Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: Mid-July sucks

We're just under 40 days away from the Rocky Mountain Showdown! I'll cop to being mildly excited, if only because there's nothing else to draw my attention between now and then.  Fuck CSU, and all of that.

Overall, I'm cautiously optimistic about the Buffs this year. Not enough to lose me head and starting making bowl trip plans, but I honestly enjoyed the measured improvement shown in 2013, and look forward to what Coach Mac and crew have in store for 2014. Another year like last, and I may actually be able to look my friends from other Pac-12 schools in the eye from August through October.

Media day isn't for another two weeks, and fall camp won't start until August 1st, but it's important to mention that football is right around the corner.  What else do we have to think about as July slowly melts away?

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Today in the bag, I got BREAKING NEWS and a little on the British Open... Woof, it's been a quiet week...

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: The return of the worst week in sports

Welcome, once again, to the worst week in sports.  The Major League Baseball All-Star game, annually, announces itself as deserving of an entire week of focus, and then proceeds to bore the nation to tears through a glorified round of batting practice and a main event no more important than a random spring training game.  Even for me, a devout follower of the religion of baseball, this week is impossibly difficult to get through.

The question that I've been hearing more and more over the past few years is "how do we fix it?"  You can't, stop trying.  The reasons behind the existence of this non-event were: 1) to create a new source of revenue for the league during the Depression, which eventually evolved into 2) provide a showcase for out-of-town stars that fans rarely got to see.  80 years later, baseball no longer needs the revenue, and fans can see out-of-town stars whenever they want, thanks to nationalized television packages.  There's no longer a point. Just name a team, hand out some bonus checks, and keep the season moving.

But, that's too logical and forward thinking for baseball, so expect them continue to wring the stone in search of water.  Meanwhile, more and more fans of the game will stop watching, and the sport's infrastructure will become more and more irrelevant. *sigh*  Baseball, as always, is timeless to a fault.

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Today in the bag, I'm talking the conclusion of the World Cup, NBA free agency, and fundraising at CU.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: #TargetSale

Apologies for the lateness, but I'm a little distracted today.  The MLB All-Star rosters were announced over the weekend, which, in and of themselves, usually warrants little more than a yawn from yours truly.  This year, however, the AL has decided to wade into battle without their single greatest pitching asset: White Sox ace Chris Sale.

Yes, that Chris Sale.  He of the 8-1 record on a sub-.500 team, who just happens to lead the league in ERA+ (188) after posting a 96/16 K/BB ratio and a .87 WHIP over the first half. "Oh, but he missed a month on the DL!"  Who cares?  No one has been as dominant in the AL, even having missed five or so starts.  Chris Sale strikes FEAR into the hearts of AL hitters, in a way no one since Randy Johnson has. But, sure, let's make everyone vote to get him to Minneapolis.  *sigh*

This shit is so dumb.  The old line from pundits is always "well, who would you send home, then?" Anyone, everyone.  If Chris Sale is not a clear All-Star, then there is no longer a need to have an All-Star game.  The mere idea that this testament to all that is good with professional pitching is being forced to pander for votes is offensive.  The American League should be so lucky to have Chris Sale represent them. (Yes, I'm crafting the statue now.  It will be bronze, and no one will be able to get hits off of it, either).

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Today in the bag, I'm talking the USMNT's loss to Belgium, the quarter final results from Brazil, and the possible end of an era in the NBA.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Josh Fortune is a Buff!

The news broke quickly yesterday afternoon: the herd is getting larger.  As CBS's Jon Rothstein first reported, Coach Boyle has decided to spend the open scholarship left in the wake of Spencer Dinwiddie's jump to the professional ranks by bringing in former Providence Friar swingman Josh Fortune.
The newest Buff: Josh Fortune!
A 6-5 two-guard, originally from Kecoughtan High School in Virginia, Fortune played a key role on a Providence squad that finished 3rd in the Big East this past season.  He started all 38 games as a sophomore, averaging 8/3/2 in the process.  Key to CU's purposes going forward, he's known as a shooter (check out this video from the Big East Tournament), and improved greatly on the defensive end as the season wore on.  By the time February and March came around, he was one of PC's better players, averaging over 12 points per game in the lead up to the NCAA Tournament.  He looked to continue to be an important part of the Friar rotation moving forward, which is why his decision to transfer raised a few eyebrows in Rhode Island.

Fortune reportedly chose CU over offers from other high major schools like Cal, Purdue, Minnesota, and Virginia.  Despite early rumors that he was interested in playing closer to home, it looks like Josh was particularly keen on moving for "professional reasons."  To that end, Fortune's mother told BuffStampede.com's Ryan Koenigsberg that her son was especially impressed with Colorado's recent reputation of developing guards. Certainly, with Coach Boyle's guard-oriented system, and an ongoing need for perimeter scoring, a player of Fortune's mold has a golden opportunity to thrive in Boulder.

Josh's message for the fanbase is "get ready, because I'm coming," but BuffNation won't see immediate dividends from this addition.  As a traditional transfer, Fortune will have to sit out the coming season due to NCAA rules. After that, however, the young guard will have two years of remaining eligibility. This is the long-term addition that Coach Boyle has always stressed that he's looking for, and it marks an important step in future roster construction.  With Askia Booker's graduation only a season away, look for the Virginia native to fill that soon-to-be-vacated shooter's role.
Uh oh, 3-goggles.
In the mean time, Fortune gets to play the Carlon Brown role from 2010-11 - back before the former guard earned his place in CU lore. Brown helped that famous Burks-Higgins-Relphorde-Knutson team excel through a strong work ethic in practice, and it paved the way for even greater success the following season when Carlon took the court. In that vein, I expect that Josh will be a behind-the-scenes practice dynamo who can help the roster by making his presence felt on the practice squad.  By the time he finally takes the court in 2015, he will already have made an impact on the roster, and be in a position to play a key role in the continued success of Colorado Basketball.

Welcome to Boulder, Josh!  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: CU football lands major recruit

In what has become an semiannual right of passage for the Board of Regents, basketball coaches Tad Boyle (praise be his name) and Linda Lappe received a contract extension.  Through a vote on Friday, the respective contracts were extended to the end of the '18-'19 season, without an increase in salary.

I don't mean to undersell this move, since it is important for the coaches to continue to enjoy a sense of job security, but I'm not kidding when I say that this has become a common occurrence.  The contracts for Boyle and Lappe have been repeatedly extended tweaked over the previous two years, including the following instances:

February 2012
November 2012
April 2013
June 2013
July 2013

I've become accustomed to the idea that, in sports, contracts are barely worth the paper they're printed on. Coaches can be fired or quit at the drop of a hat, so all of this is mostly for posturing.  Anyone who is familiar with the programs in Boulder knows that Boyle and Lappe are here until they no longer want to be. Still, simply the idea that both the coaching eras we're currently enjoying would continue through 2019 is a welcome one.  I'll take it.

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Today in the bag, I'm talking about the US sneaking through to the knockout rounds, the first games of the World Cup's sweet sixteen, and a big-time recruit in football

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Quick Post: Detroit has a new Mayor

This draft has first round talent in the second round. - Jay Bilas

BuffNation's wait last night was a little longer than it should've been.  Still, better late than never, the Detroit Pistons spent the 38th overall pick, 8th of the second round, on CU's very own Spencer Dinwiddie. K-BOOSH!
From: @CUBuffs
If you spent any amount of time over the last few years watching Colorado Basketball, you know that Spencer Dinwiddie is a first-round caliber talent. That much is undeniable. The Pistons certainly agree, as GM Jeff Bower was quoted as saying: “We felt he was a first-round talent. I know it’s a cliché, but we had him targeted as a player we were impressed with. It’s a good night for the organization.”  A stacked draft and an untimely injury, however, conspired to push him into the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Such is life.

For his part, Spencer seems nonplussed over the slide.  From the BDC: "As for not being picked in the first round, things happen for a reason; it is, what it is. I'm can't wait to get started." Considering that the Pistons are a very good spot for his talents, I'm not surprised that Dinwiddie is taking everything in stride. The Mayor was Detroit's lone pick last night for a first year coach. The organization clearly sees him as an opportunity to get out-sized impact for their slot. Further, since the Pistons are very light in the backcourt, I would expect plenty of early opportunities to see the court for the rookie.

At the end of the day, the Pistons are getting one hell of a player in a position of need, one who will make plenty of other GMs rue the day they passed on him.  Congratulations to Spencer! I look forward to watching you rip up the East (other than My Bulls) over the coming years.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 NBA Draft Preview: The Mayor's Election Day!

Compared last year's mediocre NBA Draft class, 2014's is loaded with familiar, bankable names, headlined by some, seemingly, sure-fire future professional stars.  That doesn't mean draft day arrives without any uncertainty, however. Quite the contrary, in fact. With the injury to Kansas' Joel Embiid, the top of the draft, which at one point appeared solid, has been thrown into flux.  Further, with the recent free agency announcements of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, many teams will be taking the opportunity afforded by the draft to adjust their salary cap situation, leaving the actual order of the top picks in question.  Tonight could be nuts.

