Buff Basketball – December, 2014



December 31st

CU in the Arena …

Tad Boyle: “We’re not where we want to be”

From cubuffs.com … It was Tuesday morning, midway through a practice that was pushing Tad Boyle ever closer to the boiling point. He finally reached it, which he’s been doing with bewildering frequency during the first two months of his Colorado basketball team’s season.

With his players gathered around him at mid-court, Boyle didn’t go light on either decibels or language and made a promise: “WE ARE GOING TO GET BETTER THIS WEEK!”

And with that, he instructed the training staff to be ready to tape ankles or anything else for another full practice later in the afternoon. Prior to that, he began hour-long individual player meetings that carried into New Year’s Eve. Soul-searching among coaches and players continues.

CU’s spring semester doesn’t begin until Monday, Jan. 12, and the guess here is that some of the Buffs might see a return to that routine as an escape from Boyle’s “you better get better” mandate. A coach can only do so much, and this one is about a dozen tantrums beyond frustrated.

“I understand it,” said junior forward Josh Scott of his coach’s exasperation. “He’s never hidden the fact he’s an emotional guy. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and that’s how he’s going to coach. That’s what we all signed up for. We haven’t been playing well, so I’m not going to sit here and say it’s out of the ordinary. He’s very, very honest and true. He’s the coach, we’re the players. We’ll do what he’s set out and mandated for us.”

Improving, said Boyle, is “what we’re supposed to do. It’s no different now than in years past. There’s a little more of a sense of urgency now because we’re 7-5; we’ve never been 7-5 and in this situation before. But if we were 10-2 we’d still need to get better. That’s where we’re at, but we’re not where we want to be. I’m not happy, the players aren’t happy. This is not what it’s about and it’s not what we’re about.”

Continuing reading the story here



December 30th

… CU in the Arena …

CU women can’t overcome turnovers against Long Beach State

Colorado almost doubled up Long Beach State in rebounds (50-26), but the rebounding advantage was not enough, as the Buffs fell to the 49ers, 62-56.

How is that possible? One word: Turnovers.

The 49ers forced the Buffs into 25 turnovers (while committing only 11 of their own), allowing Long Beach State to run its record to 13-1. Colorado, meanwhile, closed out its non-conference play with a 7-4 record.

The Buffs wasted a double-double by Jamee Swan, who had 15 points and 15 rebounds. The only other Buff in double figures was Zoe Beard-Falls, who had 14 points and eight rebounds.

Colorado stayed with Long Beach State for much of the game, leading for much of the first half before falling behind at the break, 28-26. A 15-4 to open the second half allowed the 49ers to pull away, taking a 43-30 advantage with 14 minutes to play. The Buffs fought back, pulling to within two points, at 48-46, on a pair of Jen Reese free throws with five minutes to play. The Buffs could pull no closer, however, falling to 6-2 in home games.

The Buffs, losers of three of their last four games, open Pac-12 play this weekend with a tough road trip. Colorado takes on No. 15 Stanford on Saturday (8:00 p.m., MT), taking on California next Monday night (8:00 p.m., MT).



CU alumnus Alec Burks lost to the Utah Jazz for the remainder of the season

Press release from the Utah Jazz …  The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks, who has missed the last two games with a left shoulder injury:

After examination by the Utah Jazz medical staff it has been decided that Alec Burks will undergo a surgical repair on his injured left shoulder.  The procedure will be performed by Jazz head orthopaedic team physician, Dr. Travis Maak, on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at the University of Utah.  As a result, Burks will miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season.  He is expected to be ready for the start of 2015 Jazz training camp.

“Alec’s long-term health has been our top priority throughout this process, and although it is unfortunate that we will be without his services on the court the rest of this season, we commend Alec’s commitment and continued effort to play through considerable pain to this point,” said Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey.  “After continued consultation with our medical staff, Alec and his representation, we have unanimously agreed that it would be most prudent for Alec to have this procedure performed now in order to ensure that he will be healthy and ready for the start of next season.”

The 23-year-old Burks (6-6, 211, Colorado) appeared in 27 games (all starts) with the Jazz this season, averaging 13.9 points and career-highs of 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 33.3 minutes.  He also was shooting a career-high .382 from three-point range and .822 from the line while scoring in double figures in 22 of 27 games, reaching 20-plus points four times, and registered his first two career double-doubles.  Prior to missing the last two games, Burks had seen action in 105 of a possible 111 games over the past two seasons, including 78 games in 2013-14.  The fourth-year guard was originally selected by the Jazz in the first round (12th overall selection) of the 2011 NBA Draft.



December 29th

… CU in the Arena …

CU women close out non-conference play with a game against Long Beach State

From cubuffs.com …

THE GAME: The University of Colorado closes out the nonconference portion of its schedule by hosting Long Beach State University on Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.

BROADCAST: Tuesday’s game will air live on KKZN 760 AM. Cory Lopez will have the call with Carol Callan of USA Basketball providing the color commentary.  A free live video stream will be available through Colorado’s Pac-12.com video player. All CU women’s basketball home games that are not televised will be available through Pac-12.com at this link

ABOUT THE BUFFS: Colorado is 7-3 overall after snapping a two-game skid with a 76-71 win over Wyoming on Dec. 21. It’s the 28th time the Buffaloes have opened a year with at least seven wins through their first 10 games, including all five years under coach Linda Lappe (43-7 in that span).

