Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Desperate times....

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Cast about in a sea of road losses, I've turned to some admittedly extreme measures to help turn back the tide of losing.

Click below...

Season Schedule Breakdown

Plenty of virtual ink has been spilled over the brutally tough schedule the Buffs are about to dive headfirst into.  Hell, Phil Steele even named it his toughest schedule in the nation.  13 games in 13 weeks, 8 to be played away from Boulder, against some of the best schools in the nation (and CSU).  No one ever said this game was easy, but damn, that's some rough shit.  CU has long held the perspective that they'll play anyone, anytime, anywhere.  Unfortunately, that policy can get them into loads of trouble, like this year.

Opinions are all over the place:  Thorburn likes us to sneak into a bowl, and some asshole at SI thinks the Buffs will fumble the season and go 2-11.  In the end, I anticipate that CU will end up somewhere in the middle; that this strenuous series of 13 weekends will be too much for CU to handle, but not so terrible that I'll hide my face in embarrassment.  A lot of it comes down to injuries; if a prime contributor goes down for a few weeks or more, it could get ugly.

That is not to slight the skill level of the squad.  I certainly do think the Buffs are loaded at the top of the depth chart with the most talent the program has seen in years.  Three high profile offensive seniors, a super-star in the making at wide out, and an experienced offensive line make for one hell of an offense.  Combine that with a defense loaded with talent and toughness in the front seven and a defensive backfield anchored by a pair of veteran safeties, and you've got a hell of a team.

To be clear: this is not a push-over team, I just think the schedule is too much for any team, let alone this CU bunch, to handle.  Give this bunch last year's schedule, and CU probably wins 8 or 9 games.  But we in Buff nation can't cry over an over-stuffed schedule.  Coach Embree has said all summer that he likes the schedule; while that is mostly coaching bravado, I know this coaching staff is going to see it as more of an opportunity than an obstacle.

In that vein I'm going to take a look at this bear of a schedule, and try and give my best pre-season guess how it's all going to go down.   You won't find any scoring predictions, just how I feel about the game headed into the season.

Click below for the schedule breakdown...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5 reasons to be excited this season

I've been accused, from time to time, of holding a pervasively pessimistic outlook on life.  I would argue that I try to be realistic, but that's besides the point.  In part to counter this spurious charge, and in part to pump myself up for the quickly approaching season, I present this list of my top 5 on-field reasons to be excited headed into the 2011 football season:

Click below for the list...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: Game week is here. Prepare yourself accordingly.

We've finally arrived at the home stretch of summer.  Sure, the calendar may technically say that summer doesn't end for another month, but we all know that the return of football marks the real start of fall.  Ready, or not, here comes 3 months of Buffs!

Today in the bag I'll be talking about game week prep, some discipline trouble for Hawaii, good news on the recruiting trail, and a brief departure into the world of My Sox.

Click below for the bag...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quick-Post: Kenpom has a raging brainer for Andre Roberson

Ken Pomeroy, who has transcended into the ethereal in the eyes of many basketball junkies, devoted time on his blog this morning to the discussion of Buffs forward Andre Roberson.

Read it.  Do it now.  Like, right fucking now.  Key quote: "His rebounding and defensive numbers almost certainly will be among the best in the nation."  That's some pretty high praise from a guy who knows his stuff.

Kenpom's point on the relative anonymity of 'Dre is fair, to an extent.  I'm sure that beyond us Buff nuts and a few frustrated K-State fans, few have put too much thought into #21.  However, one group who do seem to know him and his capabilities are the crew at, who think highly enough of the springy Texan to have him as high as 4th in their 2013 NBA mock draft (Assuming, of course, that there still is an NBA in 2013).  The word is starting to get out.  'Dre is athletic, smart, and competitive... and a badass.
Cue Michael Bay-esque sweeping shot and dramatic music.  'DRE: "Shit just got real."  From: the Post.
 'Dre was the missing piece from the '09-'10 season that Coach Boyle plugged in to make the '10-'11 squad one of the best in school history.  Think back to Bzdelik's final year; forget the "hyper-Princeton" and all of that, the one glaring weakness was a obscene lack of rebounding on both ends of the court.  To combat this, the incoming Coach Boyle tasked the only holdover from Bzdelik's staff, Coach Abatemarco, with finding someone who could rebound.  "A man he could trust" told Abatemarco that 'Dre was his guy.  Sometimes it's just that easy.

Now, with a year of stunning production under his belt, the lanky San Antonio native is expected to expand on his "hustle" numbers, and to take on a much larger role in the offensive end to help replace the loss of Burks, Higgins, et al.  From what I saw last year, I'm comfortable with these high expectations.  Kenpom is too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick Post: Basketball Recruiting Rankings

Please, allow me to be a hypocrite for a few minutes.

