The Beavers have another big road trip to the Rocky Mountains this weekend. They’ll take on Colorado tonight at 6:00 PM PT. To find out about more about this weekend’s opponents, we reached out to Sam Metivier over at The Ralphie Report to learn about the Buffaloes.
1. After last season, it seemed like Colorado was ready to take a big step forward. Based on conference results so far, that doesn’t seem to have happened. What do you feel is holding them back?
For one, the schedule has been brutal to start, just as it is seemingly every year in the Pac-12. It’s hard to have a good conference if you’re on the road for 5 of 7 games. They have similar starts in years past, but those teams stayed focused and reeled off winning streaks once the schedule got friendlier. I still think that will happen this season, though I’m not as sure as I was two weeks ago. Back on track, there’s a lot wrong with this team. CU is down to 9 scholarship players, and one of them honestly shouldn’t be playing. They have young guys who flash playmaking ability, but as we saw in McKinley Wright’s injury absence in a blowout to Utah, CU doesn’t have anyone besides Kin who can do really anything with the ball, and we don’t have the shooting or defensive identity to make up for that. Namon Wright was supposed to be that guy, but he’s out for the season. They also lack size and physicality, which is what happens when Dallas Walton, last year’s starting center as a freshman, tears his ACL before the season.
2. McKinley Wright IV had a hell of a debut last season. How’s his sophomore effort been, and how do you think he’ll match up against Oregon State’s Thompson brothers?
Wright hasn’t been as good as he was last season, but he might be getting back on track. He’s had issues with focus and has been uncharacteristically sloppy with the ball, and his shot hasn’t developed as we had hoped. But even while he’s dealing with a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum on his non-shooting shoulder (still, he’s a tough dude), he’s been better of late. The Thompsons are long and athletic, and I don’t really think Wright has had to deal much with that in his young career. Defensively, Kin is fine (he’s got like a 6’9 wingspan, so he’s good on length), but I’m curious to see how he runs the offense with the brothers hounding him.
3. In there last couple of games, the Buffaloes have gotten off to quick starts, only to struggle in the second half. What do you think is happening to the team as the game goes on?
I really wish I knew, but I can only guess. Stanford, for example, is an experienced team, and CU came out focused and was dominating them in the first half. But Stanford made, like, two adjustments, and that was the game. All of the sudden, the Buffs weren’t passing as they had in the first half, they started settling for weak floaters instead of being aggressive with Stanford in foul trouble, and they generally didn’t know how to put away an opponent. But even before the last few games, having only one good half of basketball isn’t new to CU, this season or in the past. The lack of adjustment has been a hallmark of Tad Boyle teams.
4. Kylor Kelley has been a huge defensive presence in the post for the Beavers this year. How do you think Colorado will try to get past him?
Having a warm body beneath the rim is enough to keep the Buffs away. Besides Tyler Bey -- often lurking baseline in the dunker spot -- no one on Colorado will challenge Kelley. Even Wright’s drives are more geared towards creating open shots elsewhere. If OSU can run CU off the three-point line, we’re going to see the Buffs settling for a lot of pull-up twos and floaters. It’s what happened against Stanford when they designed to attack on the perimeter with Josh Sharma seated firmly under the basket. If there’s any upside here, it’s that CU can mitigate Kelley’s best strength by avoiding him altogether -- they’re better off settling for those twos than challenging Kelley.
5. Finally, give us your prediction for the game.
The CU Events Center will help, as will a possibly refocused team mindset. But still, OSU matches up very well against CU. Bey will probably take care of Tres Tinkle, but nowhere else on the court does CU have an advantage. And if the Thompsons really do make Wright uncomfortable, I think this goes Oregon State’s way. My prediction: Oregon State 68, Colorado 62.
Big thanks to Sam for helping us out. You can watch tonight’s game on the Pac-12 Network at 6:00 PM PT.