Previewing Saturday’s Kansas/Colorado Battle

Posted by Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) & Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on December 6th, 2013

There are a lot of interesting non-conference battles around the country this weekend in advance of finals coming up in the next few weeks. Big 12 correspondent Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) and Pac-12 writer Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) teamed up to offer this breakdown of one of them: Kansas at Colorado, Saturday 1:15 PM MST on ESPN2.

Kansas will win if… it gets its offense back in order. After beating Wake Forest last week, the Jayhawks turned in underwhelming performances against Villanova and UTEP, shooting less than 40 percent from the field in both games. The reasons behind Kansas’ struggles have gravitated from the odd setting of the Battle 4 Atlantis, to KU’s inexperience, to the fact that Andrew Wiggins played through illness. Bill Self weighed in earlier this week and felt as though last month’s win over Duke “spoiled them a little,” perhaps leading to a more passive attitude than what we’re used to seeing out of Self’s teams. Regardless of what you want to point to as the biggest factor, the Jayhawks need to get their scorers out of their recent funks, and the best way for them to do that is to go inside and test Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon early. If Perry Ellis, Wiggins and Joel Embiid establish inside dominance in the first half, it will go a long way toward opening cleaner looks behind the three-point line, an area where the Jayhawks are much better than what they showed in three games in the Bahamas.

Andrew Wiggins And Company Will Look To Bounce Back From Last Weekend's Disappointment With A Road Win At Colorado

Andrew Wiggins And Company Will Look To Bounce Back From Last Weekend’s Disappointment With A Road Win At Colorado

Kansas will lose if… its backcourt struggles. We haven’t hit winter break yet, but Bill Self is already shaking up his lineup, opting to start freshman Frank Mason over junior Naadir Tharpe, per KUSports.com. Normally, going with potential over experience would be more of a shock, but on this team, in this season, what’s one more freshman being elevated into a more prominent role? Mason has opened eyes in the early going with his fearlessness despite standing just 5’11”, and while he isn’t a pass-first point guard (at least not yet), he can find the open man when defenses collapse on him. The point guard spot hasn’t been a gaping liability for the Jayhawks, but history suggests that Kansas’ best teams have featured floor generals with more of a bulldog mentality in the mold of Sherron Collins or Tyshawn Taylor, and that’s what Mason can provide. Will he embrace that role from the get-go, or will the minutes still shake out to more of a committee setup? While the Jayhawks have talented creators up and down their roster, they’ll be reliant on passers to deliver the ball in high-percentage spots until those playmakers gain the confidence and aggression necessary for Kansas to reach its potential. That’s where Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie can cause problems against a less-experienced guard like Mason. Mix in the altitude and the knowledge that a young Kansas team will be playing its first true road game of the season and we could have a surprise on our hands.

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Is It Time for Colorado Fans to Panic?

Posted by Andrew Murawa on November 12th, 2013

Prior to the start of the season, Colorado was considered one of maybe three teams in the Pac-12 that was expected to be in the chase to pressure Arizona for a Pac-12 title. Now here we are, four days and two games into the season and the Buffaloes so far have looked, well, not good. Against Baylor on Friday night, they combined to miss 19 of their 21 three-point attempts, they showed no ability to slow a very good Baylor offense, and they crashed back to earth in an ugly 12-point defeat. Sunday night, against a bad UT-Martin team, the Buffs wound up eventually running out to a 26-point win, but along the way, didn’t look a whole lot better. So, after a small two-game sample, should Colorado basketball fans start to panic?

Well, we’re not going to go that far, but, we have spotted three areas for concern in those first three games:

Spencer Dinwiddie And The Buffaloes Have Started Out Slowly (AP Photo)

Spencer Dinwiddie and the Buffaloes Have Started Out Slowly. (AP)

Where’s the Defense? Colorado isn’t missing many players from last season, but in terms of impact, losing Andre Roberson a year early to the NBA is huge. On the very, very short list of best defenders in the conference last season, he was not only capable of locking up his own man defensively, but of offering help defense to his teammates and grabbing what seemed like every rebound. Against Baylor, the Buffs did a fair job of rebounding, but there were plenty of times where they wound up way out of place on defense and allowed good looks, both in the paint and behind the arc. These issues continued against a far less potent UT-Martin team, especially in the first half. For now, let’s just agree to call this year’s defense a work in progress, at least during the period of adjustment, because there are plenty of reasons why Colorado has a chance to become a terrific defensive team. One thing this team does not lack is athletic depth. And, as they’ve already shown, outside of maybe the center spot, this is a team that can switch on everything. Wesley Gordon has already shown his ability to defend effectively on the perimeter, while Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker are a proven defensive backcourt. And those youngsters — guys like Tre’Shaun Fletcher and George King and Jaron Hopkins? These guys need to dial up their consistency of effort, but there is a lot of defensive upside here. The Buffs will be fine defensively.