ABOUT LONG BEACH STATE: Long Beach State is 12-1 overall, off to its best start since its 1986-87 NCAA Women’s Final Four team. The 49ers have won 10 straight since their lone loss which was a 90-85 overtime setback against USC on Nov. 21. Colorado will be the third Pac-12 opponent for LBSU as the 49ers upset No. 18/17 Cal, 58-56 in overtime, on Dec. 13. Long Beach State averages 71 points on 40 percent from the field. The 49ers have played well defensively,  allowing just over 60 points on 38 percent shooting. LBSU records 10 steals per game and forces 23 turnovers an outing.



Utah into the AP top ten for the first time since 1999

Associated Press rankings this week:

1Kentucky (65)13-01,625
9Iowa State9-11,005
14Notre Dame12-1709
15St. John’s11-1690
16Wichita St10-2630
17West Virginia11-1584
19North Carolina9-3483
20Ohio State11-2435
23Northern Iowa11-1216
24Colorado St13-0194



December 28th

… CU in the Arena …

UCLA falls to Alabama in first true road game of the season for the Bruins

From ESPN … Ricky Tarrant was hot in the first half when nobody else was.

Tarrant outscored UCLA before halftime and finished with a season-high 24 points to lead Alabama to a 56-50 victory on Sunday night over the struggling Bruins. He had 18 points at the half, one more than UCLA.

“I thought Ricky did a great job of carrying us,” Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant. “In the first half we were getting good looks that weren’t falling for us and Ricky was the one guy that was able to get the shots to fall.”

Levi Randolph hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 33 seconds to help the Crimson Tide (9-3) seal its third win in a row.

Bryce Alford led the Bruins (8-5) with 16 points but missed two 3-pointers over the final 38 seconds. It was their third straight loss.

Randolph finished with 15 points while both teams struggled from the field. Tarrant, a Tulane transfer, cooled off after a hot start.

“I was just making plays within the offense,” he said. “My teammates and coaches put me in great situations. It wasn’t so much me doing anything special.”

Isaac Hamilton scored 15 and helped spark UCLA’s second-half comeback with eight straight points to end a 10-0 opening run.

The Bruins had another poor first half, trailing 29-17 after managing just seven points before halftime in getting routed by No. 1 Kentucky eight days earlier.

“It’s been a bad trend,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “Three out of the last four games, we have not started well, and we’re trying to figure things out. For whatever reason, our first halves have been just brutal over the last couple of weeks.

“We’re going to have to figure that out going into league play.”



Washington handed its first loss of the season by … Stony Brook

From ESPN … Jameel Warney banked in a short runner with 30 seconds left to give Stony Brook its first lead and the Seawolves beat No. 13 Washington 61-57 on Sunday night.

Warney finished with 15 points, and Kameron Mitchell added 12 on 4-of-5 3-point shooting.

Stony Brook (7-5) overcame a late 11-point deficit to stun the Huskies (11-1).

Rayshaun McGrew cut it to three and Carson Puriefoy hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:07 left to pull the Seawolves even at 57. Mitchell made three 3-pointers during the late run. Stony Brook was 2 of 9 from 3-point range in the first half, then made six of its first seven tries in the second.

Robert Upshaw had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Washington. Nigel Williams-Goss also scored 10 points.

The Huskies were looking to get off to their best start ever under 13th-year coach Lorenzo Romar.

The Huskies had a double-digit lead for much of the night, but were unable to put away the Seawolves. Williams-Goss scored six straight points early in the second half to spark an 8-0 run that gave Washington a 47-31. Stony Brook answered with a 9-2 run to stay within striking distance.

The Seawolves started 3 for 15 from the floor and didn’t hit a 3-pointer until their sixth attempt.

Buffaloes Primetime Basketball Radio Show to make its debut Tuesday

From cubuffs.com … The Buffaloes Primetime Basketball Radio Show, featuring University of Colorado head basketball coaches Tad Boyle and Linda Lappe will makes its debut for the 2014-15 season on Tuesday, December 30 from 6-7 p.m.

The radio show is broadcasted live at Carelli’s of Boulder Ristorante Italiano, located at 645 30th Street.

Buffaloes Primetime is hosted by Mark Johnson on 850 KOA.  Future shows will be every Tuesday night (unless noted) and run until March 3 at Carelli’s beginning at 7 p.m.

In addition to both head coaches, one basketball student-athlete will also be a guest on the show. Tuesday night’s student-athlete guest is junior guard Xavier Johnson.

The show will also aired on CUBuffs.com and the 850 KOA iHeartRadio application.

Buffaloes Primetime Basketball Radio Show Schedule
Tue., December 30 (6-7 p.m.)

Mon., January 5  (7-8 pm.)
Tue., Jan. 13 (7-8 pm.)
Tue., Jan. 20 (7-8 pm.)
Tue., Jan. 27 (7-8 pm.)

Tue., February 3 (7-8 pm.)
Tue., Feb. 10 (7-8 pm.)
Mon., Feb. 16 (7-8 pm.)
Tue., Feb. 24 (7-8 pm.)

Tue., March 3  (7-8 pm.)



