Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Quick Post: Academic Honors

A hearty congratulations to both Sabatino Chen and Shane Harris-Tunks for earning spots on the Pac-12 All-Academic teams.  Sabatino received his second-consecutive first team honor by posting a 3.51 GPA in mathematics, while Shane grabbed second team honors with his 3.39 GPA in advertising.

The accolades afforded the pair of graduating seniors underscore the success Coach Boyle's teams have enjoyed in the classroom.  Over his tenure, Boyle has graduated all 12 of his seniors and eligible juniors, and has produced two perfect 1,000 point APR scores, with this current year still to be evaluated.  For a program once toeing APR disaster, it's been an incredible turnaround, especially considering that it has occurred during an upswing in on-court performance.

Only CU, Stanford (six selections), Arizona State (one), and Utah (one) saw a player selected for either the first or second teams this year.  Way to be Stanford, Stanford.

Not to be outdone, the women's team also saw a pair of their members honored for their classroom exploits.  Sophomore Lexy Kresl was placed on the second team for her 3.52 GPA in integrative physiology, while junior Rachel Hargis received an honorable mention for her 3.06 GPA in psychology.

Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Tad Boyle won't be the next coach of UCLA



Wait, how did Bohn get dragged into this?  I bet it was Klatt.  Dude, go find a real job, 'cause your one-note CU take is as tired as your incessant Broncos coverage.

Anyways, for the third year in a row, rumors have started to swirl that this team or that team is going to offer our personal basketball savior so much money that he'll have to leave Boulder, and then we'd be DOOOOMED!  But, as has been the case the last two offseasons, Tad will stay put, and continue to build the University of Colorado into a basketball school.

Why am I so confident? Well...

Let's assume (and I think it's a safe assumption), that Tad isn't going to make a lateral move.  He has already reportedly rebuffed Texas A&M, Oklahoma, KSU, and Nebraska with their mountains of cash, and doesn't seem willing to entertain that level of offer.  If he were to seriously entertain leaving, at this point I'd have to assume it was only because a whale came calling.  What do I mean by 'whale?'  I mean a blue-blood, legacy-level program.  Kansas *cough*, Kentucky, Duke, Michigan St, etc.  Yes, UCLA would qualify at that level.

The problem then becomes that Tad hasn't done nearly enough to warrant a genuine offer from those institutions.  Seriously, examine his record from an outsiders' viewpoint.  He has never finished higher than 5th in a major conference, and has only one Tournament win under his belt.  Try selling that to the fanbase that just booted Ben Howland and his three Final Fours.

Yes, Coach Boyle is a winner, but he doesn't have the gaudy stats of, say, Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens that attract the big guys (Final Fours, conference titles, etc).  He will not get a serious call from UCLA, other than a net-casting 'hey, would you be interested?,' unless the Bruins go through their 1st-8th choices, getting rejected at every turn (possible).  Even then, there would be a riot in Westwood if it was announced that 'something named Tad' is sitting in the same chair once held by John Wooden.

Tad is the closest thing we've seen to a winner in these parts since Sox Walseth, but let's keep some perspective.  He has yet to make his name at a national level. 

Additionally, he has high school-age kids, and I know it's a priority of any parent to see kids of that age finish their pre-college careers with some level of geographical stability.  Even with a 'whale' calling, he'd still have to sit down with his family and decide; it wouldn't necessarily be a no-brainer.  Boulder, as I know well, is a hard place to leave.

But isn't Tad grossly underpaid?  Couldn't that drive him away?  Well, to that end, his recent contract extension calls for just under $600,000 in base salary and compensation, with bonuses and escalators pushing his total to right around $1 million this season.  It's not huge money for this level, and it should be higher, but, remember, he has only been coaching top-conference basketball for three years, and hasn't had time to really cash in on his success.

Even given that he's 'underpaid,' that doesn't mean that he'll leave this second (!!!!!!!) if someone doesn't cut him a check, a fact evidenced by his rejection of $2 million/year offers over the last two years.  Further, I have yet to hear even a hint that there's push-back from Dal Ward concerning a contract negotiation with Tad, and AD Mike Bohn has proven, unlike previous ADs (lookin' at you, Dick Tharp), that he is ready and willing to pump money into basketball.  I don't doubt for a second that, when the time comes, Tad will get paid if that's the difference between staying and leaving.  