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Breaking Down Colorado vs. Baylor

Posted by AMurawa on November 8th, 2013

It’s New Year’s Day for college hoops fans. To help celebrate, Big Twelve correspondent Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) and Pac-12 writer Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) teamed up to offer this breakdown of an interesting opening night game: Colorado vs. Baylor in Dallas.

Baylor will win if… It feeds its stars and contains Colorado’s secondary options. The Bears’ offense under Scott Drew has always been among the nation’s best, and this season should be no different. There may not be a big man in the country that can stretch a defense like Isaiah Austin can, and Cory Jefferson‘s 41-of-56 shooting mark during the NIT should put Colorado on notice. Throw in Brady Heslip‘s three-point prowess and the Buffs will have their hands full. Defensively, it’s hard to say whether Baylor’s guards can contain Spencer Dinwiddie. Heslip has never been known for his defense, Kenny Chery is the Bears’ newest undersized point guard who will be playing his first Division I game, as will heralded freshman tweener Ish Wainright. I’m not sure either of the three can be counted on to keep Tad Boyle‘s emerging star in check, so Baylor’s defensive gameplan should lean more heavily towards containing Colorado’s other options. If Austin, Royce O’Neale and Rico Gathers make Xavier Johnson think twice about driving and keep Josh Scott and redshirt freshman Wesley Gordon from getting easy looks in the paint, it probably won’t matter how well Dinwiddie plays.

Baylor went 13-3 when Cory Jefferson and A Potent Baylor Offense Could Give Colorado's Defense Fits (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

Cory Jefferson and A Potent Baylor Offense Could Give Colorado’s Defense Fits. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

Colorado will win if… Their veteran backcourt can make life miserable for a couple of Baylor perimeter guys – Chery and Wainright – who are making their Division I debuts. Between Dinwiddie and his junior backcourt mate Askia Booker, the pair of Colorado guards has been through a lot of battles. Dinwiddie has turned into a rock solid presence at the point, capable of creating for himself or finding his teammates in good position. Booker, however, has taken plenty of heat as a guy who is a bit too wild and a bit too in love with his own jumper. With more offensive weapons on this year’s squad, the hope is that Booker dials back his shot-hunting a bit and dials up his shooting percentages in turn. Either way, both of these guys are capable of causing plenty of trouble for young Bear ballhandlers like Chery and Wainright. In a big game right out of the gate where emotions are high, the calming presence of a pair of backcourt greybeards who have been through their fair share of battles may be enough to tip the scales in the Buffaloes favor. Oh, and not to pile on or anything, but in a battle of wits between Boyle and Drew, gimme Boyle.

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Marching to Vegas: Who Will Break Out Along the Way?

Posted by AMurawa on November 7th, 2013

Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) of Pachoops again will be joining us all year, providing us with his weekly take on our favorite conference, as we begin the March to Las Vegas.

To date we’ve prognosticated on the known. We know that UCLA and USC have new coaches and that Mike Montgomery has a track record of winning almost regardless of the talent on his roster. It’s clear to us that Arizona has a very talented group because they’ve been talented in the past. Same goes for Oregon and its army of transfers. We can say that Washington has a good shooter in C.J. Wilcox because we’ve seen him shoot well. Through these good-as-known pieces we’ve come to conclusions on the inconclusive: preseason rankings, All-Conference Teams, Best This and Best That. But what about what we maybe don’t know? What of the unknown? Those elements of a season and team that we like to call “breakouts” (with apologies to puberty). First, let’s try to define what exactly that means; a difficult task considering it’s a subjective, predictive analysis we’re about to embark upon. A breakout player or team exceeds general expectations. Sure we can expect a sophomore to improve over his freshman season. But if he puts up 3.4/0.8/0.7 as a freshman and then 12.7/3.9/4.3 as a sophomore? Well then we can say that Russell Westbrook broke out. So which players across the conference have we seen glimpses of brilliance, flashes of genius, doses of effective?

