Here is a factoid that might surprise Pac-12 fans: Colorado, a team that won 22 games last season and made the NCAA Tournament, did so despite having the worst offense in the conference — a conference that also included the putrid offense that Washington State trotted out. Apologies to the folks in Pullman, but there is strong evidence to support this assertion. You might even want to shield your eyes. In Pac-12 play, the Buffaloes finished 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency (100.5), 12th in effective field goal percentage (45.8%) and 12th in turnover percentage (19.2%). Zoom out from the conference-only statistics and it’s not much better. Colorado ranked 229th overall in turnover percentage (18.8%) and 242nd in effective field goal percentage (48.4%). The latter number is particularly futile when you consider that the Buffaloes were one of the 25 most accurate teams in the country from behind the three-point arc (38.4% 3FG). It makes more sense when you also consider that there were just 20 teams in the country that shot a worse percentage than the Buffs from inside the three-point line (43.9% 2FG). It is amazing how Colorado managed to rank as high as 100th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Almost everyone is back from last season’s clank-fest except, of course, the team’s most efficient offensive player and one of the best offensive rebounders in the country, Josh Scott. What Scott left behind is a hodgepodge of talented but inconsistent guards, a pair of potentially electric wing players with big question marks, and a host of able-bodied big men without a refined offensive move between them. It doesn’t sound like a recipe for drastic improvement but there are the makings of an excellent offensive team here. There is also a reasonable chance that, if the offense improves and the defense remains suffocating, Colorado could compete for the conference title. Even though Scott was arguably one of the best frontcourt players in program history, head coach Tad Boyle should feel good about his team’s depth up front. Senior Wesley Gordon will anchor the unit as an arguably better rebounder and shot-blocker than Scott, albeit without the offensive upside. Junior Tory Miller is an offensive liability but he is another athletic big body who played meaningful minutes, and freshman seven-footer Dallas Walton could be a special defensive player with his length and athleticism. But none of the trio are offensive-minded players and if Boyle wants his offense to have a fighting chance, he would be smart to only play one of those three at a time. Read the rest of this entry »