Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Saturday, December 3, 2016

CSU Wrap and 2016-17 CU vs Portland Basketball Teaser

Welp.  That sucked.

Over an interminable 40 minutes of largely listless, vaguely passionate basketball, the Colorado Buffaloes lost any and all good will they had built up this season.  In their own gym, with their own fans at their back, they came out and laid a whopper at mid court, getting out-worked, out-executed, and out-played by little brother.  72-58.  I have no words.

... OK, so I have a few.  I talked in the teaser Wednesday about how I had been making excuses for the team in trying to stay optimistic this year, overlooking some faults in the foundation in the interest of positive thinking.  That was just poor analysis, and an error on my part.  No excuses now, however. It's clear that Colorado isn't nearly the team that I, or many other commentators, thought they would be. Oh, sure, there's still talent on this club, and I still don't see the oncoming horror of 2014-15 in the tea leaves, but this season will not finish in NCAA glory.
*A stream of swearing* From: the Post
I don't mean to get so negative after just seven games, but it is disappointing.  That Colorado State team who earned the win Wednesday night was not particularly talented, but they were able to push the Buffs around by showing far more heart and determination than the guys in Black and Gold did. They executed on both ends (hit their first 18 free throws, nailed numerous desperation threes against an expiring clock), took advantage of the little moments here and there, and seemed to confuse CU at every step.  As Colorado was incapable of hitting anything from the free throw line (17-31) or behind the arc (3-19), you could see a tensity fall over the team, squelching their ability to play freely like an asthmatic attack.  All throughout, I kept hoping for a light in the darkness, a sudden blast of energy, a light switched flipped on, but it never came.

You would see sparks here or there -- a flash from Derrick White in the first half, Thomas Akyazili trying to fire the ignition with some penetration in the second, and a burst of fury from Xavier Johnson with about 10 minutes to go -- but it wasn't nearly enough.  With a laughably tight whistle descending from old pal Randy McCall (my voodoo doll apparently has had no effect), there just wasn't enough open play down the stretch for the team to mount a comeback, and frustration eventually lead to disaster.  The Buffs out-rebounded their opponent, held them under 40% shooting from the field, yet still lost.  At home.  To a rival.  And all I can say is that it happened due to a lack of intensity and execution. #TadBall, why have you forsaken us so?

But, with that dyspeptic result in the rear view, there's nothing left but to press on.  Colorado will have the opportunity to gain some spate of redemption in an odd place -- Portland, Oregon.  Well, Portland's not that odd, at least to a man from Boulder.  It's the opponent that's odd: the Portland Pilots.  As part of a contractual arrangement, the Buffs will be visiting the WCC's Pilots and their 4,800-seat arena; a rather, yes, odd move for a Power 5 program.  While CU will visit another WCC school, BYU, in a week's time, they're at least operating in the guise of a power program.  Portland has none of the institutional memory of success that the Cougars do, and a visit from a program like Colorado is a big date on their calendar.
Porter brings more than a name to the Pilots. From: the Portland Tribune
The Pilots are looking to rebound from a pretty ugly 2015-16 season, where they lost 20 games and finished tied for 7th in the WCC on a down year.  It was a series of results that cost their former coach his job, leading to the hiring of Portland TrailBlazer legend Terry Porter to the top spot on the bench.  Porter had seen some action as a coach in the NBA over the years, as well, bringing more than just a name to the position.

Making Coach Porter's transition to the college game easy is the play of senior point guard Alec Wintering.  The 6-0 star from Charlotte, NC is averaging nearly 23 points per game in the young season, and is an explosive shooter and point scorer.  Alec has a nose for the line, and is dogged in attack of the basket; he gets nearly 50% of his shots at the rim, which is incredible for a player of his size. More than that, though, he's also a deadly distributor and creator, making him the engine that drives the Portland offense (35% usage).  CU was able to keep him pretty quiet in their matchup with the Pilots a year ago, holding Wintering to 1-7 shooting from the floor, but don't expect similar results Saturday night.
Wintering is a fantastic small conference talent.  From: Getty
Elsewhere, Portland features experienced guards Jazz Johnson and D'Marques Tyson.  Johnson is a great accompaniment to Wintering, serving as the outside shooting spark to Alec's dashing, rim-attack bravado. The junior Tyson has been serving in a largely 6th man role this season, but is still a capable player off the bench.  Their frontline is anchored around giant 7-1 center Philipp Hartwich. The German international plays, as you would expect, mostly around the rim, and gets about a block per game.  He'll pair well with swing forward Gabe Taylor, who has the potential to creep towards averaging a double-double this winter.

