A tough week to be a Buff

It’s been a hard week for the Buff Nation. The men’s and women’s teams got bounced in the first round of their Big 12 basketball tournaments, while the Buffs’ #1 ranked ski team stumbled (literally) to a #2 finish in the NCAA championships.

At least we have the football team …

What made the week even harder than it otherwise might have been is the way the Buffs teased us this week.

Few have paid much attention to the Colorado men’s basketball team for the last few seasons. To be honest, when the Buffs defeated Oklahoma, 77-67, on February 17th I was pleased, but not for the encouraging signs seen in the win. No, I was being more realistic. The victory over the Sooners gave the Buffs 13 wins on the year, meaning that, even if the Buffs lost the rest of their games (and three of the next four were on the road, where the Buffs hadn’t won since the Truman administration), the most losses Colorado could accumulate was 19, meaning that the Buffs would – at least – avoid a fourth straight 20-loss season.

Small goals.

Then, the Colorado men’s team did the improbable, going on a three-game winning streak (including a win on the road!) to end the regular season. The season record was even at 15-15. A win in the rematch against recently dispatched Texas Tech would all but assure the Buffs an NIT bid. Postseason play!

Thud.

In the regular season finale, Colorado scored 101 points against Texas Tech. The Buffs shot 58% from the field; 44% from three-point range. Then, four days later, against the same Texas Tech team, the Buffs made the Red Raiders, who finished the regular season with seven straight losses, look like world beaters. The Buffs’ offense went south (42% and 35%), scoring 34 points less in an 82-67 loss which sent the Buffs home from Kansas City with a bad taste in their mouths.

The women’s team temptations were less drawn out, but no less agonizing. The Buffs went 10-3 in the preseason, and seemed to have a postseason bid well within their sights after opening Big 12 play with a 2-2 record (and a 12-5 overall record). Then … the women’s team posted one win the remainder of the season. Colorado limped home with a 13-16 overall record, 3-13 in Big 12 play. In the Big 12 tournament, the Buffs, the #11 seed, were assigned 6th-seeded Baylor. The Bears were ranked 16th in the nation, and had thumped the Buffs, 76-42, in Waco on February 6th.

Still, the Bears’ best player, Britteny Griner, had been suspended for the game for hitting a Texas Tech player a week earlier. The Buffs, with nothing to lose, took a 39-31 halftime lead. Once again, there appeared to be a ray of light shining towards Boulder.

Thud.

Baylor woke up, out-scoring the Buffs 41-26 in the second half to secure a 72-65 victory. The Buffs were sent home to contemplate a 13-17 record, the fifth losing season in the past six.

Still, there was hope for the Colorado athletic department to salvage a good week.

This week the NCAA ski championships were conducted. Colorado has won five national titles under head coach Richard Rokos, and were the #1 ranked team heading into the competition. Plus, the Buffs were basically at “home”, as the NCAA title competition would take place at Steamboat Springs, site of the Buffs’ last national title season, in 2006.

The alpine team did not fare particularly well on opening day Wednesday, and the Buffs finished the day in 6th place. The situation was deemed precarious, but not completely out-of-hand. After all, the Buffs had started out 6th in 2006, but had rallied to win the title. Then, on Thursday, the nordic team, led by senior Matt Gelso’s first place finish, gave the Buffs enough points to vault into second place. With a good showing by the alpine team on Friday night, the Buffs’ strong nordic team could carry the Buffs to a national title on Saturday.

Thud.

To be fair, the Colorado women’s team had a terrific night on Friday, with the Buffs’ three racers placing 5th, 6th and 7th. The problem came with the men’s team. Pre-race favorite Gabriel Rivas, who won the individual title in the 2009 NCAA championships, missed gate 39 on his first run on the slalom course and was disqualified. The lack of points gave Denver an insurmountable lead, and, even though the Colorado nordic teams had 1st and 2nd place finishes on Saturday, it was not enough to catch the Pioneers.

Thud.Thud.Thud.

Tough week to be a Buff.

Makes you glad that Colorado is a football school, and that we can always look forward to September …

One Reply to “When it’s tough to be a Buff”

  1. CU was a football school. Now, they are a cross-country and women’s soccer school. Everything else sucks (i.e. non-competitive.) Hate to be so negative since I still, and will always, bleed Black and Gold. But, as I see it, that is just the way it is.

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