Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, July 29, 2011

Basketball Summer Preview Series: Newcomers

Hey, look!  A basketball post!  Try to put football out of your mind for a few brief moments as I look forward to basketball.

The upcoming season may prove to be one of the most interesting/important in recent memory as the CU mens basketball program tries to carry over the momentum built by last year's NIT warriors.   Periodically throughout the summer I will be posting parts of a preview series to keep the basketball flame alive while everyone else is gearing up for footballHopefully this will keep my start-of-the-season preview post from ballooning into 30,000 words.

Previous part: Roster Turnover

Next up: Newcomers

I talked last month about the importance of roster management and it's use in mitigating the resulting drop-offs related to roster turnover.  It cannot be stated enough that the program lost 60% of minutes, 75% of points, 48% of rebounds, and 63% of assists to graduation and the NBA after last year's run to the NIT Final Four. The programs ability to cope with that loss through replacements and current players stepping up could have ramifications far beyond this upcoming season, as it previously took the program 7 seasons to recover from a similar production loss after the David Harrison years.

Youth is certainly the order of the day, but careful management of the roster during the last recruiting cycle has left the program with both roster balance and the ability, on paper at least, to compete in a weaker basketball conference like the Pac-12.  The resulting crew of newcomers looking to fill the shoes of Alec Burks, Cory Higgins, Levi Knutson, Marcus Relphorde, and Trent Beckley is an interesting mix of transfers, JuCos, and traditional freshmen that have me thinking happy thoughts during a time that should be full of fretful worry. 

I'll take a look at each new addition to the roster and what their role could be before summing up my thoughts on the 2011 class of newcomers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quick Post: I kind of like this whole Pac-12 thing

In case you haven't noticed, being in the Pac-12 is totally badass. 

Earlier this year we found out exactly how much cash was being thrown CU's way as a result of the move.  Additionally, because the Pac-12 is a bunch of media savants, we've seen Jon Embree all over ESPN the last 24 hours.  Now we find out that CU will not only have a stake in a new Pac-12 television network, but that they will also share a regional affiliate with mountain time zone partner Utah.

How the hell did CU get so lucky?  It's only been a few weeks as official members of the Pac-12, yet it's already 20 times better than where the Buffs were.  Just imagine, Buff Nation could be screaming at the tide over just how much Texas would be allowed to screw us for the privilege of being in their company.

This whole thing is like breaking up with an abusive girlfriend, who never really liked us anyway, only to wind up with a caring supermodel.  This shit is awesome!  Are there bronze statuettes of Larry Scott available online somewhere?  I'd like to have a graven imagine of this genius to sacrifice goats and such to on a daily basis.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NCAA 12 review

I've been going on minimal sleep for 2 weeks now.  4, maybe 5 hours is all that I'll get.  The reason: EA Sport's NCAA football 12 is locked and loaded into my Xbox.  Every year it's the same damn thing; the game comes out, and I'm booked for hundreds of hours of recruiting, offensive game planning, and generally forcing CU to play the way I wish they could.

In reality, CU will undoubtedly struggle this year.  A new coach, a completely new system, a brutal schedule, and a roster bereft of large quantities of all-conference talent will almost surely lead to yet another losing season (if not much, much worse).  We all know who we would like to blame for this, but that's not the point.  What is the point is this: in the video game world, I can change this.  In the blink of an eye (5-10 hours of gameplay) I can take the Buffs from a 2-star program, seemingly hopelessly severed from a once sterling past, to a national powerhouse.  Give me a few "seasons" and Buff Nation will have it all back: Heisman winners, national championships, and year-on-year contention.  It's the magic of gaming.

It's because of this that I can't turn away from the series.  Frustration about a silly matter like CU only "deserving" 2-stars isn't enough to keep me from plopping down $60 of yearly tithing to EA Sports.  I'm helplessly shoveling money in their direction for a fix.  I desperately want real-life victories, and, sparing a stunning turn of events, the only place I will get them in any number this season will be on the virtual gridiron.  It may be the very definition of addiction when you boil it down, yet I don't care in the slightest.

