Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Late Sunday night, I saw the following score scroll across my phone's sports app:


Oh... oh my.  That's a loss to the same UNC squad that the Buffs whupped by 30 without really trying, and who had, prior to Sunday, yet to record a win over a D-I school this season.  The Bears and their porous defense, currently 351st in KenPom's ratings system, were able to hold the Rams to just .96 points per possession, making me wonder if CSU was playing the full compliment of five players on the court. Granted, it was on road hardwood in Greeley, but that's just... that's just not good.

Now, no one enjoys a good old 'little brother embarrassing themselves' story as much as I do, but not at the expense of CU's RPI.  Since we in BuffNation are back to caring about such things, we need CSU, and Colorado's road win over them, to stay viable and impressive.  That's not going to happen the way the Rams are going.  Their RPI ranking has slipped out of the top-100, and I'm worried about it ever recovering.  If that's not a top-100 win by the time Selection Sunday rolls around, then the Aggies will have done far more damage to CU's post-season hopes than they ever could've managed while facing them.


Today in the bag, I'm recapping the win over BYU, taking a look at how the rest of the Pac-12 did, and discussing a rabid anti-Linda Lappe fan's obsession with getting their point across.

Click below for the bag...

Buffs send Cougars packing - 

Saturday afternoon, with the BYU Cougars in town, the Coors Events Center was packed.  The crowd was feisty and into the game.  Hell, the students even showed up (eventually).  As the Buffs roared out to bigger and bigger leads through the first 30 minutes of the game, it finally began to feel like basketball season again. There was a buzz, a warmth in the gym. Finally, after a lot of consternation and finger pointing about attendance, the Keg was back and frothing at the Foot of the Flatirons.  Slowly, but surely, this fanbase is beginning to wake to the fact that the 2015-16 Colorado Buffaloes are on a mission to erase the memory of last winter -- these guys are good, and only getting better as the season progresses.
Josh Scott and the Buffs were doing work against the Cougars on Saturday. From: The Durango Herald
They proved that with yet another thumbs-up performance in a season of pleasant surprises.  Ready to run from the opening tip, the Buffs pushed BYU around throughout the first half, cruising to a 12-point lead at the break.  It only got better in the second half's opening minutes, with CU expanding the lead to a healthy 25 points just past the first media break.  While the Cougars would eventually respond against the Colorado reserves, at no point did I really feel threatened as the Buffs raced home.  The result, a 92-83 final, marked CU's eighth-straight win, putting them in great position to head into conference play on a high note, and probably set the stage for more packed gyms in the future.  Can't ask much more from a tiddy little win like that.

The star of the game?  Who else but Josh Scott.  His 22/10 (16 of those points from the first half) set the tone for the evening, eviscerating BYU's hopes of plugging up the middle of the lane.  He got pretty much whatever he wanted, including a number of 15-17' jumpers that the Cougars had no response or defensive counter for.  Along with frontcourt mate Wes Gordon, he didn't turn the ball over once, helped the Buffs to +8 on the glass, and generally limited BYU inside. Even a 1-3-1 zone didn't halt their progress, as the duo facilitated quick inside-out passing. It was a clinic, and another reminder of just how good those two can be when they are on their game.  The Pac-12 will have very few answers for the Colorado Springs duo, once January rolls around.
Sad naps for the Cougars.  From:
Elsewhere, George King got back to his free-flowing scoring ways, dropping a healthy 23 on the Cougars. The King was back to his old tricks, killing corner threes en route to a 4-6 night from deep. He helped make up for quieter efforts from Josh Fortune and Tre'Shaun Fletcher, who combined to only shoot 2-11 from beyond the arc.  Once again, depth on the wing kept the Colorado offense humming along in spite of a few missed shots. Overall, the Buffs just under 46% from the floor, backed up by 87% shooting at the line.  As they held BYU under 40% from the field on defense, that was more than enough.

Looking ahead, the Buffs will have the rest of the week off for finals, before hosting a pair of non-bracketed home site games for the Las Vegas Classic against Nicholls and Hampton.  These games are part of the annual rite of abusing the non-conference tournament rule to expand the maximum allowable schedule from 29 games up to 31.  While these games are technically a part of the Las Vegas Classic, they have no bearing on the field in Vegas, and should otherwise just be considered normal home games.  The Nicholls State Colonels are up first Friday night, and my teaser should be up Thursday evening.

