Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quick Post: Mayor and Jelly kill some time on Twitter

What to do on a slow Thursday afternoon in NorCal...  Why not have a twitter battle!  That's what Spencer Dinwiddie and Josh Scott decided to do.  I hope you caught it, because it made for high comedy on a lazy Thursday.

Of course, this wasn't Dinwiddie's first twitter battle royale.  The Mayor took on Alec Burks last year, throwing his ring up against Alec's statistical dominance.  If this is how the future NBA star blows off steam, I'm all for it, because everyone needs to laugh every now and then.

Below, saved for posterity, is Mayor v Jelly.   An anti Mayor campaign is waged, the names Omar Strong and Jordan Bachynski are invoked, Ben Mills takes some collateral damage, and laughs are had by all.

Quick Post: 'Dre's Flu Game

This time, the clock was kinder to the visiting Buffs.

Visions of Tucson flashed through my head, but Stanford's Dwight Powell was a step slow on his game-tying dunk attempt.  After a quick look, the refs game CU the thumbs up, and they escaped Palo Alto with a huge 65-63 win.

The victory was defined by the play of Colorado stars Andre Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie.  Down 10 points with under 15 minutes to go, 'Dre and Spencer decided they'd had enough.  The duo went on a tear, lifting the short-handed Buffs through an 18-2 run that permanently flipped momentum.  Overall, they combined for 23 of CU's 34 points scored in the second half.
At the 15 minute mark, the Spencer and 'Dre decided to flip the switch. From: the SJMN
Of the two, I was most impressed by Andre Roberson.  By all reports, the springy forward was suffering from flu-like symptoms all Wednesday, needing fluids and California sunshine just to make it to tip-off.  Once the game began, however, it was all good.  Shrugging off the fatigue, the budding star dropped a career-high 24 points to go along with 8 rebounds and his typical tenacious defense.  Yes, it was 'Dre's assignment, Powell, who got lose on the game's final play, but I won't hold it against him.
'Dre ignored the flu to pour in 24 huge points.  From:
Beyond just 'Dre and Spencer, however, the whole team showed the heart and grit required to win big games on the road.  Despite my concerns that Stanford forward Josh Huestis would abuse him, freshman Xavier Johnson stepped up to mute the bulky Cardinal big man.  Huestis was held to only four points in 35 minutes.  Further, reserve guard Jeremy Adams fought through patellar tendon tears in both knees and plantar fasciitis in his left foot to notch 8/4 in his second-consecutive step-up performance.

It's a big win for the team.  The Buffs have now won their last three road games, and five of their last six overall.  Sitting with a .500 in-conference road record, it's hard not to notice that this team is maturing past the old road woes. 

With the calendar flipping over to March this evening, every game counts, but CU needed at least one more road win to all but relieve any remaining doubt that they'll be Dancing.  They got that win, and can now focus on earning a top-4 seed for Las Vegas.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2013 Stanford Basketball Preview #2

Last season, facing a similar stretch run against the NorCal and Oregon schools, the Buffs went 1-3, destroying any possibility of an at-large berth, and pushing the squad all the way out to the 6-seed in LA.  A repeat stumble cannot happen this season. 

With a second home loss, the once sterling RPI is starting to slip into the danger zone, and the Buffs need to show at least some life to reinforce the Tournament firewall.  Even a single win this week would suffice.  The good news is that I don't hate either matchup.  CU thrashed both Stanford and Cal in Boulder, and neither win seemed purely a result of home-cooking.  A split isn't all that much of a stretch.

On paper, with Cal playing some of the best basketball in the West, Stanford appears to be the riper fruit for picking.  However, I don't really care which team the Buffs end up beating, as long as they find a way to get at least one win in the Bay Area.


Tip-off from Maples Pavilion is set for 9pm MT this evening.  Coverage, including color from Pac-12 hype-man Bill Walton, can be found on ESPN2.  If you for some reason hate America, and would rather not listen to Walton, Mark Johnson will have the radio call on 850 KOA.

For reference, my preview from the first game can be found here.

Click below for my preview of the rematch...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quick Post: Pac-12 D-POY follow-up

On Saturday, I was stunned to see a list of candidates for Pac-12 defensive player of the year that didn't include CU junior forward Andre Roberson.  The nation's leading rebounder, and the Pac-12's #1 ball thief, seemed a necessary inclusion, and I proceeded to tell anyone and everyone my thoughts.

The list had been provided by Fox Sports' commentator Marques Johnson, who was actually pretty cool about the whole thing.  He admitted that he had overlooked 'Dre, primarily because he hasn't covered any CU games this year.  Given a DirecTV fueled blackout of most Pac-12 games, that means he has very few chances to catch the non-scoring plays that most highlights overlook - i.e. the things that define a great defender.

