Tag Archives: Carlon Brown

Colorado is Not the Pac-12 Torch Bearer

Colorado is the last remaining Pac-12 team playing relevant basketball in an abysmal Pac-12 season.

Many cheered as the Buffs defeated the Runnin’ Rebels. Applauding Tad Boyle and his group for representing their new conference with some sort of qualifying NCAA Tournament victory on behalf of the down conference.

Nah. Forget that.

The Buffs are carrying no such torch. They’re playing for Colorado because the only way you ever pull big things off is when you’re doing it for you.

Allow me to analogize for you.

The Biggest Loser: Chubsters conspire to lose weight and compete to become the biggest loser and win a quarter million bucks. The point here, is when you watch, each contestant has a similar sob story surround their weight gain and loss journey. The common thread of each of their failed attempts is, “I wanted to lose weight for me [insert closest family member here].”

Doesn’t work.

Once on the show transformations (both physical and mental) begin. The Losers begin to realize that they’re never going to get up off their couch/ass/excuses until they want to do it for themselves. Not for husband, wife, child, grandparent, dog, cat, neighbor, long time crush, nobody but numero uno.

And that’s what Tad Boyle is doing. Has to do.

Because there are no torch bearers. UConn won last year’s national title. Doesn’t excuse the fact that of the unprecedented eleven 2011 Big East entrants, just two played during the second weekend. And it shouldn’t effect Colorado’s standing that Arizona didn’t show up to the NIT, Cal to the play-in game, or the conference in general to the 2011-12 season.

We don’t even have to get all March Madness cliche about it and start talking about belief and trust and haters. Cause really, if you’re doing it because you’ve been hated on, you’re just going to wind up a bitter loser, forgotten amongst the countless others who’ve cited the critics that never were.

So do it up. Take it to your old conference foes, the Baylor Bears. Light it up brighter from distance the the hue of those Baylor unis. Get Carlon another thunder dunk and Austin Dufault another game.

And do it for you. Cause you’re the ones who are doing it. You’re the ones who will have done it.

The Best College Basketball Player

He’s probably a head short or a step slow. Most likely he plays well below the rim and they use words like heady, gutsy, and probably erratic, too when describing his game. Toss inconsistent into the adjective heap while you’re at it. Mind you, he’s not bad.

He runs the show, you see. He’s that senior, the one who – when he’s not on your team and sometimes even when he is – seems to be playing his sixth year of eligibility. You hate him for that. You love him for that.

That’s the best player in college basketball.

Not the two-guard or the dominant center, the one-and-done or the guy waving the towel. My favorite is that senior guard, the one who’s got the ball in his hands making decisions for better or worse.

And you know the shot.

The outlet pass out of a defensive rebound finds him curling right around the free throw line. He’s dribbling up the floor and has space. The home court is loud, urging his team once down eleven who’s cut it to five with four to play. And now that guard, the one who for three-and-a-half years you’ve seen high and low, whom you’ve loved and hated, is streaking up the court.

On the night he’s a few for a lot. Fading more than striking, but the lead is back in sight.

He crosses mid court, the opposition scrambling to their defensive assignments. For the briefest of moments, the soft handed big man is open on the far block. A good – not even great – pass would find him available for an easy pair, further cutting the lead. But that’s not his play because the ball is in his hands, the crowd swelling, the defense on its heels.

And that’s when it happens.

Full speed, under some semblance of control that can’t be fully comprehend until you’ve attempted it on your own time, he pulls up, elevating for the jump shot that you discourage with every conservative bone in your fan body. You hate him for it. You love him for it.

The odds say the shot isn’t going to fall. There’s absolutely nothing right about it. But he took the shot and it gets through the rim faster than any coach could find a sub. You’re grabbing a stranger and screaming before you understand what just happened. The suited man on the opposing bench is calling timeout, the roof is now off the building and that guy, the one with the ball in his hands making decisions for better or worse, hit that shot.

For what’s better than the ill-advised momentum changer?

