Tag Archives: Sabatino Chen

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The Pac-12 Year in HOLY S***!!! (Copying Grantland)

If you’re not familiar with Grantland’s Year in Holy S***!!!, familiarize now. In a swift Bart ride back to my house I was taken out of the stat holes of KenPom and hoop-math and reminded that SPORTS! Watch that Steph Curry highlight reel and tell me you don’t get goosebumps as he drops trey on the Nuggets, turning to their bench before net.

Alas, this is a Pac-12 blog and holy shit happens here, too. We’re about to dive into it. But to further preface this reactionary and sudden expulsion of disbelief; before unveiling the moments that had as out of our chairs, jaws gaping, eyes wide, SMHing all over; prior to that, I’d just like to say that these are the things that have us coming back. Fandom, for better or worse or otherwise, allows us to get lost. Why we stand and shout. Holy shit. Bravo.

Here are a handful of those times from Brad, Ben, Matt, Jason, and me in no particular order.

The McKale Monitor Mishap

Jason of AllBuffs.comThe Monitors at McKale moment game started late for me.  I was in the car in a part of Colorado that severely tested KOA’s claim of “3 countries/38 states” motto.  When I arrived at my destination, not exactly civilization, but a place that does have DirecTV, (luckily the game was on ESPN) I turned on the TV and my first “Holy Shit” moment occurred.  CU was up, by double digits, in McKale, “Holy Shit indeed”.  Over the remaining 15 minutes of the game, the rest of my party arrived, the beers and wine were flowing and then the FT’s started clanking, oh those FT’s. When Mark Lyons made his second free throw with 10 seconds left, I stood up and I didn’t sit down for several minutes.  Sabatino Chen ended up with the ball in his hands with 3.5 seconds left, it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t designed, it was….. BANKED, but it did go in.  There were high fives and then a “wait a minute, they’re reviewing it”.  It was good, it was definitely good was being echoed throughout the room.  Then it began, the slow walk toward the TV, the room was hushed, the volume was cranked and everybody was gathered around a 52 inch high-definition TV.

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Win probability.

Over and over we watched, angle after angle, hands now ON the TV, “no-it’s out right there, it’s good, the red light isn’t on yet”.  Then it happened……”HOLY SHIT” they called it no good.  F-bombs were dropped; BS’s thrown around and the air had been let out of the room.  I don’t remember the last 5 minutes of the game, all I know was that CU lost, but I will never forget that “HOLY SHIT” moment and that I was in the middle of nowhere, with high-definition TV while the refs  standing courtside were stuck with the standard-definition variety

Adam – I’d watched as my Wildcats made a furious comeback from the most three pointers the Buffaloes would hit in a single game all season. Well, it was going to be the most until Chen happened. Head down dribbling out the clock he heaved it up and you know the rest. I was here with friends and had conceded Arizona’s loss. We watched all of the angles and I even broke things down for my houseguests exactly how, if I were one of the officials, I’d bury my head in the monitor, confirm the call with field goal arms and bolt off the McKale floor. I bolted out of my living room to demonstrate. But when I returned, the officials were waving the whole damn thing off and…HOLY SHIT. Hey, Cats win and Mark Lyons doesn’t give a rats ass about how nice Sabatino’s hair is.

He Touched the Ball x5 and Cancun

Adam - From my Vegas vantage point following the UCLA-Arizona game I had this to tweet which, as you’ll notice, when unreplied, retweeted, or favorited. For shame.

Well then what happened?

AND THAT’S SOME STRAIGHT NOSTRADAMUS ACTION PEOPLE. Anyhow, in our hotel room, we watched that presser another 3-to-fifteen-hundred times because oh my holy shit goodness Sean Miller wasn’t happy. There’s more spice in that presser than an Indian dish. There’s more heat in Miller’s words than a dutch oven under plastic covers. There’s more flame in those eyes than under Ken Bone’s seat. Ask the Pac-12 representative Miller “didn’t” berate but rather who was the closest in proximity as he screamed innocuously down a hallway. And then Goodman’s news broke and maybe this is the true holy shit of it all? We wound up with an officiating scandal that I had to digest in phases. $5k and a trip to Cancun is some watered down Illumanati action. And now replay the presser.