I'm not saying that Tad would, if asked, flatly reject UCLA and their millions.  If someone is calling, ready to offer you $3 million per year, you at least answer the phone.  I'm just saying that it's stretching credulity that Tad would be asked, and that the CU would just let him go without a peep.  More than likely, this is the moment that Coach Boyle leverages the last three years for a new contract calling for more base pay, and a total level of average compensation near the top-quarter of the conference.

My dudes and dudettes, Tad isn't going anywhere.  Don't listen to the trolls.  Breathe calm and easy, and enjoy your summer.

Roll Tad.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: #IsItNovemberYet?

It was a bad weekend of hoops for everyone wearing a CU uniform.  Both the men's and women's teams suffered early defeats in the Tournament, making for an abrupt shift to the offseason.  However, if it's any consolation, we're only 220 days away from November, so it's not all bad!

Today in the bag, I'm recapping the early exits, discussing a weekend full of upsets, talking Ben Howland's exit from UCLA, and touching on soccer's snow bowl.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 NCAA Tournament Preview: Illinois

One day of Madness in the bag, and my bracket is torn to all hell.  The devastation was all encompassing.  I almost shed tears.  But there's no use crying over broken brackets; there's still five more days of Madness to go.  At this point, I'm ready to shred the poor sheet, and simply enjoy the action.  I'll probably be better off for it.


More than a week since their last game, the Buffs are finally set to run back out onto some hardwood.  It's a nearly unprecedented second-straight year in the NCAA Tournament for the budding program, which in and of itself is an accomplishment.  I would imagine, however, that Coach Boyle and crew are not about to be satisfied with just hearing their names called.
Just getting to the Dance can't be enough.  Wins define your legacy.  From: the BDC
In all their wisdom, the Selection Committee set CU up with a nearly mirror-image opponent: Illinois.  Much like the Buffs, the Illini won their holiday tournament, and rode the wave to an early, over-zealous ranking.   That rise would plateau with with early set-backs in conference play, leading many to question whether they ever as good as they showed in November and December.  While they did manage to pull some upsets in February, they never got around to playing top-25 basketball again, and mostly proved to be inconsistent.  Sound familiar?  I bet it does.

There are some on-court differences, however.  The Illini are more experienced, come from what many say is the nation's best conference, and shoot a ton of threes.  CU revels in it's youth, while possessing a better interior game, and relish the opportunity to attack the defense inside the perimeter.

How those narrative similarities and stylistic differences blend make this one of the most interesting matchups of the first round.  Pat yourself on the back, Selection Committee.  While you may have screwed up seeding and matchups elsewhere, you got this one spot on.

Tip-off from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX is scheduled for approximately 2:40 MT.  Coverage can be found on TNT, or on the web via March Madness Live.  For those stuck at work, Mark Johnson's radio call will be on AM 760, also available through

Click below for the preview...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Quick Post: My bracket

Happy March!

In an effort for complete transparency, I present my one and only bracket for the year.  I hate it.

When plugged into ESPN, they gave it a 'B.'  Your mocking tone is not appreciated, ESPN.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On Kentucky

Last night, the Kentucky Wildcats became the first defending national champion to drop an opening round NIT game in nearly 30 years (NC State).  It was a beautiful scene, with tiny Robert Morris University rushing the court to celebrate a shocking start to the other tournament.
Hooray NIT!  From: Deadspin
It took a lot to drag the defending champs down to the level of the Colonials.  A boat-load of roster turnover, an injury to star Wildcat forward Nerlens Noel, a resulting eight-game skid of inconsistent play, an NIT berth, and Lexington hosting the first round of the real Tournament all lead to the blue-blood of blue-bloods traveling to sleepy Moon Township, PA Tuesday night.

But in reality, the fault for this stunning upset lies at the feet of one man: John Calipari.  No, I'm not going to blame the one-and-done system, which he leverages to its fullest (I honestly have no problem with the way he recruits), only how he handled it this year.

I sat in amazement as 'Coach Cal' allowed cameras to come into his program earlier this year.  He allowed the hype to build, and the lights to shine when he should've been focused on mashing the reset button.  What had any of the quartet of incoming stars-to-be done to deserve such indulgence?  The title winning had been mostly done by those no longer with the program.
It's funny that not a year after talking openly of 40-0, and mocking his competitors, that Coach Cal blame-shifted the disappointing season onto his young stars. "They think we're supposed to win 30 a year, 35 a year, go to the Final Four, win a national title. [...] They haven't had any discipline all year." (-link)  No, you think you're supposed to win 30-35 a year.  Where was your discipline?  You set them up to fail, and probably cost those kids money and prestige in the process.

