Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wyoming Wrap and Jackson State Teaser

Just keep repeating: a win is a win. Without that mantra, CU's 63-58 Wednesday night win over Wyoming is almost too ugly to pocket.  With it, it's another beautiful day in Boulder.

The game was what we've come to expect when watching the Buffs and the Cowboys - frustration, zone defense, turnovers, and poor officiating.  Through it all, CU got next to nothing from their bench (three points), shot only 25% from deep, turned the ball over 14 times, and only recorded 4 assists (tha fuck?).  Winning yesterday evening was like battling a medieval case of consumption - blood letting and leeches were certainly involved, and mal humors ruled the day.  That the Buffs survived was a matter of grit and determination, rather than any palpable sense of 'playing well.'

The game started out innocuous enough, with Colorado holding a see-saw lead for most of the opening minutes.  Then the Cowboys switched to zone, and my hair started to fall out.  While CU was able to get the ball into the high post, they seemed unable or unwilling to make anything of it, and the resulting passivity and confusion lead to a quick shift in momentum towards Wyoming.  Colorado would go without a field goal for nearly eight minutes, as the Pokes pushed a lead out to as many as 10 points.  The gap closed a little moving towards the break, but the Buffs were still down 31-26 at half.
CU needed to capitalize on touches in the paint a little more in the first half.  From: the BDC
I know Coach Boyle loves to save his timeouts, but it looked to me as if the team could've used a quick blow to reassess their plan of attack against the Cowboy zone defense.  Guys were passing up solid chances inside the paint out of timidity.  A little push in the huddle to attack the rim from the high post may have lead out of the zone-induced fog a little sooner.  Considering Coach left the arena with three in his back pocket, an additional timeout spent in the first half would've been worth it.

That message, once passed along in the half time locker room, certainly seemed to pay off.  The Buffs were much more aggressive to start the second half, going on a quick 8-3 run by generating quick-hitters in the paint.  But that effort only got the Buffs back to level-footing with Wyo.  For the rest of the game, it was a battle of wills and free throw attempts.  By my count there were 33 combined attempts from the charity stripe off of 27 fouls in the second half.  The whistles were tight, even considering the new rule tweaks, but CU was able to take advantage, shooting 19 more free throws than the Cowboys, and draining a total of 24.  Payback for Wyoming's parade to the line last season in Laramie.

Colorado was lead on the scoresheet by Spencer Dinwiddie, who struggled from the floor to a free-throw-aided 15 points on 2-9 shooting.  With Dinwiddie still struggling, best player honors go to Xavier Johnson, who did a great job slicing to the rim for 13 points.  Josh Scott also played well, adding 12/9 to the cause, continuing his run of strong play to start the season.
Josh Scott continues to rule the paint in 2013-14.  From: the BDC.
The win was certainly ugly, but aesthetics don't matter right now.  At the end of the day, without playing anywhere near their best basketball, CU improved to 2-1 on the season, exorcising some ancient demons along the way.  It was Colorado's first win over the Pokes in nearly two decades, after all.  With the season still developing, I'll take it happily, ugliness notwithstanding.

Attention now turns to Saturday morning, and Jackson State.  Let's be honest, the JSU Tigers are not a very good team.  A prime candidate for RPI 300+ status, they hit 2013-14 with a new coach - Wayne Brent - and return only one starter - junior swing forward Derrell Taylor - from their 11-18 squad from a season ago, but even he now has to come off the bench.

The starting backcourt of 6-1 seniors Jeff Stubbs and Julysses Nobles is slightly intriguing, especially Nobles who used to play at Arkansas, but nothing CU hasn't seen before.  Up front, 6-10 5th-year transfer Brandon West will challenge on the boards, but there's not much behind him on the depth chart.  Other than those four upperclassmen, it's all freshmen, and none very impressive.
The former Razorback Nobles is one of few scary pieces on the JSU bench.
No excuses, no qualifiers.  Even with a dreadful performance, CU should roll Saturday morning.  The early start could lead to more than a few stretches of sleep-walking, or even sleep-inducing play, but, as I re-stated at the top, a win is a win.  Bank win #3, and move onto Arkansas St.

Tip-off from the CEC is set for 10 am Saturday morning.  Yep, you heard me, 10 AM.  Get up bright and early, and head up to Boulder for the #RollTad express.  They'll have bacon for you!  Football later in the day, if you must.  Coverage is set for Pac-12 Mountain, with the radio call on 850 KOA.


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