Jahii Drops 40 on The Strip

Adam – Sure it was a career high and sure the Devils needed every one of his double-score scoring output from Carson. That’s undoubtedly some MVP stuff. Carson connected on 16 of his 25 shots inside the Thomas and Mack and that’s a pretty damn efficient 40 points. But wait, there’s holy shit coming. Because the 5’10” Carson made 14 of those 16 shots as layups which basically just says to me that Carson stared down the Rebels and their 7 blocked shots per game to announce to everyone that, “I AM JAHIISUS. I AM SO GREAT THAT I HAVE FORCED HERB SENDEK OF SLOTH PACED OFFENSES TO COMPLETELY BURY THE FOUNDATION OF HIS OFFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY AND THE STYLE IN WHICH HE BUILT HIS CAREER IN ORDER TO KEEP HIS JOB AND LOCAL TALENT. AT LEAST HE CAN NO LONGER LAMENT JAMES HARDEN’S DEPARTURE. I AM JAHIISUS.” And then he beat Marquette in Tempe to secure the first Sun Devil win over a ranked opponent since before Todd Graham was associated with other coaching jobs. Harden, who?

Askia Booker Doesn’t Give a Jayhawk

Ben of Rumblinbuff.com – 

If safeties-free, all-balls performances like 17 points as a freshman in the NCAA Tournament, or a sizzling domination of a non-conference run in Charleston as a sophomore didn’t let you in on the secret, let me clue you in: Askia Booker was born to get buckets.  Important buckets.  Season-defining buckets.

So, when Kansas, dominator of all things Colorado Basketball for generations, makes the mistake of getting into a see-saw affair in the snake-pit-that-Tad-built, who else could CU turn to with the game on the line?  Not Josh Scott.  He’s too smooth, too nice.  Not Spencer Dinwiddie.  He’s too conventional, too ‘efficient.’

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No, you need insanity.  You need a player with no conscience, no understanding of the stage upon which he steps.  You need, to be brash, a player who does not give a f***.

Askia Booker does not give a f***.  Askia Booker gets buckets.

And so, 80-feet from the basket, with three seconds left on the clock against that team, the under-recruited dynamo from South LA – off-center goatee, and all – was the player in silver getting the ball.

One dribble, two.  Still too far from the hoop.  Better euro-step to cover some ground.  Square up, leap, let fly.

Watch the gif.  Count the fucks given by Booker.  There are none to be found.  After release, he just stands there, as if waiting for the oncoming train of noise.  Waiting for us, the fans, to realize what he has just pulled off.  He was born to hit that shot.  He was born to euro-step into that shot.

Almost four years ago, Colorado was in a similar situation against the hated Jayhawk.  Clock ticking down, tie game, ball in hand, CU had a shot to stun the #1 team in the land in the time-before-Tad.  In that moment, it was Cory Higgins who was called upon.  Higgins, the program’s co-leader in scoring, wasn’t up to the moment, and air-balled his dance with history.  Looking back, it all makes sense.

Booker is everything that Higgins is not.  Higgins was calm, cool, collected.  Indeed, sophisticated.  James Bond in shorts.  Booker is the junkyard dog, barking at everything in sight.    John McClane in Black and Gold.  Higgins may have been more talented, but Booker has the want, the need to hoop.  The balls to steal headlines from future NBA bonus babies.  The grit to walk across broken glass when needed.

I could twist myself in knots talking about how the game, the win, the shot meant something for Colorado, for Booker.  In the end, there’s nothing but the inbounds, the euro-step, and the pure, un-adulterated brashness of Ski and his moment.

Bucket gotten.

Mike Moser Leaves Las Vegas, Does Not Suffer Nic Cage-like Departure

Matt of AddictedtoQuack.com – Given Oregon’s lack of depth in the front court this season, the addition of a quality player like Mike Moser was definitely a wanted surprise to Duck fans.  Keeping him away from Washington was just an added bonus. Moser brings leadership, talent, and immediate play-ability to a position that was vacated by fan favorite, Arsalan Kazemi. Moser also fits perfectly into Dana Altman’s high-post wheel offense.  His ability to stretch the floor, handle the ball, and pull bigger defenders away from the hoop compliments Oregon’s guard focused offense. To say that Moser joining the Ducks this off season was a Holy Shit moment is putting it lightly.

