Team Preview: 2014 Colorado Buffaloes
By: Brian MacIver
2012-2013 Finish: 21-10 (11-9 in PAC-12)
Coach: Tad Boyle, 69-36 at Colorado (124-103 overall)
Colorado came out of the gate slow with a tough loss against Baylor in their season opener. Since then, however, the Buffaloes have been on a stampede, beating higher-ranked teams like Kansas and Pac 12 rivals Oregon. But with recent key injuries to star point guard Spencer Dinwiddie (torn ACL, out for season) and to freshman Tre’Shaun Fletcher (knee, six to eight weeks), the Buffaloes could see their chances to win big come March greatly reduced.
Strongside: Tad Boyle is an underrated coach, and his head coaching record at Northern Colorado (56-66) weighs against him. Let me tell you, the guy is a winner. As an assistant, Boyle was instrumental in relaunching the basketball programs at Jacksonville State and Wichita State. After the Jeff Bzdelik debacle, the Buffaloes were in need of a change and have been getting one in Boyle.
One of the changes that Boyle brought to Colorado is in recruiting. Both forward Xavier Johnson and center Josh Scott were ranked in the top 100 of their class, and both landed in Colorado in 2012-2013. Since then, both players have been making a splash in the Pac 12, most notably Scott, who has nearly been averaging a double-double per game in his sophomore campaign. Johnson, for his part, is one of the better shooters for the Buffaloes, shooting .491 in field goals.
Weakside: Losing Dinwiddie and Fletcher was literally the worst thing that could have happened to this team. Not only was Dinwiddie their leading scorer, but, as their starting point guard, he was the leader on the court. Losing him at the start of conference play just adds to the seriousness of this problem as they can’t test out different options at the position without it costing them big in the conference standing.
Case in point is their loss to Washington. Yes, C.J. Wilcox had an incredible game, dropping seven three-pointers, but the Buffaloes’ offense could simply not get going. Add to that their most recent loss against UCLA and you have two back-to-back games where Colorado has not managed to score more than 60 points in a game, both season lows.
All Told: Colorado was off to a very good start, beating two top-10 teams, but the injury bug bit hard and basically ruined the team’s chances of making any kind of run in the tournament. The Buffaloes’ schedule also does not help them any; with two games against top-ranked Arizona and the season closer against Cal, they likely will not be bringing any momentum into March. Look for them to bow out early and recuperate for next year.
After a short, lackluster career in sports, Brian MacIver turned to what all bitter, below average high school athletes turn to: sports writing. He’s been at it for the past seven years, met some great people, written some really bad articles, but has been having a blast since day one. You can follow me on Twitter @TheBrianMacIver for some sporadic moments of wittiness or to share vital information to find buried treasure (please, serious leads only…).