|Cason Turkaly, the newest commit to the #RollTad army. Hear he's got a mean handle. From: CUBuffs.com|
Today in the bag, I'm talking the win over Stanford, the world of Pac-12 basketball, and Spring Training.
Click below for the bag...
Buffs back to .500 with win over Stanford -
Sunday afternoon against the Stanford Cardinal, the Colorado Buffaloes were fighting to change the narrative. CU had been bogged down by the mental scars of a three-game slump, and, as losers of seven of their last nine, had spiraled into the basement annex of the Pac-12 standings. Considering the recent run of play, you'd be forgiven for expecting the worst as the game neared its conclusion. Indeed, it seemed like deja vu all over again as they coughed up an early second half lead, struggling to hang on against the oncoming horde from Palo Alto. Instead of another dour collapse, however, the Buffs rewrote the conclusion behind some key contributions from the reserves and a forceful performance from Xavier Johnson, managing what they had so seldom been able to this season: make the plays that mattered down the stretch to earn a damn win. 64-58, their first in February. Indeed, take your tree and go home.
|Don't know why Nastic is smiling, 'cause his ass is about to take an 'L.' From: the BDC|
The win was built on a lot of little moments like that. Colorado had been getting good at finding ways to lose this season, but never-say-die moments, like XJ's, showed a team finally finding ways to win. Another example: down the stretch, a previously silent Jaron Hopkins came alive, attacking the rim (rocking the baby to sleep!), and turning three consecutive plays in Colorado's favor. Yet another: similarly late in the action, Xavier Talton grabs a huge offensive rebound, but only because he wasn't scrambling to get back on defense. A little fluky, sure, but fortune favors the bold, and all of that.
|A well earned sigh of relief. From: the BDC|
Strong performances in 2014-15 had, to this point, mostly been a product of superb individualism. The top four players, usually whoever was hottest, would carry the team, while the bench played Ed McMahon at his least funny. That was not the case on Sunday, however, as almost the entire roster has a say in the result. Colorado's five off the bench almost universally provided strong minutes against Stanford, contributing nearly 40% of the offense and rebounding. Headlined by the moonlighting Xavier Johnson's 10/13 double-double (despite still not being 100% on that bum ankle), the group would score 25 points, while getting after the startled Cardinal on defense. The Stanford reserves, on the flip side, were almost nonexistent, failing to score a single point. Don't kid yourself, at altitude this makes a difference, with starters forced to log heavy minutes; only one Cardinal sub played more than 10 minutes.
|It was the little plays, like this sideline save from Ski, that stopped the losing streak. From: the BDC|
Catching up with the Pac-12 -
It's been a while since I last took a trip around the Pac-12. Considering that Stanford's loss to Colorado impacted both their league positioning and their Tournament hopes, I think it's high time to take a look at the teams ready to capitalize on their stumble.
UCLA 72 - Oregon 63 -
Both the Bruins and Ducks have been surprisingly strong in Pac-12 play, currently holding the 3rd and 4th spots, respectively. Their tilt this weekend could end up deciding who claims a bye bid in Vegas. On Valentine's Day, it was UCLA who locked down the crucial win to split the season series, riding a 23/5 bonanza from senior guard Norman Powell.
|Norm Powell was everywhere on Saturday. From: USA Today|
USC 68 - OSU 55 -
That the Beavers are where they are speaks a lot to both the quality of coach Wayne Tinkle, and the atrociousness of their offense. Sitting at 7-6 in Pac-12 play, and only a game back of a bye slot in the coming conference tournament, they've had a legitimately strong season, far above what I would've considered them capable of in the preseason. Yet, as they boast one of the top-10 defenses in all of America, they should be more capable in road trips. They've only won one league game away from Corvallis (@ Washington State), and took a brutal, humiliating, inexcusable loss at the Trojans this weekend.
|This makes no Goddamned sense. From: the LA Times|
Arizona 86 - WSU 59 - & Utah 76 - Cal 61 -
Meanwhile, the leaders continued to separate themselves from the rest of the Pac. Arizona demolished the Cougs, holding a 53-19 advantage at the break, and Utah cruised past the Bears behind an 18/8 night from freshman center Jakob Poeltl. I don't see how these two don't meet on Championship Saturday.
|But, but... the Cougars tried so hard! From: Yahoo|
Baseball starts this week -
*sssshhhh* Be very quiet! Don't tell anyone, but baseball starts this week. *squee* Yep, that's right, pitchers and catchers will start reporting on Wednesday, marking the unofficial start of Spring. Ignore the snow outside, it's starting to warm up in this baseball fan's soul.
Now, of course, my White Sox won the offseason, landing a bevy of talent that is sure to bring another pennant to the South Side (my frienssss). All kidding aside, adding Jeff Samardzjia, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Zach Duke, and Adam LaRoche to a team built around budding stars like Chris Sale and Jose Abreu completely turns the franchise around, and makes My Sox a solid contender almost overnight. I've been burned by 'sure things' on 35th and Shields before, and the lone trophy I've seen, in 2005, was a lightly heralded bunch in February, but it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement. After years of embarrassment (See: Dunn, Adam *sigh*), the Boys finally seem to be headed in the right direction.
|*cackles maniacally* From: the Trib|