That got me thinking: what are the chances that there is a similar coverage bias (unintended) in the minds of more than just Mr. Johnson?  How many CU games has Bill Walton, for example, actually seen?  Has the master of hyperbole any appreciation for the skills of Andre Roberson beyond what little is written about him? Walton will be on the call Wednesday night, which is great, but the point remains.  BuffNation was shocked when Roberson was denied the award last year; maybe this coverage bias is a reason.

That's why I bristle when I hear people talk about 'Dre "taking a step backwards this season."  I read things like this, and roll my eyes. For those of you who don't have a Rivals subscription, allow me to summarize.  Two writers out of a panel of three say that Roberson has underachieved this year, citing offensive numbers below what they perceive to be his potential.  This is not an isolated example, and I've heard plenty of Buff fans say that they feel similarly.

'Dre's primary value, both as a Buff, and as a NBA prospect, is derived from his defensive prowess.  He rips boards, disrupts passing lanes, protects the rim, and neutralizes offensive threats like none other in the region, yet we're still complaining that his 11 points per game aren't enough!  Those outside of BuffNation hear this, and assume he's having a down year, when that's simply not the case.  No one else in the conference can claim the distinction of averaging a double-double each night, and I can count at least four games this year that Andre almost single-handedly won through his rebounding and defense alone.  Without him, CU loses to Fresno St, Stanford, Oregon, and Utah, and might as well start printing NIT tickets this afternoon. 

We BasketBuffs should be shouting from the rooftops that Andre is not only the conference's defensive player of the year - possibly the best defender in the whole country - but a candidate for overall Pac-12 player of the year, as well.  The kid is special, and we need to make sure that everyone associated with this conference understands that.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: Women Grab 4th

A mostly quiet weekend in the rearview, I'm about to gear up for the final road trip of the season.  The Buffs will need at least one win in San Francisco to both keep pace in the race for a top-four spot, and stay safely north of the bubble. 

Today in the bag, I'm talking about the women's big win, how the Pac-12 fared during CU's off week, and my thoughts on Argo.

Click below for the bag...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quick Post: Marques Johnson has never heard of @FlyDre21

This is Marques Johnson:

Marques covers Pac-12 games for Fox Sports Net.  Apparently he doesn't take his job all that seriously, because, when asked about his pick(s) for Pac-12 defensive player of the year, he dropped this list:
Tweeted by @RyanKoenigsberg.

Wow.  Just wow.

Really?  Eric Moreland?  He of the 13-14 Oregon St Beavers, who have the worst shot-percentage and scoring defense in the league?  You have to be kidding me.  And Jordan Bachynski?  That dude whose only major contribution over the last month of Pac-12 play was to put an elbow into Josh Scott's cheekbone?  I'm dumbfounded.

I have to ask, does Marques Johnson even watch basketball?  How could he compile a list of the conference's best defenders, yet leave out Andre Roberson, the most dominating defensive force in the west?  You know, that one dude who leads the nation in rebounds per game, is first in the conference in steals per game, and chips in a block and a half per game, all while playing on a team that actually relies on it's defense to win.
Two Bunk posts in one week.
Seriously, just awful.  Someone better inform Mr. Johnson, because he has yet to recognize.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2013 Off-week Preview #2

Despite a (relatively) dead crowd, a missing center, and a distracting scuffle in the tunnel, CU came through and got the gritty 60-50 win over Utah that they had to have. It was ugly. It was haltingly slow. It was at times sloppy.  But it was a win, and in the end, that's all that really matters.

The big story was bench production.  Usually a group that has only been relied upon to fill the court with warm bodies, the bench mob came through with genuine production when CU needed them the most.  Without Josh Scott, who sat out the game with concussion symptoms, the Buffs were forced into roster scramble mode, and players like Sabatino Chen and Jeremy Adams answered the call.  Despite playing out of position on many possessions, the pair of regular substitutes (Chen started for only the 5th time in conference play) combined for 21/7 with only two turnovers in 36 combined minutes. 
Usually quiet offensively, Chen chipped in 12 huge points. From: the BDC
Their scoring impact and defensive energy allowed Coach Boyle to go small with a five guard lineup for much of the game, keeping Andre Roberson keyed on the Utes' Jason Washburn. Given free reign against the Utah big man, Roberson turned in another fantastic defensive performance.  Despite being matched up with a longer, taller player, 'Dre grabbed 13 boards, notched four steals, and swatted two shots - all while only committing one foul.  His 10-point offensive performance only further padded his line, giving him yet another double-double.
'Dre kept Utah from exploiting their size advantage.  From: the BDC
Washburn couldn't get anything going on 'Dre, and got most of his 10 points as a result of open looks from broken CU double-teams. When Roberson was on him, he was a non-factor.  The performance was enough to poke Coach Boyle in restating that Andre is the best defender in America.  It's hard to argue when he's having games like last night.

