Colorado Buffs Basketball: Season Preview

Colorado%27s+Andre+Roberson+%2821%29+dunks+over+California%27s+Harper+Kamp+in+the+first+half+of+a+Pac-12+Tournament+semifinal+at+the+Staples+Center+in+Los+Angeles%2C+California%2C+on+Friday%2C+March+9%2C+2012.

(Jose Carlos Fajardo/Contra Costa Times/MCT)

Colorado's Andre Roberson (21) dunks over California's Harper Kamp in the first half of a Pac-12 Tournament semifinal at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Friday, March 9, 2012.

Ben Goossen, Contributor

It’s that time of year again. The start to the college basketball season is fast approaching and there is much excitement in the Boulder area as the Buffs try to duplicate last season’s success. The 2011-2012 season saw the Buffs win four games in four days en route to a Pac-12 tournament title, and an eventual first round victory over UNLV in the NCAA tournament. After two years at the helm, head coach Tad Boyle has led the Buffs to a 48-25 overall record, however the 2012-2013 season should be the first real test for a team composed almost exclusively of Boyle’s recruits. After securing the first top 25 recruiting class in Colorado history, the Buffs are young but very talented, and expectations are high in 2012.

Six freshman recruits will play an intricate roll on the team. Two Top-100 recruits, Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson, lead a 2012 class that includes Wesley Gordon, Chris Jenkins, Eli Stalzer, and Xavier Talton.  Scott and Johnson should contribute immediately as part of the rotation. A freak athlete at 6’7’’, 205lbs, Johnson will most likely secure the starting small forward position, contributing double digit points and grabbing his fair share of rebounds alongside Andre Roberson. Scott will likely have a large impact off the bench. At 6’9’’, 225lbs, Scott will provide a much needed presence down low. Wesley Gordon and Chris Jenkins should also see some minutes off the bench with Eli Stalzer and Xavier Talton competing for a rotation spot.

Although the idea that multiple talented recruits could have an immediate impact is exciting, the Buff’s success this season will depend on the play of their two returning starters from last year, Andre Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie. Having lost the team’s number one and number three point scorers of a year ago, Carlon Brown and Austin Dufault respectively, Andre Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie will have to step up in order to fill a large void. Andre Roberson, the Buff’s leader in rebounding, steals, and blocks since arriving in Boulder as a freshman, was rated as the number one rebounder in the nation according to ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan. Roberson will not only have to continue his defensive dominance, he will have to do more on the offensive end this year if the Buff’s are to be successful. Spencer Dinwiddie, the lone freshman to start for the Buff’s in 2011, will also have to contribute more on the offensive end. Dinwiddie gained ten pounds of muscle in the offseason, which will allow him to attack the basket with more authority. Look for Dinwiddie to stretch the floor for the Buff’s in 2012 as the best 3-point shooter in the starting lineup.

As long as the Buffs can be consistent, winning the games that they need to win, while stealing a few big victories in conference play at home, I see them ending the year near the top of the Pac-12 standings in contention for a tournament bid. The Buffs conference schedule will be much harder this year due to a revamped Pac-12, but the with a relatively easy non-conference schedule, the team should have an easy time building confidence early in the year. The team’s inexperience could hurt the team early, but as the season goes on look for the team to improve substantially by March.  As a Buff fan, another tournament bid would be nice, but I can’t get my hopes up… yet.