Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, December 6, 2012

CSU wrap

"You just kind of see when the little brother beats the big brother once, then they are going to be happy, they are going to rush the court. When we win tomorrow night, I don’t think our fans are going to do that.” (-link)

When "the Mayor" speaks, everyone should listen.  His pregame statement - all but guaranteeing victory, calling CSU "little brother," and shaming them for rushing the court last season - was hasty, but I have to give the man credit: he backs up his words with actions.  The Buffs did win (70-61), Spencer was the primary reason for the victory, and the C-Unit did not rush the court to celebrate the win.
The C-Unit was in fine form yesterday.  From: the BDC
That last bit, the C-Unit not rushing the court, was certainly a statement.  Not only did they not rush, but I didn't even see a crush of students trying to rush.  All 2,500 students just stood there cheering; while happy, they could've been celebrating any win over a strong opponent.  Nothing special, moving on.  I hope the 50 or so CSU students who made the trip got the message.

If not for a blistering start, however, things may have turned out differently. CU rushed out to a quick 9-0 lead, which set the tone for the game's first 20 minutes.  What turned out to be a record-setting crowd of 11,708 created an electric atmosphere that propelled the Buffs to a 25-point lead with 93 seconds to go in the first frame.  The Buffs could seemingly do no wrong, and CSU looked completely out-of-sorts playing in the environment. At the break, the Buffs were shooting 60%, while the Rams could only scrape together 30% shooting from the field.  The game was threatening to become a rout.

Half-time couldn't have come soon enough for the Rams.  They used the break to settle down, and they came out of the tunnel looking like the quality team they are.  A quick 8-1 run to open the 2nd half got their blood pumping, and a 10-0 run at the 10-minute mark cut the 20-point halftime deficit all the way down to three.

But all that effort to close the gap came at a price.  For almost the entire second half the Rams had been throwing their starters at the lead, and they were exhausted.  In contrast, since the Buffs were so far ahead, Coach Boyle was afforded the opportunity the find adequate rest for his starters.  At the six and a half minute mark, when CSU closed the gap to three, Coach Boyle put his fresh starters back into the game, and CU responded with a 9-1 run which all but slammed the door on the Rams.  Despite seven missed CU free throws in the final three minutes, there was no coming back, and the Buffs walked away with a nine-point win.

The big individual story was, of course, the play of Spencer Dinwiddie.  The term "on fire" doesn't even begin to describe his performance last night. When CU roared out to that blistering first half start, it was Dinwiddie that keyed the runs.  When CU struggled in the second half to hold off the charging Rams, it was Dinwiddie who answered with clutch buckets to keep the Buffs afloat. All told, 8-10 shooting from the field, 5-7 from beyond the arc, and 8-10 from the line.  The sensational sophomore point guard dropped 29 points on little brother to carry CU to a much-needed win.
It was Spencer's night from the opening tip.  From: the BDC
He made it sound so simple after the game:
"I just hit my shots. When shots go in, you'll score. It was more the way they were playing defense. I have the utmost confidence in my three-point shot. They continued to squeeze the ball screen so the big man stayed right behind our big man, then the guy who was guarding me tried to go under two people. When you're shorter than me and you're trying to go under two people and then you're trying to come back around and close out the shot, the likelihood that he is going to get to the shot is very low. So, I just tried to stop behind my big man and just pull up and have faith they weren't going to be able to get to the shot."
I guess we just have to thank CSU for not adjusting on the screens.  But, considering how well Spencer has been playing of late, I don't know how much of a difference those adjustments would've made.  Since returning from Charleston, he's been averaging 23 points per game, while boasting a triple-slash line of 58%/56%/80%.  That's some serious work.

As hot as Spencer has been this past fortnight, however, his back-court partner Askia Booker has been equally as cold.  An ugly 3-point attempt in the opening minutes yesterday evening miraculously banked in, but after that it was all downhill for the Charleston Classic MVP.  He shot only 2-11 from the field, and even struggled from the line, shooting a paltry 1-of-5 from the charity stripe. It's his second-straight brutally cold performance.
Dude needs a slumpbuster, fast.  From: the BDC
Since coming back from Charleston, Ski has been mired in a slump.  Over the last four games he's only shooting 25% from the field.  As a result, I think it's high time that we introduce him to the concept of a "slumpbuster."  My dude, call up an escort service. Ask for the fattest, ugliest working girl they have, and - remember to wrap it up, of course - get it out of your system.

Turning to the front-court, super forward Andre Roberson had a great game.  He provided yet another double-double (his fourth straight) with his 15/14 performance.  With CSU rebounding as well as they can, for 'Dre to come down with 14 boards speaks volumes.
A day after his 21st birthday, 'Dre played like the top-flight forward he is.  From: the BDC
Yesterday evening also saw the return of Shane Harris-Tunks from hibernation.  This was a matchup tailor-made for the big Aussie.  Against big Ram front man Colton Iverson, Shane's bulk was sorely needed on defense.  Shane's performance on the defensive end allowed him to build confidence, which translated to the other side of the court, where he chipped in seven points to round out his evening.  With talismanic freshman Josh Scott struggling to gain traction against the bulky CSU front line, Shane's efforts were vital to the cause.

All-in-all, yesterday evening made for a great night of Front Range hoops.  The crowd was excellent, both teams played well, and the Buffs won.  I couldn't have asked for anything more.  The weekend trip to Kansas looms large, however, and the Buffs will need to play more like they did in the first half, and less like they did in the second, if they have any hope of upsetting the #9 Jayhawks.

Onwards and upwards...

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