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Wrapping non-conference play

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. RSSBot

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    Last Saturday's win over Hartford was hardly filling fare. The 80-52 final belies how truly non-competitive the game was. The Hawks had nothing on their roster that could push the Buffs, and a series of poor stretches from the CU bench was the only reason the score didn't look more like the NAU game.
    [​IMG]
    Jelly and the Buffs didn't have much difficulty with Hartford. From: the BDC
    I'm a little concerned with how many minutes the starters had to play (they saw a combined 26 additional minutes compared to NAU), but that concern is mitigated by the fact that the team will have played only two games in 22 days by the time tip-off in Tucson hits tomorrow. In all reality, they probably needed the additional playing time, simply to keep the competitive juices flowing.

    The starting five did look good out there, so it's not as if Coach Boyle was forcing it. Josh Scott and Andre Roberson each chipped in a double-double (21/10, and 14/14 respectively), Askia Booker notched 19 points buoyed by 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc, and Spencer Dinwiddie stuffed the sheet with 11/6/6. Sure, it was against an athletically inferior opponent, but they seemed to still be clicking, none-the-less.

    Other than offering an opportunity for the starting five to pad their stats, however, about the only thing of note that the game did was conclude the non-conference portion of the 2012-13 schedule. Sitting at 10-2, I'd be hard pressed to say anything other than that the Buffs are exceeding my expectations. In my season preview, I set the bar at 8-4, essentially the same as what we saw last season. The tournament title in Charleston has proven to be the difference, as the rest of the schedule fell mostly into place (the Wyoming game proved to be much tougher than expected, the CSU game much easier).
    [​IMG]
    The sweep in Charleston is the kind of performance that separates the men from the boys. From: the BDC
    Those three victories in Charleston alone make the non-conference slog a successful one. They provided the program with three things that it was in sore need of:


    1. Revenge over Baylor. God, that was delicious.
    2. National headlines, including the team's first AP ranking in 15 years.
    3. A serious RPI boost, that may end up being the difference between Tournament and NIT come March.

    It was the program's best performance at a pre-conference tournament in a decade, and it sets the team up for a strong season.

    When you pull back a little farther and realize, despite playing the sixth toughest slate in the country, that CU has emerged from December with 10 wins out of 12, the feats over the past two months become even more impressive. Coach Boyle fretted before the season started that the schedule was too difficult of a cross to bear. Other than an ugly blip in Lawrence, and an understandable loss at undefeated Wyoming, the team seemed to rise to the challenge, which certainly bodes well for the oncoming crush of Pac-12 play. Are they perfect? No. They are, however, much farther ahead of schedule than I thought they'd be.

    As a result, while both Boyle and I preached calm headed into November, I'm now ready to ramp up the hype machine. I've re-calibrated my expectations, and a top-3 finish in the improved Pac-12 is within grasp.

    There are still a few things that could derail that mission.

    As James Lucas, the AllBuffs hoops guru, pointed out last week, the bench can, and probably will, cost the Buffs a game they should win at some point this season. While it's true that minute-share from the bench is in-line with what you'd expect from a Boyle-lead team, it's becoming more and more apparent that, outside of Xavier Johnson, the bench mob adds very little when they come onto the court. Jeremy Adams hasn't taken the next step as many had hoped, Shane Harris-Tunks, if anything, seems to have regressed, and the freshman point guard subs (Xavier Talton and Eli Stalzer) are stop-gaps at best right now. Regardless of what compels Boyle to have to rely on his bench - injuries, foul trouble, exhaustion, etc - they aren't ready to step up right now.
    [​IMG]
    Outside of XJ, the bench hasn't showed much. From: the BDC
    Additionally, a team like Oregon could jump up and play spoiler. They've mostly crushed the patsies they've scheduled, so you can still consider them a wild-card, but they have the talent and veteran depth to win games they "shouldn't" (exemplified by their road win at UNLV). They also have one of the "easier" schedules in the conference, as they only have to play Arizona and UCLA once. If they manage to pull an upset in one of those games, they have the ability to make that tie-breaker count at the end of the season. I continue to love Dana Altman as a coach, and they have the outrageously deep bench that CU lacks. I don't think they're a "better" team then the Buffs, but enough things could fall into place for them to finish above CU.

    Still, I like CU's chances to reach #3. The way the team is playing at home right now makes me think an 8-1 run through the home portion of the conference slate is a bare minimum. Add to that very doable pick-up opportunities at ASU, Washington, WSU, Utah, OSU, and Cal, and the Buffs could be looking at 12 or 13 conference wins this season. At that point, a second consecutive trip to the Dance, a feat that hasn't been performed since the Ken Charlton era, would be a mortal lock.

    Road games are still a bugaboo for the program, but CU has the talent to take most of those opportunities. We'll know much more after the trip to the Washingtons. It's a pair of games that CU should sweep on paper. If they can manage that, then top-three here they come.

