If the Season Ended Today…
Cub scouts the daily hoops scene.
by Cub Buenning
–Despite my disdain for “if the season ended today” arguments, an off night for the Nuggets had me thinking about where this team currently stands, what is directly in front of them, and what the imminent future might hold. This team holds the NBA’s third longest Playoff appearance streak (behind just San Antonio and Dallas) — kind of hard to believe, I know, considering it just seemed like yesterday when Skita, Bzdelik and the boys were winning 17 games.
For starters, this team is 20-13 and sits in third place (behind Utah and OKC) in the ultra-competitive Northwest Division. It also places them in the sixth spot in the Western Conference with a potential first round match-up with their longtime rivals, the Jazz. And their current winning percentage of 60 percent (11th best in the entire NBA) translates to 49-50 wins over the course of the 82-game schedule.
Doesn’t this seem about right? Are we surprised?
The team has yet to play with their entire roster at any one point in the season and with the whole Carmelo Anthony situation STILL looming, roster consistency is not something that head coach George Karl has/can/will be able to rely upon. While there have been some games in there that the team gave away (PHILLY at home?) I feel that this group has done well for themselves, Melo or no Melo.
The next week starts tonight in Los Angeles and involves two road games against inferior teams (LAC/SAC) followed by two home dates against quality opponents (NOLA/PHX). All four are not only winnable, but needed. That foursome of games is culminates with LeBron and the Heatles coming to Pepsi Center a week from tomorrow!
–A college basketball team that has been getting a bit of “down low” attention in this space, as of late, is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who got an impressive conference victory last night over Connecticut. This team was not expected to be one of the conference’s top teams (much like St. John’s) but their experienced line-up has proven to be the difference. With some quality wins over the likes of Georgetown, Gonzaga, Georgia, Wisconsin and California, their two losses (Kentucky and Syracuse) aren’t near as detrimental. Keep this team in mind as we get closer to March.
–ALERT-**-Starting tomorrow, the NCAA Hoops section of this post will include a “Player to Watch” section (akin to my old Cub Scouts: The Week That Was section) where I break down the professional prospects for some of the nation’s top college players.
–Locally, the basketball version of the “Border War” went down up in Fort Collins with the home CSU Rams getting the 13-point win over Wyoming. The ‘Pokes got off to a fast start, holding down a 2-point halftime lead, but came out in the second half as cold as a Laramie night in January. The now 11-4 Rams were a middle of the field team in the competitive Mountain West Conference coming into the year and a convincing win in their conference opener (against a rival, no less) is the perfect way to start the new year. Things get considerably more challenging in a couple weeks, however, when the league’s heavies (SDSU, BYU, UNLV) start showing up on the schedule.
This post was a segment of Cub’s blog at milehighsportsview.blogspot.com. The Mile High Five is a daily portion of his blog that covers several aspects in the world of Denver and national sports and pop culture.