Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: Yet More Attrition in Basketball

I think it goes without saying that I hate the 'wave.' By participating, you’re saying, in essence, 'I no longer care about what’s going on in front of me, and just want to goof off for a bit." I guess I get the notion - you’re bored at a game, and want something communal to participate in - but it strikes me as a gateway to the lesser aspects of being a sports fan. Since a fellow member of the Pac-12 (Washington) claims responsibility for berthing the beast, there's some conference honor to be had in its continuance, but I would prefer to be left out of it.

That informs why dawning horror splashed across my face Friday afternoon as two (and there’s really no other way to describe them) Sox-bros stood up at the bottom of a nearby section, and began to exhort their fellow fans to giving rise to the wave. I had long prided myself in saying that no Sox fan would ever participate in the wave; ‘Oh no,’ I thought, ‘the safety of my imagined reality is being breached!  Maybe we do, indeed, 'wave.’ 

Thankfully, the nonsense was short lived. Others around me grumbled their displeasure, and, out of hundreds sat before them in the section, only a scant handful even pretended to participate. Surely, the lousy performance put on from the home nine that afternoon had put a damper on fanatic spirits, but the curse of a wave to satiate the bored was avoided.  

If you or anyone you know struggles with the urge to 'wave,' let me encourage you to seek out professional help.  Together, we can cure this devastating affliction.

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Today in the bag, I'm talking another round of roster attrition in men's basketball, the Masters, and some final ruminations from my weekend trip home to the SouthSide.

Click below for the bag...


Jaron Hopkins leaves the Buffs; Derrick White on the way? - 

Change is always an uncomfortable thing, especially change in the wake of challenging times.  The Buffs were certainly challenged last winter as they struggled throughout a 16-18 campaign that had me reaching for the emergency kit time and time again. After what I saw this past season, I called for a complete reworking of the roster, and a trim of the fat.  That, of course, meant consequences, and that painful separations would have to be made. BuffNation had already dealt with one, saying a heartfelt goodbye to Dustin Thomas. Now, not even a month after that departure comes news that another talented sophomore is headed for the door: Jaron Hopkins announced just last week that he too has decided to leave Boulder.

I'll have much more on the departure later this week when I post my Attrition File on the talented Arizona product, but suffice to say it's another name that stabs at the heart.  Hopkins was a dose of hopeful athleticism that continued to tantalize, and it's hard to digest his departure.  Maybe not a surprise, per se, but a painful reminder that promise doesn't always translate into success.  Further, for an already disappointing guard corps to lose one of their key members, the doubts only continue to rise as to how CU will emerge after this offseason of upheaval.
'The Game Shooter' becomes the second player to transfer out of the program this Spring. From: the CU Independent
This, of course, leaves the Buffs with yet another scholarship to spend.  For a program that is already adding transfers Josh Fortune and Kenan Guzonjic, redshirt guard George King, and true freshman Thomas Akyazili to the 2015-16 roster, it may seem like overkill, but, believe me, another fresh face is warranted.  

The rumor mill started churning almost immediately - I likened the anticipation to waiting to open your presents on Christmas morning - and, with a tip of the hat to BuffStampede.com's Ryan Koenigsberg ($), spat out the name of CU-Colorado Springs guard Derrick White.  A dominating talent at the Division II level, White put up ridiculous numbers the past two seasons (24/7/5), becoming the first Mountain Lion ever to be named All-American, setting school records for scoring along the way.  While it's not official, the senior-to-be's future as a Buff seems set, with his current coach saying they're looking at life without White.
It looks like White will be the 5th addition to the 2015-16 roster.
If this was to be a Christmas present, it has left me speechless. Certainly a name out of left field, White strikes me as another late-in-the-cycle reach from Coach Boyle and crew; the kind that has yet to yield much in the way of on-court production.  The D-I transfer list is lengthy and talented, and I don't really see much of a need to stretch into D-II ball to try and find the necessary talent to help turn this program around.  The questions abound.  How will his game translate?  Can he handle the jump up in competition?  Will he be able to stomach not being the guy? Nothing against White, and I wouldn't even begin to speak to his game having not seen a second of him either live or on film, but if you just posit it as 'Colorado to sign D-II talent,' eyebrows naturally raise.

