Buff Basketball

April 3rd

… CU in the Arena …

Chauncey Billups inducted into Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

From CBSDenver … Some of Colorado’s most memorable sports stars are the latest inductees into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.

Chauncey Billups, considered to be the best basketball player Denver has ever produced, along with Roy Halladay, who might be the best baseball player,were inducted as part of the 2015 class into the hall of fame.

“It’s humbling, man, because I’ve never really been a huge baseball guy, however I’m a huge Colorado guy. So I’ve been the biggest Roy Halladay groupie all along his career and he never knew that. I expressed that to him and he’s like, ‘Man I never even knew that you knew me’ And I’m like, ‘You’re from Colorado and I’m always going to be a diehard and support you,’” said Billups. “And Becky (Hammon, CSU basketball player), Becky look at her career and what she’s been able to do with going into coaching. This is a great class.”

Here is a link to a video interview of Billups after the ceremony…

More on Billups … During Billups’ 17-season NBA career with seven teams, he played in 1,043 regular-season games where he averaged 15.2 points and 5.4 assists per game. Selected third overall in the 1997 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics, Billups played with the Celtics (1997-1998), Toronto Raptors (1998-1999), Minnesota Timberwolves (2000-2002), New York Knicks (2011) and Los Angeles Clippers (2001-2013).

Nicknamed “Mr. Big Shot” for making late-game shots, Billups was selected as the most valuable player of the 2004 NBA finals after leading the Larry Brown-coached Pistons to the championship by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers four games to one. Billups played on teams that advanced to the post-season 12 times as he averaged 17.3 points and 5.7 assists per playoff game.

A Denver native, Billups was a four-time All-State pick at George Washington High School where he started as a freshman. He was Colorado’s Mr. Basketball three times and the state’s player of the year as a sophomore and as a junior. He was also selected to the 1995 McDonald’s All-American Team.

Billups averaged 18.5 points per game over his two seasons at the University of Colorado where he was an All-Big 12 Conference performer and led the Buffs to the 1997 NCAA Championships and the school’s first NCAA tournament victory in over 30 years with an 80–62 win over Indiana. Billups was honored by CU in 2004 by being the fifth player to have his jersey (No 4) retired.



April 2nd

… CU in the Arena …

George King and Josh Fortune end red-shirt seasons with an eye on contributing in 2015-16

From B.G. Brooks at cubuffs.com … Not that it has been their favorite thing, but Josh Fortune and George King have grown accustomed to waiting. Yet both can say without reservation that while they’ve waited they’ve grown. Which is good news for Colorado basketball and a fan base that left March mad, disappointed and speculating – wildly at times – as to what went wrong.

Fortune and King spent the recently concluded CU season as redshirts, Fortune sitting out the mandated transfer year to regain his eligibility after leaving Providence and King taking his second college season off to mature, improve his overall game, and hopefully offer that improvement to the future.

… Both Fortune and King believe their season of practicing with their teammates then spectating at home games allowed firsthand looks at the strengths and deficiencies the Buffs will carry into next winter.

“I saw some things by watching that I hadn’t seen before – where, when the ball needs to be moved,” King told me last week. “Just little things by watching the games . . . the games were my film sessions. I was watching it live so there was no replay, but I didn’t need a replay.”

King, who played in 27 games season before last as a freshman, saw a CU team whose talent belied its productivity. The malaise went deeper than injuries – the most significant being to post Josh Scott – and ranged from a lack of late-game grit to on-court leadership.

“I saw a lot of talent and I still see a lot of talent, even with ‘Ski’ (Askia Booker) and Dustin (Thomas) departing,” King said. “I’m disappointed that the talent went to waste with our record being what it was, finishing below .500. That’s unacceptable with the guys we had. I want to make sure that it doesn’t happen (again).

“No doubt about it, we underachieved. Coach Boyle preached over and over and over that he believed in us and he still does. But I don’t think you can tell anybody you believe in them unless they believe in themselves. I don’t think as a team we believed in ourselves enough.”

Continue reading here



April 1st

Pac-12 Basketball has not fared well in the NCAA tournament

Jon Wilner has published an article outlining the frustration the Pac-12 conference has endured in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The full article can be read here.

Some of the notations:

– This is the second year in a row in which the Pac-12 has had three teams make it through the first weekend, with no team making it to the Final Four. Last year, UCLA, Arizona and Stanford won their first two games, but failed to win two more. This year, it was Utah, UCLA, and Arizona;

– It has now been seven years – UCLA’s 2008 team – since a Pac-12 team has made it to the Final Four;

– Only two Pac-12 teams – Arizona and UCLA – have been to the Final Four in the 21st century (meanwhile, the Big Ten has sent six teams to the Final Four – not counting Maryland; and the Big 12 has sent four – not counting West Virginia);

– Only three Pac-12 teams – Arizona, UCLA, and Stanford (in 1998) – have made it to the Final Four in the past 50 years (Colorado has been to the Final Four twice, in 1942 and 1955). In that same time span, the Missouri Valley Conference has sent four different teams to the Final Four;

– Arizona, the flagship basketball school for the Pac-12 in recent years, hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2001. During that same time span, Butler has made it (twice), as has Virginia Commonwealth; George Mason and Wichita State. None of those teams produced a first round NBA pick, while Arizona has cycled through nine first-round selections;

– The Pac-12 picked up 12 “units” by having its four teams compete in 12 games in the tournament (last year’s six teams produced 14 units). Each “unit” is worth about $250,000 per year for six years, or roughly $1.5 million per unit for the Pac-12. So, for every game played in the NCAA tournament (or, if your glass is half empty, one unit lost for every potential game missed) CU picks up over $20,000 per year for six years, or roughly $125,000 over the six year payout;

– It doesn’t take a math major to figure out that the Pac-12 would make a great deal more money if the conference was more successful in getting more teams to the tournament … and at least one to the Final Four.



March 23rd – at Seattle         2nd round, CBI          Seattle 72, Colorado 65

Seattle posted ten three-pointers, including seven in the second half, to overcome a nine-point second half deficit and defeat Colorado in the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational Tournament, 72-65.

The Buffs hit seven of their first 14 three-point attempts to build a lead, but then missed their last 11 attempts from deep, failing to post a three-pointer in the final 17 minutes of the game. Colorado was also cold from the free throw line, missing ten of their 30 attempts.

Josh Scott scored eight of Colorado’s first 11 points before being shut out over the next 20 minutes of play. Scott finished with a double-double, with 17 points and 12 rebounds, but he had only six rebounds in the final 34 minutes of the game, and missed five free throw attempts. The only other Buff in double figures was Dominique Collier, with 11 points.

“To a man, the guys in that locker room have to get better before next season,” said Tad Boyle after the game. “We have to find a motivating factor, because just because we’re a year older doesn’t mean we’re a year better, we found that out this year. Last year, I tried to use the Pittsburgh score to motivate us and that fell flat as a pancake.

“We weren’t good enough to win on the road in the Western Athletic Conference, and we know we have to beat teams in the Pac-12 on the road. Hopefully that can motivate and bring the reality of where some of our players are right now and where they need to be, which is we have to get better.”

The Buffs finished their season with a 16-18 record, the most losses in a season for the program since going 9-22 in 2008-09.

Game Notes …

– The loss to Seattle was the 11th road loss of the season, the most since the 1988-89 team went 0-12;

– CU finished the season 7-10 in single digit games, 1-4 on the road;

– Josh Scott, with 17 points and 12 rebounds, posted his 23rd career double-double, 11th on CU’s all-time list;

– Scott’s 12 rebounds gave him 692 for his career, moving him into the top ten in that category (Scott is No. 20 in all-time scoring);

Game Recap …

The last time Colorado went on the road to face a sold out arena was back on January 15th, when 14,655 were on hand in the McKale Center in Tucson to watch the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats take out the Buffs, 68-54.

Against Seattle, it was again against a sold out hostile crowd, though this time the capacity of the arena, the Connolly Center on the campus of Seattle University, was a total of 999 mostly Redhawk fans.

The Buffs were looking to make an early statement, but were unsuccessful on their first possession, with Seattle getting a putback on their first opportunity to post the first points of the game. A pair of Josh Scott free throws then tied the game, with a Dom Collier three-pointer giving CU a 5-2 lead. The teams then traded layups, with the Buffs’ coming courtesy of Josh Scott, with the Buffs taking a 7-4 lead into the first media timeout.

A tip-in by Scott pushed the lead out to 9-4, with Seattle hitting their first three-pointer in five attempts to cut the lead back to two. A layup and a three-pointer from the Redhawks gave CU an 8-0 run and a 12-9 lead. Josh Scott got another basket to cut the lead to one, but another layup on a putback against gave the Seattle a three-point advantage. Tre’Shaun Fletcher posted his first points of the game to make it 14-13, Redhawks. The teams continued to trade layups, with Tory Miller scoring for the Buffs to make it a 16-15 game at the midway point of the first half

The Redhawks, noted for their three-point shooting, were content to go for (largely uncontested) layups instead, with a layup for the Redhawks matched by a tip-in by Tre’Shaun Fletcher to keep it close, at 18-17. A Jaron Hopkins jumper restored the lead for the Buffs, with a three-pointer from Eli Stalzer giving CU a 22-18 advantage at the under eight break.

A Xavier Johnson three-pointer on the Buffs’ next possession gave CU an 8-0 run of their own and a 25-18 lead. The Buffs had several chances to extend the lead, but turnovers by Stalzer and Johnson kept the Redhawks in the game. One of two free throws by Seattle was then countered by one of two free throws by Dominque Collier, making it a 26-19 game at the last media timeout of the first half.

A layup by the Redhawks, a missed layup from Scott, and a short jumper from Seattle cut the lead to 26-23. Wesley Gordon scored on the next possession for the Buffs, but Gordon missed a chance at a three point play with a missed free throw. An open three-pointer by the Redhawks made it a two point game again, with a shot clock violation from the Buffs giving the ball right back to Seattle, with a jumper by the Redhawks tying the score at 28-28. A three-pointer from Xavier Talton restored a lead for the Buffs at the half.

Halftime score: Colorado 31, Seattle 28

In the first eight minutes of the game, Josh Scott dominated, scoring eight of CU’s 11 points, and hauling down four rebounds (three offensive). The remainder of the first half, Scott had no points and two rebounds, as the Redhawks figured out how to defend CU in the middle. The Buffs did respond in one respect, with four different players hitting three-pointers. Colorado, though, held only a 21-19 rebounding advantage over the much smaller Redhawks, with both teams pulling down five offensive rebounds.

Seattle’s fourth three-pointer of the game tied the score to open the second half, with Xavier Talton giving CU its fifth three-pointer on the Buffs’ next possession to restore CU’s three-point advantage. A Tre’Shaun Fletcher trey, followed on the Buffs’ next possession by a trey from Dominique Collier, gave the Buffs’ their biggest lead of the game, at 40-31. The nine-point advantage, though, was cut to six a moment later by another three-pointer from Seattle. Wesley Gordon hit one of two free throws before Seattle hit a jumper to make it a 41-36 game four minutes in. Free throws from Tre’Shaun Fletcher upped the lead to seven points before Wesley Gordon got a putback off of a missed three to give Colorado its largest lead, at 45-36.

Out of the break, the Redhawks hit a pair of free throws, with Josh Scott missing a pair of free throw attempts on the other end. The teams then traded turnovers, with Tory Miller contributing three turnovers in three consecutive possessions for the Buffs. A three-minute drought for both teams ended with a three-pointer by the Redhawks, making it 45-41. Xavier Johnson hit a pair of free throws to end a five minute drought for Colorado, offset by a layup on the other end, making it 47-43 at the midway point of the second half.

Josh Scott hit his first basket in 20 minutes of play, making him the first Buff with double digit points, with ten. 49-43, Colorado with nine minutes to play. An open three-pointer out of a time out cut the CU lead in half, with the Redhawks’ eighth three-pointer of the game tying the score for the second time in the second half. 49-49, at the under eight minute timeout.

