Tag Archives: Kansas

Askia Booker for Three

I’m not even going to tell say I told you so. I won’t remind you that I’ve sung the importance of his testicular fortitude for a year-and-a-half now because as Askia Booker euro-stepped past that Sherron Collins-lookin’ bulldog of a KU #0, there wasn’t another player on the floor prepared to make that play. Not NBA bound stars Spencer Dinwiddie or Andrew Wiggins. Not Josh Scott or Xavier Johnson or Tad Boyle. You don’t euro-step past a defender with two-seconds remaining in a tense and climactic ball game unless ONIONS.

While a lot of the Sabatino Chen three-pointer in Tucson narrative has resurfaced, I see few similarities beyond the timing. Chen wound up with the ball by utter mistake. He heaved a basketball he wasn’t supposed to be holding at a rim he wasn’t sure was there from behind a line he’d shot behind less than twenty times. Sabatino Chen was not supposed to take that shot.

Askia Booker was born to make that shot.

Or at least he believes he was and that’s all that matters. “It felt really good,” he’d say crammed next to ESPN anchors and coeds. Damn right it felt good and he’d go on to talk about the confidence instilled in him by his coaches and teammates. Because when you fire up shots the way Askia does, you’d better have the support of those guys. They love him because he’s not afraid to take those shots. Sans conscience, Askia Booker gives Colorado swagger. Dinwiddie and Scott provide credibility and Xavier Johnson and Wesley Gordon bring muscle. Jaron Hopkins, Tre’shaun Fletcher, and Dustin Thomas offer depth. Ben Mills has a scholarship.

But Booker provides that intangible characteristic of not giving a f***.

And who doesn’t need that every once in a while? Who doesn’t need that as your team is exhaustively holding off the sixth best team in the country who calls your arena the western version of their own? The Keg has been a Kansas house for years and it had every reason to remain Phog-West as Perry Ellis bullied his way into the lane for the tie. Xavier Johnson was so ill prepared for the immediacy and magnitude of those two points that he nearly inbounded the ball to the Jayhawks; giving them possession 30-feet from their rim. But Johnson didn’t quite give it up. Tad collected his team and ensured the ball would be in the hands of the one man he knew feared nothing of this moment.

Askia Booker was born to make that shot.

Or at least he believes he was and that’s all that matters. Tad Boyle knows this so he let his scrappy off-guard do his thing and he did it and then everyone else came to join him.

This isn’t a resolution. Booker still has his flaws and may shoot Colorado out of – or dangerously close to – a few games. But as I said a few weeks ago: Askia Booker is the hero Colorado needs and deserves.

Askia Booker knew he was going to make that shot. It’s all that matters.

The Pac-12 Road Trip: Just absolutely cannot

Yesterday I told you about the games I ain’t gonna miss. Things are lined up for me to attend and yell and shout. But you can’t always get what you want. And while I really want to get to these games below – they’re either in great places or feature great teams, the adventure of travel meet the drama of sport – it’s just not in the cards. I want to, but can’t swing it.

  1. Oregon vs. Georgetown, Friday 11/8, 5pm PST, ESPN, Camp Humphreys, South Korea – OPPAGANGNAM STYLE! Yes I want to go to South Korea and crush noraebang and barbecue. Take in a dynasty and some temples and perhaps rekindle a brief flame that moved out there with her ex-boyfriend to teach English. A boy can dream. I could also get a look at Dana Altman’s revamped squad of graduate students. In this, his fourth Duck season, we’re presented yet again with a brand newish squad – the perfect excuse to get over to Asia. I’d naturally leverage this into a trip to Tokyo and maybe Southeast Asia, too. Worth noting is that this game will be held on a military base which we cannot assume is for marketing or morale purposes so much as a security measure considering Georgetown’s history in Asia.
  2. Arizona vs. Duke, TBD, ESPN #, Madison Square Garden, NYC – I just can’t swing this thing over Thanksgiving. Too many traditions would be broken along with Grandma’s heart. Can’t do it. My conciliation prize? High school 10-year! Alas, this game isn’t guaranteed to happen. Standing in Arizona’s way is likely a triumvirate of Farleigh Dickinson (this game is definitively scheduled), Rhode Island (I see you ghost of Jim Harrick), and then probably Rutgers in MSG. The Dookies are looking at – as the two-seed mind you – UNC-Asheville, East Carolina, and Anthony Grant’s Rolling Tide. The bracket. Everything goes to form and it’s Arizona-Duke. Goodness I want to be there. The Blue Devils want a shot at revenge and I want to watch Jabari Parker vs. Aaron Gordon amongst so many other match ups (Nick Johnson vs. Rasheed Sulaimon; TJ McConnell vs. Quinn Cook; K vs. Miller). But what’s more is this would play out like Cameron-North. A flame to the flickering light of bandwagondom in a city bereft of college basketball success, NYC hasn’t seen college success since the Red Storm featured World Peace. Duke has been adopted inside that arena and I want it Red. No, I can’t travel there, but I sure as hell wanna.


