Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Cal Basketball Preview #2: Can the Buffs continue their NSFW shooting?

The most evident difference between the Colorado Buffaloes of 2014-15 and this season's version is the credible threat the team poses behind the arc.  Last winter, they were 33% shooters from deep, good for 204th nationally, and really were dependent on whether or not Askia Booker was hitting.  This campaign, it's a completely different story, with CU knocking down over 40% of all three point attempts, making them one of the 15-best shooting clubs in the country.  What's more, lead by George King's insane 49% clip, the Buffs have a number of versatile, talented long range assassins who are able to make opponents pay when they double the post, and it's made them, overall, a competent offensive proposition only a year after they were one of the most frustrating offensive clubs I've ever seen.
Good.  From: the BDC
But, even as good as the Buffs have been hoisting the rock this year, they had never approached the performance they displayed in Wednesday's 91-75 win over Stanford.  Shut the doors and turn off the lights when looking at the stat sheet, because their 13-19 shooting from three is decidedly NSFW.  George King, Josh Fortune, et al were on fire, hitting almost every time they rose up.  I got caught up in it and was yelling 'GOOD' before the ball even left their fingers -- Prince knows what I'm talking about.  It was the difference in the game, too.  Think of it this way: if the Buffs are normally 40% shooters from beyond the arc, then you would expect them to hit about seven or eight threes in 19 attempts.  With CU winning by 16, those extra five or six threes made for the margin of victory.  Sometimes, shooting three pointers well can cure a lot of problems.

This wasn't a perfect performance by any means.  Sure, the Cardinal were abysmal offensively in the first half, shooting under 30% from the floor, but they came alive in the second, and pushed CU possession-by-possession over the final 20 minutes.  Rosco Allen, looking to shake off the horrible things Wes Gordon did to him in Palo Alto, poured in 25/9.  Add to it Josh Scott feeling a little under the weather (still put up 14/8/4/3), and Colorado needed all that juice on the perimeter.
A little under the weather, Josh Scott still put up solid numbers.  From:
In addition to the shooting, CU paved over mistakes (another 15 turnovers, three straight missed 1-and-1s in the second half) by sharing the basketball and securing the rebounds.  In all, the Buffs handed out 21 assists on 27 made baskets, easily their best mark in Pac-12 play, while playing +8 on the glass.  It's hard to beat Colorado, especially at home, when they are making the extra pass, rebounding to their numbers, and holding opponent shooting under 37% for the game.  Add in the three point shooting, and it becomes an impossible task.  By the end of the game, the 'Larry Bird All-Stars' were in, and the assembled crowd was hitting the parking lot early.  Really, nothing to complain about here.

And so, the Buffs look to wrap up the first half of conference action on a high note.  A win tomorrow against the Golden Bears would make for three in a row, five in six overall, and keep them in the running for the league crown.  More importantly, it would make for sweet revenge for the absolute dismantling Cal put on Colorado back on New Year's Day, and stand as another top-50 RPI win.  I won't go so far as to say this is the 'most important game of the Tad Boyle Era,' or anything like that, but this is a huge game.  Time to get to the preview!


Hype Music for the Evening: "Ballad of Davy Crockett" by Fess Parker

Why?  Because 'he kilt him a b'ar when he was only three,' of course. Enjoy!


Tip-off from the CEC is set for 3pm on Sunday.  There's no excuse for a halfhearted crowd for this one.  It's a big game between two very good basketball teams, the Broncos are on a bye week (don't even pretend to care about the Pro Bowl), and the snow won't fully hit until Monday.  If you're a warm-blooded member of BuffNation, and you live in the area, you better be trying to get a ticket.  If, for some reason, you hate your university, you could always stay home and catch the action on either FOX Sports 1 or 850 KOA, but then we won't be friends any more.  Be my friend, and get your ass to the CEC!

For reference, my preview from the first matchup can be found here.

Click below for the preview...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Stanford Basketball Preview #2: Deforestation Efforts

Not much to say into the lead-up for this one, straight to the action!