Just this Dunk

Brad of Portland –  If you were watching that dunk you were like, HOLY-SHIT-KNOCK-KNOCK-WHO’S THERE-BOOOM-SHAKALAKA-F***-YOU-DARREN-SHARPER-HOLD MY DICK! Then you put a hand over your mouth, made a noise like you were watching Kevin Ware shoot a jumper in a regional final, and wept like you saw a double rainbow.

827051630RHJ doesn’t dunk his nigiri in the soy sauce, he slams that shit down so hard he cooks the fish. He is not a role model. Just because he can dunk a basketball does not mean he should raise your kid. Anyone raisin’ that kid is laughing their way to the bank faster than Earl Woods. The rest of us are just wiping our own kid off the Christmas card and sending a photo RHJ posterizing the entire Aggies basketball team instead.

RONDAE!
Larry Drew Two’s Icy Veins Meet Icy Shabazz
Adam – LD2’s season in and of itself was a giant surprise. He was the rock his coach couldn’t quite be and the his prima dona wing wouldn’t be. For all the heat he’d taken in leaving Carolina across 12-13 Drew was a leader and it was fun to watch. And then to see those who we cheer for and appreciate succeed is great! So as Drew took that pass and slashed through the lane and hit a fading, elbow jumper to sink the Dawgs and maintaining their spot atop the conference – the conference they’d go on to win – I was impressed and jaw dropped. Holy shit as it were.
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But in that gif you’ll notice the sulking shoulders of a neon shoed gentlemen. He’s left handed and was no where near a position to necessarily get a basketball with a waning clock and whining attitude. And yes I just said “whining attititude” which is the same crap my dad would drop on the Blue Rhinos – my 11-and-under baseball team.  Whiny attitude is a phrase reserved for juveniles but that’s about what not getting the ball when you want the ball equates to. It was the moment that perhaps personified everything that we didn’t know but felt UCLA’s season would become. Holy shit did he really just big league his own team off an icy cold buzzer beater? He did, and now it’s Steve Alford’s team (which was a holy shit in and of itself).
Two Teams AND Two Numbers
Adam – With two, citations of the number two, this. But when Oregon visited Pauley on Saturday January 19, 2013 it was the first Pac-12 Conference game featuring two ranked opponents since March 2009. What two words come to mind here? Holy and shit. Four years it took to get to this place and it was 21 vs. 24? And the road team won? Man oh man had this conference hit rock bottom. There would be just one more contest between ranked opponents that season (see: Ball, He Touched the)
What did we miss (lots no doubt)?
SeniorsGoodbye

Waxing Seniority: They’re Gone

I’ll miss them. You will, too. And with the wrap of this season, reality has sunk in that some of our favorites will move on. Cue the Vitamin C, it’s graduation time.

And this crop of seniors saw some stuff. They endured but did not define one of the worst stretches in Pac-12 hoops there’s ever been. By way of historical context I have none. But anecdotally can you tell me I’m wrong? These seniors saw the winner of their conference not play in the NCAA tournament. The Pac-12 was bad.

But they won’t be defined by this period of ineptitude. They’ll be defined by the fight we saw and the resilience we cheered. As a slew of fantastic writers boasted of their favorite seniors’ careers (all below), I was reminded that we’re not always fans for the wins and losses. We’re drawn to the human components of this game, the universal truths that we all struggle in an effort to succeed. Which is why it was so rewarding to see EJ Singler in his first Big Dance. And Solomon Hill lead down the home stretch. And see Brock Motum score 79 points in his final three games. And see the career transformation of Larry Drew II. And Joe Burton play the role of cultural ambassador.

Maybe they didn’t win any titles and reached just a single Elite 8 collectively, but they were the seniors of our teams and sometimes that’s about all we need to be a fan.

The 2012-13 Pac-12 Seniors – or at least those who were so kindly discussed by those who follow them closest for the Waxing Seniority series:

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The Dancing Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffs are playing in back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time since the ice ages. This is an impressive feat by Tad Boyle and his staff and kudos to them. Amongst all of the contenders in the conference to jump into that upper echelon of programs, Colorado was amongst the least likely but don’t tell Tad that. They’re right there as one of the toughest outs. The team they’re dancing with this year has some terrifying pieces that I believe few staffs out there want to prepare for. I mean – as I’m about to get in to – who wants to deal with a 6’6″ point guard? And we’re not talking about Cedric Bozeman.

