I have this sneaking suspicion that Saturdayís game against Colorado and Utah is going to be a slow one. There wonít be many possessions and the score will be low. This is neither a bad thing nor a good thing itís just my guess Ė educated as it may or may not be Ė that Iíll try to explain.
First of all, if we look at the historical matchup of this rivalry that I donít know what to call (though in my Week 5 Preview I list options of which my favorite is the Ski Skirmish), the games have generally been low scoring. And by the way, when I say ďhistoricalĒ I mean as pieces of the Conference of Champions. Thatís as deep as PacHoopsí research intern will go (you get what you pay for). Aside from last season, this has been a lopsided affair. Everyone took their whacks at Utah in Pac-12 year 1 so we can sort of dismiss it that although it did happen. Point is, on average, when a Larry K team plays a Roll Tad team, neither squad seems to break 60 points. Utah, in fact, has barely broached the 50 point barrier. In one matchup, they scored just 33 points which unfortunately for them coincided with CUís best offensive output in the series (73).
Thatís the historical side of things and it does seem to establish a precedent for my hypothesis. And itís a hypothesis founded on what I saw from both teams last weekend. First of all, I noticed that Utah was generally in no rush to get shots up. Against Arizona, the Utes took nearly 30% of their offense 30 seconds into the possession or later. Thatís an insanely high amount but it would seem Utah has a certain comfort there. Theyíre already taking 12.7% of their offense deep into the shot clock. They also do an alright job at it, too: 43.3% eFG. Now itís difficult to contextualize those numbers so I ask you to trust me.
Wait Ė whatís that? Ė you wonít? Ugh, fine.
Utahís 12.7% of tardy offense is the second latest in the conference; sooner only than Washington Stateís astounding 17.7%. My analysis of the latter is: WSU sucks. The eFG% the Utes put up is 7th best in the conference so itís a somewhat ignorable factor. Point is, Larryís team takse their sweet time to get a shot up and Tadís team has no problem forcing that. This yearís Buffalo defense forces 10.5% of shots close to zeros. Against the Buffs last season, 12 of 99 field goal attempts came of the late varietal which is about par for the Ute course.
Further on the CU side of things, with Dinwiddie out, the Buffs are without their most effective transition player. The Mayor was putting up a 67% eFG in transition and had assisted on 29 baskets on the move. He was generating steals which further fed the Buffalo transition game Ė a vital part of CUís offense. But thatís gone now and I think a more deliberate approach is forthcoming. The numbers are slowly starting to suggest it. Theyíve put up below average possessions in the last two games. Sure itís a small sample set but it did happen (JG is quick to note that tempo/pace decreases in conference play anyways). But itís my believe that itís in the Buffsí best interest to be more deliberate, pensive, and exact in their offense. Even without Dinwiddie, the defense has been fine. They held UCLA to below one point per possession which is an accomplishment in and of itself while also keeping Arizona and ASU below their offensive norms.
Two of Coloradoís most potent offensive weapons are Askia Booker and Josh Scott; both of whom are more effective scorers in the half-court set. First of all, Booker leads the team in shots in transition but effectively shoots below 50% on those shots. We arenít soon to call Booker a great decision maker and his new role on this team is one that needs him to be a better decision maker. Heís proven he can play more of a facilitator role but it might be best suited for the half-court. After all, Josh Scott leads the team with a 52% eFG not in transition. Sure his FG% is higher in transition but 18.3% of CUís transition O is initiated off of a rebound. Who leads the Buffs in rebounding? Josh Scott. So itís less likely that heís getting those touches. Slow the game down and get Jelly the Rock. I wrote about how UCLA uses its defense as an opportunistic means to its transition offense, a practice the Buffaloes already follow. But the strategy may have to be adjusted for personnel and how to get the most out of them.
As Bob Dylan said, ďThe times, they are a-changiní,Ē and so too is the pace. Saturday should be a good example of the new-look Buffs