Did you know that these Buffs return four starters from an NCAA tournament team? Google translator will tell you that means high expectations. And indeed expectations are high in Boulder as I think they’re now wearing a target. But interestingly, despite this gaudy number of starters heading back to The Keg, Tad Boyle’s opening statements at Pac-12 Media Day were to call these accusations of experience a “misnomer.” Ten of the thirteen players on this team are freshmen or sophomores. It’s a youth movement out there but one of those non-yougins’ is Spencer Dinwiddie. And he has a mustache.
Why I love them: It’d be easy to sit here and tell you how great Spencer Dinwiddie is. That he represented USA basketball at the World University Games and that he gets to the free throw line than faster than a co-ed to The Sink for dollar wells (more later). Spencer Dinwiddie is good and it’s going to get boring how good he is. And so I love the Buffs because of Xavier Johnson. The athletic wing is versatile and the kind of matchup that causes havoc. Remember that Roberson guy? Think of him with a legitimate shot at legitimate outside shot. He shot 44% from distance a year ago and had a 57% eFG. That eFG compares favorably to the following 2012-13 performances: Anthony Bennett, Jeff Withey, and Seth Curry. Maybe you’ve heard of them. And if we’re talking about loving the Buffs, I must mention that an improved Josh Scott makes for a frightening team. There isn’t much depth after him but he’s a game changing kind of player – especially if Askia Booker is shooting well. Much gets made of Booker’s volume shooting. The fact of the Colorado matter is they get things done defensively. They had a top 20 defense last year (90.9 AdjD was 19th in the country). That’s how Tad butters his bread: with your bricks. I also just need to go in on Dinwiddie and the free throw line real fast. 76.7 FTRate from last year and it was the nineteenth best rate in the nation. He was just one of a handful of guards to have such a high rate and with this season’s rules changes and a presumed increase in whistles, expect to see Dinwiddie imposing Hack-a-Mayor on the opposition.
Why I hate them: Well all that inexperience exposes an evaluation of the Buffs to a lot of question marks and last year – even with “seniors coming off the bench” as Boyle reminded us – they played like a youthful group. Remember when they beat Arizona in Boulder? Then they lost to ASU in Boulder. Remember when they beat Oregon in Boulder? Then they lost to Oregon State in Boulder. To the untrained eye, maybe the Buffs just lose to State schools? But you and I understand that these guys play emotionally, they recognize the given “magnitude” of a game and seem to have the gift/curse to play to their opponent. Now to be clear, I’m judging this group off of last season’s performance which may or may not be fair. But if Boyle wants to make it clear that this team is inexperienced, then maybe he has another thing coming. Also, ASKIA BOOKER TOOK 29% OF HIS TEAM’S SHOTS A SEASON AGO WITH THEIR FOURTH WORST ORTG. THIS CAN SERVE AS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. That is all.
Stat you need to know:
This is the number of points that home court advantage at altitude is worth. Playing at altitude is a bitch. Seriously. You click that link and you’re getting a face full of data that boils down to that conclusion: 10.5 points. For comparison’s sake, the normal home court advantage is just 3.5 points. Boulder’s Keg is 5,430 feet above sea level where UW, USC, UCLA, Cal, and Stanford play and practice. A group that has combined for just two wins in Colorado. Yeah, it’s a bitch.
Adam has just spent 500 words going over the brilliance that is The Mayor. And he’s not wrong. But while I will be enjoying The Mayor’s last year in Boulder this year, I will also be keeping a close eye on the best big man in the Pac-12 – Josh Scott. While Arizona’s horses up front may be a better unit, there’s not a better talent than the man known as Jelly. He’ll get some help this year from redshirt freshman Wes Gordon (who will do his best to replace Dre’s defense in the post) and a group of four true frosh who all bring different things to the table (keep an eye out for Jaron Hopkins, who could have a Dinwiddie-esque career in Boulder when it’s all said & done). But Jelly will be leading the pack. Expect a breakout year from the sophomore as he and the Mayor lead the Buffs to a top 3 finish in the Pac.
“Spencer has emerged as a valuable point guard for us. He can play three different spots and is able to get his shot. He could be the catalyst for setting the tone for our defense.” – Bob McKillop, Head Coach, USA World University Games
Outlook: I like this year’s Buffs. Spencer is practically that senior guard I love as he’s darned near gone to the League. Josh Scott gives them a legitimate threat on the post and I love Xavier Johnson’s motor. The culture they’re touting heading into the season gets me heated as a Wildcat fan and appreciative as a bystander. Askia Booker has just enough DGAF to be the instant offense this team needs when they’re shooting turns abysmal. I can’t say it enough: playing at altitude is a bitch. And despite this being a roster of newcomers, if they aren’t going to be relied upon for offensive output (I see you Scott, Dinwiddie, and Booker returning your respective 22, 22, and 29 percent of shots) then Tad – with depth for one of the first time’s in his CU tenure – can throw defensive bodies onto the floor for as long as the flat irons are beautiful. Dancing Buffs.