Five Thoughts From Colorado’s Win Over Arizona

Posted by Andrew Murawa on February 25th, 2016

After another wacky game between Colorado and Arizona in the wacky conference known as the Pac-12, here are five thoughts coming out of last night’s battle.

  1. Josh Scott. I’ve been watching Pac-12 basketball very closely for about 32 of my 40 years, and I’ve covered this conference comprehensively well in this spot for something like six or seven years. And in terms of true post players, Scott’s senior season is the second-best I’ve seen since Kevin Love’s 2007-08 season at UCLA. The problem is that it also happens to come in the same year as the bestseason I’ve seen out of a Pac post player during that span. Scott’s not going to win conference player of the year, but he’s a lock for first-team all-conference (even if this conference cannot correctly count the number of players allowed on a basketball court for one team at the same time). And with his performance on Wednesday night, he virtually assured his program a third NCAA Tournament appearance in his four seasons in Boulder. He’s always had that great back-to-the-basket post-up game, but he’s also developed a pretty face-up game off the bounce. Back off of him and he’s fully capable of knocking in a jumper. Bang him too hard on the blocks and he’ll earn a whistle and convert from the free throw line. He’s an absolutely terrific straight-up post defender and has developed into a quality help defender as well. If there is any legitimate criticism of him, it is that he is not selfish enough on the offensive end of the floor. Whether he is at the level of former Buffaloes stars like Chauncey Billups, Spencer Dinwiddie, Alec Burks or even Scott Wedman is up for someone else to decide. But when Scott plays his final home game at the Coors Event Center on Sunday afternoon, here’s hoping (and fully expecting) that Colorado fans give Scott the rousing senior sendoff that he richly deserves.

    Josh Scott: Second-Best Pac-12 Big In Recent History? (Kai Casey, CU Independent)

    Josh Scott: Second-Best Pac-12 Big In Recent History? (Kai Casey, CU Independent)

  2. Replay Review Is Terrible. We experienced this situation twice in the final minutes of last night’s game. With Arizona already out of timeouts, the game was stopped for a replay review that allowed Sean Miller to gather his troops for strategy discussions just as if it were another timeout. In a game of 137 offensive possessions, that means there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 92 bad or missed calls. Why, in the final minutes of a tight and otherwise enjoyable game, would you want to put that on pause in order for a bunch of old dudes to stand around and watch TV for a few minutes? Why are the 87th and 92nd bad or missed calls any more important than the 12th or 42nd? And why, for the love of god, if you’re incapable of getting the call correct, are you wasting my time? Oh, and full credit to UCLA.
  3. Big Picture Impact. Already a game behind Oregon in the Pac-12 standings with a trip to Utah coming on Saturday, Arizona is really behind the eight-ball in its quest for a third-straight Pac-12 championship. Lose at Utah and we can officially (although not actually) put those dreams to bed. Meanwhile, Colorado guarantees itself at least a .500 conference record and now has home wins over Arizona, California and Oregon. The Buffs might want to go ahead and beat Arizona State on Sunday, but this is a team worthy of a dance.
  4. Dominique Collier. The sophomore point guard has not yet really developed into the scoring point guard capable of creating offense for his teammates some imagined, but he has exceeded expectations in other ways. His 44.7 percent three-point shooting (up from 26.9 percent a year ago) is but one obvious example. Last night he exhibited his ability to act as a disruptive and effective perimeter defender. Collier’s quick hands and sharp instincts forced Arizona ball-handlers into abrupt transition turnovers twice down the stretch. In a game that was decided by a single possession, it is no stretch to think that either of those defensive plays was the difference in the game.
  5. Sean Miller. There is no doubt that Miller is among the best coaches in college basketball and the job he has done at Arizona is nothing short of astounding. He hasn’t yet gotten to a Final Four, but nobody with any real clue about this sport doubts that one – and probably multiple – are coming. And what he’s done this year given all the losses to graduation and the injuries and the other hiccups? Honestly, he has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as the other strong Pac-12 candidates for Coach of the Year. But this has not been a great year for Miller’s optics. There was an incident caught on camera where he berated Kaleb Tarczewski for several possessions against Oregon. There was a random technical foul against Northern Arizona and a perfectly appropriate one last night, all lost in the middle of a near-constant dialogue with officials and mixed with occasional interactions with opposing players. And then the topper last night: “An Arizona player is going to punch a fan.” This is a comment that, from this vantage point, is far more incendiary than a student section rushing the court to celebrate with their team. Miller has always been an emotional and expressive coach, someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. But there seems to be a reasonable perception that the pressure that has built up in Tucson over his near-misses may finally be getting to him. Again. Great coach. Great success. Wildly fun to watch and to be around. Routinely praised by his former players. But there have been a succession of recent events, each one relatively innocuous in a vacuum, that have just looked weird for him. Let’s hope it peters out.
AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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