Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fresno St Wrap

The Buffs continue to exhibit ugly basketball for long stretches of play, but find ways to win/stay-in games this season.  Such was the case Wednesday night when CU overcame massive second half struggles to hold on for the win over a below-average Fresno St team. 

Despite leading by as many as 20 in the first half, and heading to the locker room with a 15 point advantage at half time, CU allowed the Bulldogs to climb all the way to a one-possession game with 7-minutes left.  Had the Buffs shot free throws as poorly as they had been throughout this season, Fresno would've stolen this game from a CU team that had the win in the bag from the opening tip-off.  However, last night the free throws fell to the tune of 84% on 27-32 shooting, and CU held on for a 7-point victory.

The first half, despite a slow start, was almost entirely positive.  Shots were falling, play seemed fluid, Fresno couldn't hit the broad-side of a barn with a jump shot (26.7% shooting in the opening frame), and even Shane Harris-Tunks, who had been struggling this season, put together a strong stretch of minutes.  The pre-finals crowd was so confident of victory that those who weren't snoozing in their seats had thoughts of leaving early.

The second half struggles, a stark contrast to the final ten minutes of the first half, were largely a result of Fresno St's shooting regressing towards the mean (45% shooting in the second half), and CU's offense continuing to struggle in the half-court against a zone defense.  The team continues to pass up open looks, makeable shots from decent outside shooters, which would help break-up the zone.  Compounding the stymied offense, CU also gave up 17 turnovers, and continued to look confused on how to guard off of ball-screens (especially infuriating when they leave the one Fresno player who scares you on offense, Kevin Olekaibe, wide open in the final minutes).  All-in-all, the Buffs played very poorly for 3/4ths of the final frame.
Olekaibe and the Bulldogs made a game of it in the second half.  From: the BDC
But, when the chips were down, they bowed their necks, and powered through to the end.  Spencer Dinwiddie hit a massive 3 pointer, the team shot 13 of 14 from the line over the final 5 minutes, and everyone slammed the door shut on the feisty Bulldogs.

Team-wide performance was lead by Andre Roberson, who rebounded from his 1-point showing against CSU to drop 21-10, yet another double-double, on the physically undermanned Bulldogs; 'Dre also shot 9-9 (!!!!!!!!!!) from the free throw line.  The aforementioned Spencer Dinwiddie provided 15 points, and hit a few clutch jumpers to keep the offense in rhythm, and the defense on its heels.  Jeremy Adams continues to improve, donating 8-4 to the cause, and playing a solid stretch of 22 minutes.
'Dre had a great game, and put painful memories from Ft Collins in his rear-view mirror.  From: the BDC
Additionally, senior Nate Tomlinson had one of his better games this season, constantly leading the charge on the break, playing almost every minute in the second half, and providing six assists against only two turnovers from the point.  On a night when freshman back-up point guard Askia Booker was off (zero points, three turnovers), Nate's play was key.

In the end, a win is a win.  The home non-conference win-streak sits at 27.  I'll take it, and we'll move on to Friday's matchup with Wyoming.  At some point, this team will play a complete 40 minutes.  When that happens you'd better have tickets, 'cause it'll be a sight to see.


If you're looking for my thoughts on Damiene Cain's inaugural action in a CU uniform, much like Jeremy Adam's first taste against Georgia, I'm going to reserve thought until he plays more than a handful of minutes.  The coaching staff has done a great job in slowly increasing Adams' minutes over the past few games, and I expect the same in Damiene's case. 

That Damiene grabbed two points and three boards in only six minutes is encouraging, and his wide-body presence was definitely needed at times, but I need to see more before I start defining his performance.  He looks confident and capable, though.  To be continued...

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