Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Grab Bag: Playing for check, rather than checkmate

It was good to be back with the band on Saturday, wailing away on my tuba, and putting as much noise in the ears of the Bruins as humanly possible.  Still, I was laid low by just how absolutely exhausting playing at a football game is.  I could barely sit up straight Saturday night, as physically beaten as I was by carrying that instrument all day.  My shoulder swelled to five times its normal size, my back hurt, my neck turned into a solid block of concrete, my cheeks and lips were cut and bruised, and my head pounded from dehydration. All that without having to march full cadence, pregame, or the full halftime show; I even took multiple breaks, and *gasp* sat down a time or twelve throughout the action.  The lesson here: I'm not 19 anymore.
A grand view, even if I took a painful route to get there.
Huge props to those kids who volunteer to pull that off seven Saturdays a year, all while juggling classes, homework, social commitments, and the rest of their lives.  Looking back, I'm struggling to reconcile my ability to do that for four years with the realities of everything that gameday entails. What's more, after every game, most of them losses, those kids proudly march back to the music building, heads held high, ready to do it all again next week.  Just incredible, when you think about it.

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Today in the bag, I'm talking the loss to the Bruins, the upcoming schedule, and the game of telephone that was me hearing about the basketball scrimmage.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Beer Post: 2014 Gameday Beer-o-the-week - UCLA 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 didn't drink before I got to college.  I took the old 'Chef' adage of 'there's a time and a place for everything, and that's called college' to heart, and stayed pretty clean-cut through my high school years.  Of course, that just meant that I arrived in Boulder - at the height of CU's party school days, no less - with absolutely no drinking experience.  None.  Had no idea what I liked; what was a good idea, and what wasn't.

Inevitably, that lead to poor decisions.  Not epically bad ones, just choices that, looking back, could've been handled with better aplomb.  Take for instance, my first collegiate beer.  Yeesh, I picked a doozy.  It's a miracle that, having tasted that swill, that I ever went back to the world of suds for more.  That said, since it's Homecoming, and I'm feeling all nostalgic, I'm naming that beer, FUCKING COORS ORIGINAL, as my gameday beer-o-the-week.
The mountains are blue!
You all know Coors Original, or, as I call it, CR.  The 'Banquet Beer,' or whatever.  Maybe there's some truth to that marketing scheme, but it doesn't matter.  This beer, from the local multi-national conglomerate, is hardly anything but water and off-putting flavors.  Throw H20, fizzyness, and yellow coloring into a cup, and you essentially have this beast.  A classic of the American Adjunct genre, it's been around for decades, and, much like everything else tired and ancient, probably needed to be put to rest years ago. Yet, Coors keeps pumping out the stuff, begging you to buy it.  Some of you even do (*shakes head*).

I'm not going to suggest anyone reading this go out and buy CR this weekend.  However, I'll bet dollars to doughnuts you know someone who will have this in their cooler on Saturday.  Chug - don't sip - some of their purchase, and remind yourself of the good ole' college days.  That's what Homecoming is all about, isn't it?

Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat the Bruins!

2014 UCLA Football Preview

The Buffs seem to have been having some trouble with the alarm clock the last two games.  While their opponents have comfortably made it to the field wide awake and rarin' to go for the opening kickoff, CU has tried to pound the snooze button in vain.  Oregon State and USC put up a combined 45 points to Colorado's seven through the last two first quarters, which is especially painful when you consider that the Buffs outscored those two 52-47 over the other hour and a half of action.

It hasn't been much better at the start of second halves this year, either.  Overall, CU is down 82-45 in third quarters in 2014.  The simple fact of the matter is that CU isn't using the locker room to their advantage. Once they find their feet, they play well enough, but whatever is being said behind closed doors is lost by the time they leave the tunnel.  Maybe it's nerves, maybe it's preparation, but the fact stands.  If the Buffs are ever going to get back in the win column this season, they need to perform better in the odd numbered quarters.

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Kickoff from beautiful Folsom Field is scheduled for high noon tomorrow.  Televised coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 850 KOA.

*cough* For those interested, there's also a men's basketball scrimmage starting at 10am at the CEC.  It's free for all, and would make for a wonderful aperitif to your sports Saturday. *cough*

Click below for the preview...


Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: A Step Backwards

I'm deep into the writing of my 2014-15 Massive Basketball Preview.  As always, the word 'massive' barely does it justice.  For example, I've spent 1,000 words, so far, on Ski Booker alone (Spencer only got 650 last year, FWIW).  'Tome of excellence' is probably more apt, but I'm probably stuck with 'massive,' at this point...  but, I digress.  If you're eagerly awaiting the completion of this beast (why wouldn't you be?), look for the final release around November 11th.  Til then, it's back to football...

