Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Grab Bag: Playing for check, rather than checkmate

It was good to be back with the band on Saturday, wailing away on my tuba, and putting as much noise in the ears of the Bruins as humanly possible.  Still, I was laid low by just how absolutely exhausting playing at a football game is.  I could barely sit up straight Saturday night, as physically beaten as I was by carrying that instrument all day.  My shoulder swelled to five times its normal size, my back hurt, my neck turned into a solid block of concrete, my cheeks and lips were cut and bruised, and my head pounded from dehydration. All that without having to march full cadence, pregame, or the full halftime show; I even took multiple breaks, and *gasp* sat down a time or twelve throughout the action.  The lesson here: I'm not 19 anymore.
A grand view, even if I took a painful route to get there.
Huge props to those kids who volunteer to pull that off seven Saturdays a year, all while juggling classes, homework, social commitments, and the rest of their lives.  Looking back, I'm struggling to reconcile my ability to do that for four years with the realities of everything that gameday entails. What's more, after every game, most of them losses, those kids proudly march back to the music building, heads held high, ready to do it all again next week.  Just incredible, when you think about it.


Today in the bag, I'm talking the loss to the Bruins, the upcoming schedule, and the game of telephone that was me hearing about the basketball scrimmage.

Click below for the bag...

Another heartbreaker in Folsom - 

On a picture-perfect Homecoming Saturday, the Buffs played one of their better games this year, pushing #25 UCLA to the brink.  However, as has repeatedly been the case this year, the heart and effort the team showed throughout the contest was not enough to overcome critical errors to edge them into the win column. As a result, the Bruins were allowed to escape Boulder with a 40-37 double-overtime victory they did not deserve.

The out-of-the-tunnel blues continued to plague Colorado, as UCLA out-scored them 20-0 in the first and third quarters.  All told in those frames, CU only notched 107 of their 500 total yards, punted eight times, and threw and interception.  It wasn't much better on defense, where UCLA moved the ball freely, including a 92-yard run on their first official play from scrimmage.  Seriously, why does it always take 15 minutes of action before this team is finally able to settle in?  Is it an option to not take a halftime break?...
CU played well, but still ended up on the wrong side of the scoresheet.  From: the BDC
It also didn't help that end of half clock management was an issue.  In the first, DD Goodson failed to go forward out of bounds after a first down grab, allowing the clock to run.  The Buffs didn't recognize that the still draining seconds were an issue, and never managed to get a play off (let alone a spike of the ball). Instead, they drew a 10-second runoff (thanks to a false start penalty) to void a 1st-and-goal situation.  In the second, the Buffs played conservative and for the tie on their final drive of regulation, but still left more than enough time for UCLA to march down for a potentially game-winning field goal.  Had CU not been bailed out by a holding penalty, there wouldn't have even been an overtime.  In a tight ballgame, those management mistakes loomed large.

Speaking of management, Coach Mac has, at times this season, been playing for check, rather than checkmate.  Continuing to string out the final possessions into overtime may be the textbook answer, but, staring 2-10 in the face, I was hoping he would've taken a few more risks to end the game on Colorado's terms.  By kicking field goals on the final three possessions, all the Buffs did was give Brett Hundley and the Bruins three chances to steal a game they did not deserve to win.  If, on any of those drives, Mac puts the pedal down, maybe the Buffs still lose, but they at least they would've done it trying to win the game, rather than just extend it.  MacIntyre turned to the old adage of 'play for the tie' at home, and probably cost his team a shot at a defining win, in the process.
So close, yet still so far away.  From: the BDC
Look, I'm as sick of 'progress' and 'valiant effort' as much as anyone else, team included, but they should be patted on the back for a really strong performance against a much more heralded group from UCLA.  Still, this is a zero-sum business, and games like Saturday need to be converted into wins.  With three behemoths looming on the horizon, this Saturday against Washington may be the Colorado's last realistic shot at a win in 2014.  Hopefully, they finally find what they've been looking for, play a complete game, and get the 'W.'

Upcoming schedule update - 

Washington 10 - ASU 24 -

In a league all about obscene scoring, it was weird to watch this one.  Only 575 yards of combined offense, two conventional touchdowns scored, and 12 total sacks absorbed. What is this, 2002?
Looking ahead to this weekend, UW's defense is good enough to beat Colorado, but, that offense...  This ain't Boise State, and Chris Petersen is learning the lesson that the likes of Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins were forced to learn before him - that there's something special in that blue turf, and maintaining that mojo at a new job ain't easy.  I really want to pick the Buffs to finally break through against a conference opponents, but I'll save my final pick for the full preview, which will be up later this week.

Arizona 59 - WSU 37 -

24 unanswered points to start the game was really all Arizona needed, as the opening salvo quieted the Pullman crowd, and put the Cougars on their heels from the onset.  After a minor outburst from the home side, three more unanswered TDs in the third quarter sealed the deal.  The win allows 'Zona to keep pace with ASU and Utah in the muddled race for the Pac-12 South division crown.
The Wildcats easily hurdled the Cougars.
I really like the Wildcats to steal a win out from under UCLA in the Rose Bowl this weekend.  The Bruins, as we saw this weekend, are far from invincible, and they've been playing losing ball at home in conference play.  The UofA should be able to take care of business.