What follows is my analysis of this year's edition of the series that is my personal master of puppets.  While I may be addicted, that doesn't mean that I don't still have opinions on what EA managed to screw up this year.  But it's not all bad.  In fact, there's a lot of good to this year's edition, and I'm sure I'll happily get more than $60 worth of entertainment out of it
Sweet, but fake, Tyler cover stolen from this guy.

Jump below the fold for a trip into virtual dynasty building...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: Football is back in business (almost)

In case you haven't noticed, it's frickin hot outside.  In response, I'm staying inside and getting some writing done.  I'll have my full thoughts on NCAA 12 and a look at the newcomers to the basketball program up later in the week.  For now, take a look at today's bag where I'll talk conclusion of the NFL labor dispute, My Sox selling at the trading deadline, and steroids being the greatest thing ever.

Click below for the bag...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quick Post: Non-Con basketball schedule is up

While we've known for a while what the first year of Pac-12 play would look like for the CU mens basketball team, the non-conference portion of the schedule had remained a mystery (outside the annual game with CSU and the PR tip-off tournament).  That mystery has been mostly solved with the announcement today of the full schedule.  Check it out here.

When I said full schedule... it's a little light on the home side.  Currently there are only 14 home games.  However, as it says at the top of the schedule, there's still additions to come.  Just don't expect them to be of the "Duke, UCONN, or Illinois" variety... 

Last year CU threw lowly Western New Mexico in as a last minute addition to fill out the home schedule and keep the legs fresh during the build up to Big XII conference play.  While WNM stunned the listless Buffs through the first half back in January, they proved to be exactly the tune-up game the squad needed as CU shot past Missouri the following weekend to kick-start the conference campaign.  Accordingly, I expect a WNM-esque squad (read: punching bag) will fill out the schedule.  I wonder what the Metro State Roadrunners are up to in early January?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quick Post: Toughest schedule in the nation

If you hadn't yet looked at your pocket schedule with a discerning eye, CU's got a damn tough schedule ahead of them this fall.  Even the rest of the country is starting to notice.  Case-in-point, none other than Phil Steele ranked CU's schedule as the toughest in the nation.

I love our attitude towards scheduling (essentially "bring it on" with a dash of suicidal tendencies and a pinch of financial desperation thrown in), but don't be surprised when we stumble to a 4 win season because of it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: The return of normal service

Now that the most boring week ever is behind us (a week so devoid of anything useful to watch that the country actually started paying attention to womens soccer and non-Tiger golf), we're back onto the summer grind for the next seven weeks.  Baseball!  Labor Disputes! Recruiting News!

Well, 1 out of 3 aint bad.

Today in the bag I'll be looking at what the hell happened to "Our Girls" in Germany yesterday afternoon, more shocking recruiting developments out of Texas, community roster updates for NCAA 12, and the light at the end of the NFL labor dispute tunnel.

Click below for the bag...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A baseball just isn't worth it

You see it almost every day during the summer.  A sharply hit ground ball past third base rolls towards the on-the-field seating in left field.  Some fat ass, 4-5 beers in and looking to impress his annoyed/bored lady friend, lunges his girth toward the rolling piece of cowhide and rolled up string.  He may have even brought his glove to the game, seemingly oblivious to the fact that no one would ever want to see him play the game.  Losing his balance (an inevitability, really) he half flops out onto the field, possibly even losing his pants in the process.  The ushers help him back into his seats, everyone has a good laugh, and if it was a fair ball he's probably going to be ejected from the park.

Seriously, this happens every damn game.  And all for a $12 piece of leather with Bud Selig's reproduced autograph on it.

Baseball goes through about 160,000 of these suckers every year.  They aren't that special.

Now, and this is the God's honest truth, I hope to never go home with a batted ball.  Before every game that I attend I look around, find a kid sitting near me, and pledge to myself that if I were to end up with a ball in my hands that the kid, and not myself, will go home with the souvenir. It's not out of any bullshit sense of pseduo moral authority, it's just that I honestly don't care about a game-used ball.  I can go online right now and plunk down $20  to buy a game-used ball.  As a grown-ass man, $20 bucks is essentially nothing, and that ball bought online would mean as much to me in 10 years as one snagged in a real game would be (i.e.: nothing).  But I bet the kid would appreciate it.

