Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: Still the #1

It's a special thing to wake up and see your favorite team on top of the standings.  Starting from late Thursday evening, through the games over the weekend, and (at least) up to this Thursday night, Buff fans can look at the Pac-12 table and see the name "Colorado" listed in sole possession of first place.  Sure, it's a result of CU playing a favorable home schedule to this point, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it.  Suck on that, Pac-12!

In today's bag, I'll be looking back at Saturday's win over Wazzu, discussing what it would take for CU to win the inaugural Pac-12 title, talking about how the women did over the weekend, and I'll give the BCS title game a once over.

Click below for the bag...

Recapping the win -

If you would've told me before the game that Andre Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie would combine for 10 points and 10 rebounds, I'd have reflexively said that CU would lose to Washington St at home.  Instead, riding a wave of good play from the seniors, the Buffs cruised to a 71-60 win over the Cougars Saturday afternoon.

With the headlining underclassmen struggling against the Cougar zone, it was the oft maligned trio of seniors who lead CU to victory.  Carlon Brown, Austin Dufault, and Nate Tomlinson combined for 56 points on 62% shooting, and carried the Buffs, who lead by as many as 22 in the second half.  Brown, the senior transfer from Utah, had his best game in a CU uniform, dropping 28 points and 7 rebounds over his 35 minutes of play.
With 'Dre and the Mayor off their games, it took senior leadership to win.  From: the BDC
The Buffs also turned in another superlative defensive effort, holding the Cougars to under 37% shooting.  The Buffs haven't allowed a team to shoot over 40% since the Wyoming disaster last month, and haven't allowed a team to score 70 or more since the overtime game at Air Force back in November.  Coach Boyle wants his teams to thrive on their defensive effort, and it's working.  All the Cougar missed shots made for fast break opportunities, which enabled the Buffs to bust open the WSU zone. 

Playing against a zone is a brutal, nasty business, utterly dependent on a team's ability to get out on the break and make jumpshots.  The Buffs seem much more comfortable against the 2-3 now, and are a better team as a result.  After Saturday, I doubt the book on the BasketBuffs will still read "throw some zone at them."

CU now heads to Northern California to play two of the best teams in the conference: Cal and Stanford.

You want title discussion, you got title discussion - 

I was asked repeatedly over the weekend if CU has a chance at winning the inaugural Pac-12 title. (My God, only weeks ago we were wondering if the Wyoming result meant the End Times were upon us) A chance yes, everyone has a chance, but it's far too soon to realistically start considering that possibility.  The Buffs have yet to play on the road, where the program has always struggled, and there's still 15 games to play.  Remember, the team got off to a quick 3-0 start last season, only to drop back to earth through four straight losses, three of which came on the road.

Still, what manner of circumstances would it take for a Black-and-Gold celebration?  It'd have to be a situation where 13 wins would take the crown; this is not out of the question with this season's Pac-12, as inconsistency, even from good teams, plagues the league.

To get to 13 wins, CU would need to start with a sweep of the home slate.  (The team is already a third of the way there, but even great teams can struggle to sweep the home schedule.)  That would leave only four road wins to find.  I can easily find three (USC, ASU, and Utah) but have trouble finding a potential fourth.  It would take a road upset, probably in Palo Alto or Corvallis, for this fantasy-land Buffs squad to get to 13 wins.

Let's see if I'm still getting these questions after the upcoming trip to the Bay Area.  I bet I'm not.

The women get back on their feet -

The perfect season was washed away Thursday night in Seattle, leaving the Buffs to pick up the pieces over the short trip to Pullman, WA.  It went down to the wire, but the women were able to pull out a 57-56 victory, giving the Lady Buffs a respectable 2-1 start to conference play with the entirety of their home schedule remaining.
I had a brutal time finding photos of the game, so here's this bullshit screengrab from the WSU website I made.         Look!  The game actually happened!
Once again, CU had to come back from a double-digit second-half deficit.  It took CU scoring the final 7 points of the ballgame, and a missed shot on a open look by the Cougars, to complete the comeback.  Freshman Jen Reese recorded her first career double-double, and senior Chucky Jeffrey was one board shy of her own.

Washington State is a pretty good team, and it's a great road win for CU.  CU now stands at 13-1 on the season, with a 2-1 record in conference play.  The team comes home to face Cal on Thursday evening, before facing off against #4 Stanford on Saturday.  I'm ready to buy in with this team, and I'm going to check out at least one of these games.  I suggest you do too.

Teasing the BCS title game -

Ugh, this match-up, again?  I was one of the few who enjoyed the regular season tilt between these two, mostly because I like defense.  When last they met, the modern offense was set back 20 years as they combined for a bleak 15 points with neither team cracking 300 yards.  Since "chicks dig the long ball," I thought for sure that voters would do anything possible to avoid the rematch; since OSU is nowhere to be seen, I guess herd mentality is as strong as ever.  The national title game no one wants will kick off this evening at 6:30 MT.

While I enjoyed the first matchup, I'm not exactly keen to see it again.  Much like Hangover 2, since I've seen the first one, there's not much point to the second.  I could care less who wins.  An SEC circle jerk shouldn't determine our national champion, no matter how much people want to deify the conference. 
Much like the Honey Badger himself, I don't give a shit.
Since I have the full DirecTV package, with a myriad of viewing alternatives, I'll probably find something else to watch tonight.

LSU (I don't care) - 'Bama (who gives a shit)

Happy Monday!

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