Colorado Week: Players Not ReturningPosted by AMurawa on July 23rd, 2012
Nine players earned significant playing time for the Buffaloes in 2011-12, but for the most part it was a six-man rotation with five of those averaging somewhere between 27-31 minutes per game. Of those five players, three have used up their eligibility and will be playing for a paycheck in one place or another next year. Gone is Colorado’s leading scorer, its point guard and leading assist man, and its heart and soul along the front line. With a strong six-man recruiting class coming in, there will be no problem finding bodies to replace the departed, but the experience and savvy they possessed is not something that can be expected of most freshmen. In other words, these guys will be missed.
Carlon Brown – Brown played just one season in Boulder after transferring over from Utah, but he had a big impact in his single year. He was the team’s most athletic wing and most willing shooter, taking more than 28% of their shots when he was in the game. And, unlike his previous years with the Utes, he actually made more shots than he missed and hit enough from deep to keep opposing defenses honest. But despite his ability to fill it up on offense, he was never much more than a hired gun, and one who at times openly bristled about the rare times when he rode the pine late in games while freshman teammates Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie finished things out. Still, his time with the Buffs went down as a success, as he was named the Pac-12 Tournament MVP following the Buffs’ wild ride to the conference’s automatic bid, averaging 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals over the course of those four games.
Nate Tomlinson – The Aussie point guard’s senior season was a study in mental fortitude. Over the course of his first three years, he showed himself to be a guy who wouldn’t shoot it a whole lot but would generally make it when he did find his shot. His jumper deserted him, though, for large stretches last season, and after shooting better than 42% from behind the arc (and better than 57.5% eFG) in each of his first three years, he dipped to just 34.3% from deep (and 50.6% eFG) last year. Despite his struggles shooting, he was still an effective player and a team leader, proving himself as a confident floor general. Never a great playmaker off the dribble, he still had a knack for getting his team into their offense and finding good shots for his teammates. While his experience will be tough to replace, Booker and Dinwiddie earned valuable experience as freshmen and should help mitigate the loss of Tomlinson.
Austin Dufault – The 6’9 forward from Killdeer, North Dakota, was always an understated player, but for the past three seasons he was also a very effective one. He played 20 minutes or more in every season in Boulder and in his final three years was an efficient offensive player who more than held his own defensively. Primarily a rebounder, defender and garbageman in his first three years, Dufault displayed a more varied offensive game as a senior, using more possessions, taking more shots and showing an ability to step out and hit a three from time to time or bang away inside. Effective bigs are not easily replaced, but Tad Boyle at least has Shane Harris-Tunks already in the pipeline with three different freshmen looking to help out up front.
Trey Eckloff – In his four years in Boulder, Eckloff’s minutes dwindled every year. As a freshman, he started off by averaging a couple points and a couple rebounds in 10 minutes per night, but even those meager numbers were never again duplicated. However, Eckloff leaves the program with a degree and a reputation of having been a hard-working practice player even when he wasn’t getting minutes on game night.
Shannon Sharpe – Two years ago Sharpe was a promising young point guard who had just finished earning 13 minutes a night on team that just missed the NCAA Tournament. But last season, when he was expected to get a chance at more playing time, he actually lost minutes as the two freshman guards proved more capable. Only once all season did Sharpe make more than a single field goal in a game, and on just five occasions he earned more than 10 minutes in a game. As a result, Sharpe concluded that his best bet would be to move on, and he decided to transfer to Division II Cal Poly Pomona, where he will be eligible immediately.