But the pursuit by some of a game-used ball has even effected the outcome of championships.   The name Steve Bartman ring a bell?  With a trip to the world series, and possibly his team's first championship in (then) almost a decade, on the line, poor Mr. Barman forgot himself and took a catchable ball away from his team.  That the resulting onslaught of runs can more realistically be attributed to Alex Gonzalez's error or Mark Prior being a soft daddy's boy is beside the point; Bartman has become synonymous with fans obsession with batted balls.
He's been canonized on the southside.

Baseball fans just go nuts for a damn ball.  Hell, anyone, baseball fan or not, would seemingly trade all of their dignity for a 5 ounce piece of sporting equipment.  Maybe it's the adrenaline rush of seeing a fast moving object rolling/flying towards you.  Maybe it's the large amounts of alcohol that many people feel obliged to consume in order to enjoy a ballgame.  Regardless, concern for ones safety is seemingly thrown out the window.

This past week that point was tragically driven home last week when Texas Rangers fan Shannon Stone fell 20-feet onto concrete after lunging to catch a ricocheted foul ball in Arlington.  Despite the best efforts of doctors, Stone died in the hospital.  All over a ball.

One would hope that the incident would give all fans a sense of somber pause when chance presents them with a fleeting opportunity to grab a cheap souvenir, if only for a few months at least.  Maybe it's just not worth it, afterall.

But some fans are impervious to the warnings of fate.  Not 4 days after the incident in Texas, an idiot at last night's home run derby decided that his life was worth a ball hit in a glorified round of batting practice.  Keith Carmickle and his buddies hard already grabbed 3 balls last night before he lunged for a fourth, hurtling a metal table to do so.  He of course lost his balance, and nearly tumbled to his death in an incident eerily reminiscent of the one in Texas.
"Weeeeeee!  I'm gonna die!!!!!!"
Dude already had 3 other balls from the event!  What the flying fuck was he thinking? 

I really don't know what to say at this point.  Maybe some people would honestly rather have a ball than the rest of their lives.  (This Carmickle guy sounds like a damn moron.)  I guess I can only plead with everyone out there to please be aware of your surroundings and the fact that Dick's Sporting Goods, and a whole pallet of baseballs waiting for purchase, is just down the street.  A ball just isn't worth it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quick Post: Blue Ribbon Preview

I look forward to the ESPN Blue Ribbon football previews every year.  They offer a pretty straight-forward look at a teams prospectus before fall camp kicks off. The info provided isn't too hardcore, but enough for me to get a feel for what a team will look like before the season starts; mostly personnel and a rough narrative.  Since I know almost all of what they'll undoubtedly put in CU's preview, I usually use them more for the other teams in the conference than for CU itself.

The bad news is, if I'm reading this right, they picked the Buffs to finish last in the Pac-12 South.  Not wholly unexpected, and I expect more previews to echo the basement finish sentiments of Blue Ribbon.

That said, if you have an ESPN insider subscription you can still head over and check out what they have to say about the Buffs before checking out the rest of the Pac-12.

Monday Grab Bag: Worst week of the year

Welcome to the worst sports week of the year.  That's right, for the next 3 nights there is absolutely nothing worth watching in the sports world.  With baseball on it's All-Star Break hiatus, unless you like watching batting practice and exhibition baseball, the next best thing to watch will be Women's World Cup soccer on Wednesday night.

This week is so devoid of interesting things that ESPN holds its pointless masturbatory "awards" show to pass the time.  They're even showing it live this year; whoopdie-shit. The only saving grace may be a resolution to the NFL labor dispute, but even that would only be a prelude to interesting things that will only happen later this summer.  So, to sum up, I'm quite bored, and if my softball game gets rained out tonight, I'll really be up boring creek without a paddle.

