Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Grab Bag: Winning is what we do in Boulder

Victories for everyone!  I couldn't step foot in Boulder over the weekend without seeing the Buffs win.  Finally, a weekend worthy of celebrating.

Today in the bag I'll recap the wins, starting with basketball, before touching on the busy weekend in the world of football.

Click below for the bag...

A fine beginning -

A rather large crowd of 7,925 basketball fans showed up to see the basketball season tip off.  There was even a mostly full student section.  Overall, it was the largest opening day crowd since since the start of the Jeff Bzdelik era in '07.  Of course that evening four years ago was against a 'name' program in New Mexico, while Friday night was against Division-II foe Ft Lewis College.  To have nearly 8,000 people show up to see CU play a lower division opponent was impressive to see.

Of course, CU would go on to win, crushing the Skyhawks by 28 points.  Ft Lewis only had one player over 6'6" who played meaningful minutes, and even the end of the Buffs bench had more athleticism than the whole of the Ft Lewis combined.  You can't really take this game as anything other than a tune up, and, other than the fact of a win, the final score is essentially meaningless. 
The Buffs bench was even too much for the Skyhawks.  From: the BDC
That said, I did note the performance of senior Austin Dufault who dropped 18-10 in only 22 minutes of play.  Every time down the court he could've gotten his shot if he wanted it, possessing size and quickness that Ft Lewis couldn't hope to match.  A good opener for a player CU will depend on to have the season of his life. 

Austin was joined by three other Buffs with double-digit point totals, including unheralded DU transfer Sabatino Chen who chipped in 10 points in his 15 minutes of mop-up work.  'Dre also had a fantastic evening, grabbing 15 boards to go along with his 13 points; while 'Dre was far to athletic for this game, it was nice to see him get out early and hit a few shots.  Utah transfer Carlon Brown also had a good, albeit inconsistent, start, as he provided 13 points to the cause.
Ft Lewis mostly cowered in fear whenever 'Dre had the ball.  From: the BDC
The freshmen looked how freshmen usually look in their first tastes of collegiate action: like an overactive golden retriever who does a good job fetching the ball, but who sometimes piddles on your carpet.  The house training will come with time.

Overall, the one word that comes to mind after watching Saturday night is capable.  The Buffs seem capable of a lot of things this season.  It remains, however, to be seen how this squad will perform against quality opponents who can not only match CU's athleticism and talent, but surpass it.  The first opportunity to see what the Buffs really have will come on Thursday when they face off against a talented, veteran Wichita State squad in Puerto Rico.  The difficulty setting is about to be cranked up in a hurry.

Seniors go out in style - 

Oh, yeah, the football game.  The hurricane-force winds which pelted Boulder Saturday seemingly swept the losing right out of the program.  It certainly helped that the Buffs were playing a headless team with extremely little to play for, but CU played like kings on Saturday.

The performance was lead by the 28 seniors who were playing their final game on Folsom's sacred grass.  Seniors Tyler Hansen, Rodney Stewart, and Toney Clemmons combined for five scores, and the Buffs offense put up 500 big yards.  Speedy Stewart was especially effective, providing 181 rushing yards and three scores on his senior day; he even tossed a decent looking spiral into the waiting hands of Tyler Hansen for a very satisfying touchdown in the third quarter.
Speedy had a lot to dance about on Saturday, as he provided 4 scores (3 rushing, 1 passing).  From: the BDC.
On defense, seniors dominated the stat sheet as well.  Sandersfeld and Espinoza each had a pick and Patrick Mahnke forced two fumbles.  While the vaunted Arizona passing attack got their yards into the wind (352 of them), the defense held enough to keep the opponent under 30 for the first time since the CSU game.
I'd say act like you've been there before, but we haven't this season.  Get your ass on the field.  From: the BDC
It was the sort of performance that gives you hope.  Immediately after the game I heard dozens of CU fans talking about the possibilities for the next two weekends.  It certainly would be nice to break the seemingly endless road losing streak before this group of seniors leaves the program, but, even if that isn't in the cards over the final two weekends, Saturday was a game CU can be proud of.  The first Pac-12 win, on senior day, to possibly eek out of the Pac-12 basement is good enough to go up on the brick wall.  Well done guys.

Notes from around football nation -

College Football

Oregon at Stanford - The Fight'n Andrew Luck's went down, giving hope to all the 1-loss teams around the country, Oregon included, that the race for the National Championship Game is still up for grabs.

TCU at Boise St - One of these days Boise is going to find a kicker and a conference worthy of their talent.  Until that day, I hope they enjoy playing in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Arizona St at Washington St/UCLA at Utah - It seems like no one wants to win the Pac-12 South.  With USC out of the race due to a bad case of the Reggie Bushes, it's down to Arizona St and UCLA.  Neither team could go on the road the weekend and win against a poor opponent, so the race remains open to whoever wants to take hold of it.  Either way, Oregon will kick the shit out of whoever decides to take the division.


Lions at Bears - My Bears keep rolling, avenging their embarrassing loss in Detroit from earlier in the season.  They may not win the division, but they should have a good shot at earning one of the wild card spots.

Giants at 49ers - What has gotten into these 49ers?  They're now up five games on the rest of their hapless division.

Cardinals at Eagles - The Dream Team does it again, losing to a sorry Arizona squad at home.

Happy Monday!

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