Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Diamond Head Classic: Day 2

Honolulu, HI, the Diamond Head Classic, Dec 23rd --

I felt a certain amount of relief when I realized, about 10 minutes in, that DePaul had no chance to win yesterday.  Yes, the Blue Demons were able to pull within three points at halftime, but that was more due to silly CU mistakes and poor play from the subs than anything those in black and blue were doing.  With a little help from #TournamentSki, those mistakes were, largely, patched over in the second frame, and the Buffs cruised to a breezy 82-68 win on Day 1 of the 2014 Diamond Head Classic.
Grind of a few gears aside, CU had little trouble with DePaul.
It's important to note that DePaul is just not a very good basketball team.  They're sloppy, don't really play defense, can't shoot - really at all - and could only score by attacking the rim for cheap foul calls.  The Buffs made a significant amount of hay by forcing them to take long jumpers, and collecting on the resulting misses.  Combined with turnovers (DePaul had 18 of them), it helped Colorado kickstart the fast break, allowing them to keep the pace of the game high.  All told, the action in the Stan Sheriff Center went for 75 possessions - a pleasing tempo to ward off any of the occasional offensive malaise common to non-conference tournament play.

Really, though, this game belonged to Askia Booker.  'The little spark plug,' as MommaRumblin coined him, was a constant source of energy for Colorado, forcing the pace, and helping to break the Blue Demon press. He would go for 27/6/6 in 31 minutes, only committing one turnover.  It was the re-emergence of #TournamentSki, as the lead guard played his role perfectly.  It helped that DePaul was compliant in putting him on the line, as Booker went 14-14 from the stripe, but his was a very efficient performance overall (6-12 from the field against one turnover)
Ski had it rolling Monday afternoon.  From: the BDC
Booker wasn't alone, as Xavier Johnson, Wes Gordon, and Jaron Hopkins also cracked double-digit scoring. XJ was particularly effusive, putting up 20/7.  Gordon continues to show offensive improvement, putting up 11/5.  About the only one of the starting five Buffs to struggle was Josh Scott, who still looks to be recovering from his shutout against CSU.  This wide open affair largely passed him by, and he appeared a little lost on select offensive sets.  I hope he hasn't completely checked out, however, as Colorado will need him today against a very good George Washington team.

For their end, the Colonials blitzed a woefully under-skilled Ohio U squad in the early game, 77-49.  I was very impressed by GW's center, Kevin Larsen, who went for 19/15.  Not a big leaper, Larsen is just a quality big man.  He knows his role, demands the ball in good positions, and George Washington does a good job scheming to take full advantage.  He will be tough to contain.
GW is a whole different animal from the woeful Blue Demons.
Generally, I'm really nervous about this one, because the Colonials are not going to beat themselves, as DePaul was happy to do yesterday.  They don't turn the ball over (8 yesterday, under 18% for the season), take a lot of smart shots, and play good defense.  GW may not be a 'good' three-point shooting team, but the ones they take are well worked, and within their offense.  I'm expecting a CU loss, possibly even an ugly one, but would be happy to be proven wrong.  More #TournamentSki would help. Anything from Jelly would be even better.

In the action after dark, the Wichita State Shockers smashed Loyola Marymount 80-53 (raise the roof!), but Nebraska... well, the Huskers ran into a bit of trouble with the hometown Rainbow Warriors. As the red horde struggled against the press (18 turnovers), the feisty hosts scrapped and clawed their way to the only upset of the day, 66-58.  Not that I was biased in any way (*ahem*), but I fell hard for those in white, rooting right alongside with the hometown fans.  There is one downside to seeing Hawai'i win, however. With the loss, Nebraska falls to the second tier, leaving the afternoon games today significantly less dramatic. I guess you can't have everything.


Day 2 -

Ohio University vs DePaul - 12:30 MT, ESPNU

Colorado vs George Washington - 2:30 MT, ESPNU

Hawai'i vs Wichita State - 7 pm MT, ESPN2 

Loyola Marymount vs Nebraska - 9:30 pm MT, ESPNU


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