Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: On the Verge of Choking

Choking in sports is a brutal thing to watch.  The transformation of champion into chump is a viscerally brutal thing to watch.  Even me, lover of all thing schadenfreude, has trouble watching a team choke away a sure thing, which is why this weekend made for easy viewing.

Today in the bag I will talk about three teams, and their successful attempts to avoid a full-out collapse when it mattered most.  I may only care about one of these teams, and even that stretches the meaning of the word "care," but it doesn't make their triumph over their self-made adversity any less compelling.

Click below for the bag...

Women's Golf Team avoids massive embarrassment - 

Through the first two rounds of the NCAA Western Regional, the CU Women's Golf Team seemed to be doing their best to choke away a sure thing.  Despite the comfort associated with playing on their home course, back-to-back indifferent efforts to open the tournament had the Buffs sitting in 9th place headed into Saturday's action.  With only the top-8 teams moving on to nationals, the mood was as bleak as the overcast skies. 

The prospect of an early end to the season seemingly lit a fire under the Buffs, who came out Saturday afternoon playing spectacular golf.  For the first time in school history all five golfers finished the round under par, with the team posting a school post-season record 9-under par round.  The final round blitz propelled CU up the leaderboard to fourth place, easily securing a ticket to the national final in Nashville.
Relief, thy name is Buffalo.  From:
Leading the way for the Black and Gold was senior Emily Talley, who dropped a 4-under 68 when it mattered most.  Sophomore Kristin Coleman also shot under 70 on Saturday, and the duo ended up tied for 16th place on the individual board.

Kudos to the ladies for performing well in the clutch, and good luck in Nashville!

Man City triumph in added time - 

I don't know where in our sporting past America got the idea that soccer isn't a respectable sport, but games like the Man City/QPR match from the weekend should grab the attention of any true sports fan.

Needing only to match the result of crosstown rival Manchester United to earn the league title, the team lovingly known as Citeh took to their home pitch against relegation warriors Queens Park Rangers. With Man-U seemingly home with a 1-0 win over Sunderland (the games were being played at the same time), that would mean Man City would have to come away with the 'W.'  Think of it as the Packers needing a home win over the Browns to win the Super Bowl.  Should be a sure thing.  City took the inevitable 1-0 lead into halftime. So far so good. 

At the time, QPR thought they would need at least a tie, if not an outright win, to avoid relegation, leaving the Rangers scrambling for goals to start the second half.  Successive QPR goals in the 48th and 66th minutes edged the Rangers out of the relegation zone, and left a stunned Man City searching for recourse over the games final third.

The pain in the stands was palpable.  Despite a barrage of shots, and QPR playing down a man due to Joey Barton (the English version of Ron Artest) being Joey Barton, City couldn't crack the QPR goal for even an equalizer. It had been 44 years since their last league crown, and an epic home collapse was going to hand the title to their hated crosstown rival.  Into stoppage time, it looked beyond hopeless.

Then, along came a miracle.  With the season down to mere moments, City somehow scored back-to-back goals in stoppage time.  The winner was cracked home by Sergio Aguero in what might have been the final possession (the nebulous flow of stoppage time leaves the ending up to interpretation).  It was one of the most exciting finishes in sporting history, leaving grown men weeping, and much of the lower bowl of City Stadium emptying onto the pitch.
Stand up for the champions!  From: ESPN
Going back to that Packers/Browns analogy, imagine if the Packers had to drive the length of the field, score, recover an onside kick, and complete a hail-mary all in the 2-minute drill to win the title.  ESPN would explode.  That's what happened this weekend.

Mind blown.

Lakers gag on, but eventually spit out, raw chunk of Nuggets -  

I'll give the Nuggets credit, they played it tougher than I expected.  Down 16 mid-way through the 3rd quarter, almost everyone thought the game was over.  The Nuggets, however, are apparently made of sterner stuff than I thought, and a furiously exciting comeback by Denver saw them claw out a lead in the 4th.  Kobe was non-existant, the Nuggets had the momentum, and LA seemed on the cusp of choking away a game 7 at home.

It was not to be, however.  Order was restored as the Lakers took advantage of numerous second-looks to push past Denver in the final minutes.  Twin towers Paul Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined 15/15 (with 10 offensive boards) in the 4th quarter alone, proving far too much for young JaVale McGee to contend with.
Gasol and Bynum were too much.  From: the Post
I was surprised that Gasol, who seems to be aging terribly, had enough in the tank to crash the boards like he did in the 4th.  A lot of it has to do with the fact that Denver had no reliable size to counter him with, but, none-the-less, he showed up when he needed to.

Happy Monday!

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