Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: Buffs fill out roster in style

Over the holiday weekend, Boulder was visited by an eclectic mix of aged hippies and hangers on... which didn't really differentiate it much from any other weekend, come to think of it.  I kid, but the Grateful Dead, or what remains of the old school peace and love touring group, played two shows at Folsom; the first such musical performances at the stadium since 2001 (Dave Matthews Band).  From all accounts, the concerts went off without a hitch, and, more importantly, there was little trouble in the City of Boulder pre- or post-shows.  From my own experience, I found the attendees to be rather reserved and far from destructive on the larger neighborhood (I live four blocks from Folsom, and walked the creek path before each show).
Seemed like a pretty cool scene up on campus.  From: @CUBuffsTurf
Now, I don't give a shit about the Dead.  Not my style of music, not my kind of crowd (outside of Bill Walton, who is, of course, always welcome at the Casa de Rumblin).  But, this was an important moment for CU.  The ability to hold concerts at other non-football events at Folsom is a nice revenue stream to the athletic department, and putting on these shows with the Dead and Company were the first steps towards tapping that stream since before the east-side suites went up.  I don't believe for a second that CU made too much money this weekend, at least nothing that'll come close to erasing the remaining costs of the facility upgrades, but every dollar added, without too much impact on the community, is important, and nothing to sniff at.

Additionally, the last time Folsom hosted a concert, the football team went on to win a conference title, and drop the most satisfying scoreline in the history of the program.  Maybe, in that vein, the return of some touring musical karma will help the 2016 Buffaloes end the painful bowl drought...


Today in the Bag, I'm talking a huge pickup for Coach Boyle and the men's basketball team, tipoff in The Basketball Tournament, and a Euros update.

Click below for the bag...

Namon Wright picks Colorado - 

Any worries that Colorado Men's Basketball would enter the 2016-17 campaign with an unfilled scholarship in hand were put to rest last week as news broke that Namon Wright, former Missouri Tiger guard, was headed to Boulder.  Wright will have to sit a season, due to transfer rules, before completing his two remaining years of eligibility, but, with the commitment, the Buffs are back up to the full compliment of 13 scholarship players.
The newest Buff is familiar with Black and Gold.  From: Fox Sports
I had talked up Namon in a previous edition of the Grab Bag, but, as a quick refresher, the 6-6, 200 lbs wing was a 4-star signee out of Los Angeles in the 2014 class.  Colorado had pursued him out of high school, but he eventually chose Columbia, MO and then-head coach Frank Haith.  As a sophomore, under new head coach Kim Anderson, he posted solid, if slightly underwhelming numbers (just under 10 points per game), but buoyed them with great rates on the boards (18% DR%) and in getting to the line (FT Rate near 47%).  Reports from Tiger insiders noted that Namon showed good development on and off the ball, and seemed to be on a projectable upswing, even if he was struggling under the new regime.  He's a good, versatile athlete, capable of playing multiple positions, and making an impact on the boards. With Haith out of the picture at Mizzou, however, it just wasn't a good fit anymore, and Wright decided for a change of scenery.   His jump shot could use some work, but he still appears to be a good, Pac-12 caliber talent.

Generally, Namon fits the mold of a prototypical Tad Boyle player.  He has good size, can play a number of positions, and will provide a number of different looks on both offense and defense. Additionally, as he has two years to play, he continues the recent tradition of bringing players into the program for more than just one go. With off-court trouble at a minimum, there's a lot to like about this move, for both sides.  Especially as Xavier Johnson is graduating out of the program after this season, there's a definite need for a wing who can make an impact both offensively and on the defensive glass -- Wright has an opportunity to fit nicely into that role.
A big win for Coach Boyle on the recruiting trail.  From: BSNBuffs
Probably the best part of this whole scenario is that CU managed to beat out two big names on the recruiting trail for Namon's services.  Both Oregon and UNLV were after the wing, making this the first true recruiting battle the Buffs have won against those recruiting heavyweights in quite a while. While UNLV is in a dire situation, they could've easily offered Wright an opportunity for near-guaranteed playing time, and Oregon is, well, Oregon.  For Coach Boyle and crew to beat 'em both for a player he really wanted is a great sign.

Available minutes for next season were already at a premium, so there was never a thought of getting a 13th player to suit-up right away.  Namon Wright not only fills a need, but fits in nicely to future depth charts.  It's really a perfect fit for both player and program, one that I could easy see paying off for each.

