Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Grab Bag: The Ghosts of Buffs Past and Future

The countdown to football has dipped under 50 days, and baseball is back from its lengthy break.  Slowly, but surely, summer is ending.  It's odd, when I was a kid, summer used to go by so quickly, and I never wanted to see it end.  Now I can't wait for fall, where temperatures are "normal" and the sporting world is vibrant and alive.

A trio of Buff-related items awaits below the jump.  I'll be talking the latest CU Hall of Fame class, the end of the Pac-12/Big-10 scheduling cabal, and the potential of a final "throwback" game in Balch Fieldhouse.

It's also worth you time to check out Thorburn's latest freshman interview, this time featuring Wesley Gordon.

Click below for the bag...

Pac-12/Big-10 scheduling cabal breaks apart - 

The Pac-12/Big-10 scheduling arrangement, which would have guaranteed a matchup with a school from the Midwestern super-conference every year starting in 2017, is no more.  The fault apparently lies solely with the Pac-12, where at least four schools vetoed the deal, citing the burden of adding another big-6 opponent to a schedule that mandates nine conference games.   It's a fair point, as nine conference games, a non-conference rivalry series, and a Big-10 opponents make 11 out of the 12 games on a schedule an intractable burden.

I can't help but think that, at one point, Larry Scott and his crew in the Pac-12 administration thought they could get the in-conference slate reduced from nine to eight games over the next few years.  The nine game schedule was always going to be an issue, and Larry just doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would half-ass the planning stage.  But, for whatever reason, there remains a lot of love on the West Coast for a 9-game conference slate, even though it makes less sense with the addition of two teams.  Instead of matchups between USC and Michigan, Stanford and Ohio State, we're stuck with a few more rounds of WSU/ASU.  Whoopee!

While the deal wasn't to kick in for another five years, many schools, including CU, had already begun inking deals with teams from the other league.  As far as I know, those deals will stay in place.

The collapse of this agreement may shed a little light on the reasoning behind the controversial one-off deal with Michigan, which was announced last month.  Beyond the $1.5 million payout, with the rumored matchup with Purdue off the table, taking any opportunity to get a game in the region makes at least some sense.  Mike Bohn has often expressed a desire to get a game in the Chicagoland Area, and, with Purdue off the table, taking Michigan's money is a begrudgingly acceptable compromise.

The biggest bummer is that the league can no longer hold a gun to Tom Osbourne's head, compelling him to slink back into Boulder and face BuffNation's wrath.  Mike Bohn will have to find some other avenue to get the Huskers back up to Folsom.

Jack Harvey and Leason McCloud headed into CU Hall of Fame -

Late last week, CU announced that there would be 12 new members of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.  Football luminaries like Rashaan Salaam and Joe Garten caught the attention of most casual observers, but my eyes immediately fell to two of CU's forgotten basketball heroes soon to be enshrined: Jack Harvey and Leason McCloud

At a time when the sport was still developing, this pair of BasketBuffs helped CU dominate the West.  They both earned All-American honors on the hardwood at the dawn of the WWII era, with Harvey earning the honor twice in '38-'39 and '39-'40.  

Harvey, the school's only two-time All-American in the sport, used his stifling defense to help lead CU to back-to-back conference titles and a #1 ranking (yes, the Buffs were once worthy of being #1).  The team's defense was so difficult to score upon, that opponents could only manage 31.5 ppg in '38-39.  While primarily a defender, Harvey also set a then school record with 27 points in a game against DU.
Harvey's defense gained him recognition as one of basketball's best. (From:
McCloud, preposterously nicknamed the "Great America Eagle of the Hardwood," turned down an offer from KU to play in Boulder, and became the 3rd in a line of successive All-American performers at CU during the period.  Along with Harvey, Jim Willcoxon (AA in '39-40), and Bob Doll (also '42), McCloud helped turn the Buffs into a powerhouse program.  Besides his All-American honors in '41-'42, he helped lead the Buffs to their first Final Four, a #1 ranking in February of '42, and a 43-12 mark over his three seasons on the court.
McCloud, and his "silky-smooth shot," were a force to be reckoned with. (From:
It's a well-deserved, and long overdue, honor for the two men.

One final game for Balch Fieldhouse? 

Continuing with the theme of BasketBuffs history, Kyle Ringo passed along the concept of one final basketball game in old Balch Fieldhouse.  Apparently the idea of Coach Tad Boyle, the proposal includes a "retro-night" in the old gymnasium, with one of the late-December non-conference games playing the leading role. 
Imagine this, only with basketball.
Of course there are some hurdles.  The South Balcony is beyond repair, and couldn't be brought up to code for an event this size, meaning the entirety of seating would need to be temporary bleachers.  What's more, since CU auctioned off the old basketball court, I have no idea where they'd get a playing surface for a one-time deal such as this.  Add in some questions surrounding the ability to broadcast the event, and there's more questions than answers at this point.

Difficulties aside, I'm still very excited by the concept.  For a school which rarely recognizes its hardwood past, to give the old barn one last show, with the resulting homages to our hoops history, would be a welcome change of pace.  The building that once housed Jack Harvey, Leason McCloud, and the dominating CU teams of the mid-20th Century is tentatively scheduled for massive refurbishment in the near-future, and this may be the last chance to see the arena as it once was.
While the South Balcony would remain vacant, they should get to see one last game before refurbishment.
Even if ticketing was limited to a few thousand, and even if attendees had to fork over premium pricing for the event, I'd be in favor.  Just to be in there, with the vaulted roof and the old walls surrounding the event, would be a magical experience.  It may be difficult, even pricey, to bring this idea to fruition, but I'd hate to see the idea die without first seeing a cost estimate.

Let's give it a shot!

Happy Monday!

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