Rather than preaching 'new season,' and the hard work required to do what the baby 'Cats did in 2012, Coach Cal preached how easy and sexy it was.  Contrast that with CU's fall camp, where everyone but the six incoming freshmen were seen wearing 2012 NCAA Tournament gear.  The expectation from Coach Boyle was that this was a young team, and that they needed to prove their worth.  He talked about 15-17 wins, and how hard the climb would be.

The Buffs were just as young as Kentucky this year, with a massive, heralded freshmen class (albeit not nearly as heralded), and only one upperclassmen contributor.  But it's the young Buffs playing Friday, while the Wildcats are already planning for next year.  The lesson, as always, is that humility and hard work comes before achievement.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ladies get the 5-seed they deserved

With no recent history of Tournament snubbing to raise the collective blood pressure, there was little drama Monday night.  The #19 Colorado women's basketball team was 100% going to be in the Tournament for the first time since 2004, probably with a nice seed to boot.  They even knew where they'd be playing - at home in Boulder.  The only bits left to be decided were when, and against whom.

Shortly after 5pm yesterday, those few remaining questions were answered, as ESPN announced that the ladies would be playing old Big XII rival Kansas in an always tricky 5/12 game Saturday afternoon at the CEC.  I may have wanted to see Nebraska's name pop up in the same pod, but the Jayhawks will do nicely.
The ladies celebrate the announcement.  From:
The rhetoric from the CU camp was entirely positive.  Outside, however, the reaction was mixed.  While former CU star, and current ESPN contributor, Kate Fagan (who was on that '04 team) talked up how battle-tested the Jayhawks are, ESPN's bracketologist Charlie Creme was calling Kansas' bubble profile "one of the worst for an at-large choice in recent memory."

I admittedly know very little about how tough Kansas may or may not be, but I'm very confident that the Buffs, who have yet to lose to an unranked team this year, will make short-work of them in the friendly confines of the Coors Events Center.

If and when the ladies get past the Jayhawks over the weekend, they'll play the winner of the 4/13 matchup between South Carolina and South Dakota State.  As a top-25 team for most of the season, the Gamecocks will be heavily favored to survive to Monday's round of 32.

I still like the Buffs to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.  Assuming they get past Kansas, you have to like the matchup with the road-tripping Gamecocks, who will be playing 1,600 miles away, and over 5,000 feet higher than their home in Columbia, SC.  Hosting does have it's advantages, after all.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: ... and do the Harlem Shake

The Pac-12 seems to have bit hard on the whole Harlem Shake thing.  The zombified meme was featured during each of the first five sessions of the recently completed Pac-12 tournament, and a compilation of the attempts was shown at the final.


If there's any one reason that the Pac-12 was "seeding-snubbed" for the capital 't' Tournament, I'd put my money on this.  The Committee is always watching, and looks disapprovingly upon such crimes against humanity.  El Jefe, you brought this upon yourself.  Inform your charges in San Francisco that a repeat performance will not be tolerated.


Back from Vegas, I'm quickly turning my focus towards the Dance.  Despite concern trolls spreading doubt, CU comfortably made the cut, and is headed back to Big XII territory to play Illinois on Friday.

Today in the bag, I'm talking Tournament, Vegas, and Selection Monday for the ladies.

Click below for the bag...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2013 Pac-12 Tournament Preview

God bless Larry Scott.  El Jefe took one look at the flagging attendance in Los Angeles, and decided to move the Pac-12 tournament to sexier environs.  What could possibly be sexier than Vegas in March?  Nothing.

Sin City has, in recent years, turned into a hoops Shangri-La.  Besides the Pac-12, the Mountain West, WAC, and WCC all hold their conference tournaments in Vegas over the first few weeks of March.  For Front Range hoopniks, that means that you could theoretically see CU, CSU, and DU all play meaningful basketball in the same afternoon, while still spending some time at the blackjack tables... not to mention the fact that it'll be 80 and sunny all week.

The point is, by the time you read this post, I will already be in Las Vegas.  Feel free to turn green with envy.

What does that mean for the blog?  Well, since I still don't have a laptop, that unfortunately means I'm going dark for the rest of the week.  Instead, I'll be tweeting (probably a lot) from the games, so you may want to follow me @Rumblinbuffalo.