Around the world of Pac-12 hoops - 

- UCLA 71 - Gonzaga 66 -

The big news from from weekend was UCLA's solid win over a very strong Gonzaga squad at the Kennel in Spokane.  They lost twice to the Bulldogs last year, making this a win of revenge; I'm sure it tasted sweet for those Bruins fans not overly concerned with how much they may dislike Steve Alford. Isaac Hamilton lead the way for the LA crew, pouring in 20 much-needed points, and the team as a whole only committed eight turnovers.
It was a big, big win for the Bruins up in Eastern Washington.  From: the LA Times
UCLA is in the midst of a brutal non-conference schedule.  All told, they will play six power programs before Pac-12 play, lending legitimacy to their record that few other teams can boast this time of year. That's why I'm going to have to agree with the great Will Whelan: in the constantly shifting sands of Pac-12 hoops, the Bruins are currently on top of the heap.  Plenty can change, however, with a few weeks still to go before conference play begins.

- Boise State 74 - Oregon 72 -

Beyond the UCLA win, however, the rest of the Conference of Champions struggled against name competition this weekend.  The most surprising result was probably the Oregon Ducks, who lost their second game in a week after I tabbed them the most impressive team in the league on 1190 AM.  While it may not have been a blowout, with the Ducks coming up just short when a last-second Dillon Brooks shot went wide, UO still should have done better, having now lost both of their true road games this season.
The Ducks came up just short in Boise.  From:
Freshman wing Tyler Dorsey sat out yet another game while recovering from a knee sprain, and his absence really seemed to upset the Oregon offense.  Jordan Bell is back, though, returning from recovery for a broken foot suffered last spring.  The Ducks will need both back and healthy if they're going to live up to their potential this season.

- Kansas 82 - Oregon State 67 -

At first glance, this scoreline may not be all that surprising.  The Jayhawks beat a middle-of-the-road Beavers squad in Kansas City, big whoop, right?  Well, it's a little bit of a whoop, as OSU actually lead this game at halftime, 39-28.  As expected, though, KU hit the afterburners out of the break, shooting 66% from the field in the second half.  It was a tidal wave of points against the typically defensive-minded Beavers, one that they never had a prayer of countering.  Game, set, match.
LOOK OUT BELOW!  From: the Sacramento Bee
In defeat, however, Gary Payton II had one hell of a highlight, posterizing Cheick Diallo in the most inhumane way possible.  I'm not sold on the Beavers as much more than an annoyance for those teams in real pursuit of the Pac-12 crown this year, but there's no reason that GP2 won't be in the running for conference Player of the Year.  The kid is a legit, scary talent.

- Wichita State 67 - Utah 50 -  

It seems the Utes caught the turnover bug, coughing the rock up 19 times in their weekend loss at Wichita State.  A whopping six of those came from point guard Brandon Taylor, serving as a reminder that Delon Wright is currently playing his basketball elsewhere.  The Shockers boast one of the better pressure defenses in the country, and have a defensive turnover rate near 25%, but it's still worrying to see a team as well coached as Utah struggle to hold on the ball that much.
Maybe not so much with the shooting into the waiting defenders... From: the Emporia Gazette
The Utes only have a week to recover before a marquee neutral site game against Duke.  Hopefully, they will get their act together before the national TV audience tunes in.

Linda Lappe has a dedicated hater - 

Someone out in the twitter-verse has a bone to pick with CU Women's basketball coach Linda Lappe, and they don't seem to care who they're firing their fingergunz at.  Whether it's tweets at poor, unsuspecting wine connoisseurs, or full-barreled blasts during the weekly chats at the BDC, the HOT TAKES are coming fast and furious.  It's not a wave of people picking up the banner, instead it seems to be one lone gunman, out to change the world one tweet at a time.  Essentially, someone wants Coach Lappe fired, and they want it done now.
Someone out there is really not a fan of Coach Lappe.  From: The CU Independent
Now, I will be the first to admit that I have been less than thrilled with the production out of the women's program the last few years.  After a quick spurt where Coach Lappe had the Buffs back in the national rankings, at about the same time #TadBall was taking over on the men's side, the program has slid back to the bottom half of the Pac-12.  This year, with a number of freshman in the playing time mix, results have continued to be inconsistent, with the Buffs now sitting at 4-5, and coming off losses in four of their last five ballgames (including a loss to little sister).  This is not a strong program right now, certainly when compared to where the legendary Ceal Barry had things in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s.  I get it, changes need to be made.

That being said, to be so doggedly against a coach to this degree in a sport that doesn't have the financial weight of the entire athletic department on its shoulders is... well, bizarre.  Especially as many of the targets of these social media fireworks haven't or aren't currently covering the program, God only knows what this online vigilante expects to accomplish. The larger, valid point, and one that could be stated with much less vitriol and childish hashtags (aren't all hashtags childish?), is that Colorado probably needs to take a long, hard look at the overall direction of the program, and if it's really headed where we in BuffNation want it to. But now, in the middle of the season, is not that time. Damn it, it twitter doesn't get weird at times.

Happy Tuesday!

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