Why I like them: At this point, who doesn’t like Spencer Dinwiddie? He gets to the rim with ease and draws fouls at faster rate than Marshall Henderson draws haters (17th highest FT rate in the nation). His game is supported by the best role player in the nation in Andre Roberson who may be underrated but certainly not on this blog. I’m also becoming an increasingly big fan of CU’s X-factor, Xavier Johnson. He brings energy and size off the wing that the Buffs miss with Chen on the floor. He’s definitely a difference maker as it’s no surprise they roll when he’s on.

Why I don’t like them: They’re young. Oh so very young and it shows in their inconsistent play. The roll Oregon then lose to Oregon State. They have some great, convincing wins but some frustrating and discouraging losses. Which team will show up in Austin?

Poetic Justice: The Buffs manage to knock off fellow enigmatic-crew, Illinois, and advance to the second round for the second straight year. Facing a very tough and veteran Miami squad, the Buffaloes manage to linger til the waning moments. Down a pair and with the ball, the clock swiftly approaching zeros, Sabatino Chen heaves a three. It drops. Monitors are not reviewed. Buffs to their first Sweet 16 in half of a century.

Best Case Scenario: The Buffs play their sound style of defense and out B1G the Illini. Spencer Dinwiddie indeed gets to the line because Illinois has a propensity to do such defensively. Roberson boards the hell out of the offensive end alongside Josh Scott and they Buffs roll. Against Miami, the Buffs tap their inner, youthful naivety while the veteran ‘Canes lock up under the pressure and immediacy of their fleeting careers. Dinwiddie has an OK game but disrupts Shane Larkin enough to spark offense from defense and awkward-body, Kenny Kadji, has a horrible game with P12 dPOY, Andre Roberson, all over him. The Buffaloes advance – as I said – to their first Sweet 16 since 1963 to face the once again Cinderella Butler Bulldogs. Well this time it’s Askia’s time to shine as he out Rotnei Clarke’s Rotnei Clarke and shoots the Buffs into the E8. The Elite Eight. But this is the unfortunate part of our story where the Buffs run into the Indiana Hoosiers and their depth of talent Colorado just can’t contend with. It’s a glorious run and Tad Boyle kills another bear.

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Waxing Seniority: Sabatino Chen

With the regular season now wrapped and the Pac-12’s seniors having played their final home games, we’re taking a tour across the conference and bidding this group of seniors farewell.

James Lucas is a contributor and moderator at AllBuffs. He’s an OG Buffs basketball fan and yet another great mind of basketball thought.

The first thing that has to be mentioned when discussing Sabatino Chen is the hair. His glorious, glorious hair. And I don’t say this mockingly as I rock the same hairdo as Tad Boyle (bald is beautiful dammit). I’m jealous. No matter what he does on the court, the hair stays the same – glorious and bouncing along.

The second thing that’s mentioned? The fact that this is a kid that almost no one wanted, and now he’s getting quality minutes (and starting over half the games this season) for a team that should be dancing in March. When Chen transferred to CU from Denver University, many complained pointing out that he barely got minutes on a team that was pretty bad. Their complaints were legit, but Tad Boyle once again proved that he’s smarter than everyone else as Chen slowly became a player that Buff fans learned to love. His hard-nosed defense and absolute fearlessness when it comes to guarding anyone endeared him.

This year, he took over the role of senior leader and has reportedly outworked almost everyone on the team. That work has paid off as this year his offensive game actually has a few solid elements to it. He’s predictable – when he gets the ball he’s either shooting a corner three, passing or doing a spin move to drive into the lane – but it works just enough that teams have to stay honest.

He’s worked hard to prove us all wrong, and is exactly the type of kid who makes college basketball fun. I’ll always remember him for two things while at CU. Obviously, the first is the hair – have I mentioned that it’s glorious? It is. The second?

 

 

GreatestSpectacle

Not So Pac-12 Awards: Greatest Spectacle

The season itself is a spectacle, full of unforeseen incidents, shocking results, and jaw droppers. Story lines unfold before us quicker than grandma with a cheetah on her back and can flush away what we knew yesterday like a flash flood.

