Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: A Perfect Saturday

To all those sad-sack schools who had the miss-fortune to be playing the University of Colorado on Saturday, I apologize.  You never had a chance, it was CU's day.  It didn't matter what sport it was, the Buffs were better.  Basketball?  Check.  Soccer?  Check.  Football? Check.  All we needed was some distance running, and it would've been a perfect 24 hours at the Foot of the Flatirons.

For those of us in BuffNation: we get far too few days like this to celebrate, so live it up!


Today in the bag, I'm talking the basketball win over Jackson St, the soccer win over DU, and the football win over Cal.

Click below for the bag...

Men's basketball rolls over Jackson St - 

Xavier Johnson was inactive due to a knock sustained in practice; the 10am tip-off kept the crowd sparse and subdued, and Jackson St was coming in off of an impressive victory over Air Force.  If there was ever going to be a November let-down from the CU men's basketball team, Saturday looked to be the day.  But they came out focused and energized for the task at hand (Coach Boyle even called it a 'great showing' [$]), and started the day in fine fashion with a free-flowing 94-70 romp over the JSU Tigers.  

Ball-movement was the call of the morning, as CU dished out 23 assists to propel seven Buffs into double-digit scoring efforts.  It was as good as the offense has looked all season - patient, efficient, and, above all else, dangerous.  The team scored their 94 points on 71 possessions, buoyed by the re-emergence of the veteran backcourt duo of Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker.  The pair had struggled through the first three games of the season, but came alive Saturday to the tune of a combined 26 points and 12 assists on 8-14 shooting.
CU hit the jackpot at SKI-ball, as Booker lead the team with 15 points and six assists.  From: the BDC.
Also shining for the Buffs was freshman Jaron Hopkins, who got the start in place of the injured Johnson. CU didn't seem to miss a beat with him in the lineup, as the young guard stepped up to drop 12 points in 19 minutes, including a pair of massive alley-oop dunks. Fellow freshman Dustin Thomas contributed 13 points, as we saw the return of bench production.  As a team, the Buffs shot over 62% from the field.

Defensively, while the Tigers did put up 70 points, the Buffs did a good job shutting them down for much of the day.  JSU guard Javeres Brent was able to put up 20 points, but CU eventually switched Dinwidde onto him defensively, and the problem was patched over quickly.  The Buffs also claimed nine steals, an incredible six coming from the Mayor, and were never really threatened.
Dinwiddie finally produced a "Mayor-like" performance, dropping 11/2/6/6 .  From: the BDC.
As much as I didn't want to over-react to the early struggles against Baylor and Wyoming, I'd rather not over-react to the effusive performance against an also-ran from the SWAC.  We'll know much more about the team as they play UC-Santa Barbara and Harvard later this week.  Still, I take it as a good sign that the offensive trend is up after a slow start.  I take for granted that the defense will be there when needed, the team just needs to score like they did Saturday morning.  Seven players reached double-figures, for the love of Tad! That wouldn't have been possible in previous seasons.  I repeat, the trend is up...

Women's soccer upsets Denver - 

The women's soccer team was up next on Saturday, as they traveled down to Denver to take on DU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  In a shocker, they notched a late goal to steal a 1-0 win - their first over the Pioneers since 2009.  As the old saying goes, survive and advance.

The winning goal was scored by senior Anne Stuller with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. Star freshman Brie Hooks had been fouled on the edge of the box, and Stuller, a local product from Fairview, had the free kick deflected by the wall.  Denver goalie Cassidy Rey never had a chance, and had to watch helplessly as the deflection soared past her, and into the net.  It was a magical moment for both the Buffs and Stuller, who roared in celebration.
Stuller got the winning goal against the Pioneers.  From: the BDC.
Moving on to the second round, the Buffs will travel to Tallahassee, FL to face off against BYU on Thursday.  Still wrapped up in the throes of victory, CU head coach Danny Sanchez said of the Cougars on "They’re a perennial tournament team, and we’ll have our hands full, but we’ll start worrying about them tomorrow at practice."

Football keeps bowl hopes alive against Cal - 

Well, this is a new feeling, isn't it?  The football team capped CU's perfect Saturday by rolling past a woeful Cal squad for a 41-24 win that wasn't nearly as close as the final score would suggest.  It was Colorado's first Pac-12 win in 15 tries, and their first comfortable conference victory since the 48-29 win over Arizona in 2011.  

The Buffs were lead by a fantastic performance from true freshman QB Sefo Liufau.  The young Washington native bounced back from a rough game against his home state Huskies by throwing for 364 yards and three scores on 64% passing.  He looked composed and fully capable, albeit against one of the worst defenses the country has to offer.  Compared to Cal's true freshman quarterback, Jared Goff, Liufau looked light-years ahead.
Liufau stood tall in the pocket, and picked apart the porous Cal defense.  From: the BDC.
Of course, with a receiving duo like Paul Richardson and Nelson Spruce, it must be easy to have a day like Sefo's.  The pair combined for 19 catches and 280 yards against a defense that was clearly incapable of defending them.  In the process, Richardson broke the program's single-season receiving yards record, and moved within reach of multiple others.  While P-Rich and Spruce never found the endzone, they made moving the football a breeze.
The Bears had no answer for Richardson and Spruce.  From: the BDC.
On defense, CU gave up some points and yardage at the end, but, for most of the game, looked comfortable against the Golden Bears.  They held Cal to only four third down conversions out of 17 attempts, held the starting QB Goff to 173 yards, and recorded three sacks.  It wasn't a perfect performance, as Cal still cracked 400 yards of total offense, but it was more than serviceable against the 8th-best passing unit in the nation.

I think the win probably says more about Cal than it does about CU.  The Golden Bears are truly awful, and, at least to my eyes, the second worst team CU has played all season (Charleston Southern).  Still, the Buffs have proven that they can beat the teams they should, which is a step in the right direction.  Now all that's missing is a win over a team empirically better than they are.  They'll have two chances to claim such a victory over the next two weeks.
Chances to celebrate in Folsom have come far too infrequently.  From: the BDC.
For head coach Mike MacIntyre, he's already tied his predecessor's two-year win total in only 10 games, and has made waves by keeping the team fighting late into the year.  Sitting at 4-6, he even, improbably, still has the team alive for a potential bowl berth.  The problem is a streaking USC squad comes to town this week, leaving any possibility of a three-win sprint to the finish a pure fantasy.  Cool your jets, it ain't happening.  Doesn't mean we can't enjoy Saturday's result, however.  The Buffs are, definitively, not the worst team in the conference this season, which is more than enough reason to celebrate.

Happy Monday!

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