Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Season Preview... er ... preview

We're just over a month away from the start of basketball season, which means I have about a month to finish my typically massive season preview.  It's still a ways from completion, but I've included a few sample sections to whet your appetite.  Enjoy.

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Let's get used to saying this out-loud: the defending conference champion Colorado Buffaloes. Doesn't it just pop?  Half the fun of winning a title is spouting off "defending champion" every five seconds, and I plan to lean heavily on that crutch this season.  CU may not run the table in Vegas this spring, but I sure as hell can remind everyone they turned the trick in LA last year.

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As an exercise, I sometimes like to think back to where the program was at the end of the Ricardo Patton era:
  • Players often had to practice at local high school and middle school gyms when the CEC was otherwise being used for academics or other winter sports.
  • Coaches offices were at the football stadium, often requiring a snowy trudge to-and-from Folsom during the winter months.
  • Video boards at the CEC were so antiquated that the mere thought of seeing a replay in-stadium was laughable.
  • CU even had a former football star as a color analyst on basketball broadcasts (Charles Johnson).
It was not a first-class organization, a fact that was painfully evident to boosters, players, and potential recruits alike.  Seeing the program in such a state, Athletic Director Mike Bohn went about injecting steroids into the historically below-average program.  Through five years of fundraising and departmental focus, the program has enjoyed the following improvements:
  • A dedicated practice facility built at Coors.  This has allowed players to practice on their schedule, while keeping all teams on campus.  It has also helped facilitate an immediate boost to recruiting, even back before completion.
  • New coaching offices were constructed at the CEC.
  • Dedicated strength and conditioning facilities were built at Coors, along with upgrades to the old locker rooms.
  • New video and ribbon boards were installed, making in-game experience better for the fans.
  • The student section was moved to a more logical location, allowing them to become more involved in the home atmosphere.  Additionally, money and institutional support has helped build a long-term organization.
  • The basketball band now has a dedicated director (formerly handled by disinterested TA's).
Everything has improved in the basketball program.  Attitude, on-court competitiveness, recruiting, game-day atmosphere, long-term sustainability... you name it, and it's seen an upgrade over the past half-decade. And the total cost to improve the program?  Around $20 million in new outlays.  By comparison, the proposals to improve the football program have been well north of the $200 million range, and could still take a decade to bear fruit.

Just look at the recent implementation of HD video boards at Folsom.  They cost $7 million to install, and some fans are still complaining about the size (for the record, I think they look great).  By comparison, the entire cost of building the new practice facility at the CEC was slightly less than $11 million.              

God, I love basketball.

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Every minute spent playing in Europe is worth it's weight in gold by getting the newcomers used to playing at a higher level.  Ten extra practices, five extra games, and a month spent growing closer as a team.  The perfect trip came along at the perfect time for this growing program.

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- Josh Scott, 6-10, 215lbs, Fr from Colorado Springs, CO - #40 -

There's a lot of expectations resting on the big man's shoulders. Probably the most highly regarded recruit in the last decade of the program, he is expected to make an immediate impact in the paint, becoming the consistent inside scoring threat the Buffs have lacked since the David Harrison era.  Coach Boyle even allowed the name Tim Duncan to be invoked when discussing the former Lewis-Palmer star.

Yet, despite the magnitude of the hype, the Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year may be capable of living up to it.  Rough statistical projections are placing him in the upper echelon of Pac-12 big men, and Jelly Scott dominated during the European pre-season trip, averaging over 17 points per game, and leading the team in scoring in four of the five games.  His post offense skill set is ready to go, and should pair well with slashers like 'Dre and Spencer.

He's not a complete package yet, with most experts agreeing that he needs to continue to work on improving his size, strength, and jump shot, but his current repertoire will be a revelation to most CU hoops fans who haven't seen a post player of his caliber in Black-and-Gold for a decade.

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If there's any problem that I have with Coach Boyle's scheduling policy, it's that the non-conference schedule still features far too many games with teams typically in the RPI 250+.  Besides sometimes being a tough sell at the box office (especially on snowy December nights), these games are a lose-lose proposition when considering RPI. 

This recent article from Sports Illustrated does a particularly good job underscoring the point: "It's almost always better to play a mid-major that'll go on to have 20-plus wins than it is a cupcake mid- or low-major, or a basement-dweller from a major conference."  If the Pitt portion of that article is to believed, it'll even save the program some money.  If you want to see how this problem can kill an at-large resume, just look back to the 2010-11 season where games against RPI killers Texas-Pan American, The Citadel, Longwood, and Maryland Eastern Shore butchered the RPI, and left the Buffs on the outside of the Committee's plans.
I blame UMES.
Especially considering that Pac-12 play produced two RPI 250+ teams last year (Utah and USC), it's important to build out the schedule in such a way that RPI is boosted by CU's non-conference schedule, rather than hindered by it.  Adding the series against Kansas is a great start, and recent SoCon power Wofford certainly fits the bill, but the Northern Arizona, Hartford, and especially Texas Southern games are probably more trouble then they are worth.  Hell, it's probably better to schedule a D-II school (like CU did with Ft Lewis last season), than repeatedly schedule a D-I dreg like TSU.

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The 2012-13 CU fanbase pledge.

Repeat after me:

I, (state your name), will not get discouraged should this team lose early season games to quality opponents.  I realize that basketball is not football, and that a few early losses are not disqualifying events.  I further recognize that Coach Boyle's teams start slow, and that a young team needs time to grow. I will continue to stay positive, even if this team enters finals break at 5-5.  I believe in all that is Tad, and will continue to pack the CEC, regardless of how the KU and CSU games go.

Also, fuck Baylor.

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Look for the full preview towards the end of the month.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Scott is still a dick.

Eat a dick, scott

Anonymous said...

He's in the pac-12... where are you? Eat a pepper crusted Schwanz!