The Wildcats are appropriately seeded as a #2. You can’t lose to the 100th, 117th, and 70th KenPom rated teams (104, 131, and 102 by RPI) while the rest of the elites are dropping games like “Duke,” “Georgetown,” or “no-losses-whatsoever.” It’s just how it goes. Besides, the West is what was most important to this group. But let’s also not ignor the fact that since getting that crap out of their system, the Wildcats have destroyed teams. Obliterated. They enter this tournament hotter than any summer-in-Tucson analogy I could come up with. Gander this chart summarizing each of the top eight seeds in their last eleven games:
Make no bones about it, last night was a scare for Buffs nation amidst a week of turmoil in Boulder. What with Jon Embree being fired after two failed seasons and Bill McCartney ranting on it, hoops-Texas Southern was to be a welcome distraction.
Instead it appeared to involve a distracted Buffaloes squad. Their first contest as a ranked team since 1997 did not go as planned. Perhaps it was the football turmoil or the new found hype or a Thanksgiving hangover, whatever it was, the Buffs weren’t sharp. But they won and we won’t dwell on the details. If that’s my team, I get them in a dark room, re-watch the game, turn the lights on and rhetorically ask, “Is that the team you want to be?” Then go back to business as usual.
And speaking of business, Josh Scott is taking care of his (in case you were wondering that will be the main focus of the rest of this post).
Over the summer I’d speak at length with friends about the expectations of freshmen bigs. They’re always lofty expectations because size is an unteachable asset and to acquire such for your basketball team is a gift. Ask Sean Miller if he’ll ever have a team with a 6’7″ center again and he’ll likely slap you. So when the heralded Scott committed to CU, expectations, curiosity, and excitement piqued.
At AllBuffs, my pal James, got comprehensive about it. He went through the last three recruiting classes, picked out each of the Top-50 bigs then examined their numbers. As it were, 8 and 5 was the average output (check out the full analysis). This, in my opinion, is a reasonable expectation for a pup center and frankly very helpful to any basketball team.
Josh Scott – six games deep – is putting up 15/7. If diesel stats (that’s what we’re calling per game stats) don’t do it for you, then let’s get sabermetric or advanced, whatever it’s called on a basketball court. Scott’s ORtg is 120.4 (high), his TO% is 11.2 (low), FTRate 74.1 (very high), and his rebound (offensive and defensive) are competitive (particularly on the O side). That’s a lot of advanced statistics and if you’re anything like me, you need it translated. Allow me:
- High ORtg: Give Josh ball, Josh score ball
- Low TO%: Give Josh ball, Josh keep ball
- High FTRate: Give Josh ball, Josh shoot FT (and makes at a 75% clip)
- High Rebound %: Ball shot, Josh grab ball more than you
Clearer now? It is for me in understanding that Josh Scott has been a colossal part of CU’s early success. He’s exceeded the Top-50 expectations to date and if that’s to be our barometer, we would expect to see Scott come back down to earth.
Josh Scott won’t be coming back to earth because he’s on another planet. Am I raising expectations? No. He’s already met the cap on that and I expect him to continue to improve and I expect him to have some bad games. He’s a freshman and he’s a human and he’s the lone formidable big on the Buff’s roster. There will be a game in which the foul monster swallows him. Whatever. In six competitive games, he’s displayed an ability beyond his years and that’s got to have Tad and others smiling.
Hell, I asked Andre Roberson what kind of impact Josh would have on his game and he told me, “Scott’s going to take a lot of pressure off of me. He’s a great scorer…there’s going to be a lot of help for me on the inside.” Hold up. Did the country’s best rebounder and one of its top athletes just say he’s got more help? Sans help Roberson put up 11 and 11. With help? He’s just going to get better.
Josh Scott makes things better.
So Texas Southern happened; but it was a win now in the rear-view mirror. It won’t be mentioned on Selection Sunday and it will be used as a reminder of what happens when you play like a lollygagger.