It cannot be said enough.
Of all the years for the men’s basketball edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown to go dormant, this may very well have been the worst.
CU/CSU men’s hoops — A
Losing this year’s football game in Fort Collins was one thing.
But for this version of the CSU Rams (17-5, No. 41 in NET prior to Friday night’s loss at Nevada) to not get a shot at this version of the CU Buffs (20-7, No. 14 in NET) is yet another athletic tragedy in a 12-month period full of them for the Grading the Week staff.
Especially considering CSU just spent a 21-day period in February waiting for an opponent to play after multiple Mountain West foes went into quarantine.
“It’s not quite that easy to put a matchup together on short notice,” CSU athletic director Joe Parker told The Post‘s Sean Keeler earlier this week.
This one should’ve been a no-brainer.
It’s not just that both are likely NCAA Tournament teams (or should be). It’s not just that both have NBA-caliber point guards (McKinley Wright IV vs. Isaiah Stevens anyone?) and blue-collar bruisers (Evan Battey vs. David Roddy).
It’s also that there is a legitimate case to be made for each as the best team in the Centennial State.
Looks like we’ll just have to wait until the Final Four to find out.
Rising Stars Challenge — C+
Congratulations, Michael Porter Jr. and Facundo Campazzo, you made the NBA Rising Stars Challenge.
Congratulations, MPJ and Facu, you don’t have to play in the dreadful thing.
While the NBA has decided to subject its players and the general public to an uninspiring, totally unnecessary all-star game amid a global pandemic (cha-ching!), they at least did us a solid by sparing us from the worst displays of defensive basketball this side of your local rec center.
Good on them for that.
And good on the NBA’s assistant coaches for doing what they should’ve done 12 months ago: Honoring MPJ as one of the best in his class. (Sorry, Eric Paschall, you’re just not cutting it.)
Not that it really matters all that much.
Facu’s response upon learning of his inclusion in Rising Stars — as relayed by coach Michael Malone to The Post’s Mike Singer — says it all.
“I made it? What is this? What did I make?”
Nothing worth troubling your mind over, Facu. Nothing at all.
Rodney Billups era at DU — D+
It started with the best of intentions.
An accomplished CU Buffs assistant coach, and member of Denver hoops’ royal family, takes over the DU men’s program with designs on building a new college basketball power in the Mile High City.
It ended with the worst of results: Just two wins in the last of five seasons (48-94 overall) with zero Summit League tournament trips in the past three years as the program slides toward yet another rebuild.
Billups was more than gracious after being shown the door earlier this week, releasing a statement thanking everyone from administrators to players to the janitorial staff for their efforts.
As graceful an exit as one could hope for, given the circumstances.
All of it leaves the Grading the Week staff wondering: Is it possible the Pioneers’ hockey program casts too large of a shadow for basketball to thrive in the same season?
Two-plus decades into the Pios’ return to Division I, with nary an NCAA Tournament bid to speak of, history certainly seems to suggest so.
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