuse and talk about small sample size if you must, and there a number of good shooters on this roster, but at some point it becomes a trend.

Still there's a lot to be worried about if you're the Buffaloes.  Sophomore guard Trevor Lyons and junior swing forward Hayden Graham are excellent mid-major talents who can hurt you in a number of ways.  If the Lyons name in an Air Force uniform sends chills up your spine, it's a natural reaction to the whupping Trevor's older brother, Michael, used to put on the Buffs.  The younger Lyons may not be as good as his bro (who is?), but he's a budding star none-the-less, and the 6-3 point guard leads the team in points and assists. Graham is more of a double-double threat, albeit a little undersized at 6-5, averaging 16/9.5 in the early going.  One of his best assets is his ability to sneak offensive rebounds, 14 so far this season -- with AFA's measured pace, an offensive board translates into you going without the basketball for a full minute, not a good thing. Combined, these two rarely leave the court (minute rates well over 90%), and spark the Falcons. CU has their work cut out marking these two.
Graham is a fantastic, versatile forward. From: USA Today.
Elsewhere, look out for shooter Zach Kocur.  The junior from Denver hit 47% of his threes last season, and can be flat deadly.  He has struggled a bit this month, as have his teammates, but, after Sunday's lackadaisical defensive effort on the perimeter, the last thing you want to see entering the gym is a shooter due for a breakout game; he could be in for a huge effort.  Down in the paint, look for forwards Zach Moer and Joe Tuss to see extended minutes above their averages, as the Falcons try to cope with CU's size under the basket.  Add to them 6-6 sophomore Ryan Manning, with his 4.3% block rate, and these guys are better defensively in the paint than they have been in recent years.

Look, no bones about it, this could be a very tough game for CU.  Turnovers and poor perimeter defense will kill you against Princeton-style teams, and these have consistently been Colorado's weaknesses this season.  I'm actually kind of glad, in that light, that the Buffs struggled on Sunday.  It'll give the coaching staff an opportunity to really focus on these areas with an attentive, captive audience in practice.  The team needs to show better from the guards on defense and in ball-handling situations, and I bet that exactly what we get tonight.  It'll certainly be difficult to sink any lower than they were against the Mavericks.

Given a better effort on the perimeter, I think the keys tonight come down to rebounding.  The Buffs can't allow second chances, and have to force the Falcons to live with their misses.  This is where the Colorado Springs duo of Josh Scott and Wes Gordon comes into play.  Scott has been getting all of the hometown-centric storylines this week, and with good reason -- both his parents were athletes at the Academy, and he has deep ties to the program, as a result.  But it's probably Gordon who can hurt the Falcons the most by clearing the defensive glass and erasing back-cutters that get away.  Scott and Gordon have never lost to Air Force, and I doubt we'll see them let this one slip away either.  Maybe some scary moments early, but the Buffs will pull away late, probably winning by about eight or 10 points.


Tip-off from the Coors Evens Center is set for 7pm this evening.  When in the stands, have a look over to the Buff Basketball Band situated in the southwest corner.  It's the first of four scheduled Alumni Band nights, so you'll get to see yours truly in action -- I'll be the fat one in the back with the tubas.  If you can't make it to the CEC to root on both myself and the Buffs, you can watch the action Pac-12 Networks, or listen on AM 760.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: In Which Coach Boyle (jokingly) Offers a Refund

No time for idle chat in this shortened work-week. Today in the bag, I'm talking the narrow escape against Nebraska-Omaha, the frustration in Pullman, and runners-up honors for the #BananaStand.

Click below for the bag...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Portland Wrap and 2015-16 CU vs Omaha Basketball Teaser

Friday night at the CEC, the Colorado Buffaloes opened up the home portion of their non-conference slate against the Portland Pilots.  Some small quibbles aside - technical difficulties on the introduction, 18 turnovers, and more struggles at the point - it was a breezy affair. While I can complain about the little things, the end result, an 85-63 win, serves the desired purpose.  Can't ask for much more from a mid-November date with a small conference also-ran.

