Adam Butler Maybe this is the lost year. The recoverable mess that falls upon us because dammit sports happen. We can read every predictive, analytical model that exists but the Giants still won the 2007 Super Bowl; Kevin Durant was the second pick of the 2007 NBA draft; we browse on FireFox; and Utah advanced to the 1998 Final Four. When sports happens on a macro level it’s unforgettable. Other times it can just happen over the course of one year and that can be a long drain, an emotional suck that begs you to question the fabric of your fandom. Fundamental questions like HOW? And WHY? And DAFAKWASTHAT? Become staples in your texts, emails, posts, and over-beer conversations. It sucks. Never is the axiom “marathon not a sprint” more true. I’m sorry, Colorado Basketball. This year has been one of those. Expectations were high from so many angles and it’s come to this. But what is this? Is it a program satisfied with its previous four seasons? A quartet of campaigns that saw unprecedented levels of Buffalo success: 3 NCAA invites, 92 wins, three draft picks, a Pac-12 tournament crown. Is that now the bar or anomalistic euphoria? I suspect the former would be preferable each November. It’s more fun, more encouraging and exciting. Winning is awesome. Which is why this season has stunk. Colorado hasn’t won like it was before. Winning is both awesome and addictive. The problem is that winning can’t be readily acquired the way other addictive substance can. Dammit, sports happen! So which is the anomaly? 92 wins in four years, or this year’s 12? Some of what we’ve frightfully seen has suggested the latter. We don’t like that. The younger players perhaps haven’t improved the way we’d like; the elders maybe haven’t led the we’d preferr. A win-loss record of 12-14 is disappointing no matter how you slice it. To answer the question, however, let’s visit a familiar foe. “It’s unfair to judge their team by this year because they haven’t been at full strength until now. Because of that our players respect their players. We respect their team,” said Sean Miller. Interpret that as you may but he’s not wrong. You know this. Colorado has been “decimated” (another Miller word) by injuries. Whether his comments are directed at his own team – a group prone to losing focus and dropping winnable games on the road – to maintain interest preceding a huge game in Salt Lake or otherwise, the fact remains: Colorado has been a shell of itself at times this season. Tad Boyle has had his coaching hands full and it hasn’t been easy. At a program level the expectation is always to win. This year expectations haven’t necessarily been met. Maybe the disappointment is good? It’s a reminder of what could be and where the program wants to be. Bitterness burns deep. Sure, we’re just fans with no effect on the outcome of a game but I don’t think those sentiments land too far outside of jerseys. These feelings and expectations are in locker rooms and weight rooms and weigh heavily on the minds of kids who signed up to forego their Spring Break for a basketball tournament. Because this season is still happening, pride, if nothing else, is still in order. That’s a very real thing. Ask Syracuse about it. In trying to answer which win total is the anomaly, I think Tad Boyle has a tremendous learning opportunity. A chance to grow as a coach and program. To understand how he reacts to his first taste of failure in Boulder. But those these questions won’t soon be answered. The off-season – no matter the results of your season – is long and we’re not there yet. That’s still good. Because sports do happen. Because there’s still a Red Letter Game to be played. And because this is Askia Booker’s last hoorah and Xavier Johnson is still just 5-21 with a DNP against Arizona since saying the #1 team in the country wasn’t all that good. And because Xavier Talton said they’re gonna win this one. Sports happen. So do the Buffs have a chance?