As such, there is no grab bag today.  There honestly isn't anything worth talking about, so I won't even pretend.  I will, however, have my next post in my Summer Basketball Preview Series up later this week.

Happy Monday

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

UPDATED: Quick-Post: Dickie V on campus yesterday

UPDATE (7/12/11 11:30am): Mr Vitale has a blog post up about his visit.  Check it out here.  Calls his trip the "time of his life."  Thanks to Buffnik at Allbuffs for spotting it!

I have a love/hate perspective on almost every ESPN personality.  I'd love the attention, but I hate the schtick.

This is why I was very conflicted yesterday when the tweets came pouring in that ESPN's very own king of schtick Dickie V was touring Boulder with friend and CU assistant basketball coach Tom Abatemarco.
Coach Abatemarco (left) took Dickie V (right) through the new practice facility yesterday.  Yes, it was, *sigh*, "awesome, baby."  From: @DickieV
Dick Vitale can be a very prescient analyst.  When he's calm, and talking in his serious voice, he can be extremly informative and knowledgeable.  But there's the other side, the "Dukie-V" side when the schtick kicks in, that annoys me to no end.  Look, I totally get it, he's built a million-dollar brand on "It's Awesome Baby," Hooters, and all of the other huckster crap, so he might as well stick with it, but when he throws his hands in the air and starts screaming at me I turn the channel.  Unfortunately for those of us seeking considered discourse on college basketball, he's seemingly in "Dukie-V" mode 90% of the time he's on the air.

However, I was totally excited that he chose to spend some time touring both CU and the basketball program.  In a practical mindset, it's easy to see how a few hours in Boulder could translate into a few precious minutes of national conversation next spring.  Maybe he's doing some Duke game next February, the game gets out of hand, and he launches into some form of "What about those Colorado Buffaloes; THEY'RE AWESOME BABY!"  It's simple things like brief mentions from the top guys that help improve a programs national profile, which in turn helps recruiting, scheduling, and, ultimately, performance.  More of this, please.

Call me a hypocrite, and considering how harshly I commented on him last year "hypocrite" may be too soft of a word, but I loved that he was here yesterday.  Hell, he had more than 10 tweets about us yesterday, many of them with pictures.

This is why it helps to have national-level basketball lifers like Coach Abatemarco tied into the program.  They give us inroads to national profile guys, who in turn love up the program.  We've done it in the recent past with special-assistant-to-athletic-director-Mike-Bohn-Tom-McGrath, and I hope it continues.  It's always nice to hear some Buff love, even in the offseason.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: Post July 4th edition

I hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July.  I personally got the ole grill fired up and tried to fight through the heat to utilize it.  Standing around hot coals in mid 90s heat, even without humidity, is not exactly the most comfortable of scenarios.  The beer was very cold, and the burgers still ended up mighty tasty, so it worked out all right in the end.

Today in the bag I'm going to touch on labor issues, set up conclusion of the first half for both the Sox and Rox, and briefly mention the final vote.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Quick Post: Happy Pac-12 Day!

Oh, hello July.  I see you bring with you warm sunshine and t-shirts with a cool new logo on them.  Yes I would like to buy one for $19.95.  What an enticing offer!

I'm so glad this day has come.  While the move to the Pac-12 has been fait acompli for over a year now, it's all finally official.  We're on the conference website and everything!  Everyone in Buff nation is over-flowing with giddiness over our new athletic surroundings.  Case in point: both the City of Boulder and the State of Colorado have declared today to be Pac-12 Day.

I'm hoping to use this as a crutch to get out of work, as if moving to the new conference was some sort of religious experience.  (On most forms I do list my official religion as "Buff Fan") If not, I guess celebrations will have to wait until 5pm when I sprint up to The Hill to buy some new CU/Pac-12 gear.

While I'm running out to celebrate leaving the Big XII, I'd like to take this opportunity to say a few final words to our former conference affiliates through the cinematic brilliance of Half-Baked:

(In case you were wondering, the old lady would be Iowa State; never really had anything against those guys)

Happy Friday!  Go America, and Go Buffs!