Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: ... and the hits just keep on comin'

I'll get to the mess in Seattle in a second, but first: a confession.  This was to be my last season.  With work and other commitments, I felt I was losing my focus and touch, and was prepared to step away from the lucrative world of amateur blogging at the end of the season.

Over the last few months, however, it dawned on me that I'd be quitting after a rotten egg of a year.  Not one to give out a last shriek on the retreat into irrelevancy, I've reversed decision. As a result, I will be back next year for at least one more go at chronicling Colorado Basketball.  If this thing is going to crater, I'm going to ride the bomb all the way down, a la Slim Pickens:
Hopefully, however, a return to form will follow, and I can ride off into the sunset with a clear conscience. We'll see...


Today in the bag, I'm talking the loss to a WAC school, the Pac-12 in the Dance, and a surprising coaching move in the desert.

Click below for the bag...

Stymied in Seattle - 

Is this really how it ends?  Losing by seven to a pseudo-Div I team in a gym the size of my living room?  In the immortal style of Big XII twitter troll @DanBeebe, 'OOOOOOH COLORADO, OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH COLORADO.'  The flood of #CUTEARS was more of a trickle, but they flowed, none-the-less.
CU couldn't stop Umipig and Seattle.  From: The Seattle Times.
What can I say?  It's embarrassing, humbling, and richly deserved.  The 2014-15 Colorado Buffaloes have done a great job exploring the depths of basketball depravity, and they end their run at a true nadir. In front of 1,000 people, relayed over an amateur video feed from a camera that couldn't catch 30% of the court, CU struggled to prove themselves worthy of the stage.  There was no inventiveness on offense, sporadic lethargy on defense, and obliviousness on the tactical side; Colorado slumped to the finish of a dour, depressing season with barely a whimper.  Maybe, in a way, it's fitting.

For a time, at least, the Buffs seemed capable of floating above their own trappings, rising and falling with a tide of outside jumpers.  The Seattle RedHawks had drawn a line in the sand, bringing a hard double on Josh Scott, all but denying him any opportunity to be effective.  In response, CU became a jump-shooting consortium, and even managed to hit a few to build a nine-point lead early in the second half.  Eventually, however, those jumpers began to slip wide, leaving the Buffs with little to show on the offensive end.  The traditional scoring droughts returned - this time without Ski to either take the blame or save them - and Colorado became helpless with the ball.  Outside of Josh, the Buffs were under 30% from the field. First, a five minute drought, then a seven-minute spell without a made field goal. Game, set, match.
Weakness on the perimeter continued to be a theme. From: The Seattle Times.
And, so, the CBI charge ends before even arriving at the semifinals.  Set against a field of nothing but small conference detritus, CU struggled, and ultimately failed.  They gave up too much inside against Gardner-Webb, and succumbed to their typical demons on the road in Seattle.  Hindsight being what it is, I can't help but ask, what exactly did Colorado gain from this?  A few extra practices without a quarter of the roster for next year?  The opportunity to cut a check to the Spirit Airlines of basketball tournaments?  A weird, ridiculous road experience that can't possibly correlate to anything they will face next season? Sure, the freshmen got a few extra minutes, but not that many more (Tory got his normal nine/per, and Dom got an extra five/per) and it was against sub-par competition.  Was it really worth it?

Many, including those in the coaching staff will disagree, and maybe frustration is clouding my judgement, but my vote is no.  The season should've ended in Vegas, and sleeping dogs allowed to lie.

The Pac-12 in the Big Dance - 

While CU's season has come to a close, four Pac-12 teams are still playing, including three that have made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament (Stanford continues in the NIT).  It was a banner weekend for the conference, as the top of a top-heavy league strutted their stuff.  Here's a recap of their exploits:

Arizona 73 - Ohio State 58 -

Giant Death Robot 2.0 continued their roll, cruising past tOSU in breezy fashion.  TJ McConnell was the key, shining throughout a 19/6/6/5 night.  The kid has been playing out of his mind lately, and more than made up for slow nights from Stanley Johnson and Brandon Ashley.
McConnell is scary good right now.
I continue to believe, even with depth issues, that 'Zona is the single best hope for those praying for a Kentucky loss.  To get there, however, they'll have to get past Xavier and, probably, Wisconsin.  That last one, a potential UofA/UW matchup in the Elite Eight is the kind of game dreams are made of.  Can't wait.

Utah 75 - Georgetown 64 -

The hoops revival in Salt Lake City is complete.  For the first time in a decade, the Utes are headed for the Sweet Sixteen.  Let us all marvel at the majesty that is Larry Krystkowiak.
Wright makes these guys a dangerous matchup.
The Hoyas actually had a better than expected day offensively; it was, instead, the Utah offense that won them the game.  The Utes shot 58% from the floor, including 8-14 from deep.  Hard to beat anyone when they're putting up numbers like that.  Delon Wright was typical Delon, chipping in 12/5/5.  However, of all the Pac-12 schools to advance, the Utes have the roughest draw, as they're tasked with Duke in Houston. Good luck with that...

UCLA 92 - UAB 75 -

It's now two consecutive years that the Bruins have benefited from a first-round upset across the bracket from them. Last season, they only had to beat 12-seed Stephen F. Austin to advance to the second weekend.  Similarly, all that stood between them and a Sweet Sixteen berth this year was the 14-seed UAB Blazers.  Better to be lucky than good, I guess.  Credit where it's due, however, UCLA converted on the three-foot putt thanks to a massive game from big Tony Parker; the center had 28/12 in the win.  Steve Alford laughs maniacally in the general direction of BruinsNation.
Tony Parker.  Everywhere.
The Bruins get Gonzaga next, it what should be an interesting matchup.  Looney vs Wiltjer is plain fun. Karnowski vs Parker is old school.  Pangos vs Alford is a sneaky undercard.  Bring it on.

Sendek out at ASU - 

Late breaking news out of Tempe brings us word that Herb Sendek has been dismissed as head coach of the Sun Devils.  Never a fan of 'Uncle Herb,' I'm still a little surprised.  The Sun Devils more than exceeded expectations this season, and seemed to be on the upswing.  They'd probably have been in line for a Tournament berth next spring, or at least have a strong shot at one.  I guess, in the end, that shock loss to USC in Las Vegas was too much of a burden to bear.
Farewell, Herb.
The results of this move could be devastating for the Sun Devils.  Already this afternoon, rumors spread that they could lose all of their once-heralded 2015 recruiting class. Depending on who they hire, how quickly the move is made, and how he takes to the role, their pool of incoming talent could take a major hit.

One name for the job is Jeff Capel, the formed head coach at the University of Oklahoma; he would certainly salve a lot of the open recruiting wounds.  Buff fans, though, may best remember him for taking mounds of talent and turning it into inconsistent, and often times disappointing results in Norman.  Capel even had a penchant for struggling with those God-awful Bzdelik teams, and was usually good for a few embarrassing losses (especially to Oklahoma State).  Sure, ASU, give him a try.

Happy Tuesday!

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