Hype Music for the Evening: "The Trees" by Rush

Rush is both underrated and overrated at the same time; an incredible feat of critical gymnastics. I present this song, from their sixth of 20 damn studio albums, because it's obligatory, considering the opponent. Enjoy!


Tip-off from the CEC is set for 7pm this evening.  We need a huge crowd in the gym for this one.  Stanford has proven over the last few weeks to be a much stronger opponent than originally perceived, and a dollop of home cooking will be needed to help keep the Buffs from dropping a winnable home game. Coverage for those unable to attend can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on AM 760.

For reference, my preview from the first game can be found here.

Click below for the preview...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: Go Home, Pac-12, You're Drunk

Have you been watching Pac-12 basketball recently?  Have you noticed how everyone seems to be capable of beating any other team on any random night (some exclusions may apply)?  Well, then this image from Reddit should come as no surprise to you:

It's only been four weeks, not even halfway through the conference schedule, and we can create a "12 degrees of parity" scale.  The standings themselves are even more confusing - there's currently a six-way tie for 3rd.  While teams like Arizona State and Washington State are clearly behind the rest of the Pac, they've still earned entry in the circle; one large mish-mash of confusing, hilarious sameness.  As we continue to inch closer to the second week of March, and the annual rumble in the MGM Grand, I can only giggle at the idea of a conference with a six-way tie for 3rd place, and no real way to set a bracket.  This is the kind of stuff Doc Brown warned about in Back to the Future II.  Indeed, this is heavy...


Today in the bag, I'm wrapping the split earned in the State of Washington, taking a look at the rest of the 'League of Parity,' and battening down the hatches in advance of the oncoming surge of Super Bowl mania.

Click below for the bag...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Washington State Basketball Preview #1: An RPI Test Looms

I've seen some interesting things from the Colorado Men's Basketball Team this year, some good, some bad. But nothing previously seen this season prepared me for what went down in the first half between CU and the Washington Huskies on Wednesday night.  It was next-level bad basketball, with the Buffs imploding, steadily, over the course of the final 10 minutes of the opening frame.  For the first half, they turned the ball over an astonishing 12 times, allowed 60% shooting from the field on defense, and let Washington own the paint, getting block and out-rebounded into submission.  While Colorado would rebound a bit, fighting back down the final stretch of the evening, the damage had been done in the first, and the Buffs took a solid 95-83 loss in the Emerald City.
The look of horror and concern on Josh's face is appropriate.  From:
It didn't start out all that bad.  CU was mostly playing with Washington in the opening minutes, and even took a 17-15 lead into the second media time out.  Then, like a sprung trap, UW took off, racing their way out to an expansive lead that the Buffs never recovered from.  It was an 18-5 run over five in-game minutes, and it turned the table on the action.  Over that time frame, the Buffs committed six turnovers, missed a number of easy inside looks, and generally fed into the Husky run.  Colorado was, once again, the creators of their own demise.  It was really hard to watch, like some demon form of the 2014-15 team had reanimated inside the current roster, and was trying to force its way out. Call an exorcist!

All credit to Washington here, they pounced the second CU showed any weakness.  The young, athletic trio of Marquese Chriss, Dejounte Murray, and Malik Dime combined with the ever present scoring prowess of Andrew Andrews to pour down a torrent of points on the Buffs; the 95 allowed a season high. Andrews, as expected, put up amazing numbers, nabbing 33 points, and shooting 16-17 from the free throw line.  What really stunned me, though, was their ability to crush CU in the trenches, swatting back 15 shots (seven from Dime alone), and out-rebounding the Buffs by five.  That's just not what I expected from this matchup, with CU one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and the Huskies one of the most indifferent.  It kept Colorado from finding any footing at Hec-Ed; not the first time.
That's... not a good look.  From: Yahoo Sports
There is something to be said about the way Colorado fought back in the second half.  They cut those turnovers from 12 in the first half to only four more in the second, leading to 50 total points after the break, and finally started to make some headway on the scoreboard, as a result.  Behind another 18/12 double-double from Josh Scott and 21 points on 6-7 three point shooting from Dom Coller, they chipped away at a lead that had ballooned to 22 early in the second frame, getting within seven in the final minutes.  At no point was it ever really threatening to UW, however, and the Buffs rather meekly stepped into the final margin of defeat.