When he was on my team, he went by Jason Gardner, Steve Kerr, Nic Wise, Salim, Jason Terry, and Reggie Geary. And you hated him. When I hated him his name was Richard Midgley, Ryan Appleby, Stanford guards of the 90’s and early 00’s, Derek Glasser, Aaron Brooks, Luke Ridnour, Darren Collison, Cameron Dollar, Tyus Edney, and I’m no doubt missing others.

Yeah you cringed and smiled a little reading that list. That’s ok, I hurt compiling it. But these guys are a staple of college basketball, a reason this game is great. And don’t be confused. This is no tribute to the little guy. This is a commentary on the back breaker that no coach would coach and the shot we all secretly love. The reality television of jumpers.

So who’s that guy this year?

To date, I’ve seen Zeek Jones carry the Bruin burden and done so with onions. Garret Sim broke Arizona’s back out of the corner in Tucson as part of a senior campaign that has him leading the conference in eFG%. Carlon Brown and Nate Tomlinson have fired daggers in Boulder, including a Duck hunter moment against Oregon. Jorge has been the quintessential ill-advised firer carrying Monty’s crew into first while Kyle Fogg and Devoe Joseph are willing their teams to wins down the stretch. No name on this list will wow you or be called out by David Stern. But I guarantee you’ll be screaming one of these names at the small, outdated and cornered television in your go-to bar that writes you off as loyal so long as you run up an appropriate tab.

Of note, Aaron Bright is well on his way to this list although just a sophomore.

And so here we are at the stretch run. Just six games remaining in an unpredictable Pac-12 season and a point at which legacies will be cemented, hearts broken, and a pack of teams will vie for a shot to dance – one shining moment if you will.

Who’s going to be the guy?

Week 6 Pac-12 Basketball Preview

This post also reads well at ryanrecker.com. He’s just posted two new podcasts and was mentioned on Howard Stern. Big league.

BREAKING: Stanford’s remaining home games will be moved to the Palo Alto Elementary School on the courts behind the permanent trailer next to the warmer of the two drinking fountains. Maples Pavilion will be used to safeguard Facebook employee windfalls.

OK, on to less enviable topics. The second half is here and, are you ready for it? The second bit of major news I’m going to drop on you in five lines of blog? A bold prediction:

“The Pac-12 will have three teams in the NCAA Tournament.”
– Me, 2/2/12

Yeah, I said it and I can name names of the people who think I’m insane. But I think it’s going to happen. A few things are going to have to play out but they’re not entirely outlandish: Cal and UW repeat their first halves, Arizona/Colorado/Oregon jumps to 7-2 with a little run through Staples (not necessarily winning it all). But that’s it for prognostication for if we learned anything in the first half of this season, the Pac is un-Nostrodomis-able.

So allow us to tip this second half off with a full slate of games on both Thursday and Saturday. The schedule.

TV Complaint: The aforementioned full slate of classic Conference of Champions Thursday/Saturday games will include three blackouts (25%). While this continues to be frustrating, rest assured that the unviewable games are being delegated to the unviewables (ASU, Utah, USC) unlike the days when great games went unaired (Cal @ UW). But let’s run with the positivity bender dripping off my three-bid prognostication. Washington will be making their second straight appearance on ESPN Thursday night as UCLA comes for a visit and the games you’re going to want to see (AZ-Cal/Stanford, CU-Oregon) will be aired on the one and only Fox SportsNet. If the weather’s unfavorable, find yourself a cable, a cold one, and tweet me, I’ll be in Berkeley then Palo Alto.

Game of the Weekend: I think this one is an under-the-radar doozy. While everyone else is sleeping on the Pac-12 (or raining on it), Colorado and Oregon are legitimately fighting for a spot in the dance. The 6-3 foes (as of today and this entire segment may be for naught should either lose tonight), soundly in second place, have each sustained losses to the conference leaders and one lesser foe (UO lost to OSU at home, CU lost at UCLA), while maintaining an air of uncertainty about them. Can Boyle’s Boys win on the road? How far can Dana’s Ducks ride the hot hands of their seniors? Can either of these second year coaches really have this competitive of a team? So much questions and that is why they play the games. This particularly telling game will be played Saturday evening on the Root Network. It features two of my favorite players in the conference: Devoe Joseph and Carlon Brown. These two transfer seniors are playing like they’ve been in green/yellow and gold/black, respectively, for four years and are carrying their teams through bridge seasons. The under appreciated senior guard is perhaps my favorite position in sports and these two are about as fun as they get.

