Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: Football is in the air

This is getting serious.  With two weeks to go before the start of the football season, it's hard not to ignore the excitement and focus in the air.  The regular students will hit campus this week, the football team is now going behind closed doors to continue their preparation, and suddenly the Rocky Mountain Showdown seems to be impending, rather than distant.

It's official, the calendar has flipped.  Baseball season has passed, football now takes the stage.  This can mean only one thing: November is just over the horizon!

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Today in the bag, I'm talking Saturday's football scrimmage, some unfortunate injury news, and the fight against ALS.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Quick Post: On the 2014-15 Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

Last week, CU finalized the 2014-15 men's basketball non-conference schedule.  On the docket for the rest of 2014 is the following:
  • Drexel - 11/14 - Boulder
  • Auburn - 11/17 - Boulder - part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon
  • @Wyoming - 11/22 - Laramie, WY
  • Air Force - 11/25 - Boulder
  • Lipscomb - 11/30 - Boulder
  • San Francisco - 12/3 - Boulder
  • @Georgia - 12/7 - Athens, GA
  • CSU - 12/10 - Boulder
  • Northern Colorado - 12/13 - Boulder
  • Diamond Head Classic - 12/22, 23, 25 - Honolulu, HI
In addition, the bracket for the Diamond Head Classic was also announced.  CU will start off against perennial Big East also-ran DePaul before tackling the winner/loser of Ohio and George Washington.  The final round matchup would be against someone from the pool of Hawai'i, Loyola Marymount, Nebraska, and Wichita St, with either the Huskers or Shockers being the most likely.

Taking a step back, there's not much here to get immediately excited about. The Tip-Off Marathon game against Auburn should be fun (if you can manage to stay up that late), the CSU game is in Boulder, and the Hawai'i tournament will make for exciting holiday viewing.  After that, however, there are few names to entice the uninitiated.  It's not all that big of a surprise; after the last few years of seeing titans like Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor on the docket, a schedule devoid of 'big' name opponents is destined to underwhelm.

While the easy response is to say that Coach Boyle took a step backwards in his scheduling exploits, after some additional consideration, I don't necessarily see that as the case.  Certainly, there are fewer dream matchups on the slate, but we have to remember that the 2014-15 Buffs will still be trending young, and that playing the Jayhawks and Cowboys of the world in the opening weeks of the season isn't an optimal situation with an unsettled point guard spot.

Even further than that, though, Coach Boyle has put the team in a position of not only boosting his young team's confidence in November and December, but banking some decent RPI prizes, as well.  Only three teams on this schedule featured in the RPI 200+ last season (AF, Lipscomb, and UNC).  Two of those games are local-interest tilts, and the other is pure schedule filler to keep the team in rhythm - a necessary evil, and not uncommon. While names like Drexel, San Francisco, Georgia, and the GW/Ohio possibilities in Honolulu might not lift many skirts, they are solid teams who have decent shots of re-appearing in the RPI top-100.  If Auburn can manage to do anything in the first year under Bruce Pearl, the profile only gets better.

Compare that to other non-conference schedules of the recent past, and this schedule is not nearly as bad as the doom-and-gloom set (including myself) initially implied. Pay particular attention to the 2008-09 schedule - the last time the Buffs appeared in the Diamond Head Classic. That season, CU played @ Stanford before playing... no one else of any value.  All-mighty Kenpom figured that the Buffs had the 314th best non-con schedule that year, including nine teams who finished in the RPI 200+. That level of competition was typical for pre-Boyle Colorado basketball, and, while it brought the program a few extra wins, did little to prepare the team for conference play.

That will not be the case this year. While the 2014-15 non-con schedule is not the seductive set of the last few years, it is not a return to the scheduling failures of the 2000s.  The schedule will allow the freshmen and sophomores to grab some wins and develop against worthy opponents, while not crippling their shot at a fourth consecutive Tournament appearance.