Funny enough, a win over an RPI 150+ team like Utah actually costs the Buffs a few RPI slots, but it's better than the alternative.  As a result, they stay in outside contention for a top-four seed in the Pac-12 tournament, and remain comfortably 'in' the Dance for another week.


Travel partner dealt with, the Buffs now get to enjoy a final off weekend before a two-week race to the postseason.  With no CU game to occupy my attention, I'll preview the slate of games holding some larger interest for BuffNation.

Click below for the preview(s)...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quick Post: Folsom Improvements

Last night in Colorado Springs, Mike Bohn, Phil DiStefano, and Mike MacIntyre finally introduced the long-awaited plan for facility upgrades at Folsom Field.  Tabbed at $170 million in total outlays, and organized into three phases, the plan includes improvements to seating on both sides of the stadium, a new academic facility under the east stands, a massive expansion of Dal Ward, and, of course, a permanent indoor practice facility.
The academic center phase would be first up.  From: the BDC
The goal is for the first $50 million of the project to be sourced through private donations, with the remaining $120 million to come from leveraging the increased athletic revenues pouring in as a result of the move to the Pac-12.

While it doesn't appear to be the grand, sweeping re-design that was leaked last fall, it's nice to finally see some public movement on fundraising.  BuffNation now has a goal - $50 million.  That may seem like a lot to a layman, but it's a drop in the bucket for modern college football. If we can't raise that kind of dough, we don't deserve a big-6 football program. 

In addition to the $170 million injection into Folsom Field and the football program, the released plan also includes a phase of improvements to the Coors Events Center.  This would entail a series of expansions to the cramped concourse, the creation of premium seating areas along the top of the aisles, and the founding of a hall of fame.
Of course, I'm most interested in the CEC expansion...  From: the BDC
The CEC improvements are not included in the $170 million price-tag announced yesterday, and should be considered separate from the football-centric phases.

I love the plan, and the sentiment behind it - doubling-down on the recent upswing on the south side of campus.  We've seen the kind of near-immediate impact facility improvements can have on the basketball programs in recent years, and these kind of improvements would help to continue that burgeoning success. Hopefully, the CEC plan comes to fruition sooner then later, and doesn't get lost in the commotion of the improvements to Folsom.

Everyone break open your piggy bank.  It's time to make good on all of those drunken promises you've made over the years...

2013 Utah Basketball Preview #2

Oh, hey stupid snowstorm.  So nice of you to come in.  I don't know why there wasn't more chemical/salt/sand laid down for your arrival, but it is what it is.

I'm sure you'll make driving into Boulder for tonight's game a horror show, but nothing will stop me from seeing my Buffs take on Utah.  So suck it, storm.  Do your worst, and I'll see you around 7pm when I start heading to the game.  


Tip-off from the CEC is set for 8pm.  Coverage is on the Pac-12 Network, with Mark Johnson and the radio call on 850 KOA.

For reference, my preview from the first game can be found here.

Click below for my preview of the rematch...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Pac-12: ... And Down The Stretch They Come!

This is it, the stretch run.  Only three weeks remain in 2013's regular season, which in the Pac-12 means that there's only five games left for each team. Only five games to solidify seeding for the conference tournament, and make a case for NCAA inclusion. Talk about pressure...

A month ago, I took a look at the Pac-12 standings, and foolishly tried to make sense of the madness.  I took a stab at making some bold predictions, and whiffed on most of them.

No, the top three aren't as good as I thought they were.  Yes, ASU has proven that they have sticking power.  When did Cal decide they were any good? OH MY GOD WASHINGTON IS TERRIBLE.

As a result, no sweeping predictions today. There's just too much parity for me to go chasing curveballs in the dirt.  Instead, I'm taking a broader approach, discussing narrative and trends.  You know, what I'm good at.

