I guess this comes with the territory, especially in a state with citizens as obsessed with their own righteousness as Colorado. CU Basketball is now a headline grabbing attraction, so their pratfalls will necessarily attract comments from the peanut gallery. As I've said often this year, we're now a basketball school stuck with a football fanbase. At the very least, it's going to be interesting to see how BuffNation deals with the transition to life with an actual basketball power.
Regardless, let me assure the huddled masses that the program you've all just discovered is in good hands. Remember, it was only four years ago that CU was all offense, no defense with Cory and Alec running the show. Granted a little health, the potential of a lucky attrition break, and the oncoming infusion of freshman talent, the Buffs should be back to their winning ways in 2015.
Today in the bag, I'm talking the quick exit from the Dance, the Sweet Sixteen, and the women progressing through the NIT.
Click below for the bag...
Buffs lay an egg in Orlando -
I knew it was likely that CU would lose to Pittsburgh in their second round game of the NCAA Tournament, I had readied myself for that eventuality. What I was decidedly not ready for was how completely unprepared the Buffs were for the stage. From the opening tip you could tell the team was just happy to be there, and at no point throughout the 40 minutes of 'action' were they even slightly competitive. And so, a season of interrupted promise came to an end in far off Orlando, Florida by an incomprehensible 77-48 spread. The Buffs were out of the Dance before the fashionably late even know what was happening.
|The Buffs got worked last week. From: the BDC|
The Panthers swarmed, pouring on bucket after bucket, while not allowing a single moment of offensive competence to blossom out of CU's abbreviated sets. Pitt ripped 12 steals out of 17 Colorado turnovers, turning the lot into 24 quick points. They also dominated the paint, leading the Buffs 44-14 in interior scoring. As thoroughly as they were beaten on the margins, it almost doesn't matter that CU struggled from the floor (36% for the game), or that they left the sieve open on defense (51%). Almost.
The questions are natural, childish, and insolent. Where were the adjustments to the double-teams in the paint we all knew were coming? Where was the rotation and ball movement? Why did the defense disappear, again, when it was needed more than ever? Why did this team look completely unprepared for the stage in this, their third consecutive trip to the Dance? The answers come far less freely, especially considering the caliber of talent across the Colorado bench.
|This is not the way this season was supposed to end... From: the BDC|
In that light, it's going to be a long, rough summer at the CEC. The program will have to sit on this one for quite a while, and I'm very interested to see what kind of squad emerges when practices kick up in late October.
Looking at the Sweet Sixteen -
Well, how's your bracket doing? Since you didn't ask, mine is doing quite well, and I'm in with a shot of winning my office pool. Not a billion dollars, but it'll do in a pinch...
As to the reality of the Tournament, however, I can't remember the first two rounds being this action-packed in quite a while. It's has been awesome! Good basketball, too. A real Renaissance for the sport, with Madness reigning, and chalk being resigned to the dustbins.
|I see you, Cardinal! From: SI.com|
Conversely, it was a rough weekend for some of the sport's biggest names. Coaches Boeheim, Krzyzewski, Self, and Williams will all be starting their vacations a little early, which is astonishing in the month of March, where coaching 'names' are usually good for mindless advancement. Respectively, they were upset by relative unknowns from Dayton, Mercer, Stanford, and Iowa State, each lead by a young(er) coach desperate to make a statement. Thinking on it, though, I'm all for it. It gets boring when you see the same names in the second weekend each year, and a little madness in the Madness makes for entertaining television.
|Duke, what happened?|
Women into the NIT's Sweet Sixteen -
It's not the Sweet Sixteen they were hoping for back in December, but the women have rebounded from a disastrous conference campaign to make the third round of the Women's NIT.
The run started with a mid-week victory over TCU. It wasn't easy, however. The Horned Frogs lead after the game's opening six minutes, and CU looked rusty through those first few possessions. Thankfully, the Buffs would respond and go on a 32-11 run to close the half. While the visitors would fight to close the gap in the second frame, CU was able to ride that +21 wave home.
Following up on their beatdown of the Horned Frogs, it was expected that CU would be playing little sister, but the Rams failed to hold up their end of the bargain. Thus came the opportunity to beat a surprisingly tough Southern Utah squad. Behind stifling defense that held the Thunderbirds to under 35% shooting, the Buffs powered through a high scoring second half (98 points combined) to survive and advance.
|Roberson was magnificent this week. From: CUBuffs.com|
Now that the home double has seen the Buffs through, and they'll face UTEP, who defeated St Mary's last night, later this week. After enjoying two home games to start the tournament, CU will now have to take their show on the road, as the Miners have been selected to host this round. Good luck, ladies!