Welcome aboard, Namon!

TBT tips off; Buffs look to improve on last year's early exit -

For the second-consecutive year, a team of former CU greats is suiting up for a chance to earn $2 million.  Yep, the Basketball Tournament is back, and with it Team Colorado.  Headed by founder Beau Gamble and GM Trent Beckley, the roster features luminaries such as Richard Roby, Marcus Hall, Marcus Relphorde, Austin Dufault, and Dominique Coleman, with Dwight Thorne (who just signed to coach with Rodney Billups and DU this winter) serving as head coach.  Essentially a who's who of the last decade of Colorado basketball, it's a collection of a number of professionals who have a wealth of experience in the extended world of basketball.  While no NBA stars are allowed in the field (leaving out CU-based talents like Alec Burks, Andre Roberson, Chris Copeland, or Spencer Dinwiddie), there appear to be more than enough talent at hand to field a competitive team.
It's always good to see Roby repping for CU.  From: the BDC
Of course, the venture didn't go so well last summer.  Team Colorado, new and unacclimated to the process, got bounced around throughout an opening round loss to Team 23.  While Team 23 would eventually go on to make the finals, it was a poor showing for the Buffs Alumni, who had hoped to make a deep run.

This year, they look to improve on that unfortunate showing.  To that end, the group has been working through a mini-camp in Boulder, featuring scrimmages with current players.  In addition to solid practice, it has served as a nice reunion for the former teammates, while giving them a chance to work with and mentor the next generation of Colorado stars.  Beckley's presence has been, especially, credited with a better understanding of roster makeup, and hopes are high that this year will be different.
DT is back in Boulder, leading his fellow Buffs.  From:
Win or lose, this is a great statement about the foundation of the program.  There have been great strides made under Coach Boyle to espouse a long term apparatus of support and inclusion to former players, something that other programs around the country have long leveraged.  Just having these guys back around campus, showing that playing basketball at CU can lead to a successful life off the court, is a great example to have for the current roster.

Hopefully, Team Colorado will come through with a nice run.  Their pursuit starts in earnest this weekend in Los Angeles as they face Shaare Zedek on Saturday at 10:15 MT.

Wales marches on; Iceland bows out; Germany still looks the team to beat at the 2016 Euros - 

A quick roundup of action at the 2016 European Soccer Championship

- Wales 3 - Belgium 1 - 
For first time entrants, the Welsh look mighty comfortable playing this level of international soccer. Behind the stalwart play of Gareth Bale (one of the top five or so players in the world) and a slew of EPL talents, they've been rampaging throughout the tournament.  Against Belgium in the quarterfinals, they showed once again why dreams of a title for the smaller member of the United Kingdom aren't so far-fetched.  Surrendering an early goal to the favored Belgians only seemed to spur the Dragons on, leading them to score three unanswered over the final 60 minutes to play.  They out-coached, out-worked, and flat out-played their more heralded opponents, and earnestly deserved the win.  What's more, with listless Portugal up next tomorrow afternoon (who have yet to win a game in regulation in France), there's a better than decent chance that Wales will advance to the final. Wouldn't that be a sight to see?

- France 5 - Iceland 2 - 

While one Cinderella, Wales, dances on, another, Iceland, has seen their carriage turn back into a pumpkin.  Iceland had been wooing the country with tales of their 300,000-strong island taking over the European continent, with part-time players taking down the feckless English.  Chickens came home to roost, however, when they tussled with the host nation, France.  From the opening kick you could tell this would not be a repeat of the dream matchup with England.  The French dominated possession and chances, roaring out to a 4-0 lead before half.  While Iceland wouldn't quit, the game was never again close.  All credit where it's due, however, this Icleand team did more than could ever have been expected, and leaves France with their heads held high.

- Germany 1 (6) - Italy (5) - 

This game started painfully slow, but wound up featuring plenty of drama, as it took a record 18 penalty kicks to decide the match between Germany and Italy.  This was a gigantic moment for the reigning World Cup champs, who had historically struggled with Italian demons.  Now, with this test in the rear view, the Germans appear to me to be the team to beat. While France will have the home field advantage in their upcoming semifinal (Thursday afternoon), Germany has proven to have the organization to keep the rampaging hosts at bay.  Give me the Germans and a late two-goal margin over France, with a follow-up single-goal win over Wales in the final.

Happy Tuesday!

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