|Bruh, I just need a TO. From: the BDC|
This was particularly painful because the Buffs were still playing tentative and inefficient basketball on offense. CU was held under 37% from the field, to only 3-of-10 from beyond the arc, and continued to pass up open looks to hit a cutter or shoot. It continues to amaze me that 19 year olds, many of them with the attention span of a gnat, are reluctant to fire one off. I would think that you'd have to plead with them not to pull the trigger, but the reality is the opposite. The result is yet another game scoring under one point per possession. For the record, the Buffs are 9-2 this season when they're over that Mendoza line, 2-10 when they aren't. The proof is in the pudding; sometimes, you just need to score some fucking points.
|Josh fought through lingering back pain for a nice night, but he was mostly alone. From: the BDC|
CU has now lost seven of their last nine to slide into 10th place in the Pac-12. 10th? Really, 10th? Has it gotten that bad? Yep, 10th. *sigh* Another opportunity to right the ship presents itself this afternoon, as the Buffs will take on Stanford at home. Tip-off from the CEC is set for 2pm today; television coverage will be on Fox Sports 1, with the radio call on 850 KOA.
Click below for the preview...
When last we met -
On the final weekend of the 2013-14 regular season, Colorado was in desperate search of a win. They had lost two straight to Arizona and Utah, and seemed to be flirting with dangerous bubble territory in their hunt for a third-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. But they brought their #TadBall best with them to Palo Alto, and ground out a gutsy, gritty 59-56 win to seal their Dance Ticket. Remember back when the Buffs could do things like that?
|Eye of the frickin' Buffalo! From: CUBuffs.com|
Echoing a theme that has continued to plague the program, Colorado went eight minutes without so much as a point in the middle of the second half. With the Buffs stalling, the Cardinal was allowed to creep back into the proceedings, evaporating a hard-fought eight point advantage. Momentum see-sawed a bit, but, with a Xavier Johnson made jumper announcing a break to the drought, CU came alive. Eventually, they would go on a quick 7-0 run with about three minutes left to grab the baton, and never looked back.
Josh Scott lead the way, dropping 17/11 on only six shots in 33 minutes. Typically efficient (9-11 from the free throw line), CU needed everything he could give to counter the dominating Cardinal duo of Josh Huestis and Chasson Randle. That inside/outside pair combined for 33/16, and were really the only threat from Stanford. In fact, Randle had a chance at a game-tying three at the buzzer, but left it well short.
|Soar, big man, soar!|
The Cardinal in 2014-15 -
Typical of 'good' Pac-12 teams, the Cardinal have proven to be an inconsistent beast this season, just as easily beating teams like Texas and UConn as losing to also-rans like Washington State and DePaul (hell, even CU can beat those two). Despite sitting at a solid 16-8 overall (7-5 in the Pac-12), I worry about them come Selection Sunday, and have higher hopes for teams like UCLA and Oregon who have spottier overall resumes. Typical of Johnny Dawkins teams, they just don't appear to be able to capitalize on a good thing when it presents itself, which only makes that Sweet Sixteen run all the more miraculous.
|How do you let WSU punk you like that?|
It's been an ongoing narrative for this bunch, as defense has routinely proven to be an Achilles's heel against competent offensive clubs. In the last three weeks alone, the Cardinal has been allowing over 1.1 ppp, and about 75 points per game. Part of it comes down to speed of play - they're letting teams get them with quick hitters, and dribble-drive penetration, allowing about 52% shooting inside the arc in their last four losses. It also doesn't help that they're the worst team in the league at putting opponents on the line, as over 45% of all opposing attempts have come from the charity stripe. It boils down to 27% of points scored against them in those four key losses coming from the line, which is well over the national average. Go fast, get to the line, and you have a shot... which just isn't how CU plays basketball this season.
|The Cardinal has struggled defensively this season.|
Star Players -
It would be criminal to start a discussion of the Stanford roster with anyone other than senior point guard Chasson Randle. A leading candidate for the Pac-12 Player of the Year award, Randle is one of the premier talents in the league. Standing at a springy 6-2, the former Illinois Mr Basketball can do it all: slash to the rim, pull up with his deadly jump shot, or fire off an incisive pass. The Cardinal isn't a one-man team, by any stretch, but Randle makes up for a lot of issues all by himself.
|Chasson is the BMOC|
Finally out of the shadow cast by graduated do-it-all dynamo Dwight Powell, Stefan Nastic now rules the roost under the basket in Palo Alto. Averaging 14/7 this season, the 6-11 senior from Canada has really developed his midrange game. He takes nearly 75% of all shots as jumpers (none from three), and really likes to work between five and fifteen feet. An interesting challenge for Josh Scott, Nastic doesn't have all the moves in the book, but can really knife less capable defenders. Stefan's primary limitation, however, is his penchant to pick up cheap fouls defensively. He's averaging five called per 40 minutes played. A few quick ones on him today would be very helpful.
|Nastic has blossomed into a nice post performer.|
|Brown can kill you if left alone.|
Rounding out the lineup is 6-3 off-guard Marcus Allen. No, not the hall of fame running back from the LA Raiders, the 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year from Nevada. The sophomore primarily defers (only utilized on about 16% of possessions) with so much veteran talent around, but keep an eye out for him in future years.
Previewing the Cardinal gives me the recurring joy of rattling off the ridiculous title given to Johnny Dawkins: Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men's Basketball. I don't know who Anne and Tony Joseph are/were, but there's just something shockingly self-indulgent about having someone's professional position named after someone yourself. I love the idea of the fundraising tool, endowing the chair, but, damn, even with all the money in the world, I'd never saddle Tad with my name... although, the 'Rumblin Buff Executive of Basketball and Awesomeness' does have a nice ring to it...
|Yep, Johnny will still be around for the foreseeable future.|
(My record on the season: 8-5. Against the spread: 8-5. Optimistic/pessimistic: CU -0.23 pts/gm)
Lines as of Saturday @ 7pm - CU +1.5
This could get ugly. The Cardinal crushes it from outside, and CU doesn't do the right things on offense to make Stanford sweat. Josh Scott can erase Nastic, but no one else in Black and Gold will be able defend the perimeter enough to keep this one close. At some point, the Buffs will forget to put points on the board for a few minutes, and the game will be over. Essentially, I'm expecting a double-digit loss.
Any path to upset victory would have to include extended foul trouble in the paint, as Stanford's forwards hand them out like party favors, but no one on Colorado really excels at getting to the line, especially Booker. Jaron Hopkins would be wise to try and press the issue, drawing contact in the lane and letting the refs do the work for him, but those sorts of efforts are come-and-go from the Arizonan.
Stanford 74 - CU 62
GO BUFFS! PROVE ME WRONG, AND BEAT THE CARDINAL!