I've struggled since the final moments of the Pac-12 championship game to turn my incoherent syllables of joy into meaningful thought about the state of the program. I guess today is that later date to rearrange them into a cogent narrative...
To whet your appetite, both for this preview, and the forthcoming season, I encourage you to take a look at the wrap-up video from LA, courtesy of BuffVision and RootSports:
Wasn't that fun? Doesn't it make you want to jump up and start singing the fight song right now?
The hoops program is dominating conference opponents, bringing home titles, and representing well in the post-season. The football program... well, that's just better left unsaid. BuffNation, we need to be honest with ourselves: we're a basketball school now.
I can already hear the howling: "but football brings in more money, and basketball can't even get more than 3,000 fans to attend their season kickoff!" If it was based on money spent, or other financial factors, even obvious hoops schools like UCLA, Kentucky, and Kansas would have to be considered football schools. Absurd. Football is expensive, and cost is therefore not a fair indicator. As for attendance, I think 3,000 fans at BuffsMadness was a good start, considering it was the first event of it's kind, it sprung up out of nowhere, and was poorly advertised during the lead-up. No, the difference between basketball school and football school is all mental.
Seriously, what has dominated your thoughts all summer? I bet a plurality of Buff Nation spent more time daydreaming about Coach Boyle and winning than they did focusing on the football team and negativity. Let me put it another way: collegiate athletics is just a large marketing tool used to make money and sell the academic brand. What do you think is a better way to sell CU right now: Folsom, beautiful as she may be, half-filled with forlorn and bored football fans, or the CEC, jam-packed and simmering with excitement? Saturday's in Folsom, when things are going right, are special beyond description, but those days are five years removed at this point.
|Winning is more fun than losing.|
I'm not saying the change will be permanent, or even long-lived. Colorado, the state, is, to it's core, a football mad society (much like the rest of the country, for that matter). But, for the time being at least, we're a basketball school. Almost every positive mention of CU athletics for the last three years has come from the basketball side of things, and we need to embrace that fact.
If those of you in the old guard are still up in arms over any hoops junky trying to wrest the football loving mantle from this university, just remember that the children born immediately after the Buffs last bowl victory are sitting in 3rd grade classrooms. Those born after the last hoops post season victory? Well, most of them have still yet to learn to walk. The athletic perception of this school now resides with the fortunes won or lost on Sox Walseth Court.
Conference champions, lone Pac-12 team to advance past the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, biggest home court advantage in the West...
The 2011-12 Buffaloes have been labeled by many as the best team in program history. That's a lofty standard to live up to. The funny thing is, going into last season, the consensus was that the program was going to take a slight step backward from the Alec Burks lead 2010-11 squad. Instead, the program took a massive, and almost entirely unexpected, leap forward.
Things rarely go according to plan, but that tired old saying can also work to your benefit. Despite losing 75% of offensive production from the previous season, the Buffs turned in a bravura sequel to the joys of 2010-11. They proved countless doubters and pundits wrong, while raising the bar for basketball along the Front Range.
It's hard to remember in the after-glow of a championship, but the Buffs finished 6th in the Pac-12 last season. By the start of March, they were floundering in a sea of bad play, and at risk of slipping out of even the NIT before they took off for LA
"You look back on it and think, 'How the hell did we do that?' We lost three of four games going into [the Pac-12 tournament]," coach Tad Boyle said. "We were going in there seeing if we could beat Utah [in the first round]. Then we got on a roll and our guys started believing." (-link)Such are the vagaries of March that a starburst 5-game win streak can turn an above-average team into one of the 32-best in the land. The lesson, of course, is that predictions are funny things, just as often wrong as right. You can spend every waking hour looking at statistics and correlating factors, yet still end up miles off base. That won't stop me from trying, however.
How does this team try and advance the program further than the previous two seasons? How does Coach Boyle live up to the expectations that he has worked so hard to create? Is the specter of a backwards step about to become a reality?
So, grab a beer, strap in, and click below for the preview...