Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: Snubbed by the NCAA

Pour a quick one out for the women's volleyball team, who got straight hosed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.  The team who finished 5th in the toughest conference in America, beat six top-25 opponents, and who finished the year on a roll by winning five of their last six was left on the side of the road by a committee who seemed (unsurprisingly) over-impressed by RPI.  Consider that three teams that finished below them in the Pac-12 standings made the dance, and understand how royally they were screwed.

I especially feel bad for seniors Alexis Austin and Nicole Edelman.  They deserved to go out with another trip to the tournament, not the heartbreak of a truly indefensible snub.  For that, I have only one word for the committee:


Today in the bag, I'm talking the hoops win over Northern Colorado, the end of the football season, and an uncomfortable anniversary.

Click below for the bag...

Buffs brush past Northern Colorado - 

Nothing much for it, on a wintery Sunday afternoon, the BasketBuffs blew UNC out of the water.  From the get-go, CU was red-hot, knocking down outside shots, clamping down on Northern defensively, and generally commanding the court.  Steadily, the Buffs took control of the game, grinding out a 46-19 lead at the break.  After halftime, the rolling tide stemmed itself a bit, as focus both on the court and in the stands flagged, but there was no coming back from the Bears, as the game eventually settled into a 82-52 final.

As per usual, Colorado was fueled by superlative senior forward Josh Scott, who owned both sides of the ball.   He put up an efficient 18/8 in 25 minutes of play, as UNC had simply no answer for him.  Past the top line numbers, however, he also handed out three assists, swatted five blocks, grabbed three offensive boards, and only committed one foul.  It was all-encompassing, the latest in a line of surpassing performances --  he's been shooting 76% from the field and 87% from the stripe, while averaging eight rebounds and three blocks since the opener in South Dakota.  The competition has been lacking, to be sure, but those are elite numbers to kickoff his comeback campaign.
Josh was far too much for the undersized Bears.  From: the Journal-Advocate
Beyond just Scott, however, the Buffs also enjoyed a nice game from Wes Gordon.  The quiet power forward complimented Josh's efforts perfectly, putting up 9/15 against no fouls on the day.  Defensively, he shined (but what else is new?), helping to hold the Bears to 27% shooting in the first half, 32% overall.  It was the best team-wide defensive effort of the season, and Gordon was at the heart of it.  Almost more importantly, however, Sunday also marked Wes' best offensive showing to-date.  He's still only scratching the surface of what he can provide the team, though, with consistency on both ends being a constant issue. While the attention is always going to be on his defensive excellence, his efficient usage and shooting rates prove how valuable he can be on the offensive end, especially when combined with what Josh Scott already brings to the table. Between them, the two forwards from Colorado Springs are 3rd and 8th, respectively, in percentage of shots taken, well below where they need to be for the team to be truly seen as clicking on all cylinders.  If the Buffs can get them both going, in addition to what the team is getting from the perimeter, than this season could get real serious, real quick.

Speaking of, the trio of Dom Collier, Josh Fortune, and George King shot 7-14 from deep to give CU all the scoring depth they could need on the day.  All-in-all, a very clean, solid performance from the front-line talent, although against relatively little resistance from the visitors from Greeley.  The Bears just aren't a very good basketball team, and the Buffs did what they needed to do when faced with a lesser opponent. The second half may not have been pretty, by any means, but it didn't need to be, and minds are wont to wander this time of year. Really, I saw what I needed to see in the first; a strong showing with a tough stretch of the schedule looming.

Up next, however, is yet another test of focus, as the Division II Ft Lewis Skyhawks come to town.  I'll have more on this game in tomorrow's teaser.

Frustrating football season ends in Salt Lake City - 

On the far side of the Rockies, with the snow falling on a frigid November day in SLC, CU found themselves in yet another close ballgame on the season's final day.  The defense was holding strong, eliminating almost everything through the air while bending but not breaking on the ground.  On offense, despite yet another injury under center, the offense was a credible threat in the fourth quarter behind a 3rd and 4th string tango at QB.  It all seemed to be setting up for a stunning, emphatic comeback final against a rival on road turf...
The Buffs had their chances.  From: Utah
And then, just as hope was beginning to bloom, it was wiped out as a swinging gate on the right side of the line was left wide open, exposing emergency relief quarterback Jordan Gehrke to onrushing defensive ends. His ensuing fumble killed the final-minute drive, leaving the team with a 20-14 loss and the opportunity to rue the typical series of red zone collapses and turnover miscues that left them high and dry throughout the first three quarters.  Thus, the 2015 Colorado Football season died as it lived -- with the Buffs coming up just short against an opponent ready and willing to hand them a much-needed victory.