Can We Just Go Ahead And Call The Biggest Pac-12 Breakout Player The "Westbrook"? (Lisa Blumenfeld, Getty Images)

Can We Just Go Ahead And Call The Biggest Pac-12 Breakout Player The “Westbrook”? (Lisa Blumenfeld, Getty Images)

When the Pac-12 Microsite brain trust threw out our list of five breakout players, the composite five resulted in – shocker – five sophomores (actually it was six as teammates Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson tied and David Wear received votes and was the only non sophomore on the list). Like the aforementioned Westbrook scenario, the following players fit pretty neatly into a familiar mold. This naturally makes sense as we have just a small sample size by which to judge them. Players often make their biggest statistical leap from freshman to sophomore year; having gained that ever precious “experience.” Here’s how our voting shook out along with their inaugural season outputs:

Player Points/rebounds/assists ORtg/Usage
Tyrone Wallace 7/4/3 88.5/19.3
Brandon Ashley 8/5/1 109.1/19.8
Brandon Taylor 7/2/2 98.1/20.8
Kyle Anderson 10/9/4 102.5/20
Josh Scott 10/6/1 114.3/20
Xavier Johnson 9/5/0 105.1/20.5
David Wear 7/5/1 104.5/17.2

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The RTC Interview Series: Pac-12 Preview with Don MacLean and Miles Simon

Posted by Walker Carey on November 6th, 2013


Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. To read through the entire 2013-14 preseason interview series, click here. As part of our national preview with the Pac-12, RTC correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking with two Pac-12 experts in Pac-12 Network analyst and former UCLA star, Don MacLean, and ESPN analyst and former Arizona star, Miles Simon. (Ed. note – we spoke to each individual separately, but for the sake of expediency, combining their answers into a round table format made the most sense.)

Don MacLean and Miles Simon Shared Their Pac-12 Thoughts With Us

Don MacLean and Miles Simon Shared Their Pac-12 Thoughts With Us

Rush the Court: Arizona is the overwhelming preseason favorite in the league. What is it about Sean Miller’s team that has expectations so high in Tucson?

Don MacLean: The talent level there is very high. Sean Miller has brought in some very high-level recruits. Aaron Gordon brings another dimension for the team with his great athleticism and versatility to play inside and on the perimeter. T.J. McConnell is going to be great for the team. I worked the exhibition game last week and I was really impressed by McConnell. I think he is really good. He is the first true point guard that Sean Miller has had since he has been at Arizona. When you have all that talent, you need a pass-first guy to spread the ball around. From what I have seen, McConnell seems to be that guy. Sean Miller is also a great coach. With this roster, the depth that the team has, and Miller’s coaching, I think it is warranted to put Arizona as the best team in the league right now.

Miles Simon: Sean Miller obviously brought in a tremendous recruiting class. Getting Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts to come in is a good place to start with this team. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell is going to be an excellent addition for the team at point guard. When you look at this team, it is just so long and athletic. I think defensively, this might be the best group that Sean Miller has had since he has been at Arizona. There are just so many positives with this team going into the season.

RTC: Oregon made a surprise trip to the Sweet Sixteen last March after pulling off upsets over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. Gone from last season’s team are Arsalan Kazemi and E.J. Singler, but the Ducks did secure the services of UNLV transfer Mike Moser. With Moser joining a team that has the talented backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson returning, should Dana Altman’s squad take a step forward in the Pac-12 this season and should another NCAA Tournament run be expected?

MacLean: You can never expect an NCAA Tournament run, but I think the team should be just as good. Do not forget that Oregon also added Joseph Young, the transfer from Houston. Adding Mike Moser as a fifth-year guy is an important piece and Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson will be better as second-year players. With what Dana Altman does with his style of play and the way he changes up defenses, I think the Ducks will be as good as they were last season.

