Monday Morning Point Guard
Colorado is not known for its basketball prowess. Our great state is known for its world class ski resorts, its wacky weather patterns and hand crafted local beers. Nobody has ever made the assertion that the state of Colorado is a hotbed for basketball talent, or has said that the Centennial State is a national basketball power.
There is not a lot of winning historically associated with mile high hoops, from both a professional and collegiate perspective. The Nuggets? Never really had a championship reputation. They are one of the 13 unlucky teams to never win an NBA championship. In fact, the Nuggets have never even made it to the NBA Finals. How about big college schools in Colorado? CU and CSU are usually absent from the NCAA Tournament field.
Well, times are changing round these parts, because Colorado hoops is putting itself on the map, with rock solid Rocky Mountain performances across the board.
These aren’t your grandma’s Denver Nuggets. No longer the door mat of the NBA, the Nuggets are legitimate contenders. They are one of only three NBA franchises to go the post season the last eight seasons. And this year, with no true superstar, the Denver Nuggets are one of the best teams in the NBA. I can’t believe I just wrote that. But as things stand right now, it’s a true story.
Even with the tough loss last night to a spirited performance from Chauncey Billups (32 points) and the Clippers, the Nuggets have the 5th best record in the NBA (14-6). Second best record in the West. The Nugs have a better record than the Lakers, Mavs, and Spurs, teams that have dominated the West in recent history. They are leading the league in scoring (105.8 ppg.) and assists (24.4 ppg). There is plenty of season left for the Nuggets to prove how legit they really are, but they are off to a scorching start.
On the collegiate level, Colorado State notched a watershed victory this past weekend. They beat up on San Diego State on national TV 77-60. The Aztecs were the nation’s 12th ranked team. It was the first win for the Rams against a ranked team since all the way back in 2004. Coach Tim Miles has brought the Ram program back to respectability. They are 14-6 overall and 3-2 in the Mountain West. If they play well down the stretch, the Rams could be dancing in March.
In its first season in the Pac 12, the University of Colorado is also holding its own. With an eerily similar record to the rival Rams, the Buffaloes are 14-7, and 6-3 in its new conference. The Buffs are only one game out of first place in the Pac 12. With crucial contests still approaching against Oregon and California, two teams ahead of them in the standings. Head coach Tad Boyle has quickly instilled a winning confidence in Boulder, and they also have a fighting chance to make the big dance as we head to the proving grounds of February.
Will this recent string of success last along the front range? Will the Nuggets actually make a run for a championship, or will any Colorado Universities make a run in March Madness? That remains to be seen. They are still plenty of games to be played, and more chapters to this story. But there is no question several Colorado hoops teams are placing themselves in positions to succeed, thus becoming more relevant, and putting Colorado basketball squarely on the map.
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