Here are the current standings, along with each teams' closing schedule:
  1. Oregon - 10-3 - vs Cal, vs Stanford, vs OSU, @CU, @Utah
  2. UCLA - 9-4 - @USC, vs ASU, vs UofA, @WSU, @UW
  3. Arizona - 9-4 - vs UW, vs WSU, @USC, @UCLA, vs ASU
  4. ASU - 8-5 - vs WSU, vs UW, @UCLA, @USC, @UofA
  5. Cal - 8-5 - @Oregon, @OSU, vs Utah, vs CU, vs Stanford
  6. Colorado - 7-6 - vs Utah, @Stanford, @Cal, vs Oregon, vs OSU
  7. USC - 7-6 - vs UCLA, vs UofA, vs ASU, @UW, @WSU
  8. Washington - 6-7 - @UofA, @ASU, vs WSU, vs USC, vs UCLA
  9. Stanford - 6-7 - @OSU, @Oregon, vs CU, vs Utah, @Cal
  10. Oregon St - 3-10 - vs Stanford, vs Cal, @Oregon, @Utah, @CU
  11. Utah - 3-10 - @CU, @Cal, @Stanford, vs OSU, vs Oregon
  12. Washington St - 2-11 - @ASU, @UofA, @UW, vs UCLA, vs USC
Shake your head in amazement.  Despite all the injury woes, despite all the shaky play, Oregon still rides in front as the odds-on favorite to hold the #1 seed in Sin City.  With tie-breakers over both Arizona and UCLA, it'd take at least a 3-2 finish (and a 5-0 run from one of their rivals) to cost them the lead.  Big games against Cal and CU still loom, however, and Dominic Artis is still not back.  Without Artis, nothing is guaranteed in Eugene. 
With Artis still sidelined, Oregon desperately clings to their lead.
Speaking of Cal, where the hell did they come from? After a blasé 3-4 start to Pac-12 play, where they split every two-game set they faced, they've since rolled off five wins in six, and have raced past much of the field to not only slip into tie for a top-four seed, but Tournament consideration as well.  I know Allen Crabbe is good, but damn.  If they steal a win at Oregon Thursday night, I wouldn't put it past them to sweep the rest.  No wonder Monty is fired up
A Crabbe-fueled run has Cal riding high.  Pac-12 MVP honors await if they can finish.
While Cal has been red hot, Washington has bottomed out.  After beating the Buffs to improve to 4-0 in conference play, they lost seven of eight to crash into the bottom third.  Their lone win over that stretch?  A barn burner 96-92 home win over ASU.  I just don't get either of those teams.

Our Buffs continue to flirt with greatness.  Only four single-possession losses to Arizona, UCLA, Utah, and ASU separate CU from a sterling 11-2 mark.  If only...  Wistfulness aside, the team is about where I expected them to be entering this final stretch.  4-1 (possible) or 3-2 (likely) over the final five would be a fitting finish to a strong, not great, season.
CU has been hit-or-miss in close games this year.  Evan Gordon knows. From: ESPN
Arizona and UCLA - the preseason favorites - still lurk a game out of first.  Arizona may be the leagues' highest-ranked squad, but they hold the short stick in almost every tie-breaking scenario, having lost their only games against Oregon and Cal, in addition to the first round of the UCLA twin-bill.  It would behoove the Wildcats to win in Pauley next week to ensure themselves of avoiding the #3 or #4 seeds, and a possible rubber match with CU in the Pac-12 quarter-finals.

You can make a compelling Tournament argument for each of the top-6 squads. As of this morning, Lunardi even has all six in the bracket. What a change from last season, when the Pac-12 could only vaguely muster one or two teams worth giving a damn about.

I'm still not convinced, however, that the Pac-12 will get six bids - I just don't think it's that strong of a league. I expect one, if not two, of the top-six will get their bubble burst over the next three weeks.  Cal seems to be in the most trouble; a 3-2 finish won't do it for them, they'll need a statement win over either Oregon or CU to make the Dance.  Same with ASU, I doubt a 3-2 finish will be enough.  They'll need a road win over either UCLA or 'Zona to feel safe.
Can Lurch and the Sun Devils *ahem*  elbow their way into the Tournament?
As for the Buffs, they appear safe.  Even a 3-2 finish, assuming those two losses don't feature either Utah or Oregon St, should be enough to slip into the Dance.  High five, top-25 RPI!

Regardless, after last season's Selection Sunday horror show, where even regular season champion Washington was snubbed, it's nice to be in a situation where more than just the top few teams are carrying Tournament hopes.

From here on out, the best strategy is to just to win.  Bubble watching and schedule plotting rarely lead to the Dance, so do like Al Davis and just win, baby!  I'll tell you right now, none of the six bubble squads will be denied if they go 5-0 over the stretch run.

With carrots galore out there to keep teams interested, these final three weeks should be crazy.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Grab Bag: the Devil's in the Details

I hope you were afforded the opportunity to take President's Day off.  For whatever reason, my company has randomly picked to observe Washington's birthday over other federal holidays such as MLK Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day.  Weird, but I'll take it.  So for me it's a back-to-work Tuesday.

Today in the bag, I'm recapping the stumble against ASU, shaking my head at the referring disaster that got Josh Scott injured, and praising the women for sweeping the Arizonas.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, February 15, 2013

2013 ASU Basketball Preview #2

Well that was fun.