I would usually never trumpet recruiting rankings, seeing as I feel the whole "recruiting thing" is a big pile of bullshit, but it's not everyday that CU finds themselves in the top-25 of basketball recruiting rankings.  Both MaxPreps and ESPN have the Buffs in their current top-25 2012 classes, with CU being ranked 22 and 19 respectively.

Obviously, this is mostly due to the fact that current CU commit Josh Scott is rocketing up the national rankings lists, and he is universally regarded as a national top-100 prospect. Scott would be the first top-100 player to end up in Boulder since big Dave Harrison at the turn of the century.  CU also currently holds the commitment of Scott's fellow Colorado Springs big man, Wesley Gordon.
Josh Scott's eventual presence in Boulder could make or break the future of the program.  From: ESPN
Nothing is finalized, and both Scott and Gordon could eventually sign elsewhere (please, God, don't let this happen), but it's promising to see that Ralphie logo prominently featured in recruiting articles.  Additionally, the 2012 class could potentially have two others in it by the time all is said and done as CU is projected to have four open scholarships after the 2011-12 season.

In summation, Tad Boyle is awesome.


From ESPN's scouting profile of Scott - "Scott's versatility, length and athleticism add credibility to sound fundamentals which make Scott an intriguing prospect. He plays the game with a motor and is active on both ends of the floor. Even at his present skill level, Scott could be a good fit for Coach Tad Boyle's post play."

On Gordon -  "With a limited amount of bigs west of the Mississippi, Gordon is an excellent pick-up for Colorado (oral commit). With his size (long arms) and blue-collar attitude, he should make an immediate impact for the Buffaloes."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We've got the Jack: Are we really moving to the 3-4?

Beyond the small moves across the depth chart released yesterday, the big news was the informal launch of the 3-4 defensive era in Boulder.  A whole set of DT's are now classified as DE's, and last year's sack king Josh Hartigan is listed at the top of something called the "Jack" linebacker position.  Dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!   
All is well.
Buffnik at Allbuffs does do a good job at speculating what this switch may mean for the future.  I'm not too sure about the Steelers free-association, as, while Dick LeBeau is the 3-4 guru, many styles of the 3-4 have been rolled out in recent years, but Nik gets his point across that recent recruiting moves are a good indicator of the coaches intentions.  The talent lines up if the coaching staff wants to dive into this.  Moreover, this change fits with the growing trend in college towards a 3-4 look on D.  Gotta keep up with the times, man.

Additionally, a 3-front with a hybrid linebacker isn't wholly unprecedented in recent CU history.  Remember, Super Bowl Champion Brad Jones played with his hand in the ground on a few occasions, and the Hawaiian ginger BJ Beatty also played in both the 3-point and 2-point.  Sure, the Buffs often stuck themselves in a base nickel set, but there were some flashes of 3-4 every now and again.
I'm going to miss BJ; he was fun to watch and a constant presence in the student section at basketball games.
The interesting thing is, despite all the eyes on practice and the microphones in the face of Coach Embree, no one really picked up on this until yesterday afternoon.  But what will this really mean in terms of actual on-the-field change?  I think in the immediate future, not a whole lot and that we're probably talking semantics.  On your average down I think it will still look like a 4-front with Hartigan, et al, rushing from a 3-point stance.  This is where Hartigan is comfortable and where he has had success in the past.

(Hartigan is going to pass rush no matter how he lines up, that's just what he does best.)

Specifically to this year, the semantic change to 3-4 may not matter much anyway..  It will get a little jarring if the 3-4 sticks, and the crew at "jack" starts moving around in pass coverage, but on the whole, regardless of what the linebackers are doing, this defense will still be made or broken in the defensive backfield.  If the D requires a 5th DB to keep the lid on an inexperienced set of corners, any discussion of linebackers will fade.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quick Post: Updated Depth Chart has been posted

Check it out here.

The highlights:
  • Toney Clemmons stays up top at WR, but shares top billing with Freshman Phenom Tyler McCulloch.
  • There's still no winner announced in the Center sweepstakes: Munyer and Handler listed as co-1's.
  • DaVaughn Thornton listed 3rd on the TE list.
  • As expected, Walk-on John Schrock listed as the 3rd QB.
  • B-lock slips to 4th on the RB list.
  • CU apparently runs a 3-4 defense, even though no one seemed to notice, and the "jack" LB slot is filled with former D-linemen. 
  • Henderson and Sandersfeld win the CB sweepstakes.
  • Darragh O'Neill wins the punting job.  Carbombs all around!

Monday Grab Bag: The practice facility is open!

That shiny new practice facility that CU's basketball junkies were promised is finally a reality.  The Buffs are out of the roundball dark ages, and the future looks as bright as ever for a program that was continually mired in obscurity.