Game to Avoid: I’ve previously promised not to rain on the unviewables and seeing as how the majority of their games will not be on TV this weekend, I’ll pick on just one of the lowly three, ASU. But it shouldn’t be their fault that things, from an athletic standpoint, have fallen apart down on the farm. ASU should not bear the grunt for no one going to the Stanford-ASU game as no one goes to games down there. Uggh, it’s even frustrating to type it. Here’s the view from last year’s Arizona-Stanford game:

Where's Tiger?

And Arizona was good! Alas, if no one’s going to go to the game, then no one should watch the game. Toss in the fact that Stanford has lost three straight and is losing steam, I’d recommend passing on the Cardinal Thursday night.

Something to Prove: For all the noise they’ve made for not winning games, the UCLA Bruins have a shot to win a few additional games (preferably not at their makeshift homes) and make a little something of this presumably lost season. They’ll of course have to kickoff this half of the season on the road with all eyes on them. ESPN has picked up their game against Washington so there will be nowhere for big Josh Smith, the Bruins’ three point ineptitude, and lack of guard depth to hide. Not to mention the Huskies are playing some pretty solid ball these days. UCLA isn’t a miserably bad team, they’re just a team that doesn’t quite have an identity – the same holds true for much of this conference. But for the Bruins to indeed do something about their season with nine to play, they’re going to have to work for it. It’ll have to start on the road and what better place than Sea-town?

Something to Lose: The Block, Part II put UW back into the conversations they used to be a part of as one of the most talented teams in the conference if not coast. Have you seen Terrence Ross play? Did you notice the way Tony Wroten commands the floor? Woof this team is good and they’re hot as a pistol after leaving Tucson. But their season may still be a little bit like this tweet from their football coach. Odd, no? Alas, I’m buying Husky stock because they have a cakewalk of a second half schedule. They don’t play either of the Bay schools, already made the Ski and Desert trips, and play an unviewable or WSU or OSU in five of their final nine. So while I build ’em up, build ’em up, build ’em up, allow me to ask: am I setting them up for failure? Have they set themselves up for failure? He may have the court presence of a Greek God but Wroten can’t turn the ball over five times a game if he’s going to have the ball for more than a third of UW’s possessions. And Terrence Ross, the talent-of-talents, cannot disappear like he has. CJ Wilcox didn’t practice this week with a sore foot (he’d missed three games with the injury before playing in Arizona) but this team could use him back. Like I’ve said, this team ain’t bad – at all – but they’re still a LoRo team and a home split to the LA schools would not behoove the impression of Washington’s legitimacy and certainly not their resume. I’ll decide on some special award for the first team not named Utah to lose to USC.

Weekend YouTuber: Oh that furry little chubster is going to crawl out of his burrow and see something but it’s generally irrelevant because we’re here on the best coast and it’s probably sunny and warm where you’re at or sunny and ski-worthy. There may be just a single win over a top-50 RPI squad but at least we’re not in Pittsburgh. Plus, Bill Murray’s kid was on the Arizona staff for a bit. Everyone’s a winner when there’s more Bill Murray:

Cal is the favorite, CU is real, and Other Haas Discoveries

I went to the showdown at Haas on Thursday night with a good crew and discovered a few things.

  1. Cal is not a basketball school
  2. Colorado is for real
  3. Soft pretzel trumps nachos
  4. The best Haas Pavilion parking spot
  5. Andre Roberson will be drafted in 2013

It was indeed a great night and now I’ll elaborate, discovery-by-discovery.