December 26th

… CU in the Arena …

First Look: January Pac-12 Schedule

The CU men’s basketball team has a week off to contemplate their 7-5 non-conference record, the worst at CU heading into January since 2008 (the women’s team has one more non-conference game, coming Tuesday night at home against Long Beach State).

Though the Buff Nation is currently hard-pressed to find much to be confident about heading into Pac-12 play, it is worth noting that Colorado was picked to finish third by the Pac-12 media, and the lineup hasn’t changed (i.e., no significant loss of personnel due to injury, like the loss of Spencer Dinwiddie in early January of 2014).

Here’s a quick look at CU January schedule, along with a few notes about how the competition has been faring in their non-conference play:

Friday, January 2nd – UCLA – The Bruins are 8-4. Three of the four losses have been against ranked teams, with the only other loss coming against Oklahoma in a Thanksgiving weekend tournament in the Bahamas. The beatdown by No. 1 Kentucky, though (24-0 start; 41-7 at the half; 83-44 final) was not pretty. Still, the Bruins have been able to beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and are 8th in the nation in rebounding. UCLA has one tuneup game remaining (v. Alabama on Sunday) before the game against the Buffs.

Sunday, January 4th – USC – The Trojans are 7-4, and haven’t looked particularly good in getting there. The only USC win over a Power-Five conference school came in a win over Boston College, and the Trojans have lost to the likes of Portland State, Akron, and Army. The Trojans play Vermont next Tuesday, before taking on No. 14 Utah on Thursday.

Wednesday, January 7th – at Utah – Colorado was picked to finish third in the Pac-12, just one vote behind No. 2 Utah. Since the preseason poll, however, the teams have gone in different directions. The Buffs have struggled, but the Utes have been playing like a Sweet Sixteen candidate. Utah is 9-2 and ranked No. 14 in the nation. Utah’s only losses have been a four-point loss to No. 16 San Diego State, and a three-point loss to No. 10 Kansas. The Utes are undefeated at home, including a win over No. 8 Wichita State. If Utah can handle the Los Angeles schools the first week of conference play, the Buffs may well be facing a top ten team in Salt Lake City on January 7th.

Thursday, January 15th – at Arizona – From the frying pan into the fire … The Buffs will have two of their toughest games of the season back-to-back, taking on the Wildcats on the road after facing the Utes in Salt Lake City.  Arizona is ranked No. 3 in the nation, and looked the part until absorbing its first loss of the season against UNLV on Tuesday. The Wildcats already have wins against No. 15 San Diego State and No. 9 Gonzaga to their credit, along with wins over teams like Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas State.

Saturday, January 17th – at Arizona State – The Sun Devils are 7-5, like the Buffs, and, like the Buffs, have had some issues. Arizona State already has losses to Maryland, Marquette, and Lehigh on its ledger, though the Sun Devils did beat UNLV by 22 points – the same Running Rebel team which just knocked off Arizona. The Sun Devils open conference play at Arizona, then play the Oregon schools on the road before hosting Utah and Colorado. By the time the Buffs get to Tempe, we should know if the Sun Devils are contenders or pretenders.

Thursday, January 22nd – Washington – The Huskies have been the surprise team of the Pac-12 so far this season, with an 11-0 record and a No. 13 national ranking. Washington has passed its first two tests to date, defeating No. 13 San Diego State and No. 15 Oklahoma. The Huskies do not face a top team in the Pac-12 before coming to Boulder in late January, taking on the bay area schools, the Oregon schools, and Washington State before playing the Buffs. Washington could well be 17-0 when it comes to the Coors Events Center.

Saturday, January 24th – Washington State – Thank goodness for the Cougars. Along with the home game against USC, the home game against Washington State appear in December to be the “easiest” games of the month. Washington State is 5-6, with losses to UTEP, UC-Santa Barbara, Idaho, and Santa Clara on its resume. The Cougars may well come to Boulder with a losing Pac-12 record, and a losing record overall.

Thursday, January 29th – at USC

Saturday, January 31st – at UCLA



December 25th – Honolulu         Hawai’i 69, Colorado 66

Buffs fall in Diamond Head Classic consolation game

From cubuffs.com … Two recurring problems – an inability to defend the perimeter and inefficiency in the final minutes – proved disastrous here Thursday for the Colorado Buffaloes, who lost 69-66 to Hawai’i in the third-place game of the Diamond Head Classic.

“Another disappointing loss for the Buffs; I’m really frustrated,” said coach Tad Boyle. “We’ve had two games over here in my mind that we were in position to win . . . and we let them both slip away. I’ve got to do a better job as a head coach; we’re just not closing out games. We had an opportunity tonight, they hit a big three and made plays down the stretch.”

The Buffs (7-5) finished 1-2 in the three-game Classic, defeating DePaul 82-68 before losing 53-50 to George Washington in the semifinals. CU begins Pac-12 Conference play on Friday, Jan. 2 against UCLA (8 p.m., Coors Events Center).

The Warriors (10-4) hit 9 of their 18 3-point attempts, becoming the seventh of 12 opponents the Buffs have allowed to make seven or more shots from beyond the arc. Four CU foes have made nine or more triples this season; the Buffs are 2-2 in those games.

Boyle said the Buffs, who trailed by eight points midway through the second half, “got back in the game with our defense.” But he conceded, “We didn’t do a very good job of guarding the three-point line, though. It’s just a really frustrating night, because it was a winnable game. As a coach those are the ones that just eat you up, and I’m not getting it done either.”