    The pride of Krzyzewskiville

  3. Kansas @ Colorado, Saturday 12/7, 1:15pm MT, ESPN2, The Keg, Boulder – It wouldn’t really be fair to call Colorado’s role in this matchup “kid brother” as the Buffs didn’t even sniff that familial level as a member of the Big-12. Boulder was a Jayhawk respite, a welcomed escape from roadies to Norman, Stillwater, Lubbock, Aimes, Waco, and Manhattan. A fact confirmed to me by a former UT hoop star (because Austin is awesome by all accounts). But what I’m getting at is B12 Colorado sucked. P12 Colorado is pretty darned tough but when they went to Lawrence last season they asserted nothing of the sort. The Jayhawks maintained the modus operandi and rolled Ralphie by 36. Well now I want in on this action. It’s a new generation of pissed off Ralphie inside The Keg that used to fill up with Hawks. I’d imagine this thing to be rock chalk full of Buffaloes and I want to see Andrew Wiggins with my own face. Don’t you? Besides, last I went to Boulder for a game with some vitriol behind it, Tad’s team came to play. I imagine they’ll do the same for Bill’s boys.
  4. USC @ Battle for Atlantis, 11/28-30, ATLANTIS RESORT, Paradise Island, Bahamas – USC projects to be a not so great team but it’s the Bahamas in November. With the means and time I’d go. There’s the Dolphin Cay where I’d swim with sea creatures and a water park to destroy slides. It’s all inclusive so…well so everything would be included. There’s a teaser on the resort’s WHAT TO DO PAGE that says, “When the waters of Atlantis grow dark, the fun is just beginning.” There’s going to be two Andy’s – Wiggins and Enfield – and one of their wives. I challenge you to give me a reason not to go. Oh, it’s over thanksgiving and my grandparents don’t travel well and I’m due in Coolidge, Arizona for the umpteenth consecutive Turkey Day where we pretend that the ham is “pink turkey” so as not to upset my overbearing Jewish mother? I guess I’ve gotta handle that.
  5. UCLA vs. Duke, Thursday, 12/19, 4:30pm PT, ESPN, Madison Square Garden, NYC – I’m going to see Duke inside of MSG before I die. And before K retires. Have to. I would’ve liked to see Duke-St.John’s there when that match up provided some heat but one can’t really complain about taking in Duke vs. the most successful program in the history of the sport. Granted, UCLA is amidst a transition period that is hard to contextualize or grasp or understand on really any level, but it’s still UCLA and there’s still rhyme and reason to see them. Particularly against the most successful program of the past handful of decades. As previously mentioned, MSG is a second home of sorts for Duke and I just find that fascinating and exciting for a west coast opponent to take on. You wanna talk tournament tune up? Additionally there’s the appeal of being in NYC around Christmas time (said the Jewish guy). I get it. There’s a romanticism to the snow and the giant tree at the Rockefeller Center. Who didn’t become enthralled by that in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York? There’s no guarantee that the Alford version of Bruins – particularly this crew – will be good or even exciting. But they’re going to be interesting because it’s UCLA and a new regime. And it’s Duke, too.

Others receiving votes: 

  • Arizona @ ASU, 2/14 – Valentine’s in Tempe just sounds awesome
  • Oklahoma St vs Colorado, 12/21 – Dinwiddie vs. Smart? Yes, please. In Vegas [devil grin emoji]
  • UConn @ UW, 12/22 or Indiana vs UW (in NYC), 11/21 – Dying to get up to HecEd and those Eastern Huskies project to be solid while I think this is a FASCINATING year in the developing history of Tom Crean.

