Pac-12 Team Previews: Colorado

Posted by AMurawa on October 24th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

Colorado Buffaloes

Strengths.  Tad Boyle’s got a couple of terrific athletes at the wing in Carlon Brown and Andre Roberson, each capable of being offensive threats, strong defenders and excellent rebounders for their positions. While neither of them is a great shooter from range, point guard Nate Tomlinson is, and big man Austin Dufault can also step outside and hit the 18-footer, allowing the Buffs to stretch the defense to clear room for their slashers.

Weaknesses. After losing the top four scorers from last season’s squad, the biggest weakness for the Buffaloes is simply the lack of experience. While this team sports four seniors, only one of them has been a primary offensive option for his team before, and that’s Brown, who did it at Utah two years ago. Beyond that, while this CU roster features four guys listed a 6’9″ or taller, Dufault is the only big man who has earned significant playing time in the past. Finally, you can expect this team’s free-throw shooting, ranked fifth in the nation last season, to take a serious hit this year as Roberson, in particular, has struggled from the line.

Andre Roberson

With last year's top four leading scorers graduated, Colorado will need sophomore Andre Roberson to play a bigger role.

Nonconference Tests.  The Buffs start their season the weekend before Thanksgiving in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where they’ll open with a game against Wichita State, then play either Alabama or Maryland in the second round. All of those games are significant tests, as are Iona, Purdue and Temple, three possible Sunday opponents in that tournament, depending on results of earlier games. Colorado will also travel to Air Force and Colorado State, with a visit from Georgia sandwiched in the middle, before seeing their December slate ease up substantially.

Toughest Conference Stretch.  The Buffaloes host the Washington schools the first weekend in January before getting a crash course in life on the road in the Pac-12 with trips to Haas Pavilion and Maples Pavilion to face California and Stanford, respectively.

If Everything Goes Right…  Brown and Roberson gel on the wing and between them average around 35 points a night, while center Shane Harris-Tunks stays healthy and gets help from Trey Eckloff to give the Buffs 35 minutes a night at center. Tomlinson and Shannon Sharpe complement each other at the point, while one of reserves Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie or Jeremy Adams provides a scoring punch off the bench. Their youngsters get invaluable experience and Colorado finishes right around .500 in the conference.

If Nothing Goes Right…  Roberson can’t adjust to being a primary offensive threat, Brown is as erratic as he looked in his last year in Utah, none of the big men make much of an impact, the newcomers are exciting but erratic and Boyle looks up in March to see the Buffs with only a handful of conference wins.

Projected Starting Lineup

  • PG Nate Tomlinson (Sr, 6’3” 185 lbs, 3.1 PPG, 2.4 APG)
  • SG Carlon Brown (Sr, 6’5” 215 lbs, 12.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG in 2009-10 with Utah)
  • SF Andre Roberson (So, 6’7” 210 lbs, 6.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG
  • PF Austin Dufault (Sr, 6’9” 225 lbs, 6.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG)
  • C Shane Harris-Tunks (So, 6’11” 250 lbs, 1.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG in 2009-10)

The mere fact that this group of five possible starters listed above combined for a total of 16.4 points per game last season shows you exactly where head coach Tad Boyle is starting from. Losing your four leading scorers tends to do that to a team. But between Brown and Roberson, there is talent enough to kick start the offense, while Tomlinson and Dufault are good role players. Harris-Tunks remains a question in the post after missing last season with a torn ACL.

Impact Newcomer Spencer Dinwiddie – The freshman out of Woodland Hills, CA, can do a lot of things for Boyle. He played the point in high school, and is a terrific passer, but with his size and length, he could help out on the wing for an undersized Buffaloes squad.

Key Reserves

  • G Spencer Dinwiddie (Fr, 6’5” 190 lbs)
  • PG Shannon Sharpe (So, 6’1” 210 lbs, 2.1 PPG, 1.2 APG)
  • PF Trey Eckloff (Sr, 6’10” 230 lbs, 1.4 PPG, 0.9 RPG)
  • G Askia Booker (Fr, 6’1” 160 lbs)
  • G Jeremy Adams (So, 6’5” 215 lbs)

There are a couple of things missing from the Buffs bench: size and experience. Ben Mills, a 7’0” sophomore, could earn some time off the bench in the frontcourt, but CU is leaning towards redshirting him this season. Dinwiddie and Adams could each get time at the three, while Sharpe is more of a true point guard than Tomlinson and could press him for lead guard duties.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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