Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Off-Week Basketball Thoughts

As the Buffs finish enjoying their well deserved 3 off days, I have a couple of random thoughts about the current state of affairs.

A mountain to climb - The Buffs just can't catch a break with #1 KU and #2 Texas on the schedule the next two weekends.  You have to play them sometime, but having them both in a week is just plain cruel.  Sure, KU may have looked poor last night, but do you really expect them to play like that at home in a rebound game?  And UT?  They're only my pick for the national title (sure did spoil that future column).
That outcome couldn't have been any worse for CU.  Not only did KSU just grab themselves a coveted at-large bid, but Kansas is now pissed off and wanting to make a statement on Saturday.  From: Kansas City Star

If I'm CU, I'm looking at this like the opportunity of a lifetime.  You want to make up for those close road loses to Nebraska and Oklahoma?  Steal one from Kansas.  You want to make the tournament committee forget that collapse at Baylor or the last minute debacle against A&M?  Take care of UT at home.  A win against one of those two teams makes up for a lot of bad habits against middling teams.  It's as good a time as any, and I think this team still has one big game in them before the conference tournament.

Nate's return means a return to scoring - Let's be honest, the offense this past week and a half was often an ugly thing to watch.  Many people bemoan Nate Tomlinson's presence, but you can't argue with how fucked up things get when he's on the bench.  A high-octane offense is only good as its point guard, afterall.  He distributes, runs the offense, and allows the shooters to shoot. 

Specifically, in the 3 games he missed CU's shooting (41%) and points are down (63/game, I disregarded the 10 overtime points against A&M) while turnovers are up (16/game, although this includes 23 against ball hawking Mizzou).  These are all off season averages.  The Buffs are just a better offensive team with him healthy and in the lineup; there's a reason he starts and gets big minutes. 

Nate's absence affecting Levi - More than that, Nate's absence has messed with the rotation, forcing Boyle to leave Levi and others out on the court for more minutes than is productive. While Nate was sidelined Levi's minutes have shot up (35.3/game), while his shooting percentage has gone down (34%). (I talked about Levi and diminishing returns last month; CU needs to keep his minutes down, and his legs fresh, to maximize his impact)  He has to handle the ball more, and is less able to look for his own opportunities.
Levi needs a good PG on the court to enable him to produce at a high level.  From: The BDC

The great news is Nate's back for Saturday's game in Lawrence.  I expect a much more efficient offense to be on display Saturday, with Levi especially having a big game as a result.

Need to get Dre back into the flow - Andre Roberson, he of the impressive rebounding skills and sky-high potential, has been brutal the past 3 games.  Since grabbing 10+ rebounds in back-to-back games at the end of January, 'Dre has been way off his game.  In the last 3 games he has 2 foul-outs, a total of 6 points, and only 14 rebounds.  His A&M games was especially bad.  In 24 minutes he had nearly no impact on the game with only a dunk and a rebound to show for his action (He didn't even commit a foul.  How does a post player play 24 minutes and not commit a foul?).  Yes he's a freshman, but with the absence of Shane Harris-Tunks he's carrying a huge burden, and a more involved 'Dre means good things for the offense and the team as a whole.

Going back to my previous point, I take it as no small point that Tomlinson was gone for all but 3 minutes of those 3 games.  As Coach Boyle noted, Nate is the best post feeder, and 'Dre needs supply to effect the game.  In summation, Nate Tomlinson is the key to world peace and Colorado victories.

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