Week Two at All Buffs: Showing Up for the Game

As I mentioned last week, I’m doing a weekly wrap at AllBuffs. This week I don’t think Buffalo fans walked out of Lawrence particularly happy with their squad’s performance (54-90 hurts) but they did walk out. That’s to say, by one man’s account, he couldn’t remember more opposing fans in Phog Allen Fieldhouse than what CU delivered this weekend. I love that and commend Buffs Nation for such.

After discussing what traveling on the road means for your program, I continued on to discuss what really was a disappointing week in the Pac. I’m really not digging what’s going on in Seattle. It appears apathetic and effortless – not the cool kind of Michael Jordan effortless but the kind where the performance appears to be devoid of try.

Alas, without further ado, Week 2 on All Buffs.

UCLA and Cal Let Everyone Know What’s Up

Tuesday was a dark day for the Twelve Pac.

The lone, albeit muted, bright spot was a USC home victory over the winless Morgan State Bears. In this game, the mighty Trojans were down by as much as twelve before finally reclaiming the lead with two-minutes to play and hitting one more jumper before no one scored for the final minute. Exhilarating, no doubt, for the 2,200 in attendance.

But beyond the barnburner Trojan victory, the Pac came out in full mediocre color last night.

Before going into detail, let’s remind ourselves who was selected to win the conference this year: UCLA. Their preseason accolades were closely followed by the Cal Bears. The received 14 and 13 first place votes, respectively.

That is to say, we expected little from USC, and much more from the bear teams. Last night they were both nationally beaten; losing by a combined 55 points, both dismantlings broadcast on the Worldwide Leader. It was like the opposite of a coming out party.

By stretch of a comparison, the 1996 Bulls (Jordan’s 72-10 masterpiece) lost their ten games by a combined 77 points. And if you remove one 32-point loss to the Knicks, Jordan’s Bulls lost nine games by a total of 45 points. You can run the math but 45 < 55.

That may seem irrelevant, but if you’re reading this then you’ve been watching ESPN’s broadcasts and you’re grossly familiar with the NBA2K commercial featuring MJ and Drake. I’m not going to link it because I’ve seen it too many times. Like every-ESPNU-commercial-break too many times.

But back to the Pac-12’s mediocrity party.

It hasn’t been a great November for the Conference of Champions. There are some marquee losses out there (Loyola Marymount, St. Louis, Pepperdine, Middle Tennessee State) and few marquee wins (St. Johns, Texas). But things will get better. They have to, right?

It may yet be awhile, however. Arizona is coming up on the meat of its schedule with games against SDSU, Florida, and Gonzaga. The road gets no easier for UCLA as they play Michigan and Texas and could seemingly lose to anyone at anytime, anywhere. Cal has SDSU also scheduled and travels to Vegas for a December tilt with UNLV. Stanford heads to MSG soon for some big games and frankly, all games moving forward have the Pac-12 on irrelevancy watch.

Oregon State has been a nice saving grace on the national scene. They’ve played well and are breeding a star in Jared Cunningham. But it’s still not a great sign when the best (not biggest but best) story in your conference is a team that still loses to Vanderbilt.

If we want to point fingers for this mass of mediocrity, I point one squarely at Ben Howland and his UCLA program. Then I quickly point it at Lorenzo Romar at UW and then the Arizona Athletic Department. Success begets success and these three programs were the torchbearers of Pac-12 hoops. With Arizona’s dip into mediocrity and inability to handle their coaching transition, UCLA’s sudden and strange fall from grace, and Washington’s marginal success, the rest of the conference has been comfortable in mediocrity.

The conference needs these schools in order to be good. It’s the same reason baseball needs the Yankees; not everybody can play Cinderella.

That’s why it’s great news that Sean Miller has the top recruiting class in the nation with UCLA close on his heels and others garnering talented commitments.

The current situation may seem bleak and dire, but it’s getting better. The Pac-12 can take its lumps now and it’d be nice to defeat another BCS conference team by more than a buzzer beater  (this, anyone?). But it will come because success begets success.

The sooner, the better.