Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Grab Bag: Bye week musings

Really glad to have the bye week in the rear view.  I've grown accustomed to watching the Buffs play every Saturday, and my weekend was pointedly missing something with them on the break.  Yes, I, the football denier, have become seduced by the young Buffs and their continuing climb to relevancy.

To date, it's been a story of near misses and should-woulda-coulda.  I'm looking for the next step - a genuine, statement win in a game they aren't supposed to be competitive in.  I'm not yet ready to call my shot for this weekend, but, given an extra week to prepare, I'm really interested to see what they bring to the table this weekend in Los Angeles...


Today, I'm talking a shocker from the basketball recruiting trail, a really nice Sunday in soccer and volleyball, and a peek at the upcoming football schedule.

Click below for the bag...

Surprise recruit in basketball - 

Despite struggling to fill the 2015 recruiting class, Coach Boyle and staff went ahead and made a down payment on 2016 last week with the commitment of Michigan product Deleon Brown.

A 6-4 combo guard from Grand Rapids, high school notes and film indicate that Deleon is a long, athletic lefty with a good outside touch and an ability to create off the dribble.  In true Tad Boyle mode, Brown is also his team's best defender. There is some concern about his size and development, which may have kept other Power 5 schools off his trail (CU was his only major offer), but the young guard won't turn 17 until December, leaving some room for growth before the Buffs will rely on him.

With that in mind, while he is on track to graduate this spring, Brown has announced his intention to spend a post-grad year at a New England prep academy, delaying his assumed arrival in Boulder a year (hence the 2016 tag).  There's always the chance that he could accelerate his plans, and show up next fall for a traditional redshirt year, but there's no indication of that being the case, as of yet.  If you've ever wondered how you get a greyshirt in basketball, you now have your answer.

It was a move out of left field for many in BuffNation, with all eyes on the recruiting of 2015 guard Tyler Dorsey, but friend of the blog @JGIsland dug up a clue back in September that this was coming. Apparently, the staff had been interested in Brown as far back as April ($), when they saw him at the Jayhawk Invitational, so the only surprise is that the pursuit hadn't leaked earlier.  Had Brown been a true 2015 recruit, this would be a little bit of a head-scratcher, as a development project seems like a reach for a one-man recruiting class. With the understanding that Brown belongs with the larger 2016 class, when CU could have four or more scholarships to offer, it makes a lot more sense.  Some misses aside, the staff has earned some leeway in recruiting, and I'm willing to wait and see on their newest puzzle piece.

It's hard to think too far in the future in the basketball world, but it's good to know at least some of what 2016 may bring.  Welcome aboard, Deleon!

A big Sunday for soccer and volleyball - 

Not to be forgotten, the women's soccer and volleyball teams enjoyed a fantastic Sunday on the West Coast, earning a pair of victories to be proud of.

The volleyball team started the fun with a four-set win over #17 UCLA.  Scalps of the Bruins in any sport have been hard to come by for Colorado, and this one was no different.  UCLA actually claimed the first set 25-23 before the the Buffs evened the match via a tough second set, 26-24.  Set #3 turned the match on its head, however, with CU taking it 25-12, stunning the home fans with .520 hitting, and putting momentum solidly in Colorado's corner.  The Buffs wouldn't relinquish in the final frame, and stole away with a 25-17 final set advantage and the outright win, their second on the year over a ranked opponent.
Taylor Simpson has been cruising lately, and Sunday was no exception.
Senior Taylor Simpson lead the way, hitting .415 on 41 total swings.  Said coach Liz Kritza, “For the first time all season, at different points during the match, all four of our pin hitters were hot, as well as our middles. When that happens, we are a tough team to slow down due to our offensive options."  That certainly seemed to be the case, as, from the start of the third set on, Colorado rarely flinched.

On the pitch, the soccer team finished a very successful trip to Oregon with a 2-1 comeback win over the Ducks.  Junior midfielder Kahlia Hogg found the net twice in the final 15 minutes to steal the full points for CU, surging the team into a tie for 3rd place in the Pac-12.  Her first was a thing of beauty, as a lofted flick easily beat the goalie to the far post.  The second, game-winning goal came in the 87th minute, as Hogg followed the shot of Madison Krauser to the net, and slotted the rebound past the reeling Oregon keeper.  A Duck defender dove on the ball in a desperate attempt to forestall the loss, but the damage had been done, as it ended up clearly past the line (would've been handball, anyways).
CU left it late, but still nabbed a huge win in Eugene.
The win comes only days after a solid effort in Corvallis, OR had kept the Beavers at bay.  A perfect visit to the 33rd State was necessary for the Buffs to stay in the top half of the league, where they belong.  After a Thursday jaunt to Palo Alto, CU will return home for five straight home games to close the regular season. Should they beat the Cardinal, far from a sure thing, that could set them up for a dark horse title run. Wouldn't that be a thing?

Upcoming schedule update - 

USC 28 - Arizona 26 -

Just another bland Saturday night in Pac-12 football...  featuring USC toppling the #10 team in the country despite giving the Wildcats two attempts at a game-tying two-point conversion, allowing them to secure a miracle onside kick, and watching them put their kicker in position for an easy game-winning field goal. Arizona's Casey Skowron, however, pushed that attempt well wide, and the Trojans claimed just the latest in a string of surprising in-conference road victories.
Buck Allen was on fire Saturday evening
Personally, I didn't get too caught up in the end result, as exciting as it was.  What did catch my eye was Javorius 'Buck' Allen plowing through the UofA's run defense for 205 yards and three scores on only 26 carries.  CU hasn't faced a team as dedicated to run production as USC since the opener, and I'm scared to think of what Allen and Co. will be capable of next Saturday.

UCLA 30 - Oregon 42 -

Shrugging off their stunning home loss to Arizona, Oregon seemed to get back on their feet with a convincing win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl.  I didn't think that the Arizona game was going to keep them down for too long, but the Ducks did well by restating their dominance over the Pac-12 South's best on their own turf. Per the usual, Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota ruled the roost, throwing and running for two scores a piece in a game that was never really that close.
Mariota was back to his old tricks.
For UCLA, this marks their second-straight home loss - not an aberration in the 2014 Pac-12, but a painful knock to their conference title hopes, nonetheless.  The problem was a poor showing in the third quarter, as offensive stumbles combined with an inability to stop Oregon to balloon a 21-10 halftime deficit into a 42-10 blowout. The Bruins would put up a lot of points and yards in the 4th, but by then the game was long over.

Washington 31 - Cal 7 -

The Huskies surprised me by blowing past the Bears with little difficulty.  They continually frustrated the normally effusive Cal offense, and did just enough work through the air to make it stand up.  Overall, they claimed their best win to-date, yet another road win for a conference that seems ignorant to the notion of home field advantage (Pac-12 schools are 14-4 as visitors in conference games).
I did not see a 24 point blowout coming.
I wasn't previously sold on Washington, despite their sterling early season record, and, on the surface, this convincing win over the Pac-12 North leaders should have me second-guessing my early impression.  But the Bears played like garbage for much of the first half, going nowhere on offense, and fumbling UW into an early lead. Really, the Husky offense is still a work in progress, and any gains against their defense could be definitive. Oregon and ASU, with their strong offensive attacks, should give them much better games over the next two weeks.  If Washington can manage to win one of those two, I'll be forced to finally reassess.

Happy Tuesday!

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