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Stanford Cardinal Basketball: Failed Comeback attempt against Colorado

Sunday night at Maples Pavilion felt like Groundhog Day.

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Like Friday against Utah, the Cardinal couldn't connect from behind the arc (4 of 17 on 3s Friday and 3 of 15 Sunday night). Like Friday, the Cardinal trailed from the opening tip but mounted a huge second-half comeback -- €”this time, from 16 points down -- thanks to a swarming defense that limited Colorado to 19 second-half points. But, unlike Friday, it was too little too late. Stanford fell to the Buffs from Boulder, 56-55, and will be left to think about its ongoing first-half woes until Wednesday's game at Oregon State.

Down by one with 37 seconds left, Stanford trusted its defense, chose not to foul, and ultimately forced Josh Scott, CU's bruiser down low, to heave a three with 11 seconds left (This is good). He missed, and Rosco Allen chased down the rebound but stepped out of bounds in doing so, and the Buffs kept the ball (This is good but unlucky). Allen—then the angriest man in Silicon Valley, like a quarterback going for the hard tackle after throwing a bad interception—stripped the inbounds pass, found Marcus Allen with 6 seconds left, who then dribbled down the clock only to launch a 40 foot air ball (This is not so good).

This sequence epitomizes a young Stanford team's young season. There's great defense (everyone) and great hustle (Rosco Allen). But there's also youthful gaffe. Marcus Allen had a wide-open, streaking Dorian Pickens to his right but chose to dribble himself and take a bad, bad shot. We always play the Woulda Shoulda Coulda Game—especially when it's with the last moments of a close game. With sports, we have such a short-term memory. We pick apart the last play of the game and what's freshest in our minds when, really, there are a million things in a game that lead to that moment. We get bogged down in the final .25% of the game ‘cause that's when our hearts are beating the loudest.

We forget about the huge comeback itself. We forget that Michael Humphrey is playing (and looking) like Kristaps Porzingis (How about that steal and dunk? How about that 3?!). We forget that Marcus Sheffield continues to blossom in front of our eyes (and has a killer first step and might be the best pure playmaker on the floor). We forget that Dorian Pickens is bound to regain his stroke soon. We forget that Marcus Allen is still a beast in transition despite the last play of the game (Marcus, don't hesitate! Just GO!). We forget that Reid Travis is still hurt. We forget just how young this Cardinal team is. Stubborn fans (re: me) dwell in the final play and forget to look at the big picture. There's a lot to be excited about.

Stanford travels to Corvallis and Eugene to play the Oregon teams on Wednesday (Beavers) and Sunday (Ducks).