Josh Scott hit a pair of free throws to restore the lead for the Buffs, with Seattle hitting one of two on their end. On the rebound, Xavier Talton went one-on-four, collecting an offensive foul in the process. The Redhawks then took the lead on a basket, but missed the chance at a three-point play on a foul by Jaron Hopkins.

Dominique Collier, a 59% free throw shooter, made one of two to tie the score at 52-52 with six minutes left to play. Josh Scott, a 76% free throw shooter, then hit one of his free throw attempts to give CU a one-point lead. Three-pointer number eight then gave the Redhawks a two point lead, at 55-53. Seattle maintained the lead when Scott missed one of two free throws once again, hitting a three-pointer on their end to give the Redhawks their biggest lead of the game, at three points, at 57-54.

After a Dominique Collier turnover – the Buffs’ 13th of the game – led to a breakaway and a foul, free throws made it a five point game, at 59-54, as the game clock approached three minutes. Free throws from Xavier Talton cut the lead to three, but the Redhawks answered with a layup on their end. Jaron Hopkins got a layup on their end to make it a 61-58 game, but three-pointer number ten on the night, coming with 1:43 to play, gave Seattle its biggest lead, at 64-58.

With CU’s season on the line, Xavier Talton had an open three-pointer … and missed. The Buffs then fouled the Redhawks’ best free throw shooter, Isiah Umipeg, who calmly hit two free throws to make it an eight point lead for Seattle. After a turnover by Josh Scott, the Buffs didn’t foul Umipeg .. they fouled another player as he was making a layup, giving up a three point play. Just like that, it was a double digit deficit, at 69-58, and the Buffs’ season was over. Josh Scott – fittingly – hit only one of two free throws on CU’s next possession. Xavier Talton – fittingly – hit one of two free throws on CU’s next possession, with Josh Scott getting a consolation tip-in to make it an eight point game, at 70-62, with 28 seconds to play. Dominique Collier hit three free throws to cut the lead to five, but free throws by the Redhawks sealed the deal.

Final Score: Seattle 72, Colorado 65



Seattle in post-season play for the first time since 1969

From the Seattle Times … Seattle U players say they’ve enthusiastically embraced the CBI, which often is the difference between winning and losing in the third-tier postseason tournament that takes a backseat to the NCAA and National Invitation Tournament.

During Wednesday’s first-round 62-45 win over Pepperdine, the Redhawks were the more energetic team and they dominated the rebounding, 40-22.

“I think these games are going to be (won) by who wants to do the little things like boxing out and getting back in transition defense,” said Umipig, who scored a game-high 24 points in the opener. “Just not letting the little things like that affect the game.”

“I’m ecstatic to be in the CBI,” coach Cameron Dollar told the Seattle Times prior to the Redhawks’ first-round game on Wednesday. “It would be big time to be able to win the CBI championship. Just being able to compete for it and challenge for it is something that we’re all really excited about.”

Colorado is hoping to match Seattle’s excitement and energy.

“I think it’s fun,” CU junior Xavier Johnson said of going into Monday’s game. “Anyone who wants to compete should be allowed to compete, and the harder they compete, the better it makes us. I’m glad that they’re ready to play and they’re not going to just give up. I hope we come ready to play. I know I am.”

And SU’s administration has financially shown its support while doling out $85,000 in CBI tournament fees, including $50,000 for the quarterfinal, to host the first Division I postseason games at the 999 seat on-campus gym.

Publicly, Colorado has said all the right things, but it’s fair to question whether motivation will be in short supply. After three straight NCAA tournament appearances — which is the first in school history — the Buffaloes (16-17) finished the regular season with a losing record.



March 21st

… CU in the Arena …

Buffs looking to Dominique Collier to take over at the point

From cubuffs.com … The Buffs’ starter at the point next season is expected to be Dom Collier, who is wrapping up his freshman season with the CBI. The Buffs play Seattle U. in Seattle in Monday night’s quarterfinals. (8 p.m. MDT, Live Stream).  Despite their 19 turnovers, the Redhawks (17-15) eliminated Pepperdine in the first round, with seniors Isiah Umipig (24 points, five 3-pointers) and Jarell Flora (20 points, four treys) hitting all of their team’s 21 3-point attempts. CU will have to clamp down on that duo as well as contend with a bigger front line than it faced in Gardner-Webb. Seattle, which starts a 6-11 center and has two 6-9 reserves, out-rebounded Pepperdine 40-22.

Collier was scheduled to start in last Wednesday night’s win over Gardner-Webb, but tardiness to the game-day shoot-around broke a Boyle rule and put Collier on the bench for the opening tip. If he’s to emerge in a leadership role for next season, being on time isn’t an option. Bet on Boyle stressing that, as he always does.

Boyle calls Collier’s leadership skills “a work in progress” that should benefit from the CBI experience as well as a year in the program and another year of maturation once the 2015-16 season begins.

Of Collier becoming CU’s floor director, Boyle said, “He’s got to become more vocal, take charge on floor. It’s all tied to maturity and confidence, being that kind of point guard – the quarterback on the floor, the extension of the coach who gets guys where they need to be and gets them to do what needs to be done.

“He’s got to be ready to rattle some cages. It has to happen sooner rather than later. I’m hoping he can grow into that, but he’s not there yet and we won’t pretend that he is.”

But no pretending is necessary in recognizing Collier’s skill set. In 22 minutes against Gardner-Webb, he finished with six points, five assists, three rebounds, one turnover and one blocked shot. “I love Dom and the way he plays, the way he sees the floor,” Boyle said. “When we face zones, he’s got a great feel for getting it to the right people.”

The Buffs expect to see 40 minutes of 2-3 and 3-2 zones Monday night, and their Friday/Saturday practices reflected that. Running the offense against a zone is becoming less stressful for Collier, who says regular-season and Pac-12 Tournament encounters with Oregon State helped the Buffs acclimate to attacking the zone. They also faced it against Gardner-Webb and wound up shooting 53 percent from the field, which followed a 50 percent shooting outing against the Beavers in Las Vegas.

“I think we’re doing pretty well now against zones,” Collier said. “You move the ball like we’ve been doing, go inside-out and you should be successful . . . I like to play against it; I wouldn’t say I’m more comfortable but it’s gotten to be the same comfort as (facing) a man-to-man.”

IN FACT, COLLIER’S OVERALL COMFORT level is on the rise and he believes extending the season courtesy of the CBI is a huge benefit for him. In the absence of Booker, Collier finds the ball much more in his hands, which he says “helps my teammates trust me to be that leader. It’s really helpful to have a tournament before we go into the summer.”

Collier wasn’t a point guard at Denver East High School but he began playing the “one” in AAU ball and developed a knack for setting up the offense. That meant being more vocal than he’s been in his first college season, and he’s confident it will return.

“I have to work on it a lot,” he admitted. “I was more vocal in high school because I knew those guys really well. We’d played together since the fifth grade, so I was more comfortable with them. But I’ve been more comfortable (recently) with this team. This tournament has been a big benefit for me in that.”

When the Buffs finish playing, Collier’s off-season assignments will be to improve his shooting, his overall game, and his strength. Now weighing 172, his target weight is 185-190 – which his 6-2 frame can easily carry. A specific goal for shooting improvement is quickening his release. He’s currently shooting 35 percent from the field (26 from beyond the arc) and is averaging 4.5 points, with 42 assists to 36 turnovers in his 19 minutes per game.

Of the Buffs’ 20 assists (38 baskets) against Gardner-Webb, Collier’s five were the most by any player. Boyle likes those numbers: “Five assists and one turnover – that’s what he brings.”

If he can also bring mature leadership on the floor, that’s all the better. The Buffs lacked it this season but they can’t afford to be without it next season. Whatever else the CBI does for them, if it offers a nudge for someone to step up, we’ll call it worth the price of admission.



March 20th

… CU in the Arena …

Getting to Know: Seattle Redhawks

Colorado at Seattle … at the Connolly Center on the campus of Seattle University (capacity 1,000) … Monday, 8:00 p.m., MT (no television … live stream can be found here) … AM 850 radio

Program Note … CU at the Game will be posting live updates throughout the game Monday night …

Redhawks’ 2014-15 Record: 17-15 (7-7 in Western Athletic Conference play, t-4th)

Series: Seattle leads the all-time series, 1-0. The only game played between the two teams was on December 17, 1965, with the Redhawks winning, 86-69, in a holiday tournament.

Seattle’s record last season:  13-17, 5-11 (no post-season)

What to Watch For … As a reminder, the CBI is experimenting with a 30-second shot clock in its tournament (instead of the usual 35-second clock). This leads to more possessions for each team, and a faster paced contest. The Buffs put up 87 on Gardner-Webb after averaging 68.5 points per game during the season. While Gardner-Webb was comfortable at the faster pace, Seattle is not. The Redhawks average 62.6 points per game, 289th in the nation.

The star for Seattle is 6’1, 195-pound senior guard Isiah Umipig, who is averaging 17.2 points per game (27% of the Redhawks’ total). Umipig is throwing up an average of 8.5 three-pointers per game, and hitting 43% of those attempts.

The leading rebounder for the Redhawks is William Powell, a 6’6″, 215-pound forward, who is pulling down only 6.4 rebounds per game.

So, the game plan for the Buffs against Seattle is similar to that against Gardner-Webb … guard the perimeter, and don’t allow the Redhawks to get hot from the outside. Meanwhile, pound it inside and take advantage of CU’s height and strength advantages.

Stats to monitor … If Seattle is hitting half of its three-point attempts, CU could be in trouble … But, if Josh Scott is well on his way to another double-double by halftime, the Buffs could be in good shape.

Seattle so far in 2014-15 … The Redhawks have played two Power-Five schools so far this season. Seattle played Washington early in the season (when the Huskies were on their way to an 11-0 start), losing 63-48. The Redhawks also played Minnesota, falling 92-57 in a pre-Christmas road trip. After a 7-7 non-conference campaign, Seattle went 7-7 in Western Athletic Conference play. In the WAC tournament, making it to the championship game before falling to New Mexico State.

In the first round of CIT, Seattle took on Pepperdine at home. The Redhawks took out Pepperdine, 62-45, led by Isiah Umipeg, with 24 points (5-13 from three-point range), and Jarell Flora, who had 20 points (4-8 from behind the arc). The pair had all nine of the Redhawks’ three-pointers, and 71% of Seattle’s 62 points.



March 18th – Boulder        First round CBI           Colorado 87, Gardner-Webb 78

Colorado had a significant height advantage in its game against Gardner-Webb, and it showed. The Buffs outrebounded the Bulldogs, 43-18, in posting an 87-78 home win in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational.

Josh Scott led five Buffs in double figures, scoring 23 points, and almost matching the Bulldogs’ rebound total all by himself, with 15. Tory Miller had a good game, with 12 points and six rebounds, with fellow freshman Dominique Collier collecting six points and five assists. Eli Stalzer had a season-high 11 points, including the last eight points of the game for the Buffs, while Tre’Shaun Fletcher and Xavier Johnson contributed ten points apiece.

Gardner-Webb was able to stay in the game for most of the first half, hitting 7-of-15 three-point attempts. The Bulldogs cooled off in the second half, though, hitting only 4-of-14 from behind the arc. The Buffs took an eight point lead into the break (their largest lead of the half), at 44-36, with the Bulldogs never getting any closer than eight points the remainder of the game.

With the victory, Colorado ups its overall record to 16-17, moving on to the second round of the CBI. The Buffs will take on Seattle, which took out Pepperdine, 62-45, Wednesday night. The game will likely be Monday night (site TBA).

“That was a good win. I told our team in the locker room after the game that there is a reason whoever you’re playing this time of year does something pretty darn well,” said Tad Boyle. “This tournament is about an investment in our future, the future of Colorado Basketball. Contrary to maybe what some people think or believe, the future is bright. We have some good players in that locker room.

“This tournament is an opportunity for them to learn and grow. We have to get better defensively, but I thought offensively we shared the ball well, we had 20 assists. We got the ball inside and rebounded the ball well, which is the strength of this team. We have to build on our strengths, but also shore up our weaknesses. What’s nice about tournaments is that we get a chance to see different styles and different teams that you don’t see during the regular season, so it was a good experience for us tonight.”