The big story against the Pilots was the play of Colorado's trio of scoring wings: Tre'Shaun Fletcher, Josh Fortune, and George King. Most of the headlines last week went to King, who filled it up against Iowa State and Auburn, but, while he still put up a game-high 18, George wasn't quite the effusive shooter and scorer he had been on the road trip (only 5-12 shooting, 1-4 from deep).  But, while King was having an 'off' night (I could do with 28 more of those 'off' nights from him), Fortune and Fletcher were picking up the slack. Tre almost pulled a 'Spencer,' only missing two shots on the night (one three pointer and one free throw attempt) to put up a pure 17 points in 20 minutes of action, while Josh was busy stuffing every inch of the stat sheet. The transfer from Providence had the first big night of his CU career with a 17/14/6/3/1 effort (I guess I never realized he could rebound like that).  Combined, the three wings put up 47 of the Buffs' 85 points, fueling the rout.
Fortune and the wings powered the Buffs on Friday.  From: the BDC.
Their scoring touch helped overcome a good Portland gameplan in the paint.  The Pilots flat refused to let Colorado get comfortable inside, forcing the Buffs to rely on their wings for action and activity.  Josh Scott was mostly held to mid-range field goal attempts (which he hit), while Wes Gordon was kept to less than nothing on the offensive end (six blocks on the other end, though).  Last year, that would've been a problem, with consistent scoring being a major issue.  This year, not so much.  With Fletcher, Fortune, and King shooting, passing, and slashing around the perimeter, CU continues to look dangerous even when the opponent is negating quality paint touches.  That bodes well going forward.

I am a little concerned, however, with the continuing struggles from the point guard slot.  Dom Collier started, but couldn't defend without fouling, and spent most of the game's key minutes on the bench. Xavier Talton was the first to spell him, and did hand out four assists in 18 minutes, but eventually saw freshman Akyazili Thomas take what appeared to be his second-string opportunities.  The Belgian import actually ended up playing the most minutes (24) of any of the three, and I'm not sure if that was an indication that he had leapfrogged Talton for the backup role, or if it was just a product of the coaching staff simply wanting to give him more PT in an easy non-conference spot.  Regardless, Colorado is going to have to get something consistent from this group if they hope to maximize production this winter.  Right now, just as expected, point guard play is the biggest single question mark on the court.
Akyazili is getting a lot of minutes early as the point guard position remains unsettled. From: the BDC
But, those are concerns for another day. With the Pilots in the rearview, the Buffs can now look for to today's affair with the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks; seemingly another easily Colorado win.  Anytime representatives from our northeastern neighbors come to town we're in for a treat, I just wish it was the full-fledged red horde coming to town.  Wouldn't that make for a fun addition to the non-conference schedule? A series with the hated Corn?  Tim Miles is probably too chickenshit to come up here, though... but, I digress.  Nebraska-Omaha.  Mavericks.  The here and now.  Got it.

If you haven't heard of the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks before, you aren't alone.  I wasn't even aware that they were Division-1 before the schedule was announced over the summer.  Part of the oversight might be because they weren't D-1 prior to a few years ago.  They started the transition process in 2011, and are only just this season becoming full-fledged members of the collegiate top-flight (eligible for post-season play). A part of the Summit Conference, they are one of the smaller members of a really small league... on paper, at least, that makes them a solid step down in competition from even Portland.
The Mavs are new to D-1 play. From:
The Mavs head to Boulder off of a 2-1 season-opening homestand.  Their opening loss, a one-pointer to the well thought of UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos, is probably the most informative of their three efforts to-date. The Gauchos had lead all the way, up by as many as 14 in the second half before a late UNO run made it interesting.  The Mavs then used a 25-4 run to flip the script, and put them in position to claim the win.  A late tip-in from UCSB, however, nipped them at the post, robbing Omaha of what would've been a very respectable win.

Head coach Derrin Hansen has been running the program for the past decade, but transition to full D-1 status will be quite the challenge.  With a new arena and six newcomers, however, he hopes to put a good foot forward quickly.  Their best player, though, is a returner, sophomore forward Tre'Shawn Thurman.  A versatile four, Thurman puts up good numbers on both ends of the court (14/8 averages through three games this season).  At the point is another holdover, senior Devin Patterson.  He has been struggling so far, though, with 10 turnovers and an offensive rating in the low 70s.  Rounding out the players to keep an eye on is forward Jake White.  The senior started his career at Wichita State, and has been playing efficient offensive basketball to start the season.  None of the three - or really anyone on their roster - should cause too much concern for the Buffs, however.
Thurman is the best on a roster light on talent.  From:
It's pretty simple: Colorado should cruise today.  Chalk it up as another opportunity to get the point guard rotation settled, and to watch some free-flowing offensive basketball from the wings. Anything less than a 15-20-point win would be a little disappointing.

Tip-off from the Coors Events Center is set for 12pm this afternoon.  Coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call moved to 760 AM on a Broncos Sunday.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 CU vs Washington State Football Preview

Not much to say here as the season winds down.  Straight to the action today.