1. Cal is not a basketball school – Granted, it was a late start (8pm) but it was also the Thursday before a three day weekend so who was really going to get any work done Friday? Haas got to about 65% capacity with first place on the line and rarely recognized their cheering moments. The crowd’s greatest effort to get into the game came with a West-to-East: “GO!” … “BEARS!” call and response. This got the volume up and the fans approaching vertical but it also came as Allen Crabbe toed the line at a critical juncture in this battle of conference leaders. Bad timing if you ask me. But the Cal fans were comfortable and looked good. Thusly fulfilling the goal of the arena/pavilion’s namesake, Walter A. Haas, Jr. the philanthropic San Franciscan who ran Levi Strauss for some twenty years. However, I firmly believe that Monty will begin putting butts in the seats just like Haas made butts look good in jeans. He’s got a good thing going in Berkeley and it’s a fan base that I believe wants to erupt.

2. Colorado is for real – In an interview with Jeff Eisenberg, Tad Boyle said he wanted his team to play defense and rebound to remain atop the conference. He didn’t mention that he wanted to shoot the ball well or not turn the ball over – both of which his team didn’t do Thursday night. Getting back to the his remarks, Boyle’s Boys play some tight defense and move well. It may not be the prettiest brand of basketball but Carlon Brown has some skills and there is a supporting group there understanding their supplementary roles to the Brown-show. Andre Roberson fills in nicely for any defensively minded team as he’s incredibly versatile on that side of the ball. I like that the Buffs are making the Ski Trip a lot more than a bunny slope and I think – particularly considering their forthcoming recruiting class – that Colorado is for real for 2012 and beyond. Welcome to the conference.

3. Soft pretzel trumps nachos – This may be a given but when your diet for the day consisted of coffee, a scone, animal crackers, and some beers, soft pretzel definitively trumps nachos. The key here, of course, is to garner a bite-for-cheese agreement. If you can pull this off – and I did – you’re in the money. This purchase got me through to the post game meal at Triple Rock Brewery; a must if you’re ever in Berkeley and a need if you haven’t eaten all day. Try the A-B-S burger and the IPA. Legit.

4. The best Haas Pavilion parking spot – Not telling.

5. Andre Roberson will be drafted in 2013 – Sure, this too may be a given but to see him in person is to see what scouts talk about when they talk about length. He can grab anything. The lanky sophomore swallowed fourteen boards and guarded nearly every position on the floor. Athleticism for days. He had a tip dunk where he appeared to hover for half the shot clock awaiting the ball out of the cylinder (debatable whether he waited long enough but filthy nonetheless). He highlighted his night, however, late in the second half with a drawn up isolation play from the wing. The Buffs cleared out and Roberson used a jab then drive for an easy layup. It was impressive and demonstrated just what how high a ceiling he has. His shot is less than pretty but he has time still (I did say 2013, yeah?). Worth noting in this section is the block Carlon Brown put on the Bears during a fastbreak. There unfortunately isn’t any footage I could find (someone in this league has gotta get ranked) but anytime someone gets pinned above the square it’s gotta get mentioned.

Week 3 Pac-12 Preview

So we’ve kicked off another weekend of Pac-12 performances with a shaky UW home outing against crosstown rival Seattle U and their rounding coach, Cameron Dollar. It was a three-point game with as little as 1:27 left but winning is winning and the Pac-12 has put hefty beer goggles on the eye ball test so we’ll agree to just add it to the “W” column and move on. Next.

The schedule.

TV Complaint: As well as I can see, it appears every game this week will have television representation. That is something to celebrate but begs the question: what the hell is Root TV? I’ve seen it peppered all over the TV schedule and when googling said network (can we call it that?) it’s a page 2 result. But here’s what I managed to find out. Root TV is the renamed network of Fox Sports Northwest. Of course, right? Regardless, I don’t get it on my cable package which I just realized popped out of the introductory rate and is running us $150/month. So I pay an arm and a leg for regional broadcasting of University of San Francisco games. The same USF holding a win and OT loss to Pac-12 beaters, Northern Arizona and Loyola Marymount. Am I the big winner? No. We’re all still subjected to FSN or whatever name they want to call themselves. Losers, every last one of us.