As for a tournament prediction...

I was all ready to predict a first round exit for the Buffs.  OSU dominated the paint, on both ends, last Saturday, mostly because Andre Roberson wasn't around to check the likes of Joe Burton and Eric Moreland.  Through that dominance, they were able to thoroughly out-work the Buffs without sharp-shooters Roberto Nelson and Ahmad Starks having strong games (Starks was particularly non-existant).  If the Beavers had maintained their advantage in the paint this afternoon, while at the same time getting production from their shooters, no amount of CU adjustments would've been enough to stave off a humiliating defeat.

Luckily, 'Dre has been cleared to play, and the balance of power in the paint has been leveled.  Roberson will be allowed to slip into the role of Willis Reed, giving the Buffs a much better shot to advance past the league-worst Beavers, and onto a favorable matchup with Arizona.
With 'Dre back leading the Buffs on the court, I feel much better about this week.
I don't think Colorado is likely to repeat as champions, although Jason King at ESPN thinks they will.  Still, I think a strong run to a third-straight league semi-final is within reach, and would leave the selection committee with little recourse but to pay off the Buffs with a nice seed for next week.

Overall, I think the tournament will see a lot of minor first and second day upsets, before reverting to chalk for the semis and finals.

I think Cal has a really nice path to the title game.  Their season-finale flop against rival Stanford notwithstanding, they should matchup well with the USC/Utah winner, before clocking either Oregon or Washington.

On the other-side of the bracket, I'm very interested to see what UCLA has in store for everyone.  Nothing would surprise me from that camp, be it a quarterfinals loss to Stanford/ASU, or a breezy run to the title. Neither CU or Arizona is a particularly strong matchup against the Bruins, so, as long as they don't trip up on Thursday, I like them to stumble their way into the final.

Given that chalk-filled tournament finish, give me the Bruins over Cal on Saturday.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Inaugural Rumblin' Awards

Yesterday, the Pac-12 released their seasonal awards (congrats to 'Dre, Jelly, and Spencer, by the way).  Never satisfied with the musing of coaches and professional pundits, I'm going to delve into who I believe should have been honored by the Pac-12 this year.

After the jump, find my choices for the All-Pac-12 1st and honorable mention teams, along with my Player, Coach, Freshman, and Defender of the Year.

Please remember that the Rumblin' Awards are a black tie affair.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: A Poor Send-off

Saturday's loss to Oregon St didn't change anything.  Had CU won, they'd still be playing the Beavers, again, on Wednesday.  It does, however, add doubt to the equation, doubt that hadn't been there prior to Saturday afternoon.  The whole situation actually mirrors last season, when the Buffs went into the Pac-12 tournament fresh off of a deflating loss to OSU.  Hopefully, history continues to repeat this week in Vegas.

Today in the bag, I'm talking a rough Saturday on the hardwood, national championships, and the World Baseball Classic.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Attrition Files - Shane Harris-Tunks

There was a little bit of a surprise announced last night. Redshirt junior Shane Harris-Tunks is graduating from CU, and will be leaving the program after this season.  He will be honored along with Sabatino Chen tomorrow for Senior Day.

Originally a Jeff Bzdelik recruit, Shane leaves the program having played three seasons in four years, the product of debilitating injuries to his knees that cost him much of his explosion and athleticism. The center still has a year of eligibility left, but it's unclear whether he intends to use the graduating senior exemption to use it at a different school, or if he simply intends to retire.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
With Shane's departure comes the closure of the Jeff Bzdelik era.  Not a single remaining player was signed by the current Wake Forest coach.  Considering that, it makes sense for Shane to leave.  He has his degree, and both his recruiting class and his fellow Aussie Nate Tomlinson have previously departed.  It's a clean break.

We may never know what a completely healthy Shane's ceiling was.  I remember the Harris-Tunks of his freshman year.  The Australian import was obviously raw, but still capable of jumping and running.  He even lead a fast break once.  He added 25 pounds over his first offseason, and there was actually a lot expected of him headed into 2010-11.
Freshman Shane was a completely different player.
Unfortunately, an ACL tear in the season's first practice put an end to that.  The word devastating was thrown around without irony.  Losing Shane in the fall of 2010 actually had me bumbling around, hoping the Casey Crawford's of the world would run home to momma. In fact, that team's lack of size with SHT out lead to the return of Trent Beckley.