Those who have watched Derrick play, however, are much more enthusiastic.  David Ramsey from the Springs Gazette all but guaranteed that he'll average 15 points per game and help CU back into the Dance. Certainly, should that come to pass, feel free to point to my gentle pawing of the dirt here and scoff. Regardless, more news on the pending arrival of Derrick White to come...


Spieth 'Tigers' Augusta - 

I have long been enamored with The Masters and Augusta National.  Almost in spite of myself, this extremely passive golf fan follows the proceedings every year, and finds great joy in the goings on in Georgia. While I can't stand the politics of the hosts, the pious arrogance of Jim Nance, or the personality of many of the competitors, the scene makes for a striking statement that Spring has sprung, and worms its way into my heart each April.

This year was no different.  In between baseball games in Chicago, I was glued to my various devices as the first major of the year drove on.  The results were eye-popping: a relative newcomer, 21-year old Jordan Spieth ran away with the Green Jacket, putting the field and a few records to the torch, in the process.  In all, the Texas product shot 18-under par, tying the mark put up by the great Tiger Woods in 1997 - a record I never expected to be equaled.

Really, Spieth should have broken the mark, with relative ease, too.  He was 14-under after two rounds, and 16-under entering the final day.  Just as El Tigre once made the venerable grounds in eastern Georgia look like a putt-putt course, Jordan was slicing and dicing this weekend.  It's almost hard to believe in each case that a Masters demolition marked their first major championship.  Maybe, then, this is the new announcement of the head of a generation, just as Tiger's weekend in '97 signaled a seismic shift in the golfing world.  Not that I'm saying Speith will own the larger sporting landscape, the way Woods once did, but it's easy to see a favorable career path for the young stoker.  Time will tell, of course.


Reconnecting with my childhood - 

I know there are many in the readership of this space who roll their eyes anytime I touch the subject, but I simply cannot help the fact that I am a diehard White Sox fan.  I have been since I was five years old, and there's nothing that can be done at this point to stem the tide.  This is not a baseball thing, it's not even a Chicago thing.  The Sox run in my blood, and there is no cure.  I cannot help myself, and will talk about them from time to time.  If that annoys you, I apologize, but Twitter does now come with a mute button.  See you in September.
My home away from home.
For those still with me, I would like to report a happy and successful trip 'home' to Chicago for Opening Day, 2015.  I had never attended an opener before, and the experience, other than the final score, was as hoped.  The stadium was packed, the tailgate lots resembled those for a college football game (yes, Midwesterners tailgate for baseball), and the pageantry amazed. 

Luckily, My Sox rebounded from their poor showing on Friday to earn the series win over Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday.  Both days were highlights - perfect weather, included - and made for a fantastic birthday weekend.  Sunday was an ideal capper, as I sat 100 feet from the great Chris Sale as he plied his trade against the Twins.  Throwing 72 of 98 pitches for strikes, he was as impressive as ever, and I had a wonderful vantage point to consume his brilliance.  Even if you don't get my obsession with My Sox, the opportunity to see one of the best young pitchers in the game mow through a professional lineup should get your blood pumping; believe me, it's worth the price of admission.
video

I couldn't help, in reconnecting with the fan base of my youth, but realize why I do the things I do at sporting events.  I noticed the pitch and timbre of the crowd noises, the seemingly standardized response to the action, the conversations filtering through the ballpark, and even the way my fellow fans dressed.  Those who know me, had they been on 35th and Shields this weekend, would have shaken their heads in resigned recognition. I am a SouthSider, there's no getting around it.  


Happy Tuesday!

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