Game of the Weekend: Presumed favorite hosts first place team. This is an obvious choice until you plug in the names. While Cal (presumed favorite) will likely play in a majority of the league’s intriguing games this season, did you think Colorado would exclusively hold first place? Ever? Anyhow, this game takes top billing because we’re going to get to see what the Buffs are made of – more on that later. For the meantime, let’s mention that this league is Cal’s for the taking. As we mentioned last week, holding serve at home is imperative and Monty’s crew is as prepped as any to do such. Important is the healthy return of Richard Solomon. The sophomore big has been sidelined for two of Cal’s four losses and played just eleven minutes in another (yes, he played in the Mizzou blowout). The Bears don’t seem to have much issue on the perimeter (I’d take Jorge, Crabbe, and Cobbs for my squad) and lead the conference in A/T ratio (1.6), but rank 9th in conference play in rebounding percentage; just two percentage points ahead of ASU who has played two conference games with only six scholarship players. So back to Solomon, a dude averaging 6.6 boards per game, the Bears could use him because, in case you hadn’t noticed, Andre Roberson is a vacuum (11.7 rpg). But regardless of advanced or remedial stats, I cannot see the Bears losing this one.

Game to Avoid: Don’t watch Washington State’s visit to Seattle. Sure it’s a rivalry game but why tune in to watch Tony Wroten dribble around or Faisal Aden miss shots? The Huskies have the 292nd best assist rate in the NCAA and turn the ball over at an 18% clip (274th in the country). HOLY BLACK HOLE, BATMAN! To address Aden, I present to you this EXCLUSIVE from CougCenter. Toss in that the game will overlap in part with the Packers-Giants game and I ask, why waste your Sunday evening? Look, I’m as big a Brock Motum fan as there is but he’s not worth the price of admission. You know who is? The guy once thought to be the best player in the conference, Terrence Ross. Well right now he’s the third best player on his team so I’m going to hold out until Ross decides to show up. When he does, it’ll look something like this. Oh, it also would be nice if Abdul Gaddy did more in his 33mpg (12.4 PER vs. average of 15).

Something to Prove: The Colorado Buffaloes have painted a target on their chest and let’s see how they wear it. They travel to the Bay Area for the toughest Pac-12 trip of the season and their first road games of the conference season. The Buffs also started 3-0 in Big-12 play last season before losing seven of the following nine. Could Boyle’s boys learn from last year’s flop? That streak likely cost CU a chance to dance and no doubt that was bitter. While this team was picked to finish eleventh (still could) in the conference, they currently sit atop it. Heavy weighs the crown and it will be interesting to see how the Mile High Hoopers handle Bay altitude. If they’re indeed going to focus on defense and rebounding – and they have in collecting these last three wins – someone’s going to have to fill it up on the other end. Enter, Carlon Brown. The red hot senior is as good as anyone; shooting 60% from the field in Colorado’s last six games (all at home, mind you). So, let’s see how he and his teammates handle the road.

Something to Lose: If we’re indeed going to annoint a weekly team du jour (contradictory, I realize, between english and french but you get my point), last week it was UCLA for their sweep of the Arizona schools. For such, UCLA finds itself in an intriguing trap game against USC. It’s one of those games they’re supposed to win but no one will bat an eye if they do. However, should they lose, well, the program is back in shambles as Howland remains bereft of his team’s attention continuing the Bruin spiral into out-of-Pauley obscurity culminating in the joint firings of Howland and Guerrero. Also, USC isn’t good. Let’s get that straight. But they play a style of basketball that no doubt keeps them in games and could emerge as a major thorn for a team (UCLA) that has had some focus issues. To boot, the Bruins have lost four of the last five to Kevin O’Neill’s scoreless wonders. The best news for the Bruins is that Josh Smith recently ran three miles according to Coach Howland and the Galen Center is just one-half mile from the Sports Arena. Run Josh, run!

Weekend YouTuber: Some would argue that the Pac-12 is in a free fall. I’d remind you that both Arizona has the top recruiting class in the nation with UCLA and Colorado rolling in at 15 and 25, respectively. The Bruins could quickly shoot up those rankings should they garner a long anticipated commitment from top recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, but free falling doesn’t look that bad, right?