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Random Thoughts – Volume VI

McKinley Wright and the record books

Much has been made of McKinley Wright’s chase to become the first player in Pac-12 history to post 1,600 points, 600 assists, and 600 rebounds. Wright came into Saturday night’s game against Cal as the Pac-12’s active leader in career points (1,674) and assists (623) and second in rebounds (598).

With 1:15 remaining in the game, Wright pulled down his second rebound of the game, giving him 600 for his career. The Buffs were down by four, and the rebound was crucial, with Wright turning the possession into two points with a pair of free throws a few seconds later.

It would have been a storybook ending had the Buffs finished off the comeback, but Cal’s Matt Bradey, who burned the Buffs for 28 points on the night, hit a three-pointer on Cal’s next possession, pushing the lead back to five points with 40 seconds to go – and the Buffs would get no closer.

Still, the bitter 71-62 loss to Call shouldn’t detract from Wright’s accomplishment.

How impressive is it?

Wright has become just one of ten players to pull off the 1,600-600-600 in the past 35 seasons, and only the third to play for a Power Five conference school, joining Greivis Vasquez of Maryland (2006-10) and Denzel Valentine, Michigan St (2012-16).

A finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, CU’s All-Pac-12 guard is in line for another first-team All-Pac-12 selection, and is in running for the Pac-12 Player-of-the-Year.

We’ll just have to hope that Wright will be able to celebrate some wins in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments to cap his memorable career on a high note …

Meanwhile, the Buffs as a team are posting impressive numbers … 

— Colorado is shooting at an 82.3% clip from the free throw line (308 of 374). Not only is that in line to crush the school record for season-long accuracy, but on a pace to to set a new Pac-12 and NCAA Division I record.

Single Season Free Throw Records:
NCAA I: Harvard, .822 (535-651), 1983-84
Pac-12: Arizona, .786 (511-650), 2003-04
Colorado: .778 (679-873), 2010-11

— CU’s defense in the two games earlier this week was impressive. The Buffs held Oregon State to 49 points on Feb. 8th, then held Stanford to 51 points on February 11th. The 100 total points allowed represented just the second time in the last 58 years that CU held its opponents to 100 points or fewer in back-to-back conference games. The Buffs gave up 97 points in games at Arizona State (W 63-49) on Feb. 11, 2012 and at Utah (W 55-48) on Feb. 18, 2012. The last time prior to that was 58 years ago (1962-63 season).

— The 58-41 win over Stanford appeared to be a workmanlike effort. After falling behind 13-12 (the only half minute of the game the Cardinal led), the Buffs slowly pulled away, building a 34-23 halftime lead. Stanford did get to within six points early in the second half, but an 8-0 run by the Buffs pushed the lead back to 14, and the Buffs were never seriously threatened again in a 69-51 win.

So? Well, the 18-point victory was the fifth-biggest margin for CU against a Pac-12 opponent on the road … ever.

That’s how far expectations for the program have come … the Buffs beat an NCAA-tournament caliber team, on the road, by 18 points … and it didn’t seem like a big deal.

CU men’s basketball and the Associated Press Top 25

Colorado received 41 votes in the most recent Associated Press poll, good enough for 26th place (the No. 25 team, Rutgers, had 65 votes). While the AP poll may not play as big a role as it does in college football – considering that 68 teams make the NCAA tournament – it’s still a big deal to be ranked.

Just ask the Buffs …

During the 2019-20 season, Colorado entered the AP poll as the No. 25 team on November 11th, staying in the poll for five weeks before a loss to Northern Iowa knocked the Buffs out. The Buffs re-entered the poll in January, staying in for eight more weeks (topping out at No. 16 on February 10th) before the late season swoon left CU on the outside looking in.

So, 13 weeks in the AP poll during the 2019-20 season … nice, but not significant in the grand scheme of things.

Right?

Except that those 13 weeks in the poll represent 25% of all the weeks CU has been ranked … ever.

Yup, one-quarter of every CU mentions in the AP occurred last year. A grand total of 52 weeks in the poll in Colorado men’s basketball history – in the 80+ years of the poll.

Of the 52 weeks ranked, Tad Boyle teams can claim 21 of those weeks, with six weeks ranked in the 2013-14 season, and two weeks in 2012-13. Prior to that, you have to go back to the Chauncey Billups year of 1996-97 to find the Buffs in the polls.

Before that? Try the 1969-70 season.

So, no, a Top 25 ranking doesn’t mean anything once March Madness begins.

But, if you are a fan of Colorado basketball, it’s still a big deal.

And, with the loss to Cal, the Buffs let a national ranking slip through their fingers … again.

