Game #1, Portland Pilots (0-0) at Colorado Buffaloes (0-0)
Before the game begins my eyes scan around Coors Events Center and I marvel at the size and beauty compared to the facilities where I’ve coached before. It holds over 11,000 people in much greater comfort than the arenas where I’ve played and coached. Lots of yellow seats and, while the center is not nearly filled to capacity, a fair number of fans wearing yellow. And here I am at age 44.
Our starters as the season begins are: PG Chris Smith, 6-1 Soph; SG Stacey Walker, 6-2 Sr; SF George Seamon, 6-8 Sr; PF Vefa Kurtbek, 6-6 Soph; C R.J. Reis, 6-10 Soph.
We host the Portland Pilots for our season opener. They’re strongly favored even though we are at home. We hung with them the first 10 minutes but then wilted and fell behind 41-25 at the half, letting them hit 63% of their shots. Our 13 turnovers in the half didn’t help. 21 of our 25 points were by our guards.
We stayed behind by 10-15 points through most of the half and ended up losing 80-61. The Pilots hit 63% of their shots. We had 20 turnovers. But we did hit 8 of 15 of our 3’s. We only have 3 guards on our roster, but the three carried what offense we were able to generate. They hit 13 of 24 from the field including 7 of 8 from beyond the arc. PG Chris Smith scored 19, PG J.B. Parker had 10, and SG Stacey Walker chipped in 9. None of our players had more than 3 rebounds. Reserve PF Larry Smith popped in 21 points for Portland.
Game #2, Brown Bears (1-1) at Colorado Buffaloes (0-1)
Again we have a home game and again we’re the underdog. It takes 2-1/2 minutes for either team to score, but we hit the first bucket and after 5 minutes of play we’re up 10-4. Is that an omen? But at the midpoint of the first half, Brown takes their first lead at 14-13. The Bears hold a small lead through most of the remainder of the half. But in the last two minutes we come back and on the last play of the half, we execute a perfect pick and roll and score just before the buzzer sounds to take a 32-30 lead into the locker room. Again we have too many turnovers (11) but shoot well (52%). SG Stacey Walker leads our scoring with 8 points, but we get good production from our entire starting five.
We pull ahead 40-32 after 4-1/2 minutes of play in the 2nd half. But we can’t maintain our momentum and let Brown come back to take a 42-41 lead. We make another run to lead 50-43 with 8-1/2 minutes remaining. Three minutes later we open our first double digit lead at 57-47. We hang on to come away with my first win at Colorado. The final score: Colorado-66, Brown-58.
We played well, out-rebounding the Bears 35-28 and out-shooting them 47% to 39%, but had 18 turnovers to the Bears’ 13. Ultimately the fact that we got to the line 20 more times than Brown and scored 13 more points at the free throw line was the difference in the game.
SG Stacey Walker finished with 14 points. PG Chris Smith put in 13 points plus had 5 assists, 7 rebounds, a steal and 2 blocks. PF Vela Kurtbek scored 12 and grabbed 8 boards. C Duez Jones scored 15 for Brown.
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