Simon: I think Oregon will get back to the NCAA Tournament. It really has some nice pieces, but when you lose guys like Arsalan Kazemi, E.J. Singler, Tony Woods and Carlos Emory, you are losing what was the heart and soul of your team. A lot of leadership and toughness left with those guys. If Mike Moser is able to return to where he was with UNLV two years ago, he will be excellent. The backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson should be explosive and one of the best in the league. Johnathan Loyd is the third guard and he has some experience because he had to play a lot when Artis was injured last season. When you consider these pieces, this is a team that should get back to the NCAA Tournament and finish in the top half of the Pac-12.

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Pac-12 Team Preview: Colorado Buffaloes

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on November 5th, 2013

We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings. 

Colorado Buffaloes

Strengths: While Colorado has a lot of strengths, its biggest may be balance. They’ve got a veteran backcourt featuring an all-conference point guard in Spencer Dinwiddie, but they’ve also got a frontcourt with size, athleticism and, perhaps most importantly, upside. Sophomores Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson are regarded as possible breakout players, while redshirt freshman Wesley Gordon is ready to get back into the swing of things after spending last year improving his body and his game. They’ve got guards that score in the paint and from deep and they’ve got frontcourt guys who can not only post up, but can step outside and knock down perimeter jumpers. This team has a lot of options.

Xavier Johnson Will Be Chief Among The Players Called On To Help Replace Andre Roberson's Production

Xavier Johnson Will Be Chief Among The Players Called On To Help Replace Andre Roberson’s Production.

Weaknesses: There are a few main concerns for Colorado. First, while Tad Boyle thinks he’s got enough frontcourt bodies to ease the transition away from the Andre Roberson era, there is no one guy who can do all the things that Roberson did. For instance, while Josh Scott was quite effective on the offensive glass last season, he’ll really need to step it up on the defensive end to make up for Roberson. And frankly, there is nobody with the defensive versatility that Roberson had; the Buffs will need to prove that they can defend as well without Roberson’s freak athleticism. Then there remains the concern that Askia Booker still hasn’t seen a shot he didn’t like and is far too inefficient an offensive force (31.2 percent from three and just 39.5 percent from inside the arc) to be monopolizing so many shot attempts (12.7 FGAs per game). With efficient scorers like Dinwiddie, Scott and, to a lesser extent, Johnson around, there are far better options than Booker hunting looks.

Non-Conference Tests: The Buffs open up on Friday with a tough battle against a talented Baylor team in Dallas, and that is just the first of three match-ups against former Big 12 rivals on their excellent non-conference slate; the other two come in December: a visit from Kansas followed by a neutral site game against Oklahoma State in Las Vegas. There are also three Mountain West teams on CU’s schedule: Wyoming, Air Force and Colorado State. None of those teams are world-beaters, but they’ll all help the RPI numbers. Throw in a visit from a very good Harvard team, a visit from an Elon squad that is the favorite in the Southern Conference, and a visit from a middling SEC team in Georgia, and Boyle has put together arguably the best non-conference slate in the Pac-12. Put together a good record before the New Year and the Buffs will be prepped for a solid seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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The Inane Ramblings of a Pac-12 Homer…

Posted by Andrew Murawa on October 25th, 2013

So, the other night, I’m sitting around, minding my own business, doing a podcast with Shane and Randy talking about the Pac-12. When out of the blue, I get accused by an attacker who shall remain nameless of being a Pac-12 homer, just because I picked seven conference teams to get invited to the NCAA Tournament next March. And yeah, maybe taking a flyer on Stanford as a Sweet Sixteen team might have been a part of the equation. But, being an upstanding southern (Californian) gentleman, I say this injustice shall not stand! So, I’m taking to the RTC Pac-12 microsite to air my grievances. Because, really, if anything, I’m a Mountain West homer.