Overall, the Pilots are a solid mid major team.  They play relatively fast, execute on offense, and have star power to lead them in Wintering.  They may struggle to rebound night over night, and their defense is nothing to write home about, but they will put up a sizeable win total this year.  So far, their results have been to expectation, beating the minnows like UC Riverside, then letting UCLA drop 99 on them in a boat race loss.  They may not have the complete package to compete with the big three in the WCC (Gonzaga, St Mary's, BYU), but they should move up the table a bit as the season grinds on.

As for the result Saturday... I have no idea.  The Buffs responded well in Brooklyn to the 1st half disaster against the Fighting Irish, turning around to close that game well and then beat Texas the following afternoon.  Maybe they have something similar up their sleeve this weekend.  I'm none too confident, however.  I would argue that Portland is better than CSU, and Colorado is playing in their gym.  If the shots don't fall, and the gears keep grinding, it could get really ugly.  Oh, and the Pilots hit their free throws (87%); someone get me some aspirin.

Flip a coin for a winner, if you must.  I did, and it came up heads.  I'll take the Buffs to win, but barely.

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Tip-off from the Chiles Center in Portland, OR is set for 8pm MT on Saturday.  There's no broadcast television of this game.  But, this being the future, we have an internet stream of the affair available at TheW.tv.  If you don't want to mess around with that, you can catch the radio call on 850 KOA.


GO BUFFS!  PROVE ME RIGHT, AND BEAT THE PILOTS!

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Gameday 'Beer'-o-the-week - Pac-12 Championship 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!"

OK, so I wasn't expecting to have to do one of these this late in the season, and have nothing prepared.  Short on time, and without a summer's worth of notes to supply me with last-minute ideas, I'm diving into the beer fridge for whatever I can find. Uh, let me see... *rummages* Ah ha!  It's... oh for crying out loud... Which one of my roommates left this in here?  *sigh* It's Not Your Father's Root Beer, and it's this week's gameday 'beer' of the week.

If you look at the label, NYFRB will tell you that it comes from tiny Wauconda, IL, a northwest exurb of Chicago.  Certainly, if you were to travel to Wauconda, there is a brewery there, called Small Town Brewery, that would happily sell you the stuff.  What you find in the well-labeled bottles on the shelves of your local booze palace, however, did not come from Wauconda, and definitely not from the tiny brewery located there.  Nope, what you're drinking was made by Pabst, the giant conglomerate most famous for the hipster brew of choice: PBR.  They partnered with Small Town shortly before you started seeing their hard root beer show up on shelves, which explains some things.

That's not to say there's not a craft element to the story, however.  Small Town was started by a single guy, Tim Kovac, after haphazard forays into the world of homebrewing in the late '80s.  The twist from craft to corporate machine is familiar and tired, as ubiquitous to the modern brewing world as beards and kitschy hop varietals.  I can't really blame the guy for taking the money, or wanting to see his product go national without the pain of having to build an empire himself. At this point, it is what it is.

Anyways, the Root Beer, which is brewed, but still not quite 'real beer,' carries with it a unique taste. Obviously, the flavor notes skew towards the well-known parameters of root beer, but it's more than just a can of Barq's.  Heavy with vanilla up front, it's very sweet, spicy, and root-y, with an alcoholic kick on the back end.  For what it is, it's kind of interesting, and people who don't like 'normal' beer sure seem to like it (it was one of the best selling beers in the country in '15).  For me, though, it's not a beer, just a beer alternative.

You can find it almost everywhere now, either in 5.9% or 10.7% ABV versions.  It's also got sister brews, like Not Your Father's Ginger Beer, floating around.  If you don't mind something sweet, either are probably worth a try, if just for the fun of it.  Don't know if I'll be going back, though.


Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat Washington!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

2016 CU vs Washington Football Teaser -- The Pac-12 Championship

When the season schedule was first released, confirming that Colorado wouldn't have to play the Washington Huskies in the regular season, I breathed a sigh of relief.  UW was going to be a good team this year, now in their third season under head coach Chris Petersen, and it seemed like one fewer hurdle to clear in the pursuit of a bowl bid.  As the season progressed, skipping the Dawgs appeared to be even more of a blessing, as they started ripping through teams on a weekly basis. By Week 5 they were in the top-5 nationally, and have been in constant pursuit of a berth in the CFP ever since.  'Good for them,' I thought, 'at least CU won't have to face them... unless the Buffs make the Pac-12 Championship Game, which would never happen.'

