Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday Grab Bag: #ItIsFinallyNovember

The first 'result' of basketball season is in.  Over the weekend the men's squad was in action behind closed doors up at the CEC, taking on the DU Pioneers in a scrimmage.  According to 'sources,'  Coach Boyle and crew at the very least took care of business, beating the Pios by seven.  Not quite 1-0, but I'll call it .1-0.

Hardcore BasketBuffs are already well aware, but NCAA rules prohibit fans, media, or other interlopers at these preseason tilts.  The idea is that these meetings are supposed to be tuneups, and that prying eyes would put too much pressure on what are essentially glorified practices.  Coach Boyle didn't seem to mind discussing the problems he saw, however, saying, "turnovers were an issue with this team, taking care of the basketball. [...] If we turn the ball over like we're turning it over, we're going to put a lot of pressure on our defense, and I'd rather not do that."

That certainly sounds dire, but I wouldn't get too worked up over that less than glowing report.  It's his job to be hyper-critical at this stage, and that sounds like vintage Boyle.  Besides, I'd rather the turnovers be made when it doesn't count, with the understanding that a veteran team should be able to take care of the basketball by the time the lights turn on for real.

10 days...


Today in the bag, I'm talking the football meltdown against Washington, some successes in cross country, volleyball and soccer, and the 'Colorado 4' in the NBA.

Click below for the bag...

Buffs fall apart in second half against UW - 

Tell me if you've heard this one before: CU had a prime chance to score a big win over a Pac-12 opponent, - this time Washington - but let it slip through their fingers.  It's a story that's getting pretty stale, but Colorado just can't seem to get out of their own way in the Sisyphean climb towards relevancy, this time ultimately stumbling at home despite storming out of the gate.  A painful third quarter did the damage here, as the Huskies came back to run away with a 38-23 win.  Feel free to utter a stream of swears at this point.
*sigh* From: the BDC
The screwed up thing is that the team avoided their typical first quarter malaise, running out to a 10-0 lead before UW could respond.  With that wind at their back, it didn't feel through the opening half that CU would be losing.  Then, the team remembered that games are 60 minutes long, not 30, and immediately began to crumble.  Here's the third quarter drive chart - field goal, fumble, interception (a pick-six), fumble, punt; 77 yards of offense and as many points scored as turnovers surrendered.  When Washington returned yet another CU punt for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, it was all but over.

When you look at the top-line numbers, it doesn't seem like CU should've lost by 15.  They out-gained their opponent by over 50 yards, held the Huskies to 2-of-11 on third down, and controlled the clock (+10 minutes in ToP).  Yet, it was the margin plays which doomed the Buffs.  The turnovers, particularly the pick-six, killed the momentum generated through a strong first half, and Colorado basically let Washington do whatever they wanted for a quarter.  What had been the case in firsts over the last few weeks - a listless, mistake-prone effort out of the locker room - just transferred to the third.
Turnovers did the Buffs in on Saturday.  From: the BDC
Additionally, CU seemed to play hyper-conservative offense after the break, almost begging Washington to take advantage.  Few passing routes, if any, went past 15 yards down field, allowing UW to stack the box and intimidate shaken quarterback Sefo Liufau.  There were no chances taken downfield, no pressure relieved through explosive action.  In all, Colorado allowed the Huskies to get comfortable, which in turn allowed them to steal the game in emphatic fashion.

Just another disappointing, disheartening Saturday in Folsom Field; the latest in a long line.  I had hoped, with flickers of life throughout the season, that we'd get to enjoy at least one happy Pac-12 Saturday this season. With three brutally tough games remaining, it just doesn't look like that's in the cards. *kicks dirt in frustration*

Wins-a-plenty from the Banana Stand, soccer, and volleyball teams - 

Across the remainder of the fall sports empire, however, it was a very successful weekend.

It started off with the Banana Stand competing at the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships.  In a surprise to absolutely no one, the men easily claimed their fourth conference title in as many tries, finishing 27 points clear of Oregon.  CU placed their five highest runners 4-8 in an incredible display of pack efficiency.  The women, while not as successful, still ran strong, finishing third behind Stanford and champion Oregon.  Both groups will be in action next at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships on Nov. 14 in New Mexico.
There's always championship in the Banana Stand!
For volleyball, it was a weekend of breakthroughs, as a road sweep in the Grand Canyon State earned them enough votes to leap into the AVCA top-25 poll for the first time since 2005.  The Arizonas, both in the rankings entering the weekend, were each upset at home thanks to a pair of double-doubles from CU senior Taylor Simpson.  The wins helped the Buffs ease over .500 in the brutally tough Pac-12 (eight from the conference made the most recent rankings), and into a third place tie.  The road doesn't get any easier from here, however, as the team entertains the strong sides from SoCal this weekend at the CEC.

