Colorado Week: Running Down The ReturneesPosted by AMurawa on July 24th, 2012
Colorado returns six players who were part of the extended rotation last year, highlighted by Andre Roberson – likely a preseason All-Pac-12 player – but also extending down to two talented guards back for sophomore seasons, a seven-foot Aussie ready for more action and a couple wings who will probably enjoy similar roles this year as they did last year. We’ll go through all of those guys below, in order of last year’s scoring totals.
Andre Roberson, Junior, Forward (11.6 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.9 BPG) – When Roberson arrived on campus two years ago, not much was expected of him immediately. He was long and athletic, yes, but also skinny and raw. And, with a veteran lineup, he figured to at best earn some minutes at the back end of the rotation. But once fall practice began, CU coaches knew he was going to force his way onto the court, and in his first game he pulled down 11 boards in 21 minutes. He remained heavily in the rotation the rest of the way, dominated on the glass (try a 25.5% defensive rebounding percentage and 15.1% on the offensive end), wreaked havoc defensively, leading the team in both blocks and steals (oh, and also fouls – committing more than five fouls per 40 minutes), and found nearly every possible way to contribute mightily to his team without ever once having a play run for him. As a sophomore, his usage shot way up and, as happens, his offensive efficiency numbers dropped a bit, but his rebounding numbers were just as impressive – he was second in the nation in grabbing 29.6% of all opponents’ missed shots, while also grabbing 12.7% of his own team’s misses. Now, heading into his junior season, he is squarely on the NBA’s radar and ready to show off even more skills. With Carlon Brown and Austin Dufault now gone, expect Roberson to find even more shots. And, with his NBA future likely tied to the small forward spot, expect to see him show off his improving perimeter jumper as well as his solid handle in the halfcourt; however, he needs to be careful that he doesn’t completely abandon the dirty work he does inside while he shows off his newfound skills on the wing.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Sophomore, Guard (10.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.8 APG) – As a freshman, the overriding quality that summed up Dinwiddie was his decidedly un-freshman like play. He started in the backcourt for the Buffs from day one, and was exceedingly solid. Never overly flashy, he helped his coaches trust him immediately by taking care of the ball (turnovers on less than 16% of all possessions), knocking down open jumpers (43.8% from three), and drilling his free throws to seal games (81.6% from the charity stripe). The question, however, going into his sophomore campaign is how he’ll do at the point guard spot in the absence of veteran Nate Tomlinson. He’ll be able to get some ball-handling help from backcourt mate Askia Booker, but for the most part Dinwiddie will be expected to be the new floor general in Boulder. Tad Boyle doesn’t necessarily ask his lead guard to create offense off the bounce, but Dinwiddie will need to show his ability to get his team into their offense and find good looks for guys like Roberson and Booker, while knocking down the open looks he gets. The consensus seems to be that Dinwiddie will get there eventually, but just how successful the 2012-13 season is could depend on how quickly he develops. Based on his freshman season, doubt him at your own peril.
Askia Booker, Sophomore, Guard (9.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.4 APG) – If you can judge by one season, you can be sure of one thing you’re going to get from Booker every time he takes the floor: energy. Oh, and plenty of shots too. The precocious freshman from Los Angeles was a veritable microwave off the bench for the Buffs last season, providing a scoring punch and a healthy dose of swagger early and often. He put up the second-most shots-per-minute on the team (behind leading scorer Carlon Brown), used the most possessions on the squad (more than a quarter of all CU possessions with Booker in the game ended in him either making a shot, missing a shot that wasn’t rebounded by the offense or turning the ball over), and was very active on both ends of the floor. And, give him credit, most of the time that was a good thing. But, he’s certainly got plenty to work on in the remainder of his college career. While he hit 37.2% of his three-point attempts, he made just 41.4% of his two-point attempts, many of which were difficult attempts. He’s capable of regularly beating his man and getting into the lane, but at just 6’1”, all too often he forces up tough shots in the face of the defense. He’ll need to learn to turn those forays into the lane into passes as often as shots, and finish with more control. The good news is, he’s more than capable of doing that and all signs point to a productive four-year career for Booker.
Shane Harris-Tunks, Junior, Center (2.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG) – The overall numbers for Harris-Tunks don’t show a whole lot, but coming off of a year missed due to an ACL injury, he was a consistent presence in the middle who should continue to improve. A big body inside, he’s got the ability to be a solid post scorer, but has a tendency to get flustered with the ball and rush his moves, leading to an awful turnover percentage of 33.4%. But, he was better in March than he was in November, and if nothing else, is a solid rebounder and capable of delivering five good fouls in the middle. With freshmen Josh Scott, Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson all looking to earn themselves quality minutes early in their career, Harris-Tunks will have a battle on his hands for any extra minutes.
Jeremy Adams, Junior, Guard (2.3 PPG, 1.4 RPG) – Last year was Adams’ first year at CU after spending a season at Navarro Junior College, and the long wing had his moments. He’s an athletic kid with a good motor who made his biggest impact on the defensive end last year. But, he’s got a reputation as a scoring guard, which he showed off by going for ten points in 19 minutes against USC at the end of January last season. But, he really struggled with his shot all year long, hitting just three of 21 three-point attempts on the year and just 17 of 43 from inside the arc. A guy who’s racked up points as a volume-shooter in the past, Adams likely won’t ever have that luxury at CU and needs to begin make better use of fewer opportunities.
Sabatino Chen, Senior, Guard (2.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG) – Like Adams, last year was Chen’s first as a Buffalo, after spending his first two years of eligibility playing at Denver. Chen was a pleasant surprise, providing solid defense and good basketball smarts in limited minutes. However, he’s a limited athlete with somewhat limited skills, and likely doesn’t have a ceiling a whole lot higher than what he displayed last season.