Today in the bag I'll talk about the new facility before speculating on a depth chart update, congratulating the women's soccer team, and discussing the demotion of a national treasure.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, August 19, 2011

What I learned during Fall Camp

CU held its final fall practice open to the public yesterday.  With the kiddies streaming back to campus this weekend, the gates on the practice fields will swing shut, and the only conduit of information I will have access to over the next two weeks will be whatever finds its way onto the pages of Buffzone and the Denver Post.

Unfortunately, being the busy guy that I am (ha!), I was only able to make one full practice during camp, but that doesn't mean I wasn't following nearly every minute on Twitter and Allbuffs.  The following is a list of five things I learned over the past few weeks of practice:

Jon Embree is tired of this shit - Coach Embo is omnipresent when you head over to the practice fields.  He's constantly moving, coaching, and, above all else, yelling; and the rest of his coaching staff follows suit.  After 5 years of Hawk's meditative approach to practice and coaching, it can be a little jarring to hear the almost constant yelling (you're harshing my buzz, bra), but I'm starting to think that maybe what the program needed most of all was a wake up call.
Embo's been tired of a lot of shit this fall.  From: the BDC

John Schrock may actually be something - I was really high on Stevie Joe Dorman after signing day, and Brent Burnette is the only QB on the roster with bowl experience, but it's little known walk-on John Schrock who will be the Buffs 3rd-string QB on opening night. 
Schrock may end up being CU's QB of the future.  From: the BDC
The thing is, the second I saw Schrock at practice I noticed something: he's legit.  The kid's got a good arm, plain and simple.  I only watched him in passing drills, but even then you could notice that he has the best arm of the 3 "other" QB's on the roster. I also continue to hear tales of his poise in the pocket, and his ability to pick up the offense. 

Could it really be that easy to find a QB?  Have him at 62-36, abscond him to a high school that doesn't throw the football, and he'll just fall into your lap? 

Just remember, a decade ago it was the highly rated Craig Ochs running away to Montana after shitting the bed against CSU that cleared the way for PWO Joel Klatt to step in a year later and lead the program for the next 3 years.  Weird shit happens in the QB slot.

Coach Bienemy is afraid of heights - Hold on, Coach!
From: the BDC

The Defense is too physical for the Offense - SliderNcider at Allbuffs got the word out yesterday, and I don't really know how to take that.  I've been generally pleased with the physicality of the D-line especially, but in this new age of "tough, man-football" it's a little disconcerting to hear that the offense is shying away from physical play.

There is a point to be made that, with 13-straight weeks of tough opponents ahead of the team, maybe too much contact right now isn't overly necessary, but I'd still like to hear that the offense, which is supposed to be predicated on a smash-mouth, run-first style, is comfortable with getting a little rough.

Will Oliver is the kicker we've been looking for - I don't want to put the cart too far ahead of the horse (since he's still a freshman, and hasn't made a collegiate kick yet), but Will Oliver may finally be the light at the end of the kicking tunnel for CU.  After 3 years of Aric Goodman and his gold shoes shanking nearly every kick, both in practice and out, it's nice to hear that the anointed first team kicker is consistent.  He may not have Mason Crosby's cannon-shot distance, but I'll take a kid who can consistently make a 35-yarder every day of the week, and twice on Saturday.
He's the real "money."  From: the BDC

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Quick Post: The flu be gettin' around

Some 15-20 Buffs are battling the flu right now.  Since I rummaged through Dal Ward a week ago, it's safe to say that I got my case from one of those guys.  We'll call it even if I can get one of those IV bags on the house.

Quick Post: Yep, the Rox fucked up the Ubaldo thing

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I thought the Ubaldo trade was chickenshit baseball from a scared franchise.  For all you Rockies fans still thinking about Ubaldo Jimenez, the guys at South Side Sox further the conversation on why it was a terrible trade.  Check it out here.

I'm only bringing this up because My Sox face the former Rockies ace this evening, and I'm pissed the Indians were able to improve their rotation on the cheap.  Seriously bad baseball from a team crying over a season of spilled milk.

Tuesday Grab Bag: I got a fever, and the only prescription is the start of football.

With disgusting amounts of fluids flowing out of my body yesterday, I thought it best to seal myself off from the world.  While I may not be completely healthy yet, I can't stay away forever.  Good thing, 'cause there's a lot of goings on to discuss this fine morning.

Today in the bag I'll discuss the seemingly imminent move by A&M to the SEC that still hasn't happened, the eerily positive Buffs camp, and a gentle giant punching his ticket to the hall of fame.

Click below for today's bag...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: 4 Weeks

The clock continues to tick down to the September 3rd game vs. Hawaii.  Less than 4 weeks to go...

