Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Grab Bag: Presidents' Day Edition

I spent Presidents' Day weekend up at Steamboat, enjoying a brief respite from the work and worries of the Front Range.  You wouldn't have found me up on the slopes, however.  I flat refuse to ski, as I find the sport akin to a masochistic death wish.  Why anyone would want to hurtle themselves down a perfectly good mountain is lost on me.  No, I spent my time in the hot tub, walking around town, and watching the Buffs struggle against Utah. 

That mini-cation in the rear-view, it's time to focus on the stretch run.  Today in the bag, I'll be wrapping the win over Utah, searching for Carlon Brown, and talking about the recently uncovered CU fanbase.

Click below for the bag...

Close your eyes, and think of Boulder - 

The final read 55-48 CU, but the game was much closer than that.  The contest remained in doubt all the way up to the final minutes, with Utah tying the score at 44 with under five minutes to go.  CU managed to put it away late, however, shooting 5-6 from the line in the final seconds to seal the result.

It certainly wasn't prettyWith CU struggling, and Utah as skilled as their 5-21 (2-12) record would suggest, it took until the 14:34 mark before either team could score.  The biggest issue was anemic 8-27 shooting in the first half, which kept Utah in the game at the break, and allowed a sleepy SLC crowd to stay interested in the proceedings.  The first hardwood rematch of the Rumble in the Rockies was unwatchable because Utah forgot to show up in Boulder.  The return trip to SLC was equally rough on the eyes because the contending Buffs allowed a lousy Ute team to stay close for far too long. 

The lone bright spot for CU was found in the dependable performance of Andre Roberson.  The double-double machine provided 12/16/3 for the victors.  Interestingly enough, Roberson, the team leader in FT attempts, never managed to get to the line.  For the Utes, they also relied on an interior presence, leaning on Jason Washburn's 16/10 performance to keep it close.
Roberson and the Buffs scratched and clawed their way to victory.  Now, let's never mention it again.  From: the BDC
It was an overall train wreck of a game, one that defines the concept of "a W is a W."  That CU escaped the horror show in SLC with their pride and title hopes still intact is about the only thing of significant note from Saturday's action.  Best to forget it and move on to Stanford.

Searching for Carlon Brown -

Senior transfer guard Carlon Brown had yet another forgettable performance on Saturday, as he shot 17% from the field en route to a 5/2 effort.  I'm sure that wasn't the type of return he was looking for, as the transfer from Utah was back in SLC for the first time since leaving the Ute program two years ago.  He was even heckled by the Utah student section every time he touched the ball, and you could just sense he desperately wanted to hit a few shots to shut them up.

The problem is, his disappearing act from Saturday has become all too common this season.

Since starting off conference play on a high note, shooting 61% and averaging over 18 points in the first three Pac-12 games, he's cooled off drastically, scoring less than 10 points per and shooting under 35% over the last 11 conference contests.  What's more, his 3-point shooting has really dropped off, as he's only managed 19% shooting from beyond the arc since the Washington series in early January.
Brown has really struggled since big-time performances to start Pac-12 play.
Exacerbating the situation, I think there's a direct link between his shooting woes and some shaky defense seen over the past few weeks.  When he's hitting his shots, he seems to be a lot more active on the defensive side of the ball; as the percentage drops, you see his man get open far too often.

It's made for an ugly and painful watch as the senior has struggled over the past two months.  The team really depends on his play, and he took a risk transferring out of the Utah program in search of a greener pasture that just hasn't been there.  He's getting the minutes, but the production just hasn't equaled his potential.  I have to wonder if he's hurt, because the high-flyer seen back in early January has all but disappeared from the Buffs bench.

I really hope he finds his shot over the final two weeks of the season.  The team needs his leadership and production if it's going to get anywhere in March.

If you build it, they will come - 

The mantra from "Field of Dreams" is as true today as it was when the movie came out.  In this case, if you build a winning basketball program, people will turn out to see it.

With Cal and Stanford coming to town this weekend, and the team still in the hunt for the program's first conference title in over 40 years, it's expected that the CEC will see its third and fourth sellouts of the season.  It's even been done without the benefit of the large visiting sections seen in the Big XII days.

Combined with the craziness from last year, that would make nine sellouts in two seasons.  Add to that a non-conference attendance level not seen in years, and the Buffs are shattering recent attendance records.  Not too bad for a program that routinely played before empty arenas since well before I showed up in Boulder.

What's more, the C-Unit student section is gaining in size and national notoriety.  They made the Sweet Sixteen of a Facebook contest to determine the best student section in America, and are even in the running to make it to the Elite Eight.  How that came to be is beyond me, as I easily remember days of student sections smaller than recitations.
(From: the C-Unit)

As a reward for their increased attendance and support of the program, the Athletic Department is even sponsoring 50 of the most loyal C-Unit members for a free trip to LA and the Pac-12 tournament.  It's almost like we're a real basketball school now!

Happy Monday Tuesday!

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