Using a 12-0 run, CU rallied from its eight-point second-half deficit to take a 62-58 lead with 4:39 to play. But UH, cashing in on CU’s wasted late possessions, outscored the mainland visitors 11-4 in the final 3:30. After Askia’s 3-pointer gave them a 60-58 lead with 5:06 left, the Buffs didn’t hit another field goal.

“They made plays at the end that we didn’t,” said Booker, who finished with 22 points but had a team-high four turnovers. “That’s something that we have to do; watch film and see where we can get better and not turn the ball over, or what plays we can run against certain teams towards the end. Also get better individually. We have to be able to take care of the ball and you have to be able to get the ball in certain places when guys need it. You have to know the plays, most importantly.”

Josh Scott led CU with 23 points, his fourth 20-point game of the season and the 12th of his career, and Xavier Johnson added 15. Dustin Thomas contributed three points, Wesley Gordon two and Dom Collier one for the Buffs’ remaining scoring.

CU finished at 41.7 percent from the field, with UH at 45.0. The Buffs won the board battle 41-29 but their season-high 16 turnovers provided the Warriors with 22 points. Hawai’i also made 9 steals and CU could manage just 10 assists. UH’s 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc overshadowed CU’s 29.4. Also, in a three-point loss, the Buffs did themselves no favors by hitting 21 of 30 free throw attempts.

The Buffs scored the game’s first basket – it was by Scott – then spent the rest of the half trying to catch up. They trailed by as many as six points on three occasions before closing with a 9-2 run and finally moving ahead by a point (33-32) on a pair of Johnson free throws with 0.9 seconds before intermission.

Scott was CU’s early offense; he scored 13 of the Buffs’ first 19 points and finished with 15 – a career-best for an opening half – and making six of his nine field goal attempts. Booker added nine points, with five of them coming in CU’s 9-2 spurt to finish the half. But Booker missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities in the half’s final 4:59 as the Buffs went 7-of-10 from the free throw line.

The Warriors might have been thankful to be trailing by only a point at the half. Their leading scorer, guard Aaron Valdes (16.7 ppg), picked up his third personal foul at the 8:44 mark and went to the bench. Not quite 2 minutes later, starting guard Roderick Bobbitt took an inadvertent elbow to the head from Gordon and went to the locker room.

UH’s Bobbitt didn’t open the second half, but returned less than 3 minutes in. Yet almost as Bobbitt was entering, Valdes was leaving with his fourth personal foul. But the Warriors compensated for their leading scorer’s mounting bench time with 3-point shooting.

After Scott hit one of two free throws for a 2-point lead, the Buffs once again found themselves playing from behind. Negus Webster-Chan, who hit two of his three first-half long balls and finished with 12 points, connected on his third trey, which was followed by a triple from Garrett Nevels (12 points).

CU trailed by five (42-37) before a Booker trey cut the deficit to one point twice and looked unwilling to let UH pull away. But that would change. After Nevels hit another 3-ball – the Warriors’ eighth of the game – for a five-point lead, Isaac Fleming (18 points) hit a layup in transition to give them their largest lead of the game, 54-47. And Fleming missed an and-one free throw on the play.

Hawai’i increased its advantage to 58-50 on an up-and-under move by Stefan Jovanovic that also drew a foul from Gordon. Jovanovic missed the free throw, but down by eight points with 8:24 to play the Buffs needed to find some energy – and points.

They got both from Thomas, who hit his first triple of the season, and back-to-back baskets from Johnson. That 7-0 run brought CU to within 58-57 – the closest the Buffs had been since 45-44. And they weren’t finished.

A Booker trey from the left corner with 5:06 left gave CU its first lead – 60-58 – since the first possession of the second half (34-32). Johnson followed with a pair of free throws after he and Stefan Jankovic were assessed technical fouls, and the Buffs’ lead went to 62-58 – their largest to that point – at the 4:39 mark.

With the home team on its heels, the Buffs needed to do what they hadn’t against George Washington – keep their composure down the stretch. Guarding the perimeter would have been nice too, but they didn’t do either.

Boyle said the Buffs’ current problems are “above the neck, it’s between the ears, that’s where are issues are and we have to get better. I think mentally, sometimes our guys overthink the game. It’s funny, when we run offense that we’ve practiced, we’re not very good. When stuff breaks down and guys just ball and make plays, we’re pretty good. It’s really something I have to look at because I don’t understand it.”

When Fleming knocked down UH’s ninth triple with 3:30 left, the Warriors were down only 62-61. Scott’s two free throws restored a three-point CU lead (64-61), but Valdes cut it to one with his first basket of the game then promptly picked up his fifth foul.

With Booker’s pair of foul shots, the Buffs led 66-63 but a Fleming layup brought the Warriors to 66-65 with just over a minute left. After Johnson missed a short jumper in the paint, UH called timeout with 32 seconds left and Webster-Chan’s free throw jumper pushed the Warriors up 67-66.

Dribbling fast to the other end, Booker had the ball poked away from behind by Bobbitt. Booker, who had two critical late turnovers, fouled him and Bobbitt hit both ends of one-and-one with 17.2 seconds to play for a 69-66 UH led.