With numerous regional luminaries in attendance (OMG, JOHN ELWAY! ALEC BURKS!), revenge was served over the course of CU's 71-58 win over #9 Arizona.  It may not have come as much of a bottom-line surprise, but it did come with a court-storming and an over-rated chant.  The Buffs now boost their resume with a second top-50 RPI win in as many weeks, and are back in contention for a first-round bye in the upcoming Pac-12 tournament.
Happy times in Boulder.  From: the BDC
There was no way any Pac-12 team was going to come in a beat CU in that atmosphere.  Backed by a packed house and a C-Unit at the top of it's game, the Buffs couldn't have asked for a better home court advantage.  It was everything I want the CEC to be: hot, sweaty, loud, dark, and hostile.  Given that setup, only a few teams in all of college basketball have a hope in hell of cracking the Buffs at home, and Arizona, as good as they may be, isn't one of them.

The big star of the game was Spencer Dinwiddie.  The young bucket-getter followed up his perfect night in Corvallis with another strong performance leading the team.  21 points on 5-9 shooting (9-9 from the line!) to go along with seven assists (a career high) paced the squad.  More than that, however, many of his second half buckets-gotten were huge.  A three out of a timeout in the second half halted a 6-0 'Zona run.  After the 'Cats had cut the deficit to six with 11 minutes to go, he assisted on one three before notching a layup and another three to balloon the lead back out to 14.
Spencer dropped dimes and buckets all game long. From:
Of course the other big story from the stat sheet was the monster games had by everyone named Xavier.  It didn't come as much of a shock, considering how well he's been playing in Pac-12 games, but Xavier Johnson had another monster effort, dropping 19/9 on 7-9 shooting (4-5 from deep).  The freshman forward hit numerous key baskets throughout the game, and showed flashes of just how good he will be in future years.  The bigger surprise was the contributions from freshman guard Xavier Talton.  Infrequently used mostly as a stop-gap, the Sterling, CO native has been playing well of late, and it translated into seven minutes of high energy play that netted him six points and two steals.  Combined, the Xaviers came to ball, and it boosted the Buffs well past the point that 'Zona could be expected to contend.
Xavier was huge for the Buffs.  From:
Overall, CU once again lit up Arizona from deep.  In my preview, I openly fretted that CU couldn't possibly match their 9-20 effort from Tucson.  They didn't match it, they in fact improved upon it, attacking the corners to notch 9-17 shooting from behind the arc. On the defensive end, the Buffs muted Arizona stars Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons to a combined 38% shooting from the floor with seven turnovers.

All around, just a solid night from everyone, from players to coaches to fans.

But the journey isn't over yet.  The story of the 2012-13 Buffaloes isn't even close to its final chapter, and is certainly far larger than any one game against Arizona.  There's another huge matchup on the docket for Saturday evening, and I hope both the team and the fans bring the focus an execution that they had against Arizona back into the CEC for their tilt with Arizona State.

Tip-off from the roiling Coors Events Center is set for 7pm tomorrow.  Those not in the area can catch the action on ESPNU.  If you prefer, Mark Johnson will have the call on 850 KOA.

For reference, my preview from the first game can be found here.

Click below for my preview of the rematch...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Quick Post: the Mills Shake

Posted without comment...

2013 Arizona Basketball Preview #2

In honor of it being Valentine's Day, I've written this romantic poem about tonight's CU/Arizona clash

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Those are their colors,
I prefer black and gold,
Let's go kick the shit out of the Wildcats!

... well... I was never very good at poetry.  It's heartfelt, though.

Maybe a song?

Hey, we just met you,
And this is crazy,
But we need a rival,
So hate us maybe?

Hrmmmm.  Better, but I probably need to stick to basketball.


Get fired up!  We have a big one tonight!

Tip-off from the SOLD OUT and BLACKED OUT CEC is set for 8pm.  Those without tickets to the madness better hope that their local watering hole doesn't have DirecTV, because coverage will be on Pac-12 Networks.  Of course, there's always Mark Johnson on 850 KOA to tide you over if TV isn't an option.

For reference, my preview from the first game can be found here.

Click below for my preview of the rematch...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Q&A with's Adam Butler

To set the table for tomorrow's much anticipated rematch with Arizona, I reached out to friend and fellow hoops scribe Adam Butler for a quick question and answer session. 

Adam has established himself as one of the premier Pac-12 diarists on the web through his work at  Those in BuffNation may best remember him from his weekly recaps on AllBuffs, but he can also be found from time to time on sites such as Rush the Court and Addicted to Quack.  There's none better to talk to on the eve of one of the biggest conference games of the year.

Adam will also be in Boulder tomorrow, taking his first on-site peek into the world of all that is #RollTad.  While he is, unfortunately, a hardcore Arizona fan, I'll try not to hold it against him during his stay.

