Wednesday night hurt. Even as I write this now, the thought of losing to the Rams still pains my heart. Jake Shapiro perfectly expresses every single Buffs fans reaction after Colorado fell 62-60 to CSU:
I sat at the Keg for 25 long mins after that game. #Crushing— Jake Shapiro (@Shapalicious) December 11, 2014
Yes, that probably was the worst loss for the Buffaloes since the Arizona game last year at home. Now as the Northern Colorado game fast approaches, questions and uncertainty has created a maelstrom of doubt. Are the Buffs even average this year? If we can't beat CSU, how will we be able to beat Arizona, or UCLA? What will become of Josh Scott after his performance on Wednesday? Will we even hold off Northern Colorado this Saturday? Are we going to make the tournament this year?
The Buffs have come to a fork in the road. Before them lies two paths. One will be well worn and easy to traverse; they can simply lay down and call the season a wash right now. CU can inform everybody to return their season tickets, as this season's already in the books. Colorado can let this game be the crux of their downfall and never move on from their disappointing performance, or lack thereof against the Rams. Or the Buffs can take the road less traveled, the one rarely used, long, and difficult. Colorado can decide to set out to prove to the college basketball world that they in fact are far more than just, "decent." Knowing that it is Tad Boyle's job to put a contending basketball team on the floor every night and simply turning over might cost Boyle his job, the Buffs hopefully will select the latter of the two paths.
Now the question every Colorado Basketball fan is waiting for: what can the Buffs do to become a legitimate threat in the NCAA?
Well, the answer is surprisingly simple. The Buffs need to get angry, mad and enraged. Colorado must decided that enough is enough and they will address every problem that has plagued the Buffs since the Mayor went down last year. The Buffs must get so fed up with all the questions, doubt, disappointment, and disrespect that they put their noses to the grindstone and outwork their opponents. Colorado must decide to shut down every three point shooter they face. Right now, it's clearly evident that to beat the Buffs, all you have to do is shoot from deep. If I can figure that out, and I'm not even old enough to drink, then every coach in the NCAA knows how to beat CU.
Josh Scott must become so aggravated by his performance that he vows to never be outmuscled or outmanned again. He must take the CSU game and use it as fuel for his fire within. Scott has to start catching the ball close enough to the basket that he can use his post moves, height, and strength to become an unstoppable force. Xavier Johnson must find it within himself to play at his peak, not just one night, every night. It wasn't by choice he was selected to play in China this summer with the best players in the Pac-12. Johnson has to get nasty and become a deadly threat when he's on the court. Xavier Talton needs to figure out his role on this team. Is he a point guard, a shooting guard, or a combination of the two? Either way, having him rove around at his in his current position, just isn't working. Most importantly, Askia Booker needs to step up and become the leader the Buffaloes need. As the senior point guard, he must provide flow for the offense and lead the defense by example. Booker, show us you're ready to step into the role you've earned these past four years. No, Askia shouldn't lead by scoring 18 points a game, while shooting 36% from the field. That isn't the player that CU needs right now. Colorado needs a leader who will get the ball where it needs to be on offense, exactly when it needs to be there. The Buffs need a player to step up on defense and hold their man to zero points, especially from deep. Booker, has the power to be that guy. It's there for the taking. It just depends on how bad he truly wants to win. The rest of the team has the duty to hold each and every one else accountable for their actions on and off the court. There cannot be any more "Internal Disciplinary Actions" from anyone, if the Buffs want to play in March. It is quintessential that Gordon, Hopkins, Fletcher, Collier, Thomas, and the rest make sure the Buffs bring intensity as a unit, whether it's in drills, conditioning, practice, or a game.
For CU to turn a corner of this magnitude, it must be a full team effort. Everybody must buy in. Will it be easy? No, not in the least. But, it starts against Northern Colorado. Score 100 on the Bears. Humiliate them. Don't let them even take a shot from deep. Destroy all negativity and uncertainty that surrounds Colorado Basketball. It's time for the Buffs to step up and play at the level they are capable of playing. Get angry. Get mad. Get nasty. The road to the tournament starts right now.