Hype Music for the Week: "Hail to the King" by Avenged Sevenfold

I'm still lost in the mists of Tuesday's showing by the basketball team in Alabama.  George King and his 27/7 line deserve a salute.  Avenged Sevenfold will handle the honors here.  Enjoy!


Kickoff from Martin Stadium in Pullman, WA is set for 8:45pm on Saturday.  Yep, that's the seventh start of 7pm or later this season.  It's almost as if the Pac-12 doesn't care if they ruin my circadian rhythm.  For those night owls intent on watching this one live, coverage can be found on ESPN2, with the radio call on 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Beer Post: 2015 Gameday Beer-o-the-week - WSU 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!"

I got lost on my way to picking a beer this week, losing sight of my normal hopped-up fare as I cruised the aisles of the local liquor-plex.  I was drawn, instead, to a weird seasonal concoction from local magnates Oskar Blues. Their extra-sweet Irish porter, 'Death by Coconut,' is this week's gameday beer-o-the-week.

DBC has your basic porter look and feel down.  Black as motor oil with a thin tan-brown head, the maniacs at OB (originally a collaboration with Shamrock Brewing) finish the brew with an aging on dried coconut and dark chocolate. The result is a fantastic, easily recognizable taste. While there is a dark chocolate bitterness to the entire profile (with a finish like a latte), the main notes are creamy caramel mixed with sweet chocolate and toasted coconut.  It is undeniably the flavor of samoas -- those addicting chocolate-striped coconut cookies sold by the girl scouts every year.  If that ain't enough to get your attention, then I don't know what will.

It's not my favorite style of beer, and I know coconut is one of the most divisive flavors out there (I'm pro, for the record), but, it's an interesting take on the bog standard porter, and the taste is on point.  Think of it as a dessert beer, and sip after dinner (maybe in the form of a beer float...). You can find this beast in four-packs of 12oz cans, recently re-released in Oskar's distribution footprint.  It's a limited release, so get on it!

Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat the Pilots and Cougars!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Auburn Wrap and 2015-16 CU vs Portland Teaser

I said back in October that we'd all know a lot about the 2015-16 Colorado Buffaloes by the end of their two-game, season-opening road trip.  I was right: we do.  More importantly, the returns are very promising.

What started with a solid, gritty effort in Sioux Falls, SD against a top-10 Iowa State club only continued down in Alabama against a re-imagined bunch of Auburn Tigers.  In front of a hostile, energetic mid-day crowd, the Buffs fought and battled through a series of wild swings, showing a determination and steeled spine that had not been present a year ago.  They had to come back from as many as 15 points down in the first half, but eventually pulled away for a well-deserved 91-84 win.  It marked their first victory on the year, and a strong statement that things are going to be a little different this winter.
Josh Scott and the Buffs looked like a dangerous basketball team against Auburn.  From:
This kind of victory would not have been possible a year ago.  Midway through the opening frame, the Buffs were killing themselves, turning the ball over (11 times in the first half) and helping to fuel a 13-1 Auburn run. At that point last season, down 15 on the road, Colorado would've packed up the tent, and allowed the inevitable to ride over them.  But they didn't let the deficit get them down against the Tigers, and they didn't try to get it back in one gulp.  CU chipped away, dragging the gap back to only four points at the break, and keeping the action even through the first few minutes after.  Much like in their effort against ISU, they just hung around, looking dangerous and capable. And so, when the Tigers' composure slipped up in the second half, right about the time freshman forward Horace Spencer got T'd up for spiking the basketball after a dunk, there were the Buffs, ready and waiting to pounce.  A barrage of scoring would follow, and Colorado never looked back. By the time Auburn could really mount a response, the Buffs were up 13 with about six minutes to go, and the game was essentially over.