I like to try and attack before the defense is set, I don’t like calling a timeout in that situation,” Boyle said. “But, when you turn it over, you second-guess yourself as a coach that you should have called a timeout. I just believe philosophically when the defense isn’t set get the ball where you want to get it and make plays, and if you get stuck in a difficult situation, then you can call a timeout.”

Needing a triple, CU called a timeout. Out of that break, Johnson shot an air ball and Fleming was fouled to stop the clock. After he missed his one-and-one opportunity, the Buffs used their final timeout, offering a last-gasp chance with 2.1 seconds showing.

That gasp disappeared on a hurried half-court heave by Booker – and the Buffs were left with their second three-point holiday loss. CU’s five losses mark the first time that’s occurred under Boyle before the start of conference play.

“What this program has done in the past has absolutely no bearing on where we are today,” he said. “That’s what our players have to understand. The world doesn’t owe us anything and people are coming at us. Hawai’i played a hell of a game and we’re going to face a hell of a UCLA team on January 2nd. We have to get better. My vow to our team and to all of Buff Nation is we will get better. I’m going to seek to it, and our players are resilient and they will bounce back. But we’ve put ourselves in a hole, there’s no question about it.”



December 24th

… CU in the Arena …

Getting to Know: Hawai’i Warriors

Colorado vs. Hawai’i … Thursday, 4:30 p.m., MT (ESPNU) … 850 KOA radio

Warriors’ 2014 Record: 9-4

Coach: Gib Arnold, 81-59, fifth season

Series: Hawai’i leads the series, 2-0, with both games played on the islands. The Warriors defeated the Buffs, 86-77, in 1989, and 76-74 in 1999

Hawai’i’s record last season: 20-11 overall; 9-7 Big West (4th)

Players to watch … Hawai’i lost three starters from last year’s team, but the two returning starters are very good. Isaac Fleming, a 6’8″ junior forward, and Garrett Nevels, a 6’2″ senior guard, return with their combined 28 points/game averages. Sophomore Aaron Valdez, a 6’5″ guard, currently leads the team with 16.7 points per game.

Getting to Know Hawai’i … The Warriors have never won their own Diamond Head Classic, but they certainly gave it their all this year. Hawai’i upset Nebraska, 66-58, in the opening round with Aaron Valdez going for 15 points and Isaac Fleming ten. Then, in the semi-finals, the Warriors faced No. 11 Wichita State. Hawai’i had their chances to win in both regulation and overtime, before falling, 80-79, on a basket by the Shockers in the final seconds. Before the loss to Wichita State, the Warriors had run off a streak of five wins in six games, with the only loss coming against BYU.

Colorado on the islands …  With the loss to George Washington, Colorado is now 3-5 all-time in games played in Hawai’i – all in tournaments,



December 23rd – at Honolulu            George Washington 53, Colorado 50

Colorado had the lead for much of the second half, but turnovers once again plagued the Buffs, allowing George Washington to escape with a 53-50 win in the semi-finals of the Hawai’i Diamond Head Classic. Colorado had 14 turnovers for the game, including four in succession midway through the second half, allowing George Washington to take the lead back from the Buffs.

Askia Booker, who had 27 points the day before against DePaul, had two three-point attempts in the final 14 seconds, but was unable to connect on either. Booker, who went 14-for-14 on free throws on Tuesday, had no free throw attempts against the Colonials, going 4-for-13 from the field (0-for-3 on three point attempts), settling for eight points. Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon each had ten points to lead the Buffs, but the usually reliable Scott went 4-for-8 from the free throw line, including a crucial miss in the final minute which would have tied the game.

Colorado kept their streak of posting at least one three-pointer going … but just barely. The Buffs went 1-for-12 from the behind the arc against the Colonials.

“I thought our guys battled,” said CU head coach Tad Boyle. “I can’t question our toughness in a game like this. It was a ‘rock’em, sock’em’ game. It was a totally different game compared to yesterday’s game which was a pick-up game. This was a grind it out, 53-50 affair. We knew it was going to be hard to score and we came up a little bit short. But, our toughness, I like it”.

Game Notes –

– Colorado will play for third place in the Diamond Classic against host Hawai’i (an 80-79 overtime loser to No. 11 Wichita State. The game will be played Christmas Day at 2:30 p.m., MT (ESPNU). The game will be the first CU has ever played on Christmas Day.

– Askia Booker scored eight points, moving him into tenth place on CU’s all-time scoring list (1,369 points).

– Wesley Gordon tied Josh Scott with ten points, marking the first time Gordon has led the Buffs in scoring.

Game recap –

Colorado was hoping to repeat its fast start of the day before, but didn’t get it in the first few minutes of the semi-final game against George Washington. The Colonials took the first lead on a jumper after Jaron Hopkins opened the game with a turnover. The Buffs then took their first and only lead of the first half with a pair of Wesley Gordon free throws and a Josh Scott jumper. George Washington then went on a 10-2 run as the Buff went cold over the next five minutes. The teams then traded jumpers, with the Colonials taking a 12-8 into the under 12 minute media break.

After Dustin Thomas made one of two free throws, George Washington went on a 6-0 run to give the Colonials an 18-9 lead. Baskets by Dustin Thomas and Xavier Talton stopped the bleeding, making it an 18-13 game at the under eight break.

