Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Oregon State Basketball Preview #2: Will Anyone Besides GP2 Stand Up?

On the road against a top-20 team staking their claim for 'best-in-region' status, you can't rely on the refs, your opponent, or raw luck to help you succeed.  No, you have to help yourself to have any hope of competing.  Unfortunately, the Buffs did not help themselves Thursday night in Eugene, as they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot against the high-flying Ducks.  Turnovers?  Yep, 14 total, eight in the first half, turning into 21 points for Oregon.  Missed free throws?  Uh-huh, eight of 14 sent wide. Poor shooting on open looks? Sure, CU shot under 34% for the game, and 30% on three-point attempts.  All told, Colorado did not bring their A-game with them to the Pacific Northwest, and it showed throughout a perfunctory 76-56 loss to UO.
The Ducks swarmed an under-performing bunch of Buffaloes.  From: the Register Guard.
It was another case of a cold start, but, unlike the home game against Cal last weekend, there was no declarative answering run to shift the tide.  Through the first 12 minutes of the ballgame, CU had more turnovers (five) than field goals (three), and found themselves down 24-7 on the scoreboard, as a result.  They would counter here, though, and scored nine points in four possessions to claw back within 10, but any hopes of a lead-trimming run into the half were short-lived.  Oregon would respond, going on a 14-5 sprint into the break, which sealed the deal on a 19-point halftime advantage.  While Colorado would briefly compete midway through the second, cutting the deficit from a ballooned 22 down to 11, the Ducks eventually regained their footing, and the Buffs settled back into their 20-point margin of defeat.

I talked about Chris Boucher in my preview, and how his foul-limited 15 minutes of action in the Boulder leg artificially cut into Oregon's overall performance on the road.  Given a full 35-minutes in this one, he controlled much of the action.  Only seven points scored, but he also tallied 12 rebounds (helping UO trim CU's +14 rebounding margin in the first game down to only +4) and six blocks.  Josh Scott and Wes Gordon each seemed to fear Boucher's lurking athleticism, even when he was away from the play.  On a team of talented game changers, the JuCo transfer from tiny Northwest College in Wyoming may be the most unique.  Oregon needed him as Dillon Brooks struggled, again, with foul trouble against CU, fouling out with only 10 points and a single rebound.
Fortune and the Buffs struggled with the trapping zones and presses from Oregon.  From: Seattlepi.com
For the Buffs, Scott lead the way with 17/7.  George King was right behind him with 16 points, but needed 19 shots to get there.  Xavier Talton had an interesting game off the bench, recording five assists, but those were canceled out by another rough effort from Josh Fortune, who turned it over five times (please stop trying to dribble out of crap).  Overall, not a great effort from anyone in Black and Gold, certainly not what you would've liked to have seen in a game between the first- and second-place teams in the Pac-12.  The Ducks threw everything off with a combination of trapping press and switching half-court defense, and the Buffs just never got comfortable attacking it, as they had in Boulder.

Colorado will now look to regroup in Corvallis.  The goal of every road trip should be to at least get a split.  Well, that's still on the table.  It won't be easy, however.  The Beavers still boast the league's single best all-around talent in Gary Payton II, defend their home court like madmen, and are coming off a big, Tournament-chances-boosting win over Utah.  The Buffs are certainly capable of pulling off the upset, but will need to play very well in hostile territory to earn it.  Can they right the ship, and return home with the much-needed split in Oregon?  Dive into my preview to find out...

--

Hype Music for the Evening: "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire


Wednesday, Maurice White, a co-founder and lead singer of R&B super-group EWF, passed away. One of the most influential songwriters and performers of the 70s and 80s, he was a giant crossing multiple genres: R&B, Funk, Pop, Soul, and Jazz. In his honor, I present my favorite of the group's hits. Enjoy!

--

Tip-off from Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, OR is set for 6:30pm this evening.  Televised coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call coming over on 850 KOA.

For reference, my preview from the first game can be found here.

Click below for the preview...