The saving grace, both against Auburn and Iowa State, has been one of the things that was frequently mentioned as a reason for optimism this winter: improved outside shooting.  As a team, the Buffs are hitting about 45% of their three-point attempts through two games (8-of-15 against the Tigers alone).  Now, that's not going to last, and regression to the mean can be a bitch, but I don't think it's such a fluke that we're going to see this group crash all the way back to where they were last season.  The reason for my optimism here: different personnel.  The shooters on the floor are more consistent and shooting more within the flow of the offense than in years past. Key to this stretch has been the play of George King.  The redshirt sophomore has been on fire, NBA Jam style. He may not have an assist, but he's averaging 21/7 early on (buoyed by 8-14 shooting from deep), and is already streets ahead of where he was as a freshman two years ago.  Against Auburn, he put up an obscene 27/7 line, knocking down big shot after big shot. It's a completely different offense with him prowling around the perimeter, one that actually looks... potent? Coach Boyle's quote after the game pretty much summed it up: “That’s why I believe in redshirting. He’s improved. He spent a lot of time working on his game. Now we get him three more years … I hope.”
George King had it going on against the Tigers.  From: the Post
Of course, beyond just King's heroics, the Buffs also benefited from their constant heartbeat in the paint: Josh Scott.  The Young Fundamental had himself a bounce-back night in SEC-land, riding 8-10 shooting from the floor to a 24/9/3/2 statement that put to bed the memory of his frustrations in South Dakota.  With Josh doing the work in the paint, and King knifing teams in the back from beyond the arc, suddenly the Buffs boast a powerful inside-outside attack that is forcing defenses to actually have to think while Colorado has the ball. Yes, just like you, I'm interested to see how the team responds when the shots aren't falling, but, if the defense keeps up (allowed under 40% shooting in the second half against the Tigers, only 2-10 from beyond the arc), and George King stays a viable Robin to Scott's Batman, this team could be far more interesting that any of us thought a few weeks ago.

The attention then shifts to Friday night and the home opener.  The Buffs will welcome in the Portland Pilots for the first of five-straight home games (nine-straight in the State of Colorado), looking to keep the good times rolling.  To be very honest, much like the rest of the pre-CSU stretch, this one shouldn't be much of a problem.  The Pilots are not a bad basketball team, per se, but they don't strike the pose of a crew that's going to come in and push CU around.
Wintering is a legit point guard, and could play for any team in any conference.  From: USA Today.
That's not to say they're devoid of talent, however.  Their best player, 5-11 junior point guard Alec Wintering, is a legit ball handler and leader.  He posted a top-25 assist rate last year on a well over 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, combining a key eye for distribution with a nose for the hoop (67.8% free throw rate, 173 FTAs). Wintering even has a talented wing to work off of.  6-4 senior Bryce Pressley shot 44% from beyond the arc last season, was 8-11 from deep in their season opener, and will really test CU's commitment to perimeter defending. Lesser tandems have given the Buffs fits in recent years, and I would not be surprised to see both guys go off a little bit.

Luckily, after those two, the talent floor on the roster drops off a bit. Sophomores D'Marques Tyson and Jason Todd (who weirdly have been coming off the bench) are nice players - good shooters to boot - but not anything extraordinarily special.  JuCo transfer Ray Barreno is really all they have in the paint -- he has nice size (6-10, 270 lbs), but is unproven.  Also look out for 7-1 center Phillip Hartwich, but, really, Colorado's front line should have no trouble here.

Overall, head coach Eric Reveno has some nice pieces in the back court that will serve him well once WCC play comes around, but, on the road in Boulder, he just doesn't have the horses in place to keep pace with a Pac-12 program.  The Pilots could get hot from deep, and make things nervous for a bit, but I have no trouble believing that the Buffs will eventually win by 15+ on Friday.


Tip-off from the Coors Events Center is set for 7pm tomorrow night.  I can't wait to get back into the building, having only whetted my appetite for Colorado's hardwood when I saw my Bulls come to town last month.  Hopefully, everyone out there, and especially the students, are itching to get back inside the CEC, as well.

For those who can't make it up to Boulder for the action, you can watch the game on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 850 KOA.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

2015-16 CU vs Auburn Basketball Teaser

Back in my Massive Season Preview, I blithely predicted that the Buffs were destined to lose this afternoon's game with the Auburn Tigers.  Heading out on early season road trips against Power-5 competition, I reasoned, was never a good omen for Tad Boyle's charges, and it just seemed like the safe bet that they would slump home 0-2 after their trip to Alabama.

Now, however, I'm not so sure.  I really kind of liked what I saw from the team in Sioux Falls. Turnovers were and issue, and it's always worrying to see the Buffs get worked like that in the paint, but they showed a lot of grit in coming back a number of times against a top-10 Iowa State team, fighting against a hostile crowd the entire way.  Outside shots were going in, the team looked active on the boards, and half-court defense was passing the eye test on most possessions.  Given a few of Josh Scott's missed bunnies going in, and they might have even won the damn game. Yes, it's only one small spate of action, and it was still a loss, but I like the look of the early-season Buffs a lot more than I thought I would headed into today.