Game Notes …

– Buffs improve to 16-17 overall, and will play Seattle next Monday (site TBA);

– CU improves to 15-8 in tournament play under Tad Boyle (the wins and winning percentage – .652 – are school records;

– The victory was the 12th for CU at home this season, the 6th straight season the Buffs have won at least 12 games at home;

– CU is now 2-0 all-time against Gardner-Webb, and 4-0 all-time against teams from the Big South Conference;

– Attendance was 1,280, the lowest for a CU game since 2,556 were on hand for a game against Longwood in 2010;

– Josh Scott’s double-double (23 points; 15 rebounds) was his seventh of the season, and 22nd of his career (11th all-time) 

Game Recap …

The Colorado/Gardner-Webb matchup in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational featured advantages for both teams. The Buffs had the greater talent, the home court (and altitude) advantage, and greater height in the lineup. The Bulldogs had better shooters, more players at their disposal, and a greater incentive to continue on with their season (by beating a Power-Five school).

Early on, Gardner-Webb, expected to launch three-pointers all night, instead was posting layups. The Bulldogs made layups on three of their first four shots, countered only by a pair of baskets by Josh Scott, with Gardner-Webb taking an early 6-4 lead.

After Wesley Gordon tied the game with a layup, Gardner-Webb hit its first three-pointer of the night, making it a 9-6 game five minutes in. A Xavier Johnson dunk got the Buffs back to within one, but a layup at the other end kept the Bulldogs ahead. Over the next few possessions, though, Josh Scott took over, hitting a pair of layups to give him eight early points, while giving CU its first lead of the night, at 12-11. The teams then traded three-pointers, with CU’s coming from an unlikely source – Eli Stalzer – making it a 15-14 game at the under 12 media timeout.

Tory Miller hit one of two free throws out of the break to give the Buffs a two-point advantage before the Bulldogs hit their third three-pointer to retake the lead at 17-16. One of two free throws by the Bulldogs was then met with Dominique Collier following his own miss, and a dunk on a steal by Xavier Johnson, restoring the Buffs’ advantage, at 20-18. When Wesley Gordon scored on an uncontested dunk on CU’s next possession, the Buffs’ lead was up to four, at 22-18.

After a timeout, Gardner-Webb hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to one, with Tory Miller getting a layup on the other end, giving CU the Buffs a 24-21 lead. The Bulldogs then hit their fifth three-pointer (in nine attempts) to tie the score at 24-all. Dominique Collier next got his second basket of the first half, making it a 26-24 game at the seven minute mark.

The Bulldogs tied the game on their next possession, with Josh Scott following his own miss on CU’s next opportunity to give him ten first half points. Two free throws by the Bulldogs tied the score at 28-all, with Tre’Shaun Fletcher hitting a three-pointer to restore a lead for the Buffs. Gardner-Webb next hit three-pointer number six to tie the score again at 31-31. A dunk by Fletcher gave the Buffs a 33-31 lead at the under four media break.

A Tory Miller layup gave him five first half points, while giving the Buffs a 35-31 advantage. After Xavier Johnson forced a turnover, Tory Miller posted a traditional three-point play to give CU its largest advantage of the game to that point, at 38-31. A rout in the making? Not really, as Gardner-Webb responded with three-pointer number seven, cutting the lead back to four. A Xavier Johnson tip-in, followed by a Dominique Collier jumper then made it an eight point lead for the Buffs, at 42-34. In the final minute before the break, the teams traded layups, with the Buffs two-pointer coming courtesy of Josh Scott.

Halftime Score: Colorado 44, Gardner-Webb 36

Defense was not at a premium in the first half. Colorado made 20-of-34 shots (58.8%), with Gardner-Webb connecting on 13-of-23 (56.5%). The Buffs dominated the boards in the first half, with an 18-7 advantage (with Scott having seven all by himself), but the Bulldogs stayed in the game – as expected – by hitting from long range. Gardner-Webb came into the game hitting eight three-pointers per game, and already had seven (on 15 attempts) in the first half against the Buffs.

CU’s scoring was fairly evenly distributed after Josh Scott’s 12, with Tory Miller going for eight, and Xavier Johnson and Dominique Collier posting six apiece.

On the first possession of the first half, Xavier Talton posted his first basket on a layup, giving CU its first double digit lead of the game. After a Tre’Shaun Fletcher steal, Josh Scott got a layup, making it 48-36 in the first minute of the second half. After a pair of free throws by the Bulldogs, Tre’Shaun Fletcher scored on a traditional three-point play. With 90 seconds gone in the first half, the Buffs’ 7-2 run made it 51-38.

A three-point miss from the Bulldogs, followed by a layup from Wesley Gordon, then pushed the lead to 15 points. A jumper and a pair of free throws cut the lead to 11, with Wesley Gordon putting an end to the 4-0 run with another layup. 55-42, Colorado before a Josh Scott putback and a dunk by the Bulldogs made it 57-44. A Josh Scott dunk on a miss gave him 18 points and ten rebounds. A layup for Gardner Webb made it 59-46, at the 14 minute mark.

Two free throws by Scott gave him an even 20, and gave CU a fifteen point lead. A jumper and a layup by Gardner-Webb on their next two possessions gave the Bulldogs a 4-0 run, cutting the lead to 61-50 at the under 12 timeout.

Gardner-Webb had a pair of opportunities to cut the lead under double digits, but failed. Xavier Johnson hit a jumper and a dunk sandwiched between a basket by the Bulldogs, making it a 65-52 at the midway point of the second half. A block by Dominique Collier on one end led to a dunk by Tory Miller on the other. Timeout, Gardner-Webb, with the score 67-52.

Two quick fouls by Tory Miller gave him four fouls, with a layup and a pair of free throws by Bulldog star Tyrell Nelson cutting the lead back to 11, at 67-56. Two more free throws from Gardner-Webb gave the Bulldogs a 6-0 run, cutting the lead to nine at 67-58, at the under eight timeout.

Jaron Hopkins got one of two free throws to make it a ten point lead again, matched by one of two free throws on the other end. A Josh Scott putback made it 70-59, with a Tre’Shaun Fletcher tip in restoring a 13-point lead. The Bulldogs’ first three-pointer of the second half cut the lead to ten, at 72-62, at the six minute mark. A Xavier Talton layup made it 74-62, with time now a factor, with five minutes now remaining.

A free throw from Josh Scott gave him 23 points to go with 15 rebounds, but a three-pointer at the other end made it a ten point game again, at 75-65. A Tory Miller layup gave him a dozen, with a Xavier Talton jumper then giving CU some breathing room,  at 79-65, with 3:29 to play.

With the game in hand, a Eli Stalzer jumper pushed the lead to 16, at 81-65, before a three-pointer by the Bulldogs cut the lead back to 13, at 81-68. After a dunk from Gardner-Webb, Tad Boyle put some starters back in to get the ball across midcourt. A Stalzer jumper was matched by yet another basket from Tyrell Nelson. Stalzer then hit another jumper, a three-pointer, giving him seven straight points for the Buffs. After a three-point play from Nelson, who had 27 points on the night, made it an 11-point game, Stalzer hit one of two free throws, giving him a season-high eleven points. A three-pointer from the Bulldogs with one second remaining in the game cut the final advantage back under double digits.

Final Score: Colorado 87, Gardner-Webb 78



March 17th

… CU in the Arena …

Getting to Know: Gardner-Webb

Gardner-Webb at Colorado … Boulder … Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., MT (no television … live stream can be found here) … AM 760 radio

Program Note … CU at the Game will be posting live updates throughout the game Wednesday night …

Bulldogs’ 2014-15 Record: 20-14, 10-8 in Big South Conference play (t-6th)

Series: Colorado leads the all-time series, 1-0, with a 97-88 win on December 28, 2004, in a game played in Boulder. In the game, the Buffs had five players in double figures, led by Marcus Hall with 22 points and Chris Copeland with 17. Gardner-Webb, in a foreshadowing of what is to come Wednesday night, hit 11 treys.

Gardner-Webb’s record last season:  18-15, 10-6 … The Bulldogs did not participate in the post-season

What to Watch For … The CBI is experimenting with a 30-second shot clock in its tournament (instead of the usual 35-second clock). While this may be a concern for the Buffs, who will play without Askia Booker, getting shots off early will not be a problem for the Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb is averaging 74.7 points per game, 30th in the nation (CU is 146th, at 68.5 ppg). While the two schools are about the same in three-point shooting percentage (.340 for the Buffs; .349 for the Bulldogs), Gardner-Webb launches an average of 23.4 treys a game (to 15.5 for the Buffs), so look for the Bulldogs to run and gun.

The Buffs do, however, have a decided height advantage. The Bulldogs’ center and second-leading scorer, Tyrell Nelson, is all of 6’7″. The leading scorer and rebounder is Jerome Hill, a 6’5″ shooting guard. Hill is averaging a double-double, scoring 18.9 points per game, while pulling down 10.1 rebounds per contest.

Look for the Buffs to try and give the Bulldogs some heavy doses of Josh Scott, Tory Miller and Wesley Gordon. If it turns into a track meet, the Buffs, playing without Booker, could have a hard time keeping up.

Gardner-Webb so far in 2014-15 … The Bulldogs opened the season with a 93-82 loss to LSU, a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament. Gardner-Webb went on to beat Clemson in a Thanksgiving tournament in the Virgin Islands before getting waxed by Arizona, 91-65, the first week of December. A few weeks later, the Bulldogs beat Purdue on the road, 89-84 (the Boilermakers are another No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament), finishing non-conference play with an 8-5 record.

In the Big South, Gardner-Webb went 10-8, finishing in a tie for 6th. In the Big South Conference tournament, the Bulldogs took out Campbell and High Point before falling, 73-70, to Coastal Carolina in the semi-finals.

Booker explains his decision not to play in CBI

Quotes from the Daily Camera

“Coach (Tad) Boyle had basically told me it was going to be my choice if I wanted to play or not,” Booker said. “But, he also told me the reason he was going to accept playing in the CBI was because it was for the younger guys and it was a chance to go into next year with some momentum.

“So, me looking at it from my perspective was that it would be pretty much selfish for me to play. I would be out there and I would want to play 30 minutes a game and compete. If the real reason why (Boyle) is playing is to get some momentum for the younger guys, they need to know what it’s like to play without me.

” … Yes, it is kinda of a selfish decision on me, but at the same time, it wasn’t just about me”, he said. “It’s about what they have to do for next year and if they want to be good, they have to learn to play without Askia Booker. They are going to have to get used to that.

“Coach is going to need somebody to lead that team. Why not start now? They need to step it up and learn how to do it with what they have. I think it’s the best way for them to learn and the best way for them to compete. I’d rather them being able to say they did it without me than they did it with me”.

CU to open the 2015-16 season against potential Top Five team in Iowa State

From the Daily Camera … On Monday, it was announced that CU has scheduled a neutral-site game against Iowa State for next season. The teams will square off in the season opener on Nov. 13 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“It’s a hell of an opportunity to open up a season against (a team) that might be preseason top five next year,” Boyle said. “It was an opportunity for a neutral-site game in South Dakota at a nice venue, and I heard the arena there is very, very nice.”

CU and Iowa State were conference rivals from 1947-2011, when the Buffs left for the Pac-12. Iowa State leads the all-time series 77-70, including 13-4 in neutral-site games.

… Really, this is a lose/lose proposition for Colorado. The Cyclones will be a top 25 team (at the least), while the Buffs will be rebuilding their lineup. While a “neutral site” game, it’s a fair bet that the arena will be 90% Iowa State fans (if you want to go, tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster.com) … Plus, the Pentagon only holds 3,200 fans, so it is not as if it will be a big payday for the program …



March 16th

… CU in the Arena …

Tad Boyle quotes on the status of Askia Booker and Dustin Thomas

From B.G. Brooks at cubuffs.com … The Colorado men’s basketball team began practice on Monday for a postseason tournament that some players had never heard of but have warmed quickly to – and the afternoon only got stranger from there

Not strange in a bad or disturbing way. Just strange.

The Buffs’ leading scorer – senior guard Askia Booker – wasn’t in the building and won’t play Wednesday night (7 p.m., Coors Events Center, KOA Radio) in the CBI Tournament against Gardner-Webb. Booker pulled the plug on himself and his CU career on Sunday, telling coach Tad Boyle of his intentions not to participate.

Recalled Boyle: “I said, ‘How are you feeling?’ He said, ‘Coach, I don’t want to play.’ He’s a senior . . . I can’t really comment; that’s something for ‘Ski.’ I respect it and we’ll move on. It is what it is.”

Boyle said he wasn’t sure if Booker would be around the Buffs over the next two days. “But he’s welcome to,” added Boyle. “He’s part of our basketball family and always will be. He’s had a great career here, so I couldn’t answer that either.”

Meanwhile, sophomore wing Dustin Thomas was in the building and practicing with his soon-to-be former teammates. Thomas is going to transfer; he will not play against the Runnin’ Bulldogs either, having reached a decision that potentially losing minutes next season at a position he deems unsuitable isn’t in his best interest.

Yet there Thomas was Monday afternoon at the CEC, hooping it up with the scout team, hustling and doing most of the things that have earned Boyle’s respect over the last two seasons. Was he still into it? He even dropped to the floor for pushups with the rest of the guys in gold when they erred.

“I’ve got great respect for Dustin Thomas, what he’s done in the two years he’s been here, the kind of young man he is,” Boyle said, adding that Thomas’ decision “didn’t come out of left field.”

Within the last three weeks or so, Boyle and Thomas had talked. When Thomas reached his decision and the announcement was made Monday, player and coach concurred that Thomas not playing on Wednesday was best.

“Part of it is for Dustin to move on, get his release and take a look at other schools,” Boyle said. “Basically he’ll go through the recruiting process all over, and with spring break next week maybe he’ll take some visits.”

Boyle said Thomas doesn’t leave with any ill-will toward CU and vice versa, and that he and his staff support Thomas in his decision and respect it. Thomas, said Boyle, “loves his teammates and the university,” and Boyle loved “the attitude and work ethic he brought to practice every day. He’s going to be very successful anywhere he goes.”

… (I just have to throw this in. In response to a Kyle Ringo question about whether there is a “sky is falling” atmosphere surrounding the men’s basketball program, Tad Boyle had this to say:

“Oh, God no . . . no, no, absolutely not,” Boyle said. “I feel as good today as ever. We’ve got commitments from good kids who are coming in next year, we’ve got good young players in the program. We’ve got four seniors coming back next year who have been in the program for four years. I feel really good about where we are and where we’re headed. The sky is not falling. We’re going to be fine; we’re going to be better next year than we were this year.” …


Dustin Thomas leaving program

With the addition of two European players this fall (see stories, below), and only one senior (Askia Booker) on the roster, there had to be at least one player on the current roster who had to leave in order for CU’s scholarship numbers to work.

Dustin Thomas is the first (but perhaps not the last) Buff with eligibility remaining who will not return for the 2015-16 season.

Press release from cubuffs.com … University of Colorado sophomore guard Dustin Thomas is leaving the men’s basketball program, announced Monday by CU head coach Tad Boyle.

“Dustin has decided it’s in his best interest to leave CU and finish his collegiate career elsewhere,” Boyle said. “I wish nothing but the best for Dustin; he’ll always be a part of the Buffalo Basketball family.”

Thomas, a 6’7 and 225-pound guard was a regular fixture in the Buff line up during the 2014-15 season, appearing in all 32 games with 11 starts. He averaged 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and played 17 minutes a game. His biggest game of his short CU career, was scoring a season-best 17 points with three steals in the home win over USC back on Jan. 4.

Thomas also scored 12 points in the regular season finale home win over Arizona State (March 1), and was a key contributor off the bench in CU’s Pac-12 Tournament first round win over Oregon State (March 11), scoring 10 points.

The Texarkana, Texas native is an Open Option major in CU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Thomas career totals were 67 games played with 17 starts, averaging 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He logged 1,062 minutes and shot 43 percent from the field (95-of-221).

CU season not over yet … Buffs accept bid to play in CBI (but Askia Booker will not be playing)

From cubuffs.com … The University of Colorado men’s basketball program has accepted their first-ever bid in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and will play Gardner-Webb, Wednesday, March 18, 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center, announced Sunday night.

CU (15-17) is coming off a 93-85 quarterfinal loss to Oregon at the Pac-12 Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, last Thursday.  The Buffaloes finished tied for eighth in the Pac-12 Conference with a 7-11 record and were seeded No. 10 due to tie-breakers. CU upset No. 7 Oregon State in the first round, 78-71 last Wednesday.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs are 20-14 on the season and finished with a 10-8 record in the Big South Conference. They lost in the semifinal round of their conference tournament.

“Gardner-Webb is very well-coached team that played an impressive non-conference schedule,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said.  “They won at Purdue (89-84); beat Clemson (72-70) at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas; and played Arizona, Old Dominion, and Seton Hall. Gardner-Webb is battled-tested.  We don’t know that much about them, but we’ll be well-acquainted with them on Monday.”

The winner of the CU/Gardner-Webb first round game will play the winner of Pepperdine or Seattle. Site is to be determined.

Tickets for the CU/Gardner Webb game will be $15 and the entire building will be general admission.  Reserved seat tickets will not be available. Season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase these tickets beginning at 9 a.m. until noon on Monday, March 16.

At that time, the rest of the inventory will be open to the public at www.cubuffs.com/tickets.

Here is a link to the CBI field

Booker will not play … According to a tweet from Brian Howell of the Daily Camera, senior guard Askia Booker will not be playing for the Buffs in the tournament, officially ending his career at Colorado.

Meanwhile, Oregon State declines offer to play in the CBI

From ESPN … Oregon State has declined an invite from the College Basketball Invitational tournament.

Coach Wayne Tinkle said the Beavers had been hopeful for a spot in the National Invitation Tournament but they were not selected. So the team decided to end the season, he said.

Oregon State finished a surprising 17-14 in Tinkle’s first season after the Beavers were picked to finish last in the Pac-12.

After holding open tryouts to fill out the roster, the Beavers went on to win a record 15 straight home games at Gill Coliseum.

Tinkle issued a statement Sunday night saying he was proud of the team, but felt it was best for the players to focus on finals and finishing the rest of the academic year, while looking ahead to next season.



March 15th

… CU in the Arena …

Buffs add second European player in as many days

The Colorado men’s basketball team has added a new point guard to the team, Thomas Akyazili. Rivals bio

Thomas Akyazili, a 6-foot-2 point from Belgium, announced on Twitter that he will become a Buffalo next season.

“Excited to have verbally committed to play basketball at the University of Colorado Boulder. Thanks to everyone along the way !” Akyazili tweeted early Sunday morning.

Akyazili visited CU last month. He also made a visit to St. John’s.

Akyazili has experience playing for Belgium at the 18U European Championships. During that tournament last summer, Akyazili averaged 15.1 points, 4.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals in nine games. He made 44.2 percent of his shots (but just 28.9 percent from 3-point range) and 73.0 percent of his free throws.

Below is a YouTube link to Akyazili’s Under-18 highlights.




March 14th

… CU in the Arena …

Buffs pick up junior college transfer by way of Bosnia

Both Rivals and Scout are reporting that CU has signed Kenan Guzonjic, a 6’8″, 225-pound power forward from Midland College.   Rivals bio   Scout bio

Originally from Cathedral high in El Paso, Guzonjic signed with Midland Junior College, but was injured and returned to his native Bosnia. Guzonic will be eligible this fall, and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Guzonjic, despite his moves from Bosnia to El Paso to Midland and back to Bosnia, was still courted by a number of schools, including Southern Mississippi, Stephen F. Austin, Albany, and St. Bonaventure.

According to Rob Hamilton from Scout.com, “Guzonjic isn’t a great athlete but carries a sturdy frame and should help solidify a Colorado defense that finished outside the top 100 in adjusted efficiency this season”.

Here is a link to some video highlights of Guzonjic in action for Midland Junior College.



March 12th – Pac-12 tournament, Las Vegas … No. 2 Oregon 85, No. 10 Colorado 78

The Pac-12 Player-of-the-Year, Oregon’s Joseph Young, burned the Colorado for 30 points, leading the Ducks to an 85-78 win in the quarter-finals of the Pac-12 tournament. After hitting only a third of their shots in the first half, Oregon hit 22-of-29 field goal attempts in the second half (76%), erasing a three-point deficit in taking control of the game in the early stages of the second half.

Colorado, behind Askia Booker, turned an 18-point deficit at the seven minute mark (74-56) into a four-point deficit with two minutes remaining (80-76), going on a 20-6 run, but could pull no closer. Booker, held scoreless in the first half, finished his Colorado career with a 12-point game. Four other Buffs hit double figures: Josh Scott (16); Dominique Collier (14); Xavier Talton (12); and Xavier Johnson (10), but it was not enough to off-set Joseph Young’s 30 points (22 in the second half) and Elgin Cook’s 20 points.

“We’re extremely disappointed. This season is over with, and it always ends quickly and abruptly”, said Tad Boyle. “We really felt like this was a winnable game coming into it. I think the way we played in the first half, we all know we were capable of winning this game. We didn’t get it done.

“This game’s a little bit a microcosm of our season in the fact that we’re not able to sustain really anything for an extended period of time. Whether that’s a two and a half hour practice, whether that’s a stretch of games, whether that’s half to half, which was the case tonight, it’s just — I thought we played well enough in the first half. And certainly we played well enough offensively tonight to win this game. You score 85 points. But Oregon really played well and they shot 76 percent in the second half. Joe young had 30 on us and it was disappointing because I thought our game plan coming in was good and sound. But we certainly didn’t execute it. And that’s — I take the blame. I’m the head coach. We didn’t play well enough the second half. Credit goes to Oregon.”

The Buffs finished their season at 15-17, the first losing season in Tad Boyle’s five year tenure at Colorado.

Game Notes …

– The Buffs lost to the Ducks twice in a season for the first time, but maintain a 5-3 edge in the all-time series;

– The 17 losses were the most in a season since 2008-09 (9-22);

– CU falls to 8-3 in Pac-12 tournament games, still the best record in the conference;

– Dominique Collier had a career-high 14 points


Game Recap …

Colorado had lost to Oregon, 73-60, two weeks before their matchup against the Ducks in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament. In that game, the Buffs fell behind, 39-22, at halftime, and never recovered.

Fortunately for the Buff Nation, however, the Buffs, as had been the case against Oregon State the night before, came out hot against Oregon.

The two leaders for the Buffs, Askia Booker and Josh Scott, set the tone with a Scott dunk off of a Booker assist on the first possession of the game. Colorado made its next two shots from the floor as well, with Wesley Gordon posting a layup and Tre’Shaun Fletcher a three-pointer, as the Buffs raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first minute of the game.

After Oregon responded with a pair of baskets to pull back to within three, the Buffs went on a 7-2 run to make it a 14-6 game at the first media timeout.

Not impressed with the Buffs’ prowess, the Ducks scored on three straight possessions to pull back to within two, at 14-12. Then it was Colorado’s turn to make another run. Xavier Johnson and Dustin Thomas scored from the field, while Josh Scott and Xavier Talton went 4-for-4 from the line as part of an 8-1 Buff spurt to put the Buffs up by nine, at 22-13, at the midway point of the first half.

Dustin Thomas posted his second basket, and Josh Scott his third, as the Buffs kept the Ducks at arms length, taking a 26-17 advantage into the under eight timeout. Then, after a free throw by Joseph Young for the Ducks, Dominique Collier gave Colorado its first double-digit lead of the game, at 29-18, with seven minutes remaining before the break.

Over the next three minutes, however, the Buffs went cold, with Oregon going on a 6-2 run. At the under four minute media timeout, Askia Booker – as had been the case against Oregon State – remained scoreless (0-for-4 from the field), but the Buffs were still up by seven, at 31-24.

The Buffs then went cold, with missed free throws and turnovers keeping the Buffs scoreless. Meanwhile, Oregon got hot, with the Ducks hitting their first three three-pointers in three consecutive possessions to take their first lead of the night. The Ducks out-scored the Buffs, 10-2, to take a 34-33 lead, with just under two minutes to play in the half. Two Dominique Collier free throws, and a tip-in basket by Jaron Hopkins, however, allowed the Buffs to end the first half back on top.

Halftime Score: Colorado 37, Oregon 34

Josh Scott led the Buffs in the first half, with nine points and four rebounds, with Dominique Collier and Tre’Shaun Fletcher scoring seven apiece. Neither team was fairly well from behind the arc, with CU hitting 2-of-9 (22.2%) and Oregon hitting 3-of-14 (21.4%).

Safe bet: the team which hit a better percentage of three-pointers in the second half would likely be the winner.

Oregon, at least, got the message, opening the second half the way it closed the first … hitting threes. A trey seven seconds into the second half tied the game at 37-all, with Dominique Collier answering with a traditional three-point play on CU’s first possession. The Pac-12 Offensive Player-of-the-Year, Joseph Young, then went on a 5-0 run of his own, giving the Ducks a 42-40 advantage. After the teams swapped baskets, Askia Booker, at the 16:49 mark, scored his first points of the game to tie the score at 44-44.

Rather than ignite the Buffs, Booker’s basket ignited the Ducks, with Oregon going on a 10-2 run. Over a minute of game clock, the line score went … Jaron Hopkins turnover/Joseph Young jumper … Xavier Johnson turnover/Joseph Young dunk … Xavier Talton turnover/Dwayne Benjamin dunk. Colorado timeout with 13:21, with the Buffs down 54-46.

The timeout didn’t help.

Josh Scott made one of two free throws, offset by two more Duck layups and another dunk. Colorado timeout with 11:48 to play, now down 60-47.

Did the second timeout help?


A Josh Scott offensive foul was followed by yet another dunk on the other end, putting the Ducks up 15, at 62-47. Colorado then leveled the playing field a bit, trading baskets with Oregon, but did not cut into the lead as the clock on CU’s season continued to count down.

When Elgin Cook hit a jumper at the nine minute mark, he became the first Duck to 20 points, giving Oregon a 33-14 second half and the Ducks a 67-51 lead. At the under eight timeout, it was 69-55, with the Buffs picking up points from Xavier Johnson and Dominique Collier.

Another 5-0 from Joseph Young, and any hope of a Colorado comeback officially came to an end … 74-56 at the seven minute mark.

Trying to make the most of the final moments of the season, the Buffs clawed back. When Askia Booker hit a three-pointer, he final pushed his point total (5), past his turnover (3) and personal foul (3) totals. A Xavier Johnson trey, followed by another Booker three-pointer, gave CU an 11-2 run, pulling the lead back within single digits, at 76-67, at the under four minute timeout.

Two Askia Booker free throws – his first attempts of the game – made it a seven point game before Joseph Young hit a jumper to push his game-high total to 26 points, making it an 80-71 game. A Xavier Talton three, followed by a Josh Scott steal and a Booker layup, and, just like that, it was a four-point game, at 80-76, with two minutes left to play.

At the other end, though, Joseph Young went for an uncontested layup as the shot clock ran down. A missed three-pointer by Booker forced the Buffs to foul, with the Ducks hitting a pair to make it an 84-76 game. Free throws from Booker pulled the Buffs back to within six, but now the clock was down close to a minute.

Forced to foul and put up hurried shots, the comeback finally came to an end. An 18-point Oregon lead, cut to four at the two minute mark, was back out to eight at the one minute mark as the Ducks made their free throws. The final seconds of CU’s season was spent chasing Ducks around the court. As was the case for much of CU’s lost season, it was too little, too late. Perhaps fittingly, CU’s lone senior starter, Askia Booker, fouled out with 19 seconds remaining.

Final Score: Oregon 93, Colorado 85




March 11th – Pac-12 tournament, Las Vegas … No. 10 Colorado 78, No. 7 Oregon State 71

Askia Booker missed his first seven shots of the game, but then got hot, going for a game-high 20 points in leading the 10th-seeded Buffs to a 78-71 win over No. 7 seed Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

Booker went 6-for-6 from the free throw line, but didn’t connect from the field until the 11-minute mark of the second half, going on to hit three three-pointers to give the Buffs the lead for good. Josh Scott posted a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, with Tre’Shaun Fletcher scoring a career-high 12 points.

“That was a tough, hard-fought game”, said Tad Boyle. “I gotta give Oregon State a lot of credit. They had an unbelievable year. Coach Tinkle did a terrific job with that team all season long. That’s a team that handled us pretty handily in Corvallis a couple of weeks ago. So I was really pleased with our fight and our desire, especially the second half. I thought we got our roll. I was on these guys at halftime and almost every media timeout about defending. I wasn’t happy with our defense in the first half. In the second half we turned it over 13 times. But you know what, we found a way. And that’s what you have to do in tournament basketball. So we played well enough. These two guys (Askia Booker and Josh Scott) really – Ski got going and hit some big shots, got the momentum on our side, which was big, and Josh hit another double-double and rebounded the ball well and I thought defended well down low. And I thought we had some good performances off the bench as well. [F] Dustin Thomas came in, gave great minutes and played well. We had some good guys that came off the bench and it was a good team victory and we live to see another day. That’s what it’s all about.”

With the win, Colorado advances to take on No. 2 seed Oregon (Thurs., 7:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). The only game between the two teams was a 73-60 win for the Ducks in Eugene on February 18th.

Game Notes …

– CU has advanced past the first round in the Pac-12 tournament all four years. CU has the best conference tournament record (8-2) of any Pac-12 school;

– Buffs only the second No. 10 seed (Utah in 2013) to win a first round game;

– CU now leads the all-time series with Oregon State, 11-5 (2-0 on neutral courts). The 78 points were the most surrendered by the Beavers to any team this season;

– Colorado now 14-7 in post-season play under Tad Boyle (10-3 conference; 3-1 NIT; 1-3 NCAA);

– Fifth time CU has made 24 or more free throws in a game (all wins); 24-of-26 (.92.3%) best percentage all season;

– Tre’Shaun Fletcher had a career-high 12 points;

– Josh Scott posted his 21st career double-double (16 points; 14 rebounds);

– With his 20 points, Askia Booker moved into sixth place on the all-time scoring list (1,728), passing Stevie Wise (1,727, 1987-91)

Game Recap …

After falling behind Oregon State 34-12 in the first half in a game 2 1/2 weeks prior, any sort of offense from the Colorado men’s basketball team in the rematch with the Beavers would have been welcome in the first round matchup in the Pac-12 tournament … and the Buffs produced.

Oregon State opened the scoring with a three-pointer, which was quickly matched by a trey from Dominique Collier and three free throws from Askia Booker to give CU an early 6-3 lead. The teams then traded baskets, with CU hitting the 12-point mark (the total from the first half of the Buffs’ first encounter with OSU) on a Xavier Johnson jumper less than seven minutes in, making it a 12-10 game.

The teams continue to sway baskets, with Colorado getting six straight points on its side of the ledger from Josh Scott, who posted a dunk, a jumper, and two free throws. When Dustin Thomas hit a jumper with 10:41 remaining before the break, the Buffs took the lead at 20-19. Oregon State then went on a 12-4 run, however, to take a 31-24 lead, their biggest of the first half.

Askia Booker cut into the Beavers’ advantage with his second set of three free throws, with a pair of Josh Scott free throws  making it a 31-29 game at the four minute mark. Oregon State pushed back with a pair of three-pointers, offset only by free throws from Xavier Johnson.

Down 37-31, the Buffs went on an 7-0 run, highlighted by a three-pointer by Tre’Shaun Fletcher. Oregon State, though, posted three-pointer number seven with just under a minute to play, taking the lead into halftime.

Halftime score: Oregon State 40, Colorado 38

In the first half, Josh Scott led the Buffs with 12 points (including six-for-six from the line) to go with five rebounds. Askia Booker was also six-for-six from the line (but 0-for-5 from the field), with the Buffs a perfect 14-for-14 overall from the charity stripe. Oregon State, though, hit 7-of-16 three-point attempts to offset the Buffs’ advantage in free throws.

Oregon State opened the second half scoring with a three-pointer, with Tre’Shaun Fletcher getting the Buffs back to within two with a traditional three-pointer. A dunk by the Beavers was then matched by a layup from Fletcher, giving him ten points for the game. After Oregon State made one of two free throws, Dominique Collier tied the game at 46-46 with a three-pointer just before the first media timeout of the second half.

It was 50-50 a few minutes later, with four Oregon State free throws countered by CU baskets by Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson. The Buffs then turned the ball over on three of their next four possessions, with Oregon State taking a 52-50 lead into the under 12 minute break.

Askia Booker, 0-for-6 from the field, made it 8-for-8 from the line, tying the game at 52-all. Booker then hit his first basket of the second half, a three-pointer, to give CU its first lead of the game. After a quick basket from the Beavers, Booker hit another trey, giving him 14 points, and giving CU its largest lead of the game, at 58-54, at the midway point of the second half.

Feeling it, Booker put up another three-point attempt on CU’s next possession. He missed, but Dustin Thomas was there for the putback to make it a 60-54 game. The teams traded turnovers as the game hit a frenzied pace. After Booker had a layup blocked on a breakaway, the Buffs got the ball right back, with Booker hitting another three, giving CU a 13-2 run, and a nine point lead, at 63-54, with nine minutes remaining.

Free throws from the Beavers were matched by an end-to-end layup by Booker, giving him 19 points. Two more free throws from Oregon State made it a seven point game, at 65-58, at the under eight timeout.

Dustin Thomas free throws pushed the lead back out to nine, but a layup and a three-pointer from the Beavers cut the lead back to four, at 67-63. Timeout, Colorado, with six minutes to play. A flagrant foul on Gary Payton II (which led to the open three-pointer) resulted, after a review, in free throws for Dustin Thomas, giving CU a 69-63 lead.

One of two free throws for the Beavers was met by a layup by Tre’Shaun Fletcher, giving Fletcher a career-high 12 points. Two free throws from Josh Scott were his first two points of the second half, but they did give CU a nine-point lead again, at 73-64. Scott picked up foul number four a moment later, taking him out of the game with 4 1/2 minutes to play. One of two free throws from the Beavers made it 73-65 before Xavier Talton gave the Buffs their first double digit lead of the game, at 75-65, with under four minutes to play.

The teams traded turnovers and missed shots over the next few minutes, but the clock continued to click down. At the 1:49 mark, Oregon State hit a pair of free throws to make it an eight point game, at 75-67. Colorado, which had trouble getting the ball inbounds to close out Washington State, had troubles again before Booker threw a bomb to Josh Scott, who dunked the ball to make a ten-point game again.

The Beavers converted free throws on their next possession, cutting the lead to eight. The Buffs didn’t get a shot off on their next possession, but Oregon State missed a pair of free throws with 32 seconds, ending the Beavers’ hopes. Askia Booker hit a pair of free throws to give him a game-high 20 points, and give CU a seven point victory.

Final Score: Colorado 78, Oregon State 71



March 10th

… CU in the Arena …

Getting to Know: Oregon State

No. 10 seed Colorado vs. No. 7 Oregon State … Las Vegas, Nevada … Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., MT (Pac-12 Networks) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 108; XM 197

Beavers’ 2014-15 Record: 17-13, 8-10 in Pac-12 play (7th)

Series: Colorado leads the all-time series, 10-5, including a 4-3 record in Pac-12 play. The teams played only once this season, and it was not a game Buff fans will want to remember … even if it was only 2 1/2 weeks ago. Oregon State rushed out to a 34-12 halftime lead, and the Buffs were never really in it, settling for a 72-58 loss.

Coach: Wayne Tinkle, first season at OSU (158-91 in seven seasons at Montana)

Oregon State’s record last season: 16-16, 8-10 in Pac-12 play (10th) … Oregon State hasn’t played in the NCAA tournament since 1990.

Player to Watch …  The name Gary Payton is familiar to most basketball fans, with Gary Payton II a very familiar name to Pac-12 fans. The 6’3″ junior guard leads the Beavers in scoring, with 13.3 points per game, first in rebounds at 7.5 per game, and second in assists (3.2). In the first matchup between the teams, Payton went for 24 points, five rebounds, four steals … and seven blocks (CU as a team had one block that night).

Oregon State so far in 2014-15 … The Beavers started out the non-conference season well, but did not have many top-rated opponents. Oregon State lost to Oklahoma State and Auburn (the team the Buffs beat), while taking down the likes of Oral Roberts, Mississippi Valley State, and Portland (in overtime). A 9-3 non-conference record was good, especially for a team being rebuilt from scratch by new coach Wayne Tinkle, but not especially impressive.

Then, after opening Pac-12 play with a loss to Oregon and a home win over Arizona State, Oregon State shocked the nation with a 58-56 win over No. 7 Arizona. Wins in three of their next four games, including a home sweep of the Los Angeles schools, gave the Beavers a surprising 5-2 conference record.

After losing to the Arizona schools on the road, and between both Washington schools at home, Oregon State was at 16-7, 7-4 … not quite NCAA tournament material, but not exactly out of the discussion, either. Since then, however, the Beavers have gone 1-6, with the only victory over … you guessed it … Colorado.

Oregon State has not played since last Thursday, finishing out the regular season with a 65-62 home loss to Oregon.

Buffs ready for one last run

From cubuffs.com … This time around, March Madness is merely an extension of the last four months for the Colorado Buffaloes. Madness, craziness, angst and who knows what else began infiltrating the Buffs’ 2014-15 season in November, and while they’ve shown occasional signs of escaping they’ve never quite pulled both feet out of the quicksand.

Now’s their chance. It’s slight, but it’s there. Or here – in the Pac-12 Tournament, which begins Wednesday in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. CU, the No. 10 seed, plays Oregon State, the No. 7 seed, at 7:10 p.m. MDT (Pac-12 Networks).

The Buffs have advanced past the first-round in every Pac-12 Tournament since becoming league members four years ago. But this season’s tournament scenario bears no resemblance to the others.

Hauling a losing record (14-16 overall, 7-11 Pac-12) and other assorted baggage to Glitter Gulch for the first time, they need to advance to the title game to get to .500 – then win it to have a guaranteed postseason (NCAA, automatic bid) berth. Losing in the championship game would drop them to .500 again (17-17), which could send them to the NIT based on their meager late-season success – winning two of three final regular-season games and the possible Pac-12 tourney run.

The NIT revamped its selection process in 2006 and no longer requires teams to be above .500 to make the 32-team field. Still, all entries since then have been above .500 – which could make last weekend’s 96-91 perplexing overtime loss at Washington State even costlier.

But the Buffs and coach Tad Boyle aren’t crunching those numbers just yet, mainly because a loss on Wednesday night to the Beavers (17-13, 8-10) pushes the moot button on all postseason scenarios.

“It’s one game, you win or you lose,” said CU post Josh Scott. “Win or go home. That’s how it is for us now.”

Coaches are like this, but there’s hope – Boyle believes real hope – for a first-round win. Asked on Monday about formulas for conference tournament success, Boyle pinpointed players’ physical status at the end of the regular-season grind and, but of equal importance, their mental status.

“Guys in locker room who want the season to continue,” he said. “Believe it or not, with 12 teams in the league I’m not sure there are 12 locker rooms that feel like that. We’ve got to be darn sure that Colorado’s is one of them. I think it is; I got a sense after the Washington State game that it’s almost like a rebirth. But we’ll find out . . . if your players want to live to see another day, you’ve got a chance.”



March 9th

… CU in the Arena …

Askia Booker named Second-Team All-Pac-12

Press release from cubuffs.com … In a vote of the 12 Pac-12 Conference coaches, University of Colorado senior guard Askia Booker was named one of five players to the conference second team, Commissioner Larry Scott announced Monday.

Booker leads the Buffaloes in scoring (17.2 ppg), assists (91) and steals (43) and is looking to become the first CU player since Chauncey Billups to lead the team in all three categories. This season, Booker became just the third player in school history to play 132 career games and the seventh player to reach the 1,700-point plateau (1,708 career points).

Last season, Booker was an honorable mention selection.

CU finished the Pac-12 standings tied for eighth overall with a 7-11 record. Due to tie-breakers, the Buffs are the No. 10 seed at this week’s conference tournament in Las Vegas where they will take on No. 7 Oregon State this Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. (MDT) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

Also announced Monday by the conference office was Oregon senior guard Joseph Young being named the 2014-15 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Player of the Year; Arizona forward Stanley Johnson was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year; Oregon State junior guard Gary Payton II has been named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year; Washington State sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson has been named Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year; and Dana Altman of Oregon is the John R. Wooden Coach of the Year.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona
Stanley Johnson, Arizona
DaVonté Lacy, Washington State
T.J. McConnell, Arizona
Gary Payton II, Oregon State
Norman Powell, UCLA
Chasson Randle, Stanford
Tyrone Wallace, California
Delon Wright, Utah
Joseph Young, Oregon

Askia Booker, Colorado
Elgin Cook, Oregon
Kevon Looney, UCLA
Brandon Taylor, Utah
Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington

Honorable Mention (receiving at least three votes): Bryce Alford (UCLA), Brandon Ashley (Arizona), Anthony Brown (Stanford), Josh Hawkinson (Washington State), Shaquielle McKissic (Arizona State), Stefan Nastic (Stanford).

Jordan Bell, Oregon
Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Tra Holder, Arizona State
Stanley Johnson, Arizona
Kevon Looney, UCLA
Jordan McLaughlin, USC
Jakob Poeltl, Utah

Jordan Bell, Oregon
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona
T.J. McConnell, Arizona
Gary Payton II, Oregon State
Delon Wright, Utah

Honorable Mention (receiving at least three votes): Shaquielle McKissic (Arizona State), Norman Powell (UCLA), Brandon Taylor (Utah).

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Joseph Young, Oregon
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Stanley Johnson, Arizona
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Josh Hawkinson, Washington State

Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament schedule

From cubuffs.com … The University of Colorado men’s basketball team will be the No. 10 seed and play No. 7 seed Oregon State this Wednesday, March 11 at 7:10 p.m. (MDT) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Buffaloes closed the regular season portion of the schedule with a 14-16 record and a 7-11 mark in the Pac-12 standings.

In their lone meeting of the season against the Beavers, occurred in Corvallis back on Feb. 21 with Oregon State taking a 72-58 victory.

The winner of CU/OSU will play No. 2 seed Oregon on Thursday, 7:10 p.m. (MDT). Both games will be televised by the Pac-12 Network and can be heard on 850-KOA with Voice of The Buffs, Mark Johnson with analyst Scott Wilke.

Under the tutelage of CU head coach Tad Boyle, the Buffaloes are 5-3 over the five years against Oregon State, and in the overall all-time series, CU leads 10-5.  In the lone neutral court meeting coming two years ago at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, CU, seeded No. 5 took a 74-68 win on March 13, 2013 over the No. 12 seeded Beavers.

In the previous three years of the Pac-12 Tournament, Boyle ranks at the top in overall record (7-2) and winning percentage (.778) in the Pac-10/12 Tournament history.  Boyle’s overall 65.0 winning percentage also ranks number one in school history, in addition to his post-season wins (13).  His 9-3 conference tournament record spanning the previous four seasons (three in Pac-12, one in the Big 12), is number one in school history.

In this year’s Pac-12 Tournament, eight of the 12 seeds for the 2015 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament were determined on the final day of the Pac-12 regular season. The Pac-12 regular season champion, Arizona enters the event as the No. 1 seed for the second straight year.

Wednesday-Saturday, March 11-14, 2015
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.

Wed., Mar. 11
Game 1 – No. 8 California vs. No. 9 Washington State, 1:10 p.m., P12N
Game 2 – No. 5 Arizona State vs. No. 12 USC, approx. 3:40 p.m., P12N
Game 3 – No. 7 Oregon State vs. No. 10 Colorado, 7:10 p.m. P12N
Game 4 – No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 11 Washington, approx. 9:40 p.m., P12N

Thurs., Mar. 12
Game 5 – No. 8/9 vs. No. 1 Arizona, 1:10 p.m., P12N
Game 6 – No. 5/12 vs. No. 4 UCLA, approx. 3:40 p.m., P12N
Game 7 – No. 7/10 vs. No. 2 Oregon, 7:10 p.m., P12N
Game 8 – No. 6/11 vs. No. 3 Utah, approx. 9:40 p.m., ESPN

Fri., Mar. 13
Semifinal 1, 7:10 p.m., P12N
Semifinal 2, approx. 9:45 p.m., ESPN

Sat., Mar. 14
Championship Game, 9:05 p.m., ESPN




March 7th – at Washington State          Washington State 96, Colorado 91 OT

Buffs seeded 10th in Pac-12 tournament … Will play 7th-seeded Oregon State Wednesday (7:10 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Josh Scott went for 32 points and 11 rebounds, and Askia Booker posted 26 points, but it was not enough, as Colorado fell in overtime to Washington State, 96-91.

The Buffs, down for much of the game, rallied to take a 73-72 lead on an Askia Booker layup with four-and-a-half minutes remaining, 73-72, but then went scoreless until Booker tied the game with a basket with just over a minute to play. A Josh Scott jumper with thirty seconds to play gave CU a 77-75 lead, and the game looked to be well in hand after the Cougars missed a shot with 11 seconds remaining. A turnover by Booker, however, gave the Cougars another chance, with DaVonte Lacy hitting a jumper with one second remaining to send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, the Cougars hit two three-pointers in the first 45 seconds, never looking back in posting their first win over Colorado in Pac-12 play.

“We wanted to get the ball in ‘Ski’s’ hands, obviously he’s our best free throw shooter and they made the play there and we didn’t,” CU coach Tad Boyle said of the costly tie-up when Booker was double-teamed near the corner in front of the WSU bench. “The possession arrow went against us. I’ve never liked the possession arrow; I sure as hell don’t like it today. I just think it lets the referees off the hook, let’s toss it up like they used to and see who gets the ball like the NBA does.

“That’s not the way the game is and you just have to take it and move on. Really disappointed, though, I told our team, their passion their fight, their desire. The last three games we’ve stepped on the court and we’ve been ready to play. But we just weren’t good enough tonight, defensively. You score 91 points and you’re supposed to win those games. We gave this one away.”

As a team, Colorado made only two-of-13 three-pointers for the game. Ironically, both came in the first 90 seconds of the game, and both were by Tre’Shaun Fletcher … who didn’t take another shot the rest of the game. Askia Booker (Booker giveth; Booker taketh away) went 0-for-7 from behind the arc.

Game Notes –

–  Colorado finishes the regular season with a 14-16 record, the most losses since 2009-10 (15-16)

– The Buffs finished 7-11 in conference play, the most conference losses since CU finished 1-15 in Big 12 play in 2008-09

– The loss was the first to Washington State in Pac-12 play (5-1), and only the second all-time (6-2)

– Askia Booker played in his 130th career game, tying Cory Higgins for No. 2 on the all-time list

– With 1,708 points, Booker is seventh in career scoring

– Josh Scott had a career-high 32 points, including a career-best 13 field goals

– Scott also had 12 rebounds, giving him his 20th career double-double


CU women’s season comes to an end with a semi-final loss to Cal

From cubuffs.com … A night after disrupting the Pac-12 Conference Women’s Tournament, the Colorado Buffaloes needed a monstrous encore to advance to the conference championship game. The Buffs never stopped battling to achieve it, but California’s Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray and an attacking defense stopped CU short.

Cal’s pair of stars and its demonic ‘D’ carried the No. 4 seed Bears past the Buffs 68-55 in Saturday’s second semifinal and into Sunday’s Pac-12 title game (7:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN). Cal (23-8) faces No. 3 seed Stanford, which advanced with a 59-56 win over No. 2 seed Arizona State in Friday’s first semifinal game, and once again finds itself playing for an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m really, really proud of our effort,” CU coach Linda Lappe said. “We talked about leaving everything on the court, coming out and playing hard. I really feel like we were able to do that and when that happens you’re not disappointed with the outcome.”

But the No. 9 seed Buffs were disappointed in their season ending and their record (15-17) not qualifying them to at least be considered by the WNIT. CU, which ousted No. 1 seed Oregon State 68-65 in Thursday night’s quarterfinals in the biggest win of Lappe’s career, led early but fell behind Cal 29-23 at halftime and never got closer than five points in the second half. The Bears’ pressure defense forced most of CU’s 16 turnovers, costing the Buffs 20 points.

… CU in the Arena …

Colorado at Washington State … Saturday, 4:30 p.m., MT (Pac-12 Networks) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 108; XM 197

Cougars’ 2014-15 Record:  12-17, 6-11 in Pac-12 play (10th)

Coach: Ernie Kent, 12-17 in his first year in Pullman; Kent previously had a 325-253 record in 19 seasons with Oregon

Series: Colorado leads the all-time series 6-1, including all five games between the two teams as members of the Pac-12. On January 24th, the Buffs snapped a four game losing streak with a 90-58 rout of the Cougars in Boulder.

Last season, the Buffs won a pair of close games, winning in a game played in Spokane, 71-70, in overtime (Spencer Dinwiddie’s last full game as a Buff), with a 68-63 win in Boulder.

Washington State’s record last season: 10-21 overall; 3-15 in Pac-12 (11th); Cougars haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2008

Players to watchDaVonte Lacy is the known star on the team. Lacy, a 6’4″ guard, is averaging 17.2 ppg. this season, coming off of a 2013-14 campaign in which he averaged 19.4 ppg. On the inside, 6’10” sophomore Josh Hawkinson has been a dominant force, averaging a double-double each night, with 14.5 ppg. and 10.9 rebounds per game. Washington State looks to run at every opportunity early in the season (witness the 90 points CU scored against the Cougars in January), but things have slowed down since (witness the 23-23 halftime score against Utah Thursday night).

Washington State so far in 2014-15 … The Cougars have a 12-17 overall record, and 6-11 record in Pac-12 play. That being said, Washington State has already doubled its Pac-12 win total from a year ago. After working through the non-conference schedule with an indifferent 6-6 record, Washington State opened conference play with a surprising 3-1 run, including road wins against Cal and Washington and an overtime win over Oregon. After that, though, the Cougars went on a four game losing streak, including the rout by the Buffs in Boulder. Since breaking the losing streak with a home win over Stanford, and have developed a pattern of one win/two losses; one win/two losses; one win/two losses. The wins have been over Stanford, Arizona State, and at USC. The Cougars come into the regular season finale off of two losses, including a tough 67-59 loss to Utah on Thursday night. In that game, Washington State was tied with the Utes, 23-23, at halftime, and had leads late in the second half.



March 6th

… CU in the Arena …

CU women take out the No. 8 team in the nation in Pac-12 Quarterfinals

With a 14-16 record, the CU women’s basketball team knew that there next loss would be their last game of the season. After taking out the No. 8 seed, USC, by the score of 75-63, the Buffs, the No. 9 seed in the Pac-12 tournament, seemed to have gotten some small measure of revenge, as the Trojans had dispatched the Buffs by 15 and 20 points in the two regular season games.

Up next, though, was the No. 1 seed in the tournament, and the No. 8 team in the nation, Oregon State.

So much for extending the season.

Except for the fact that the Buffs were not to be denied. Behind their three seniors – Lexy Kresl, Jen Reese, and Jasmine Sborov – the Colorado women’s team knocked off Oregon State, 68-65, to advance to the Pac-12 semi-finals and keep their season alive.

After a Jamee Swan three point play gave CU a 3-2 lead early, it became the Lexy Kresl show at the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle. Kresl scored four straight baskets, including three three-pointers, as the Buffs built a 14-7 lead. The Beavers clawed their way back to make it an 18-14 game at the 11 minute mark of the first half, but then a Jamee Swan jumper and Kresl’s fourth three-pointer pushed the lead back out to nine, at 23-14.

So, if you are scoring at home, at the midway point of the first half, it was Oregon State 14, Lexy Kresl 14.

Another Oregon State push made it a 23-19 game, but the Buffs then went on a 7-1 run, taking a 30-20 lead with six minutes remaining in the first half.

… And then the Buffs went scoreless for the next six minutes.

Oregon State showed why it came into the game as the nation’s No. 8 team, finishing the first half on a 13-0 run. The Beavers took their largest lead of the half into the break, at 33-30.

It certainly appeared that Colorado, which fell to Oregon State at home, 66-44, just two weeks ago, had given the Beavers their best shot. The second half was to be a reality check … and a second round exit for the Buffs.

Instead, the Buffs kept coming.

With Kresl quieted, fellow senior Jen Reese added all 13 of her points in the second half as the Buffaloes beat a ranked team for the first time this season.

After trailing by five early in the second half, Reese and Swan led the Buffaloes back. Colorado took a 56-49 lead with 8:32 when Reese converted a three-point play hitting a fadeaway jumper while being fouled. Oregon State pulled within 59-57 after Deven Hunter’s three-point play with 5:29 left, and Hamblin’s three-point play with 4:21 left put Oregon State back ahead 60-59.

The Beavers missed two chances to extend their lead and Swan’s jumper in the lane with 2:38 left were Colorado’s first points in more than four minutes and put the Buffaloes up 61-60. Hanson missed a wide open shot underneath and Jasmine Sborov’s layup in transition — her first points of the game — pushed Colorado’s lead to 63-60 with 1:35 left.

Wiese missed a 3-pointer with 1:25 left and Kresl scored on a backdoor cut to push the lead to five with 65 seconds left. Hunter missed another 3-point attempt and the Buffaloes hit three of four free throws in the final 40 seconds. Lauren Huggins hit one of two free throws with two seconds left to give CU a three-point advantage, with the Beavers unable to launch a game-tying trey at the buzzer.

Final Score: Colorado 68, No. 8 Oregon State 65

Colorado advances to the semi-finals, where the Buffs will face No. 4 seed Cal. The game will be played at 9:30 p.m., MT, and televised by the Pac-12 Networks.



March 5th – at Washington           Colorado 64, Washington 47

(March 5th – at Pac-12 tournament           Colorado women 75, USC 63            Game recap can be found here)

Josh Scott went for 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, leading the Buffs to a 64-47 road win over Washington. Scott almost matched the Huskies by himself in the first half, scoring 14 points as Colorado built a 30-17 halftime lead. In the second half, Washington made a pair of runs, but never got closer than five points as the Buffs won for just the second time on the road all season.

Xavier Johnson went for 11 points and Xavier Talton ten on a night when CU’s leading scorer, Askia Booker, was held to five points on two-for-ten shooting. Andrew Andrews, who beat the Buffs with a last second shot in Boulder, went for 20 points – including five second half three-pointers – but it was not enough as the Buffs held the Huskies to 30.5% shooting (18-for-59).

The Buffs won back-to-back games for the first time since late January (wins over Washington State and USC), raising CU’s record to 14-15, 7-10. Colorado faces Washington State on Saturday (4:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks), with a chance to even its season record heading into the Pac-12 tournament next weekend.

“They scored 17 points in the first half on us, and then they scored 15 points in the first four minutes of the second half”, said Tad Boyle. “It’s just like, ‘Holy cow guys.’ We have to do a better job and be a little bit more alert, because we know that they are capable shooters. I just think sometimes, our team has a tendency to relax a little bit when we have a lead. Fortunately we were scoring on our end, so we were trading baskets with them and the lead didn’t shrink too much. The only way to continue to extend the lead is to get stops, and after the first four minutes of the second half I thought we did a better job of that.

“To have your guards not shooting well against a zone, and still score like we scored means we were doing some good things inside. If we can score inside, and get a couple of guys hitting some threes then holy cow, look out, we’re pretty good”.

Game Notes …

– The win was the first for Colorado against Washington in Seattle since 1956;

– The teams are now 3-3 against one another in Pac-12 play, with Washington holding a 10-9 lead overall;

– It’s been three years since CU posted a double-digit road win in Pac-12 play (a 63-49 win over Arizona State in 2012);

– Askia Booker tied a season-low in points (5), but a season-high in rebounds (7).

– Against Washington State Saturday (4:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks), Buffs will be looking for their first Pac-12 road sweep in two years (Oregon and Oregon State).

Game recap …

Colorado entered the game at Washington with a history of poor shooting on the road.

Fortunately for the Buffs, the Huskies spent much of the first half shooting poorly as well, with the teams opening the game a combined 5-for-30 from the field.

After Washington took a 2-0 lead, the Buffs finally got on the board … over three minutes in … on a pair of free throws by Tre’Shaun Fletcher. A three-pointer by Dominique Collier on the Buffs’ next possession gave CU a 5-2 lead, a lead which would never be relinquished.

Over the next four minutes of game clock, the teams traded bricks, with each team posting only one basket before a Josh Scott three-point play and layup gave the Buffs a 12-4 advantage midway through the first half.

A Husky jumper cut the lead to 12-6 before the Buffs went on an 8-0 run. Josh Scott posted his second three-point play of the half, followed by a layup to give him ten straight points for the Buffs, giving CU a 17-6 advantage. A Xavier Talton three-pointer pushed the lead out to 20-6 at the under eight minute media timeout.

The teams then traded baskets as the shooting percentage for each team edged up. Washington went on a 9-4 run to pull within nine points, at 24-15, before layups by Scott and Xavier Talton pushed the lead back out to 13 points. Josh Scott then finished off a 14-point first half (on 6-for-9 shooting) to keep it a 13-point edge at the break.

Halftime score: Colorado 30, Washington 17

Josh Scott finished the first half 6-of-9, but the rest of the team went 6-for-22, keeping the Buffs from turning the game into a rout.

The Buffs opened the second half with a pair of dunks, one by Scott and the other by Tre’Shaun Fletcher.

A rout? Not so fast.

Washington, which couldn’t make any shots in the first half, couldn’t miss to start the second half. The Huskies made their first five shots of the second half, including their first two three-pointers in nine attempts, making it a 36-29 game three minutes into the second half.

Josh Scott made his second basket of the second half, giving him 18 points, but Washington continued to be perfect from the field, with Andrew Andrews making a pair of three-pointers. With the Buffs’ lead down to six, at 38-32, Xavier Johnson answered with a three-pointer for the Buffs, making it 41-32 at the first media timeout of the half.

Washington then made it seven-for-seven from the field in the second half – including four three-pointers – with the Buffs holding the Huskies at bay with a three-pointer of their own, this one from Xavier Talton. A Xavier Johnson dunk after a Washington turnover made it a ten-point game again, at 46-36, with 14 minutes to play.

The teams finally went cold again, with neither team scoring over the next three minutes. A Xavier Johnson layup with 11 minutes to play made it a 48-36 game, with a Johnson dunk giving him 11 points, and the Buffs a 14-point lead, at 50-36, midway through the second half.

All done? Nope.

Two more three-pointers by the Huskies, making them 6-for-9 from behind the arc, cut the lead to eight, at 50-42, forcing a CU timeout with nine minutes to play. Jaron Hopkins posted a dunk to stop the bleeding, giving CU a double-digit lead, at 52-42, at the under eight timeout.

As Washington started to miss its three-pointers, Colorado extended the lead. A second Jaron Hopkins dunk pushed the lead to 54-42 as the Huskies went six minutes without scoring. A pair of free throws – one by Josh Scott, the other by Xavier Talton – allowed the Buffs to edge the lead up to 56-42 at the final television timeout.

The Huskies finally got their first point in six minutes, on a free throw, after the media break, offset by Askia Booker’s second basket of the game, with Booker pushing the Buff advantage to 59-43 after he converted the three point play with a free throw.

A streak of six straight missed three-pointers by the Huskies over seven minutes of play finally was broken with Andrew Andrews’ fifth trey of the second half, but it was too little, too late, as there was not enough time left for Washington to make a final rally. The icing on the cake for the Buffs was a layup by Josh Scott with just under a minute to play, giving him 21 points for the game.

Final Score: Colorado 64, Washington 47



March 4th

… CU in the Arena …

Colorado at Washington … Thursday, 7:00 p.m., MT (Fox Sports 1) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 108; XM 197

Huskies’ 2014-15 Record:  15-13, 4-12 in Pac-12 play (11th)

Coach: Lorenzo Romar, 266-156; 13th year at Washington

Series: Washington leads the all-time series, 10-8. Washington also leads, 3-2, in games played since Colorado joined the Pac-12. The first team to win a road game in Pac-12 play came back on January 22nd, when the Huskies escaped Boulder with a 52-50 victory. Andrew Andrews hit a shot with one second remaining in a game in which the Buffs played without Josh Scott (back) and Xavier Johnson (suspension).

Washington’s record last season: 17-15 overall; 9-9 in Pac-12 play (tied/8th) … The Huskies lost in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament to Utah, ending their season.

Players to watch … Lorenzo Romar is the dean of Pac-12 coaches, leading the Huskies since 2002. Washington, though, hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2011, which is making the natives a little restless. Romar’s chances of returning for a 14th season received a boost when sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss opted to return instead of taking his chances on the NBA draft. Goss leads the team in both scoring (15.4 ppg.) and assists (6.1 apg), and is a force to be reckoned with by the Buffs’ backcourt. Against Colorado, Williams-Goss played all 40 minutes, and led the Huskies with 16 points. Williams-Goos, however, has been hampered by a leg injury, and may not be at 100% for the CU game (though he is expected to play).

The Huskies are down to eight healthy scholarship players, as Shawn Kemp, Jr., is out, and shot-blocking expert Robert Upshaw has been dismissed from the team (the dismissal coming shortly after the CU game in January).

Jernard Jarreau is their only formidable post presence, and the 6-10, 240-pound junior is more comfortable on the perimeter. Meanwhile, junior Gilles Dierick is their tallest player, but the 7-foot reserve hasn’t been reliable.

The Huskies could start 6-7 freshman forward Donaven Dorsey, who replaced Kemp during last week’s 88-66 loss at UCLA. They could also roll out a four-guard lineup that includes 6-6 reserve Quevyn Winters, who had a breakout performance in the last outing and tallied a career-high 16 points.

“Because of a lack of depth, there’s not a whole lot of things we can do,” Romar said. “At some point, there will be five guards in there on the floor because we have two guys right now that are available that are over (6-7).”

That being said, the Huskies did defeat the Buffs in Boulder playing only six players the entire game.

Washington so far in 2014-15 … Washington sprint out to an 11-0 record and a No. 13 national ranking … and then the wheels completely fell off. An upset loss to Stony Brook in the final non-conference game set the stage for Washington to fall into a tailspin. After losing their first three Pac-12 games (to the Bay area schools and rival Washington State), the Huskies seemingly righted the ship, winning their next three games, defeating the Oregon schools at home and Colorado on the road.

After that … pffffft.

Washington has lost nine of its last ten games, and, despite a winning record at 15-13, the Huskies are looking at another empty post-season if they cannot beat the Buffs. A loss to Colorado would give Washington a 15-14 record, with a final home game – against No. 13 Utah – still to be played. That likely loss, coupled with a one-and-done in the Pac-12 tournament, would leave Washington with a 15-16 record. A defeat of Colorado would ensure finishing the regular season with a winning record (even with losses to Utah and in the Pac-12 tournament).

Assuming Washington coaches and players can do the math … the Huskies are going to really want a win against the Buffs Thursday night.

… More Notes …

SINGLE-SEASON STATS: CU’s .352 3-pt. FG% is ninth all-time in school history • .707 FT% is just outside the Top 10 • Wesley Gordon’s 41 blocks are tied for No. 12 in single-season blocks • Askia Booker has scored 469 season points, 45 points for 10th place among all-time CU seniors in scoring (Ken Charlton, 514, 1962-63) • Gordon has 203 rebounds, 11 boards from No. 44 place in single-season rebounds.

PLAYER BITS: Askia Booker has finally reached the all-time free throw percentage list, 10th with a 78.8 percentage • Wesley Gordon is first in conference-only rebounding (2.9) • Booker is one of eight players in school history with over 1,600 career points (1,677); and one of three players in school history over 3,600 minutes, and with at least 1600 points, 400 rebounds, 300 assists, 140 steals • Josh Scott is the fifth player in CU history with 1,000 points (1,061), 600 rebounds (624), 100 blocks (104).

BLOCK PARTY: Wesley Gordon (41) and Josh Scott (40) are the first CU teammates to have 40+ blocks in back-to-back seasons since blocked shots were a kept as a statistic in a season (1977-78; 38 years). Last year: Gordon: 41, Scott: 40.



March 1st – Boulder         Colorado 87, Arizona State 81

“I told our players in the locker room, as a coaching staff we can help them lose games, but they got to go win them” said Tad Boyle after CU’s 87-81 win over Arizona State. “Our guys went out and won this one tonight; they did what they had to do. It wasn’t easy, but it’s officially March and in college basketball nothing comes easy in March. Hopefully this can give us a little mojo as we move on to our last two road games and into the conference tournament.

“I’m really proud of our guys for stepping up,” Boyle continued. “I don’t think any group of players I’ve been around for a while deserved this win more than I feel these guys did, because they’ve been through a lot mentally and emotionally. They had to deal with a coach that hadn’t been very happy the past few days. It’s nice to see them respond. They played with great passion, great effort, and great energy tonight.”

Game recap from cubuffs.com … Askia Booker made Senior Night a special one, hitting a career-high 29 points in the Coors Events Center and leading the Colorado Buffaloes to an 87-81 win over Arizona State.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for CU (13-15, 6-10 Pac-12) and ended the Buffs’ regular season at home with an 11-5 record.

Booker got scoring help from Josh Scott (14) and Dustin Thomas (12). The Wildcats (15-14, 7-9) had four players in double figures, topped by Shaquielle McKissic’s 18.

Also appearing at the CEC for the final time were CU seniors Geoff Bates and Kevin Nelson, who replaced Booker in the final seconds.

The Buffs led 40-38 at halftime, but only a couple of minutes before they owned their largest advantage of the half – 36-27. But the Sun Devils quickly cut into that nine-point deficit, going on an 11-0 run that featured three consecutive treys – one by McKissic and a pair by Jonathan Gilling that were drilled from the right corner a step or two in front of the CU bench.

The Sun Devils finished with eight treys, marking the 11th time this season the Buffs have allowed that many or more.

After that 3-point barrage, Tra Holder hit a pair of free throws and the Buffs’ nine-point margin had evaporated. They trailed 38-36 until Booker ended the half with two foul shots and a layup with 2.4 seconds before the buzzer.

Booker topped CU’s first-half scorers with 11 points, going three-of-seven from the field and four-of-five from the free throw line. His 3-pointer at the 15:15 mark was one of three for the Buffs in the first half and gave them their first lead, 8-6, after the Sun Devils had scored the game’s first six points.

As they did in the first half, the Buffs slowed down the Sun Devils’ offense with full-court pressure after made baskets and free throws. It was enough of a disruption early in the second half to keep ASU off balance and help CU rebuild its nine-point (50-41) advantage five minutes in. In that 10-3 start, Booker had a layup and two free throws and assisted on a Scott stuff with a nice bounce pass from the top of the key.

After ASU trimmed its deficit to 53-49, Thomas accounted for six consecutive points on two baskets inside and a pair of free throws to push CU ahead 59-50 with 11:51 to play. But once again, the Sun Devils closed to within four points before Booker began getting to the rim and finishing with layups.

Three straight Booker trips inside pushed CU up 65-58, but ASU countered with treys from the left corner by Bo Barnes and McKissic, and a put-back by Savon Goodman brought the Sun Devils to within 68-66 with 6:58 remaining.

After making one of two free throws, McKissic was fouled two possessions later on a 3-point attempt. He made two of three to cut CU’s advantage to 70-69, then Barnes drilled another trey to give ASU its first lead of the second half, 72-70.

With 4:42 to play, the Buffs were on familiar ground – needing stops and efficient possessions down the stretch to take back the night. CU lost rebounder Wesley Gordon to five fouls with 3:20 left, and his fifth foul came on an Eric Jacobsen put-back that gave ASU a 74-73 lead. But Jacobsen – six-of-10 from the line at that point – missed the “and-one” chance and the Buffs remained down by one.

Another Booker trip the rim and a finger-roll layup, followed by lay-in by Thomas, gave CU a 77-74 lead with 2:06 remaining. The Sun Devils closed to 77-76 on a high (and prayerful) banked-in Jacobsen follow, but were denied the lead after Scott blocked Goodman and Tre’Shaun Fletcher was fouled.

With 47.2 seconds to play, he hit both free throws for a three-point Buffs lead (79-76), and when a long rebound after a missed Barnes 3-pointer went out of bounds, CU appeared in control.

Not so fast.

Fouled with 36.3 seconds left, Booker hit a pair of foul shots, but ASU got one free throw from Holder and another two from Goodman to make it a two-point game (81-79) with 24.9 seconds left. Fletcher was fouled at midcourt and made one of two, but Scott tipped in the miss and CU led 84-79.

The Sun Devils weren’t done. Two Holder free throws made it a one-possession game (84-81) until Xavier Talton hit one of two foul shots (85-81) with nine seconds showing. After an officials review, the Buffs retained possession on an out-of-bounds call, and Booker sealed his Senior Night win with two free throws with 6.4 seconds left.

The Buffs close out the regular season with games at Washington (Thursday, 7 p.m. MST, FS1) and Washington State (4:30 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Networks). The Pac-12 Tournament is March 11-March 14 in Las Vegas.


8 Replies to “Buff Basketball – March, 2015”

  1. The news regarding Xavier Johnson’s Achilles injury is not the best news of the off-season. However, presuming the rest of the roster stays healthy, I’d rather have a team have the off-season to work on fashioning a solution to losing a key member than have to respond to such an injury on the fly. Coach Boyle and his staff now prepare for the season knowing X is not available and looking for a way (or ways) in which to deal with his absence. Whether there is someone else to fill his role, I do not know. I suppose we shall find out.

  2. have to disagree with the statement that losing Ski was a huge blow. This is a case of addition by subtraction. Hopefully more players be involved in the offense and scoring. The absence off Ski will also create an environment where Dom can truly be THE point guard and do what he does best which should be better ball distribution.
    I never played any higher than intramurals or rec leagues but playing with guys like ski isnt real good for the rest of the teams morale. Even so most of the guys who I have played with who insist on taking most of the shots usually are embarrassed when they aren’t hitting and start looking for team mates.

  3. Did anyone check out the transfer’s, White, stats? He will make his team better, even while he sits out this season. Think of the level of play he will bring to practice this year! You are career scorer Anywhere in 3 yrs proves that you are a scorer. They play decent basketball in the RMAC, even at Fort Lewis…

  4. Why is this continual tardiness allowed? Maybe more severe punishment needs to be meted out. Like maybe 2 game suspensions for starters. The thing children understand is when poor choices are made, consequences follow. Tad needs to establish some precedence.

  5. Which current Buffs are leaving the program? This makes 4 commitments for the 2015/16 season. Booker is graduating, and I doubt if Scott leaves for the NBA after this injury riddled season. Thought the two other seniors are walk-on non-scholarship players.

    1. Two of the commits – Brown and Sutterwhite – are for the Class of 2016 (which replaces the Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson class), so that would leave one extra body for 2015 with the addition of the two Europeans.
      There will definitely be some attrition, but, at least for right now, that would be one player instead of three.

  6. A good article on the statistical impact of home fans on away team free throw shooting. Long story short, the C-Unit still has some work to do (8th in the Pac-12) compared to masterworks like ASU’s Curtain of Distraction. The data seems pretty logical as renowned crazy fans (Duke, UNC) have a big effect while teams that play in dead arenas (Providence @ Dunkin Donuts, Rutgers at the RAC) don’t get much effect.


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