Thursday, February 4, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Oregon Basketball Preview #2: The Struggle for Relevance

There's a lot going on this week.  Yesterday was National Signing Day (with good results for BuffNation), the Super Bowl looms, and political insanity is descending for those so inclined.  There is a pass out there for you who would want it, that it is too distractive right now to focus on college basketball.  I would encourage all of you to avoid that trap, however.  Good hoops is anywhere and everywhere, as long as you can be bothered to look for it.  Take tonight's game, for example.  CU vs Oregon looks, on paper, to be a big game.  Number one in the Pac-12 vs a prominent member of the second place pack.  If anything deserves your attention this evening, it's this tilt.

Realistically, the Buffs are fighting for relevance tonight.  Even after last week's impressive sweep of the Bay Area schools on home hardwood, CU still can't manage to garner a single vote in the AP top-25 poll. Stony Brook - fucking Stony Brook - and their zero wins over Power 5 competition has a vote, but not Colorado.  Win or lose against the Ducks, the team needs to show they're as deserving of their lofty place in the Pac-12 standings (still the deepest, most competitive league in America) as I think they are.  A good showing is essential; a win monumental.  Time to pony up to the bar and get serious.

--

Hype Music for the Evening: "Zoot Suit Riot" by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies

Hey!  Apparently these guys are from Eugene. That's kind of cool... Anyways, I fell hard for the swing/ska/punk movement of the late-90s, and I will admit to having this album buried in a stack of CDs somewhere in suburban Chicago-land.  Even to this day this stuff gets my toe tapping.  Enjoy!

--

Tip-off from Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR is set for 7pm this evening.  Coverage can be found on FOX Sports 1, with the radio call on AM 760.

For reference, my preview from the first game can be found here.

Click below for the preview...


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: Buffs Ambush Bears in First Half Surge

Football's national signing day is tomorrow! *sigh*  Nothing aggravates me more than 40-somethings opining on the whys and wills of teenagers.  Yes, the recruiting phenomena is important, and paves the way for your future as a football program, but no day on the sports calendar makes me feel so greasy for following college athletics. So a kid picked one school over another, no reason to lose your shit over it.  Be cool.

I'm not even going to try to play the recruiting expert, as I just don't care enough to follow it anymore.  But, if you are so inclined, might I suggest that you give a follow and a subscription to BuffStampede.com publisher Adam Munsterteiger?  There's none on the CU beat with better sources or a feel for this stuff, and he'll set you right.

--

Today in the bag, I'm talking CU's win over Cal, the round-up of action in the Conference of Champions, and some welcome news out of the women's program.

Click below for the bag...


Saturday, January 30, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Cal Basketball Preview #2: Can the Buffs continue their NSFW shooting?

The most evident difference between the Colorado Buffaloes of 2014-15 and this season's version is the credible threat the team poses behind the arc.  Last winter, they were 33% shooters from deep, good for 204th nationally, and really were dependent on whether or not Askia Booker was hitting.  This campaign, it's a completely different story, with CU knocking down over 40% of all three point attempts, making them one of the 15-best shooting clubs in the country.  What's more, lead by George King's insane 49% clip, the Buffs have a number of versatile, talented long range assassins who are able to make opponents pay when they double the post, and it's made them, overall, a competent offensive proposition only a year after they were one of the most frustrating offensive clubs I've ever seen.
Good.  From: the BDC
But, even as good as the Buffs have been hoisting the rock this year, they had never approached the performance they displayed in Wednesday's 91-75 win over Stanford.  Shut the doors and turn off the lights when looking at the stat sheet, because their 13-19 shooting from three is decidedly NSFW.  George King, Josh Fortune, et al were on fire, hitting almost every time they rose up.  I got caught up in it and was yelling 'GOOD' before the ball even left their fingers -- Prince knows what I'm talking about.  It was the difference in the game, too.  Think of it this way: if the Buffs are normally 40% shooters from beyond the arc, then you would expect them to hit about seven or eight threes in 19 attempts.  With CU winning by 16, those extra five or six threes made for the margin of victory.  Sometimes, shooting three pointers well can cure a lot of problems.