Well, miracles doth occurred, and here we are.  Ducking the best all-around team in the league is no longer a possibility, and Colorado has to put their new-found reputation on the line in a showdown. Win, and at least they're slated for the Rose Bowl.  Lose, and they could end up being forced into a trip to Texas.  *shudders*  Better just win, baby.

--

Hype Music for the Week: "The Imperial March" by Epica

The Buffs are in the all-whites this week?  Ah, the storm trooper look.  With Colorado getting all Imperial, where else to go by John Williams' classic musical rendition of evil? I prefer Epica's version, as it confirms that double bass improves anything.  The Dutch symphonic metal band does the piece justice, and revels in the brassy outro.  Enjoy!

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Kickoff from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara is set for 7pm MT.  Those making the trip will be pleased to know that the forecast is calling for clear skies and mild temps, though the thermometer is going to dip severely after sundown.  Those not making the journey out west can catch the action on FOX's national broadcast, or with the radio call on 850 KOA.

Click below for the teaser...


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2016-17 CU vs Colorado State Basketball Teaser

OK, so how do I, the guy who likes to pretend the CSU football program doesn't exist (and I would challenge you to come up with evidence that it does in this post-truth world), manage to pivot around and embrace the CU/CSU rivalry on the basketball court?  Simple, with the basic understanding that someone has to fill these non-conference dates.

See, real estate on a football non-conference schedule is limited and dear. It's even to the point now that games are scheduled decades in advance. You can't go spending such a precious resource on detritus that isn't carrying its weight -- charity has no place in football, after all.  It's just not in Colorado's interest to perpetuate the series, so I turn my back on it.

The opposite is true in basketball, however.  With 13 dates to fill before Pac-12 play starts, it's imperative that Tad Boyle and the Buffs find a handful of opponents each year that will accomplish three things: put butts in the seats, provide the team with a requisite challenge that requires emotional investment, and help in the RPI calculation. Colorado State, normally, checks off all three boxes. Therefore: bring them on... and the horde of slack-jaws that follow them, if you must.  It sure beats playing some RPI 300+ minnow.

--

There was a time, not too long ago, that the CSU Rams played some of the best basketball in the region.  Between Tim Miles' last two teams and the burgeoning start of the Larry Eustachy era, the program up north racked up 108 wins in five seasons, legitimately pushing CU for status as the elite program in the Centennial State.  They appear now, however, to have arrived at a precipice.  2015-16 was not kind to those from Ft Collins, with the Rams barely squeaking out an above-.500 record while finishing 7th in Mountain West play.  That makes it two years in three that little brother has struggled, with 2013-14's train-wreck 16-16 season preceding their paper-tiger 2014-15 campaign (when they went 27-7 against a garbage schedule).  With that in mind, I feel State entered this year with some pressure at their backs -- win now, or the mojo may fade away completely.
If Eustachy drags out that orange top of his this evening, I may vomit.  From: The Coloradoan 
So far, so... meh? Yes, they come to Boulder with a 5-1 record, but they have yet to beat a single team worth a damn, with their best win coming over... I guess New Mexico State?  Their one result against an opponent with a pulse -- a 56-49 loss at Stanford -- certainly isn't anything to write home about, either.  A gritty, close affair, it was one of the most unwatchable games I've tried to sit through in the past few years.  The basketball on display from both teams, chaotic, without any sense of rhythm or purpose, made me wonder just what the two coaching staffs were doing in the lead-up.  I half expected billy clubs to come out at one point, and the teams just end it all by whaling on each other. That game sure showed that a Eustachy team will still play you tough (which we already knew), but it didn't show much else, at least in terms of ability.