Oregon 59 - Cal 41 -

Just another weeknight Pac-12 game, just another 1,150 yards of combined offense.  Good Tad, the defenses do struggle in this league!  Oregon won the way they do so often, by swarming their opponent with a flood of points.  This time it was a 24-point run from the end of the first quarter through midway through the second.  Heisman contender Marcus Mariota was the hero here, as he threw for 326 yards and five scores.
Mariota continued to shine against the Bears
Oregon has their annual date with their antithesis this weekend as they host the Stanford Cardinal.  Unlike the last couple of years, however, there's not much doubt in my mind that the Ducks will roll over the ground and pound from Palo Alto.  At some point, Oregon is going to be solidly back in the playoff discussion, this just might be the week that lands them back in the media's good graces.

Basketball scrimmage - 

I wasn't able to attend the Saturday morning basketball scrimmage, due the the alumni band schedule, so I've been playing catch-up all weekend.  From hearsay, the public articles from the assembled media, and the opinions of those I trust, I've pieced together a rough sketch of what happened at the CEC before the UCLA game, and... it's confusing as hell.  The stories contradict, some statements make absolutely no sense, and I'm starting to question if there even was a scrimmage in the first place, or if it was all a figment of everyone's imagination.

Take the efforts of Xavier Talton.  Coach Boyle was glowing in praise of the point guard's performance in the Black team's 49-39 win over Gold.  "Xavier Talton I thought really was kind of the glue guy that made the difference for the Black team. [...] (He) really got his team going and made simple plays. I like guys who just make the game simple."  Compare that with the comments of someone I really trust, "(Talton) was just....there. He didn't do anything. He didn't run the show. He didn't play well, he just existed. It was odd." Or, how about Freshman Dom Collier, who has been shaking off an ankle injury, and so didn't play in the scrimmage at all (instead, apparently, riding the trainer's bike).  One poster on AllBuffs said his size alone lead him to believe that a redshirt season was on the way (*cue a rimshot*), without even having seen him take the court.  In fact, about the only thing people seem to be able to agree upon is that Brett Brady, who hit a few shots, is the next Jimmer and should be starting (sure, why not?).

*sigh* The classic game of telephone.

This is what I was afraid of.  I'm really eager to get a sneak peek at what the team has been working on over the offseason, from strength and fitness to shooting and the new offense, yet, all I get is a mish-mash of views that confuse more than they inform.  I just have to comfort myself with the knowledge that all scrimmages lie, even if I had seen this one in person, and that the only way to truly gauge this team's progress will be to watch their opening performances once the curtain raises.

17 days...

Happy Tuesday!

1 comment:

Claroofus Jones said...

I went to the scrimmage and ended up paying $25 to park because of the football game. Grrr!

Scrimmage was okay, and this year Prioleau's Black team won with defense over Rohn's Gold team, just like last year. Josh Scott was his usual steady presence, but never asserted himself down low. I was surprised to hear he put up 10 points, but what else can we expect from Mr. Automatic?

Xavier Johnson will bust out this year. He looks very fast and pretty hungry. He had a hammer of a dunk, a 3-pointer, and 4-4 from the foul line. He might make a run at conference player of the year. Laugh if you want to, but he's got that kind of talent.

Three sophomores on the Gold team showed some positive signs. Dustin Thomas had some nice hoops, some good rebounds. Jaron Hopkins was athleting around all over the place, despite spraying some shots and some passes. George King had a monster flush off a rebound, and he is a noticeably bigger boy this year, but still raw.

Wes Gordon seems to be a very fine young man, but his lack of competitive fire will always limit his value. HE was the ballplayer who was just there, no more.

Tory Miller just looks lost. Especially when they were practicing before the game, his body language was confusion. But "Oh", what a chassis on that dude! Collier is going to play this year. I don't know where people come up with this crap. He might be small, but so was Askia Booker as a freshman and that didn't cause little man to back down from anyone.

Speaking of Booker, he looked impatient and distracted. Not the leadership we need from him! Despite playing a poor game, Ski has 14 points and looked even quicker, if that is possible.

Tre'Shaun Fletcher and Xavier Talton were quietly effective and efficient on the Black team. That guy who said XT was just there, did nothing, that's crazy talk. He kept the new offense flowing and chose the right option to pass to, and all it did was win the game. No turnovers. His one hard push on the break for a dish to XJ was gorgeous and set up a windmill hammer, except for gold conceding a foul on the play.

Eli won't get any run this year. Fun to see the scrubs do their thing, but not much can be made of it.

Josh Fortune is the real deal and would be starting if he wasn't sitting out. Great mid-range game, really impressive frame. He's a little loose with his game at times, meaning he isn't quite there with TadBall yet.