Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: Swing and a Miss

Well, CU couldn't complete the Bay Area sweep.  A split will have to suffice headed into the regular season's final week.  I'm not completely disappointed.  It's hard to sweep on the road, and one win out West was all that the doctor was really asking for.  4th place would've been nice, but the team now needs to re-group, and finish the season strong.

Today in the bag, I'm talking the loss in Berkeley, the women's sweep in Oregon, and Coach K's bitch-face.

Click below for the bag...

Men lose in Berkeley - 

It certainly didn't go down the way I thought it would.  The Buffs were battered and bruised inside by a pair of unheralded Bears, and Cal easily brushed past the cold-shooting Buffaloes 62-46.

In a complete reversal from the game in Boulder, the Buffs were held to a pathetic 23% from the floor, and were out-rebounded by 10.  The shooting was, by far, the biggest concern, with the team only making 15 shots.  The young Buffs whiffed on everything from easy 8-foot runners and layups, to contested threes and mid-range jumpers.  I've seen this program lay some stinkers on the road before, but this was up there.
Usually reliable Colorado stars had disappointing efforts. While freshman Xavier Johnson had another strong game (14-7), Spencer Dinwiddie finished a paltry 2-15 from the field, Josh Scott, fresh off of a concussion, finished a similarly shaky 2-10, and Andre Roberson only managed to chip in 9/5 while making a relatively minor impact defensively.

To be fair, it wasn't 'Dre's fault. He was tasked with guarding Cal's backcourt, and while he did an admirable job holding Cal's super guard Allen Crabbe to only eight points, the effort left him too far from the basket to wreak his normal havoc.  With 'Dre away, lurking out on the perimeter, Cal was allowed to exploit an unexpected advantage in the paint.  The Buffs ended up getting bowled over by David Kravish and Tyrone Wallace, a pair of one-time CU recruiting targets who combined for 30/22 after only combining for 13/6 in Boulder.  Without 'Dre defending the rim, the Buffs just didn't have an answer for them.

In retrospect, it makes sense.  As I discussed Friday, Cal is successful because their defense is one of the best in the Pac-12, and not because Crabbe and Cobbs score a lot.  The Buffs simply focused too much on stopping the dynamic duo.
It was Kravish and Wallace who beat the Buffs, not Crabbe and Cobbs.
Case-in-point, there was a moment late in the first half when everyone thought the Buffs were about to go on a run.  Cal's super guard Allen Crabbe was left in the game after receiving his 2nd foul, and quickly picked up a third to force him to the bench (kudos to 'Dre).  The Buffs were gifted five minutes without having to guard the superlative scorer, and everyone in BuffNation started getting giddy. Instead, Cal went on a quick 8-2 run without the Pac-12 POY front-runner, flipping momentum headed into the break.  Those five minutes, incidentally, were dominated by Kravish and Wallace

In the end, the whole matter is disappointing, not debilitating.  While a 4th-place bye is now out of reach, the Buffs are still playing for Tournament seeding and a 20-plus-win regular season.  I'll have more on post-season implications later this week.

Women secure 4th place - 

The women did what the men could not over the weekend, sweeping their final road trip of the season to secure a 4th-place bye in the upcoming Pac-12 tournament.

It started off Friday night in Eugene, with a 60-48 win over Oregon.  The Buffs needed a strong second half and Chucky Jeffery's 30th career double-double to overcome some shaky shooting (35%), but they got the job done.  It also helped that they forced the Ducks into 21 turnovers, which CU converted into 20 points.
Chucky Jeffrey does it all.
Sunday in Corvallis, the ladies took a few punches from OSU, but survived an overtime scare to end the regular season on a 66-63 high note.  The Beavers at one point held an 18-point first half lead, but the Buffs chipped away, and were only down five at the break.  CU struggled through another shaky shooting performance (34%), but 25 massive points from Chucky Jeffrey saw them through to victory.

And with that, the Buffs capped off the regular season a perfect 22-0 against teams not from California.  With Washington taking the losing tithe in the Bay Area, it means that CU finishes a convincing two games clear of the cut line. 

The women next play Friday night in Seattle against the winner of Washington and Oregon.  I'll have some analysis of their tournament run later this week.

'That's Krzyzewski, spelled W-H-I-N-E' - 

Last week, the man known as 'Coach K' took a beef into his post-game press conference.  Duke had just lost @Virginia, and the home crowd had stormed the court after the win, in accordance with tradition when an unranked team beats the #3 team in the land.  Apparently, seeing those happy Cavaliers was a bridge too far for the venerable coach, and he took the opportunity to bemoan the tradition.
“When we’ve lost in the last 20 years, everybody rushes the court. Whatever you’re doing, you need to get the team off first. Celebrate, have fun. Obviously you won. That’s cool, but just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on.” -link
I certainly understand his frustration with getting the loss rubbed in his face by a couple of thousand revelers, but his points come off as bitchy and just flat off-base.
Hey, Coach K!  We know you like to bitch-face, so we put a picture of your bitch-face behind your bitch-face, so we could see your bitch-face while you bitch-face.
I'm certainly not moved by his whining about fans always rushing when they beat Duke.  Fans rush after beating Duke because they're fucking Duke.  It's part of the price of success in college basketball, only amplified when teams carry themselves in the way the Blue Devils are perceived to operate.  (i.e. snooty, self-indulgent, over-privileged jackasses.)  If Coach K is really that frustrated by fans over-zealously enjoying a victory over his charges, then he can always start winding down the program.  Be successful, and people are going to enjoy watching you fail.  It's the schadenfreude culture that makes this country great. 

Beyond the cry-me-a-river whining, his implication that Virginia didn't help his team get off the court is baseless.  Check out this screen grab from a video of the game's conclusion:
Screen grab from: ACC Digital Network
What's the first thing you notice?  For me, it's the line of security guys at the top, vigilantly protecting the Duke players and coaching staff from the mob.  In accordance with their security procedures, security personnel created a 'safe zone' corridor by which players, coaches, etc could safely exit stage left. This was a procedure that the Duke staff was informed about pre-game.

That 'safe zone' is a step that few schools take.  CU essentially left the poor Arizona Wildcats figure their own shit out last month when the C-Unit rushed.  Compared to the plan at the CEC, Virginia looks like a model of efficient security.
CEC security didn't do nearly as well last month.  From: the BDC
The only problem came when fans seated to the right of the picture didn't stop pouring out of the stands, and prevented the safe zone from funneling Duke into the locker room as quickly as Coach K would've liked.  Still, rather than force the issue, increasing the chance that someone will get hurt, the security staff just waited an extra minute, and then got Duke settled.  Had the security staff started trying to part the Red Sea over by the tunnel, it would essentially looked like this.

The point is, kids are going to rush.  It's a decades old tradition, and one that helps set college sports apart from their stoic professional counterparts.  Absolutely, you want to ensure that the visiting team is kept safe, but Virgina had a plan in place that adequately, and quickly, saw to that.  I have absolutely no idea why Coach K decided that this was the moment to start bitching about the practice, but his blathering unfairly paints the Wahoos in a bad light.  They in fact did everything right, which can only mean one thing: Coach K was wrong.

Happy Monday!

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