Part of my dismissal of their early play comes from the construction of their roster. They were supposed to be led this year by Gian Clavell, a dynamic 6-4 guard who was granted an extra season for a medical hardship.  The return of the team's 'heartbeat' was, in theory, going to help cover up the loss of lightning-quick point John Gillon, who transferred to Syracuse.  The theory, however, dissolved just before the start of the season as Clavell was arrested for the second time in 16 months on charges of false imprisonment with domestic violence.  He was suspended immediately, and doesn't appear to be coming back anytime soon; as well he should not. Without Clavell, the Rams are built around JuCo transfers, fresh faces, and a hodgepodge of other bits, and it doesn't look all that promising.
Gillon is gone, along with much of the backcourt spark that made the Rams dangerous a year ago.  From: Syracuse.com
Not to say there isn't any talent left, though.  Indeed, there are some good pieces in place in FoCo that could really push CU this evening.  Heading that list is their lone returning starter, 6-8 power forward Emmanuel Omogbo. A rebounding powerhouse, Emmanuel has a relentless motor to go along with his 14/12 averages. He's grabbing nearly 30% of all defensive rebounding opportunities in the early going, and will be the sternest challenge yet to the still developing Colorado front line.  In fact, if Tory Miller, who missed the Wofford game with a rolled ankle suffered in the final minutes against Texas, is still out, the Buffs could struggle to match Omogbo at all.

Elsewhere, keep an eye out for guards JD Paige and Prentiss Nixon.  The pair of sophomores form a pretty decent backcourt duo, and also hold the distinction of actually having started their collegiate careers in Ft Collins, rather than somewhere else (12 of the 15 players on the roster transferred in at some point).  Maybe not capable of the shooting prowess CSU displayed, at times, a year ago, but certainly capable of hurting a team playing soft on the perimeter.  Paige is the primary distributor, and already has 25 assists this season.  Nixon, as he showed last season, can be a great shooter, but has been struggling so far, and hasn't hit a three in a week.  Omogbo going off would be painful enough, but if Nixon starts hitting from deep, this could be a very uncomfortable evening.
Omogbo is dangerous inside.  From: the Coloradoan
Rounding out the cast of characters in the starting lineup are serviceable wing Devocio Butler and versatile big man Braden Koelliker.  Butler has good size (6-5, 205 lbs), and has shown to be a solid defender, early on. He probably needs more time in D-I ball, though, coming in from the JuCo ranks. Koelliker is the kind of player you expect to find on a Eustachy roster -- feisty and capable of frustrating.

Ultimately, I see the Rams as a competitive team that's still a few pieces short of being a complete threat. Oh, sure, they'll rebound and fight you on defense. Centered around Emmanuel's abilities in the paint, CSU is, once again, one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about what they could do on the glass this evening. You'll also sweat out anything offensively, as they're holding opponents to 40.8% eFG through the opening weeks.  But, without the scoring punch of Clavell, they're missing that certain something, the something they'd need to come into Boulder and beat Colorado on their own floor.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself.  So far, I've been making a lot of excuses for the Buffs. Citing middling competition, and latching onto sporadic bright spots, I've excused indifferent performances against teams they should be blowing past.  On the verge of this rivalry tilt, however, I'm suddenly nervous that the merely sufficient play we've see so far won't be enough against an opponent desperate to make a name for themselves. Remember what happened against the Rams two years ago, when the Buffs lost a bad game ugly, then went on to spiral out of control for the next two months?  The Buffs better bring their best to bear this evening, or we could be in for a rough fortnight of basketball, and possibly much worse.  Losing to the Rams, ahead of the trip to Portland and the Xavier/BYU do-si-do, could be inviting non-conference disaster.

That fearful dive into morosity aside, I'll still land on the optimistic side of the spectrum, and predict a win.  It won't be easy, though.  Into the under-eight timeout of the second half, this will be a brutal game.  Physical, cut-throat, and ugly.  CSU may even have the lead at that point.  When push comes to shove, though, I expect the four redshirt seniors - Gordon, Johnson, Fortune, and White - to make winning plays with the game in the balance.  It'll be enough to get the Buffs the win, if barely, setting them up for a big trip to Portland.  As always, a win is a win, and I'll take what I can get.

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Tip-off from the Coors Events Center is set for 7pm this evening. For everything we say about the Rams, this fixture is always one of the premiere dates on the non-conference calendar; this year should be no different. You want to be in the arena for this one, you know you do.

Those still intent on denying their innermost desires can catch the game on Pac-12 Mountain, or with the radio call on 760 AM.


GO BUFFS!  PROVE ME RIGHT, AND BEAT LITTLE BROTHER!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: On to Santa Clara

I looked up and found myself in a weird place.  I was at midfield in Folsom, surrounded by thousands of my fellow Buffs.  We were all celebrating; there was formless dancing, hoarse voices screaming unintelligibly, and marijuana smoke floating through the air.  The scoreboard flashed something improbable: "BUFFS WIN... SOUTH CHAMPIONS"  Surely, this is a dream, I thought to myself.

