Decent. If there is one word to describe the 2014-2015 Colorado Basketball season, it would be decent. They never were able to live up to the significant expectations that were placed upon them this year. The Buffs never had any truly dominant games or jaw dropping moments and in many facets, Colorado came up short. The Buffaloes choked against CSU, and Hawaii, CU was only able to record two road wins, struggled to inbound the ball almost every game, and at some points in the season were downright maddening to watch. Yet, the season was not awful. Colorado was able to pull off an impressive win over Stanford, and Askia Booker wrote the perfect final chapter in his career as a Buffalo against ASU. All of these highs and lows balanced out to a season that is utterly decent, nothing more and nothing less. Now, let's take a look back at this incredibly decent season to see what we can remember and what we must forget.
The season began with hope and excitement. After a less than impressive football season, CU fans were hungry for another strong and dominant basketball season. The Buffaloes took care of their opening two matches against Auburn and Drexel. CU was receiving votes in the AP and Coaches Poll, and everything seemed to be right on track for the season. Then, the Buffs traveled to Laramie.
The first road trip of the season did not bode well whatsoever for Colorado. Most expected CU to march into Laramie, put up a good fight against the 'Pokes, and head home with a solid win or at least a well contested loss. Instead, to our horror, the Buffaloes let a winnable game slip away as CU imploded in the second half, only scoring nine points. To top it all off, I got a computer virus the very same day.
Following the loss to Wyoming, the Buffs ran through Air Force, Lipscomb, and San Francisco, three cupcake teams. Then, the Buffs put up a good fight against a solid, tournament bound Georgia team. Once again, things seemed stable within the program as the Buffs turned their attention toward instate "rival", CSU. Since the Rams pulled one over on CU in football earlier this year, everybody was hungry for revenge.
Revenge would have to wait until next year. Nothing went CU's way the whole game. CSU's trick shots somehow found net, yet Josh Scott couldn't buy a basket to save his life. When Colorado State gifted the Buffs one last opportunity to comeback, down 59-62, CU couldn't convert and lost 60-62. The Buffaloes couldn't get it done in the biggest non-conference game of the year. It was a crushing blow for the players and the fans. The loss to CSU was the gut punches of all gut punches, and it knocked the remainder of the season off its original course.
Colorado never seemed right after the loss to CSU. While they played well, there was always pain visible in their eyes and in the back of their minds. That said, the Buffaloes beat Northern Colorado to a pulp, and then took their anger to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic Tournament.
CU opened the tournament with a win over DePaul, and it looked like they had a good chance at facing mid-major powerhouse Wichita State in the finals. However, Colorado overlooked George Washington in the semis. Against GW, CU choked away a considerable lead in the final minutes of the game. Instead of a date with the Shockers, the Buffaloes had to settle for a third place battle against Hawaii, the host team. Just like the semifinal game, Colorado held the lead for nearly the entire game and let the lead slip away in the final minute. The Buffs returned to Boulder with their tails between their legs and a fourth place participation ribbon.
Despite a decent performance non-conference play, there were still high hopes in the Pac-12, as Colorado was picked to finish third. The Buffaloes opened up the new year by rattling off two home wins against UCLA, and USC. Then, the Buffs ran into Arizona and Utah. After being smacked around by the Pac-12 powerhouses, Colorado fumbled to get their wits back, and lost two more against ASU and Washington. Following the loss to the Huskies, Colorado had a 9-9 record and it was evident that the Buffaloes would not be finishing third in the Pac-12 this year. The question became how far would they fall? The Buffs seemed to regain a foothold with a tremendous 32 point win over Washington State, where everything went right for Colorado. Then, CU manage to pick up their very first road win of the season against USC. While it took three overtimes, Colorado won as Ski dropped an astounding, career hight 43 points. He could do no wrong as everything he looked at hit the bottom of the net. Sadly, the Buffs couldn't get the sweep of LA, as they lost to UCLA in the next game.