Sometimes its like a car wreck where we can’t help but watch. Other times it’s a heartwarming tale, something that moves us to re-admit that we cry during Rudy. It can be controversy, rivalry, history, or a single moment that changes the course of a season.

The great spectacles of 2012-13:

The UCLA Situation

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From the outset of this season, Ben Howland and company were going to be watched with a keen and expectant eye. Collectively we knew his program was reeling. But he had garnered the second best recruiting class in the nation including the best high schooler in the country, Shabazz Muhammad. So when they were taken to overtime by UC-Irvine and then lost to Cal Poly, far greater than grumblings bubbled about Howland’s job. In fact, there were reports that he’d be dismissed mid-season. So yeah, when the most successful program in the sports history is talking about firing their HC, it’s a spectacle. And a pecuiliar one when that coach regroups to win the outright conference title. Which begs the question: Now what? We’ll see as this story will continue to be one of the bigger tales across the nation.

To the Monitors

SabatinoChenArizona

Pac-12 opening night. The undefeated Arizona Wildcats. The upstart Colorado Buffaloes. Arizona would win in overtime which is about the start of this story. A tale that’s still being cited as these two are poised to perhaps meet again in the Pac-12 Quarters. Alas, following Chen’s banked three, the monitors were visited and the decision made that the senior Buffalo didn’t get his game-winner off. And, like I said previously, the Wildcats won in overtime.

One Game, Two Rankings

Arsalan Kazemi, Larry Drew II

On Saturday, January 19, 2013, the #24 UCLA Bruins Hosted the #21 Oregon Ducks in Pauley Pavilion. Oregon would win the game but that’s not the news. What’s news is that this was the first contest featuring ranked Pac-12 opponents since March 2009. That’s a damn long time. And we still haven’t had another since that mid-January showdown. But Arizona and UCLA could collide in a colossal Pac-12 semi-final featuring #21 v #18. Whoa.

KO, KO’d. You, Cantu

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Despite a 2-2 conference mark and a drubbing of Utah, the sun rose on Monday and Kevin O’Neill was relieved of his duties as USC’s head coach. Long time assistant, Bob Cantu, was appointed the interim man and did an admirable job. Leading the Trojans to a seventh place finish. But the real conversation centers around what they’ll do following the season. The gig has been linked to some big names and some familiar names. Whatever the case, I think Pat Haden has the opportunity to make a big splash.

Her

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Not So Pac-12 Awards: Greatest Spectacle

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Sands of Time

Waxing Seniority: A Farewell Tour of Pac-12 Seniors

One of our favorite things about collegiate athletics is its fleeting immediacy. The players we cheer for, those who don our colors, are there for a predetermined and brief period. We enjoy their services for, at most, four seasons and then its on to their next venture. It’s quick, gone in what feels like a flash, and we’re then left with a new crop of talents to cheer, critique, and enjoy a new group.

But it’s this brevity that magnifies the relationship.

We know all too well of its finality that we’re further drawn to irrational levels of fandom. I love it. And now the seniors have now wrapped up their final home games. They will never play on their home court again. For this, I’m sad.

Because these are the guys we’ve followed since before they got to school and watched improve and watched succeed and watched fail and watched grow. They’ve embodied a lifecycle we appreciate and now is the time to usher them on and out.

For such, I’ve reached out to some of my favorite writers, bloggers, and fans in an effort to try and capture the feelings of this time of year. Both the bitter and the sweet.

So coming today and beyond, you will see the following seniors celebrated by those who’ve followed them close:

It’s a good crop we’re saying farewell to and a terrific group who have pieced together some remarkable, exciting, and fun careers.

Stay tuned.

MonitorsTucson

Is Colorado Still Reeling from the Monitors?

I love the momentum of sport. For all of our advanced stats and my sophomoric understanding of them, there is no way to quantify the ramifications of a fortuitous bounce, well-earned technical foul, or a botched whistle. Timeouts are used to slow it and, arguably, entire game strategies are executed to limit it. Have you watched a Bo Ryan game?

So when the stripes went to the monitors two weeks ago to examine whether or not Sabatino Chen had just beat the third ranked team in the country on their home floor, the Buff’s claim to momentum laid in the balances. They’d blown a big lead but were handed the chance to garner it all back as Chen banked home the proposed game winner.

The rest will become history.

