Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: Team Colorado steams into Sweet Sixteen

So, how's everyone's summer going?  It's been pretty quiet on the sporting front, with little to nothing happening as we hit July.  In fact...

... wait, we have breaking news from the Drew League:
Good Lord, that should come with a NSFW tag.  That's former CU guard and manager Shannon Sharpe throwing down on... some guy in the Drew League, and... you know, I really think that poor man may be dead...

So, RIP, random dude who got dunked on.


Today in the bag, I only have two items of note for y'all, as I won't waste my breath on the All Star Game.  I'm talking success at TBT and the Euro Finale.

Click below for the bag...

Basketball Alums shine in The Basketball Tournament - 

It was a big week for BasketBuffs alumni.  A trio of recent CU stars hit the NBA Summer league, including Spencer Dinwiddie, who's back with the Bulls and performing well.  You also had the above referenced body bag dunk from Deuce, which nearly twitter for an entire Sunday.  But, almost more importantly, the collected assortment of forever Buffs known as Team Colorado started their second run at The Basketball Tournament over the weekend -- the five-on-five hoops tournament with a $2 million grand prize waiting at the end.

Last year, their dance did not last long, with the group bowing out after just one game against eventual tournament runner-up Team 23.  Considering this shaky history, I was a little apprehensive about year two of the venture, even as the team, lead by Beau Gamble and Trent Beckley, seemed to be taking things much more seriously this time around (even participating in a three day mini camp in Boulder with members of the current team).  I need not have worried, however, as the Buffs took care of business over two games this weekend, earning solid wins against Shaare Zedek (a collection of former pros playing for charity) and Skinner's Frate Train (Boston College alums) to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Marcus is still as fast as you remember.  From: BSNDenver.

In the first game, Team Colorado managed to keep SZ at bay, mostly thanks to the lightning quick attacks of Marcus Hall.  The former point guard in Ricardo Patton's run-and-gun system still has the quickness to blow past would be defenders, and he showed it off through 27 points on 11-16 shooting.  He was everywhere off the dribble in the second half, driving at anyone in his way, and looking damn impressive.  At one point, the SZ coach (coaches are mic'd at these games, which is... interesting during the huddles) openly begged his players to force Marcus to give up the rock or shoot, as Hall was straight killing Zedek in getting to the rim,  His pleas made sense, as, realistically, outside of Hall's second half spurt, the Buffs were open to another first round letdown.  They struggled on the glass - SK had one possession where they grabbed three straight offensive rebounds, and attempted four three pointers - and nearly coughed up a 10-point halftime lead.  Hall, in addition to some late threes by Levi Knutson and Richard Roby's first bucket of the second half with just seconds left, though, proved to be enough to stave off the comeback attempt, and the CU alums settled home with a 78-73 victory.

In the Sunday matchup with SFT, we only got more Hall, as the sparkplug stepped back to deliver a clinic from beyond the arc. Hall would finish with 31 points, buoyed by 6-8 shooting from deep (TC was 13-27, overall), and easily lead both teams in individual scoring.  He was joined this time by a throw-back performance from Roby, who chipped in 23 points thanks to 8-12 shooting from the free throw line.  In fact, it was those free throws that helped seal the win (TC shot 20/26 from the stripe in the second half) as Frate Train pushed late.  Rebounding was, again, an issue, with the Boston College alums grabbing 16 offensive boards, but the Buffs flat-out scored enough to overcome the issue.  In the end, a 94-85 scoreline left the Buffs singing the fight song and stamping their name on the big bracket at the end of the court, once again.
With the win, the Buffs move on to the Sweet Sixteen and a rematch with 2015 nemesis Team 23.  The action will tip on July 22nd from Philly, with final details TBD.  Coverage will be on ESPNU and ESPN2.  As a cherry on top, while the CU alums had to pay their way through the weekend, from here on out the tournament is picking up travel and lodging; some well-earned victory perks.

There's a lot to like about this group.  Just seeing Marcus Hall and Richard Roby sharing the court again gave me some chills.  Prior to the arrival of the #RollTad era, these were the authors of some of my favorite memories on Boulder hardwood, and being able to reconnect with them as a fan is rich in nostalgia.  While rebounding remains a concern (which isn't all that surprising, as that was a major problem with the late-Patton/Jeff Bzdelik era, where all of these players come from), they can score and shoot, and terrorize out on the break.  With a little more organization under their belts, and a true coach on the sidelines, they are a serious challenge in this field.

The Matchup with Team 23 will remain awkward.  The group of Arizona heavies has interior strength the Buffs just don't have, and will frustrate on the glass and in the post.  If Team Colorado goes cold from beyond the arc, it could be a very tough game for them to win.  But, as we saw over the weekend, this team has a lot more fight in them this time around.  I'll tell your right now, if they can put together a run to the final, I'm going to give it the full preview treatment.   Keep it going, Buffs!

Portugal stuns world; wins cup final without Ronaldo -

Well, color me surprised.  Portugal, who I considered the least capable squad still left in the European Championship last week, blew past Wales in their semifinal and stunned host nation France in the final to secure their first ever major international title.  This was a team that, until the game against Wales, had failed to win a contest in regulation, and finished third in their four-team group (advancing as a wild card), yet still emerged as champions.  Weird thing, sports.

Probably the most dramatic moment of the run came early in the final, when star Christiano Ronaldo, one of the two best soccer players on the planet, pulled up lame, and eventually had to come off the field with a knee injury.  As this is soccer, the resulting substitution meant that he was done for the rest of the game, and, while Portugal was able to replace him on the field with the solid Ricardo Quaresma, the specter of playing the majority of the match without Ronaldo seemed a doom to the Portuguese cause.
Eder's shock goal.  From: Yahoo Sports.
But, doom it was not, as France failed to capitalize.  In response to the injury, Portugal did what you would assume - sat back in the counter, and relied on defense and goal keeping to force extra time.  It was on the French, then, to live up to home field passions, and score what would've been a deciding goal in regulation.  While they tried, they just seemed incapable of beating Portuguese goalie Rui Patricio, who was having the game of his life.  With waning French forward Olivier Giroud flapping about, unable to link with the fanatical Antoine Griezman, and no one in blue able to build on the engine of destruction that was Moussa Sissoko, they left the game to the happenstance of extra time, which allowed Portugal to press for the steal.

And steal the win they did.  With extra time plodding along, a speculative blast from the middle of nowhere by subbed-on Portuguese forward Eder slipped past the out-stretched gloves of Hugo Lloris to find the back of the net.  Homestanding French crowd silenced, Portugal killed off the remaining time, and claimed their trophy, 1-0, as their hobbled star watched from the bench.  Incredible, improbable, this was a sporting shock of the highest level.

Happy Tuesday!

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