More to the point, they're going to be facing an Auburn team that does not appear, at least on paper, to be nearly as intimidating as the Iowa State Cyclones are.  The Tigers certainly weren't last year, when they finished 12-19 in the regular season, only winning four games in all of SEC play.  They were a miss-matched mess all season, under-sized and under-talented against almost everyone they played.  It was no fluke, after all, that the inconsistent 2014-15 Buffs ran them out of the gym in that 90-59 Midnight Madness game last fall.  Going further, Auburn lost their entire three-man backcourt from a season a go - including bucket-getter KT Harrell, one of the most prolific scores in the south - making roster turnover and attrition a pressing issue.
Sweat, Brucey, Sweat!  From: SBNation
But, if there's anyone who knows how to turnover a roster in a hurry, it's Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. A master at squeezing Tournament-caliber performances out of under-performing rosters (previously at UW-Milwaukee and Tennessee), he's back for his second year on the Plains, trying to instill the old football power with some basketball passion.  So for... not so good, but don't count him out just yet.  The SEC has a soft underbelly, and even a modest jump in quality could have them eating into the middle of the pack.

To that end, he went out and hit the recruiting trail hard (... once he was allowed to, that is).  He wasn't satisfied with just bringing in some young talent, and waiting for them to develop, either.  Coach Pearl brought in a trio of transfers that now form the backbone of their starting lineup.  Kareem Canty, a high-scoring point, formerly of Marshall, now runs the show in the Harrell/bucket-getter role. 6-10 senior Tyler Harris, from Providence, adds some much-needed size and strength up front.  Finally, 6-5 JuCo transfer TJ Dunans - one of the most highly coveted JuCo recruits in the country last year - adds a ton of athleticism on the wing.  These are not the same small, one-dimensional Tigers of a year ago; they now look like a Power-5 team should from 1 through 5.
Bowers is a sizeable problem int he paint.  From: 247 sports.
One interesting piece that remains from that '14-'15 starting five, though, is 6-7, 255 senior forward Cinmeon Bowers.  Yep, he's the same high-energy interior bowling ball who put up 11/13 as sort of a one-man forward corps against CU a year ago.  Cinmeon is a bit undersized at 6-7, playing as more of a true center's role, but he has the body of an SEC defensive lineman, and is a mountain of a problem to deal with on the block. Now with a real running mate up front (Harris), and an interior protégé (freshman Horace Spencer) he should put up some huge numbers this year, and could push the Buffs' front line still reeling from their lickin' in South Dakota.

With all that new talent centered around Bowers, Auburn's off to a good start, at least.  They downed a well thought of UAB squad at home on opening night, winning 75-74 at the buzzer.  Not the prettiest of games (few are this time of year), the Tigers got by with 62 points from their 'Big Four.'  They got out to a big lead, and survived a number of comeback attempts from the Blazers to earn a nice early-season win.  Overall, I like this Tiger group as a potential mid-level sleeper in an always weak SEC, but they're still probably some true depth away from being anything close to relevant.
Happier days ahead for Auburn? From: the AP
This, then, is a game between two teams looking to flip the script on some disappointing performances the year prior.  One major difference is that this game is not up at altitude.  The Tigers made the mistake of trying to run with the Buffs at 5,345 last fall, and got smacked around in the second half, as a result.  Don't expect similar results this time around.  Oh, they'll still try to run, but CU won't have the thin air playing a factor in their opponent's fatigue. More practically, I'm not sold on how strong a rebounding team the Tigers are. Bowers will get his, and they're not dramatically undersized like they were last season, but I look at this as an opportunity for CU to crash the boards, and really make Auburn work for possessions.  The Buffs, once again, looking to stay in the half court, while their opponent tries to get out and run.

I said on Friday that if Colorado played like they did against Iowa State - showing intense grittyness on 'D,' rebounding the ball well, and knocking down outside jumpers - they'll beat Auburn by 15.  Maybe that was a little bit of hyperbole (OK, a lot), especially considering CU's historical struggles away from Boulder and the turnover worries, but I really think Colorado showed me something on Friday, something that bodes well for the rest of the year. Further, I just can't see Josh Scott staying quiet for a second-straight game, and, with if everything else stays the same, that alone should be the difference between victory and defeat.  Throw in a better showing from the guards, especially in keeping the ball in Colorado hands, and I will predict a slightly more demure three point win in Auburn.


Tip-off between the Buffs and the Tigers is set for 1pm MT this afternoon. Tell your boss you got a doctor's appointment, and spend the early afternoon watching some hoops; could anything be possibly better in the middle of the day? Coverage as part of ESPN's annual College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon will be on the mothership, with the radio call on AM 760.