Over the course of 12 questions we touched on everything from Sabatino's miracle and the effects of expansion, to his favorite in-conference travel destination and Jennifer Lawrence.

Click below for the Q&A...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Quick Post: The Pac-12 reverting to it's old tricks

I thought we were past this, Pac-12.  This was supposed to be the year that the top-half of the conference re-asserted itself.  Instead, hyper-parity reigns.  Parity on a level never before seen.

Just look at this mess:

t-1 - Oregon - 8-3 (19-5)
t-1 - UCLA -  8-3 (18-6)
t-1 - Arizona - 8-3 (20-3)

4 - Arizona State - 7-4 (18-6)

t-5 - Colorado - 6-5 (16-7)
t-5 - Stanford -  6-5 (15-9)
t-5 - Cal - 6-5 (14-9)
t-5 - USC - 6-5 (11-13)

9 - Washington - 5-6 (13-11)

t-10 - Washington St - 2-9 (11-13)
t-10 - Oregon St - 2-9 (12-12)
t-10 - Utah - 2-9 (10-13)

USC, ostensibly the league's 8th best team, is only two games out of first.  The really fucked up thing is, depending on who gets hot over the final four weeks, anyone - yes, even the Trojans - could theoretically steal the #1 seed headed into LALV.  That's not saying that I consider Cal, USC, or even the Buffs true contenders for the regular-season title, just that, given the chaotic nature of this season, I wouldn't put it past anyone.

The big problem has been the league's quality teams dropping head-scratchers on a seemingly weekly basis.  UCLA beats Arizona one night, only to turn around and lose to the Sun Devils and Trojans.  Arizona seems to be cruising along, and then pops a flat when Allen Crabbe gets hot.  Oregon appeared to be the strongest team around, only to show their glass jaw when a single freshman came up lame at the wrong time.

Of course, no team has been more schizophrenic then our own Buffs, both under-achieving and over-achieving at the same time.  One minute losing to bottom-feeding Utah of all teams, the next going on the road to topple the conference leading Ducks.  Hell, had CU managed to seal the deal on single possession games like @Arizona, UCLA, and @Utah, CU would be leading the conference right now, probably ranked in the top-20, with no talk of bubble.  Conversely, they're about 2 minutes of play in both Eugene and Corvallis from having 9th place all to themselves with a 4-7 record.

It has been a wacky year, and I imagine it'll only get wackier.  Coming up next week, I'll have my stretch run predictions, but, until then, we'd better all hunker down and hope USC doesn't magically wind up on top.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: Bring on the Wildcats!

The countdown is officially on.  With their Oregon sweep over the weekend, the Buffs have set up Thursday's titanic rematch with Arizona.  If you had Valentine's Day plans, cancel them, because revenge is back on the menu.

Today in the bag, I'm talking Spencer Dinwiddie's perfect Sunday night, the ladies' home sweep, and Saturday night's five OT thriller in South Bend.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, February 8, 2013

2013 Oregon State Basketball Preview #1

Coach Boyle's scorched earth road game policy worked to a 'T' yesterday.  Actually, more like a 'W,' as the Buffs grinded out a vital 48-47 win in Eugene last night.

It was deja vu all over again.  Much like the win over Oregon in last season's Pac-12 tournament, the Buffs found themselves down one with under a minute to go.  Once again, Andre Roberson found a key offensive rebound, and managed to put back a heavily contested layup to take a lead.  And, once again, CU's point guard locked down Oregon's best scorer, forcing an ugly miss to seal the win (2012: Nate Tomlinson on Devoe Joseph, 2013: Spencer Dinwiddie on E.J. Singler).
Dinwiddie's block left Singler crying into his coffee about an uncalled foul.  Damn, that program loves to whine.  From: the Oregonian.
While the end was a symphony of perfection on both sides of the ball, for much of the game it was only perfectly ugly.  The whole affair looked like something out of the pre-jump shot era.  With the Buffs only notching a paltry .72 ppp .873 ppp on offense while allowing Oregon to grab 14 offensive boards, it took an incredible defensive effort to even keep the win within reach.  CU packed in the D, forcing the slashing Ducks outside into uncomfortable jump shots.  All told, the Ducks shot 36% from the field (29.6% in the second half), and failed to score over the game's final four minutes, enabling the Buffs to overcome their anemic offensive performance.

It's no surprise that, in a game defined by defense, the big star was Roberson.  Not only did he score the winning bucket, but that hoop boosted him over the double-digit scoring plateau for the evening, giving the lanky Texan his 35th career double-double (10/13).  He was a monster late in the game, taking away Oregon's offense, and grabbing the last three rebounds that mattered.  After the game 'Dre said "I didn't want to lose," and it showed.