Of course, I'm less concerned about all of that than I am about CU's third draftable entrant in four years: Spencer Dinwiddie.  Tonight's the night!  Tonight we learn the direction of his professional career!  I simply couldn't be more excited.
Election Day is here!
The Mayor chose to forego his final season of collegiate eligibility, despite an ACL tear that cut his junior campaign short and limited his availability for workouts.  While that injury threw his draft prospects into doubt, Dinwiddie's recovery has been ahead of schedule.  A recent ESPN article quoted both Spencer's surgeon - Dr Armando Vidal - and his trainer - Russ Paine - in praise of his progress.  He's sprinting and double-jumping without any pain, and, while he's still staying clear of contact situations, he seems to be well on his way to a full recovery.  Dinwiddie's decision to go pro was partly to open up access to professional-level rehabilitation.  From that aspect, the gamble appears to have already paid off.

Given the promising recovery schedule, we've seen recent mock drafts include the Mayor in the first round, including this one from Sports Illustrated.  While those mocks are never perfect, I take them as encouraging signs that we'll be hearing his name earlier than later this evening.  At the time of his decision, there were plenty of doubters who howled that Dinwiddie should've returned to college, and tonight those same people will be looking to the results as a referendum on his decision. I've never been a big fan of using results to justify previous actions, but a favorable draft position would go a long way to silencing those Negative Nancies.

Should Dinwiddie be selected in the first round, he'll be the third CU player to be taken in the top-30 over the last four years.  Alec Burks was taken by the Utah Jazz with the 12th overall pick in 2011, while Andre Roberson was a shock 26th overall selection last year by the Oklahoma City Thunder (via the Minnesota Timberwolves).  That would be a monumental testament to the increased quality of the Colorado talent pool in recent years, and an encouragement to future recruits that success on Boulder's hardwood can lead to future professional riches.

For the record, I think Spencer receives a coveted first round selection.  Not for nothing, but the LA Clippers, who own the 28th selection, would make for a suitable landing spot, as well as fulfill a home-town wish for the Los Angeles native.  But, even if he slips to the second round, it's still a massive accomplishment for the young man just to be drafted.

Good luck, Spencer!

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Of course, Spencer isn't the only one hoping to hear his name called this evening.  Here is a list of some familiar names for BuffNation to listen for:

Joel Embiid - 7-0, C - Kansas -

The lanky Jayhawk had been considered the top prospect in the draft, but his recent injury has slid him down most boards.  Still, expect him to go early.

Andrew Wiggins - 6-8, SG - Kansas -

Wiggins is one of many that look to capitalize on Embiid's slide, with many now projecting him as going #1 overall to Cleveland.

Marcus Smart - 6-3, PG - Oklahoma State -

Smart's decision to return for his sophomore season doesn't seem to have cost him too dearly, and we should see him go in the early stages of the lottery. College basketball's pre-eminent flopper will feel right at home in the NBA.

Aaron Gordon - 6-9, PF - Arizona -

Arizona's defensive dynamo should slot in among Wiggins, Embiid, and Smart at the head of the class.  I'm still not sure he will ever score consistently as a professional, but someone's got to defend, right?

Zach LaVine - 6-6, PG - UCLA -

Many basketball experts love LaVine's raw talent, but I can't shake the feeling that he'll be stuck in development hell for the next few years.  A mid-first round selection for him.

Kyle Anderson - 6-9, PG/PF - UCLA -

'Slo-mo' may still not have a position, but he's too good of a basketball player not to be taken in the first round.  I think his team will be pleasantly surprised by the production they get out of him.

Jordan Adams - 6-5, SG - UCLA -

Rounding out UCLA's big three, Adams looks to be a fringe first round talent.  Probably more likely to hear his name called in the second.

Dwight Powell - 6-11, PF - Stanford -

Powell is eminently talented, and has the versatile skillset to earn a later pick.

Nick Johnson - 6-3, SG - Arizona -

The do-it-all All-American is proably a second round pick.  Just doesn't have the size that NBA GM's like in their off guards.

Josh Huestis - 6-7, PF - Stanford -

I included Huestis not because I expect him to be drafted tonight, but as a final testament to the fact that he was my favorite non-Buff of the past few years of Pac-12 basketball.

C.J Wilcox - 6-5, SG - Washington -

The former-Husky sharpshooter could be a late-round selection.