No, it's not a dream.  It's a reality that has lost touch with itself.  Colorado Football... yes that Colorado Football, has won a division in a major football conference.  They didn't need to drop down to a middling league or hope for extra downs.  This was not a collection of blue chips wining for the names on the back of their jerseys.  Nope, they did it themselves with an inspiring edifice of grit and determination.  It was organic, locally sourced brilliance, the likes of which may never be seen again. This is it, folks, we've seen the pinnacle of everything we're told sports stands for -- the dream of the underdog, and the promise of pure, unadulterated joy. I hope you took a picture.

And yet, there's still more to play for.  There this week's Pac-12 Championship in Santa Clara against Washington.  Oh, then the small matter of the program's first bowl since the George W. Bush presidency.  #TheRise may have risen, but the journey isn't over yet.  Strap yourselves in, because the "Hold-my-beer-and-watch-this Run for the Rose Bowl" is about to culminate.

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Today in the bag, I'm talking the win over Utah, the men's basketball win over Wofford, and the women's basketball team's fiery start.

Click below for the bag...


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Texas Wrap and 2016-17 CU vs Wofford Basketball Teaser

When last we saw the Buffs, they were basking in the glow of a very satisfying win over Texas in consolation game of the Legends Classic.  In a return to the principles of #TadBall, Colorado controlled the action throughout, dominating both defensively (UT shot 37% for the game) and on the glass (+9, including 17 offensive rebounds).  In the end, there was little the young Longhorns could do, as CU settled into a 68-54 final.

It was obvious from the start that there would be no repeat of the first half implosion against Notre Dame. The Buffs came out firing from the tip playing aggressive, physical basketball.  Overall, they looked comfortable again, like themselves.  This was the Buffaloes as envisioned in my team preview -- veteran, versatile, and capable. By the end of the first minute of play, they had already forced two missed shots and claimed three rebounds, and would only go on from there.  CU was up nine at half, and easily parried away a counter by the Longhorns late in the second.  Game-set-match, moving on to the next one.
No easy baskets given to Texas, #TadBall was back!  From: USA Today
The star of the show was Derrick White, who capped a personally successful trip to Brooklyn with a 16/5/2/2/2 line that only subtly hints at how important he was to the cause.  Derrick was 7-10 from the field, and, while he only got to the line once (as a team, the Buffs only attempted five freebies), scored massive buckets down the stretch to keep UT at bay.  Every time the Buffs needed a play, there came Derrick to grab a rebound, make a key block, or hit a step-back dagger.  White was awesome, just as he needed to be.  While I am still wanting the fifth-year senior point guard to be a little more selfish and take over offensively, his body of work through five games is as advertised. Last year, Colorado might have dropped this one, as Texas made a late push that cut the lead to only three points with five minutes to play.  It's a different team, though, and White is a primary reason why CU is in a much better position to weather comeback storms in 2016-17.

Elsewhere, We saw George King follow-up on a decent 17/13 performance against Notre Dame with a second-straight double-double (12/13) against the Longhorns.  This is the kind of effort on the boards we saw from George as a freshman, and that was absent last season as a redshirt sophomore. He was fearless in the paint, going toe-to-toe with taller, bulkier forwards like Texas' Shaq Cleare. King would battle for position, deny the entry, then recover for a good box out and a strong leap for the ball.  I won't go so far as to say he looked like Andre Roberson this week, but George certainly looked like the kind of aggressive forward the Buffs need to clean up loose possessions.  There was desire in his pursuit on the glass in Brooklyn, which hopefully will translate to continued rebounding success the rest of this season.

Ultimately, I look at the Legends Classic as a job well done.  CU won three of the four quarters played, learned a big lesson against the Irish, and got a solid win against a developing Texas team. While I would've preferred a clean slate, I look at 4-1 with few complaints.

Up next for the Buffs is a visit for old friends Wofford.  You may remember the Terriers from a few years back, when they helped Colorado inaugurate the 2012-13 season with a 74-59 result in the Coors Events Center.  While no one who saw the court that November night is still with the program, I feel as if I'm seeing familiar faces with Wofford on the schedule.  Kudos to Coach Boyle for bringing them back.
Young and his Terriers are back in Boulder.  From: the Herald Online
Head Coach Mike Young's bunch is still in a bit of a rebuilding mode after back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in '14 and '15, and they've been off to a rough start so far this season. They've lost every game played to-date against D-I competition, only chalking up a victory against tiny Allen University (NAIA) in Gulf Coast Showcase action.  It should be noted, though, that they've been close to everyone except LSU, including just a one-point loss to a well-thought-of Vermont side. Wofford may be struggling in the win/loss columns, but they aren't that far off, and BuffNation should expect a competitive attitude when they get off the bus in Boulder.