Despite trailing for more than 35 minutes, CU gets the much-needed road win over the #19 team in the land. The win boosts what had been a softening Tournament resume, getting the team back off the bubble in the wake of the defeat at Utah.

"Oh, but Oregon was missing their point guard, it's not all that impressive."  Shut your mouth.  When you beat a top-25 team on the road, you don't care how or why it came to be.  I'll take that ugly-ass win without a second thought.


Turning my attention to Sunday's game against Oregon State, the Buffs now have a chance to sweep the Beaver State road swing.  The win would also give them a 6-5 conference record headed into the home-heavy portion of the schedule (seven of the last five five of the last seven games are at the CEC).  To earn that sweep, they'll need to topple one of the Pac-12's worst squads in their own gym.  Considering the embarrassment in SLC last Saturday, I'm not taking anything for granted.

Tip-off from Gill Coliseum in Corvallis is set for 7pm Sunday evening.  Coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks.  Those with DirecTV can find Mark Johnson on 850 KOA.

As a side note, this is my final full preview of the regular season, as everything from here til after the Pac-12 Tournament will be a repeat matchup.  I'll still be previewing the games, just in a slightly abbreviated fashion.

Click below for the preview...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Quick Post: 2018 - Hate is Coming

Imagine where you'll be in five years...

Tom Osbourn will be dead... CSU will have finally gone full-time online, selling off their dump of a campus for quick cash to pay off debt incurred by their failure of a new stadium... Tad Boyle will have just won his second national title in three years... This kid will have weeping children of his own...

The world sits in peace. 

Suddenly, a rumble from the West perks up for the first time in nearly a decade.  Long forgotten after years of silence, it pours eastward through the plains, blanketing desolate, water-starved fields as it goes. 

Hate has returned.

Prepare yourselves accordingly.

Coach MikeMac, all kidding aside, I don't care if you're still here in five years.  Run off to the SEC as soon as you can, wouldn't bother me in the slightest.  The only thing I ask... nope, not ask... FUCKING REQUIRE, yes, the one thing that I fucking require is that you help get this program into a position to win in five years.

No excuses, get it done.

Fuck Nebraska.

2013 Oregon Basketball Preview #1

I'm really excited about this one.  All three matchups with Oregon last season were fun in their own way, and these two seem to bring the best out of each other.  Further, both squads need to rebound from painful losses last week.  While the Buffs were flailing for buckets in SLC, the Ducks were getting humbled in NorCal.  

Oregon needs this win to recapture momentum in the conference title race once thought to be a mortal lock.  CU needs this win to rebound after the embarrassing defeat to the lowly Utes, and re-state their claim to a spot in the Tournament.  Like two wild animals backed into a corner of their own making, I expect both the Buffs and Ducks to come out swinging.  As a result, I expect a good game from wire to wire.

The Buffs just lost a game we didn't expect, let's see if they can win a game we don't expect.  Tip-off from Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR is scheduled for 8pm MT this evening.  Coverage can be found on ESPNU, or with Mark Johnson on 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Quick Post: Dustin Thomas Video

... blah, blah, football...

Wait a second, Dustin Thomas finally has high school highlights available for all to see?  It's time to break out the breaking news bell!

Thomas, one of three signees in the 2013 basketball recruiting class, had been mostly an unknown quantity to this point.  As far as I know, no one outside of the coaching staff had seen film on him.  It just didn't exist.  (insert Manti Te'o joke here)

When I asked basketball guru Will Whelan about getting some film on the kid, he suggested I fly to Thomas' home town of Texarkana myself.  Heaven help me, that's never going to happen.  (I have an explicit "mess with Texas" policy, and am probably no longer welcome in that state.) Thankfully, the internet enables laziness, and has provided BuffNation with it's first true glimpse of the 6'8" forward.

A big hat-tip to @TZiskBuff for bringing this to the world's attention.  I doubt he flew to Texarkana for this, but if he did, someone needs to buy him a beer or 20.

On Signing Day 2013

It's National Signing Day.  All across the country, college football fans are collectively drooling at the meat-market parade of new talent lining up to join their favorite programs.  In Boulder, however, the reception is, well, rather muted.

Not once since the rise of the recruiting age has the first Wednesday in February landed with such a thud in Chief Niwot's valley.  There will be no televised signing extravaganzas featuring Ralphie this afternoon, no Black and Gold hats being plucked off of tables on ESPNU.  A product of the program's declining fortunes, a harried transition class, and a lack of nationally ranked recruits, Signing Day has been reduced in the eyes of many in BuffNation to mild distraction worthy of only a shoulder shrug.