You Have Insulted My Honor And I Demand Satisfaction

You Have Insulted My Honor And I Demand Satisfaction

So, let’s get right to the point. I’m entering my fifth season as an RTC Pac-12 correspondent and I’d like to establish my credentials. In 2009-10, I was right there making fun of the inept conference and coming up with scenarios until the last moment where the conference would only earn one bid to the NCAA Tournament. In 2010-11, as Arizona was following Derrick Williams’ lead on the way to the Elite Eight, I was one of the last holdouts, doubting the Wildcats’ supporting cast every step of the way, nevermind the fact that I was dead wrong. I also had the then-Pac-10 correctly pegged as getting just three NCAA Tournament invites, right up until the point where the Selection Committee screwed up and somehow determined USC was worthy of an at-large as well. In 2011-12, I was telling you all that there would be no redeeming qualities about the Pac-12 Tournament. Heck, I was the guy who was regularly driving several hours into the desert to watch the Mountain West Tournament instead of driving 20 minutes to the Staples Center and getting to sleep in my own bed while being forced to watch the Pac-12 version. Does any of this sound like the hallmarks of a Pac-12 homer? God, no. I hated the Pac-12 at its nadir as much as the next guy. Maybe more so.

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Colorado Post-Mortem

Posted by PBaruh on April 23rd, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Here’s a look at Colorado.

What Went Right 

Spencer Dinwiddie was key for Colorado's offense this year.

Spencer Dinwiddie was key for Colorado’s offense this year.

Despite losing three starters from last year’s team, the Buffaloes had a lot of things go right for them in 2012-13. Spencer Dinwiddie improved tremendously from his freshman season by becoming the go-to scorer. Dinwiddie led the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game and sported a true shooting percentage at 59.1 percent. His two best games of the year came against NCAA Tournament teams Colorado State and Arizona at the Coors Event Center as he tallied 50 points and nine assists in the two contests. Andre Roberson was once again a double-double machine, averaging 10.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in another strong season. In what was viewed by some as a possible rebuilding season, the Buffaloes responded with an at-large NCAA bid and a squad that competed if not actually challenging for the Pac-12 title.

What Went Wrong

They were certainly some letdown games from the Buffaloes as they lost to league bottom-dwellers Utah on the road and Oregon State at home. Colorado had a tendency to start lackadaisically against inferior opponents and it hurt them in several games. Individually, Askia Booker disappeared in conference play. The MVP of the Charleston Classic was irrelevant in the Pac-12 and finished with a 42.2 effective field goal percentage on the year. Booker certainly didn’t let his struggles deter him from shooting the ball as he attempted 11 or more field goals in all but two conference games.

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RTC’s 2013 Pac-12 Tournament Preview

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 13th, 2013

The 2013 Pac-12 Championship is upon us. If you want to know who the favorites, dark-horses  and long-shots are, or are just looking for a possible team to make a run all the way from Las Vegas to the Final Four, here is your guide.

bracket

While the Pac-12 may not be the best conference in the nation, this is going to be one of the most competitive conference tournaments of Championship Week. Any of the top nine seeds are capable of winning it, and every team playing in the first round of the tournament needs at least one win to feel safe on Selection Sunday. Outside of that top five, every team will be playing for their NCAA lives, which could make the first day of the tournament surprisingly entertaining. To make a run through a conference tournament, especially when you need to win four games in four days, you need three or more really solid players. UCLA has Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams, Travis Wear, and Kyle Anderson; Oregon has E.J. Singler, Carlos Emory, and Damyean Dotson; and Colorado has Spencer Dinwiddie, Askia Booker, Andre Roberson, and Josh Scott. Those groups of players can lead their teams through the tournament, but the rest of the field behind them has only one or two solid players they can count on.

Two teams that aren’t currently locked into the field of 68 have a possibility of getting at-large bids through their play this week. Colorado may be in regardless, but they can lock up an at-large this afternoon with a win against Oregon State. Arizona State is about the seventh or eighth team out of the tournament at this point, so anything short of three wins in Vegas will keep the Sun Devils in the NIT. They also need help from the contenders in front of them, meaning ASU fans should be rooting for quick exits by the likes of Iowa, Southern Miss, and Mississippi.

Can Jahii Carson Lead Arizona State To The NCAA Tournament (credit: Arizona State)?

Can Jahii Carson Lead Arizona State To The NCAA Tournament (credit: Arizona State)?