A 6-2 run by George Washington pushed the lead back to nine points, at 24-15, with five minutes to go before halftime. Josh Scott then went on a 5-0 run of his own, hitting a jumper and making three of four free throws to make it a 24-20 game. After a GW layup, Dominique Collier and Jaron Hopkins quickly posted back-to-back baskets to pull the Buffs to within two, at 26-24. In the final minute before the half, George Washington posted a pair of free throws and a jumper, offset only by a Jaron Hopkins dunk for the Buffs.

Halftime score: George Washington 30, Colorado 26

In the first four minutes of the second half, the Buff defense took over. The Colonials were held scoreless, turning the ball over three times, as the Buffs took the lead. A Josh Scott basket made it a two point game, with two Wesley Gordon layups giving him ten points, and giving the Buffs their first lead of the second half, at 32-30, three minutes into the second half.

A pair of free throws by George Washington tied the game at 32-32 before Askia Booker scored on a layup to restore the advantage for the Buffs. A three-pointer by Jaron Hopkins, the first by either team in the game, made it a 37-32 lead for the Buffs. A jumper and one of two free throw attempts for GW cut the lead back to two, with an Askia Booker layup making it a 39-35 game at the under 12 minute media timeout.

A Xavier Johnson jumper pushed the lead back out to six, with the lead cut in half a few seconds later with the Colonials first three-pointer of the game. As the clock passed under the ten minute mark, the teams traded free throws, with Colorado holding a 43-40 advantage at the under eight minute break.

A Xavier Johnson jumper gave him eight points, making it a 45-40 game, but the Colonials responded with a jumper of their own to make it a one possession game with 5:45 remaining. The Buffs continued to turn the ball over, giving the Colonials an opportunity to retake the lead. Two turnovers by Dominique Collier, followed by turnovers by Askia Booker and Xavier Johnson led to two baskets by GW, including a dunk at the 3:47 mark, making it a 46-45 lead for George Washington.

An Askia Booker layup gave the Buffs the lead back, but the Colonials followed with a layup of their own to make it 48-47, George Washington, with three minutes to play in the game. Askia Booker then gave the lead back to the Buffs, at 49-48, with the Colonials making one of two free throws at the 2:11 mark to tie the game.

Wesley Gordon missed a jumper with 1:43 to play, giving the Colonials the ball back with the chance to take the lead. George Washington then held the ball, missing a jumper with 1:09 to play. The Colonials pulled down the offensive rebound, keeping possession. A foul by Jaron Hopkins at the 41 second mark put the Colonials on the free throw line, with a pair of made shots allowing George Washington to take a 51-49 lead.

Josh Scott was fouled with 32 seconds to play, with the best free throw shooter on the team making only one of two of his free throw attempts. Down 51-50, the Buffs were forced to foul, with the Colonials hitting both of their free throws to make it a three point game with 29 seconds to play.

The Buffs turned the ball over on a foul by Askia Booker, forcing the Buffs to foul once again. The Colonials missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Askia Booker missed a three-pointer which would have tied the game with 14 seconds remaining. The Buffs got the ball back, but another missed Booker three point attempt with two seconds ended the game.

 Final Score: George Washington 53, Colorado 50



… CU in the Arena …

Getting to Know: George Washington Colonials

Colorado vs. George Washington … Tuesday, 2:30 p.m., MT (ESPNU) … 850 KOA radio

Colonials’ 2014 Record: 7-3

Coach: Mike Lonergan, fourth season, 54-50

Series: First-ever meeting between Colorado and George Washington

George Washington’s record last season: 24-9 overall, 11- in Atlantic Ten play (T-3rd) … A No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament, George Washington lost in the second round to No. 8 seed Memphis, 71-66

Player to watch … — Kevin Larsen scored 19 points with a career-high 15 rebounds and George Washington beat Ohio 77-49 in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic on Monday. Larsen had nine rebounds during the second half in which GWU (7-3) held Ohio (3-5) to 15 points on 7-of-28 shooting.

Colorado on the islands …  With the win over DePaul, Colorado is now 3-4 all-time in games played in Hawai’i – all in tournaments



December 22nd – Honolulu          Colorado 82,  DePaul 68

Colorado ran its record to 7-3 with an 82-68 win over DePaul in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawai’i. Askia Booker scored 27 points, including a perfect 14-for-14 day from the free throw line. Xavier Johnson contributed 20 points as the CU bench only went for a combined nine points on the afternoon.

Joining Booker and Johnson in double figures were Wesley Gordon, with 11 points, and Jaron Hopkins, with ten. Josh Scott, the Buffs’ fifth starter, was held to five points and three rebounds.

“It was a good win for us, DePaul is a talented team,” said Tad Boyle. “You look at their record, 6-5 doesn’t jump off the page, but they’ve lost to some good teams and they’re a quality bunch, they don’t have quite the depth. I thought transition in the second half we got some easy run outs and we handled their press better in the second half than we did in the first half. We turned it over nine times in the first half, and that’s too many. We want 10-12 for the whole game and we ended up with 12 in the game which I can live with, but nine in the first half was a little too many. We did a better job in the second half, handling it, playing without fouling, we fouled them so much in that first half and we talked about those two things a lot. Our guys responded, I thought Askia Booker was terrifc tonight, very efficient, made easy plays and we finished enough to win the thing but it was a good win.”

