Pac-12 Season Preview: Colorado BuffaloesPosted by PBaruh on October 8th, 2012
Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release are the Colorado Buffaloes.
Strengths: Tad Boyle is starting to build up quite a reputation in Boulder. In his two years at Colorado, he’s gone 32-4 at the Coors Event Center and after being snubbed from the NCAA Tournament in his first year, he proceeded to win the Pac-12 Tournament and upset UNLV in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. Boyle has a system that relies on getting out in transition while playing great team defense, and everyone on this team fits that mold.
From a roster standpoint, a returning trio of Andre Roberson, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Askia Booker will certainly help the Buffaloes try to overcome their lack of experience. The core of this team is very strong; Booker and Dinwiddie provide quickness, power, and efficient shooting while incoming freshman Josh Scott should present a good complement to Roberson with his rebounding ability. The biggest strength in the starting five is Roberson, as he averaged a double-double last year and continues to improve in every facet of the game. There is no one better than him defensively in the post in the Pac-12 and his rebounding skills are hard to match.
Weaknesses: It’s safe to say this team is very young. There are no impact seniors and only one impact junior. Consequently, the youth of this team could very well affect its depth. However, when you take a look at last year’s team, the same things were said and look where the Buffs ended up. Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson, two projected starters, are incoming freshmen and will be expected to make an impact immediately. Although college basketball is a sport where freshmen can be influential right away with the most ease, it’s no sure thing. The bench of this team is still very much in question. Sabatino Chen can shoot the ball well when open and Jeremy Adams can get a bucket here and there, but the bench’s ineptitude is going to hurt the Buffaloes early on until someone proves they can contribute. The depth and youth of this team will determine how successful the Buffaloes will be this year.
Non-Conference Tests: Colorado’s toughest non-conference stretch comes right away this season as they are set to partake in the Charleston Classic. They start off with Dayton, no easy opponent, and if they win, they’ll most likely get an NCAA Tournament rematch with Baylor. If they lose there, they’ll have to take on Boston College. Murray State, Auburn, St. Johns or Charleston could all be potential third round games for the Buffs. No matter who they face in this tournament, it will not be an easy start to the year. Once they get into the thick of the non-conference schedule, their toughest test comes with a visit to Allen Fieldhouse against the Kansas Jayhawks. That should be a good early measuring stick for the Buffaloes. The non-conference slate is definitely harder than years’ past for Tad Boyle and company, yet, they should be fairly competitive throughout the non-conference part of the schedule.
Toughest Conference Stretch: The first six games of the Buffaloes’ conference schedule seems to be the roughest stretch. They start off the new year with a trip down to Tempe and Tucson as they take on the Arizona schools. After that comes UCLA and USC at home, followed by the Washington schools on the road. None of these games are remotely close to sure victories, and it’d be surprising if the Buffaloes won more than three of the first six. If Colorado can come out of this stretch unscathed, they’ll have a chance to show the Pac-12 once again that they are for real when Stanford and Cal come to visit the Coors Event Center the following weekend. Ultimately, the first half-dozen games of the conference season should set the tone for the upcoming year for the Buffs.
If Everything Goes Right… For the second straight year the Buffaloes prove that their youth is ready to contribute right away. Josh Scott, Andre Roberson, and Xavier Johnson create the most fearsome frontcourt in the league with their rebounding, defense, and ability to finish and get out in transition. Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker pick up right where they left off as the go-to scorers for the team. Chris Jenkins and Wesley Gordon provide more depth off the bench behind Sabatino Chen and Jeremy Adams and Shane Harris-Tunks provide big bodies in the middle. The Buffaloes ride their home crowd and improved team to a second place finish in the Pac-12 and make their second consecutive NCAA Tournament. Andre Roberson is a lottery pick and he becomes the second player to do so in just three years out of Colorado.
If Nothing Goes Right… The freshmen look timid all year long and never really adjust in the way that Boyle hoped. The bench provides no depth and flexibility to this team as Boyle is continually forced to run out a six-man rotation. Booker and Dinwiddie don’t figure out who should take command of the offense and consequently, it leads to lots of indecision on the court. Boyle guides this team to an 8th place finish and they realized they have a lot to improve on in the offseason.
Projected Starting Lineup
- PG Spencer Dinwiddie (So, 6’5” 190 lbs, 10.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG)
- SG Askia Booker (So. 6’1” 170 lbs, 9.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG)
- SF Xavier Johnson (Fr, 6’6” 220 lbs)
- PF Andre Roberson (Jr 6’7” 210 lbs, 11.6 PPG, 11.1 RPG)
- C Josh Scott (Fr 6’10” 215 lbs)
It’s hard to see a different starting lineup throughout the year that this one, barring injury. Boyle has mentioned he wants Askia Booker to start and said Spencer Dinwiddie is his point guard, so that backcourt could cause some matchup problems. The two four-star recruits, Scott and Johnson, will start as well along with Andre Roberson. The only argument I see for a different starting lineup is having Booker come off the bench to provide instant offense since that was so vital last year, but Tad Boyle is showing a lot of confidence by banking on offense off the bench from returning reserves and new recruits.
- SG Sabatino Chen (Sr, 6’4” 190 lbs, 2.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG)
- SG/SF Jeremy Adams (Jr, 6’5” 220 lbs, 2.3 PPG, 1.4 RPG)
- SF Chris Jenkins (Fr, 6’7” 180 lbs)
- PF Wesley Gordon (Fr, 6’8” 225 lbs)
- C Shane Harris-Tunks (Jr, 7’0”, 225 lbs)
This is a very skeptical unit for the Buffaloes; Jeremy Adams provides good defense and Sabatino Chen is a nice hustle player, but that’s about all you can expect. Shane Harris-Tunks takes a while to get up and down the court and has a hook shot that is not pretty, yet is sometimes effective. Wesley Gordon is a very good defensive player, but still has a lot to learn on offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Jenkins becomes the first player off the bench towards the end of the year. With his knock-down outside shooting, he provides something no one else on the bench can: offense. Overall, Boyle is going to have to mix and match well with his bench because it could easily become a problem if foul trouble or injuries occur early in the season.