Remember, CU is not stressing home ticket sales anymore, and this team is built more for development than headline grabbing rankings.  In fact, considering few want to play the Buffs in Boulder anymore, it's probably the best BuffNation could ask for.

Grain of salt: while the schedule isn't as bad as initially assumed, still can't afford a glut of mistakes before Winter Break.  While one loss wouldn't be crippling, depending on the opponent, multiple losses would be, starting the inevitable bubble conversations out on the wrong foot.  As always, it'll be up to the players to make good on the plan in place.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: Farewell, Captain Jack

Big news from the CSU camp this weekend.  I'll try to tackle it with grace, but no promises will be made. Needless to say, I laughed my ass off on Friday to the mental image of RamNation's sand castle stadium blowing away in the August winds.

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in the bag, I'm talking about the shake up at the Fort, the comparative momentum in Boulder, and tragedy on the race track.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Quick Post: On Shane Callahan

As if the Fall Practice, Good News Sunshine Express wasn't enough in and of itself, the 2014 outlook for the Buffs got even rosier yesterday afternoon when it was announced that OL Shane Callahan is immediately eligible to play this fall.  Callahan, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Auburn, had been in camp with CU up to this point, but didn't know whether he'd be able to play in 2014, as, under normal circumstances, he'd have had to sit out a transfer year.  Luckily, and thanks in no small measure to Auburn, the NCAA granted a transfer waiver due to Shane moving closer to home for family reasons, and the Buffs suddenly have depth in the trenches.
Callahan is immediately eligible!  From: the BDC
This is big news for the still developing Colorado O-Line.  Callahan, a class of 2012 recruit out of Parker, was a 4-star prospect when he spurned CU for Auburn and former Buffs O-Line coach Jeff Grimes.  But Grimes isn't with the Tigers anymore, and Callahan, after a redshirt season, was lost in depth chart hell, practicing with the 3rd team on last season's national title runners-up.  Over the offseason, I started to hear rumblings that Shane was coming home to the Centennial State, but mostly put them out of my mind, since I didn't figure that the waiver was a realistic possibility.  Thankfully, that's not the case, and Callahan, after two years of SEC competition and coaching, is now a seductive option to help protect a very young quarterback. Oh, and he'll have three years to play three.  Huzzah!

Excitement aside, don't immediately assume that Shane is an anointed starter.  4-stars or no, he's still got to earn his spot. Offensive terminology will be a hurdle, and anything can happen in the heat of fall camp; position battles are fickle bitches, after all. But it's hard not to get excited when an in-state recruiting miss comes home.  That he was able to take advantage of the NCAA, an organization that usually only seems intent on leeching off of their wards, makes the whole situation even more appealing.


Welcome aboard, Shane!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: I am Groot

I AM Groot!


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Quickly, before I get to the bag, it looks like the men's basketball non-conference schedule for 2014-15 was leaked on CUBuffs.com.

The key additions from the last time I saw an update are:
  • Drexel on opening night, 11/14
  • Lipscomb on 11/30
  • San Francisco on 12/3
  • Northern Colorado on 12/13
Not a lot of red meat there, as, beyond the Drexel game, the adds are all potential RPI 250+ squads.  The Northern Colorado game will make for a cool story, as Coach Boyle has them on the schedule for the first time since leaving Greeley for Boulder, but the rest are *shrug* worthy.  I'll have more schedule analysis up later this week, when I imagine things will be finalized and made official from CU, but, for now, my take is that this is underwhelming, at best.

One final scheduling note, it looks like the Auburn game has been set for an 11PM tip-off time, as part of ESPN's tip-off marathon.  You may want to get a jump on reserving Tuesday, November 18th off from work, as the Buffs will be playing into the early morning for that one.

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Today in the bag, I'm talking college football, pro football, and one of the worst bullpens in the majors (nope, not the Rox).

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: We're not last!


No time for chit-chat, right onto the bag!

Today in the bag, I'm talking Pac-12 media polls, Frank Thomas in Cooperstown, and a little site news.

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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...

Click below for the bag...