Colorado advances to play George Washington in the second round of the tournament. The Colonials defeated Ohio, 77-49, to run their record to 7-3. The game will be played Tuesday, 2:30 p.m., MT (ESPNU).

Game Notes …

– Colorado improves to 3-4 all-time in games played in the Hawaiian islands (all in tournaments);

– The win was the 99th for Tad Boyle, in his fifth season at Colorado;

– Askia Booker’s 27 points matched a career-high;

– The 14-for-14 from the free throw line for Booker were also career highs for attempts and makes;

Game Recap …

For a change, the Colorado men’s basketball team started fast. After DePaul made a basket a minute into the game to take a 2-1 lead, the Buffs took charge and were never behind the remainder of the game. The Buffs scored the next 11 points to take a 12-4 lead, with Xavier Johnson leading the charge with a three-pointer and a tip-in. By the time the Blue Demons posted another basket, four minutes had past, with the Buffs taking a 15-4 advantage into the first television break after a Josh Scott three-point play.

Both teams then went cold, with each team only recording two points over the next four minutes. After the under 12 break, though, the Blue Demons made their run. An 8-1 run by DePaul made it an 18-14 game, but the Buffs struck back with Askia Booker posting a basket and four free throws, with CU taking a 26-17 advantage.

Then the Buffs resorted to their bad habits, turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions. DePaul took advantage, going on an 8-0 run to climb back to within a point at 26-25. Over the final six minutes of the first half the Buffs held the Blue Demons at bay with free throws. Askia Booker made two, Wesley Gordon four and Xavier Johnson two to help the Buffs keep the lead. A Josh Scott dunk with a minute left gave the Buffs a 36-33 advantage at the half.

Halftime score: Colorado 36, DePaul 33

In a mirror of the first half, the Buffs started the second half in similar fashion … hot. In the first four minutes, the Buffs out-scored the Blue Demons 11-4, taking control of the game with a 47-36 advantage. Askia Booker contributed six of the Buffs’ 11 points during the run, with four free throws and a jumper, with Xavier Johnson hitting a three pointer and Jaron Hopkins contributing a dunk during the onslaught.

DePaul tried to keep in the game from long range, hitting three three-pointers over the next five minutes, but the Blue Demons’ efforts were more than off-set by the Buffs, with Colorado slowing pulling away.  Askia Booker hit a three of his own while continuing to drain free throws, and, over a two minute span in the middle of the second half, Tre’Shaun Fletcher went on his only little six point spree, connecting on a jumper, a pair of free throws, and a dunk.

While the Blue Demons continued to try three-pointers – DePaul went over ten minutes of the second half without a two-point basket, scoring all of their points on five three-pointers and a pair of free throws – the Buffs continued with their balanced scoring. Jaron Hopkins posted a pair of dunks, with Xavier Johnson getting a pair of layups at the five minute mark, giving the Buffs a 76-58 lead, and ending any remaining doubts about the final outcome.

DePaul out-scored Colorado 10-6 over the final four minutes, but the Buffs had win No. 7 in the books.

Final Score: Colorado 82, DePaul 68



… CU in the Arena …

Buffs searching for consistency in Diamond Head Classic

From cubuffs.com … The Buffs (6-3) open play in the Diamond Head Classic on Monday (2:30 p.m. MST, ESPNU) against DePaul (6-4). CU is guaranteed three games, but the pair of opponents after Monday is TBD – depending on the day one outcomes.

The majority of the Buffs are making their initial Hawai’i excursions, and all are appreciative of the opportunity to play holiday hoops in a tropical clime. Leaving practice in flip-flops – as the Buffs expected to do after workouts on Saturday and Sunday – beats trudging out in snow boots. Boyle wants his guys to experience the warmth, the island culture and ambience, the holiday spirit, the camaraderie, etc., ad infinitum . . .

“But we’re going there to play basketball,” he reiterated a couple of days before departure.

The season’s first month has been a strange trip for Boyle and his crew. Picked to finish third in the Pac-12 Conference’s preseason media poll and initially receiving enough votes to be a top 30 team in the early national polls, the Buffs have performed below those expectations. Boyle has spoken of his team being “a little overrated” and thus far struggling to play a 40-minute game.

His fifth CU team is, um, different. It’s a talented but diverse collection of personalities that seem amped up on some nights but tamped down on others. That’s part of the consistency puzzle Boyle is trying to solve, with sometimes having to “coach effort” perhaps his most perplexing task.

“Every team is different,” he said. “The thing about this team is we’ve got some strong personalities on this team, we’ve got some egos on this team (but) every team has them. The fact of the matter is, the expectation level coming into this season on this team was higher than any team we’ve had here. And we haven’t handled it.

“If our team gives great effort and great energy for 40 minutes, we’re going to give ourselves a good chance to win. Now, there are obviously things to work on, every team has them . . . you talk about the X’s and O’s as the things to get better at. That, as a coach, is what I want to concern myself with, not, ‘Is this guy playing hard, is he giving effort every minute he’s in there?’

“If I have to concern myself with that and sub guys out because they’re not playing hard or they’re not mentally in the game, then as a coach it’s hard. It’s frustrating and these guys know that. There’s a fine line between thinking you’re better than you are and not being as good as what you think you are. Seriously, there’s a fine line there. This team has maybe walked that line a little bit to this point.”



