2008-09 Colorado Basketball Preview: #144
Overall Rank: #144
Conference Rank: #11 Big 12
2007-08: 12-20, 3-13, 12th
2007-08 postseason: none
Colorado may have struggled last year, finishing dead last in the conference with a 3-13 record, and the top three scorers are gone, but Coach Jeff Bzdelik has higher expectations in year two of his reign. Their youth and inexperience will keep the Buffaloes towards the bottom of the conference, since there is only one senior and two juniors on the roster, but the players coming in are talented and fit well in the system.
The biggest loss is Richard Roby who led the team with 17.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The do-it-all wing was the heart and soul of the Buffaloes and will surely be missed. The absence of point guard Marcus Hall gives Colorado no returning threats from long range. Hall also added 14.0 points per game and a team high 4.0 assists. Fellow guard Xavier Silas was a relatively effective slasher when he was on the floor. Marcus King-Stockton was not an effective scorer during his last year with the team, but he was one of the few big men on the roster and was a decent rebounder and a solid defender. Fellow big man Caleb Patterson has also wrapped up his collegiate career with the Buffaloes after seeing limited action last season.
And that was the biggest problem last year…the lack of big men. The recruiting class fixes that little issue. Toby Veal, a 6-8 power forward, is the best of the bunch. His offense may be limited to easy putbacks around the basket for now, but he will make a huge impact on the glass and on the defensive end right away. Fellow incoming freshmen Trey Eckloff and Austin Dufault are versatile players who have the size and the shooting range to be successful in Coach Bzdelik’s version of the Princeton offense. Casey Crawford did not spend too much time on the floor two years ago when he played at Wake Forest, but as a sophomore and spending a year on the bench in Boulder, he has more experience than most of the big guys on the team. The frontcourt might have the most talented newcomers, but the backcourt needs some players too. Point guard Nate Tomlinson has the tools to play a big role right away. The 6-2 Australian is a very smart leader and a great passer. He will not blow by anybody with his speed, but he does have a nice outside shot to at least keep the defense honest. Shooting guard Ryan Kelley and Stony Brook transfer Kyle Wright will add depth on the wings.
Who to Watch:
Sophomore Cory Higgns and junior Dwight Thorne II will be the new leaders on the perimeter. Higgins had a great freshman campaign and even started all 32 games despite all the more experienced options in the backcourt. As the team’s leading returning scorer, Higgins will have to prove that he can step up and be the team’s new go-to-guy. Levi Knutson also has some experience and should find himself playing more minutes. With a little more consistency from beyond the arc, Knutson would be a solid shooter off the bench.
Colorado fans have good reason to be excited about the future after too many years at the bottom of the conference. The Buffs will not get too far away from the cellar this season, but signs of improvement will be on the way. The frontcourt, led by senior Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, will be decent and the backcourt has some potential. Coach Bzdelik is getting his players into the system and that will start to pay benefits in 2008-2009.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Nate Tomlinson, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Dwight Thorne II, Junior, Guard, 3.3 points per game
Cory Higgins, Sophomore, Guard, 8.3 points per game
Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, Senior, Forward, 4.7 points per game
Toby Veal, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season