So, opportunity missed in Seattle (completely, utterly), Colorado heads out to the Palouse, looking for a bit of redemption and a split in the Evergreen State.  Wazzou is the only team in the entire Pac-12 with a RPI ranking over 100, and it would be very damaging to the Tournament cause to drop this one.  Beyond just redeeming the ugly performance against the Huskies, CU needs this one for preservation of the ole resume. Hopefully, they'll come out of the first frame tonight in much better shape than they did on Wednesday.


Hype Music for the evening: "Soak up the sun" by Sheryl Crow.

For a game against the Cougars, I present this beauty from Sheryl Crow.  Figured it was appropriate, for some reason. Enjoy!


Tip off from Beasley Coliseum is set for 7pm this evening. Hey, the Buffs aren't going up against the Broncos this week!  A perfect time for... a road game.  *womp-womp*  Coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 850 KOA.

Click below for the preview...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Washington Basketball Preview #1: Andrew Andrews and the Fightin' Andrew Andrews

Another big game for the Buffs, with a win putting them on the front hoof for the first time since the start of conference play.  Not much else to it, straight to the action!


Hype Music for the Evening: "Party Hard" by Andrew W.K.

For CU's first taste of Andrew Andrews this season, I drag out this beastly anthem from another great (?) Andrew, Andrew W.K.  My favorite part?  The driving piano chord throughout the whole damn song.  Why is it there?  I don't know, but it's there to party, duh. Also, this image:



Tip off from the ice rink known as Alaska Airlines Arena is set for 8pm this evening.  Hec-Ed, as the facility is reverently known as in Seattle, had been a house of horrors for Colorado prior to last season.  They say it's a basketball arena, but, with the amount of visiting players slipping all over the place in every game played there, I really do think there's got to be an old hockey rink buried under there somewhere.

Anyways, coverage of the game can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 760AM.

Click below for the preview...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: Celebrating a Big Win Over the Ducks

The shortened work week has left me precious time for chatter.  Straight to the action!

Today in the bag, I'm talking the big win over Oregon, the goings on in the Pac-12, and some recruiting notes from both football and basketball.

Click below for the bag...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Oregon Basketball Preview #1: Competing with the Broncos and the Ducks

Sometimes, the beautiful game of basketball is just plain ugly.  Such was the case this past Wednesday night, as the Colorado Buffaloes and Oregon State Beavers played discordant, arrhythmic hoops over the first 30 minutes of action.  At the time, I compared it to the metallic jingle-jangle of a fork left in an on-turned garbage disposal -- jarring, uncomfortable, and, ultimately, destructive.  There were turnovers, there were terrible shots, there were flat blown calls by the officials, and there were some truly questionable decisions by both coaching staffs.  As ugly as the action was, though, CU had been seeming to get the best of the game into the U12 second half media timeout.  Yet still, they had squandered a number of medium-sized advantages to head to the bench down 38-37.  At this point, we all seemed doomed to a frustrating slog to the finish, with Colorado possibly spiking yet another home game.
Wes Gordon, yo!  From: the Ralphie Report
Then, the Buffs flipped a switch.  Just like that.  They came out of that media timeout firing on all cylinders, and jumped out to a 19-6 run over the next five minutes.  Overall, they would outscore the Beavers 34-16 over the final 11:44, dominating on both ends.  What had been ugly and uncomfortable suddenly became free-flowing and easy.  Where in previous games Colorado had struggled down the stretch, they soared in this one, and earned a very satisfying 71-54 win, in the process.