Favorite: UCLA. Carrying the momentum off a regular season conference title, the Bruins come in as slight favorites for the tournament. They’ll likely face Arizona in the semifinals, a team they have more or less dominated in their two previous meetings. Any one of the top four seeds could win this thing (even the top five), but UCLA has the star power to carry them all the way through.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.12.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 12th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. The Pac-12 released its awards and “all-conference teams” on Monday, and I put that in quotes since the conference doesn’t care to follow one of the most simple rules of basketball. Regardless, end-of-the-season awards are always fun to review, so here we go. Leading scorer Allen Crabbe was named the Player of the Year in the conference, with Jahii Carson and Shabazz Muhammad named as Co-Freshmen of the Year. Oregon head coach Dana Altman took home the Coach of the Year award after leading his Ducks to a 23-8 record, and received the honor despite losing their final two regular season games to Colorado and Utah. In addition to Crabbe, Carson, and Muhammad, Spencer Dinwiddie, Solomon Hill, and Dwight Powell headlined the All-Pac-12 first team list. Kyle Anderson, Damyean Dotson, and Josh Scott rounded out the All-Freshmen team. To view the Rush the Court Pac-12 honors and all-conference teams from yesterday, click here and here.
  2. Additional news of a Spokane bar fight featuring several USC players broke on Monday afternoon, and not long after, interim head coach Bob Cantu announced that senior center James Blasczyk and junior forward Dewayne Dedmon had been suspended indefinitely for violating a team rule. In a statement released by the school, the program acknowledged the investigation into the alleged incident but refused to comment until more is known. There was an interesting statement from Spokane Police Officer John Gately, which said, “We had a large fight. We have not been able to find any connection to any sports team.” More on the situation will surely be released in the coming days, but the immediate reality is that the Trojans will lose their top rebounder for their opening Pac-12 Tournament game against one of the hottest teams in the league. Uh-oh.
  3. Washington State senior Brock Motum has dropped an average of 16.5 PPG against Washington so far this season, and Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar knows the big Aussie will be the biggest road block between his team and a quarterfinal match-up with Oregon. Even more concerning are the recent stats that Motum has been putting up — he’s scored 20+ points (including one 31-point outing) in three of Wazzu’s last four games, and has averaged 8.0 RPG in that timeframe.
  4. The Power Rank has an interesting tool for college basketball addicts, featuring an interactive projected NCAA Tournament bracket and breaking down the probabilities for each of the 68 teams to advance through the bracket. Using Jerry Palm’s projected bracket from March 7 and the site’s calculations from their own rankings, you can see the odds for your favorite team advancing through each round. The calculations say Arizona has the best chance of a Pac-12 team to win the national title, coming in at 2.1%. Oregon and UCLA are the next closest at 0.2%, and just as a point of reference, the team with the best chance of winning it all is at 12.8%, Florida.
  5. Colorado head coach Tad Boyle has never been angrier at a loss during his tenure in Boulder than he was after Saturday’s head-scratching, 64-58 loss at home to Oregon State. And for good reason, too, as the loss sent CU back to the bubble, a place they thought they were done with coming into the final week of the regular season. In an interesting twist, the Buffaloes now must face the Beavers again in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday afternoon, a game that could very well be a must-win in order for the Buffaloes to make the field of 68. On the other end of the court will be the Beavers, which even though they come into the tourney with a #12 seed, are riding some momentum for the first time in a month. Craig Robinson knows all about playing spoiler on Championship Week, as last year the Beavs knocked regular season champion Washington off the NCAA bubble with a quarterfinal win. If history repeats itself, Colorado fans will be wise to root against the likes of La Salle, Virginia, and Alabama in their respective conference tournaments this week, as losses by those teams would help its cause. Going off the same thread, an OSU win would likely mean a second straight trip to the CBI for the Beavers, while a loss could mean being left out of the third-rate tournament.

Steve Politi’s Sunday column in the New Jersey Star-Ledger contains some great anecdotal history from the Big East Tournament’s humble inception. To put this week’s highly orchestrated, sold-out event in perspective, consider the following. In 1981, the second year of the tournament, four ticketless Georgetown fans entered the bowels of the Carrier Dome donning various animal costumes, including a penguin suit. Each told oblivious security guards –– who had no clue what a Hoya was supposed to look like –– that he was the official school mascot. And astonishingly, it worked, which merely underscores how many of the league’s most intimate modern rivalries were predated by striking unfamiliarity, and forged only through time and competitiveness.