This wasn't a perfect performance by any means.  Sure, the Cardinal were abysmal offensively in the first half, shooting under 30% from the floor, but they came alive in the second, and pushed CU possession-by-possession over the final 20 minutes.  Rosco Allen, looking to shake off the horrible things Wes Gordon did to him in Palo Alto, poured in 25/9.  Add to it Josh Scott feeling a little under the weather (still put up 14/8/4/3), and Colorado needed all that juice on the perimeter.
A little under the weather, Josh Scott still put up solid numbers.  From: WTOP.com
In addition to the shooting, CU paved over mistakes (another 15 turnovers, three straight missed 1-and-1s in the second half) by sharing the basketball and securing the rebounds.  In all, the Buffs handed out 21 assists on 27 made baskets, easily their best mark in Pac-12 play, while playing +8 on the glass.  It's hard to beat Colorado, especially at home, when they are making the extra pass, rebounding to their numbers, and holding opponent shooting under 37% for the game.  Add in the three point shooting, and it becomes an impossible task.  By the end of the game, the 'Larry Bird All-Stars' were in, and the assembled crowd was hitting the parking lot early.  Really, nothing to complain about here.

And so, the Buffs look to wrap up the first half of conference action on a high note.  A win tomorrow against the Golden Bears would make for three in a row, five in six overall, and keep them in the running for the league crown.  More importantly, it would make for sweet revenge for the absolute dismantling Cal put on Colorado back on New Year's Day, and stand as another top-50 RPI win.  I won't go so far as to say this is the 'most important game of the Tad Boyle Era,' or anything like that, but this is a huge game.  Time to get to the preview!

--

Hype Music for the Evening: "Ballad of Davy Crockett" by Fess Parker

Why?  Because 'he kilt him a b'ar when he was only three,' of course. Enjoy!

--

Tip-off from the CEC is set for 3pm on Sunday.  There's no excuse for a halfhearted crowd for this one.  It's a big game between two very good basketball teams, the Broncos are on a bye week (don't even pretend to care about the Pro Bowl), and the snow won't fully hit until Monday.  If you're a warm-blooded member of BuffNation, and you live in the area, you better be trying to get a ticket.  If, for some reason, you hate your university, you could always stay home and catch the action on either FOX Sports 1 or 850 KOA, but then we won't be friends any more.  Be my friend, and get your ass to the CEC!

For reference, my preview from the first matchup can be found here.

Click below for the preview...


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Stanford Basketball Preview #2: Deforestation Efforts

Not much to say into the lead-up for this one, straight to the action!

--

Hype Music for the Evening: "The Trees" by Rush

Rush is both underrated and overrated at the same time; an incredible feat of critical gymnastics. I present this song, from their sixth of 20 damn studio albums, because it's obligatory, considering the opponent. Enjoy!

--

Tip-off from the CEC is set for 7pm this evening.  We need a huge crowd in the gym for this one.  Stanford has proven over the last few weeks to be a much stronger opponent than originally perceived, and a dollop of home cooking will be needed to help keep the Buffs from dropping a winnable home game. Coverage for those unable to attend can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on AM 760.

For reference, my preview from the first game can be found here.

Click below for the preview...


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: Go Home, Pac-12, You're Drunk

Have you been watching Pac-12 basketball recently?  Have you noticed how everyone seems to be capable of beating any other team on any random night (some exclusions may apply)?  Well, then this image from Reddit should come as no surprise to you:

It's only been four weeks, not even halfway through the conference schedule, and we can create a "12 degrees of parity" scale.  The standings themselves are even more confusing - there's currently a six-way tie for 3rd.  While teams like Arizona State and Washington State are clearly behind the rest of the Pac, they've still earned entry in the circle; one large mish-mash of confusing, hilarious sameness.  As we continue to inch closer to the second week of March, and the annual rumble in the MGM Grand, I can only giggle at the idea of a conference with a six-way tie for 3rd place, and no real way to set a bracket.  This is the kind of stuff Doc Brown warned about in Back to the Future II.  Indeed, this is heavy...

