Friday, January 4, 2013

Rounding up the Buffaloes

By Wally Mersereau

The high temperature in Boulder today was 39 degrees under sunny skies. The ground is generally covered in snow with streets and most sidewalks clear. There is no wind, making it seem relatively balmy in the afternoon.

Boulder is dramatically located at the foot of the Front Range with snow-covered peaks of the Rockies visible to the west. From here the Great Plains start their gradual descent east to the Mississippi.

I’m staying at the Boulder Marriott that also is the team hotel. It’s a brisk 30-minute walk to the Coors Events Center on the CU campus. Going up inclines or a long flight of stairs leaves me a little breathless—a reminder of the official elevation of this city of 5,344 feet above sea level. The elevation provides an extra home-team advantage for the locally acclimated CU student-athletes.

The Coors Events Center was built in 1979 and was renamed in 1990 after a gift from the Adolph Coors Foundation. It is home to CU men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. Women’s basketball has been more successful than the other sports, winning 74.4% of its home games. The arena seats just over 11,000.

Colorado is a good team and deserves its ranking. Its strength is defense—plus Chucky Jeffery. Chucky is the real thing, a determined scorer and able to produce some amazing, twisting drives to the basket. CU played Stanford even in the second half, really battling at times, requiring Tara to keep her top players in until the end. Chucky ended with 17 points, 6 rebounds and a steal in 35 minutes.

Highlights for Stanford included another double-double by Chiney, Jos returning to the scoring column, Jasmine’s best game of the season and a top-notch, gritty game by Amber.

The top stat lines for the Cardinal were Chiney with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks and a steal in 35 minutes. Amber with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists/2 turnovers and 2 steals in 34 minutes. Joslyn with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks and a steal in 32 minutes. Mikaela with only 2 points, but 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal in 27 minutes.

Stanford had a 17-point lead at the half, 31-14, and a 17-point lead at the final, 57-40. The second half was 26-26 in a really hard fought game. Colorado deserves a tip of the hat for its second half effort. I didn’t observe any adverse high altitude effects on the Cardinal. The Buffaloes had great fan support. Attendance was 5,880—a more than half-full arena—and the crowd got really loud when encouraged by the scoreboard to do so.

This was not Stanford’s finest game, but it was reassuring to get this comeback win after the UConn defeat. Stanford shot 47.9% from the field, only 20% from outside the arc (2 of 10, with Jasmine and Jos being successful), 75% free throw shooting (9 of 12) and had 8 blocks and 5 steals. In the first half Stanford seemed to get a block on just about every CU possession.

Taylor played 21 minutes and Bonnie 13 minutes, with both of them being in the game at times. But neither made a 3 and Bonnie was scoreless. Taylor had 4 points and 2 steals.

Colorado was only 28.8% from the field, 8.3% from 3, and 47.4% from the line, largely due to Stanford’s outstanding defensive game. The Cardinal outrebounded 41-27, but Colorado outstole 13-5. Stanford’s team assists/turnovers were a disappointing 13/18, but Colorado’s were a more lop-sided 6/16.

Amber injured an ankle in the second half and was hobbling on the floor before she came out. But she went back in after a quick taping job by Marcella and looked fine.

There is something wrong with Toni. She started, but played only 10 minutes in the first half. She did not play at all in the second half. I did not see any injury and she appeared normal except for not playing. Toni’s absence gave Amber and Jasmine a lot of playing time together and both did well as point guard.

Ros Gold-Onwude was in the Pac-12 TV commentator chair, looking spiffy in a red blouse.

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