Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Grab Bag: Exhale, and return to breathing normally

No time for idle chatter, straight onto the bag!

Today in the bag, I'm talking the rebound victory over USC, more struggles from the women's team, and football's championship Sunday.

Click below for the bag...

Buffs rebound to batter Trojans - 

We can all calm down.  For 40 minutes against a truly awful USC squad on Saturday, our Buffs looked like themselves again.  They owned all phases of the game, righting the ship through a satisfying 83-62 win.  The whole thing made those predicting doom, myself included, look pretty foolish.  I'll take my medicine, I'd rather look the fool than be right in this case.
Xavier Johnson and the Buffs got back on their feet.  From: the BDC
It was a rout from the tip-off.  Colorado got out on a 20-2 run, and never looked back.  For the game, CU was +20 on the boards, shot 50% from the field, and collected 10 blocks.  The decision was never in doubt, a comfort much needed after Thursday's dirge.

The team was lead, once again, by Josh Scott and Askia Booker, who continued to up their games in this new, post-Spencer world.  Scott dropped 20/7/2 and ruled the paint, humiliating the Trojans who made the unconventional decision to not double-team the big man on the block.  I heard some saying that this was another quiet performance from Jelly, but he has obviously opened up his game, becoming more aggressive and demanding of the ball on offense.  He's taking and making more of those 15-18-foot jumpers, and it's making him tougher to guard.  If Josh keeps this up, we're going to have to start talking seriously about his candidacy for Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Booker, however, was even more dominant than Scott, despite only putting up 13/4/6.  He has clearly taken over the on-court management of CU, and he proved capable of the task by playing efficient, controlled basketball for the second-straight game. Ski actually had more assists (six) than shots on the day (five); who thought they'd ever see that kind of performance from #SKIBALL?  He even produced the defensive highlight of the day, exploding skywards to block a sure dunk attempt from USC's 7-foot backup center DJ Haley.  As Coach Boyle said, “He has never had a game like this, he played within himself and was efficient [...] I thought he was terrific.” Indeed.
Haley forgot about Mt Askia.  From: the BDC
Unlike against UCLA, Booker and Scott received some help against the Trojans.  Fellow starters Xavier Johnson and Jaron Hopkins each had solid games, combining for 20 points.  Wes Gordon was also strong, leading the block party with five of his own to go along with five points and eight rebounds.  CU needs consistent performances from this crew going forward.

As fun as the win was, the ills of this team were not magically solved on Saturday.  Anyone can look good against a team as incompetent and disorganized as USC.  The trick will be taking this re-discovered energy and putting it to good use the rest of the season.  It certainly won't be easy to build on the win this week - the Buffs are next on the road against #1 Arizona and program nemesis ASU.  If CU can put together a good showing in the hostile environs of Tucson and Tempe, even without a win, we'll know they've rebounded effectively. Regardless, at least we know where the bottom is, and its name is the USC Trojans.

Women's team continues to unravel - 

While the men were able to arrest their downward momentum over the weekend, for the women's team, it continues unabated.  It was bad enough that they lost to Washington State on Friday - while the Cougars had a terrible non-conference run, they've at least been on a perfect run in Pac-12 play - but they completed the disastrous trip to the Pacific Northwest by losing at a struggling Washington squad on Sunday. The pair of defeats makes it six in their last eight games.  By now, any memories of the time when this team was one of the top-15 teams in the country have been erased.

The whistles were a primary culprit.  Against WSU on Friday, CU held the Cougars scoreless over the final six-plus minutes, but were kept at arms length due to a parade to the line.  Sunday versus the Huskies was only worse, as CU was whistled for 29 fouls, leading to 46 attempts from the line for UW.  Kelsey Plum alone went 18-19 from the stripe (a record for a CU opponent).  More than just the attempts, it was CU's stars taking the fouls. Both Jen Reese and Arielle Roberson each had a disqualification on the trip, and there were eight instances of a Colorado player collecting four or more fouls. It's just the home whistle in effect, but it's hard to comeback against that avalanche of whistles.
Aided my too many trips to the line, Plum dropped 35 on the Buffs.  From:
I honestly don't know what happened to the team.  Certainly, some of this weekend's malaise can be attributed to the loss of injured wing Jasmine Sborov, but this has been going on for a month.  I'm starting to realize that a weak non-conference schedule may have covered up some cracks in the foundation, but this team, at least on paper, should've been better than the solid squad who earned a 5-seed in last season's NCAA Tournament.  There's many more questions than answers now.

The NFL's Championship Sunday - 

- Denver 26 - New England 16

In yet another meeting between legendary quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, only one remembered to show up.  It was PFM and his orange-clad offensive juggernaut that ruled the turf in Denver, as the Broncos churned out 507 yards of offense to storm away with a commanding 26-16 victory. Congratulations, Denver, your Donkeys are back in the SuperBowl. (Good God, this town is going to be insufferable over the next two weeks.)
WEEEEEEEEEEE! From: Deadspin

- Seattle 23 - San Francisco 17

Denver will get the Seattle Seahawks, as they survived a final drive from the 49ers that threatened to steal the game away.  World-class corner and trash-talker Richard Sherman got his hands on a would-be touch down pass, however, and Malcolm Smith collected the tipped-ball to seal the NFC title.  Compared to the high-flying Broncos, the Seahawks won their championship with defense, setting up the age old battle between the league's best offense against the league's best defense.  It should make for an interesting game in two weeks, even for outsiders, like myself.

Happy Monday!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Women's basketball = Tard refs giving HUGE home advantages. Remember last year when OU out shot the Buffs in Eugene 38-6 and CU lost by what? 4?

If the women's game wants to be taken seriously at all, they need much better officiating and lower schollie limits say 10 per squad to spread out l the limited pool of talent. There are two many 85-38-type scores, even between big time schools.