--

Today in the bag, I'm wrapping the split earned in the State of Washington, taking a look at the rest of the 'League of Parity,' and battening down the hatches in advance of the oncoming surge of Super Bowl mania.

Click below for the bag...


Saturday, January 23, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Washington State Basketball Preview #1: An RPI Test Looms

I've seen some interesting things from the Colorado Men's Basketball Team this year, some good, some bad. But nothing previously seen this season prepared me for what went down in the first half between CU and the Washington Huskies on Wednesday night.  It was next-level bad basketball, with the Buffs imploding, steadily, over the course of the final 10 minutes of the opening frame.  For the first half, they turned the ball over an astonishing 12 times, allowed 60% shooting from the field on defense, and let Washington own the paint, getting block and out-rebounded into submission.  While Colorado would rebound a bit, fighting back down the final stretch of the evening, the damage had been done in the first, and the Buffs took a solid 95-83 loss in the Emerald City.
The look of horror and concern on Josh's face is appropriate.  From: CUBuffs.com
It didn't start out all that bad.  CU was mostly playing with Washington in the opening minutes, and even took a 17-15 lead into the second media time out.  Then, like a sprung trap, UW took off, racing their way out to an expansive lead that the Buffs never recovered from.  It was an 18-5 run over five in-game minutes, and it turned the table on the action.  Over that time frame, the Buffs committed six turnovers, missed a number of easy inside looks, and generally fed into the Husky run.  Colorado was, once again, the creators of their own demise.  It was really hard to watch, like some demon form of the 2014-15 team had reanimated inside the current roster, and was trying to force its way out. Call an exorcist!

All credit to Washington here, they pounced the second CU showed any weakness.  The young, athletic trio of Marquese Chriss, Dejounte Murray, and Malik Dime combined with the ever present scoring prowess of Andrew Andrews to pour down a torrent of points on the Buffs; the 95 allowed a season high. Andrews, as expected, put up amazing numbers, nabbing 33 points, and shooting 16-17 from the free throw line.  What really stunned me, though, was their ability to crush CU in the trenches, swatting back 15 shots (seven from Dime alone), and out-rebounding the Buffs by five.  That's just not what I expected from this matchup, with CU one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and the Huskies one of the most indifferent.  It kept Colorado from finding any footing at Hec-Ed; not the first time.
That's... not a good look.  From: Yahoo Sports
There is something to be said about the way Colorado fought back in the second half.  They cut those turnovers from 12 in the first half to only four more in the second, leading to 50 total points after the break, and finally started to make some headway on the scoreboard, as a result.  Behind another 18/12 double-double from Josh Scott and 21 points on 6-7 three point shooting from Dom Coller, they chipped away at a lead that had ballooned to 22 early in the second frame, getting within seven in the final minutes.  At no point was it ever really threatening to UW, however, and the Buffs rather meekly stepped into the final margin of defeat.

So, opportunity missed in Seattle (completely, utterly), Colorado heads out to the Palouse, looking for a bit of redemption and a split in the Evergreen State.  Wazzou is the only team in the entire Pac-12 with a RPI ranking over 100, and it would be very damaging to the Tournament cause to drop this one.  Beyond just redeeming the ugly performance against the Huskies, CU needs this one for preservation of the ole resume. Hopefully, they'll come out of the first frame tonight in much better shape than they did on Wednesday.

--

Hype Music for the evening: "Soak up the sun" by Sheryl Crow.

For a game against the Cougars, I present this beauty from Sheryl Crow.  Figured it was appropriate, for some reason. Enjoy!

--

Tip off from Beasley Coliseum is set for 7pm this evening. Hey, the Buffs aren't going up against the Broncos this week!  A perfect time for... a road game.  *womp-womp*  Coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...