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William Whelan for AllBuffs: I’m just confused

Discussion in 'Colorado Basketball Message Board' started by allbuffs, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. allbuffs

    allbuffs Administrator

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    BOULDER, Colo. – After Colorado’s home trouncing of Auburn last Monday, I sent an email to my trusty publishers at AllBuffs to let them know that on Sunday, I’d have a three-game review ready.

    The point of waiting five days after the Buffs’ late night win was to get a glimpse of what this team really was three games into the season. Getting a look at them during their first road trip of the year in a hostile environment, I believed, would give us a bit of clarity.

    Instead, I’m just confused.

    On one hand, Saturday’s 56-33 loss to Wyoming was possibly the worst performance of the Tad Boyle era, with full acknowledgments to the team’s dud in the NCAA Tournament last March. The Pittsburgh team that bullied the Buffs into submission last season was a mature, deep and physical team that simply over powered a CU group that hadn’t been the same since Spencer Dinwiddie went down earlier in the season. That Pittsburgh team was better than yesterday’s Wyoming team.

    Yes, Laramie is a tough environment for Colorado. Yes, getting blown out on national television during the biggest weekend of the college hoops season is none too good for you psyche. But yesterday was not supposed to go down like that.

    On the other hand, Boyle has struggled against Wyoming during his time in Boulder. Four games in the books and the Cowboys’ tempo continues to elude him. The Buffs have gone on to have successful seasons despite losing to their MWC neighbors to the far north. So…maybe it’s not a big deal?

    Whichever side of the fence you’re on, there’s a number of issues that have popped up through three games that must be dealt with.

    1.) Josh Scott was supposed to be a modern day, zone breaking big man with his ability to operate out of the high post. Instead, we saw the guards either make little effort to find him in soft spots the defense provided, or they were too busy allowing Xavier Johnson to rain long jumpers—in fairness to XJ, he’s hitting 44% from deep, so this is not meant to be a dig at him—to notice how open Scott was about 10,000 times in the first half. Beating a zone, in theory, comes down to three things. First, you’ve got to be able to hit shots from beyond the arc. Second, there has to be a concerted effort, and a successful one, to get the ball into the middle of the zone, finding soft spots in the short corner, deep corner and allowing space for a niche jumper from the elbow. Lastly, offensive rebounding has to be paramount. Against the Cowboys, none of those things happened. Xavier Talton shooting a single trey against a zone is not going to cut it. Wesley Gordon taking three shots against a zone is not going to cut it. The coaching staff must demand their guards, who I’ll deal with in a minute, to run their zone offense through Scott, wherever he is on the court. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see this team struggle against teams who want to muck it up, and try to steal one in sloppy fashion.

    2.) This team has gaping hole at the point guard position, and there’s only one man to fill it. Dominique Collier is the best guard on Colorado’s roster, right now. He’s smart with the basketball, dynamic in the open court and confident enough to knock down the open shots he gets. He’s a ferocious defender who, despite the inevitable growing pains, can make things happen in a positive sense. Xavier Talton is a steady player, I will argue for that. Most of the time, he’s making the right decisions with the ball, pushing tempo at opportune times and knocking down open jumpers when they’re available to him. Askia Booker is like lightning in a bottle, at times, with the ability to go out and win you basketball games that you’d have no shot in without him. The problem with this current guard situation is this though: If Askia Booker has an off night, no one besides Collier can ignite a fire in your team’s offense or defense enough to go on a game changing run. Talton is not a penetrating point guard who’s going to make silky finishes through contact or make tight window pocket passes to shooters and big men. That’s not who he is, and that’s fine. In fact…that’s perfect for your first guard off of the bench, a guy who sees the floor for 15 minutes per game, gives you a trey or two and avoids costly turnovers. Collier is the future of this team at the point, and that era needs to begin sooner rather than later if this team wants to reach its potential. Averaging four combined assists per game from your starting backcourt, while also only getting 12.7 combined points is a recipe for humble pie.

    3.) Speaking of Booker, I think there’s a lot to say about a senior who takes it upon himself to try and level out his playing style into something that, stylistically, lends towards consistency. He wanted to be more of a point guard, and less of a go-getter. But folks, and I think we all know this, Colorado needs ‘Ski to be ‘Ski. It’s rather painful watching a player who is normally so energetic and exciting become something so…unenergetic and unexciting. It’s not hard to tell how much he’s thinking on the court, trying to decide what the “right” play is, or what a point guard would do as opposed to just playing ball and seeing what the consequence of that is at another time. As one source told me recently, “It looks like he’s trying to audition for the NBA and show them that he’s not some out of control gunner. Now he just looks like your basic, average college player who doesn’t make much happen.” There’s never been a point in Booker’s career that I’ve thought of him as someone who “doesn’t make much happen”, and while things haven’t always been pretty, the rewards have almost always outweighed the risks. Come back, Askia, your team needs you.

    As things stand, the Buffaloes are still in pretty decent shape going forward. Losing at Wyoming to a team that absolutely will make noise in the Mountain West Conference is nothing to be ashamed of, at least as it relates to the team’s resume come Selection Sunday. The upcoming three game home stand before a road trip to Georgia should, theoretically, gives them a chance to get Booker back on track and Collier ready to run the show.

    There are positives to be found, like Xavier Johnson looking more active through three games than he was much of last year’s stretch run, or like Josh Scott largely looking like the presence we all expected him to be. But it’s hard to go much deeper than that when you’ve just lost by 23 points and have yet to beat anyone of real consequence.

    We’ll obviously know much more in two weeks, when the Buffs pay a visit to the SEC for their second road game of the year. Until then, there are definitely some kinks to work out.
     
  2. Bigbuffs

    Bigbuffs Member

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    Love what you said about Booker and Collier.
     
  3. cu2x

    cu2x Club Member Club Member

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    The biggest weekend of the BB season?

    We lack a tough guy and have for a couple of years. A thought maybe Miller would be that guy, but he got 2 minutes against Wyo. I guess Tad didn't want to risk him screwing up
     
  4. 4thGenBuff

    4thGenBuff Active Member

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    I think I hear this every year after we play Wyoming even when we win. They play ugly ball that we don't play well. That combined with the fact that we are have pains at PG, and their hostile crowd. The outcome did not surprise me in the slightest. Don't over analyze that game too much.
     
  5. CVilleBuff

    CVilleBuff Club Member Club Member

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    "The biggest week of the season" was a reference to Pittsburgh. Many people consider the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament the peak of basketball season.
     

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