Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: All good things must come to an end

I had just gotten out of work on Friday afternoon when I got the call: there's an opening in a car headed towards Albuquerque.  Through the benevolence of friends already in New Mexico, the cost of the trip would be reduced to game tickets, food/drink, and gas.  I found the deal too good to pass up, and by 7 o'clock I was on I-25 south.

Even in defeat, I'm glad I was there.  The scene at the Pit was incredible, with a huge contingent of Buff fans turning the place into something oddly reminiscent of the CEC.  It was an experience worth having, and a memory worth saving.

Today in the bag, I'll be recapping the game in New Mexico, tipping my cap to the departing seniors, and picking up the pieces from my destroyed bracket.

Click below for the bag...

A Canadian road block -

With 10 minutes to play, the Buffs found themselves with a lead, and were in sight of a trip to the Sweet 16.  It was all downhill from there, with Baylor kick-starting a barrage of 3s that essentially ended the game.  Having played 6 games in 11 days, the Buffs were gassed, and a comeback was impossible.  The Bears cruised through the final few minutes, and claimed the 80-63 win.

The only hard part with accepting CU's loss is the fact that gameplan was working.  Despite big advantages in size, length, and athleticism, the Buffs had stymied the Baylor forward corps.  6-10 forwards, who on paper should've dominated the smaller Buffs, were settling for jumpers, and CU looked more than capable of beating the statistically better Bears.
CU kept the imposing Baylor forward corps at bay.  From: the BDC
But it was not to be.  The old bugaboo of perimeter defense raised its ugly head as guards Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson combined for 42 points.  Outside of those two, Baylor shot a pedestrian 38% from the field.

Heslip, especially, paved the way for Baylor victory, as he shot an insane 9-12 from beyond the arc.  He took a page from NBA Jam, and rode his fire status throughout the game.  CU simply couldn't contain the Canadian sharpshooter, with six tired guards each taking a turn at getting burned by the cocky bastard. Considering his only other contributions to the affair were a rebound, a turnover, and an assist, to call him one-dimensionally excellent would be an understatement.  The hard reality of basketball is that sometimes guys get hot, and that there's little you can do to stop them.
CU forgot to watch out for Scott.  He's a dick.  From: the BDC
The Buffs were much more balanced in defeat, with four players scoring in double figures.  Freshman Askia Booker again had a nice evening in Albuquerque, shooting a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc en route to scoring 15 to lead the Buffs.  Seniors Carlon Brown and Austin Dufault combined for 27 points, while the ever reliable Andre Roberson chipped in 13/8 against an imposing quartet of taller forwards.
An unfitting end to a glorious season.  From: the BDC
The loss ends the incredible 2-week run CU used to scratch and claw their way into the national basketball discussion.  Despite the lousy final 10 minutes in ABQ, the Buffs can hold their heads high, having done what was thought impossible at the beginning of the month.

A final bow - 

The four Buffalo seniors (Austin Dufault, Nate Tomlinson, Carlon Brown, and Trey Eckloff) each saw their collegiate careers end in New Mexico with the Baylor loss.  I'd be hard pressed to find a more successful class in the program's modern era (post-opening of the CEC).  With a record setting 24 wins in back-to-back seasons (the first back-to-back 20+ win campaigns in school history), they've helped lay the foundation for future success.
This group has a lot to be proud of.  From: the BDC
From the bottom of the Big XII in their freshman year, to the top of the Pac-12 and a trip to the Dance this season, they've done themselves and their university proud.

It's hard to see them go out with a loss, but only two teams worth mentioning will end with wins this season (the winners of the NCAA and NIT).  Still, they all participated in something worth celebrating over the past two weeks, and gave Buff Nation the best senior class gift I could think of.

Bracket busted - 

I don't know about you, but my bracket was torn to shreds over the weekend.  What had started out very well through chalk-heavy Thursday afternoon, turned into a bracket nightmare once the weekend kicked into gear.  #2 seeds Missouri and Duke each choked on bite-sized morsels Norfolk St and Lehigh, costing me a Final Four and a Sweet Sixteen slot respectively.  All told, I only correctly picked 9 of 16 Sweet Sixteen teams correctly, and have already lost at least one winner in each of the next two rounds.

The moral of this story is that brackets are a crap shoot.  It had been 11 years since the last #15 winner, but Friday night saw it happen twice.  Madness reigns.

Happy Monday!

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