When Shane returned last season, it was obvious that he had lost a step to the knee issues.  He couldn't leap for rebounds or blocks, and his speed was down.  To his credit, however, he stuck it out, and found new ways to contribute. During the post-season run in 2012, Shane stepped up and became a sorely needed interior force for the Buffs.  You could see the flashes - the deft passing, the powerful presence - that earned him a scholarship, and the Buffs won games as a result. 
Shane played big minutes to help CU to a conference title.
I'm not going to claim that I was never frustrated beyond tolerance by Shane's play.  That would be dishonest and unfair to history.  However, I think it's important to note that Shane filled a necessary role in this program for the last four years.  He was the heavy guns needed to counter bulky big men from around the country.  He did that job admirably, battling for position against bigger, heavier, healthier competition.  Despite what many think, the Buffs wouldn't be as good without him.

Thank you, Shane.  You fought through injury, and did the heavy lifting in the paint to help turn around the struggling program.  Take a deserved bow tomorrow afternoon.


Best remembered for - 

Doing the dirty work.  When the Buffs went up against bulk, Shane was called upon to cancel it out.  He brought an unwavering, physical presence with him onto the court when no one else on the roster could.  He showed no fear, and was always ready to take on the biggest in the land.
Shane, strapping up for war.
Best aspect of his game -  

His passing creativity in the paint was a step above many of his teammates and competitors.  I always felt that if he was given more run with the first team that those passes would bear more fruit.  There just wasn't enough familiarity with his game to take full advantage.

Best game as a Buff -

The bullish Iverson ran up against a willing competitor in Shane.
12/5/12 vs CSU.  He played 13 huge minutes against bulky CSU forward Colton Iverson, and held his own.  Dropping 7/1 against someone perceived to be a better player was huge as the Buffs blew past the gun-shy Rams.

2013 Oregon St Basketball Preview #2

After last night, I'm convinced that I no longer understand basketball.

Without defensive leader Andre Roberson, I thought the Buffs would be in big trouble against the conference leading Oregon Ducks.  When the entirety of the starting lineup was saddled with first half foul issues, I knew the Buffs would be in trouble.  Instead, in an act of defiance against conventional wisdom, CU utilized another incredible performance from the bench mob to push around a sleep-walking Oregon team to the tune of a 76-53 win.
No Andre, no cry.  From: the BDC
The Buffs so clearly out-hustled their overrated opponents that I began to feel sorry for Oregon halfway through the second half.  They just didn't have the heart, energy, and focus required to crack the Buffs in their best whole-team performance in years.   From Spencer Dinwiddie and Xavier Johnson to Shane Harris-Tunks and even Beau Gamble, every player in home silver played above their normal.  Against that kind of landslide, few would have a hope in hell, but Oregon looked particularly out-of-place on the court.  It was shocking to see how easily they rolled over. The Ducks were ostensibly playing for a conference title, yet came out dispassioned and lazy, missing free throws and lay-ups ad nauseum.  Maybe no one wants to win this damn league...
Not 'Boyled.' Roasted.  From: the BDC
Credit to the Buffs, they took advantage of this terrible Oregon performance.  Without the nation's leading rebounder, the Buffs still managed to out-rebound a solid rebounding basketball team by four.  Without the league's best defender, the Buffs still managed to play such wrenching defense that Oregon seemed to sag at the mere thought of attacking it, shooting 2-12 from deep, and a lousy 27% from the field in the first half.

On offense, despite foul trouble suppressing minutes, Spencer Dinwiddie and Xavier Johnson led the way by combining for 39 points.  XJ in fact got his 22 in as many minutes of play, which hurts my head even thinking about it.  As for Dinwiddie, his 17/7/6/1 statline is a thing of beauty, restating his case for Pac-12 POY consideration.  Additionally, his withering defense held Oregon star E.J. Singler to only two points on five shots.  Singler was so lost with Dinwiddie locking him down that I thought his momma was going to have to come out and save him.
Spencer conducted another master class Thursday.  From: the BDC
But the win goes deeper than the starters.  Jeremy Adams, Shane Harris-Tunks and Xavier Talton all played huge reserve minutes, keeping the team afloat when Oregon looked poised to get up off the mat.  The trio combined for 14 points, and brought buckets of heart to the court in every one of their combined 54 minutes

The win silences critics who bizarrely thought the Buffs were creeping towards bubble-danger territory, and keeps dreams of a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament on life-support for another 36 hours.  It also marks the third-straight 20-win season for the Buffs, a program record, and keeps a record-tying 21-win regular season campaign in reach.  A win Saturday against OSU would end the season in style, sending the team off to Vegas on a high-point, and setting them up for a signature Tad Boyle post-season run.


