Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: A new hope on the recruiting trail?

Before I get to the bag today, I want to take a minute to remember the true Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali.  If you've been living under a rock, and hadn't heard, the three-time heavyweight champion of the world passed away last week, at the age of 74.  I won't spend too much time here, as others much more capable then myself have written on the subject, but there isn't a single athlete of past generations that I resent having missed more than Ali.  Beyond simply being a boxer, he commanded the ring and the narrative more than should've been capable, owning the public spectacle at a time that you still got your news from papers.  To have been alive, watching as he held the sporting world in the palm of his hand, must have been awe-inspiring and transformational.

Even today, watching film of his fights is fascinating.  No one takes punches like he could, no one that size has ever been as fast, no one more ferocious when he had a man stunned; this isn't just smoke, he was, legitimately, the GOAT.  As a boxing fan, I pain seeing what others got to absorb in real time.  As a historian, I marvel at the impact he had outside of the ring.  We will never see another athlete like him, a defining American caricature now lost to the ages.  RIP.


Today in the bag, I'm talking one last gasp on the 2016 recruiting trail for Coach Boyle and crew, the NBA Finals (such as they are), some #SoxThoughts (as promised).

Click below for the bag...

Namon Wright kicks the tires in Boulder - 

So, with their four main transfer targets off the board for 2016, that must mean Coach Boyle and his staff are resigned to their 12-scholarship fate this season? Well, apparently not, as the news broke last week that former Missouri Tiger Namon Wright was in town, looking for a new home.

A 6-6, 200 lbs wing from Los Angeles, and formerly a top-75 recruit out of high school, Wright is exactly the kind of talent the Buffs are looking for to soften the landing after the runs of Derrick White, Josh Fortune, and Xavier Johnson conclude this winter. He'd have to site out a year, due to traditional transfer rules, but would then have two more seasons of eligibility to use at CU.  At Mizzou, he got starter's minutes under head coach Kim Anderson, displaying great rebounding rates and a will to get to the line while averaging 10/5 as a sophomore.  It's apples and oranges, but he could easily step into the shoes soon to be left open by XJ.
Wright could be just the transfer the BasketBuffs are looking for.  From: the Missourian
Rock M Nation, the Missouri SBNation site, has a great write up on Namon, the kind of player he is, and the reasons behind his departure from Columbia; I highly suggest investing some time in it.  The long and short of it is that Wright signed with MU back during the Frank Haith era, and just doesn't fit in the current coach's system.  With concerns over APR (which lead the Tigers to self-impose a postseason ban) and the overall rebuilding nature of the program (19-44 over the last two years), it was just time to move on.  Wright, however, was seen as progressing well, becoming a complete player, albeit one with an inconsistent outside shot.  No real red flags, outside of a brief freshman-year suspension, so I'd say bring him on.

With all that said, your guess, as to whether there's any fire behind this smoke, is as good as mine. As he's also reportedly considering offers from UNLV and Oregon, the Buffs are, once again, going up against the big dogs in pursuit of a talented prospect.  UNLV is desperate for talent, and Oregon is, well, Oregon.  Namon said he enjoyed his visit to Boulder, though, and none other than the Mayor himself is on the bandwagon, so let's just see if the Buffs can't reel in this fish.

The NBA Finals are already over - 

After two games, it's starting to look like, as expected, the Cleveland Cavaliers won't be much of a threat to the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.  Game 1, which had started out close, turned into a 15-point blowout late.  Game 2 was a straight laugher, in the vein of Game 3 from the '98 Finals, as GSW steamrolled their way to a 33-point final margin; and it could've/should've been much, much worse.  With the series shifting to the Cleve this evening, there's always hope that the Cavs could circle the wagons, and right their ship, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
Sad LeBron is sad.  From: the SL Trib
Everyone wants to dump on LeBron, and he certainly deserves his share of HAWT TAKES for essentially running the show on the shore of Lake Erie, but the Warriors are just that good.  It took a perfect storm of personnel and adjustments in the OKC series for the Thunder to push Golden State to the brink, but all those shooters, all that speed, and all that versatility doesn't just disappear over night. With Shaun Livingston coming off the bench, playing like the prince who was promised (GoT reference, y'all), it's damn near impossible to find any weaknesses with this roster.  They've got their groove back, and there's really nothing Cleveland can do to stop them.

My original prediction for the series was a six game Warrior win, just like last year, but after those opening two games, admittedly in Oakland, I'm starting to think it'll take a lot of mishegas to squeeze two home wins out of this series back in Ohio.  This is the NBA, afterall, and home court still matters, so I'll say the Cavs get a game, but this series is all but wrapped up before we even hit June in stride.

My White Sox suck, trade for James Shields anyway - 

My Sox, in all their wisdom, decided to run out and trade for James Shields this week.  The erstwhile ace of the San Diego Padres and a bag of straight cash homey was gotten in exchange for a pair of mediocre prospects, one of whom, Erik Johnson, is the definition of a AAAA prospect, and will not be missed.  The other, Fernando Tatis, Jr., is a teenage infield hypothetical who could be something in five years.  Shields, 34, has a few years left on his deal (a $75 million behemoth signed last winter), but could opt out after this season.  It is, on the surface, the kind of trade a contender makes when eyeing the postseason -- boosting the rotation at the expense of the deep farm system.  In reality, however, it is the exact opposite.  This trade is the last bark on the retreat from a team destined for the junk heap.

Last week, I bemoaned the recent stretch from My Sox, a run which included 45 losses in 19 games (or at least that's what it felt like).  They've only continued to play like hot garbage in the interim, losing four of seven last week, including three straight against division rivals Detroit (that's now 0-9 over the last nine in-division), to drop within a game of .500, and a full three games back of Central-leading Cleveland.  On the surface, that may not sound by much, and that the team, with a hot stretch could come back and make some noise in September, but, as is always, context matters.  Having watched them, painfully closely, for over two months now, the evidence is clear: this is a flawed foundation destined for 4th place.
Welcome to the SouthSide, I guess.  From: Mighty 1090
The faults are many.  Certainly, there is a need for Shields (although his style will not help him in hitter-friendly US Cellular Field), what with the quality of the rotation, especially from the right side, dropping off precipitously after looking past messrs Sale and Quintana. Unfortunately, it's a move too little, too late, to change the trajectory of the club.  Of most concern has always been offensive, with the team largely incapable of scoring runs (... you know, those things you need to actually win the game), and nothing has been done to address the glaring needs at shortstop, catcher, and DH.  And, long before you ever get to the pitching staff, I would also recommend tossing manager (and Sox legend) Robin Ventura overboard with the rest of the unneeded flotsam -- while the players love him, his passive, losing manner has cursed the SouthSide for far too long.

When My Sox continue to lose over the next two months, spiraling out of control to the point that they will have to sell off what parts (not Sale) are available, with Shields going on to opt-out and chase one last big payday, we'll all look back at this trade and laugh.  I'll be laughing the hardest, with a boatload of rueful tears in my eyes.

Happy Tuesday!

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