Since that moment the Buffs are 1-4 and scratching their heads as to how they got here. Two days after that moment Colorado jumped out to an explosive 17-4 lead on the host Sun Devils and looked the part of a team that prepared to take care of business. But ASU would not go quietly and wound up grinding out a victory. For arguably the second straight game, momentum was ripped right out of Buffalo hands.

Against Arizona, in regulation, Tad’s team shot 10-15 from three. Terrific. For the season these Buffs have been limiting their total number of threes (I like) despite shooting a very respectable 36%. However, since those three men waved away from the monitors, Colorado is shooting 12-65 from distance. To be clear on two fronts: 1) that includes the Arizona overtime, and 2) the math suggests that is an abysmal 18%. I don’t love a reliance on the three point bucket but regardless of dependencies, a sub 1-in-5 success rate is not good begging the question, slump or fact? By my feeble attempt to quantify momentum, the Buffs seem to have lost it since it was snatched from their hands.

And watch a Colorado game. They don’t seem to be able to grab momentum when it’s ripe for the taking. Take last night for example: The Buffs came out playing staunch defense and were chipping away at UW’s eight point lead. They had it cut to five, allowing just five shot attempts for the Huskies in the opening five minutes. Comparatively the Buffs – who we’ve noted are having shooting issues – got up ten shots connecting on just one. Alas, all things defensive clicking and momentum at their fingertips…Scott Suggs…four…point…play. Momentum.

As it were today, it appears history was written that night in Tucson. Colorado has perhaps let the magnitude of that moment best them; not necessarily the mark of a champion. But the season is young still and momentum can turn on a dime; a shot here, a block there, a whistle, a bounce, an affirming gesture. Where it comes from no one knows.

So for the Buffs, momentum remains in the balances, the coveted and inexplicable asset. I suppose for some help we could ask CJ Wilcox about it.

 

ShabazzUCLA

Week 1 Pac-12 Hoops Review

Well, well, well. If it isn’t conference play back and in our Thursday/Saturday faces. I enjoyed a grand chunk of Pac-12 hoops this weekend and while I’m still on the fence about these Wednesday games, I can totally get behind Sunday games and I definitively don’t miss FSN. Did any of you catch the Civil War game last night? The game itself was alright, the Ducks showed off some scoring depth and acumen, while Oregon State sorta confirmed they’re defenseless. Alas, the point being, I was inundated with VALUES.com ads (are those even advertisements? PSAs?) like this one and I’m pretty certain that I now have no interest in passing anything on to anyone. Did you watch the video yet? WHAT IS THAT?

Back to the hoops because by Friday morning, every game had been within five-points with under five to play and I wasn’t hungover. By Sunday night, nearly the same! Saturday’s games had a moderate ho hum about them but offered us a glimpse into a world where maybe the Utah Utes aren’t abysmal and maybe UCLA is just a really good team that had some growing pains.

Alas, solid first weekend of conference play, let’s head to the monitors to take a look at it (too soon?):

Leader in the Clubhouse: Based on their body of work, one has to consider the undefeated Wildcats here but seeing as how this is more of a week to week commentary, I have to say UCLA was the most fear striking team out there. If we’re to take Sean Miller’s word for it and believe Arizona is approaching the number one ranking in KenPom’s luck rankings (they’re 36th), then I’m not entirely sure I’m willing to call Arizona a leader after that weekend. Not to say they aren’t good or definitely the best team in the conference, but UCLA handling the Bay schools was most impressive to me. What makes me cringe however, and gives merit to the claims that Howland’s program is a joyless one, was the expressionless Bruin faces after each victory. They appeared robotic rolling thru handshakes which doesn’t really get me feeling one way or the other, just maybe that this team makes it way through this fascinating season with mechanical efficiency. Slice it however you will and I’m probably looking far too deep into far too little. Of course, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good…

Game of the Weekend: That little tilt down in Tucson Thursday night sure was an interesting one. It was expected to be the biggest game of the first weekend on paper and lived up to the hype and would later have the sports media world abuzz. And this guy’s commentary. I’m not one for harping on officiating as it’s a difficult job, blah, blah, blah…and to blame the stripes over and over and over is without a doubt the biggest little brother move anyone can do. But man, that one sure appeared to be blown. Colorado was the benefactor of a last second officiating gaffe last year, this stuff happens. But the game itself was a tremendous display of defensive brilliance and effort by the Buffs who held Arizona’s big three of Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson, and Mark Lyons to just 2-18 shooting before the tone of the game switched and the Wildcats decided to make a comeback. That’s where we got to see Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons play like the vaunted seniors we expect them to be. They scored a combined 24 across regulation’s final nine minutes (that’s 17 more points than the team combined to score in the games first eleven minutes), and accounted for half of Arizona’s overtime output. That’s senior leadership and that’s how you do special things. The Wildcats escaped with another tight one that the Buffs just might be face-palming about later this season.