Happy Senior Day Eve!  There's surprise late add to the festivities that I'll have more on later today.  Beyond the ceremony, however, the Buffs have a chance to cap the season with a big home win.  Of Colorado's nine losses this season, seven of them have come in weekend games (five of seven in conference), leaving me to hope that the positive distraction of a Senior Day celebration will shake up the weekend rut.

In addition, AllBuffs, the C-Unit, and former Buff Arthur Jaffee's company StacheTats are teaming up to supply the Pac-12's best student section with some cool gear for tomorrow in support of #MayorStacheMarch.  For the rest of us, our assignment is to wear GOLD in support of the C-Unit's #GoldOut.  All-in-all, it should make for a fun atmosphere in the CEC.

Seeds are at stake in Boulder.  A win clinches at-worst a #5-seed for the Buffs, and OSU needs the win for any hope to stay out of the conference basement.  Should CU prevail, this could be a preview of the first-round matchup in Sin City.

Everybody, drive safe, stay patient despite the snow, and I'll see you in Boulder Valley tomorrow.

Tip-off from the snow-capped CEC is set for 2:30pm MT Saturday.  Coverage can be found on Pac-12 Network, with Mark Johnson moving his radio broadcast to AM760 because of Rockies baseball.

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

Click below for my preview of the rematch...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

2013 Oregon Basketball Preview #2

It's weird to note that, with only one weekend of action to go, the Buffs could still finish anywhere from 4th to 8th in the Pac-12.  A home sweep of the Oregons, combined with an Arizona loss to ASU, and the Buffs are gifted a first-round bye that they don't really deserve.  Conversely, a pair of stumbles in the season's final two games, and Colorado would need another USC loss to avoid a humbling 8th-place car wreck finish.

I dismiss both of the extreme possibilities for the Buffs.  I just can't imagine this team finishing in 8th place - they're simply better than that - and I have a hard time believing that ASU will beat their betters on Saturday.  So 5th-7th it is.  Given those possibilities, I think CU will stay were it is, with at worst a 1-1 finish over the final two, and not enough happening with the rest of the middle to leave the squad in 5th.

Of course, the Buffs aren't the only team hoping to avoid an ignominious finish.  Should Arizona find a way to lose to ASU, and slip out of the top-four, it would be the culmination of a humiliating collapse for the squad picked to carry the league.  The Cats have gone 3-4 over their last seven, coughing up any hope of a league title along the way.  'Zona simply couldn't handle the best the Pac-12 had to offer, as they went 1-6 against the rest of the league's top-five, with that lone win coming via general shenanigans.

I find a lot of comfort in the fragility of the vaunted Wildcats.  Compared to the old Big XII, the front-running teams in the Pac appear... fallible... flawed... human.  Could you imagine Kansas slipping to 5th, regardless of circumstances, in any given Big XII campaign?  Throw in Missouri, K-State, and Texas when they were good.  All those programs seemed invincible at times.  It may be a product of the Buffs being better over the past few years, but I just don't fear anyone that this conference has to offer, and it seems that feeling is mutual considering how chaos continues to reign in the West.

Case-in-point, who spiked the Gatorade on the UCLA sideline?  A shocking defeat (first time @WSU in 20 years) at cellar-dwelling Washington State has possibly cost them the conference title.  As a result, Cal - yes, Cal - had a chance to claim the #1 seed last night, but imploded against archival Stanford in a game where the majority of the Cardinal coaching staff was ejected...  ... ... ... wait, what?

ESPN's John Gasaway was right:

Get a good look.  There's only two remaining chances to see the Buffs live in Boulder.  First up, a titanic rematch with the Oregon Ducks.  Three of the last four meetings between CU and UO have finished in one-point Colorado victories.  The games were furiously contested, showcasing some of the grittiest play of the Tad Boyle era.  Will tonight be a repeat of the closely contested battles of the past two seasons, or will one of the teams take a step past their rival?

Tip-off from the CEC is set for 7pm MT.  Coverage, if you can't find tickets, can be found on ESPN2, with Mark Johnson and the radio call back on 850 KOA.

