Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday Grab Bag: "... the water for Oregon was just the tears of sadness"

As you might recall, I correctly predicted the upset over Oregon in last week's grab bag:
"What I'm saying is, as helpless as this feels right now, weird things happen all the time. The current squad could pop out of their slumber this week, and shock the Ducks on Saturday. You laugh, but I've seen dumber."
Of course, some jackass would later #hack both my blog and my twitter account, leading to these blatant reversals of my true opinion:
"As such, the Ducks are going to come in here and rip Colorado; no doubt in my mind. No amount of Tad's black magic witchery is going to save CU this evening. Give me Oregon by a boat-load."
... and...
So, I come before you today to talk about the importance of account security, and the necessity of routinely changing your passwords.  Otherwise you too could see your accounts #hacked and have some idiot run around claiming your favorite team will get crushed the day of a top-10 upset.


Today in the bag, I'm talking the win over Oregon that I totally predicted (and totally did not lose a bottle of scotch over), how the rest of the Pac-12 fared, and a brief blerb on signing day.

Click below for the bag...

Buffs defense arrives in force, drives out Duck infestation - 

Remember that Colorado Basketball Team I talked up in my season preview?  You know, the one that had the potential to make the 2017 NCAA Tournament, maybe even threaten for the second weekend?  The one that had versatile, veteran depth across the roster, and who could threaten the conference powers?  Well, that team was on full display Saturday night against #10 Oregon.  Outside of the small worry of 16-26 shooting from the free throw line, the Buffaloes dominated the proceedings, dictating the pace, and playing confident, composed basketball throughout.  This was no fluke, CU earned this one; 74-65.

Coach Boyle has been talking about it for months.  I've been pleading for it since the start of conference play.  Defense, defense, defense -- the crux of the #TadBall credo.  What was once as essential to the program as Muscle Milk and Nike had become abandoned and discarded.  1.15 ppp allowed against woeful Oregon State, 1.2 against WSU, 1.37 to UCLA, to name a few.  Pac-12 opponents, from the good to the bad, were naming their score against the Buffs, leveraging easy baskets to keep the team on their heels.  Not Saturday night, however.  From the opening tip, CU was not messing around on the defensive end.  They came to play, to disrupt, to annoy.  Hands were shot into passing lanes, closeouts were frenetic.  I saw guys who hadn't been locked in for weeks shoot out of the tunnel like demons focused on a lost soul.  The Ducks were held under one ppp for the game, forced into a 24% turnover rate, and limited to under 30% shooting in the second half. This... THIS is what I'm talking about when I think of Colorado Basketball.  Welcome back, #TadBall, you've been sorely missed.
Just like football.  From: KVAL
But defense alone doesn't tell the story, and neither really does the play of Derrick White.  Sure, Derrick, who led the team with 23 points, including 17 in the second half, really stamped his name on the stretch of this one, but what I was most impressed by was the contributions from players who had otherwise disappointed this season.  Wes Gordon, for the love of Tad, was outstanding. 8/6/4/2/1 against zero turnovers.  He was where the Buffs needed him throughout his 23 minutes, and really frustrated the Oregon forwards. George King was rebounding the hell out of the ball!  Remember when he used to go whole games without pulling down a single board?  He had seven in the second half alone. Lucas Siewert, he of the 30 minutes over the proceeding seven games, was out there busting his ass after loose balls.  By my memory, he earned three hustle points on the night, and well-earned each of the 12 minutes he docked.  Finally, Josh Fortune, one of the more maligned guys on the roster, filled a number of key roles, particularly defensively.  Sure, his 2/4 line isn't going to get him much press, but his run was valuable throughout the evening, especially as he was using his length to disrupt both defensively and on the glass.  My point is, this was a team win, across the board, the kind of collaborative effort BuffNation has been dying to see.

That being said, oh my was DWhite fantastic.  He kicked off the second half run with back-to-back three pointers midway through the final frame, extended it with a dramatic and-one, and really killed off the game late.  His second half line deserves to be framed: 17 points on 5-7 shooting, 4-5 from the line; a pair each of boards and assists, a block, a steal, and zero damn turnovers.  Essentially perfect. He controlled the pace, leveraged his abilities flawlessly, and lead the team to victory.  Just brilliant stuff.
Joy has returned to Boulder.  From: The SL Trib.
All-in-all, a pretty solid evening from the team, and one which should remind everyone, both inside this fanbase and out, what this group is capable of.  It also, however, underscores how damaging that 0-7 start was to conference play.  Flip even two of that quartet of close losses to beatable teams ASU, USC, Washington, and WSU, and the Buffs are 4-5 with a home-heavy schedule to lean on down the stretch -- they'd still be in the hunt for the NCAA Tournament, and a solid shot of back-dooring a top-four seed.  As it is, however, they're 2-7, still 10th in the league, and still adrift from post-season contention of any type.  This win, then, is a window into a world we'll never get to experience; the world of what might've been.  Oh, well.