The Big Loser: The two biggest candidates here have got to be Colorado and Stanford as the only two-loss teams in the conference. I’d also consider throwing Washington State, USC and Oregon State’s names into the hat as they each now possess home losses. By my nature (grossly neurotic) decisions frighten me but I’m not inclined to call the Colorado Buffaloes losers this week. For a grand chunk of their time in McKale they were the better team and arguably had that one ripped out their hands. Their Tempe time was a little different and I really think ASU just beat them but if I’m Colorado, I have to think there are still enough positive takeaways to not be too down on this weekend. Also because Stanford kinda just got beat all weekend. They didn’t execute down the stretch against USC, a game they got 0/2/2 and 3 turnovers in just 15 minutes from Chasson Randle, and were just not nearly as good as UCLA. The Cardinal were a team I thought would be clicking a little better than they currently are. To be certain, they don’t appear to be a team all that pissed off for greatness.

What We Learned: I think this weekend went a long way in confirming the company line each coach has been pumping since August: The Conference is improved. Few if any have gone so far as to say the Pac is “good” but they can get behind “improved” which is basically saying that none of these teams historically suck again. A fact I think we are starting to see. Utah played two very tough games in Arizona and Jason Washburn and Jordan Loveridge appear to be the real deal. Arizona State took a couple shots from Colorado and, by games end, had flipped the defensive script on the Buffs and won the ball game. I have no resounding commentary on the Apple Cup rivalry other than it played out like a good rivalry game should and that those two (UW and WSU) aren’t going to be doing too much this season by way of getting the Pac considered “good.” But, on the whole, this is an improved conference.

Start of the Week YouTuber: All right, I’ll confess the following: 1) By posting a video surrounding the monitor mishap, I’m being a hypocrite and propagating an uncontrollable event from the past. But this video is great. 2) This is video is hosted by Vimeo and not YouTube. So sue me.

Arizona Colorado from DJ K3G on Vimeo.

 

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BB: The Monitor Mishap in McKale

Someone this morning asked me if I was in “Wildcat heaven.”

Without hesitation, not a second of doubt because I have no idea how to process what transpired on the court in McKale, I replied, “No.” That was a game in which Arizona didn’t hold a lead for 41-minutes. That’s not OK. It was a game gifted to the Wildcats by three men looking at something it appeared no one else saw.

That was one of the more interesting basketball games I’ve witnessed in some time as it was equal parts defensive beauty, offensive ineptitude, and raw drama of sport. In short: a clusterbang. The Monitor Mishap in McKale.

So as I mull more and more on this game I find less and less to take away from it. I’m only certain that there’s a faction of fans in Boulder, Colorado that are really pissed off and another in Tucson, Arizona that are really relieved.

And the latter faction comes under attack for “losing” that game. To that, being an Arizona fan, I say have that game. Take it. ‘Twas ugly and frustrating and I return to the previously used clusterbang and from a procedural standpoint I see no reason to be particularly happy about it as a Wildcat beyond the fact that it’s been confirmed you’d better put that arrow squarely and deeply into Arizona’s collective achilles if you intend to beat them.

A basketball season is too short to focus on the uncontrollable. Control what you can and be good at it. Today, the Wildcats get to control their preparation for the Utah Utes.

I suggest the Buffs focus on Arizona State.

Because the stage is now set for what Colorado fans are already calling the “Valentine’s Day Massacre.” They’ve set up a countdown (I love that) and are not all too happy with Thursday’s outcome. There will be a second squaring off following this controversial outcome inducing a Coors Event Center welcoming of Sean Miller’s squad that’s ear splitting and full of vitriol and contempt.

Like any good rivalry should.