Today in the bag I'll talk about practice, recap some golfing and baseball news, and remind everyone that the basketball schedule is locked and that season ticket renewals are on their way.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quick Post: The basketball schedule is now complete

Get your money ready, because season ticket renewal forms are headed to a mailbox near you.  All that was holding up my check to the University of Colorado was the completion of the regular season basketball schedule; that hurdle has now been cleared with the addition of two cupcakes to round out the non-conference portion of the 2011-12 mens basketball schedule.

Last month, when the majority of the non-con schedule was released, I had postulated that another regional cupcake was on tap, a la Western New Mexico from last year.  I semi-sarcastically dropped Metro State's name; in fact we're getting the Ft Lewis Skyhawks to open up the season in mid-November.  Hooray regional punching bags!  The D-II school should prove be no problem as CU tunes up for the Puerto Rico Tip-off.

Additionally, Coach Boyle added a late-December clash with the Privateers of New Orleans.  They're an interesting story, as the program transitions from D-1 all the way down to D-III (!).  You can read up on the Privateers, and their internal struggle with the decision, here and here.  Hoefully CU will ease UNO's passage into athletic purgatory with a resounding win as part of a historic 8-game homestand in the final throes of 2010.

Neither of these squads will help the RPI or Tournament chances, but scheduling is an ugly business.  Someone has to fill the opposing bench of the CEC, and, considering how late in the game we are, this is about as good as Buff fans could expect.  It is funny to note that tickets to these two matchups will theoretically cost me as much as the games against Georgia and the Pac-12 schools...

Quick Post: Thoughts on the opening day of camp

With the first full days of practice finally upon Boulder, football is officially back in business.  There is no more looking back, this is the beginning of a completely new era in Colorado football.  A new coach, a new conference, and a brutal 13-game schedule are staring the Buff in the face as they begin the final weeks of work before the season officially begins on the first Saturday in September.

After 5 years, the sun is finally starting to peek out from behind the Flatirons.  The promise of a new day devoid of back-to-back delay of game penalties, a 2-minute drill that looks like a Sunday croquet game, and special teams that bring new meaning to the word 'special,' has many of the old Buff guard coming out from hiding.

It's true, the Hawk is gone, having long sense served his nefarious purpose, and he's now relegated to the television backwaters of Bristol, CT.  But does that end the long night of sub-.500 football in the Peoples Republic?  Not by a long shot.  Firing Hawk is not equivalent to waving a magic wand.  The damage done by the great Hawk will take years to recover from.

I heard CJ & Klatt yesterday say that 7-6 is a likely result from this year, as if turnarounds happen overnight.  I also noted Tyler saying that "We're going to surprise so many people."  I would love to be able to believe that, as I do recognize the talent and heart left in the squad, but I just don't see how it's possible.  It would honestly be one of the better turnarounds in recent sports memory if this team, faced with a new system and the most daunting schedule you could possibly conceive, found a way to do something the program hasn't been able to accomplish in half a decade.  But I just can't see it happening.

Yet there is hope, and reason to watch. 28 seniors, including a QB finally getting a true shot at the job, a RB on the cusp of breaking his coach's all-time rushing record, and a offensive guard, large as the surrounding mountains, who is one of, if not the best at his position, give life to the hope that this team could be something better than what history and logic would dictate.  Stranger things have happened, of course.

Give thanks, everyone: it's Buffs season once again.

Go Buffs!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Quick Post: Matchups for the Puerto Tip-off

A reunion of the 2011 NIT final four is on tap for CU this fall in Puerto Rico.   ESPN dropped their matchups for November's Puerto Rico tip-off this morning.  CU is slated to face Wichita State in the final game of the first round, with a potential revenge matchup with Alabama available in the second round; all that's missing is fellow Pac-12 school Washington St. to complete the set.  Maryland is the other school in CU's side of the bracket.

If you would've asked me "who will ESPN pair the Buffs with in Puerto Rico?" I would've bet the house on Alabama.  That matchup is still available, just with the asterisk of "second round potential matchup" thrown in.  Instead, the Buffs start with the vaunted Shockers out of the MVC conference.  Coincidentally, Coach Boyle was an assistant at WSU during the Mark Turgeon era.

While I'd love a guaranteed revenge game with the Crimson Tide, it should be a great season warmup down in San Juan.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: Last Call for baseball talk

Oh, hey, it's August.  How 'bout that?  With the calendar officially flipping over to the page with a big '8' on it, today is one of the final Monday's I get to talk baseball.  Accordingly, in the bag today there's a bunch of trade deadline talk and musings over the unwritten rules of baseball.  Yes, football is coming, but it just isn't quite here...

Click below for the bag...