Up next, the Buffs travel to the Bay Area, where they've often shown an ability to play well in awkward road environs.  The trip to Palo Alto is first, and Colorado should have a decent shot at that one.  Look for the preview up on Thursday.

Around the world of Pac-12 Basketball - 

- Cal 66 - Stanford 55 -

In a meeting of CU's next two opponents, the Golden Bears stridently and purposefully pulled away from their Bay Area rival in the second half, taking the game by the scruff of the neck over the final 20 minutes.  It helped that star forward Ivan Rabb had a monster 25/13 line, including 15 second half points, as he feasted against the Cardinal late.  As a result, Cal pulls into a three-way tie for third place in the Pac-12, making them an intriguing proposition to pay attention to as the conference season enters the back nine.
Rabb proceeded to chop down the Tree over the weekend.  From: The State
For Stanford, they continue to look for all the world to be a bottom-half also-ran.  They failed to take advantage of a 18-31 showing at the free throw line from the hosts, and could find no way of stopping Rabb once he got going.  The Cardinal have some interesting pieces, especially up front, but haven't found a way to make them count against quality opponents.

- Arizona 77 - Washington 66 -

This one was closer than you think.  The Huskies lead throughout the first half, continued a push out of the locker room in the second, and seemed on pace to stun the heavily favored Wildcats.  A roaring stretch in the heart of the final frame, however, pushed 'Zona over the top, securing the comfortable 11-point win in the desert.
The 'Cats refused to lose against UW.  From: the Olympian
With the recent loss of Oregon (*ahem*), coupled with last week's win over UCLA, Arizona has taken a solid hold over the Pac-12, sitting at 9-0 at the midway point.  The race is far from over, of course, with the Ducks just a game back with nine to play, but these 'Cats seem to have the balance and the quality at their disposal to run the table, especially as four of their remaining five road games are against the league's bottom-dwellers.  Their greatest test, however, looms -- a trip this weekend to play Oregon in Eugene.  I'd tune in for that one, if I were you.

- USC 84 - UCLA 76 - 

Uhhhh... the UCLA hot rod seems to have sprung a leak.  For the second-straight game they failed to either out-race or defend against their opponent, this time slipping under the heel of their cross-town rival.  Southern Cal's zone defense really got to the Bruins, disrupting their offense, and causing more turnovers (17) than they allowed free throw attempts (15).  I'm sure this loss, as well as the reality of a two-game losing streak, will really piss off those Steve Alford haters who had been forced into a vow of silence over the opening months of play.
That's now four straight wins for USC over UCLA.  From: the OC Register.
Shaqquan Aaron was the story in this one.  Coming off the bench for the Trojans, the sophomore swing forward notched 23 points in 26 minutes.  He was a big reason USC never looked back from a 50-38 halftime lead, along with the team's overall 14 made three-pointers.  Oh and Bryce Alford, who torched CU in Boulder this month?  He went 1-7 from the field, only tabbing three points.  See?  He is human.

Signing Day Teaser - 

Hey, football signing day is tomorrow!  I guess that means something to some of you out there.  For me, getting twitterpated over the comings and goings of 18-year olds, especially those who play football, is about as enticing a proposition as wearing red on gameday.  Still, it should be noted that Colorado is on the cusp of landing a haul that many experts think very highly of.  Scout has the Buffs' current list of commitments ranked at 26th in the country, 6th in the Pac-12; Rivals has something similar, with CU coming in 31st overall, 7th in the league. In either case, this would be the best showing by the program in a long time.  National eyes are noticing, too.  ESPN will be doing live updates from the Champions Center as the NLI's pour in, one of 16 schools to be so featured.  Heady days...

If you care about this stuff at all, I hope you're slipping Adam Munsterteiger a few bucks for his best-around recruiting coverage.  His new home with Scout - still under the Buff Stampede banner - is a marked improvement over his old set-up at Rivals, and the content is just as good.  With tomorrow being the biggest day in the recruiting world, following Adam and his site is the best way to stay informed.
Coach MacIntyre's looking to bring in a beaut of a recruiting class.  From: the AP
Past that, you should also be closely following what comes from the coaching staff, especially Darrin Chiaverini, but you probably are already well on that train.  Some deeper follows would be my dudes Tyler Ziskin and Kyle McCall, who collaborate closely with Adam. Oh, and it couldn't hurt to join AllBuffs full-time.  The $15/year is a cheap price to pay for the Barzil forum and other ephemera, and the staff over there can always use more hookers and blow.  Assuredly, there are others, but these are my main info spots.

For the class itself, the high notes are the four 4-star talents currently committed to the program: Jake Moretti, KD Nixon, Grant Polley, and Laviska Shenault, three of whom are from Texas.  Past that, there's also promising QB talent Tyler Lytle, local linebacker Jon Van Diest, and speedster wideout Jaylon Jackson.  In total, the Buffs will be looking to haul in a class well over 25 kids deep.  Time to capitalize on all those wins from the past year.

Happy Tuesday!

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