On the soccer pitch, the ladies rebounded from a rough start to their extended homestand with their own sweep of the Arizona schools.  A loss and a tie to WSU and UW, respectively, were made up for as CU claimed a 2-0 win over ASU on Halloween, before following it up with a 3-1 victory over the UofA on Sunday.  Five different Buffs scored over the weekend double, helping CU back over the .500 mark in conference.  The regular season finale is already upon us, as the team only has the rivalry tilt with Utah this week to go prior to the conference tournament.  CU will need a win to continue to bolster their NCAA resume.

If only the football team had won, the athletic department could've claimed a perfect weekend.  Oh well.

Copeland, Burks, Roberson, and Dinwiddie kick off their NBA seasons - 

Just as the men's basketball program has been rolling in recent years, it's been a long time since CU has had as large of an impact on the NBA as they do right now.  Four Buffs are currently playing in the Association, three of them starting.  Here is a quick wrap-up of the recent fortunes of Colorado's four stars at the highest level of the game they love so much.

Chris Copeland - 

Cope has been granted the opportunity to start in opening week, thanks to injuries to a few of his teammates. So far, the ultimate journeyman has taken to the opportunity offered, as he has throughout his well-traveled career, by putting points on the board.  Through the opening three games, Chris is averaging 16/3/5, which is very respectable.  Even should he return to the bench as Indiana gets healthier, he figures to get significantly more minutes than he did last season, when he averaged just 6.5 per game.  Maybe the Pacers are showcasing him for a trade?
Cope is finally getting that coveted PT.
Alec Burks - 

Out in Utah, Alec has not only been seeing more playing time, but he's been getting paid, as well.  With the departure of Ty Corbin (finally!), it looks like the Jazz now actually want to use the fourth-year man from CU. Al has seen his stock soar in the Beehive State since averaging 15.1 points, 1.0 steals and 0.7 3-pointers in 29.8 minutes per game after last season's All-Star break (Thanks ESPN Fantasy!), and has been posting similar numbers through three games this fall.  Oh, and he even made Kobe Bryant look foolish the other night.  Burks seems to be coming into his own on a team with outside playoff hopes.

Andre Roberson - 

Similar to Copeland, a hard-luck roster situation has seen 'Dre leap into the starting lineup in OKC.  That's right, Oklahoma City has him starting at, of all things, shooting guard.  After losing Thabo Sefolosha over the offseason, the efficiency-minded Thunder needed some defense in the starting lineup, so they turned to the best defender in modern CU history.  Pretty cool for a guy many didn't think had a chance of making an NBA roster.  His first two starts went swimmingly, especially the one against the Nuggets, when he went for 8/8/5/3.  Unfortunately, a foot injury suffered last night in Brooklyn has thrown a wrench into the proceedings, so we'll have to see how quickly the young Buff can recover.
'Dre's still doing his thing, only now as a starter in the NBA.

Spencer Dinwiddie - 

The Mayor, if you hadn't heard, is healthy, and made an appearance on opening night in Denver against the Nuggets.  Spencer chipped in eight minutes off the bench, and, while he didn't score, it made for a wonderful story for those who like to see kids achieve their dreams.  Coach Boyle and a few of the Mayor's old teammates were even able to swing down to the Pepsi Center to take in the action, making the night even sweeter. Dinwiddie, though, hasn't seen the court since, which is probably fair as he continues to recover his game shape.  As the year goes on, I expect him to see more of the court, particularly as Detroit falls out of the playoff hunt.

Happy Tuesday!


Claroofus Jones said...

I especially want to rub their noses in it, the smug predictions from SO many who called Roberson "A career D-leaguer. Mark it down."

Well, I did, and Andre ain't. In fact, he looks plenty legitimate as an NBA starter for an elite franchise.

RumblinBuff said...

As I always said, even in the NBA, someone needs to play defense and rebound.