We’re finally previewing the Pac-12. This week, the last before games actually tip, I’ll post two previews of travel mates (i.e. UW and WSU will appear in the same post) and, in the interest of being fully prepared for Friday’s hoop joy, I’ll post two-a-day. Thus the title. Although it’s 4 previews-a-day. Regardless. Enjoy. (Other school previews)
Has Tad Boyle built a program? There’s a big distinction between programs and individual teams, collections of talent that achieve something nice. Chauncey Billups’ Buffs? Team. Mark Few at Gonzaga? Program. Follow? In the latter half of this post we’ll explore Larry Krystkowiak’s program. It’s a good one. But for now, what do we make of Boyle’s six years in Boulder? At the surface, they’re great. Some readers have suggested statues. That’s a little much but four dances in six years isn’t just unprecedented out of The Keg, it’s – well – statue conjuring. So in considering Boyle’s program, this is a critical year. We could excuse a chunk of the past to Josh Scott; a local talent who blossomed into a transcendent player. He was fantastic. An All-Time Buff. But J40 isn’t suiting up in 2017. And what we’re left with, according to resident CU expert Ben Burrows in his monster CU preview, is:
I get the feeling that this, finally, is what the ideal Tad Boyle roster is supposed to look like.
If that’s indeed the case, we’ll have a really good feel for what the Tad Boyle program looks like and likely further optimism oozing out of Boulder.
Last season on The [other] Rise
We did it! Or rather they did, the twelve teams of the Pac, completed their regular season. And how about those seniors? Andrews for 47, a week earlier it was Scott as the P12 POW, and then Gabe York going full Steph Curry Bryn Forbes for us.
Alas, we’ve come to the end of scheduled play and our last power rankings. If you’ve followed for all 17 of these posts, here’s what it’s tracked like:
It took the ending of a 49-game home win streak to avoid having a 6-way tie for first place. It’s that kind of year in the Pac-12. Yet as far as I can tell, no one in Eugene cares. We’re halfway home and despite all the crazy talk this one feels pretty wrapped up. Maybe I’m crazy but Oregon seems the best, Utah seems the hottest, and WSU seems the worst. Maybe those are my mid-season superlatives with a hat-tip to Andrew Andrews.
Let’s cut straight to the criticisms: few players have made marked improvements in the Tad Boyle program. There have been some – even three NBA draft picks – but with regards to making an individual “leap,” we qualitatively and quantitatively haven’t seen much. It’s concerning and it draws my attention to Dom Collier. It wasn’t the glamorous freshman campaign we might’ve expected. So unglamorous that Xavier Talton ticked big minutes at the point guard spot despite an 83.4 ORtg. That’s bad. So combine this with a team that already wasn’t overwhelmingly talented and the loss of arguably CU’s most dynamic player, Xavier Johnson (achilles), and I’m not high on CU hoops. But I’m an optimist. Not Rothstein-ian, but when examining rosters in the fall, the spirit ought be hopeful. Josh Scott is healthy and the Buffs have called a spade a spade: last season was a nightmare. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. The Buffs know it. Now what they do about it – or what they’ve done about it, rather – should manifest on and off the court. Maybe the season’s future isn’t bright, but this season should have a lot more external (as opposed to internal) fight.
Why I love them
With the end approaching, I’m curious if that means we begin to see true colors. Careers are winding down and the significance of everything is seemingly magnified. And for as much as we want to believe that a mid-January game holds equal bearing to a late-February contest, we just know that’s not the case. Furthermore, the calendar changed. It’s March, the universal excuse for madness to ensue. So naturally Arizona won another Pac-12 Title. Who’s ready for brackets?
Arizona and Colorado will square off for the eleventh time in three seasons tonight. Ben Burrows knows Colorado basketball the way you know your seventh grade crush’s class schedule: he’s on their every move. This is may be our fifth iteration of a Rumblin Buff-PacHoops Q&A and it’s the first time that we find ourselves with a Colorado team that’s really struggling. For their entire Pac-12 lives, CU has been pretty damn good. This year it’s been an unfortunate not so much. Let’s ask Ben – the genius behind The Rumblings of a Deranged Buffalo – about it:
What happened to 2015?
With high spirits considering I knew the entire episode was recorded, I was delighted to see things open with Snoop saying, “We Bruins now.” How could this not be a great episode? I guess setting high expectations is a tough proposition for Colorado.
Alas, what I’d come to discover is that what I missed in mis-DVR’ing the final four minutes was just a power-reel through the most recent weekend of games. We less-than-enthusiastically got to re-live UCLAs sweep of the Ski schools and Askia’s 43. Meh. Continue reading
The game of the year was played this week and it wasn’t in Seattle (I see you, Russ) and it wasn’t in Tucson (though I see you, Stanley). If on Wednesday I’d written that the GotW was going to be played during #Pac12AfterDark in Pullman, you’d have thought me crazy. But Ernie got his first win over his old team and it was full on crazy. Further, Arizona rolled up on Utah just to remind everyone where the Pac-12 is won. February 28, however. The one thing that delivered on its promise of greatness was Bilas-Walton on Thursday night. They talked about medicine and got into creationism. The duo delivered.
It’s a frustrating game and there are a lot of ways your team can frustrate you. From anything that happens on the court to the litany of things they screw up off of it. It’s the curse of fandom. And maybe you’re an optimist – see growth opportunities in a failed in-bounds or benching due to tardiness. Bless you and may that spirit take you far.
Of course one of the most frustrating things is when your team is struggling. When they just seem to suck but you can’t really figure out why. You can’t quantify it, there’s just a feeling – effing feelings – but you know it and the slouched shoulders aren’t helping. Neither is the scoreboard.
That’s maybe the feeling for Colorado right now. Continue reading