    Onwards and upwards.[​IMG]

    Last Saturday's win over Hartford was hardly filling fare. The 80-52 final belies how truly non-competitive the game was. The Hawks had nothing on their roster that could push the Buffs, and a series of poor stretches from the CU bench was the only reason the score didn't look more like the NAU game.
    [​IMG]
    Jelly and the Buffs didn't have much difficulty with Hartford. From: the BDC
    I'm a little concerned with how many minutes the starters had to play (they saw a combined 26 additional minutes compared to NAU), but that concern is mitigated by the fact that the team will have played only two games in 22 days by the time tip-off in Tucson hits tomorrow. In all reality, they probably needed the additional playing time, simply to keep the competitive juices flowing.

    The starting five did look good out there, so it's not as if Coach Boyle was forcing it. Josh Scott and Andre Roberson each chipped in a double-double (21/10, and 14/14 respectively), Askia Booker notched 19 points buoyed by 3-of-5 shooting from behind the arc, and Spencer Dinwiddie stuffed the sheet with 11/6/6. Sure, it was against an athletically inferior opponent, but they seemed to still be clicking, none-the-less.

    Other than offering an opportunity for the starting five to pad their stats, however, about the only thing of note that the game did was conclude the non-conference portion of the 2012-13 schedule. Sitting at 10-2, I'd be hard pressed to say anything other than that the Buffs are exceeding my expectations. In my season preview, I set the bar at 8-4, essentially the same as what we saw last season. The tournament title in Charleston has proven to be the difference, as the rest of the schedule fell mostly into place (the Wyoming game proved to be much tougher than expected, the CSU game much easier).
    [​IMG]
    The sweep in Charleston is the kind of performance that separates the men from the boys. From: the BDC
    Those three victories in Charleston alone make the non-conference slog a successful one. They provided the program with three things that it was in sore need of:


    1. Revenge over Baylor. God, that was delicious.
    2. National headlines, including the team's first AP ranking in 15 years.
    3. A serious RPI boost, that may end up being the difference between Tournament and NIT come March.

    It was the program's best performance at a pre-conference tournament in a decade, and it sets the team up for a strong season.

    When you pull back a little farther and realize, despite playing the sixth toughest slate in the country, that CU has emerged from December with 10 wins out of 12, the feats over the past two months become even more impressive. Coach Boyle fretted before the season started that the schedule was too difficult of a cross to bear. Other than an ugly blip in Lawrence, and an understandable loss at undefeated Wyoming, the team seemed to rise to the challenge, which certainly bodes well for the oncoming crush of Pac-12 play. Are they perfect? No. They are, however, much farther ahead of schedule than I thought they'd be.

    As a result, while both Boyle and I preached calm headed into November, I'm now ready to ramp up the hype machine. I've re-calibrated my expectations, and a top-3 finish in the improved Pac-12 is within grasp.

    There are still a few things that could derail that mission.

    As James Lucas, the AllBuffs hoops guru, pointed out last week, the bench can, and probably will, cost the Buffs a game they should win at some point this season. While it's true that minute-share from the bench is in-line with what you'd expect from a Boyle-lead team, it's becoming more and more apparent that, outside of Xavier Johnson, the bench mob adds very little when they come onto the court. Jeremy Adams hasn't taken the next step as many had hoped, Shane Harris-Tunks, if anything, seems to have regressed, and the freshman point guard subs (Xavier Talton and Eli Stalzer) are stop-gaps at best right now. Regardless of what compels Boyle to have to rely on his bench - injuries, foul trouble, exhaustion, etc - they aren't ready to step up right now.
    [​IMG]
    Outside of XJ, the bench hasn't showed much. From: the BDC
    Additionally, a team like Oregon could jump up and play spoiler. They've mostly crushed the patsies they've scheduled, so you can still consider them a wild-card, but they have the talent and veteran depth to win games they "shouldn't" (exemplified by their road win at UNLV). They also have one of the "easier" schedules in the conference, as they only have to play Arizona and UCLA once. If they manage to pull an upset in one of those games, they have the ability to make that tie-breaker count at the end of the season. I continue to love Dana Altman as a coach, and they have the outrageously deep bench that CU lacks. I don't think they're a "better" team then the Buffs, but enough things could fall into place for them to finish above CU.

    Still, I like CU's chances to reach #3. The way the team is playing at home right now makes me think an 8-1 run through the home portion of the conference slate is a bare minimum. Add to that very doable pick-up opportunities at ASU, Washington, WSU, Utah, OSU, and Cal, and the Buffs could be looking at 12 or 13 conference wins this season. At that point, a second consecutive trip to the Dance, a feat that hasn't been performed since the Ken Charlton era, would be a mortal lock.

    Road games are still a bugaboo for the program, but CU has the talent to take most of those opportunities. We'll know much more after the trip to the Washingtons. It's a pair of games that CU should sweep on paper. If they can manage that, then top-three here they come.

    Onwards and upwards.[​IMG]

    Originally posted by The Rumblings of a Deranged Buffalo
    Click here to view the article.
     

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