Young preaches a measured defensive style predicated on leveraging possession length and getting stops.  To call them glacial would demean the architects of the last ice age -- Wofford gets just 66 possessions per game, and looks to force possessions in excess of 20 seconds in length.  It's the same on the offensive end, where they are have been, routinely, one of the 50 slowest teams in the country over the years.  They will look for a great shot, not just a good one, and rarely break out of a snail's pace.  While they will occasional get out in transition (19% of shots w/in 10 seconds of possession change, about the same as CU), once into their set, they could be there a while.

The Terriers are led by sophomore guard Fletcher Magee.  The 6-4 wing from Orlando is an expert shooter who hit 94% of his free throws and 48% of his threes as a freshman.  It was enough to earn him the Mid-Major Freshman of the Year honors.  While he has yet to get back on his blistering three-point pace of a year ago, he's still deadly if left open (shooting nearly 57% of all shots from deep), and the team's leading scorer at over 15/game.  Colorado would do well to lock him down on Sunday.
Magee is the Terriers' best.  From: WFSB 
Beyond just Magee, Wofford also has some nice pieces in the forms of Eric Garcia and Cameron Jackson.  Garcia has been a gritty mainstay at the point guard position for the Terriers throughout his career, and the senior remains one of their best players.  He's a 3:1 assist-to-turnover kind of guy, and a steady hand at the wheel.  Jackson missed much of last year with foot surgery, but returns as their biggest threat underneath the basket.  Nearly 2/3rds of his attempts are at the rim, and, at 6-8, 235 lbs, can bang with the tall trees from a range of levels.

Ultimately, though, I doubt any of them will be enough to push the Buffs too close to the brink. While not a pushover, Wofford shouldn't be within 15 at the final buzzer.  Loftier goals remain on the horizon, no time for hiccups here -- Buffs need to roll.

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Tip-off from the Coors Events Center is set for high noon Sunday.  It's also the first of a handful of Alumni Basketball Band performances scheduled for this year, so look over to the band for a glimpse of yours truly laying down the phat beatz.  Coverage for those not in attendance can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 760 AM.


GO BUFFS!  PROVE ME RIGHT, AND BEAT THE TERRIERS!

Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Gameday Beer-o-the-week - Utah 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!"

It's Ute week, so the honorary beer selection is Polygamy Porter from Wasatch Brewery. Indeed, why have just one?

The actual beer pick, however, comes to us from Darien, IL.  The little burg, not far from my Thanksgiving festivities in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, is home to a feisty little brewery making some hay after just two years of existence: Miskatonic Brewing Company.  Their session rye, called Catchpenny, is this week's gameday beer-o-the-week.
From: twitter

The name Miskatonic, of course, is a head fake in the direction of Lovecraftian horror, which typically deals with the end of the world by cataclysmic means.  As I feel that Colorado appearing in the Pac-12 title game would be just the latest confirmation this year that Doomsday is quickly approaching, I feel any brewery steeped in this mythos is appropriate to the hour.  The term 'catchpenny' refers to using cheap sensationalism to draw in the reader, which ties right back into what I just did there by invoking End Times.  See, it's like poetry; they rhyme.

Anyways, the beer itself is an interesting attempt at the vogue rye styles that are flitting around these days.  It's very drinkable, light, and malty.  Not overly hopped, it's far from bitter, and well positioned to fill your glass time and time again.  My only knock on it would be that I just didn't get enough of the rye character that I would normally expect -- a spicy, acerbic kick.  That said, one thing I've noticed about breweries in Illinois, particularly as opposed to their counterparts out west, is that their products are often rather understated.  The result of a different beer culture, I guess, the flavors just aren't as big and in your face.  In the end, it's an interesting change of pace.

So, something quirky and weird for the end of the season, which seems to go with the out-of-place nature of 2016.  You'll have to travel to sample this (or find it online through a large distributor), but half the fun of beer culture is trying new things.  If it's not Catchpenny, please do look to expand your horizons.  When you travel for the holidays, grab whatever is brewed nearby.  Ask your aunt or uncle what they drink.  Try... anything new.  Colorado may be the king of craft, but it's not the sole possessor of the ideology, after all.


Happy Friday!  Go Buffs, beat Utah!