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Today in the bag, I'm talking the letdown in Los Angeles, the upcoming football schedule, and the Banana Stand doing Banana Standy things.

Click below for the bag...


Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Beer Post: 2014 Gameday Beer-o-the-week - USC 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!"

After a week off - both for the bye, and to recover from the Great American Beer Festival - I'm back with another alcoholic treat for the weekend ahead.  While I was at GABF, I tasted many excellent beers (and a few duds), but one brew grabbed my attention in a way no others did.  That beer, Bear Republic's Apex IPA, is this week's gameday beer-o-the-week.

After a night of palate abuse, where I threw beers from across the spectrum at my wanton tongue, Apex seemed to point true north towards what I most look for in a beer. Tasting this was a humbling experience, reminding me that, sometimes, the mouth wants what it wants, and maybe that uber-sour over there, while rare and interesting, isn't really for me.  Apex showcases a bright reverence for the hop, without keeling over into a hammer-thrust of obtrusive bitterness.  There's balance with the malts, without being too sweet.  The finish is clean - lingers pleasantly before leaving you wanting more.   It was joyous.  Just a beautifully crafted 'Strong IPA.'

Needless to say, I went back at least (it gets a little hazy after 8pm) four times to grab an extra ounce. @DavidScarffe and I even went back to directly compare it to the other IPAs we had tried (like Ballast Point's Sculpin), and made the decision that Apex was the best use of hops in the room (no small feat, that).

Apex has been around for a while, having won a silver medal at the '06 GABF, but Bear Republic just recently started throwing it in bottles for a limited release.  I asked at the tent, but they won't be distributing in Colorado. Having learned that, I'd be lying if I said I didn't consider a quick beer-cation to NorCal.  For those in BuffNation traveling to California for the game tomorrow, do me a favor, and grab a few of these.  I can live vicariously through your tailgating experience.


Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat the Trojans!

2014 USC Football Preview

The Buffs are officially onto the second half of their season, riding high on a wave of improvement-based optimism. However, the schedule gods were far from kind with the back-loaded portion of the slate that they are about to tackle.  Over the next six game weeks, CU will play some of the best teams in the Pac-12, a set that boast a combined 27-8 record in 2014.  When the national media said at the beginning of the year that the Pac-12 was the best conference in America, they weren't kidding.  This bunch is loaded.  As well as the Buffs have been playing recently, I'm starting to worry that all of this momentum could get drowned out over the next month and a half against the West's elite programs.

It's undeniable that Colorado Football is in a better position today than it was a year ago.  Across the board, this program has improved. Dramatically. If you don't recognize that - whether through ignorance, resentment, or jealousy - your opinions are no longer welcome. Yet, with one fewer win on the books than this point in 2013, and a bevy of difficult games on the horizon, I'd be kidding myself to ignore the fact that a 2-10 finish is a real possibility.  It sucks, but that's what could be on the table.

In a results based business, I'm worried about the impact that could have on the fanbase.  The big question for me is how, exactly, will BuffNation take the results over the next few weeks.  The Broncos are rolling, basketball is just around the corner, and ski season is about to ramp up.  As exciting as the team has proven to be this campaign, will the fans stick with this bunch if results continue to mirror what we've seen to-date, or will the denizens grow distracted and disinterested, as they have in the past?  Will the fans - alums, students, et al - still show up and help create a competitive atmosphere next Saturday against UCLA, November 1st against Washington, or November 29th against Utah?  God, I hope so.

See, I've bought in.  I've already committed to going to every game played in the state this fall, so I will be in attendance, hell or high water.  I shouldn't be alone on this journey.  For half a decade, the fan base - myself included - has been screaming for any sign of life from those in Black and Gold.  Well, we finally have one, and we as a group need to vote with our feet and show up.  The team sure has, now BuffNation needs to have their back.  Make your plans now; show up next week, show up in November.  Get it done.

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Kickoff from the historic LA Memorial Coliseum is set for 4pm MST.  Televised coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Grab Bag: Bye week musings

Really glad to have the bye week in the rear view.  I've grown accustomed to watching the Buffs play every Saturday, and my weekend was pointedly missing something with them on the break.  Yes, I, the football denier, have become seduced by the young Buffs and their continuing climb to relevancy.

To date, it's been a story of near misses and should-woulda-coulda.  I'm looking for the next step - a genuine, statement win in a game they aren't supposed to be competitive in.  I'm not yet ready to call my shot for this weekend, but, given an extra week to prepare, I'm really interested to see what they bring to the table this weekend in Los Angeles...

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Today, I'm talking a shocker from the basketball recruiting trail, a really nice Sunday in soccer and volleyball, and a peek at the upcoming football schedule.

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