Today in the bag, I'm talking the frustrating loss to Arizona State, a surprise suspension for a CU star, and the NFL playoffs.
Click below for the bag...
Punked in the late minutes at ASU -
Down in the desert, on the tail end of the Road Trip of Death, the Colorado Buffaloes were facing off with their own demons. Locked in a see-saw battle with the Arizona State Sun Devils, the team had an opportunity to fight through many of the problems that had derailed the season to give themselves new life. Instead of seizing the moment, however, the Buffs folded down the stretch, succumbing to a wave of points from the normally quiet bunch from Tempe. Allowing the most scoring by ASU against a high major opponent the season, CU lost a tough one, 78-72.
All the old, familiar problems were on display. Second half defense? Colorado allowed ASU to shoot 71% from the floor. From the perimeter? For the game, the Sun Devils were 10-20 from beyond the arc. A:T ratio? Five assists against nine TOs in the opening half. Bench scoring? Colorado was outscored 23 to 10. Poor closes to halves? Buffs outscored by a combined nine over the final 10 minutes of each half. None of that is a recipe for success, and all of it is a familiar tale of woe.
|Ouch. From: USA Today|
There were some positives. Jaron Hopkins continued his offensive tear through his home state with a Delon Wright-esque 20/7/5/4. If he can keep this going whenever it is that the Buffs get their full roster back, CU way finally have a complete starting lineup. Tre'Shaun Fletcher chipped in a very respectable 10/3, playing with boosted confidence for the first time in a while. Ski Booker consumed 22 shots and committed four turnovers, but still chipped in 21 points. Those three didn't have enough support, however, and the lack of a team effort in cracking down on defense overshadowed anything gained with the ball.
|J-Hop had himself a weekend, but it wasn't enough.|
Xavier Johnson suspended -
As if losing a vital road game at a beatable opponent wasn't bad enough, late Monday BuffNation was treated to the news that injured star forward Xavier Johnson had been sent home early from the recent road trip. Not to get better treatment, as had been surmised, but because of an as-of-yet unknown off-court incident. Further, XJ, whether finally healthy or not, will miss Thursday's massive clash with Washington, as he has been suspended for one game.
Mini-tantrum aside, this has been an unusually noisy year for off-court incidents. There was the string of suspensions the first week of the season, various rumors (unproven, mind you) of a discordant locker room, and now a star getting gigged at the start of a crucial home stand. Not what I've come to expect from a Tad Boyle-lead squad. The narrative in recent months has been a lack of leadership, and it's showing. No wonder the team in 9-8.
|It's been a rough campaign for Coach Boyle. From: USA Today|
I'm ready to wake up from this dream now.
The Super Bowl is set -
Seattle 28 - Green Bay 22 -
The best game of the weekend - maybe even the last few years of playoffs - decided the NFC title. The Packers, behind a tidal wave of field goals from former Colorado star Mason Crosby, had the Seahawks on the ropes. Up 12 with the ball and only five minutes to play, it seemed all but written in stone that Green Bay was in line for the win. Some questionable play calling, a botched onside kick, and some eye popping plays from Seattle, however, had a different idea, and the game was pushed into overtime. Bedlam was on the rise.
In the extra frame, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who had only managed to throw for 61 yards and three picks through the first 45 minutes, came alive. He connected on back-to-back 35-yard pass plays to get his team into the endzone, and complete the improbable comeback. They may not have 'deserved' it, but the defending champs found a way to get back into the title game.
|Wait, what happened?|
New England 45 - Indianapolis 7 -
Over in the AFC, the Patriots dismantled the Colts in a laugher that is hardly worth mentioning. If not for another potential case of New England cheating the game, there'd be nothing to talk about from this one. Tom Brady and LeGarrette Blount were fantastic, Andrew Luck and Indy inept, and the game was over more than early enough for me to get a full dog walk in. There but for the grace of the football gods, right, Bronco fan?