Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: Wherein I slowly go mad...

Yeesh, this basketball season is getting rough.  Another painful performance Saturday evening drove me screaming from the game room before the first half was done. My approximate reaction to those trying to console me Saturday night:

It's going to be a long three weeks.  Or short, depending on how much booze is left in that flask.


Today in the bag, I'm talking yet another road loss for the men's basketball team, a trip around the Pac-12, and the women's team wrapping up the home schedule in style.

Click below for the bag...

It's worse - 

Avert your eyes, BuffNation, because Saturday night's affair with Oregon State only furthered the ongoing derailment of the 2014-15 basketball season.  Facing one of the best zone defenses in the land, the Buffs came out unprepared and confused in their offensive sets, struggling to identify soft spots and open shooters. A slumping attitude quickly spread to the defensive end, where the suddenly viable OSU offense lit up the scoreboard; the rout was on.  While the team would, once again, recover in the second half, the damage had already been done, and Colorado suffered their 9th loss in 12 games.  72-58, ring it up.
That... that... was not good.
I don't think you could find a single area of the game that CU excelled in over the opening 20 minutes. Maybe slumped shoulders (do they keep a stat on that?). It's bad enough that they allowed a particularly awful offensive club to score 34 points on 52% shooting (40% from deep), but the Buffs were completely impotent on offense.  They were lucky - lucky mind you - to put up 12 points in the first half, overcoming 3-21 shooting from the floor.  Only one player, Wes Gordon, managed to contribute a field goal.  They were missing bunnies, open looks, difficult shots, free throws (6-10)... you name it.  Against the fabled OSU zone, one of the top 10 defensive outfits in the country, Colorado was absolutely helpless.  Not just that the Beavers were just better, although they were quite active and impressive, but CU's commitment to shooting themselves in the foot was overpowering.

At this point, I feel like I'm repeating myself. I could almost cut and paste recaps from debacles past.  An inability to slip a viable entry pass?  Check.  Timidity in taking good, quality open looks?  Double check. Turnovers in bunches?  21 times, yes. Fumblitis on the catch?  Yeah, uh-huh.  Poor close-out on perimeter shooters?  Oh yeah.  Questionable decision making?  In spades.  Sure, CU got their shit together, and, much like in Eugene, put together a solid second half, but... my God!  Did they forget the game started at 9?


I... I have nothing else.  It is what it is.  Here, digging into my bag of tricks to distract from football season, I present a few pictures of puppies:
OMG!  Look at em run!
Haha!  That one's eating the other one.
You're welcome.

Around the world of Pac-12 Basketball - 

Oregon 69 - Utah 58 - 

The headliner from the weekend was in Eugene, where the Ducks stunned the lumbering Utes.  It was the kind of game I didn't think Oregon had it within themselves to win: a hardscrabble, measured (60 possessions), defensive battle (held Utah under 36%).  A late run by freshman Dillon Brooks (11 points in a four minute stretch), however, proved to be enough to push UO across the line.  They're still flawed, but I'm buying Oregon right now.  Can't wait to see their odds in Vegas, because I always like teams peaking at the right moment as a longshot (6-1 over their last seven).
You gotta appreciate a team playing well in February.
Arizona 57 - UCLA 47 -

The U of A took advantage of the Utah slip, claiming a big win over blue-blood rival UCLA. A loose whistle and a big game from Gabe York helped the Wildcats overcome CU-esque scoring droughts of of six and seven minutes to start each half.  York, an often overlooked role player, knocked down three of five three point attempts, including the one that tilted the balance with five minutes to play.  The game was marred, however, by some very questionable officiating, which, while effecting both teams, fell more heavily on the UCLA bench.  Three key Bruins were fouled out, killing what could've been a fun finish in Tucson.

Washington 87 - WSU 84 - 

Defense need not apply in the Apple Cup, as UW claimed top honors in a 171-point thriller.  Andrew Andrews was back to his late game trickery, dropping a game-winning three pointer with 2.7 to play.  It was the capper of a career-high 35 points, moving him up near the top of my 'Pac-12 guards that scare me' list. The two teams combined for 52% hooting from the floor.  I was entertained.
Andrews is simply cold-blooded.
Stanford 72 - Cal 61 -

The Stanford yo-yo is in full effect.  Up and down, up and down (recently, mostly down), they finally managed to reclaim some momentum with a big home win over Bay Area rival Cal.  Losers of four of five headed into the weekend, their grip on both a bye spot and a Tournament bid had weakened significantly. The win over the Bears, buoyed by a 19/3/8 performance from Chasson Randle, doesn't solve all their ills (especially with a trip to Arizona still looming in two weeks), but it does arrest the free fall.

Women end the home run on a high note - 

It hasn't been a particularly good season for either of the winter inhabitants of the CEC.  The women have struggled just as much as their male compatriots, posting a nearly identical 12-15 (5-11) record (although, the women did find a way to beat CSU...).  That mark mattered little on Sunday, however, as the ladies looked to send three remarkable seniors out with a bang.  With the graduating trio of Jen Reese, Lexy Kresl, and Jasmine Sborov combining for 43/20, they did just that, batting away the visiting Oregon Ducks 84-69.
A final farewell to Kresl, Reese, and Sborov.  From:
I'm sorry to say, but I didn't take enough advantage of opportunities to see the team play this year.  My last walk up the hill for a women's game was in early January, back when Kresl was still out injured, and the team was struggling to bring the ball up the court. Not a fair representation.  Looking to make amends, I took the time this weekend for a retake (via the handy internet stream; damn snow), and was rewarded.  The Buffs played a fun, energetic style - largely turnover free - managing to storm back from an early deficit to claim the win.

The game was won at the lines - free throw and three point.  CU was 6-9 from beyond the arc (seniors Kresl and Sborov were 5-6), and 12-15 from the charity stripe.  It helped make up for an ugly start (is it something in the water?), where they fell behind by as many as 13 points.  It took them a bit, but a quick burst before the break, capped by a Sborov three, flipped momentum. Into the second half, CU went on numerous runs trying to put away the Ducks. Oregon would hang tough, but, by the three minute mark, the Buffs were ready to put it away. The final run, a seven point spurt from Reese, was more than decisive.
Kresl and the other seniors were on fire. From:
Home niceties set aside, with at least three games to play (the final road trip to Arizona and the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle), the Ladies aren't yet done with their season.  Let's see if they can engender some momentum into the offseason by playing well in the Grand Canyon State, and stealing one in the Emerald City.

Happy Tuesday!

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