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

Click below for my preview of the rematch...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Women Readying for Post-Season Run

The women's team has been playing some spectacular ball this year.  Their 24-5 regular season mark is legitimately one of the best seen in Boulder over the last two decades.  As a result, they've earned a #18 ranking in both major polls, and numerous members of the team received well-deserved league honors. The traditionally strong program is 'back,' and rolling towards post-season action.
Chucky Jeffery, a first-team All-Pac-12 performer, has helped lead the Buffs through a sterling regular season campaign.
After a rocky 4-5 start to conference play, the ladies worked their butts off to come back and earn a first round bye for the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle.  Unfortunately, their reward is one of the tougher draws available.

While they don't have to play Thursday night (a gift to be sure), on Friday they'll probably be tasked with Washington, playing essentially a road game against the local Huskies.  While CU handled UW the only time they played, it was in Boulder, and by a relatively slim seven point margin.  The rematch won't be easy.
A CU/UW rematch won't be an easy post-season opener for the Buffs.  From: the BDC
Should the Buffs survive the quarterfinal, their reward would be... a date with national #4 Stanford. I don't think the Cardinal is necessarily unbeatable, as they're still without the services of guard Toni Kokenis (who dropped 15 points and five assists the last time CU and Stanford played), but I would much rather be seeing them in the final, and either Cal (who CU pushed through two losses) or UCLA in the semis.

Add it all up, and the Buffs scored a damn tough bracket.  There was some talk yesterday that CU has the ability to win the tournament, and they certainly do.  But I see a pseudo-road game followed up by the league's #1, and I get a little nervous.
Stanford, and star forward Chiney Ogwumike (#13), would be a tough draw for the semi finals.
When it comes to capital 't' Tournament time, things look much better, at least for the first two rounds.

The ladies are probably looking at either a 4- or 5-seed, depending on how things shake out in Seattle.  That's probably fair, and, with CU hosting the first two rounds at the CEC, the team will have a great chance to reach the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in a decade.  One scenario I'd love to see?  Top-25 Nebraska getting sent to Boulder as the other half of the 4/5 combo.  The committee likes to keep travel costs down, afterall...

Of course, the problem with a 4/5 seed is that a #1 looms should you get past the first weekend.  In a year with a dominant set of 1-seeds, that's essentially a death sentence.

It's March, though. There are no easy games in the third month of the year, so I can't really complain about the difficult matchups headed CU's way.  It'll now be left to the women to capitalize on the opportunity they've earned for themselves, and make some noise.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The 2013 Senior Class

Senior Day isn't until Saturday, but, with the way the Pac-12 schedules, it almost feels almost like Senior Week

For CU, this is the first season since 2009-10 that the men's program will only graduated one player - it was Dwight Thorne's solo spotlight back then.  Much like that campaign, the honoree in 2013 may have wound up as a 'glue guy' on the court, but has developed as a vital emotional leader off of it.  That leader, Sabatino Chen, may not lead the team in any statistical categories (other than GPA), but has proven essential to the success of the program in all aspects.  Further, he will leave the program having been a part of it's most successful three-year run in the shot clock era.

After the jump, I'll give my thoughts on Sabatino's career, while also taking a look at what I best remember from his time here.

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...

Friday, March 1, 2013

2013 Cal Basketball Preview #2

Confidence.  Both the Bears and Buffs are brimming with it headed into tonight's game.

For CU it's a matter of finally feeling comfortable on the road.  Winning three straight away from Boulder is almost unheard of for the program, but Tad Boyle's crew of road warriors have done just that.

With Cal, it's a matter of simply being the hottest team in the West.  Since losing at the CEC in late January, the Bears have gone on a 8-1 run, which has catapulted them in Tournament and Pac-12 title contention.

Yet, someone is going to have that confidence busted tomorrow night.  The winner will have the inside track for a top-4 seed in Las Vegas, along with an outside shot at stealing the regular season title.  The loser will have to look forward to playing on March 13th, while still fretting over bracketology for another week.

There's plenty on the line in Berkeley - you may not have noticed, but the calendar now reads March. Things are getting serious...

Tip-off from Haas Pavillion is set for 3pm MT tomorrow.  Coverage can be found on ESPNU.  Mark Johnson and the radio call have been bumped from 850 to AM760 as a result of Rockies spring training.

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

Click below for my preview of the rematch...