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Night Line: Buffs a Dangerous Team, Although Roberson’s Uncertain Status a Concern

Posted by BHayes on March 8th, 2013

nightline2

Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Colorado has underachieved at times this year, but don’t look towards Thursday night for any further proof of that phenomenon. Even without Andre Roberson — their breathing, eating, walking double-double, the Buffaloes blasted the Pac-12 leading Oregon Ducks. The boys from Eugene will take their 23-point thrashing and now head to Utah, where focus for Dana Altman’s crew will shift to earning at least a share of the Pac-12 title. Back in Boulder much of the discussion will center around Roberson’s availability moving forward. Tad Boyle announced that a viral illness has the junior on the mend, with no official timetable set for his return. Roberson’s absence will surely have an impact – he is far too talented and effective for it not to. But if Thursday night taught us anything, it’s that these Buffaloes are more than capable enough to be a headache come Tournament time – with or without Roberson.

With Andre Roberson Sidelined, Tad Boyle Will Look For Even More Production And Leadership Out Of Spencer Dinwiddie

With Andre Roberson Sidelined, Tad Boyle Will Look For Even More Production And Leadership Out Of Spencer Dinwiddie

If the old cliché holds true and good guard play really does win in March, Tad Boyle has to feel pretty good about his odds this month. Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie may not be household names, but the duo makes up one of the best (and most underrated) backcourts in the country. Dinwiddie has seen his numbers rise across the board in his sophomore season, with his 15.2 ppg and 3.0 apg leading the team. He has struggled from the field of late –18-63 in his last five — but his ability to get to the line (and convert) has been a constant this season, as he has gone 39-43 from the stripe over that stretch. Same story for the dynamic lead guard tonight, with his 3-9 line from the field offset nicely by nine made free throws, seven rebounds, and six assists. His backcourt mate Booker is a more limited player, but the fellow sophomore chips in with over 12 points a game and is another capable ballhandler — a definite plus for a team with a relatively raw frontcourt.

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Pac-12 M5: 02.20.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 20th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. One side effect of the parity in the conference this season has been a lot of intensity as we head into the stretch run. We saw this most glaringly on Sunday night with Mike Montgomery’s now infamous “shove” of Allen Crabbe, but elsewhere around the conference there were more incidents. In Pullman, Oregon center Tony Woods was ejected for throwing an elbow to the head of Washington State’s Brock Motum. The Pac-12 reviewed the play and decided Woods would face no further suspension. Another pair of bigs got tangled up in Boulder on Saturday when Jordan Bachynski and Josh Scott fell to the floor in pursuit of a rebound. Scott wound up banging his head against the hardwood and sustaining a concussion from which he is still recovering. Colorado head coach Tad Boyle called that game the most physical game he has ever been involved in.
  2. It’s been a tumultuous season for UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, with an NCAA investigation delaying his debut and the flu catching up with him prior to the USC game back in January. Now, and again in advance of a USC game, Muhammad is dealing with pinkeye, which kept him out of practice on Tuesday. However, this issue isn’t expected to have any impact on Muhammad’s availability for Sunday’s game.
  3. Arizona State has compiled an 8-5 conference record largely on the strength of its starting five. Senior Carrick Felix leads the conference in minutes (38.3 minutes per night), while Jahii Carson and Jonathan Gilling both top out at over 36 minutes per game and are among the top five players in the conference in minutes. While head coach Herb Sendek admits that his heavy reliance on a small number of players is “a concern,” he doesn’t expect much to change for the rest of the year.
  4. Meanwhile, down south a little, Arizona head coach Sean Miller has been increasingly relying on a smaller number of players as well. And with his confidence in Jordin Mayes dwindling, Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson are becoming the only options in the backcourt for the Wildcats. However, unlike Sendek up the road, Miller may be ready for a change and could turn to freshman guard Gabe York for some spot minutes on the perimeter. York earned 16 minutes over the course of three games back at the turn of the month into February, but since then York has never left the bench in the last four games.
  5. Continuing the theme, Lorenzo Romar returned to freshman Jernard Jarreau this past weekend as an option off the bench. Jarreau won the starting power forward spot in preseason practice, but was ineffective while starting the first seven games of the season. Since then his role almost completely evaporated to the point where he played just 17 minutes over the course of six games prior to his emergence against Oregon State on Saturday. And Romar says Jarreau has earned a right to continue getting minutes in the hopes of building up his game to the point where he can be a contributor for the next three seasons.
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