Head Coach: Tad Boyle
Overall Record: 22-12
Conference Record: 10-8 (5th in the Pac-12)
2015-16 Pomeroy Rating: #57 (6th in the Pac-12)
2015-16 Sagarin Rating: #54 (6th in the Pac-12)
Overall Off. Adj. Efficiency: #100
Overall Def. Adj. Efficiency: #31
Overall Scoring Average: 75.8 ppg (7th)
Overall Scoring Defense: 70.8 ppg (7th)
Conference Scoring Average: 70.6 ppg (9th)
Conference Scoring Defense: 71.3 ppg (4th)
When Roxy slated out an early Pac-12 projection for this season last March, he picked Colorado to finish 6th. What has changed since then isn’t so much Colorado adding new players, but Colorado not losing more players, as compared to Arizona, UCLA, USC and Oregon St., all of whom have experience key unexpected losses since then. Paraphrasing Jake Gittes, Colorado is the leper with the most fingers.
In reality, of course, Colorado is no leper. Josh Scott may be gone, but Colorado returns 5 of its top 7 players from a 10-8 team in conference last season, including projected all-conference player George King, who had a break through season in 2015-16:
More importantly, however, Colorado adds some two new players with important experience: a familiar face returning from a missed year due to injury is Xavier Johnson, the former Mater Dei product, who is just shy of 1,000 career points and just over 500 career rebounds; Johnson will add plenty of scoring around the rim where the Buffs will need to make up for the loss of John Scott. Colorado also adds NCAA Division II player of the year from 2014-15 in swing man Derrick White.
The additions of Johnson and White to the stable of King, Josh Fortune and Wesley Gordon, coupled with Boyle’s coaching, will keep Colorado competitive in virtually every game they play.
The Back Court:
The development of Dominique Collier as Colorado’s point guard is the single biggest factor in determining the ceiling for the Buffaloes. If Collier can turn himself into a plus-performer at the point guard position, Colorado will be a terrifying team to face. So far Collier has been a bit of a disappointment, and his backup, Thomas Akyazili, hasn’t shown much either.
While point guard is a bit of a question mark, the rest of the perimeter is deep and talented. George King was the surprise break out player in the Pac-12 last season. King can slash to the basket and score, but developed an even deadlier outside shot. University of Colorado and Colorado Spring transfer Derrick White is all the talk in Boulder. He was a god in Division II, and is expected to put up impressive numbers for the Buffaloes. Josh Fortune is a scrappy wing does a little bit of everything in helping the team win. And then there is true freshman Bryce Peters from Damien High School. Along with De’Anthony Melton, Peters was truly one of the under the radar superstars in the Southern California high school basketball last season. Peters quick and athletic, and if you leave him unguarded with hit jump shots from deep.
The Front Court:
Xavier Johnson’s injury last season was looked upon as disastrous at the time; but, in retrospect, it may have been a blessing. In his absence, guys like George King and Josh Fortune took on more of the scoring load, preparing themselves for this season. The injury also gave Johnson an extra season – this season – in a Buff’s uniform. Johnson is truly a unique player – a combo forward who can hit 3s from the outside, drive to the basket, or finish at the rim. Johnson is long and bouncy and can really disrupt things on defense.
Josh Scott’s graduation has left a huge void in leadership, but there is some talent there to partially offset the loss in productivity. Wesley Gordon heads into his senior season at Colorado with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds well with the realm of possibility. Tory Miller is a long and thickly build power player who had spurts of really productive activity last season.
When Spencer Dinwiddie was injured against Washington on January 12, 2014, Tad Boyle’s program – which was on a rocket ship upwards – took a huge hit. Dindwiddie never played another game for the Buffaloes, and, with various injuries to Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson, Colorado would go on to lose 40 of its next 65 games. Tad Boyle was surpassed by Larry Krystowiak as the “it” coach in the Pac-12. And, then, against all expectations, Boyle turned it back on. His team won 17 of the next 21 games, including starting 6-3 in conference last season. Ultimately, Colorado didn’t have enough fire power, and finished 5-7 over the final 12 games.
This season brings greater hope, and possibly even greater talent. Every single team that finished above of Colorado in conference play last season – with the exception of Oregon – faced major and unexpected losses in personnel. If Allonzo Trier truly cannot go this season, there is no reason Colorado can’t finish 2nd in the Pac-12.
G Parker Jackson-Cartwright
G Dominique Collier
G Josh Fortune
W George King
F Xavier Johnson
F Wesley Gordon
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