On to football …

West Coast football stats … 

Some interesting numbers from WestCoastCFB

AP Top 25 Finishes Over the Past 5 Seasons:

  • Washington – 3
  • USC – 3
  • Utah – 2
  • Stanford – 2
  • Oregon – 1
  • Colorado – 1
  • Washington State – 1
  • Arizona State, UCLA, Arizona, Cal, Oregon State – 0

Why it’s interesting … CU has as many Top 25 finishes in the past five years as Oregon … and more than three of CU’s five rivals in the Pac-12 South …

Two- or three-star Recruits Drafted in the 1st/2nd Round of the 2015-2020 NFL Drafts:

  • 1. Washington – 9
  • 2. Utah – 4
  • 3. Oregon – 3
  • 3. UCLA – 3
  • 3. Colorado – 3
  • 6. Stanford – 2
  • 6. Arizona State – 2
  • 8. USC – 1
  • 8. Washington State – 1
  • 10. Cal – 0
  • 10. Arizona – 0
  • 10. Oregon State – 0

Why it’s interesting … This tends to show that Washington is doing the best job at developing talent, while Colorado is holding its own with Utah (which is often lauded for developing under-rated talent) in the Pac-12 South …

Total 1st/2nd Round NFL Draft Picks Over the Past 10 Drafts (2011-2020):

  • 1. Washington – 18
  • 2. USC – 15
  • 3. Stanford – 12
  • 4. UCLA – 11
  • 5. Oregon – 9
  • 6. Utah – 7
  • 7. Colorado – 6
  • 8. Cal – 5
  • 9. Arizona State – 4
  • 10. Washington State – 2
  • 10. Oregon State – 2
  • 12. Arizona – 1

Why this is interesting … This covers the entire run of the Pac-12 as a new conference, and Colorado, despite wandering in the wilderness for the first half of the decade, has still held its own in its new conference.

Jedd Fisch as savior for Arizona? Perhaps not …  

Jedd Fisch is the only new head coach in the Pac-12 this year, taking over at Arizona. Over the past decade, Fisch has been the quarterbacks coach and/or offensive coordinator in the NFL and at the collegiate level. With that resume, you might think that Arizona fans would be excited about what Fisch would bring to the Wildcat quarterbacks room.

Or, perhaps not …

From Rodger Sherman at The Ringer … Since 2010, only 33 NFL quarterbacks have managed to start at least eight games and throw more interceptions than touchdowns. Four of the 33 have had Jedd Fisch a quarterback coach or offensive coordinator. In six seasons coaching four NFL teams, the only Fisch quarterback who did not throw more interceptions than touchdowns is Jared Goff.

So you’d expect about 3/32 NFL QBs to throw more interceptions than touchdowns in any given year But four of the six quarterbacks coached by Jedd Fisch have done it! … 2010 SEA: Hasselbeck (12/17) … 2013 JAX: Henne (13/14) … 2014 JAX: Bortles 11/17 … 2018 LAR: Goff (32/12) … 2019 LAR: Goff (22/16) … 2020 NE: Cam Newton (5/10).

Which might be why Arizona is looking to guarantee at least one win per season over the next 15 years … 

From azdesertswarm.com … The Arizona Wildcats announced Friday that they have agreed to a new 10-year scheduling series with Northern Arizona that will begin in 2021-22 and includes “all sports that are sponsored by both athletics departments.”

Per the Arizona release, the scheduling series will feature competitions in both Tucson and Flagstaff in a home-and-home format when possible. Except for football and men’s basketball as “the two schools’ men’s basketball programs will look to open each season with a head-to-head meeting in McKale Center to create an exciting annual tip-off event for fans.”

Arizona football was already scheduled to host Northern Arizona in 2021, 2023, 2024, 2026 and 2027 but will now add four more dates between 2030 to 2036. There will be a gap from 2027 to 2030 due to prior scheduling commitments.

… In case you were wondering … Arizona is 15-1 all-time v. Northern Arizona, with the lone win by the Lumberjacks coming in 1932 … 

Preferred walk-ons joining the Buffs … 

This week, Colorado received preferred walk-on commitments from a linebacker and a wide receiver …

Austin Dahlke is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound linebacker out of Edgar, Wisconsin. Rivals bio

Dahlke has been named all-state multiple times by the Associated Press and last December, was one of seven nominated players up to win state player of the year honors.

Dahlke only had scholarship offers from Bucknell and Illinois State, but he had interest from schools such as Iowa, Iowa State, Colorado State and Wyoming.

Here is a link to Dahlke’s Hudl.com highlights.

The other preferred walk-on is Jack Hestera, a 6’1″, 185-pound wide receiver from Cedar Park, Texas.

Here is a link to Hestera’s Hudl.com highlights.

While preferred walk-ons (other than kickers) making the two-deep are a rarity, you have to like the way head coach Karl Dorrell and his staff are filling out the roster. Colorado is presently sitting at 91 scholarship players on the team, with 88 allowed for this fall (CU has three senior carryovers – See “Roster Math” for the breakdown). As a result, there are at least three more scholarship players will have to be cut before Fall Camp in August, so adding more scholarship players right now is not in the cards. Yes, there may be some transfer additions coming after the spring semester – which will require cutting additional scholarship players – so offering the likes of Dahlke and Hestera a scholarship right now just wasn’t going to happen.

But … these are quality players who can add competition to their respective rooms. Dahlke’s presence, especially, could add insurance to a thin depth chart at linebacker.

And these moves won’t cost CU a scholarship.

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2 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Vol. VI”

  1. Great stuff as always Stuart! The scholarship limit/ problem, does not bode well for my son, who is playing in the Spring for Iowa Western CC (same place where Trustin Oliver came from. He came to our house w/Tyler one weekend last fall. Great kid). We’d be happy with a preferred walk-on offer from the Buffs tho for now!! 😉
    Keep the great stuff coming!! Go Buffs!!
    Dave

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