A week break in between UCLA and Utah, ended up hurting the Buffs more than helping. When game time came around, the Utes blew past an ill prepared Colorado team. The Buffs continued to slide by dropping the next game to Cal. Every player looked disoriented that game. They never got their act together, and gave away the opportunity to come back when Cal gave them the chance. Following the loss to Cal, the chatter began about the Buffs. However this time, it was nearly definitive, everybody knew this season could be chalked up as a wash. Colorado did their best to dispel those myths by pulling the upset against Stanford. It appeared that maybe the Buffs could gleam a little momentum from the win, but an 0-2 road trip to Oregon ended that discussion. Next, the Buffs came home for their final home stand of the season. First, CU was completely humiliated by Arizona. Colorado actually faired better on the road than at home against the Wildcats this year. After hitting what coach Boyle called 'rock bottom', the Buffaloes fended off ASU in what was a nearly perfect senior night for Askia Booker. The Buffs finished the regular season by splitting road games, beating Washington and losing to WSU.
The Pac-12 Tournament was at first very exciting, then incredibly disappointing. CU finished 10th in the Pac-12, and thus took the 10 seed, and faced Oregon State. Surprisingly, the Buffs pulled off the upset against the Beavers. It looked like Colorado had a shot to make the semi finals. All the had to do was beat Oregon. Against the Ducks, CU did all they could to hold off Joe Young and Company, but it wasn't enough. The Buffs lost and it looked as if the season was over.
$35,000 and then some later, Colorado's season was still alive, but, it was in the CBI, a little known postseason tournament meant for mostly mid-major teams. Still, the Buffs took on the challenge. However, it would be without Askia Booker and Dustin Thomas. Booker elected to let the guys who would be there next year play, and Thomas declared he would transfer the following season. Colorado still gave it their best decent effort. After a soundly beating Gardner Webb, CU had to travel to Seattle University. Sadly, the Buffs let a chance at the CBI semifinals slip through their finger tips in the second half, and just like that the season had come to an end.
This season left every Buff fan feeling half empty and hugely disappointed. Colorado had so much potential left untapped. It was just completely and utterly decent, nothing more, nothing less. Still, there were some great moments, but many more terrible ones.
Worst Game: Arizona and Utah
Boy, it's hard to even begin to reminisce about these two games. The Buffs were completely unprepared for both games, as they left both Gabe York and Brandon Taylor open from beyond the three point arc. Yes, the Wyoming game was awful as well. But these games were down right embarrassing.
Best Game: Stanford
The Buffs put everything together in order to take down the Cardinal, who were surging at the time. They had a tremendous run early to give them the momentum they needed to win. Booker dropped 17 points, and XJ had his one and only double-double of the season. The Buffs were monstrous on the boards with 48 rebounds, and only turned the ball over eight times. More importantly, the win against Stanford helped break a two game losing streak, and the Buffs showed they could step up, at least in decently important games.
Worst Moment: The Moment Reality Hit and Comprehending We Lost to CSU
Losing to little brother in football and basketball in one season...that feeling can best be summed up by Jake Shapiro's tweet.
— Jake Shapiro (@Shapalicious) December 11, 2014
Best Moment: Ski Writing His Perfect Final Chapter On Senior Night
It couldn't have been scripted better. Ski was cocky, confident, fearless, and deadly. The man could not be stopped, no matter what Herb Sendek or ASU did to try and phase him. Booker's only regret, missing the one free throw that kept him from getting 30 that night, instead of 29. He wouldn't be denied that night, and Askia wrote himself a place in Colorado's history books with that performance.
This year was one to remember, and one to forget. The program can learn from it, but must put it behind them. The players must buy into Tad's system and do everything they can to represent him and the black and gold letters embroidered on their chest. As fans, let's recall the good moments with fondness, and do everything we can to put the bad ones behind us. Hey, only eight more months until the basketball season begins anew! But for now, let all say a long awaited farewell to a most decent season of Colorado Basketball.