December 21st

… CU in the Arena …

CU women rally to take down Wyoming

From cubuffs.com If Jen Reese was the starter, Jamee Swan was the closer – and for Swann the role was unconventional. Out of the starting lineup for the first time this season, Swan bounded off the bench to score 16 second-half points and help push the Colorado women’s basketball team past Wyoming 76-71 on Sunday afternoon.

CU (7-3) won its 400th game at the Coors Events Center and defeated Wyoming for the fifth straight time. The Buffaloes lead the series 37-9, including 22-2 in Boulder, but this win mirrored most of the others – it was no piece of holiday fruitcake.

“Wyoming is always really tough . . . it’s always a great game,” said CU coach Linda Lappe. “It was a great way to go into the holiday break. We’re excited to come out of that one with a win.”

The Buffs and Swan saved most of their excitement and energy for the game’s final 10 minutes. After Reese scored CU’s first 10 points and kept the home team close at intermission – the Cowgirls led 42-41 – Swan helped reenergize the Buffs when they needed it most.

Trailing by eight points twice in the last 14:30, the Buffs launched a 10-1 run that took them from a 58-50 deficit to a 60-59 lead with 5:52 left. A couple of hustle plays and back-to-back baskets by senior Jasmine Sborov and a short banker by Alina Hartman gave CU its first lead since 41-40.

Hartman’s basket came off an acrobatic falling-out-of-bounds assist from Swan, who also had four rebounds, one block and two steals. Up 60-59, the Buffs built a 69-65 lead as Swan scored the next seven points. Then she put a ribbon on the win with three of four free throws in the final 13 seconds.

Swan, said Lappe, could have sulked over being out of the starting lineup for the first time this season: “But she stayed engaged on the bench and didn’t get down . . . it’s a credit to her. Lappe added about the excitable Swan, “It doesn’t take much for Jamee to get excited (and) that’s what we love about her.”

Said Swan, who played only two minutes in the first half and didn’t take a shot: “I’ve always been told that it doesn’t matter who starts the game – just who finishes and who has the confidence to be in when big minutes are needed. I don’t really think it affected me.”

But Lappe’s lineup change involved more than Swan. Guard Lexy Kresl did not suit up due to an upper leg injury and was held out for purposes of rest. Lappe said Kresl is day-to-day and that the senior’s absence Sunday caused a “huge change” at the point guard position. Kresl, who in 33 minutes averages 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists, was replaced by freshman Brecca Thomas.

Lappe said Thomas did a “nice job” of directing the offense in the first half. “Ultimately, I think it will help us in the long run . . . help us get better.”

In addition to Swan’s 16 points and Reese’s 15, CU got double-figure production from Sborov (11) and Haley Smith (10). Guard Marquelle Dent, one of four Coloradans in Wyoming’s starting lineup, led the Cowgirls (5-5) with 24 points. Kayla Woodward added 22, hitting five of her seven 3-point attempts, and Kaitlyn Mileto contributed 11 points.



Getting to Know: DePaul Blue Demons

Colorado vs. Depaul … Monday, 2:00 p.m., MT (ESPNU) … 850 KOA radio

Blue Demons’ 2014 Record: 6-4

Coach: Oliver Purnell, fifth year, 48-89

Series: CU leads the series, 1-0, with the game played during the 1939-40 season. CU won the game, 50-37, in the NIT semi-final win in NYC. That was the season the Buffs became the first team in history to play in both the NIT and NCAA Tournaments in the same season. CU won the NIT title that season defeating Duquesne in the final.

Blue Demons’ record last season: 12-21 overall, 3-15 in Big East play … no post-season … Last NCAA appearance, 2004

Players to watch …DePaul has four players averaging double figures in scoring, with the leader being forward Mike Henry, who is averaging 16.2 points per game. Sophomore guard Billy Garrett, Jr., the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, is averaging 12.3 points and 3.4 assists per game.

Getting to Know DePaul … DePaul started the season with a 6-1 record, including a convincing 87-72 win over Stanford. Since the hot start, however, the Blue Demons have lost three straight games. DePaul lost to George Washington and Illinois State before bottoming out with a 90-59 loss to Oregon State last Thursday night.

Colorado on the islands …  The CU men’s basketball program is not a stranger to the Hawaiian Islands during the

5 Replies to “Buff Basketball – December, 2014”

  1. I didn’t vote on today’s poll Stuart because there wasn’t an option for the way I see it.

    I think the Buffs can win if they play similar to the last two weeks. If not they will lose

  2. Tough news for Alec Burks with the season-ending shoulder injury. Here’s to hoping that surgery is successful and he makes a full recovery.

  3. We have to stop allowing Askia to grab the ball pound it for 33 seconds then jack up a 3. He/we have got to stop trying to be the Kansas hero every game.He personally cost us two games in Hawaii.

  4. so many of us expected so much from this team. thoughtfulness says we
    have been too optimistic. imagine what this team could be if it had a
    leader, nba ready, point guard. would this team be better ? the answer
    is no. the answer is it would be immensely better. this team lost
    that point guard. is it a lesser team ? no. it is an immensely lesser
    team. so let’s stand by what we have not what we wanted. o.k. ?

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