The key?  A very Tad Boyle-like double-scoop of defense and rebounding.  Lead by Wes Gordon, the Buffs were stifling on 'D,' holding State to under 30% shooting for the game, and controlled the glass throughout (+15 rebounding).  In what was his best game to-date in a CU uniform, Gordon put up 12/14, with seven of those boards coming on the offensive end, and a startling six blocks.  He ripped up OSU inside, leaving a team who lives on shots at the rim with essentially nothing to show for it. Oh, sure, Gary Payton II got his, going for an incredible 26/15/3/3, but the Buffs all but snuffed out the rest of the visiting Beavers, holding GPII's teammates to 24% shooting from the floor and only 28 points overall.  In my preview I discussed how the son of the legend finally had some help this season, but Colorado all but erased that warning.
Josh Scott was the offensive fuel in this one.  From: the Post
On the offensive end it was Josh Scott (who else?) fueling CU, as the 'Big Fundamental' put up 25 on only 11 shots.  He would add 12 rebounds to make for his 9th double-double on the year, helping Gordon dominate the paint.  J40 was joined in double-figure scoring by Josh Fortune, who, quietly, had his first 'good' game since Christmas.  Going forward, the inside-out interplay of the two Joshes needs to remain a strong point for Colorado, should they have any hope of really competing in this league.

Attention now turns to a very important visit by the Oregon Ducks.  The Pac-12 is a jumbled mess right now, and only USC seems to have this whole 'conference play' thing figured out.  A win today would allow Colorado to keep pace with the tight upper echelon, as they head into a winnable road trip in the Pacific Northwest. With the frustrating loss to Utah the previous week, they can't afford many more slip ups on home hardwood, either, so best to just hold serve at the Keg and stay hot.


Hype Music for the Evening: "Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones

Listen, I know all you locals and wannabes will be tuning into the Bronco game this afternoon.  Go on, shoot your shot.  To honor y'all, here's one of my favorite tracks from the Stones' canon.  Enjoy!


Tip-off from the Coors Events Center is set for 5pm this afternoon.  Once again, the Buffs get screwed because of NFL Playoff scheduling.  I can't help but wondering, has CU ever looked into offering to trade time slots with anyone when, invariably, a Broncos game creates a conflict?  Like, in this case, Pac-12 Networks has the Stanford/Oregon State women's game scheduled after UO/CU.  Why not just swap those?  Boom!  A quick fix, and you get a bigger audience in Colorado.  But, of course, corporate television schedules don't allow for creativity, so we're stuck with what we got.

For those still interested in seeing/listening to the Buffs today, you can catch the action on said Pac-12 Networks, with the radio call on 760AM.  If you're still coming, and want to arrive early, the practice facility will be showing the Donkeys v Steelers -- that game should be ending around the end of CU's first half, so, theoretically, you could come, watch the action in the Boedecker Gym, and head on up to your seat when it's over.  That's asking a lot, however, so I'm fully expecting to watch the game with just my fellow out-of-staters.  We got this!

Click below for the bag...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Oregon State Basketball Preview #1: Breaking the Dam

One step forward, one step back.  The Buffs lost any momentum gained by the scrappy victory against Stanford in Palo Alto when they coughed up that late seven-point lead to the Utes.  All that accomplished is put more pressure on this weekend, when the Buffs entertain the Oregon schools.  Colorado now needs a home sweep of the Beavers and Ducks to stay relevant in the Pac-12, and it's not going to be easy.  Like everyone in this league, these two teams are very good, and full capable of winning away from home.  As always, there are no gimmies.  Damn that price of poker, can't you stay low?


Hype Music for the Evening: "Take on Me" by Reel Big Fish

I present this cover of A-Ha's one-hit wonder by the greatest third wave ska group still around today: RBF. An old basketball band stands tune, it always got my toe tapping.  Enjoy!


Tip-off for tonight's game is set for 9pm MT.  That's apparently not a typo.  The Pac-12, in all their media-fueled wisdom, decided a weeknight game in Boulder deserved the late time slot.  Woof.  Well, at least the students should be in the building tonight.  For those of you adults needing to get to work tomorrow, and more than happy to catch this one at home, coverage can be found on ESPNU, with the radio call on 760AM.

Click below for the preview...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: The Stuff of Nightmares

Bad news, everyone!  I didn't win the lottery last Saturday.  As such, the dream of a revitalized CU Baseball program continues to lie dormant, at least for a few more days.  Don't despair just yet, Boulder-based seam heads, the Powerball pot continues to grow into Wednesday's drawing, meaning we may still get that program up and running before the end of the calendar year.  Here's to hoping!