Coach Mike MacIntyre is expected to put the finishing touches on a class considered by most to be the worst in the Pac-12 by signing 17 or 18 kids today.  Of that group, none are rated higher than 3-stars by Rivals, and only three are nationally ranked amongst their position. The Buffs famously failed to even get a visit from a four or five star recruit this cycle, with even in-state talent taking a pass.  This underscores not only who was (or, more importantly, wasn't) listening, but who the coaching staff was targeting.
Coach MikeMac had precious few slots to fill, and few impact players would take his call.  From: the Post
Sure, recruiting services are in the business of selling an image circle-jerk, but image has an unhealthy habit of influencing reality over a large sample size.  If recruiting were fishing, this would be a haul of minnows and guppies.

That's not to say these bait fish can't eventually grow up to be whoppers.  Plenty of unheralded recruits have come to Boulder and done well in recent years - Scotty McKnight, Jordan Dizon, Rodney Stewart, Jalil Brown, David Bakhtiari to name a few.  I'd rather not have to depend on a diamond-in-the-rough crapshoot, but it is what it is.

Despite the lack of national attention, there are a few commits who catch my eye.  WR Devin Ross, QB Sefo Liufau, WR Bryce Bobo, DE Markeis Reed and OL Gunnar Graham all look promising on paper.   Local (Denver South) RB product Phillip Lindsay also intrigues me, and comes to CU after a record-setting high school career.  Unfortunately, an ACL tear has set his growth back.
Lindsay is a rare local star who will sign with CU.  From: Maxpreps
Additionally, Coach Mike MacIntyre lured former San Jose State commits/targets ATH Kenneth Olugbode, ATH Ryan Severson, and RB Michael Adkins to Boulder, beefing up the class over the last month.  Another, DB Chidobe Awuzie, made for a nice Signing Day surprise.  (Another SD surprise was the signing of safety Tedric Thompson.  Nice get for the staff)

I'm sure they're all great kids, and I'm proud that they've chosen to attend my alma mater, but I can't help but look at the group as gap-fillers, rather than impact players.  I wouldn't expect too many of them to contribute as freshmen, even with playing time available up-and-down the depth chart (Wideout and defensive backs are notable exceptions).
Outside of a few players, like QB Sefo Liufau, I'm unimpressed by this class.  From: TRR
Regardless of the success or failure of this group, both in the immediacy, and the long-term, I'm not going to hold it against MikeMac.  Transition classes are usually shaky, and, unlike Embree's transition, MacIntyre has had relatively few available scholarships to play with (He chose to honor the previous staff's commitments, eating many possible spots).  This class was, and is, mostly an Embree production.  I'll give him the credit/blame accordingly.

Next year will be far more telling in terms of Mac 2.0's recruiting skill, or lack thereof.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: I need some Advil

I'm suffering from a massive hangover today, and it has nothing to do with what went on at my Super Bowl party.  Nope it's all about the Buffs, and their ugly loss in Salt Lake City.  My body is rejecting the losing toxins, and, as a result, my head is pounding.

Today in the bag, I'm recapping the SLC hiccup, the women's rebounding victory in LA, and, of course, the Super Bowl.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, February 1, 2013

UPDATED: 2013 Utah Basketball Preview #1

Wednesday night was rough for both CU and the Pac-12.

For the Buffs, RPI boosters Baylor and Wyoming both lost home games.  That Baylor loss especially hurts, as their season is about to hit a brick wall in the form of a difficult road trip to ISU and OSU.  (At least I got to see Sr. McDoucherton miss a wide-open look at the buzzer, costing his team the game.  Suck it, Heslip.) Wyo? Well, they're hoping to hold onto a spot in the NIT as their season quickly spirals out of control.  The two loses don't cripple CU's still sterling RPI, but it does seem a little softer than it did a few weeks ago.

For the Pac-12, chaos reigns again as the conference's #1 and #2 squads each took it on the chin, losing to #7 and #9, respectively.  Holy hell Oregon, many thought you'd lose at Stanford, but did you have to twitch around like a heroin addict for 40 minutes?  Go home, Oregon, you're drunk.  Oh and UCLA?  No biggie, they just lost at home to a bogus USC squad run by an interim head coach.  On Reggie Miller night, no less. It's a good thing Bruins Nation is able to maintain composure in trying times such as these.

Just generally a no-good night of fail.  At least Arizona held on Thursday night at Washington, maintaining some semblance of normalcy, but those are bye week concerns.  Tomorrow holds actual CU basketball to consume.  What could possibly go wrong?

Tip-off from the Huntsman Center in beautiful Salt Lake City is set for 12:30 MT on Saturday.  Prior to the game, Utah will be honoring the legacy of Rick Majeras by retiring his famous sweater into the rafters.  Those with DirecTV are in luck, as ROOT will have the broadcast.  If you can't find ROOT, Mark Johnson has you covered on 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...