Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: Cruising through Colorado Springs

A hearty congratulations to the Volleyball team for their well-deserved selection to the NCAA tournament. It was a program-defining season for ladies that saw them upset three ranked teams and finish seventh in a league that sent 75% of its members to the dance.  For their efforts, they were awarded the equivalent of an 11-seed, and will play old Big XII rival Iowa State in Minneapolis on Friday at 3:30 MT.  Not too shabby.

Go Buffs!  Beat those Cyclones!


Today in the bag, I'm recapping the basketball win over Air Force, putting the 2013 football season to bed, and taking a look around the nation of football.

Click below for the bag...

Struggling Air Force grounded by dominant Buffs -

Powered by Colorado Springs local Josh Scott, CU made short work of Air Force Saturday afternoon. It was the definition of a rout, with the Buffs rarely looking challenged throughout the 40 minutes of action.  The 81-57 final was indicative of the run of play, and Colorado was able to easily claim a win in their first true road trip of the season.

In his first game back in his hometown since his high school career, Scott was looking to put on a show for his 'home' crowd.  He did just that, dropping an efficient 16/13 in only 25 minutes of play.  The quiet story of the first few weeks of the season has been how consistent the lanky power forward has been.  His 13/8 average is all the more impressive when you consider that he's fourth on the team in usage.  Almost every night I look to the scoresheet, and am surprised to see his total.  Without the glitz and glamour of his more heralded teammates, he's developed into a force to be reckoned with, whether you're watching or not, and Saturday's performance only reinforced that.
Josh Scott played well in his first 'homecoming.'  From: the CS Gazette.
Scott wasn't alone in having a good game on Saturday, however.  Xavier Johnson was equally as physically beyond the Falcons as Josh was, and finished with 11/8.  Askia Booker started out hot against the zone, and finished with 13 points on as many shots.  The bench duo of Dustin Thomas and Jaron Hopkins added a combined 16 points in 29 minutes.  All were key to CU's success on the day, and more than earned their time resting as the bench mob took over with four minutes to play.  Watching Ben Mills and Beau Gamble take the court are the savory spoils earned in a blowout.

The great comfort I take from this performance is that the Buffs fully clocked a team they should've beaten - on the road, no less.  In years past, even as good as the team has been, purportedly easy road trips have had a tendency to turn into hair-pulling affairs.  For the Buffs to come out and not even give the Falcons a chance is a good sign. No sense making mountains out of molehills, especially with such large peaks still to climb this year.

This upcoming week serves up two of the biggest games remaining on the non-conference slate.  First up is another tricky road game up in Ft Collins on Tuesday night.  Nipping on the heels of that rivalry tilt is the heavily anticipated showdown with Kansas at the CEC.  It'll be an emotional week for Colorado basketball, one that will go a long way in telling us how good or bad this team can be over the coming months.

The end of football (for 2013, at least) - 

It's a tired old tale.  The Buffs put up a fight in their 24-17 season-closing loss at Utah, but were the vessel of their own destruction.  Through some painfully bad execution on the goal line, a trio of devastating turnovers, and a number of key drops on offense, the team couldn't get out of their own way to capitalize on a reeling Ute squad that looked like they wanted to be anywhere but on a football field. Had CU put anything even close to a complete performance together, they would've claimed an important program-building victory, instead, they have only themselves to blame as they slink back to Boulder with a 4-8 record.

To my eyes, the defense played well enough to win.  While they repeatedly bent to the Ute's will, they forced turnovers when needed, and cut off scoring after the first half.  Offensively, the team just made too many mistakes.  Freshman QB Sefo Liufau played to his youth in the first half, looking skittish as he repeatedly overthrew receivers and coughed up two turnovers.  Meanwhile, the offensive line was unable to open up holes on two ugly goal line scoring opportunities, a pair of opportunities lost that would've allowed the Buffs to steal a victory.  Feel free to facepalm.
A poor first half from Liufau dug too deep a hole.  From: the BDC.
Colorado outscored Utah 17-3 over the final 30 minutes of play, but dug themselves an impossible 21-0 hole over the first 30.  Where was that second half team in the first half? Why can't the Buffs put an entire game together?  That's the question that dogs me the most headed into the offseason.  CU could be playing in a bowl game later this month if they could've put a complete performance together against both Utah and USC. Nothing is ever going to be given to this program, they're going to have to go out and take it - bowl trip included.  That lesson was hammered home over the past week.


With the end of the 2013 football season comes an opportunity to look back over my pregame predictions to see how I did.  For the record, I finished 12-0 with my picks, 6-5 against the spread (there was no spread in the Charleston Southern game), with an average +/- CU bias of 1.1 points per game.  Not that it matters, but I think that's pretty damn good.  Hopefully, I can carry that same level of prognostication savvy to the remainder of the basketball campaign.

Around the nation of football - 


- Auburn 34 - Alabama 28 -

'Bama, whaaa happened?  Closing in on yet another title game shot, the defending champion Crimson Tide spit the bit over a last-second decision from Nick Saban. With the score tied, and the game clock expired after a run play, Coach Saban challenged the on-field ruling to secure his team a 58-yard field goal attempt. Alabama has abysmal kickers, which immediately sent up red flags that this was a bad idea.  Of course, the kick was well short, and then, well, this happened:

The Tide will probably sneak back into the title game through the annual SEC Championship cluster-fuck, but, for a day at least, the entire football world got to point and laugh at Saban and the Tide for demanding too much from the football gods.

- UCLA 35  - USC 14  -

Behind 288 combined yards from UCLA QB Brett Hundley, the Bruins easily brushed aside the hated rival USC Trojans.  I think the loss here gives USC AD Pat Hayden just enough leverage to silence the cabal shouting for interim head coach Ed Orgeron, and go after his real list of candidates.  Had Orgeron pulled off the win here, there would've been no choice but to rip that interim tag off.

- Duke 27 - North Carolina 25

A hearty congratulations also goes to the Duke Blue Devils, who recorded their 10th win of the season by beating the Tar Heels.  It's the traditional doormat program's first ever 10-win campaign.  Their reward?  A trip to the ACC Title Game (that's good!)... and a date with the overpowering Florida State Seminoles (that's bad!). Good luck with that, Duke.
Even Duke is winning 10 games in a season.  Get your shit together, Buffs!


- Denver 35 - Kansas City 28 -

Turnabout's fair play.  A week after allowing a big first half lead to evaporate against the New England Patriots, the Broncos turned the same trick against the Chiefs.  Down 21-7 in the second quarter, they stormed back behind four touchdown receptions from oft-maligned receiver Eric Decker.  With the win, the Donkeys grab a strangle-hold on the division race, as they sit comfortably with a game advantage and the tie-breaker over KC.
The Chiefs had no answer for Decker. From: USA Today
- Detroit 40 - Green Bay 10

Apparently, Aaron Rodgers is more valuable to the Packers than any of us could've imagined.  Green Bay is 0-4-1 since he left the game with the Bears with a broken collarbone, with an offense that looks more stalled than an AMC Gremlin.  Until he returns, they're dead in the water, and, even with the QB's improving health, may want to consider tanking for draft position.  As for Detroit, with the Chicago Bears slipping in overtime against the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions have opened up a lead for first place in the division.  It's now theirs to lose.

Happy Monday!

No comments: