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Random Thoughts – Vol. V – Enjoying the Ride

Enjoying the Moment

In my New Year’s Resolutions, I resolved not to let January 2nd define my year.

True enough, the Buffs were the odds-on favorite to obtain the commitment of four-star defensive end Jason Harris at the Under Armour All-Star game this past Thursday. The men’s basketball team was also a 1.5-point favorite at home against No. 4 Oregon later that night.

Still, I’m a longtime Buff fan, and we know better than to expect good things to happen. The phrase “CU is not allowed to have nice things” is so cliche we may as well put it on a bumper sticker.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to CU losing Jason Harris to another school, and the Buffs being shown the door by the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 …

… We had a great night.

First, Jason Harris went on national television to announce that he was, indeed, committed to play for the University of Colorado.

“Coach Mel has coached the greatest players and I plan on being the next great Buff,” Harris said during the ESPNU broadcast of the Under Armour All-Star game.

ESPN ranks Harris as the No. 84 player in the nation, USA Today had him at No. 166 on its Top 250 list, the 247 Composite had him ranked No. 186 and PrepStar had him at No. 295 on its PrepStar 350 All-America list.  He is ranked as the No. 11 defensive end nationally by ESPN, No. 13 by Rivals and No. 15 by 247Sports.

Not only did Harris put on a CU hat on national television, we learned that Harris had, in fact, already signed his Letter of Intent during the early Signing period, so the Buff Nation won’t have to wait until February’s Signing Day wondering/worrying whether Harris might change his mind.

On any other day, the Harris announcement would have been huge news for the Buff Nation.

As it turned out, however, the Harris signing was soon to take a back seat to the men’s basketball team.

Before the first home crowd of over 10,000 since 2016 (10,770), the unranked CU men’s basketball team took it to No. 4 Oregon, 74-65. The Buffs overcame an early deficit to take a six-point lead into halftime. CU pushed the lead out to 15 early in the second half, only to see the Ducks cut it to four with 4:34 remaining. Instead of folding to a potential Final Four team, the Buffs responded, with McKinley Wright nailing a three-pointer on CU’s next possession, fueling a 7-0 run which put the game out of reach.

“It’s a four point game and (McKinley Wright) hit the pull up three from the top to put it to seven, got the crowd back into it,” said Boyle. “We needed that, big players make big plays. McKinley right is as big time of a clutch performer, as I’ve ever coached.”

While the rest of the nation may have seen the takedown of the Ducks as an upset, Wright was having none of it. “This just shows it man,” said Wright of the win. “Our coaches believe in us. We believe in each other. When I say this I’m not just saying that to say, we are one of the best teams in the country for real. We let one slip earlier at home against UNI. A lot of people knock us down because of that. The Dayton game, tonight, Iona, we showcased that we know we belong. So, we’re back.”

The Buffs are far from a lock to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament, what with 17 Pac-12 conference games and the Pac-12 tournament still to be played before the start of March Madness. Still, one website currently has CU as having a 97.7% chance of punching their ticket to the Big Dance.

That sounds pretty good to me.

So, while the New Year is only a few days old, it has been a great start to 2020.

I wasn’t going to let January 2nd define my year.

Now, I’m hoping that January 2nd portends what a great year 2020 could be.

Boyle’s Numbers

For anyone doubting whether or not we are enjoying the Golden Age of Colorado Basketball, I’ve been posting some of Tad Boyle’s ridiculous numbers over the course of the past few rounds of Random Thoughts.

Here are a few more …

Wins over ranked opponents …  No. 4 Oregon is the highest ranked opponent Colorado has defeated since the Buffs took down No. 4 Arizona State, 90-81, on Jan. 4, 2018. Colorado’s 19 wins over ranked opponents in Tad Boyle’s 10 seasons is by far the best in team history. Boyle coached teams, with a record of 19-32, have accounted for 30 percent of wins over ranked teams since 1949-50 (63).

Let’s put that another way … There have been national rankings for college basketball teams for the past 70 years.

In the first 60 years of of national rankings, CU had 44 total wins over ranked opponents.

In ten years under Tad Boyle, CU has posted 19 wins over ranked opponents (including two so far this season). If you project that out over 60 seasons, that would be 114 wins over ranked teams.

I’m not a math major, but I’m thinking 114 is better than 44.

CU in the National polls … Barring an upset loss to Oregon State (which can’t be discounted. The Beavers won in Boulder last season, 76-74) on Sunday afternoon (4:00 p.m., MT, ESPNU), the Buffs, which were ranked just outside the poll at No. 26 last Monday, will be back in the national polls.

The Buffs have already been ranked in five polls this season, pushing CU’s grand total of weeks in the Associated Press poll to 44 weeks.

Tad Boyle’s teams have been ranked in 13 polls out of the 44 weeks all-time, or 30% of all of CU’s all-time rankings.

Take away a run by the 1996-97 Buffs (led by Chauncey Billups), the 13 weeks in the polls under Tad Boyle are the only polls with a CU team in them … in the past fifty years.

That’s 30% of CU’s all-time wins over ranked teams, and 30% of CU’s all-time national rankings, in 9 1/2 seasons under Tad Boyle.

Golden Age, indeed.

Mark Your Calendars … 

Just not yet.

On December 4, 2018 – the day before CU announced it had hired Mel Tucker to be its 26th full-time football coach – the Pac-12 released its schedule for the 2019 season. Pac-12 fans were able to make note of the dates for home games, and which games were of special note (Friday night games; Thanksgiving weekend games; etc.).

Well, we are now into January, 2020, a month past the time last year’s schedule was announced, and still nothing from the Pac-12 about the 2020 campaign.

Colorado fans do know that the Buffs will open the 2020 season on the road in Ft. Collins against CSU on September 5th. We also know that the first home game will be September 12th against Fresno State, with a road trip the following weekend to College Station to take on Texas A&M.

It’s also a safe bet that the Buffs will be hosting Utah in late November to close out the season (and, for the ever optimistic Buff fans, there is the 2020 Pac-12 championship game the first weekend in December, which this year is moving to Las Vegas).

Other than that, all we know now is that the Buffs will be hosting Oregon, Arizona State, Utah, Washington State and UCLA, and will be on the road against USC, Stanford, Washington, and Arizona.

We just don’t know – yet – when those games are going to be played …

Buff fans are also at a loss as to when spring practices are set to begin.

In previous years, Mike MacIntyre liked to get the ball rolling in February. His reasoning was that he wanted to have off-season conditioning both before and after spring ball, that finishing spring practices earlier would allow players time in April and May to concentrate on their studies, and, if any injuries occurred during the spring, players would have more time to heal before the start of fall camp in August.

Last spring, new head coach Mel Tucker took a different approach.

The first spring practice didn’t take place until March 18th. The Buffs only had three practices before spring break, and the Spring Game was on April 27th. Tucker’s reasoning for the later start was to give both he and his coaching staff more time to evaluate their new team, and to give strength coach Drew Lewis two full months of winter conditioning before the start of spring ball.

Spring classes begin next week (January 13th). The players – including almost half of the Recruiting Class of 2020, which will set foot on campus officially for the first time in the coming days – are going to want to know when those 15 allotted spring practices are going to take place.

As a result, we should know the spring practice schedule soon … perhaps even before we know the Buffs 2020 Pac-12 schedule …

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4 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Vol. V”

    1. From CU at the Game, “Colorado Daily”, December 18th:

      — The following players are expected to enroll at CU in January: Quarterback Brendon Lewis, outside linebackers Guy Thomas and Mister Williams, cornerback Jaylen Striker, defensive linemen Justin Jackson and Antonio Alfano, Australian punter Josh Watts, and offensive linemen Jake Wray and Carson Lee —

      1. I checked your math myself, and you are spot on Stuart!

        I’m impressed there are so many early enrollers (or is it enrollees?).

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