Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 Diamond Head Classic: Day 3

Honolulu, HI, the Diamond Head Classic, Dec 25th --

Mele Kalikimaka!  I hear there's a white Christmas in Boulder today.  I don't mean to brag, but that is not going to be the case in Honolulu.  80 and sunny.  The sacrifices I make for being a basketball fan...

Of course, all is not well in BuffNation after Tuesday's 53-50 loss to George Washington in the semifinal of the Diamond Head Classic.  After a rough start, CU fought back, and looked to have a shot to win before a final minute letdown saw the Colonials get the 'W.'  A final play that involved Askia Booker going 1-on-2 with a pair of tall GW defenders yield the expected results (a blocked shot), and the Buffs were left wondering 'what if.'
The team played better than a lot are giving them credit for, but the loss still stings.  From: the BDC.
For much of the game, I was pleased with Colorado's play.  They started out like crap - as Tad screamed, 'LOSING THE TOUGHNESS BATTLE' as the team fell behind by nine in the first half - but eventually began to find a comfort level, and closed the halftime gap to only four.  It only got better into the second half, as CU began to really attack the George Washington zone with the returning Booker (two quick fouls in the first had him on the bench).  By being aggressive, and working the ball, quickly, around the perimeter to open up holes, they built a six point lead with 10 minutes to play.  Given a few better bounces at the rim, it could've been more.

Unfortunately, however, timidity seeped back into the minds of the guards, and working the clock - trying to find the 'perfect' shot, rather than just a good one - really stilted to CU offense.  While the defense continued to play well (overcoming a soft whistle from the over-eager officials [to both sides]), points just weren't coming with enough regularity, and rhythm died.  GW would go on to get a few favorable bounces at the end, and made more plays than CU; a familiar story.
It didn't need to be this way.
The stat sheet is very negative on the offensive side.  1-12 beyond the arc, 11-17 from the line (Josh Scott was an uncharacteristic 4-8), and a 4:14 A:T ratio.  Just ugly.  Wes Gordon was fantastic - only 3-8 from the field, but an active presence - but few others come close to that praise.  All-in-all, a forgettable day. GW was throwing a few zone looks out there, but CU seemed capable, at times, of beating it.  Had they stayed aggressive, continuing to dribble-drive at the gaps, I think the team would've won.

The result is that we know no hardware is coming back on the plane with the Buffs, and the non-conference schedule is guaranteed to be devoid of quality wins.  The loss also drops them into the third-place game with the host Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors; an uncomfortable arrangement.  For their end, the 'Bows took the heavily favored Wichita State Shockers to the limit, forcing them into overtime through a joyous effort in front of their faithful fans.  They'd fall 80-79 in the end, but have proven through two games that they will not back down from a challenge.  While not a 'good' team, the Warriors are at least very capable on their home court, and will push CU this afternoon.
Hawai'i nearly pulled off the upset of the tournament against WSU.
Any road game is a terror, but Hawai'i does a few things that will really cause Colorado some problems. Namely, a combination of a 2-1-2 trapping press and a 2-3 zone should wreak havoc with CU's more patient guards.  Given a few consecutive TOs, the crowd will be in it, and runs will happen. The
'Bows don't have a front line to match up, but I'm worried it may not matter if the Buffs can't consistently get the ball up without it becoming a 'thing.'  Accordingly, I'm expecting a loss this afternoon; an unfortunate conclusion to a week that started with a lot of potential.

If you're wondering what happened in the other games... well don't, because they weren't interesting.  Ohio U laughed past DePaul, 99-78, and Nebraska sleep-walked through a 50-42 OT win over LMU.  Neither efforts were worthy of your time or consideration, and paled in comparison to the two from the winner's bracket.  I have higher hopes for Ohio/Nebraska today, however, which could wind up being interesting.

Day 3 -

Loyola Marymount vs DePaul - 11:30 am MT, ESPN3

Ohio University vs Nebraska - 2 pm MT, ESPNU

Colorado vs Hawai'i - 4:30 pm MT, ESPN2

George Washington vs Wichita State - 6:30 pm MT, ESPN2 


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