Today in the bag, I'm wrapping the game with Utah, taking a look at how the rest of the Pac-12 fared, and touching on last night's national championship.

Click below for the bag...

Friday, January 8, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Utah Basketball Preview #1 - A Big One in Boulder

Let's talk about what's at stake this evening when the Buffs and Utes get together.

For Utah, this is just shy of a must-win.  Having dropped their first two Pac-12 games in Northern California, to go down three straight to start the campaign, and three behind Cal, would be a death knell to any faintly remaining conference title hopes, and put a lot of their larger post season aims in jeopardy.  Even as early as it is, they will be desperate for victory, coming out firing, and surely giving Colorado their best shot.

For the Buffs, it could be the start of a really nice month of basketball. After this one against Utah, CU will host two games against the Oregon schools before heading up to the Pacific Northwest to play the Washingtons (which had been projected to be the 'easiest' road trip in conference play), and returning to host Stanford and Cal.  According to Kenpom, CU is either out-right favored (sometimes barely) or a 50/50 proposition to win each and every one of those games.  Nothing in this league is easy, but there's a decent chance that, with a win over the Utes, Colorado could springboard to an 8-1 or 7-2 start to conference play. Think about that for a second.

But, I will tell you right now that none of that is going to happen if the Buffs drop this one to Utah.  They need it for morale and momentum (read: swagger) sake. Let me put it this way: whoever wins this game will be all right.  The next month will be rosy, filled with wins, and a gateway to a NCAA Tournament berth.  The loser, however, could very well find themselves tossed from Dance contention before we even hit the year's second month.

For that reason alone, I'm begging all of BuffNation to get to the CEC for this one. The team needs a true home court advantage this evening!  I don't want to hear excuses, and I don't care about the weather or that the students are still on break.  Fill up the keg!


Hype Music for the evening: "Big Bear and the Hour of Chaos" by Unearth

No real reason for this one, just really enjoy the track.  The kind of song I want to hear on the way to a big damn basketball game.  Enjoy!


Tip-off from the Coors Events Center is set for 7pm this evening.  This is a big one.  So big in fact, that they've called up the Alumni Band for some instrumental support.  Yep, yours truly will be in the back of the band, laying down the beats on the tuba.  If that's not worth the price of a ticket, I don't know what is. For those not interested in the sharing of my musical gift, televised coverage can be found on Fox Sports 1.  The radio call is on AM 760.

Click below for the preview...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tuesday Grab Bag: Salvaging a Split by the Bay

Last night, I missed what may go down as the greatest regular season college basketball game of the modern era.  Out in Lawrence, KS, the #1 KU Jayhawks and #2 OU Sooners did battle for 55 minutes of action, playing to three overtimes and the beatific adoration of the entire college basketball consuming universe.  The final - a 109-106 victory for Kansas - is one of the most intriguing lines I've seen in a while.  In defeat, Sooner Buddy Hield was so good, posting 46/8/7, that even the Jayhawk fans had to recognize, and they payed homage with a standing ovation after his post-game interview.  The whole thing was truly a game for the ages; just remember that they'll meet again in Norman on February 13th.
Kansas survives in a thriller against OU.  From: CBS Sports
I may have missed the action for a good cause - a scheduled alumni band performance at the CU/WSU women's game - but I will cop to being a little dismayed at missing this epic affair.  To make up for it, I'm carving out a block of my evening to watch the replay.  If you need me, I'll be in the Rumblin' cave, getting my DVR on.


Today in the bag, I'm talking the men's win over Stanford, the rest of the action around the Pac-12, and some women's hoops.

