Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Texas Wrap and 2016-17 CU vs Wofford Basketball Teaser

When last we saw the Buffs, they were basking in the glow of a very satisfying win over Texas in consolation game of the Legends Classic.  In a return to the principles of #TadBall, Colorado controlled the action throughout, dominating both defensively (UT shot 37% for the game) and on the glass (+9, including 17 offensive rebounds).  In the end, there was little the young Longhorns could do, as CU settled into a 68-54 final.

It was obvious from the start that there would be no repeat of the first half implosion against Notre Dame. The Buffs came out firing from the tip playing aggressive, physical basketball.  Overall, they looked comfortable again, like themselves.  This was the Buffaloes as envisioned in my team preview -- veteran, versatile, and capable. By the end of the first minute of play, they had already forced two missed shots and claimed three rebounds, and would only go on from there.  CU was up nine at half, and easily parried away a counter by the Longhorns late in the second.  Game-set-match, moving on to the next one.
No easy baskets given to Texas, #TadBall was back!  From: USA Today
The star of the show was Derrick White, who capped a personally successful trip to Brooklyn with a 16/5/2/2/2 line that only subtly hints at how important he was to the cause.  Derrick was 7-10 from the field, and, while he only got to the line once (as a team, the Buffs only attempted five freebies), scored massive buckets down the stretch to keep UT at bay.  Every time the Buffs needed a play, there came Derrick to grab a rebound, make a key block, or hit a step-back dagger.  White was awesome, just as he needed to be.  While I am still wanting the fifth-year senior point guard to be a little more selfish and take over offensively, his body of work through five games is as advertised. Last year, Colorado might have dropped this one, as Texas made a late push that cut the lead to only three points with five minutes to play.  It's a different team, though, and White is a primary reason why CU is in a much better position to weather comeback storms in 2016-17.

Elsewhere, We saw George King follow-up on a decent 17/13 performance against Notre Dame with a second-straight double-double (12/13) against the Longhorns.  This is the kind of effort on the boards we saw from George as a freshman, and that was absent last season as a redshirt sophomore. He was fearless in the paint, going toe-to-toe with taller, bulkier forwards like Texas' Shaq Cleare. King would battle for position, deny the entry, then recover for a good box out and a strong leap for the ball.  I won't go so far as to say he looked like Andre Roberson this week, but George certainly looked like the kind of aggressive forward the Buffs need to clean up loose possessions.  There was desire in his pursuit on the glass in Brooklyn, which hopefully will translate to continued rebounding success the rest of this season.

Ultimately, I look at the Legends Classic as a job well done.  CU won three of the four quarters played, learned a big lesson against the Irish, and got a solid win against a developing Texas team. While I would've preferred a clean slate, I look at 4-1 with few complaints.

Up next for the Buffs is a visit for old friends Wofford.  You may remember the Terriers from a few years back, when they helped Colorado inaugurate the 2012-13 season with a 74-59 result in the Coors Events Center.  While no one who saw the court that November night is still with the program, I feel as if I'm seeing familiar faces with Wofford on the schedule.  Kudos to Coach Boyle for bringing them back.
Young and his Terriers are back in Boulder.  From: the Herald Online
Head Coach Mike Young's bunch is still in a bit of a rebuilding mode after back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in '14 and '15, and they've been off to a rough start so far this season. They've lost every game played to-date against D-I competition, only chalking up a victory against tiny Allen University (NAIA) in Gulf Coast Showcase action.  It should be noted, though, that they've been close to everyone except LSU, including just a one-point loss to a well-thought-of Vermont side. Wofford may be struggling in the win/loss columns, but they aren't that far off, and BuffNation should expect a competitive attitude when they get off the bus in Boulder.

Young preaches a measured defensive style predicated on leveraging possession length and getting stops.  To call them glacial would demean the architects of the last ice age -- Wofford gets just 66 possessions per game, and looks to force possessions in excess of 20 seconds in length.  It's the same on the offensive end, where they are have been, routinely, one of the 50 slowest teams in the country over the years.  They will look for a great shot, not just a good one, and rarely break out of a snail's pace.  While they will occasional get out in transition (19% of shots w/in 10 seconds of possession change, about the same as CU), once into their set, they could be there a while.

The Terriers are led by sophomore guard Fletcher Magee.  The 6-4 wing from Orlando is an expert shooter who hit 94% of his free throws and 48% of his threes as a freshman.  It was enough to earn him the Mid-Major Freshman of the Year honors.  While he has yet to get back on his blistering three-point pace of a year ago, he's still deadly if left open (shooting nearly 57% of all shots from deep), and the team's leading scorer at over 15/game.  Colorado would do well to lock him down on Sunday.
Magee is the Terriers' best.  From: WFSB 
Beyond just Magee, Wofford also has some nice pieces in the forms of Eric Garcia and Cameron Jackson.  Garcia has been a gritty mainstay at the point guard position for the Terriers throughout his career, and the senior remains one of their best players.  He's a 3:1 assist-to-turnover kind of guy, and a steady hand at the wheel.  Jackson missed much of last year with foot surgery, but returns as their biggest threat underneath the basket.  Nearly 2/3rds of his attempts are at the rim, and, at 6-8, 235 lbs, can bang with the tall trees from a range of levels.

Ultimately, though, I doubt any of them will be enough to push the Buffs too close to the brink. While not a pushover, Wofford shouldn't be within 15 at the final buzzer.  Loftier goals remain on the horizon, no time for hiccups here -- Buffs need to roll.


Tip-off from the Coors Events Center is set for high noon Sunday.  It's also the first of a handful of Alumni Basketball Band performances scheduled for this year, so look over to the band for a glimpse of yours truly laying down the phat beatz.  Coverage for those not in attendance can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 760 AM.


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