There's really not much more to say at this point about the season that was. For me, while the team continued to 'look' better, the results did not match.  They left plenty of opportunities to climb the latter of success on the field, and will be haunted by games like those against Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, USC, and Utah as they sit out the bowl season... for the 8th straight year.  In such light, and since their stated goal was to make a bowl game - any bowl game - I can't help but view this season as a failure.  Not a large one, mind you, but a failure none-the-less.
In the end, more of the same from Colorado.  From:
That doesn't mean I want MacIntyre gone.  Quite the opposite, I believe he's earned a fourth season just purely by imbuing the program with basic competence.  However, with a bevy of senior talent on the books for next fall, and the looming impatience of an athletic department desperately needing returns on the infrastructure investments, next season really is bowl-or-bust for Coach Mac.  No excuses, get it done.

Remembering 100-6 - 

I don't mean to bring anyone down from their post-holiday buzz, but we've reached a depressingly important milestone in the annals of CU Athletics.  Starting last week on the 25th, and extending through tomorrow, we're currently enjoying the 10th anniversary of 100-6.  Yep, that sequence of back-to-back embarrassments to Nebraska and Texas that sounded the death knell on the Gary Barnett era, and sent the football program spiraling into a well of bowl-less irrelevance, was exactly a decade ago.  Happy birthday to us all!

Now, I'm on the record as stating that the fall from grace really started the week prior in Ames, Iowa, when the Buffs coughed up a lead to the Cyclones and a damn real-life tornado (if that ain't an omen, I don't know what is).  But, while that ugly loss was the stunning jab that put the Buffs on their heels, 100-6 were the finishing blows that knocked Colorado football to the canvas.  It's such a clear dividing line, the sense of the program before and after that week. Since then, an entire generation of Buff faithful have come of age expecting nothing but abject failure, and been routinely rewarded for their pessimism with corresponding results.  The program I knew vs the program I know... startling.
Back when empty rows in the student section was a newsworthy event. From: Channel 7
My one abiding memory of that week - which included my Senior Day - was the post-Nebraska dinner with Momma Rumblin' at, of all places, Applebee's.  Not only had the team played like crap, and the student section been emptied for throwing junk on the field, but I personally had performed terribly in my final marching band appearance at Folsom.  Needless to say, I was not the most talkative of dinner guests.  In fact, I starkly remember my mom interrupting the stilted silence to declare 'you guys need to fire your coach,' and being met with nothing but meek, reserved silence from yours truly.  I had nothing for her, my soul crushed on the field.  Never had I felt so empty.

The next day, when Iowa State blew a late lead against Kansas to, once again, back the Buffs into the Big XII title game, I couldn't even bring myself to be excited.  We all knew what was coming, with that unholy, Vince Young-lead Texas team looking to punch their ticket to the national title game with a blowout win in their own backyard.  If that trip had been optional for those in the band, I don't know 50 players who would've gone, myself included.
Somewhere, Texas is still scoring on our Buffs.
Of the infamous 70-3 loss in Houston, I mostly remember the start of third quarter.  Having left the field from halftime, and the game well out of hand, I retreated with a large chunk of the veteran low brass players to the concourse behind the band, looking for chicken fingers (I love me some chicken fingers).  As I sat munching, desperately hoping for a way to be anywhere but Reliant Stadium, I kept hearing the crowd roar and the cannon sound.  'They can't have scored again,' I said aloud, but, of course UT had.  The Longhorns, grasping for the jugular, had reeled off four touchdowns in as many minutes. That cannon sounding again, and again, and again, and again...

Look, I don't bring this up to dwell in the past.  But, as a history major, I feel that celebrating the glories without also understanding the failures is disingenuous.  100-6 has as much to do with the soul of BuffNation as the 1990 national title -- we have to wear it all to be true fans.  When, at some point in the future, the football team does return to something resembling relevance, we're all going to be better off for having crawled through the proverbial 'five hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness I can't even imagine.'  Those of us who were there that week 10 years ago will know exactly how long the journey has been, and absolution will mean all the more for it. So, here's to you, 100-6; go fuck yourself.

Happy Tuesday!

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