Click below for the bag...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Stanford Basketball Preview #1 - Looking for a Rebound

Well, that was unexpected.  Throughout the season, no matter the caliber of the opponent, or the venue, or the situation, the 2015-16 Colorado Buffaloes could be relied on to bring consistent intensity and grit for 40 minutes of play.  That was not the case Friday night in Berkeley, as CU was punked from tip to final horn by the Cal Bears.  It was a sight BuffNation had grown accustomed to a year ago, but not this season.  No, this season was supposed to be about a new attitude, free flowing offense, and a larger return to #TadBall principles of defense and rebounding.  All of that was thrown out against Cal, however, as the Golden Bears controlled every second of the action, en route to a commanding 79-65 final.
Yep, that look pretty much sums it up.  From: @TheGhostofMarv
Even Coach Boyle noticed the different timbre of the action, saying after the game, "It’s the first time I felt all year where we got out-toughed and really got out-scrapped and outplayed."  Quite simply, it did not look like the Buffs were ready for the ramp up in intensity and competitiveness that always comes the start of conference action.  They had been sitting idle for nine days between the end of the Las Vegas Classic and the game with Cal - an abnormally long time off between the end of non-conference play and the start of the 'second season' for Coach Boyle and crew - and the rust showed.  Colorado had routinely scheduled a game or two between Christmas and New Year's in the #RollTad era, a practice that was adjusted last year in deference to the long flight back from Hawai'i, and then outright abandoned this winter.  While I had grumbled at the time about mid-break tilts with the likes of Western New Mexico, New Orleans, and Hartford, those games served an important rhythmic purpose.  It'll be interesting to see how scheduling breaks out next season, but don't be surprised to see a return of the pre-conference cupcake after Christmas.

Regardless, Friday's stat sheet is pretty damn ugly.  Colorado allowed 52% shooting form the floor for the game, were down 10 rebounds at the end of the first half, and only generated six assists (from two players) on 21 made baskets.  Cal was able to completely disrupt everything that had made CU special over the first two months of the season, snuffing out activity in the paint without doubling to cancel any inside-out action. As a result, not a single Buff had what I would call a 'good' game, with typical scoring leaders Josh Scott and George King going a combined 8-28 on the offensive end, and numerous defensive issues springing up.  It was a combination of the Bears being better than they had shown previously this season, the Buffs being far worse, and, to top it off, almost every 50-50 bounce of the basketball seemed to go the way of the home team.  It was a perfect storm of suck, one that Colorado is lucky to escape from with only a 14-point loss.
Mathews and Okoroh had massive games against Colorado.  From: USA Today.
Unlike many, however, I'm not ready to hit the panic button.  As frustrating as the effort and execution was to watch in the dying embers of a New Year's hangover, it was the first time CU had failed to answer the bell this season.  I would only get concerned if that level of play was repeated this evening against the Stanford Cardinal.  As it is, the goal on every road trip is to get a split -- that carrot is still on the table, but that only further places emphasis on the result this evening.  It's not a 'must-win,' or any of that nonsense, but it's a game that can no longer be looked at as a simple run out.  The Buffs need to show up and play well, or the once promising season will suddenly start to get disjointed.

Tip-off from Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto is set for 8pm this evening.  Colorado has done pretty well in recent years against the Cardinal, winning each of the last four, including two trips westward in 2013 and '14. In a game they most certainly need, hopefully the Buffs will be able to keep that good run of play against Stanford rolling.  Coverage can be found ESPNU.

Click below for the preview...

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015-16 CU vs Cal Basketball Preview #1 - Poker, and its Rising Price

A happy New Year to you all, and welcome, finally, to Pac-12 play!  We in BuffNation have had to endure a drawn-out nine-day gap between games, as the Buffs have rested up following their trip to Las Vegas.  With the first taste of losing since opening day stuck in everyone's craw, I'm sure the entirety of the program, from players to coaches to fans, is eager to get back on the court.  First-up: a trip out west to the Bay Area, and the Cal Bears.  As Coach Boyle is fond of saying, the price of poker is about to go up.


Hype Music for the Evening: "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga Eric Cartman

Did I sing this last night during the annual New Year's Eve Rock Band-a-thon?  You betcha!


Tip-off from Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, CA is set for 9pm this evening.  If you're not still too hung over from your New Year's revelry, or swamped with bowl action, why not click over to Pac-12 Networks, where you'll find the broadcast (how novel).  More of a radio call person, now with the experience of the classically presented Penn State game in your back pocket?  Well, Mark Johnson's got you on... well, I'm not sure since none of the stations have it listed.  Uhhhhh... 850?  Yeah, I'll say 850.

Click below for the preview...